Online tickets snapped up… for a Sunday church service

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But one Island church has brought in an online ticketing system to cope with soaring demand after reopening its doors post-lockdown.

St Luke’s Church in Route du Fort, St Saviour, held its first non-virtual service since late March on Sunday, and the event was fully subscribed.

Anyone wanting to attend services needs to reserve a place in advance via the church website, and an additional service has been scheduled for this coming weekend to cope with demand.

Father Nick Barry said that distancing requirements meant that the capacity of the main body of the church had been reduced from over 200 to just 24.

‘It’s bizarre that any priest should have to close the doors to their church on a Sunday, but unfortunately we had to turn down some people who wanted to attend and put a notice on the door for anyone who came along on the day, explaining why they couldn’t come in,’ he said.

‘I never thought I’d live to see online booking for a church service, but that’s how we have adapted.’

Mr Barry said that with an average weekly attendance of 65 to 70 worshippers prior to the pandemic, he hoped that a second mass would cater for demand, but would consider a third Sunday service if necessary.

The Dean of Jersey, the Very Rev Mike Keirle, said he had received very positive feedback about those churches that opted to restart physical services as soon as Jersey moved to level two of the exit strategy from lockdown.

‘Some churches re-opened as soon as they could, while others are taking it more slowly,’ he said. ‘The guidelines we brought in were designed to be permissive, not prescriptive, enabling each church to do their own thing as appropriate.

Mr Keirle welcomed the adoption of new techniques, such as the online booking system at St Luke’s.

‘Everyone has been very creative through this period,’ he said.

St Luke’s will carry on streaming services to those who prefer to remain at home due to health concerns, Mr Barry said.

‘Live streaming is another thing that has become very normal, and there’s no reason not to continue that for the moment,’ he said.

Singing is not currently permitted because of concerns that vapours could be transmitted as worshippers launch into a lusty chorus of the week’s hymns.

‘Music is a key part of Christian worship, so it was disappointing not to be able to sing, but this was tempered by happiness people felt at finally being able to attend church again,’ said Mr Barry.

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