Last updated Friday 3 April at 16:05
- Updated Securing and caring for your church buildings during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic: advice for incumbents, churchwardens and PCC members document
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement of 23rd March, the Archbishops have written to clergy in support of the measures and again on 27 March, requiring that churches must now close both for private worship and public services.
Our church buildings are therefore now closed for public worship, private prayer and all other meetings and activities except for vital community services until further notice.
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.
Sadly, funerals may now only happen at the Crematorium or at the graveside. Only immediate family members can attend (if the crematorium allows) – that is, spouse or partner, parents and children, keeping their distance in the prescribed way (this is true also for burial of ashes). No wake or gathering should be held following the funeral, and this should be scheduled for a later date.
We recognise how difficult this will be for many and add to the pain of a loss, and encourage you to discuss with your vicar or minister the possibility of a memorial service at a date in the future where more people can be present.
Emergency baptisms can take place in a hospital or at home, though subject to strict hygiene precautions and physical distancing as far as this is possible.
Sadly, there can be no weddings in church buildings until further notice.
Foodbanks and services such as GoodSAM should continue where possible under strict guidelines and may have to move to be delivery points, not places where people gather. If you can do consider making a financial contribution to your nearest foodbank.
Anyone running a food bank should follow the advice found on the Trussell Trust’s website.
Such services should always be notified to your insurer, and any special conditions requested by them complied with.
Live streaming of services is more important than ever and is permissible from homes.
We encourage us all to consider how we can be as creative as possible with streaming services and other resources. There are many, many fantastic examples of churches and clergy using technology to reach and engage communities. Read more guidance here.
Live streaming should be operated by the person presenting or a member of their household. External personnel should not move between households to facilitate.
If a church wishes to host a live-stream on their own website then they can apply for a Limited Online Music Licence (LOML).
Can we play live music in the video?
A church wishing to sing and play live music on a live or pre-recorded video on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram are able to without applying for a licence as it is covered by the platform. The video is required to be ‘unbranded’.
Can we play backing music or a recorded song in the video?
If a backing track or a recorded song is played as part of the video, this is copyrighted material and a Limited Online Music Licence (LOML) should be applied for.
Can I embed a video on my website?
If the video is embedded from YouTube, as the host of the video, the platforms licence covers this.
If the video is hosted on the church website, the church would need to apply for a licence.
Information on licenses
Schools and childcare providers are being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children, including those whose parents are critical to the coronavirus response and cannot be safely cared for at home.
The Government has published a list of categories of workers whose children will be prioritised. It includes “religious staff” – such as parish clergy and chaplains whose work is critical to the coronavirus response.
All parents are being asked to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and schools are remaining open only for those children who absolutely need to attend. Clergy who wish to confirm that their role is necessary to the continuation of an essential public service must contact their bishop for approval.
In the light of the Prime Minister’s announcement about the need for social distancing measures to be put in place, it seems unlikely that parishes will be able to hold their annual meetings (including elections) in the usual way. Please look out for information from your diocese on any special provisions made by the bishop about these meetings and elections.
PCCs – Guidance for holding remote meetings
The Charity Commission brought out guidance at the end of last week which provides that, even where there is no provision to enable them to do so in their governing documents, trustees should hold remote trustee meetings in the present situation and they should document their decision to do so to demonstrate good governance of their charity.
The Church Representation Rules do not make any provision for a PCC meeting to be held remotely. However, there is provision for business to be done by the PCC trustees by correspondence.
- PCC meetings (trustee meetings not APCMs) can be held remotely during this period when face to face meetings are not permitted and PCCs should document the decision to do this, in line with the Charity Commission’s guidance.
- Following a remote PCC trustee meeting, any business agreed or resolutions passed should be circulated to all PCC members under Rule M29 of the Church Representation Rules so that the business agreed remotely can be formally approved under the Church Representation Rules using the business by correspondence provision M29.
We are encouraging churches to find creative ways of staying in touch with those who are isolated and vulnerable and to give them spiritual support and also practical support as far as possible. We have published a list of digital and print resources and we are also developing new content. This is all available further down the page.
A range of reflections, audio and video material is being developed to sit alongside existing resources. Read more further down the page.
With the immense pressures on the Health Services, our healthcare chaplains are very much on the front-line supporting patients and staff.
Prison chaplains are also working in very pressurised and risky conditions.
Please hold all chaplains and chaplaincy teams in your thoughts and prayers.
In response to a request from some chaplains, the Mission and Public Affairs team has put together some on theological and ethical reflections for those who are called on to give advice where tragic choices are sometimes having to be made about the allocation of resources. This can be downloaded here.
We have also updated the Guidance for chaplains on working with members of minority religious groups and people with alternative spiritualities in the light of the present context. This is available along with other material from the Mission Theology Advisory Group that may be useful to chaplains.
Support for chaplains from Church House is being coordinated by the Director of Mission and Public Affairs, Rev Dr Malcolm Brown
Yes. Donating blood is an essential activity, and travelling to give blood is allowed.
Please consult Housing Justice, which has detailed specific advice for night shelters here.
Some Studies suggest that Coronavirus COVID-19 can live on paper and cardboard surfaces for up to 24 hours, and so any paper delivery represents a transmission risk. Local hand-deliveries also mean a volunteer will touch gates and postboxes and may come into close proximity with those who may be shielding. For these reasons, parishes are encouraged to look to digital communication, and telephone calls to keep in touch. The Government has designated postal workers and delivery professionals as key-workers, so any vital printed communication should be sent through the post.
Yes, there is a section on the homepage of the safeguarding area of the Church of England website which is updated with COVID-19 advice.