Due to the extraordinary number of faithful coming to our Cathedral for worship due to the closure of their regular parishes during this time of pandemic, or the imposition of restrictions that otherwise make it impossible to attend their normal places of worship, the number of faithful wishing to attend our regular Divine Services has risen dramatically. While we strive to welcome everyone and provide a spiritual home for those requiring it in this difficult time, we must nevertheless make special efforts to control the numbers of worshippers at each scheduled service, so that we do not exceed the limits set by Government restrictions based on the need to maintain social distancing, etc. For this reason, please take special note of our revised schedule of regular Divine Services for Sunday mornings:!
First Divine Liturgy: Sundays at 8.00 a.m. in the Lower Church.
The gates and doors to the Cathedral will open at 7.30 a.m. Please do not arrive at the property earlier, as it will not be permitted to wait or queue anywhere on the Cathedral grounds. Please also note that the gates and church doors will close strictly at 8.15 a.m., or when we reach our maximum capacity, whichever comes first. Once the doors are closed, no further entry will be permitted for the first Liturgy; if you find yourself in this position, you will be asked to return to attend the second Divine Liturgy. There will be strictly no waiting on the Cathedral grounds between the Liturgies; and it is not permitted to wait outside in order to enter the church solely to receive Communion at this early Liturgy.
Second Divine Liturgy: Sundays at 10.30 a.m. in the Upper Church.
The gates and doors to the Cathedral will open at 10.00 a.m. Please do not arrive at the property earlier, as it will not be permitted to wait or queue on the Cathedral grounds, including queuing or gathering on the pavements outside the gates: please wait in your cars or elsewhere, arriving at the Cathedral no earlier than 10.00 a.m. When we reach our maximum capacity, an absolute maximum of 15 persons may be permitted to stand outside the Cathedral on the grounds, praying with the Liturgy by aid of the external speakers, as is permitted by Law and assuming that social distancing is maintained, even outside; these persons will be permitted to enter the church to receive Holy Communion at the appointed time. Once these numbers are reached, there will be strictly no further admittance to the Cathedral grounds.!
Please take careful note of these general guidelines:
It is not permitted to arrive halfway through the Liturgy and enter to receive Holy Communion. Those intending to receive Holy Communion must be present from the beginning of the Divine Liturgy, and say confession either at the Saturday evening Vigil or during the week, by appointment with one of the Priests. Exceptions to this rule will be made only for parents with infant children. We have asked all pious Orthodox Christians to attend the Sunday Liturgy once fortnightly (i.e. every other Sunday), given the fact that we are required to limit numbers and this means there are many more people desiring to be at the Liturgy than we are able to accept on a given Sunday service. Please remember that we have, in addition to Sunday mornings, generally at least three other Liturgies during each week, including Saturday morning: please consider attending one of these on intermittent weeks, coming on a Sunday morning every other week, and thus allowing others of your brothers and sisters the opportunity to attend on a Sunday. In accordance with current English Law, face coverings must be worn in the Cathedral at all times, except for children or persons who are legally exempt. No exceptions will be made.! At the end of the Divine Liturgy, after you have kissed the Cross and listened to the Thanksgiving Prayers, please depart promptly; this is especially important for participants in the early Liturgy, so that the church can be cleaned and prepared swiftly for the second Liturgy.! Finally, please remember that our Warden, Sisters and other appointed persons are blessed and authorised by the Bishop to maintain these practices, so that our Cathedral can remain open and accessible to the largest number of people during the remainder of this challenging period. This is difficult work, especially when they must inform you that a service is full and it will not be possible for further people to enter, since this is not something that any Church worker wishes were necessary. We ask for your patience and understanding, especially if you may be faced with such an unhappy circumstance; our Sisters will be happy to tell you when the next Divine Service is being held and help you make arrangements to attend. However, in the rare instances that people may be rude or hostile to Church workers who are serving in their appointed duties, a period of penance of at least three months without the possibility to attend services at this Cathedral will be imposed.