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Churches may open up for Prayer

by Michael Ford last modified 12 Jun, 2020 11:58 AM

Following a recent announcement that places of worship could reopen for individual private prayer from June 15, the Government has now revised the date in guidance just published to June 13. But it will be up to individual churches to open only if they feel it is safe to do so.

The House of Bishops has also said that funerals may take place inside our buildings from June 15th (click here for this story).

In letters to all clergy and licensed lay ministers advising them of the change, Bishop Nicholas made it clear that it would be up to individual churches to make a decision about whether or not they would be able to open within the published guidelines.

He said:

"Please take the time that is needed for local decision in keeping with the latest guidance. Church buildings may open for private prayer but it is not a requirement that they do so."

Writing on the day the Church remembers St Barnabas the Apostle, the Bishop added:

"I hope that you and the people in your care will experience this first relaxation from the ‘lockdown’ as an encouragement on St Barnabas’ day but not a demand for you and your church to do what may in some places be impossible."

The Bishop noted that throughout our Diocese, churches were taking a variety of approaches:

"Some are planning to open for a few hours each day, others once or twice a week to reduce the need for cleaning on the basis that the virus does not survive for more than 72 hours without a body to host it."

The government guidance can be viewed here.

The Church of England has also revised its guidance about funerals in line with advice from Public Health England (link here) and the Bishop advised that:

"Each church is different but you will need to be able to demonstrate that you are acting within the guidance and the risk assessment will help you to do this."

The Bishop's letter echoed the advice from the Church of England website which comments:

"If churches are ready to open earlier than planned, they may of course do so, however many may wish to wait until June 15 or later to do so in line with their existing plans.

"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."

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