Thinking Anglicans

Archbishops join interfaith call to PM to allow public worship

Church of England press release

Archbishops join interfaith call to PM to allow public worship

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, together with the Bishop of London, have joined national faith leaders in calling on the Government to permit public worship during the forthcoming lockdown in England.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, the faith leaders set out how public worship can play a vital role in supporting social cohesion and mental health and offer “an essential sign of hope”.

They conclude: “We call on government to recognise and support this, and enable us to continue to worship safely, as part of the essential fabric of the nation.”

Read the full letter.

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Kate
Kate
20 days ago

If the archbishops really cared they would Zoom a Eucharist from Canterbury Cathedral and York Minster and then offer a takeaway service for anyone who wanted to receive the host. It would be entirely within the lockdown rules and the same as offering the reserved host so entirely within doctrine too. But it would get the message across very strongly that the Government won’t stop worship and I think that is important.

Writing letters can’t hurt but it must not be seen as a sufficient response.

Will Richards
Will Richards
20 days ago
Reply to  Kate

If you go the Youtube channels of both Canterbury Cathedral and York Minster, you will find that they have been zooming live worship from the naves of both cathedrals (in the case of Canterbury will full choral services on Sundays and weekdays) as well as (Canterbury again) the Cathedral clergy leading more informal zoom services in their homes. The highlight, of course, has been the Dean of Canterbury leading Morning Prayer, surrounded by his collection of animals, as well as his superb idea to read some short stories, which are proving to be a wonderfully welcome alternative to ‘Book at… Read more »

Kate
Kate
19 days ago
Reply to  Will Richards

It’s offering the host in the precinct as a take-away which is the key. The Church of England should do *everything* in its power to ensure that people can continue to receive the Eucharist. The bishops have had six months now to think this through. It would be unforgivable if this time they don’t have a solution.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
20 days ago
Reply to  Kate

You’re asking a longstanding church to think creatively.
Good luck with that.

Bill Broadhead
Bill Broadhead
20 days ago

This is quite a change of direction by the archbishops, not least in joining other faith leaders in this initiative. They’ve acted quickly too. I gather the bishops had to be up bright eyed and bushy tailed at 8.00am this morning for another virtual meeting with the Beloved Leader and there was (as the press release will doubtless put it) ‘a variety of views expressed’ about pushing the government to rethink the prohibition on public worship. Quite a pow-wow by all accounts. So let’s be thankful that the early signs indicate that there has been a ‘lessons learned’ process after… Read more »

Paul Waddington
Paul Waddington
20 days ago
Reply to  Bill Broadhead

I cannot agree with Bill Broadhead. The Archbishops were rather slow to join the party, compared with the Catholics who went into action on Saturday evening.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
20 days ago

Well I never. Mr Waddington has found that even the pandemic provides another opportunity for him to praise “the Catholics”. I wish I belonged to a denomination which can do no wrong.

Simon Butler
Simon Butler
20 days ago
Reply to  Bill Broadhead

Bill, I was asked to attend at 8am to attend as an Observer and officer of general synod. What struck me was the near unanimity of views about the content of the letter. If by pow-wow you mean serious engagement then yes; if you mean fierce or divisive, then no. I think that the situation now is different than in March.

Michael
Michael
20 days ago
Reply to  Bill Broadhead

It is quite a change of direction. I note the heavy emphasis in the letter on BAME community as if they’re trying to make the Government look racist if they don’t allow public worship. I am wondering if the bishops have returned from planet zog in recent weeks and noticed the catastrophic impact on the financial viability of many churches which are teetering on the precipice thanks to months of closure. It is all too late for those churches. I can see the Government ignoring the request. After all, there has been widespread enthusiasm for zoom worship in the Church… Read more »

Bill Broadhead
Bill Broadhead
20 days ago
Reply to  Michael

Agreed, Michael. The Bishops haven’t made it easy for themselves (RCs as well as Anglicans) after their willingness to shut shop so swiftly earlier in the year. Nonetheless, I think the case is well-put in the letter and the fact that it voices the concerns of a broad sweep of religious affiliation may have some effect. And yes, Simon, by pow-wow I am referring to (what my source described as) some passionately expressed views that were not easily glossed over or ignored. You’ll have to excuse the Yorkshire terminology that doesn’t always translate well in that other world South of… Read more »

Pete Broadbent
Pete Broadbent
20 days ago

I suspect that Johnson will ignore it, because he doesn’t want to lose face or to do another U turn. But this is a serious and considered attempt to engage in a proper conversation about the importance of faith, of worship, of (in the case of the Christian Church) word, worship and sacraments. It’s not meant to make those who can’t be in church feel guilty. It’s not privileging worship in buildings over online – or vice-versa. But it does represent a genuine consensus among the bishops that, whatever mistakes were made previously, we now want to align ourselves with… Read more »

David Lamming
David Lamming
20 days ago
Reply to  Pete Broadbent

Regrettably, but predictably, the Government has ignored the letter and the new regulations (made by Matt Hancock at 2.45 pm today—a day later than Boris Johnson said on Saturday—and only laid before Parliament at 4.10 pm) do not include public worship among the uses for which places of worship may be open during the 4-weeks period starting on 5 November: The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No.4) Regulations 2020, SI No.1200 of 2020; https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/1200/pdfs/uksi_20201200_en.pdf My understanding is that MPs tomorrow will not be able to propose amendments to the regulations – only vote to approve or reject them en bloc.… Read more »

Richard Ashby
Richard Ashby
20 days ago
Reply to  David Lamming

In which case the Archbishops ought to encourage cathedrals and churches to break the law. The regulations are full of idiotic illogicalities (such as being able to meet one friend in a park but not play a game of tennis in the same park with that person) I doubt very much whether even Johnson would send in the police to break up choral evensong.

Jill Armstead
Jill Armstead
20 days ago
Reply to  Richard Ashby

Yes indeed, let the faiths fan the flames of insurrection. Why don’t we all join the 1000 Mask Marches against Lockdown? Let’s have an outbreak of civil disobedience led by the Church of England. Let’s hit that 70% of the population target to achieve short term herd immunity. Vast numbers of our brothers and sisters will die, but hey – who cares.

M Evans
M Evans
19 days ago
Reply to  Richard Ashby

But it’s not Boris is it, it’s local police – and it has already happened (although it wasn’t evensong. I’m not sure cassocks and surplices would make the difference though).
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-wales-54697158

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
19 days ago
Reply to  Richard Ashby

To be fair, there’s a solid COVID-based reason to approve two friends meeting in a park and not approve them playing tennis. Physical exercise increases the amount of respiration and hence the amount of potential viral spread.

Helen King
Helen King
19 days ago
Reply to  Richard Ashby

Richard, my own pet hate here is being able to meet one person in a park but not in a private garden. It’s been put to me that not everyone has a garden. Sure, but those who do can invite those who don’t! Or that meeting in gardens is risky because of walking through the house. But plenty of gardens have a back gate… And not everyone has a park or open space that they can easily reach. The more people perceive the rules as having ‘idiotic illogicalities’ the less likely they are to bother with them.

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
19 days ago

Bp Philip North – who needs to be taken seriously as a bishop who knows not to wear a mitre when praying – has the answer according to today’s Times. Noting that the Covid rules allows “events celebrating the life of someone who has died” to take place, +Philip asks, “Does this include the Eucharist, or does the Resurrection rule it out?”

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