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.

Around half of diocesan staff have been furloughed. Please use email in the first instance to reach staff who are still working - email addresses can be found here.

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

Latest Updates

5 August 2020

Face coverings update

The national Church of England has shared this expected guidance from the Government from 8 August:

In England, face coverings are currently required by law to be worn in shops, supermarkets, indoor transport hubs, indoor shopping centres, banks, building societies, post offices and on public transport. From 8 August, face coverings are also required by law to be worn in a greater number of public indoor settings including places of worship, museums, galleries, cinemas and public libraries.

There are valid exemptions for some individuals and groups to not wear a face covering in these settings. In particular, those who are leading services or events in a place of worship, and those who assist them (for instance by reading, preaching, or leading prayer) do not always need to wear a face covering, although one should be worn especially if physical distancing cannot be maintained (ie distributing consumables). This exemption does not apply to worshippers, who should wear face coverings consistent with the requirements for any other public space.

Those exemptions will also cover the bride and groom at a wedding and those officiating/leading the wedding. This exemption does not apply to those observing the wedding, who should wear face coverings consistent with the requirements for any other public space.

As mentioned below (24 July), decisions as to the points at which face coverings should be worn by those speaking to the whole congregation (eg leading services, presiding, preaching, reading, leading intercessions, making announcements) will need to be made taking into account the particular context and layout. If face coverings are taken off or put on during a service, the wearer’s hands should be carefully sanitised on each occasion.

4 August 2020

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.

31 July 2020

Face coverings to be 'mandatory'

This from the national Church of England:

"The Prime Minister has outlined plans to make face coverings mandatory in Places of Worship from 8th August and has withdrawn guidance to permit indoor professional performances with immediate effect. We will study detailed government regulations and guidance once they are available and will update our guidance accordingly.

"In the meantime, we continue to strongly advise that face coverings should be worn by all those attending a place of worship, including ministers, worshippers, staff, volunteers, contractors and visitors, where there may be other people present; remembering that they are mainly intended to protect other people, not the wearer, from coronavirus (COVID-19) and that they are not a replacement for physical distancing and regular hand washing."

Please check back on the national CofE website for further updates.

24 July 2020

Face coverings and other latest guidance for churches

The national Church of England website has been updated with new guidance on face coverings which 'strongly advises' the use of face coverings by all people attending church buildings. This comes after the Government's guidance on places of worship was updated to 'encourage' the use of face coverings.

Decisions as to the points at which face coverings will be worn by those speaking to the whole congregation (eg leading services, presiding, preaching, reading, leading intercessions, making announcements) will need to be made taking into account the particular context and layout. If face coverings are taken off or put on during a service, the wearer’s hands should be carefully sanitised on each occasion.

There's also a helpful Safer Churches guide on adapting churches to enable safe reopening and worship, plus a new document on Holy Communion and the distribution of the elements and updates on many older guidance documents including one on outdoor worship and churchyards.

Current guidance which may be of use to churches includes:

Useful Government guidance:

16 July 2020

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 2020

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.

10 July 2020

Updates on singing outside & funerals at crematoria

The Government's updated guidance on places of worship says:

  • From 11 July, outside only, small groups of professional singers will be able to sing in front of worshippers. Singing in groups should be limited to professional singers only and should be limited to a small set group of people. Both the singers and the worshippers should be outdoors.

The Government's funeral guidance has also been updated and referred to by the Institute of Cemetery and Crematoria Management.

The main principles remain that bereaved people are treated with sensitivity, dignity and respect and mourners and workers involved in the management of funerals are protected from avoidable risk of infection

Changes to the previous guidance include allowing both family and friends to attend a funeral, the number of people who can attend a funeral and singing. The guidance suggests "a modest number" may attend, ensuring venue capacity and attendance numbers allow social distancing. Government guidance includes that singing should be specifically avoided.

As guidance changes if you have questions for the crematoria that you use, please speak to your rural dean. Local connections with bereavement services have proved to be fruitful during the pandemic and an ongoing conversation enhances both the working and pastoral relationships involved.

Meanwhile, both the Government guidance on places of worship and the Church of England still advise that funerals at churches should have no more than 30 people in attendance.

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: 5th August 2020 5:45 PM