For the latest guidance, please visit www.churchofengland.org/coronavirus
27 July 2021
Update on the Parish Support Office (Derby Church House)
The Parish Support Office staff have been working from home since March 2020. As the government have now encouraged office-based workers to return to workplaces from 19 July 2021, colleagues are now working a hybrid model of office and home-based with strict covid safety procedures being adhered to by all staff, which include limiting the number of people in the building at any time.
Currently, whilst we regularly assess the covid safety protocols, the Parish Support Office is not open to visitors. We hope to open our doors again to visitors and guests from September and will notify you accordingly.
27 July 2021
Emerging from the pandemic - pastoral principles
We commend the following pastoral principles, adapted from suggestions made by the Rector of All Saints' Church, Northampton (Diocese of Peterborough):
- The advice from government and the national church sets out what is possible and how to think it through, not what must be done.
- Change does not need to take place all at once. Some changes will take time. Work out what to do first and deliver that. Carry others with you and seek consent.
- There is no time limit. Resist the temptation to respond to requests for a timetable and only give undertakings for the short term. Be prepared to change course.
- Recognise in yourself and others the fears that will come with change (and from no change).
- Fix your eyes on those who are vulnerable in any way. Risk assessments must address the whole people of God.
- Remember your online congregation and continue to offer a livestream where possible.
- Be prepared for pastoral complexity – this will involve stilling some storms, correcting some misunderstandings, helping people to think of the needs of others, and the reality of contradictory demands from different parts of the church. Hold them together – they all belong.
Echoing the above, and giving more context, we have produced a simple Post Covid-19 restrictions and the liturgy FAQs which may be useful for parishes, incumbents and PCCs as decisions are made locally following post covid-19 restrictions.
>> Post Covid-19 restrictions and the liturgy FAQs [PDF]
23 July 2021
CofE position on 'vaccine passports’
The Church has adopted a clear policy of encouraging people to be vaccinated, but, other than in very exceptional circumstances, it would be difficult for it to justify limiting access to church services or organisations on the basis of vaccine passports. Such an approach would run contrary to the principle of the Church being a home and a refuge for all. Similarly, only in exceptional circumstances is the Church likely to utilise ‘vaccine passports’ should they become available in order to facilitate additional services to its members or to the wider community, preferring to continue to emphasise existing mitigations.
While the Church is, in principle, opposed to making use of ‘vaccine passports’, it should adopt a flexible approach to their limited wider use with the important caveats that such use ought to be demonstrably beneficial to society as a whole, protective of the vulnerable in particular, non-discriminatory in nature and proportionate in use.
For more information, please see the CofE submission to the Government's consultation on vaccine certification.
23 July 2021
CCCBR bell ringing guidance
The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers (CCCBR) has issued ringing guidance effective from Monday, 19 July 2021. It has been agreed with the House of Bishops Recovery Group.
Restrictions have largely been released, although there is still guidance on such matters as facemasks in certain circumstances, and the importance of ventilation in towers. There are no longer restrictions on how long you ring for, or with how many other people.
>> CCCBR summary ringing guidance
20 July 2021
Bishop of London urges caution and pays tribute to vaccinators as restrictions lift
The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, has encouraged churches and individuals to continue to take precautions to protect the vulnerable from Covid-19. She was speaking as guidance was issued by the Church of England to help churches prepare for stage 4 of the Government's roadmap for the lifting of restrictions.
Bishop Sarah, who chairs the Church of England's Recovery Group, said: “The relaxation of restrictions on Monday is only possible because of the vaccination programme which has reduced the percentage of those with Covid who become seriously ill or die.
"We are indebted to all who have developed and administered the vaccines and we encourage anyone who has not yet done so to take advantage of the protection they offer.
“Many will welcome the possibilities now before us, not least increased numbers at life events and a long awaited return of congregational and amateur choir singing.
“However, this is a difficult point in the course of the pandemic. Despite vaccination rates, cases are up, hospital admissions are up and long covid remains an ongoing concern. Therefore our approach needs to be cautious and careful.
“Taking personal responsibility means responsibility for our neighbour, not just for ourselves, and taking precautions to protect those more vulnerable than we consider ourselves to be. Local church leaders know their communities and their own circumstances, and we will support them making local decisions to keep themselves and their community safe. We would ask everyone to support those making local decisions and respect risk assessments, which are in place to protect everyone as we enter the next phase.“
20 July 2021
Opening and managing church buildings in step 4 of the Roadmap out of Lockdown
New CofE guidance has been written in response to the decision by the Government to move to step 4 of the ‘Roadmap out of Lockdown’. The move to step 4 from 19 July means we are being asked to take even more personal responsibility around coronavirus than when we were compelled to adhere to Government restrictions. This must be especially so in the context of the current spike in infections.
Whilst nationally restrictions have been eased, there is no obligation for churches to return, in the immediate future, to what used to be ‘normal’ - in fact, we have been urged to exercise caution as infection rates continue to rise, and to think especially of those who are anxious or particularly vulnerable.
As churches decide how best to manage the risk to ourselves and others, clergy and PCCs are best placed to know their own communities and environments, and particularly to understand and respond to the needs of those who are most uncertain at this time.
There is particular concern about changes to the administration of Holy Communion. Although reception in both kinds is now permissible, caution is strongly encouraged. The understandable desire from some in congregations to have things as they used to be should not make others feel pushed into behaviours which make them feel unsafe or ‘second-best’. We recognise that many will not yet want to share the common cup, and consideration must be given greatest risk is to those required to consume remaining consecrated wine following distribution. Holy Communion may be received in both kinds simultaneously by the priest intincting the bread into wine for each communicant. And reception by congregants of the bread alone remains, as always, full communion. The bishops will continue to support clergy, and wardens in vacancy, who make local decisions, to make adaptations slowly.
It is recognised that it may be difficult within some parishes to agree exactly what to do and how to come to a decision on a specific point. Working through the attached documentation will help make informed and considerate choices about all aspects of our common life under these new circumstances. If difficulties arise care and support is available, in the first instance, from Area Deans or Archdeacons.
>> Opening and managing church buildings in step 4 of the Roadmap out of Lockdown [PDF]
20 July 2021
Updated CofE guidance
>> Test and Trace
>> Risk assessment template for opening church buildings
This risk assessment template is intended for use from 19 July onwards. As step 4 sees the easing of all legal restrictions it is recommended that risk assessments currently in place are re-run to ensure they fit the new circumstances.
There is no longer a requirement for Archdeacons to sign off updated risk assessments, however they remain available for advice on an individual basis for those who need particular and additional support.
2 July 2021
Churches Visitor and Tourism Association June Newsletter
In the June 2021 Newsletter, Canon John Brown from The Churches Visitor and Tourism Association poses a lot of questions about the challenges of how we can “open the doors” of our church buildings and become a “pit stop” resourcing both our congregants and occasional visitors in our current situation as restrictions ease.
- In light of the pandemic, where can we best minister to our communities and visitors and tourists to bring the good news to our secular age?
- How can we best navigate from shut buildings and being online to open buildings and the added work of maintaining an online presence?
- How will we manage changes in public attitudes to risk as we open our buildings? What does the gospel offer to the questions of risk, uncertainty, bereavement, being an unwitting carrier?
- How can we resource our open buildings so that congregants, visitors and tourists find comfort, hope, and a sense that God is with them in their plight?
- Names displayed of those who have died
- Prayer resources for different emotions
- Scriptural resources and poetry
He quotes Revd Lucy Winkett from St James Piccadilly from a recent article in Church Times, who says that now more than ever church buildings matter as sacred spaces allowing honest conversation, whispered prayer, and public ritual, to place each of us as a small part in a much bigger story.
Revd Rhoda Blackwell
Assistant Curate, Newbold Parish Church
Updated 19 May 2021
Extension of Church Closure
The present blanket extension was due to end after 16 May 2021. Bishop Libby has agreed that churches may continue to stay closed, if the incumbent and PCC so wish, until 30 June 2021. This will give time to assess the impact of any government announcements which are scheduled to be made on 17 May 2021 and on or in advance of 21 June 2021.
During the intervening period, churches should discuss their proposals for re-opening with their area deans and archdeacons. A risk assessment will need to be completed and approved by the relevant archdeacon before a church may re-open.
It would be helpful if those churches which are already open would confirm that fact to Nicky Fenton, Bishop's Chaplain, and Cathy Luffman, the archdeacons’ P.A., so that an accurate picture can be formed of what is happening across the diocese.
Revd Nicky Fenton can be contacted at email@example.com
Cathy Luffman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org