Getting back to Church!

07 Aug 2020 | 10:30 am

This page provides information for parishioners of St Andrew’s, Tenterden with help in returning to church and participating in Mass. Unfortunately there are restrictions mandated by HM Government and church leaders, to ensure that we all remain safe. We ask you to read and follow the instructions which pertain to our circumstances today, as the Church is in the hands of the contractor. Until such times as the work is finished, there may be days when we have to use the Parish Centre for Mass on weekdays, as we already do for private prayer.


Dear brothers in Christ

A blessed Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. The glory of the Lord shines upon us and lights the way.

Please find below the information shared by Canon Christopher Thomas at the General Secretariat of the Bishops’ Conference. I think it is self-explanatory, although I appreciate it brings an added degree of PPE not everyone will receive joyfully. It is, nonetheless, aimed at protecting people and giving reassurance and it is therefore important that we take it seriously.

Canon Christopher writes:

Please see attached updated Guidance for the Celebration of Mass which takes into account the Government changes to the wearing of face coverings from 8th August.

The Government Guidance update has not yet been published but these additions have been checked with an official from PHE and are acceptable adaptations.  If there are any conflicts with this Guidance and the published guidance from HM Government I will update and inform you immediately.

It is important to emphasise that care should be taken by people in unlooping their face covering for the reception of Holy Communion and replacing the covering afterwards.  This is to prevent contamination of the covering by the hands.  However, the risk is regarded as minimal providing there is no hand-to-hand contact between the minister of Communion and the communicant.

I have been asked about enforcement, and the advice is that this cannot be done by stewards or members of communities, just as it is the case in shops.  Public Health officials have been given extra powers to enforce the wearing of face coverings in public spaces with fixed penalty charges.  However, their approach is to educate rather than penalise, and this approach would be sensible in the case of church communities.  It is for everyone’s good that a face covering is worn.

Those who are exempt from wearing a face covering can be found here:

Section 3 – When you do not need to wear a face covering

Although this Guidance is for the Celebration of Mass, the same applies to all of the other celebrations of Sacraments in our churches until further notice. (The updated document is here.)

Changes in the attached text are marked within the text in RED. This guidance remains mandatory in the Archdiocese of Southwark.

I have received communication from a number of people concerned that Holy Communion is being given both in the hand and on the tongue by the same priest in the same continuous act of distribution.

Receiving Holy Commuion in the hand is the required means of distrbuting Holy Communion at present.

Any priest who is approached by a parishioner seeking Holy Commuion on the tongue may contact Archbishop’s House for advice.

I hope that the summer allows each of you to have some rest and relaxation. I am very grateful for all you are doing, but please take care of yourself.

With my renewed good wishes and the assurance of my prayers.

Yours devotedly in Christ

+ John

Most Rev John Wilson, Archbishop of Southwark

UPDATE ON 1st AUGUST 2020: Important Changes to arrangements for attending 10am services

With the Parish Centre and the Church now available for our daily Mass at 10am (or Word and Communion on a Wednesday), we have increased seating capacity. In order to reduce the administration involved and to introduce some spontaneity into going to Church, we have decided to relax the requirements to book a place, other than on Sundays. So, for daily services (other than Sundays), please just turn up and take up a seat. You are very welcome. Please remember the social distancing requirements

But, because there is  a need to seat larger numbers of people on Sundays, please still book with Jolyon on or 01580 766449.

These are next week’s services, but please note that there is currently ONLY ONE SERVICE EACH DAY:

Day Date Feast Time/Detail
Saturday 1st August St Alphonus Liguori 10.00am Mass
Sunday 2nd August Eithteenth Sunday (A) 10.00am Mass only
Monday 3rd August Feria 10.00am Mass
Tuesday 4th August St John Vianney 10.00am Mass
Wednesday 5th August Feria 10.00am Word and Communion
Thursday 6th August The Transfiguration of The Lord 10.00am Mass
Friday 7th August Feria 10.00am Mass then closed for cleaning before private prayer from 11.00am – 12.00 midday, for very short periods only.
Saturday 8th August St Dominic 10.00am Mass
Sunday 9th August 19th Sunday (A) 10.00am Mass only

There are general Guidance for the Celebration of  Mass which apply across our Diocese and are published in a letter on the behalf of Archbishop John Wilson. We must adhere to these arrangements for our own safety and for the safety of others. An update to this guidance was published on Friday 24th July as follows:

“Worshippers should limit their interactions with anyone they are not attending church with, i.e. if they are attending corporate worship with one other household, wherever possible they should maintain social distancing with anyone outside of this group.

 Face Coverings

Face coverings are currently mandatory on public transport, in shops and in supermarkets. People are also strongly encouraged to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces where there are people they do not normally meet, such as a church.”

The Archbishop has also recently published a further document on the arrangements for “Track and Trace”. This process includes making sure that when you attend mass, you leave your contact details so that, should anyone subsequently test positive, all church attendees can be contacted by the NHS. The document is here Reopening Churches – Track and Trace along with the contact card you should fill in having before you leave home and hand in at the Church: Track and Trace Cards.

A weekly Mass: As the rules on spatial distancing are very demanding, there can only be limited numbers attending Mass. Therefore a simplified order of Sunday Mass, including readings, will be repeated every day of each week. The Parish Priest (at the time, Fr John now Fr Behr), published detailed arrangements to follow if you wish to attend Mass.

We were able to resume public Masses here in Tenterden from Sunday July 12th, BUT these will be under very specific constraints as follows:

  1. Firstly, PLEASE read the documents “Guidance for the celebration of Mass” and “Track and Trace” above. These detail the constraints under which we will be operating and the way in which the service will be conducted. This will, of necessity, be very different from what you are used to experiencing.
  2. Every weekday Mass (10am) will use the Sunday scripture readings, prayer etc so that as many parishioners as possible can join in the previous Sunday’s liturgy.
  3. The obligation to attend Mass on Sundays is still suspended.
  4. There is no obligation to attend Mass at all at present, particularly if you feel unsafe or at risk.
  5. As the Mass will be the same every day of the week, please only attend once a week to allow other people to attend.
  6. If you would feel safer wearing a mask and/or gloves, please feel free to do so.
  7. There will be a strict control on the numbers able to attend. This will be 14 people per Mass until the Church is ready for use again. Once the Church and Parish Centre are in use, the number will be restricted to 30.
  8. Groups of people in agreed “bubbles” may attend together and the head count can be adjusted to accommodate these circumstances.
  9. When only the Parish Centre is in use (before the Church refurbishments are completed), there will be a one-way system in use:
  • Entrance off Turner’s Avenue,
  • Exit via the fire exit into the garden.
  1. The flow described in 9 above will be used during the distribution of Holy Communion. Please come up to the distribution point, maintaining social distance, exit via the fire exit and re-enter the Parish Centre via the main entrance, having said your personal private thanks as you walk. The final prayers and blessing will follow. Please leave via the fire exit. There will be no social gatherings after the service. We will be adopting Version 1 from the document Guidance for the Celebration of Mass above.
  2. If you feel you are unable to walk around the garden in this way, there will be a limited space made available for you at a designated place in the Parish Centre (initially), where you will receive communion at your place.
  3. In the event of a second lockdown, as there are currently concerns about the “R” number in the Ashford area, these arrangements will be terminated by the civil authorities, with little to no notice. Please bear with us and we will try and keep you updated via the Parish Website.

Deacon Jolyon will co-ordinate the Mass attendance numbers and names. Please contact him by email preferably on to advise him each time you wish to attend Mass on Sundays. (No wotification is needed for weekday Masses, but please leave your contact details.) He will then confirm asap if there is a space available for you. In difficulties, please ring him on 01580 766449.

If you are able to attend Mass, please complete your contact card, available here on Track and Trace Cards and bring it/them to Mass.

Please could you also email Deacon Jolyon, if you are able to offer yourself as a volunteer steward and post service cleaner.

Please do not turn up “unannounced”, or after 10am, as you may have to be turned away

Archbishop John Wilson of Southwark has just sent a letter to the clergy of our Diocese. It can be found here and provides updated guidance for:

For advice and national regulations for dealing with wider COVID-19 issues go to the HM Government website at

A reminder: Supporting the Parish financially. Please remember that during this challenging time our Parish still has administrative charges to meet, so your support will remain vital.  Please follow the guidelines below. It is recommended that every Sunday you put your donation in an envelope and keep it in a safe place until you attend Mass for the first time, using your Gift Aid envelope as usual.  However unfortunately it is exactly at this time that the new Gift Aid envelopes are distributed.  So, Gift Aiders should put their name and their Gift Aid number on the envelopes that you use for your donation each week.  Then you can bring them all to Church with you the first time you attend. For all the ways you can support the Parish, please look at this site.

Whilst our Church is closed and under refurbishment, you are able to have two hours of  ‘private prayer’ in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament on Friday mornings between 10am to 12 midday. If necessary, for this we will use our Parish Centre and detailed arrangements can be found in our weekly newsletter for 21 June 2020.