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Warminster Church emerges from lockdown

July 3, 2020 8:23 PM
In New Valley News

The traditional sight of fathers walking the bride down the church aisle is banned for the foreseeable future but Warminster's oldest church, St. Denys in Bath Road has taken the step of opening its doors.

For one day a week for private prayer and reflection, it is open on Wednesday for six hours starting at 10am.

Rev. Jacques Desrosiers said: "Weddings, funerals, baptisms, holy communion are all tricky and we now have the details of how we can now move forward from Saturday, July 4."

The 400-year-old Minster church, which has been modernised over the centuries, looks a lot different and almost everything but the pews have been removed or sealed off to prevent cross contamination.

A solitary candle burning and the altar is lit up but the votive stand which is usually full of candles for individuals to light up in memory of a loved one has been removed.

"It is known as St. Patrick's Candle and is a slow burner which will stay alight for seven to nine days," explained the rector.

Those wishing to say a prayer have to bring their own bible and observe the two metre social distancing request.
"We have put up clear signage about social distancing, washing hands with sanitiser before and after visits, and the pews have been pushed together creating two metre distancing."

Weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies were all stopped when the coronavirus lockdown was imposed in March.

Under new guidance socially distant weddings will be allowed shortly with newly weds having to wash their hands before and after exchanging rings.

No more than 30 people, including the photographer, can attend the wedding and other ceremonies will have the same restriction.

"We have a lot to think of as we prepare to move forward," added the rector of Minster Church which is one of four in the River Were Benefice.

"St. Aldhelm's Church at Bishopstrow is popular for weddings."

Currently there are weddings on Lockdown hold with two now planned for the Minster and one for Upton Scudamore by Christmas.

The House of Bishops endorsed a statement made by the Bishop Of London, the Rt. Rev. & Rt. Hon. Sarah Mullally stressing 'this would not be an immediate return to normality, and the government advice is permissive not prescriptive.

'Churches that are not fully ready by July 4th should not feel any obligation to rush to restart public worship.'
St. Aldhelm's, St. John's Church in Boreham and St. Mary's Church in Upton Scudamore remain closed as time is needed to carry out a careful risk assessment.

"We hope to hold our first Sunday services on 12th July and I am giving a lot of thought to how we proceed," said Rev. Desrosiers who brought a tape measure on his next visit to the church.

"We will use commonsense when it comes to issues like singing which will not be allowed at the moment. The organist will play some music as he is safely distanced to provide some ambience.

"I know that I am going to be doing a lot of handwashing!" Warminster - St Denys ()