COVID-19: Guidance for churches

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for churches

 

https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-churches

Last updated Tuesday 17 March 2020 at 16:50

In light of the Government guidance around non-essential contact, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued advice that public worship is suspended until further notice. 

Churches should be open where possible but with no public worship services taking place. Prayers can be said by clergy and ministers on behalf of everyone and churches should consider ways of sharing this with the wider community. See more below on digital resources that are under development and currently available.

Read more in this press release, published at 13:30 on Tuesday 17 March 2020.

We are aware this is a very difficult time and will prompt a number of further questions. The FAQs below will be regularly updated, so please do keep checking back. When major changes are made we will publish updated through the national Church’s social media accounts.

Guidance for churches

What should churches do now?

Please note that ‘Washing hands’ always refers to washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using a hand-sanitiser with minimum of 60% alcohol content. See NHS guidance and download a poster version to display.

1.     Pause normal meetings for worship until further notice in line with Government Advice as a measure to help protect the most vulnerable.

2.     Consider keeping the church open as a place for prayer and contact, with appropriate signage to remind people of the need to keep at least 2 metres apart.

3.     Explore other means of sharing ministry including live streaming. See more information on this below.

4.     Encourage everyone to continue to maintain good hygiene and observe social distancing if attending necessary meetings.  Please provide hand gel at entrances and ensure there is a good supply of soap or hand gel in cloakrooms for hand washing. The best way of protecting us from the spread is for everyone to use universal good hygiene, - this means everyone, all the time, which will effectively disrupt the spread of the virus. Display the public information poster attached, which states:

o   Catch it – sneeze into a tissue.

o   Bin it – bin the tissue.

o   Kill it – wash your hands.

o   Do not touch your face unless you’ve washed your hands.

5.     Pastoral visits:

o   In circumstances where people are self-isolating because they are symptomatic or have been in contact with someone who has been symptomatic, no pastoral visits should be undertaken until their isolation ends. However, do offer phone support.

o   In circumstances where someone is self-isolating for their protection and a pastoral visit is thought to be necessary, please make sure you follow rigorous health and hygiene practices and maintain social distancing.

6.     Ensure good regular cleaning of surfaces people touch regularly, including such things as door handles, light switches etc.

 

FAQs

SHOULD WE STILL HOLD SERVICES AND EVENTS?

WILL THERE STILL BE FUNERALS?

CAN I STILL GET MARRIED IN CHURCH?

WHAT ABOUT WEDDING BANNS?

CAN BAPTISMS, CONFIRMATIONS AND ORDINATIONS STILL PROCEED?

WHAT IF A MEMBER OF MY CONGREGATION IS BELIEVED TO HAVE BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH CORONAVIRUS?

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I HAVE SYMPTOMS OR AM ILL?

HOW WILL CHURCHES MAINTAIN CONTACT, ESPECIALLY WITH THE VULNERABLE?

WHAT SHOULD I DO ABOUT MY PCC OR APCM MEETING?

WILL FOOD BANKS HAVE TO CLOSE?

WHAT SUPPORT ARE YOU OFFERING CENTRALLY TO PARISHES? 

WHAT ABOUT EXTERNAL GATHERINGS?

WHAT IF THERE IS NO RUNNING WATER, OR WE CAN'T GET HOLD OF HAND-SANITISER?

DOES THIS APPLY TO CHURCH OF ENGLAND SCHOOLS?

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR COLLECTIVE WORSHIP IN SCHOOLS?

 

Digital resources

This section outlines the resources that are currently available and new content that will be published in the days and weeks ahead for all to use at this time.  

 

What is currently available?

There are a range of Christian resources already available:

Read a blog which outlines how a church can inexpensively stream a sermon, service, event or thought for the day from the vicar or member of the church in situations where people are unable to attend church. 

 

What will we be developed in the weeks ahead?

In the days and weeks ahead we will be significantly expanding our output:

  • Simple daytime prayer and night prayer service – building on the existing daily prayer feed, we will record audio to accompany daytime prayer and night prayer per day, which will be available via an updated app and accompanying podcasts. 
  • More video content – this will include video services and more content for Holy Week and Easter. In addition, we will make Holy Week audio content available. 
  • Using AChurchNearYou.com - signpost those churches that are live streaming services and events. Churches need to add the 'Livestream' tag to their services and events that will be broadcast. Remember to add into the description, how people can watch this. You can add a link to the platform you're using to stream, such as your Facebook Page or YouTube Channel. Find out more about live streaming services and events.
  • Mental health reflections – daily reflections to help people, especially at a time when they are feeling lonely, isolated or anxious. 
  • Increasing the number of webinars - to help churches stream sermons, events and make the most of social media. Sign up for free.

Alongside the use of audio, app, smart speakers and social media, one of the main principles we are working to is to make as much as possible available in simple downloadable and printable formats for those who can’t easily access the technology. 

Prayer and liturgy

A new page has been created containing:

  • Prayers and intercessions for personal or group use
  • Special prayers for use if it isn’t possible to meet in church
  • A simple form of prayer for the morning and evening, which can be downloaded, printed, and shared with those remaining at home or who are unable to access the Internet.

These resources are offered to help those who are struggling to find words at this difficult and stressful time, and to enable Christians to worship in solidarity with one another even if it is not possible to gather in church.


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