Last updated 01 July 2020 at 13:20
The current guidance from the Church of England as at 23 June:
Following the Government announcement that church buildings will be able to reopen for public worship from 4th July, providing physical distancing remains in place, the Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, who leads the Church of England’s Recovery Group, said: “I welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement today that we will soon be able to begin to meet and worship together in our church buildings again.
“The last three months have been an extraordinary time – the first period without public worship and the sacraments in England in more than 800 years. There will be real joy as we begin to come together again – if even at a physical distance – but I also know that many will be understandably cautious at this news.
“We will not be returning to normality overnight – this is the next step on a journey. We’ve been planning carefully, making detailed advice available for parishes to enable them to prepare to hold services when it is safe and practical to do so. It is important to say that the change in Government guidance is permissive, not prescriptive.
“I would particularly like to thank clergy and lay leaders for all they have done during the time our buildings have been closed. Not all church buildings will be ready to hold regular services from July 4th, but we are providing whatever support we can to enable them.
“There will still be restrictions and we must all still do everything we can to limit the spread of the virus to protect each other, especially the most vulnerable. The online services and dial-in worship offerings we have become used to will continue.
“This has been an incredibly difficult time for the whole country, especially for those who have been ill, who have suffered financial hardship, the loss of livelihoods and indeed, for many, those they love. We know that is not over and the Church has a task ahead to bring consolation and hope.
“Churches and cathedrals have risen to the recent challenges, finding new ways of meeting for worship, of serving our neighbours, and of reaching new people with the love of God. The challenge before us now is to take the next steps carefully and safely, without forgetting all that we’ve discovered about God and ourselves on the way.”
Guidance for parishes and cathedrals
Detailed advice for parishes and cathedrals is available on the Church of England website. It will be updated, as necessary, in the coming days to reflect the detail of the Government guidance once published.
Weddings will be able to resume, along with other services. Updated advice for couples will be published on our website this week. The Church of England Recovery Group will also issue advice on subjects including singing and music for which a review by Public Health England is currently in progress.
We are awaiting follow up guidance from the Church of England or the Diocese of Bristol regarding the possibility of opening under this new timescale. It is clear we will have to carry out a risk assessment in each of our buildings and undertake some cleaning and other preparations, such as determining what hours to open, which areas can be used, and the provision of signage and hand sanitising facilities.
You will therefore appreciate that until we have received further guidance and undertaken some preparatory work our churches will remained closed for the time being until we are confident that it is safe to re-open them for this limited purpose. Once we have more information about this and any further proposals to re-open our buildings for other purposes we will of course communicate it.
A twice weekly newsletter, replacing the current WIS, Church News and Lacock Pew News, will be published on a Wednesday and Saturday giving more information. This will be emailed to those who have signed up to our current newsletters. You can be added to this distribution by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Copies of these newsletters can be found at: TEAM NEWS. Latest Issue 31 released on 1 July 20
A prayer for all those affected by coronavirus
Keep us, good Lord,
under the shadow of your mercy.
Sustain and support the anxious,
be with those who care for the sick,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may find comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us from your love
in Christ Jesus our Lord.