Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) regarding provisions for public worship at St James’s

[recent changes are highlighted in pink]

When are Sunday services at St James’s?

St James’s resumed public worship on Sunday 16 August 2020, and from 20 September the times of the services are as follows:

  • 9am:  Interactive online worship service (sung service with Communion) from the Lady Chapel, interactive on Zoom and live-streamed on St James’s Facebook page.

  • 11am:  In-person worship (from 1 November, Holy Communion) in the church building. 
    (Much of this guidance regards the 11am worship service in the church building.)

Note that these arrangements are not the ‘new normal’ but will be under monthly review.


What are the provisions for transport and parking?  
The bus stop across the street from church (Green Street bus stop) is refurbished and back in operation, and the 121, 279 and 307 busses will all stop there. 

For those wishing to come by car, the car park at the Community Centre is available.  (If the gates are down, don't worry—we’ve been informed that they won’t be locked.)

[Note that there is no longer any street parking on the Hertford Road in front of the church.]

Will there be live-streaming?

If you would prefer a live-streamed service, this would be the 9am service from the Lady Chapel without an in-person congregation, which can be found on St James’s facebook page:


Do we have to limit the number of people in church at any one time?

Yes.  This is due to keeping safe distance from worshippers who are not in the same household or ‘social bubble’.  In the revised seating arrangement, there is

  • space on the left side of each section of pews for individuals and pairs (accommodating 2 adults, and the equivalent of 22 adults total in these sections left and right)

  • space on the right side of each section of pews reserved for households, families and those in the same social bubble (accommodating up to 4 adults in each row, and the equivalent of 44 adults in this section)

  • three chairs in the left rear of the church for individuals with buggies or trollies

  • three chairs near the font reserved for the stewards/sidespeople helping in the service

Total numbers depend on the people arriving to church and in what combination (individual, pair, household/family/social bubble).

These are the areas that are not available for seating:

  • The upstairs gallery (to be made accessible only when downstairs has reached full capacity)

  • The choir stalls, as they face at a 90° angle to those sitting in the front pews

  • The rear- and side-facing pews by the baptismal font, as this prevents safe distance from the stewards/sidespeople sitting in chairs in that section

  • The Lady Chapel, which will be reserved solely for live-streaming daily prayers and the 10am online service.


At what time will the church be open for the 11am service?

The doors will open at 10.45am, to minimise the amount of time people are waiting in the church building.  If you arrive at church before then, we ask that you keep a 2-metre distance from those not in your household or ‘social bubble’. There is yellow tape on the church walk between the street pavement and the main doors of church to mark this.

We ask that you arrive before 11am, as we will not be able to guarantee a place to sit for the service after the service starts. 


What will happen when I enter church?

Some churches have implemented a reservation service, but for the present we can manage accommodating a congregation at the 11am service without having to reserve a spot beforehand.

Seating in the church will be on a ‘first come, first seated’ basis. Those arriving (whether as individuals, couples, or families/households)

  • will be asked to apply hand gel at the back of church, 

  • will have an opportunity to leave an offering/donation, 

  • need to complete in the track-and-trace form for themselves and those in their household who have come to church with them (explained below), and

  • will be shown their seats in the pews by the stewards, starting from the front, who will then direct worshippers to pews further back.

We would ask that you take the seats that the stewards show you, and then remain in your seats, as our church doesn’t accommodate a one-way system for entering and exiting the church.


Will a track and trace system be in operation at church?

Yes.  Before you are shown your seat, there is a box in which you place a piece of paper that has your name (and the names of those in your household), and a contact number.  Slips of paper and single-use pens are available should you not bring a track-and-trace contact slip with you to church. 

In line with official guidance, this information will be kept on hand for 21 days, and then discarded.  These details will not be used for any other purpose.

From 24 September the church is required to display posters containing a unique QR code so that worshippers may digitally ‘sign in’ using the official NHS Test and Trace smartphone app (available for Android and Apple).  If you have the app, we encourage you to make use of this.  However, as the app’s capabilities don’t not allow us to track and trace those digitally should a worshipper not using the app subsequently disclose a positive test for COVID-19, we would nonetheless ask that you put fill in a paper form in church as well.


Will I able to sit in my usual place in church, as I did before lockdown?

Most likely not, given that the stewards will show people to allocated seats, filling from the front of the pews and working towards the rear of the church.

This is in place to allow more people to be seated behind you after your arrival, and the farther front people are seated, the risk of breaching safe distance will be greatly reduced.

Do I have to wear a face mask in church?

Yes.  The wearing of face masks which cover the nose and mouth are required by law in places of worship.  Children under 11 are exempted from this, and there are also valid exemptions in law for adults.  This might apply to you, but before coming to church, please do consider the risk to yourself and others by not wearing a mask.  While we won’t prevent you from attending worship, we would strongly urge you to think about the health and safety aspect to yourself and to others in the congregation, and encourage you to join us instead for online worship at 9am.

We will have a supply of face masks available at church, and if anyone over 10 years of age arrives at church without a mask, a steward will ask if you require or desire one.  If you have a valid exemption, though, you are nonetheless welcome to worship with us in the church building, no questions asked.

However, we will require that all those wishing to receive communion have their nose and mouth covered by a face-mask during distribution, including children and those with medical exemptions (see below for further information).

All ministers and volunteers will be wearing masks at worship, to demonstrate that we are all in this together, so that we may worship safely. The sole exception currently (from 25 October 2020) is that only the preacher, only during the sermon, and only from the pulpit may be unmasked, so that the sermon may be adequately heard, given that the text is not projected on the screen to aid understanding. 


I find wearing masks uncomfortable—could I attend church wearing a transparent face visor instead?

Visors have been determined to be not a viable alternative to a face-mask made of cloth (woven material) that covers the nose and mouth.  A steward will nonetheless ask if you would like a mask, as we will have a supply of them on hand in church.

If, however, you have a valid exemption to the legal requirement of wearing a face-mask, and if wearing a visor might bring you peace of mind, no-one will prevent you.  But be aware that visors on their own do not decrease risk significantly enough to be an alternative, but are meant to be worn in addition to a face mask, not in lieu of one.


Can we receive communion?

The 9am online Zoom/Facebook service is with Communion would be the 9am Zoom/Facebook service.  Those worshipping online from home are invited to have bread and wine at hand so that we may commune with each other and with God.

From 1 November 2020, the 11am in-person service in church will include Holy Communion.  However, due to restrictions according to official Church of England guidelines to mitigate any breaches in social distancing to administer Holy Communion, be aware of these important changes:

  • Communion for the congregation will be in one kind (bread only).

  • After the Peace, we will ask by show of hands how many intend to receive Communion, so the priest will consecrate (bless) the appropriate amount.

  • When the time comes for distribution, a eucharistic minister will proceed to the chancel step.

  • One half of the congregation (i.e. one section of pews at a time) will be asked to stand and enter the aisle to receive communion.  

  • Those receiving communion must wear have their nose and mouth covered by a face-mask (this wil include children as well).

  • Maintaining 2 metres distance between households, those in the centre aisle wishing to receive move forward; at the same time, those in the outer (side) aisles will move to the back of church and around to the centre aisle to join the queue, again maintaining safe distance to those in front of them.

  • There will be hand gel in the centre aisle between the choir stalls; everyone must sanitise her/his hands before stepping to the chancel step.

  • Once reaching the chancel step, those receiving should extend their arms fully and cup their palms, and the eucharistic minister will let a blessed piece of bread fall into the cupped palms to avoid direct physical contact.

  • Should there be any accidental touching, both the worshipper and the minister must sanitise their hands again before distribution may continue.

  • No words are to be said by the minister and worshipper at distribution.

  • Those receiving do not communicate (eat the bread) at the chancel step, but will hold onto the blessed wafer, and take it with them back to their seat.

  • In order to return to their seats, those receiving communion will need to make a full loop around the whole section of pews (including the outer/side aisle), as each pew is cordoned off in the middle. This also allows for a one-way system to be in established.

  • Once worshippers in one section of the pews have finished receiving and have returned to their seats, the same will be done with the other pew section.

  • After all have who wish to receive communion have a piece of bread and have returned to their seats, the eucharistic minister will return to the sanctuary.  Once the priest says the words ‘The Body of Christ, broken for us all, bring us to eternal life,’ everyone responds with ‘Amen’ and then all receive together.

I have mobility issues that will prevent me from walking that distance around the church. Can I still receive Communion?

If this is the case for you, please make a steward aware of this as you enter the church building for the worship service.  After the stewards receive, the eucharistic minister will come to the aisle near where you are seated.  You should have hand gel with you, and you must sanitise your hands before receiving a piece of bread (fully masked, and arms outstretched, just as described above). 

I am medically exempt from wearing a mask.  Can I still receive receive Communion?

As distributing Communion means breaching minimum safe distance, receiving without the nose and mouth adequately covered by a face-mask presents an unacceptable risk to the eucharistic minister. Given this, receiving Communion will only be possible

  • if you have come to church with others your household or social support bubble, and someone who has been sitting with you brings an additional piece of blessed bread back to the pew to you whilst you remain in your seat; or

  • if you are content to wear a face-covering for the somewhat brief time in the aisle and at the chancel step during distribution, being permitted to remove your face-mask only once back in your seat, as you might be passing others in the pews as you ‘loop around’; this will also apply if, due to mobility issues, you prefer to receive Communion from where you are seated.

Note that we are also requiring children who receive Communion to have their nose and mouth covered if they come up to the chancel step to receive. 

Can I bring my own wine to church for it to be blessed at the 11am service?

Unfortunately, this is not allowed according to current Church of England guidelines, as all of the elements need to be blessed by the priest at the altar, and only the priest is allowed to take the chalice in church.

If you would prefer both bread and wine at communion, then you are encouraged to join us for the 9am online service, at which worshippers are encouraged to have bread and wine at home for Communion.

If I don’t receive Communion in church, can I receive a blessing instead?

Of course!  After everyone has received communion, those desiring a blessing will be asked to stand (if thy are able) and the priest will pronounce a blessing upon them from the altar.

Will we be singing hymns in church?

Not at the 11am service. Official guidance prohibits congregational singing, as this increases the risk of transmission.  There will, however, be music for reflection during the 11am service.

The 9am online service will continue to feature hymns and singing, though.


Can we share the Peace with each other?

Yes.  Although we are to refrain from physically sharing the Peace during in-person worship, there will be the Peace, when we can acknowledge our sisters and brothers, and wish them the Peace while remaining in our pews.


Will there be an offertory collection at 11am?

No. We are grateful for your continued generosity toward the ministry and mission of St James’s, not to mention to maintain our beloved church building. The collection plates, however, will not be passed around the pews at the offertory, but you are able make your gift in a number of ways:

  • There is a contactless donation terminal in the back of the church.

  • Cheques, cash and envelopes in the collection dish next to the contactless terminal. We have gift aid envelopes on hand that you can take home if you would like to make a donation via cheque or cash.

  • There is provision for online donations via a link on the weekly electronic newsletter and at the bottom the home page of St James’s website. 

  • If you would like to be a regular giver to St James’s via standing order, please contact our Stewardship Secretary, Carol Harvey, at


What will the 11am service be like?

It will be a said service with scripture readings, a sermon, prayers, the Peace, music for reflection and, from 1 November 2020, Holy Communion (see above). It should last for about 80 minutes, and follows much of the structure and the flow of what worshippers would have been used to at St James’s before lockdown. 

The 11am service will still be (for the present) without hymns. 

If you would prefer a service with hymn-singing, you are welcome to join in with interactive and live-streamed online worship at 9am.


Is the toilet closed?

The toilet remains open, following official guidance, but it will be reserved for urgent use only.  The toilet, basin, and all items that can be touched (including grips and handles) will be sanitised by a steward after every use.

We ask that the area outside the toilet in the vestibule be left clear, to maintain proper distance, and not to hinder access to those requiring it.


Will we have access to books and pew sheets?

No.  We have removed all of our books, leaflets and papers from the back of the church.  Everything you will need will be projected on the screen.


Can I light a candle while in church?

No. We’ve removed the candle stand from the area next to the choir vestry, to prevent people from handling items.

If there is a particular person or situation you would like us to pray for, please be in touch with the vicar (mobile 07944 25 25 23, or email by clicking here:


Will there be tea and coffee after the service?

No.  Only churches that have cafés as part of their buildings can serve refreshments.  You may bring a bottle of water with you, but please make sure that you take it with you when you leave, to reduce these items having to be handled by others.


What provision is there for children?

According to official guidance, we have removed all children’s books and toys, and the crèche is off-limits. At present Junior Church is not meeting at present, though we are reviewing what provision we might be able to have for our youngfolk in the near future. Children will need to sit with their families in their allocated pew for the full service.  We recommend that you bring books and other suitably quiet items for children while they sit with their families in the pews.


What happens at the end of the service?

When the worship service has ended, the stewards/sidespeople will direct the people to depart from church, starting from the back, and ending with those in the front pews.  You are asked not to congregate or socialise in the back of church, or even outside the church, but to make your way home or to your next destination.  Socialising should be done outside of worship in church building (and including anywhere on church property), in sensible and prudent ways, for everyone’s safety. During the current period of  government-stipulated Tier 2 restrictions in London, the so-called ‘Rule of Six’ regarding social gatherings with those outside of your household or social support bubble has been suspended. St James’s has many opportunities throughout the week for the congregation to interact informally and casually, all online.

If you wish to have a word with the clergy or the lay leaders, you can make sure that we have your contact details, but contact should be limited to telephone and emails.

When the congregation has departed the church building, volunteers will be on hand cleaning the pews and seats in preparation for the Church of Pentecost’s worship service in the early afternoon.


Will the church building at St James’s open at any other times?

At present there is no other provision for having the church open during the week.  That said, however, there is a steady diet of prayer services, Bible study groups, and fellowship, all taking part online.  The mid-week communion service (Thursdays at 10am) will remain online at present.


Are these arrangements the ‘new normal’?

No.  Official guidance from the government and the Church of England continues to be issued as circumstances change (both nationally and locally), so these provisions will be reviewed monthly by the vicar and churchwardens, next in mid-November.