25th MARCH 2020
As your four bishops we are asking in the strongest possible terms that churches and clergy follow our instruction and guidance in these matters for the immediate future. As a reminder that instruction is as follows:
1. Our church buildings remain totally closed with a notice on the door explaining why, as provided previously. This includes for the clergy, such that no act of worship is led or streamed from inside the building.
2. Therefore funerals are not possible in church, which we know is distressing for grieving families, but is safest in preventing the spread of the virus. Funerals can only take place at the crematorium or at the graveside with numbers restricted to closest family (partners, children, parents) and the maintenance of social distancing.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are calling for Church of England churches to put public worship on hold and become a “different sort of church” in the coming months to face the challenge of coronavirus.
As an ecumenical partnership of Anglicans & Baptists, we follow advice from both of our denominations.
In a joint letter, Archbishops Justin Welby and John Sentamu said it was now necessary to put public services on hold until further notice. But they said that far from having to “shut up shop”, the Church of England must face the challenge by becoming a radically different kind of church rooted in prayer and serving others. It comes after the Government announced unprecedented peacetime measures to try to control the spread of the virus, with restrictions on public gatherings, transport and working.The Archbishops expressed the desire that church buildings may, where practical, remain open as places of prayer for the community, observing social distancing recommendations. They also invited clergy to maintain the ancient pattern of daily prayer and, where possible, the eucharist – live streaming their worship if they have the resources to do so. And they urged congregations to be in the forefront of providing practical care and support for the most poor and the most vulnerable during the crisis. “Being a part of the Church of England is going to look very different in the days ahead,” they wrote.“Our life is going to be less characterised by attendance at church on Sunday, and more characterised by the prayer and service we offer each day.“We may not be able to pray with people in the ways that we are used to, but we can certainly pray for people. And we can certainly offer practical care and support.“ Please do carry on supporting the local foodbank and buy extra provisions for it. Ensure the night shelters wherever possible are kept open. There are many very encouraging schemes happening right across our country in communities to focus on caring for the most vulnerable and do continue to play your part in those. “Then by our service, and by our love, Jesus Christ will be made known, and the hope of the gospel – a hope that can counter fear and isolation - will spread across our land.” They added: “This is a defining moment for the Church of England. Are we truly a church for all, or just the church for ourselves.“We urge you sisters and brothers to become a different sort of church in these coming months: hopeful and rooted in the offering of prayer and praise and overflowing in service to the world.” The archbishops have joined other church leaders in calling for a day of prayer and action this Sunday (Mothering Sunday) particularly remembering those who are sick or anxious and all involved in health and emergency services.
Further information on what the suspension of public worship will mean will be available as soon as possible on the Church of England website. This page will be regularly updated.
We shall be adhering to these protocols for the foreseeable future; we will update you as things change.
Please do keep in touch with us and contact one of us if we can be of service to you.
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WARDEN: George Papworth - 020 8529 8565
DEACON: Loretta Darby - 020 8523 3576
CHURCH: 020 8531 2120
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- E17 6AR