Last week my husband and I were lucky enough to escape from lockdown, in our motorhome as soon as campsites opened. We headed for the northeast coast as we didn’t know the area at all and we certainly didn’t want to head south to crowded beaches. Our base was Beadnell Bay which is situated at one end of a hugely long white sandy beach which was firm enough to walk along in peace and quiet.
As usual we popped our heads into churches wherever we were and many churches which were open for private prayer had just been left unlocked, with only part of the church accessible and all the hand sanitiser and wipes necessary. One of these was St. Aiden’s church in Bamburgh with its monument to Grace Darling who came from there. I have found that since becoming church warden I have a slightly different slant on going round churches, and frequently find myself thinking ‘Thank goodness we don’t have one wall of the building that is 1,000 years old!’ Many of these churches were of that age and had names like St. Aiden, St. Ebba, St. Oswald and St. Cuthbert.
All that were open had provided clear instructions about cleaning precautions, where you could sit, one way systems etc, although some like St. Ebba in Beadnell, a very small church, had the whole of the nave blocked off and you just stood at the back, and that was fine. Only one of all the churches we entered including the church on Holy Island (Lindisfarne) had a notice stating that regular worship in the church building was about to restart. That was the only church with a steward inside as well and we chatted to her for quite a while as she was very knowledgeable. She said that they had measured the church and could fit 40 people inside with the correct distancing and when I asked her how many they normally had at their main Sunday service she said about 60! I don’t envy the sidesperson who has to turn away number 41 etc.
I felt extremely thankful that St. George’s is a very large building and although that often brings its own problems hopefully we will be able to accommodate all who want to come to our services. We hope to start worship in the church building on Wednesday 5th August with Sunday 9th August being our first Sunday service. Details about which services and when will follow later but at least we can see a light at the end of tunnel.