Dear people of St Nicholas, Helsinki!
Since Bishop David’s visit in the beginning of March to preside at a confirmation service much has happened. The following Sunday we still had a service, but soon after that, the government asked all religious communities to close their places of worship. We really did not have time to plan anything before we were all asked to stay at home as much as possible.
But now we are allowed to gather again! The Government has announced that public gathering of no more than 500 hundred persons are permitted if rules about social distancing and hygiene are observed.
The Diocese in Europe has published guidelines which each Chaplaincy must follow, alongside with local regulations, when opening churches again. I have discussed about our plans with the Dean of Helsinki also. The Chaplaincy Council met two weeks ago at Mikael Agricola Church to decide how we move forward.
Many of the new practices are actually familiar to those who have worshipped in a cathedral: vergers will greet you at the entrance and will guide you to your pew. They will give instructions when to move to receive Eucharist and so on. The most notable differences to the previous are that the eucharist is administered in one kind only (bread) and there is no singing in the service at the moment.
I look forward to seeing many of you soon! I am aware that not all of you are able to attend at the moment. Please do contact me if you wish to receive the communion at home (brought to you from the Communion celebrated at the Church).
Before entering the Church, please use the hand disinfectant provided or wash your hands in the vestibule bathrooms.
1. The Vergers are here to ensure your safety and those of other members of the congregation by overseeing the seating arrangements and providing guidance during the service.
2. The seating arrangements in the Church have been planned to ensure that a two-metre distance is maintained. Please respect the “keep free areas” signs. If you are here with your family or individuals who live with you in the same household, you are welcome to sit together.
3. Should you feel the need to cough or sneeze, please use a tissue or your sleeve. Used tissues can be disposed of in the bin at the entrance.
4. Please note that no singing will take place during the service.
5. At the point at which we are enjoined to share a sign of peace, please maintain a safe distance from other members of the congregation. The sign itself can take the form of a bow or a smile instead of shaking hands.
6. Holy Communion will be administered in the form of the wafer only. It is a clear principle of Anglican theology that the sacrament of Holy Communion is present and complete in either of the consecrated elements. The wafer will be administered by the Chaplain and you will be guided at this point in the service by the Vergers.
7. The Vergers will ensure that safe distancing is maintained when leaving the Church, please wait for their signal that it is safe to leave.
8. Offerings can be placed in a basket at the exit when leaving the service.
9. Please note that there is no post service gathering for tea and fellowship in the Crypt.