Sunday Mass Arrangements in August and September

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A message from Mthr Alice:

Over the course of the pandemic, medical advice for those who have been considered vulnerable has been updated and refined as we learn more about this new and potentially deadly virus. One of the groups who have continued to be considered as vulnerable are pregnant women, especially those in the last twelve weeks of pregnancy. This is because pregnancy weakens the immune system, and makes serious complications from respiratory viruses more likely. There is also emerging evidence that a serious COVID infection may have negative impacts on the baby, perhaps doubling the risk of pre-term or stillbirth. The vulnerability of pregnant women has been made more complicated by the fact that the vaccination in pregnancy was not approved by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation until the middle of April, and in practice, pregnant women were not able to book vaccinations until the beginning of the summer.

As a result of all these factors, following the relaxation of restrictions 19th July, the official advice from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives has remained the same as it has for most of the pandemic. That advice is that those in the last twelve weeks of pregnancy should be especially careful about social distancing, and take extra measures to try and prevent infection. This advice is irrespective of vaccination status. The advice for those employed is that if they are in a public facing role, they should be enabled to work from home, or be suspended on full pay to ensure that strict social distancing is possible.

I am not employed, but am clearly working in a role that brings me into contact with a wide range of people. Sunday mornings are especially high risk: the building is busy with worshippers, volunteers and soup kitchen guests, and with the relaxation of restrictions that are allowing us to bring back aspects of our church life that we have missed, the risk factors unfortunately increase for me. After much discussion with the bishop and my midwife, we have made the decision that I will step back from Sunday duties until I begin my maternity leave at the end of September. It has been a very hard decision to make, and it seems very odd that I won’t be sharing worship on the day of the Lord’s Resurrection with you until, all being well, Easter Day. I am so far having an uncomplicated pregnancy, but I must take the medical advice seriously, and look after myself and the baby.

I will be continuing to say mass on Thursdays, as these are very much quieter, and I will be continuing to work until the end of September. I am available on the phone, by email, and to meet with people individually outdoors. I am very grateful for the support of Stepney colleagues who will be stepping in earlier than expected to cover Sunday mornings.

I will communicate with you all more details about my maternity leave later in the summer, but in the meantime, please pray for me and the baby, as we navigate the final weeks of pregnancy. And please be assured that I will be praying for each of you.