Coronavirus Info

Thank you for the hope you are bringing in these challenging times!

As lockdown eases, and as restrictions on the use of church buildings are gradually lifted, I encourage you to read through this new and regularly updated guidance as it arises and together to assess what this will mean in practice for you locally, in your parish, school, chaplaincy or Fresh Expression. I want to reassure you that we do not expect you to do more than you are able to, taking all local and personal factors into account, whilst making the most of the available opportunities to show and to share the love of Christ. If you have any questions, your archdeacon will be glad to give you advice.
Bishop Michael

Regularly updated guidance is available on the national Church of England website here. Please check you have the most up-to-date versions of  guidance, for which a new version may have been published.

We are producing regular updates through the Bulletin for clergy and other church leaders, staff and volunteers in Lichfield Diocese. Click here to receive these.

Meanwhile, we have collected here information on many aspects of church life - whether in parish, school, chaplaincy or fresh expressions:

Latest Updates

20 October

Updated guidance

The national Church of England has published updated advice on it website on ordinations & consecrations, conducting public worship, funerals, confirmations and baptisms.

19 October

Covid-alert posters & Remembrance Sunday

There are two new Government links which may be useful for churches: one for Remembrance Sunday guidance and links to new posters for different tier alert levels.  

16 October

At-a-glance guide

The national Church of England website now includes a helpful at-a-glance guide to restrictions for churches across the three tiers. There's also updated advice on conducting weddings.

13 October

Three-tier announcement

The easiest information to sum up from yesterday's government announcement is at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/local-covid-alert-levels-what-you-need-to-know. It lists what the different alert levels mean, and at the bottom there is a link to see which area comes under which tier. 

Walsall joins Wolverhampton, Sandwell, Birmingham and Solihull from tomorrow (Wednesday 14 October) in the 'high' tier, which moves to no mixing between households/bubbles indoors, in private and public spaces. The rest of the diocese remains under the 'medium' tier – with things as they are now – including the 'rule of 6'. 

Places of worship remain OPEN under every tier, including under 'very high' and 'high' where there is added no mixing between households with local areas having the possibility of additional local restrictions.

12 October

Local outbreak advice

There are new FAQs on the national Church of England website about NHS Test & Trace and the first steps to take if there is a local outbreak linked to your church. The advice strongly recommends the NHS Test & Trace App, and therefore QR code, for church buildings as well as church halls.

9 October

Archdeacons' Visitations

From Bishop Michael:

Due to the ongoing restrictions due to COVID-19, I have taken the decision to ‘inhibit’ the Archdeacons Visitations during which newly elected churchwardens are admitted to their office. This is in accordance with the procedure mentioned in Canon C22(5) and following Canon E1.2(a).

Those who have been elected as churchwarden should present themselves for admission to their incumbent or priest-in-charge; or, where these are not available, to their Rural Dean or Assistant Rural Dean, showing them a valid DBS certificate. This can take place before 31st October 2020 if an annual meeting of parishioners has already taken place, and no later than 31st January 2021.

I ask therefore that churchwardens be admitted locally, after those newly elected have confirmed that they have a valid DBS certificate. If needed churchwardens can be admitted to their role online.

The relevant documents are available on the Archdeacons' Visitations page.

2 October

Latest guidance updates

There are new guidance documents on the Church of England website on outoor worship & churchyards, mission & ministry with children & young people and church heating.

25 September

New guidance on opening churches, funerals and other subjects

Updated guidance documents on opening church buildings to the public, ordinations & consecrations, confirmations, funerals, public worship, baptisms and weddings are on the Church of England website. There is also a new FAQ on holding Remembrance Services.

24 September

NHS Test & Trace and QR codes for churches

As the NHS Test & Trace app launches today, the national Church of England has published guidance on Test & Trace for churches.
 
Churches that operate solely as places of worship are not legally required to collect data using a QR code (and will not be penalised for not doing so - see exceptions below). However, the NHS system - which provides unique QR code posters for each venue - is a simple and efficient way to take part. The app is free to download and works on smartphones. If your church is already using another QR code system, you will need to switch to the NHS one. Alternatively, churches can continue with paper test and trace forms.
 
If your church houses a cafe, is open to tourists or casual visitors, is open to the public for any purpose not connected to worship, or is running a community centre or hall, you are required by law to display an NHS Test & Trace QR code poster from today. Please read the guidance closely for exemptions and other details.
 
There is also new guidance for Fresh Expressions, an updated parish continuity plan guidelines and updated Q&As on the Church of England website about baptisms and ordinations.
 

18 September

Updated advice on public worship

The national Church of England has updated its guidance on the conduct of public worship to take account of the 'rule of six'. More updated guidance documents are expected on its website next week.
 
For churches who run community facilities, whether these are in church buildings or in halls or other buildings, the Government has issued guidance for the safe use of multi-purpose community facilities.

17 September

Church of England updates on the 'rule of six'

The Church of England has updated its website to answer questions about how the 'rule of six' affects church services, bible study groups, choirs, weddings, funerals, baptisms and other matters. Its relevant guidance documents will be updated in the coming days where necessary. We are also awaiting guidance on Annual Church Meetings. Meanwhile, please see 26 August entry below.
 

10 September

New Government guidance on 'rule of six'

Updated Government guidance, which comes into affect on Monday 14 September, confirms that:

Places of worship will stay open for services and communal prayer in line with guidance for reopening Places of Worship.

Places of worship can stay open for services for more than 6 people. However individual groups of more than one household or support bubble must not exceed 6 people. You should limit your social interaction in these venues to the group you are attending with. Strict adherence to social distancing is strongly advised and a distance of 2 metres (or 1 metre with additional COVID-19 Secure measures in place) should be kept from people you do not live with wherever possible.

The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, who chairs the Church of England’s recovery group, said:“I welcome confirmation from the Prime Minister that places of worship can still hold more than six people in total, despite the new restrictions on gatherings, and the reassurance that public worship can continue. We will continue to work with the Government on specific areas relating to our churches and church-based activities.”

The Government has updated its guidance on multi-purpose community facilities (such as church halls), which states:

From 14 September, whether indoors or outdoors people from different households must not meet in groups of more than 6. This limit does not apply to meetings of a single household group or support bubble which is more than 6 people. Community facilities following COVID-19 secure guidelines can host more than 6 people in total, but no one should visit or socialise in a group of greater than 6. Further information on social contact rules, social distancing and the exemptions that exist can be found on the guidance on meeting with others safely. These rules will not apply to workplaces or education settings, alongside other exemptions. See more details on what has changed.

If partaking in permitted activities users of COVID-19 secure community facilities should limit their social interactions with anyone they do not live with. Whilst activities may have 30 or more people participating (where it is safe to do so and capacity permits) it is important for all parties to maintain socially distant, 2 metres or 1 metre with actions taken to reduce the risk of transmission (where 2 metres is not viable) between households. For example, use of face coverings and encouraging good hand hygiene on entering premises and throughout visit.

The Government's Q&As on what you can or can't do have been also been updated and cover a range of topics including weddings.

5 September

Children & Young People's Work

There's a recently updated version of the guidance on mission and ministry with children and young people. Please get in touch with diocesan Parish Evangelism Enabler (0-12s) Laura Edwards if you need any support in this area.
 

3 September

Banners and posters

Posters and signs to put up around church buildings regarding physical distancing, face masks, giving online and other matters are now available to download free of charge on the Church of England website.
 

27 August

  • Updated Baptisms document
  • Updated FAQ Can we do full immersion baptisms? in Life events section

26 August

Guidance on meetings of parishioners to choose churchwardens and APCMs, including options for mixed physical/virtual or fully virtual meetings

If you are unable to hold wholly physical annual church meetings this year, please find

This follows the instrument signed in March to enable Annual Church Meetings to take place up to and including 31st October, due to COVID-19. Please contact your archdeacon if you have an questions.

25 August

  • Updated FAQ Can church bells be rung? in Prayer and worship section

24 August

Annual Church Meetings and Electoral Roll

There will be further guidance on meetings of parishioners to choose churchwardens and APCMs, including options for mixed physical/virtual or fully virtual meetings from our archdeacons this week. This will be added to this Covid Updates page as soon as it is available.

In preparation the electoral roll has to be revised annually. 14 days notice must be given that the revision is to begin, and then the revised roll published for at least 14 days. The revision must be completed a maximum of 28 days before the APCM date.

Local restrictions

If an advisory warning is made by your local authority (due to an increase in cases), churches should follow Government guidance and any additional specific local guidance from your local authority. All county councils within the Diocese of Lichfield have been asked to inform us of any local alerts, restrictions or lockdowns so all affected can be informed. If you are aware of anything through social media please contact comms@lichfield.anglican.org and your archdeacon.

20 August

  • Updated Conducting public worship document – with the inclusion of singing and further resources
  • Updated FAQ Can a choir sing during worship? in Prayer and worship section

17 August

In light of Friday’s Government guidance updates the national Church of England have updated the following documents. This is particularly in light of changes to advice on choirs singing during services. Please see the top of each document for details of changes.

https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-churches

14 August

Singing from the front of church

The Government has just updated its guidance with the following:

"Small groups of professional or non-professional singers will be able to sing in front of worshippers both outdoors and indoors from 15 August. Singing in groups should be limited to professional singers only and should be limited to a small set group of people and should not include audience participation."

The national Church of England is currently seeking clarity on the 'professional' element of this and will update its guidance in due course. Please keep checking its website for updates.

8 August

Updated national guidance

The national Church of England have updated the following advice documents, together with relevant FAQs. They include what the mandatory wearing of face covering means in practice for those leading worship (and at weddings). Please read the documents relevant to you, carefully, including the advice regarding face coverings.

4 August

Local Covid-19 outbreaks and updated guidance

Here's a helpful action card to download from Public Health England which outlines key steps for places of worship to help them quickly identify and contain any potential COVID-19 outbreak.

If an advisory warning is made by your local authority (due to an increase in cases), churches should follow the updated Government guidance below and any additional specific local guidance from your local authority.

The Government's guidance for the safe use of places of worship was updated yesterday with additional requirements regarding face coverings. Its guidance on the safe use of multi-purpose community facilities has also been updated regarding hygiene and face coverings, along with its guidance on special religious services and gatherings.

The national Church of England has also updated its guidance on ministers and volunteers deemed at additional risk.

24 July

Useful Government guidance:

16 July

Children & Young People's Ministry and Pastoral Encounters

The national Church of England website has been updated with fresh guidance on ministry and mission to children, young people and families plus guidance on pastoral encounters with people experiencing pain or trauma.

14 July

Test & Trace

The national Church of England website has been updated with Test & Trace guidance including a consent form template (the same as in our diocesan FAQs), a privacy notice template and an online privacy notice template.

The national Church is also currently considering its advice on face coverings in light the Government's emerging guidance.

6 July 2020

Dispensations from public worship services

From Sunday 2 August onwards, if all churches in a benefice (or a plurality) decide they will not open their buildings for public worship they should seek a dispensation from their area Bishop (or Bishop Michael for the Stafford Area). This is not necessary for individual churches who decide not to reopen if others in their benefice are reopening. A suggested template prepared by the Diocesan Registry to use is below.

Dear Bishop

I am writing to confirm that the Parochial Church Council [s] of the Parish [es] of [xxx] [and xxx] in the Benefice of [xxx] has [have] met [digitally as the case may be] and has [have] passed a resolution reflecting its [their]  discussions and consideration of the current circumstances relating to the Coronavirus issues facing the country at the present time with particular reference to the ministry of the Church of England within the Parish [es] and the Church [es] of [xxx]  [and xxx].

The resolution for each PCC was “to request the Bishop to exercise his/her powers under Canon B14 to dispense with the obligations to say, sing or celebrate services under Canon B11 and B14 within the Church [es] of [xxx] until [date]”. [As minister, I concur with this request]

There is no intention that the Church [es] of [xxx] should cease to be used altogether for public worship and there is a full intention that services should be resumed as soon as is appropriate.

The factors which [I]/[the PCC] took into consideration included the following:

Bishop Michael wrote to all clergy, lay ministers and churchwardens on Friday 26 June about re-opening buildings for public worship.

Other guidance and resources

Church Buildings during Covid-19

Occasional Offices

Current information about Weddings, Christenings and Funerals during the pandemic.

The Ministry Shift

A 15-minute live video resource for the support of ordained and lay ministers

 

Virtual worship and resources

A selection of national and local broadcasts and streams of services, studies and meditation. Also:

Safeguarding during the covid-19 lockdown

Congregations continue to serve their communities and each other - but we must still have due regard for safeguarding our children and vulnerable adults

Finance and Covid-19

Advice and details for parishes including:

Pastoral Care and support

Our Wellbeing support for clergy, diocesan staff and their families continues to work - see here for details including specific advice on wellbeing through lockdown.

And out Education team put together a support page around ‘Loss and Change’ and Covid19, drawing together recommended resources that are particular focused on schools but could be used by churches too. You can find them on the website here.

Schools

Our colleagues who serve the 108 CofE schools in the diocese have lots of information and resources here.

Space for Learning

Hundreds of people have visited our Space For Learning page where Bishop Michael invited all ministers, clergy and lay people to engage between 1 and 12 June.

Each week day during that time, there was an opportunity to take part in different ways of learning with the theme of Being in Community. Through talks, films, art, poetry, reading and discussion we are engaging with some of the key questions of what it means for Christians to be in community, how we can build communities and what community means at a time of social distancing.


Page last updated: 20th October 2020 2:37 PM