The House of Bishops' statement on 5 May 2020 addresses the possibility of "very limited access to church buildings for activities such as streaming of services or private prayer by clergy in their own parishes, so long as the necessary hygiene and social distancing precautions are taken".
Please read the detailed guidance below to ensure these activities are conducted in a safe and hygienic way.
Before re-opening churches for clergy prayer/streaming in Church Buildings
- Ensure that the church building interior is appropriately cleaned paying particular attention to any detritus (bat droppings etc) that may have gathered.
- Air the building to minimise mould spores etc.
- Run all the taps (to minimise the risk of legionella) and flush and clean toilets. Run the water from all taps and other hot and cold water-outlets for at least five minutes to ensure the water system has been thoroughly flush through. If you have any concerns seek appropriate professional help/advice
- Consider checking general maintenance items such as Electrical Systems; Emergency Lighting and other lighting; Fire Alarm Systems; Heating Systems; Oil Supply; fridges; Security Monitoring and Access Systems; water systems and toilets
Each time the Church Building is used
- If clergy or lay ministers are likely to use the building as part of a rota, make sure those bits of the church that are touched often (doorknobs, light switches etc) have been thoroughly cleaned between use
- Do not share Bibles, prayer books etc. Each person should bring their own books, order of service and take them home with them
- Make sure hand-sanitizer is available at the entrance door and that everyone cleans their hands upon arrival
- If toilets or washing facilities are available, make sure that there are disposable paper towels, and that there is plenty of liquid soap
- If services are being streamed, the filming should be done either with a fixed camera or by a member of the priest’s or lay minister’s household
- Lock the church after use
- The advice above also applies if others need to enter the church building, for example, workers to undertake necessary maintenance
On an ongoing basis
- Run taps and flush toilets
- Perform a general clean of the Church building interior paying particular attention to those bits of the church that are touched often (doorknobs, light switches etc). These areas should be cleaned on a regular and frequent basis
CCLI introduced a streaming licence in mid-March 2020. It is available to any church which holds a CCLI Church Copyright Licence, which the majority of Church of England churches do. For many churches, this licence will cover them for their streaming activity:
- For churches who are streaming their services via YouTube or Facebook, the CCLI Streaming Licence will cover them for live worship music performed as part of that stream. (This would include services streamed or webcast via YouTube but embedded into the church’s own website).
- You can check on the CCLI website as to whether permissions for a particular hymn or song are covered by them.
- If the church is hosting the stream/webcast on their own website, they will need the PRS for Music Limited Online Music Licence (LOML) in addition to the CCLI Streaming Licence.
- The CCLI Streaming Licence includes the right to show the words on screen.
- The CCLI Streaming Licence allows a church to make recordings of the services available on their website indefinitely provided you keep renewing your streaming licences.
- These licences cover ‘live’ music performances. If a church is using recorded music as part of the stream, additional rights come into play. Commercially available CDs or music recordings cannot be played unless specific permission is granted by the copyright holder.
- Another license, One License is available which covers an additional range of church and choral music e.g. Taize, GIA Publications, Oxford University Press, Wild Goose Resource Group, Kevin Mayhew.
- The Church of England uses both a One Licence and CCLI Streaming Licence for the weekly online services to enable access to a broad range of Christian music.
- The same rules described above over seeking permission for ‘recorded’ performance still apply.
Rights-free music from the Church of England, St Martin in the Fields and the Royal School of Church Music
- The Church of England, working with St Martin-in-the-Fields and the Royal School of Church Music, is providing a resource of rights-free music for Church of England churches to use on streamed services, via the A Church Near You resource hub providing you have a CCLI Streaming Licence. Read the press release for more details.
- There are several other Christian organisations that provide apps or software that provide backing tracks for worship, some of which are giving churches permission to use their pre-recorded tracks as part of their streams. Please carefully check first before using this material.
Using other copyrighted material
- Permission should also be sought from the owner(s) of any other creative works included in the service. If reproducing bible verses, or liturgy, usually there will be copyright information in the front of the publication, and usually they will allow for a certain proportion to be reproduced.
- For any images etc. the same rules would apply as in normal circumstances. Never assume that you can take an image found on Google and use it in a church service or include it in a service sheet or similar without permission. Read our guidance on using images here.
- Regarding a Service Sheet, as long as there are appropriate licences/permissions in place, making that service sheet available online should be fine.
Advice on using Zoom to stream services
- Churches using Zoom to stream services need both the CCLI Streaming Licence and the PRS for Music LOML. This is because Zoom doesn’t currently have an agreement with PRS for Music as YouTube and Facebook do.
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.
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
There is a section on the homepage of the safeguarding area of the Church of England website which is updated with COVID-19 advice.
Domestic abuse may affect anyone at any time, but the isolation resulting from COVID-19 is particularly affecting victims/survivors of domestic abuse.
For more information please see our advice on safeguarding matters during the COVID-19 restrictions.
A range of reflections, audio and video material is being developed to sit alongside existing resources. Read more further down the page.
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 the 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.
Sadly, there can be no weddings in church buildings until further notice.
It is not currently possible under English law for a wedding to take place using video conferencing technology without the couple, priest and witnesses being physically 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.
One of the church’s most important areas of ministry is pastoral care. The usual ways of undertaking this have been very significantly affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Whilst innovative ways are being found to keep in touch and offer care, the usual route of face to face visiting has not been possible in most situations. This has been challenging and distressing for very many clergy and lay ministers as well as for those who receive such care.
Read our guidance document on Advice on pastoral support in the community, including care homes.
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.
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.
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.
Fabric and building maintenance
This advice is written to help clergy return to their churches safely. It is intended to be helpful and not to put an additional burden on clergy whilst at the same time enabling clergy to pray and livestream in a way that protects both their and others health.
Please read our guidance checklist on Access to church buildings during lockdown: advice for incumbents and ensure a Parish risk assessment has been completed ahead of accessing a building.
On 5th May the House of Bishops’ announced a phased approach to the return to church buildings, echoed in government guidance published on 11th May. This guidance provides advice which will help PCCs and Chapters to work towards this in the best way for them and ensure that buildings are in appropriate condition to be used for such purposes as are allowed. It reflects that church buildings remain closed to the public but anticipates their gradual return to use.
Read our guidance document on Access to church buildings during lockdown: general advice for incumbents, churchwardens and PCC members.
It is possible to carry out construction work, providing the following guidance is adhered to:
Finance and governance
Parochial church councils can, if they wish, meet using virtual means such as Skype or Zoom which enable the members to see and hear each other.
However, care must be taken so that members of a PCC who are unable to participate in a meeting in that way are not excluded from the PCC’s deliberations and decision making. The Chair should take steps to ensure that they are able to participate so far as possible, including where necessary by means of the procedure for conducting business by correspondence set out in rule M29 of the Church Representation Rules.
Following a virtual meeting, decisions such as the authorising of expenditure, entering into contracts or those that require a formal resolution of the PCC should be put in written form and circulated for formal approval under the correspondence procedure in rule M29 (which under Rule 76 can be conducted by email).
Churches rely on the generosity of their congregations and their communities to support their mission and ministry. Many people give regularly to their church by standing order or direct debit. Others give in cash when the offering is taken in a church service or when visiting the church, and people will not be able to give in this way whilst our church buildings are closed.
Many individuals are going through financial uncertainty as a result of lost or changed employment during the restrictions, and that may affect their giving too. This means that it is even more important that those who can give are able to do so. You could consider including an update in a bulletin or online parish magazine to let people know how to go about giving online or by standing order or direct debit.
For further guidance visit Parish Resources.
Schools and nurseries
You should contact your Headteacher about access arrangements and follow the school guidance. More information about school opening can be found on the Government website.
No, current government guidance does not permit this to happen.
Guidance on mental health and wellbeing and Coronavirus
Guidance on Spiritual Communion and Coronavirus
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Church buildings closed poster
Safeguarding and COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Crisis, Scarcity, and Christian Ethics – a short note for chaplains
Wellbeing of clergy and lay ministers during the coronavirus pandemic
A guidance note on churches’ community action during COVID-19
Access to church buildings during lockdown: advice for incumbents
Guidance for churches and cathedrals on access to their buildings for construction work during lockdown
Guidance for accessing church buildings for buildings maintenance during the coronavirus pandemic
Access to church buildings during lockdown: general advice for incumbents, churchwardens and PCC members
Advice on pastoral support in the community, including care homes
Keeping church buildings clean
Towards Re-opening Church Buildings: Coronavirus Risk Assessment Checklist for Parish Churches
A page has been created containing prayers and intercessions for personal or group use, special prayers for use if it isn’t possible to meet in church and a simple form of prayer for the morning and evening, which can be downloaded, printed and shared with those remaining at home or who are unable to access the Internet.
A new Daily Hope phone line is now available, free of charge, to those unable to access online resources.
These resources are offered to help those who are struggling to find words at this difficult and stressful time and to enable Christians to worship in solidarity with one another even if it is not possible to gather in a church building.
View any updates made to the page, with the most recent listed first.
Thursday 28 May at 15:35:
- New Schools and nurseries section including:
- New FAQ Can members of clergy and foundation school governors enter a school building?
- New FAQ When schools re-open can church buildings be used by schools as a place of worship or gathering?
- Updated Should we still deliver printed communication? FAQ
Wednesday 27 May at 10:40:
- New FAQ and guidance on What guidance is there for pastoral support in the community, including care homes
- Updated Fabric and building maintenance section including:
- Access to church buildings during lockdown guidance checklist
- Parish risk assessment template
- New FAQ and guidance on What advice is there for access to buildings during lockdown?
- New FAQ and guidance on What advice is there for keeping the church clean?