With the country in its third national lockdown, churches have been allowed to remain open, and St Mary’s in Newton is continuing to welcome people through its doors.
The Church of England in Newton and Flowery Field has been open since July, with the exception of the second lockdown, when government rules required it to close.
The Rev Sheila O’Flaherty, Priest in Charge of St Mary’s Newton with Flowery Field, said: “As the Archbishop of Canterbury said to the government when churches were forced to close during the second lockdown, being able to access the sacraments isn’t an optional extra.
“For people of all faiths, the ability to practice that faith is not ‘non-essential’, and we welcome the decision to allow communal worship to continue during the current lockdown.”
The Rev O'Flaherty continued: “Of course, for some of our congregation the risks remain too great, and we are supporting them by streaming services online, and providing DVDs for those who aren’t online.
“Right through the pandemic the need to care for all in our community, particularly those who are isolated at home has been our mission.”
David Mayall, churchwarden of St Mary’s Newton with Flowery Field, said: “We have looked at the current situation very carefully, and we continue to look at it.
“For the present, with Tameside having a much lower case rate than other areas of the country, and strong measures in place in the church to protect people, we are certain that it remains safe for us to open the doors.
“Safety first has been the absolute priority since we re-opened after the first lockdown. We take the safety of our congregation incredibly seriously, and we have done everything that is possible to ensure that St Mary’s is the safest place in Newton.
“Doing this right is a huge responsibility for the wardens, and we have been consistently impressed, at our regular services, at our special services over Christmas, and at funerals in Church, by the way that people coming into church have worked so well with the very necessary precautions that we have put in place.”