Thinking Anglicans

Let Us Use Our Churches

We linked previously to the article in The Tablet, written by Bishop Peter Selby. Today, a follow-up letter has been published in The Times (scroll down, behind paywall).

Text of letter to The Times

Dear Sir,

As the Bishops of the Church of England meet to consider their next steps in response to the pandemic, we call on them to change their current policy, which prevents clergy from visiting their churches to pray or broadcast a service. Bishop Peter Selby in The Tablet last week (‘Is Anglicanism going private?’, 30th  April 2020), speaks for many laity and clergy about the Church of England’s current approach. We fear, like him, that ‘this may mark a decisive point in the retreat of the Church of England from the public to the private realm’. We regard what has happened to be a failure of the Church’s responsibility to the nation, stifling our prophetic witness and defence of the poor, and ask for open discussion and accountability through the Church’s structures and other forums regarding the processes and thinking which led to these decisions.

It is widely agreed that the temporary closure of churches for public worship is necessary in the current crisis. However, the broadcast of services from a closed church is explicitly permitted by government guidelines, yet unlike almost all other Churches in these isles, the Church of England has gone beyond this advice. Without detracting from the excellent worship offered by many clergy in their homes, domestic settings cannot replace the church buildings whose architecture, symbolism and history represent the consecration of our public life. Moreover, Church of England clergy have also been prevented from ministering in schools educating the children of key workers and to the sick and dying in hospitals.

As the government is talking about the hope of easing the national lockdown could the Church of England now offer similar hope to its people with this first step?

Yours faithfully,

Full list of signatories (names are still being added)

Some related articles:


Opinion – 2 May 2020

Peter Selby The Tablet Is Anglicanism going private?
[Free registration my be required to access this article]

Giles Fraser UnHerd The C of E has retreated to the kitchen

Jeremy Pemberton From the Choir Stalls Funerals in a time of plague

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Talking of ministry: Woes, worries & possible blessings in COVID times

Martyn Percy Viamedia.News We Can’t Go Back…A Re-Minder To Us All

Michael Sadgrove Woolgathering in North East England What We Can Do For The Dead

Naomi Lawson Jacobs Church Times Disabled people say welcome to our world
“Maybe now churches will listen to people with disabilities about inclusive ministry”

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Titus Trustees and Simon Austen’s resignation

Andrew Graystone Church of England Newspaper Why the Titus Trust must close

Matthew Duckett Writing on the Walls of Nineveh The Treachery of Images – The Church in the Online Age