Church buildings during COVID-19

Pelsall, St Michael and All Angels
Pelsall, St Michael and All Angels, in Walsall Archdeaconry: socially-distanced seating in the nave for individual private prayer (June 2020). "We have aspired to get the balance right between providing spiritual comfort and inspiring confidence to accept the change" (Revd Alison Morris)

A related gallery of images shows how other churches in the diocese have reorganised seating and made adjustments for public worship

Latest updates

Please see the Coronavirus Info page on this website for the latest national and diocesan announcements on the safe use of churches, further to which specific guidance on church buildings follows below.

Church buildings as vaccination centres

Please see the national Church of England guidance, which sets out some of the logistical issues that churches might consider when deciding if their buildings could be appropriate COVID-19 vaccination centres:

a) Churches and halls under faculty jurisdiction

The Chancellor of the Diocese of Lichfield has published (7th January 2021) an Additional Matters Order, which allows for the use of churches and/or church halls and related buildings that are attached to the church or within its curtilage to be used for COVID-19 vaccinations without a faculty (subject to conditions).

Additional Matter permission (granted by the Archdeacon) is applied for through an online application via the Online Faculty System (OFS), described as an 'Additional Diocesan matter' at the bottom of the List B selection screen.

Please provide the following supporting documents:

  1. A copy of a resolution of the PCC or Standing Committee in support of the proposal
  2. Details of the proposed arrangements for:
    • Insurance
    • Indemnification of the incumbent and PCC against any liability
    • Restoration of any physical alterations
    • Making good of any physical damage
    • Ensuring that the use of the church (where applicable) for worship and occasional offices including funerals, weddings, and baptisms is not impeded

The Church of England guidance (as above) indicates, in the section on 'Permissions' (page 2), that 'You will need to ensure you get a formal agreement between the PCC and whoever will run the centre... A licence or hiring agreement should be agreed that includes information on fees and payment, insurance and liability arrangements, as well as agreement over access to and use of the space'.

It is therefore recommended that the written agreement includes the items in the bulleted list above, such that this agreement can usefully serve as a catch-all supporting document for the Additional Matter application.

Please note: The DAC officers and Archdeacons can provide further advice on the process of seeking such permission.

Separately, a specific risk assessment (including use as a vaccination centre) should be completed and recorded internally by the parish before providing public access to a church or hall:

b) Halls not under faculty jurisdiction

Church halls and related buildings that are not attached to the church or situated within its curtilage can likely be used for COVID-19 vaccinations without Additional Matter permission. However, using them as vaccination centres may involve works affecting the curtilage of a church (e.g. signage, altered traffic arrangements) and so falling under the faculty jurisdiction.

It is therefore recommended that the written agreement (referred to above) is still made between the PCC and whoever will run the centre, for internal parish purposes, but that the incumbent should notify and consult with their Archdeacon or the Diocesan Registry (legal office) on the question of whether the hall comes under the faculty jurisdiction, in relation to the particular proposal.

Separately, a specific risk assessment (including use as a vaccination centre) should be completed and recorded internally by the parish before providing public access to a hall:

Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage: Second Round

This fund is part of the rescue package announced by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to safeguard cultural and heritage organisations across England from the economic impact of COVID-19.

The second round of the Culture Recovery Fund looks forward to spring and early summer 2021, when it is expected that cultural organisations will be able to operate with fewer restrictions. The fund is delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic England.

Over £36million of grants will be available for heritage, covering the period April–June, to support organisations with the costs they will face as they welcome back visitors. All listed places of worship are eligible to apply. The church does not have to be one that is specifically considered a tourist or visitor destination. Previous applicants to the fund – both successful and unsuccessful – can apply.

Please note:

  • Applications open on 7th January and close on 26th January 2021, and must be made via the online form on the Heritage Fund website
  • Grants must be spent between April and June 2021 (there is no chance of an adjustment to this timetable as it has been set by the Treasury)
  • All necessary permissions (e.g. faculty) must be in place for the works to be done from April to June 2021

The Church of England guidance on the grant application process advises that it is therefore best to make a faculty (or related) application straight away rather than waiting to find out whether your grant application has been successful, and to let relevant decision-makers know that you are aiming to have permission in place by April so that processes can be expedited where possible.

Current guidance

Regularly updated guidance on church buildings during COVID-19 is available on the national Church of England website and is linked to below. Please check you have the most up-to-date versions of guidance, for which a new version may have been published.

Permissions for temporary works

The Chancellor of the Diocese of Lichfield has published (2nd July 2020) an Additional Matters Order, which allows for the installation of internet access equipment and wall-mounted hand sanitiser dispensers without a faculty (subject to conditions).

Additional Matter permission (granted by the Archdeacon) is applied for through an online application via the Online Faculty System (OFS), described as an 'Additional Diocesan matter' at the bottom of the List B selection screen.

Please note: The DAC officers and Archdeacons can provide further advice on the process of seeking such permission. General information on permissions for works to churches and churchyards, not directly relating to COVID-19, is also available on the DAC page of this website.

Building works and contractors

A specific risk assessment should be completed by the parish before contractors access a church building:

Public access

A specific risk assessment should be completed by the parish before public access to a church building:

Cleaning

Please note: A range of hygiene and cleaning supplies, as well as personal protective equipment (PPE), is available to purchase through the Parish Buying website.

Churchyards

Current procedures

Public notices (for faculty applications)

The requirement under the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015 (as amended) to display printed public notices at church buildings as part of faculty applications has been dispensed with during national lockdowns by the Diocesan Chancellor, to be undertaken by alternative electronic means.

Parishes at the public notice stage (following receipt of formal DAC advice) on the Online Faculty System (OFS) should follow the procedure detailed in the 'Legal Advice in Light of the Coronavirus Pandemic FAQs' by the Diocesan Registry. Please see:

DAC and adviser site visits

Site visits to church buildings undertaken by Lichfield DAC members and advisers are postponed and cannot occur from 6th January 2021 due to statutory restrictions on movement and gatherings, in accordance with legislation and Government guidance. Given the current national lockdown and infection rates, the National Church Institutions are advising against all work-based travel for both staff and volunteers. For further information, please see:


Page last updated: 18th January 2021 1:42 PM