Bell ringing may resume in churches
Updated 16:30: Friday, 03 July 2020
It has been confirmed that bells can be rung in churches from 4th July, on the condition that ringing is in accordance with the guidance by the CofE and the CCCBR as outlined in the Advice on opening church buildings to the public.
Ringing remains at the express permission of the incumbent.
There is a specific requirement that ringers have read the guidance and undertaken the ringing risk assessment.
Opening churches for public worship
Updated 13:30: Wednesday, 01 July 2020
Churches are allowed to open for public worship, weddings and other services from 4 July - all with restrictions - and detailed advice for parishes and cathedrals is available on the Church of England website.
However, it is important to note that churches should not rush into this process and should not consider opening for worship until the necessary hygiene and social distancing precautions are in place.
Further information about this will be issued to clergy and church officers in Bishop Libbys Covid update on Friday 3 July
Before a church can open for public worship, a risk assessment must be completed. Where a church has already completed a risk assessment for private prayer, a new risk assessment will need to be done before public worship can take place.
An advisory ‘cap’ of 30 has been set for weddings and other ‘stand-alone’ services such as baptism and confirmation if not conducted during ‘routine communal worship’.
There is no numerical ‘cap’ on other services, but social distancing and Public Health requirements must be met.
Consideration should be given to keeping numbers below the maximum possible to further minimise risk.
Wearing of face-coverings is voluntary.
Government guidance includes a request for names of attendees to be recorded and kept for 21 days to assist ‘track and trace’ if required (further details from the government are expected to help parishes and cathedrals who wish to do this).
Singing, chanting and playing of brass or woodwind instruments are not recommended, but a further update will follow soon.
Detailed instructions on ‘consumables’ suggest that services of Holy Communion can be held if specific guidance is followed, including the continued suspension of the Common Cup (see the guidance document on Holy Communion).
Public worship guidance includes surrounding grounds (including churchyards, car parks and courtyards); meetings in other places should follow other guidance for people meeting in public spaces. Refreshments can only be served at tables if a café is included in the church or cathedral building.
Further Government advice about use of churches and church halls for non-religious activity is expected.
Statement on individual prayer in churches
The Government has now revised the date that churches may open for private prayer to 13 June, and has issued new guidance today (12 June).
Individual prayer within a place of worship is defined as a person or household entering the venue to pray on their own and not as part of a group, led prayer or communal act. They should be socially distanced from other individuals or households. Collective or communal prayer and regular scheduled services are not permitted at this time as set out in Regulations. This includes a Minister of Religion or lay person leading devotions or prayer of any sort.
Although the guidance allows for places of worship to reopen, as always the decision of how and when to begin the process of doing so for individual private prayer will be taken locally.
It is not compulsory for churches to open for private prayer and some may not choose to do so until a later date. Churches should only open if they have the resources and safety measures in place and there will be instances where it is simply not feasible or desirable for a church to open for private prayer.
Members of the public are advised to check a church's website or check with the vicar before going to a church to pray.
In the Diocese of Derby, amongst other things, there is a requirement that any church planning to open for private prayer must complete a risk assessment and have it approved by their archdeacon before opening.
Other important points:
- It is permissible for employees, volunteers and contractors to enter a place of worship prior to reopening for the purpose of making preparations so that the building can be used safely. The place of worship must remain closed to the general public during this time.
- Certain groups of people may be at increased risk of severe disease from COVID-19, including people who are aged 70 or older, regardless of medical conditions. Individuals who fall within this group are advised to stay at home as much as possible and, if they do go out, to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside of their household. This may mean that some regular volunteers or church officers cannot return to church buildings in any capacity for now.
- Individual prayer within a place of worship is defined as a person or household entering the venue to pray on their own and not as part of a group, led prayer or communal act. They should be socially distanced from other individuals or households. Collective or communal prayer and regular scheduled services are not permitted at this time, as set out in the Regulations. This includes a Minister of Religion or lay person leading devotions or prayer of any sort.
- Individual prayer should be carried out such that adherence to social distancing of 2 metres all round can be maintained between individuals or those from separate households. Restrictions should be set locally to limit the number of people permitted to enter the place of worship for individual prayer at any one time, so that a safe distance of at least 2 metres can be maintained.
- No food or drink is to be made available.
- Churches are encouraged to make sanitisers available for visitors to use on entering and leaving the building.
- Activities such as singing and/or playing instruments must be avoided, with the exception of organists, who are able to use buildings for practice with appropriate social distancing.
- Where visitors have the option to light a candle, do not use or provide matches or re-usable tapers. Those wishing to light a candle should ensure their hands are completely dry (so that no alcohol from santisers remains) and light a candle from an existingcandleflame.
Provision for lighting candles should not be available in unattended buildings.
Clergy may continue to stream prayers and virtual services from their church, maintaining the current guidance that only one member of clergy and one other member of their household can enter the church for this purpose. Such recording or streaming of worship must be done when the church buildings are closed for individual prayer.
Access to church buildings for clergy
Updated Mon 11th May 2020
You will have seen the House of Bishop’s announcement on access to church buildings.
The decision on when to initiate this change was devolved to individual bishops.
Bishop Libby is now content to allow clergy to enter church buildings for the purpose of private prayer and streaming of a service, but only if they wish to do so. Members of the priest’s household may also enter if this is necessary for streaming.
All are asked to closely follow the guidance on the document “Advice for clergy on re-entering closed church buildings”.
Further updates may happen later in the week following the government guidance issued today and the advice to employers due later this week.
There is no expectation for clergy to enter buildings, but they may choose to do so if beneficial.
Advice for parishes
For advice to churches about how to respond to the coronavirus outbreak, please check the information below and the relevant pages on the national Church of England website here: churchofengland.org/coronavirus.
Do bookmark the national C of E page and keep visiting it. The situation is developing, and new advice is being added all the time.
The latest guidelines about church closures came in a letter from the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of England on March 24, which you can download here. In summary:
- Our church buildings are closed for public worship and private prayer;
- There can be no weddings in church buildings until further notice;
- Funerals can only happen at a crematorium or at the graveside. Only immediate family members can attend.
Do read the Q & A section on the national C of E website here for more details, including advice about streaming worship and prayer from home, and other digital resources you can use.
This national Church of England advice about coronavirus is based on guidance from Public Health England and the government recommendations about staying at home.
The Discipleship, Mission and Ministry team is maintaining a page of Ideas and Inspiration for churches and parishes
>> Church open for private prayer poster [Word doc]
>> Church building closed poster [Word doc]
>> Zoom meetings: Guide for attendees [PDF]
One of the options during the coronavirus outbreak is for clergy or ministers to offer liturgy, prayer and teaching from their own homes.
You can read some of the advice about recording video material and live streaming here.
And please see our list of forthcoming live-streams in the diocese.
A number of parishes have asked about the delivery of parish magazines, pew sheets, Palm crosses or Holy Week orders of service to those parishioners who may be housebound or self-isolating. The advice from the national C of E is that door-to-door deliveries do carry a risk of transmitting the virus, as the deliverer may well be touching garden gates, letterboxes and of course the items they are delivering.
The scientific evidence suggests that the virus can remain on cardboard for 24 hours, meaning that letters, leaflets and envelopes will carry a similar risk. Wearing gloves may protect the volunteer deliverer, but could transmit the virus from House A to House B unless they washed between each delivery. And, of course, deliveries of such items are not classed as essential travel by the government.
There is, of course, a desire for churches to keep in touch with those who are housebound or self-isolating who do not have access to digital technology.
Our advice is that pastoral support can be carried out by phone calls. If items do need to be delivered, they can be sent by the Royal Mail, as postal workers have been given training in how to deliver items more safely. It also cuts down on the number of visits to each household. This advice echoes the advice of the national C of E, which you can read under the FAQs here.
Resources to help you pray and worship at home
As you are confined to your home, you may want to engage with some of the spiritual resources that are available online, to help adults, young people and children in your household or your congregation to continue to pray and worship. You can find out more on our Ideas and Inspiration page.
The national Church of England has also put together some liturgy and prayers that can be used at home, which you can find here.
Prayer resources for children
During the Coronavirus lockdown, this page will be the location of “Faith at Home” resources. These are designed to use with children and adults together.
During the Covid-19 outbreak, our funerals ministry is likely to change, especially while our church buildings remain closed. Sadly, funerals are only permitted at the moment in crematoria and at gravesides, and with only a few close family members attending, to minimise the risk of infection.
The national Church of England has put together some resources to help those who are mourning the loss of loved ones, but are sadly unable to be present at the funeral. There is a simple reflection that can be downloaded and used by family members or friends, or can be emailed to them in advance by the minister leading the funeral.
You can find more resources here, including simple orders of service for funerals and the chance to light a virtual candle in memory of someone you love who has died.
See also: Guidance for Funeral Directors