Wigan Parish Church re-opening for first service since lockdown
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The Rector of Wigan the Rev Will Gibbons said advice from the Church of England on Wednesday made the major step forward possible.
It was decided that the historic place of worship in Wigan town centre was the most appropriate place to have the first service since lockdown forced churches to shut.
However, there will be strict social distancing measures in place.
Rev Gibbons said: “It is a statement that we are open and ready. The parish church is the mother church in Wigan and has been a place of prayer for 1,000 years, so it seems the right place to choose.
“There is much to give thanks for, especially celebrating the contribution of key workers and the many volunteers who have served those in need. I’m also acutely aware of the grief of those who have lost loved ones during lockdown.
“We will not be going back to how life was before. There is still a need for caution and we recognise that.”
Worshippers from different households will stay two metres apart, only some of the pews will be used and contact details will be taken for test and trace.
There will be no singing, although there are plans for a soloist to perform at the front of the church.
However, the congregation will not have to wear masks.
Wafers will be used for communion and will be dropped into people's hands. Sanitiser will also be in use.
Other Anglican churches in Wigan will open for private prayer on Sunday and public worship will resume elsewhere in the borough from Sunday, July 12.
Some churches have already been open for private prayer for a few weeks, but Rev Gibbons said Wigan Deanery was advised by the council to be cautious as the R rate was still high at that time.
Sunday’s service at the parish church is at 9.30am. Anyone wanting to attend should get in touch with the wardens first.