Thinking Anglicans

Archbishops, +London write to all clergy

This letter from both archbishops and the Bishop of London first appeared on social media this morning. It is now available on the Church of England website  in PDF format.

A plain text copy appears below.

To the clergy of the Church of England

1 November 2020

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Greetings to you on this All Saints Day and as we are reminded again that we are indeed part of a universal company of saints.

We are writing to you to set out some of our thinking in the light of the most recent announcement by the Prime Minister. We are very aware that details are still not clear and there is much discussion still to be had about what the impact of the new lockdown will mean. We are also writing to assure you of our prayers for you and our thanks for all you do. We are clear that we do now need to call all Christian people to pray and to do so continually over this next month. In this letter as well as reflection we also set out an invitation to you to join in this call to prayer and to keep both praying and serving our communities.

This is a difficult and challenging time for all of us. We are sure that some of you reading this letter will wish we had made other decisions during the period of the first lockdown, or even challenged the government harder on the decisions it has made. You may be right. However, it is our view that the best way we can serve our nation now is by pouring our energy into doing the things that we can do, which is to pray and to serve. We also dare to hope that we will be kind to each other and that God will give us the courage and humility we need to be faithful witnesses to the gospel of peace.

A second lockdown will be upon us on Thursday. It is going to be different from the first one. The days are getting shorter and colder. We are anxious for ourselves, for those we love, especially those who are vulnerable and elderly, and for our families. We know that this pandemic is having a devastating effect on our economy and on people’s mental health. Thousands of people are dying. The National Health Service is being stretched to the limit. We also know and must continue to bear witness to the fact that the poorest communities in our nation are suffering the most. We are in for a long haul. It is going to be a hard winter.

But this second lockdown will also be different in other ways. There is much that we have learned from the first lockdown and there is much to celebrate and be proud of. Of course we are full of gratitude and respect for the amazing courage and commitment of all key workers especially those working in the NHS. Their contribution is rightly and widely recognised. We also applaud the many creative ways that churches up and down the land have been serving their local communities and working with others to make sure that the hungry are fed and the vulnerable cared for. We have managed to maintain and, in many cases, extend our outreach by streaming worship online and by developing other ways of building community online.

We are grateful for people’s energy, hard work and creativity in making this happen and we hope and pray this will continue. We are grateful that the new guidelines being introduced on Thursday not only allow churches to remain open for private prayer but also enable online worship to be broadcast from the church building. We were cautious about these issues during the first lockdown – perhaps overly so – but in this second lockdown we want to encourage church buildings to remain open for private prayer wherever possible, making sure that their buildings are Covid secure in the ways that we have learned in recent months, and to broadcast services from their church buildings. However, if you do not have the resources or wherewithal to do this, please do not feel that you have failed in any way. The good thing about provision of worship online, is that people can join in from anywhere and therefore we can support each other more easily in this endeavour. Our national digital team will continue to offer training and support and provide national services each week.

However, worship online still means that the people of God do not have access to the sacraments which are so central to our life in Christ. This is a huge loss and since we were not consulted about the lockdown provisions, we fully intend to speak with government about why certain exemptions are made and not others, emphasising the critical role that churches play in every community. The sacramental life of the church cannot be seen as an optional extra. Nor can we separate out our worship from our service, it is always both and not either or.

Nevertheless, we will of course abide by the law and ask you to do the same. We must do all that we can to keep our communities safe and to enable the NHS to manage this crisis. The Recovery Group chaired by the Bishop of London will be issuing specific guidance in the next day or two.

Bearing in mind our primary vocation as the Church of Jesus Christ to pray and to serve we call upon the Church of England to make this month of lockdown a month of prayer. More than anything else, whatever the nation thinks, we know that we are in the faithful hands of the risen Christ who knows our weaknesses, tiredness and struggles and whose steadfast love endures for ever.

Above all we recall people to some of the fundamental spiritual disciplines that shape our Christian life. How we do this is up to each congregation and clergy person. We will publish resources to support you before the first day of lockdown. During the first lockdown we cheered for the NHS every Thursday. During this second lockdown we invite you to fast in a way appropriate to you as well as pray for our nation every Thursday, for its leaders, its health and essential services and all those who suffer.

We thank you for your service and ministry and pray that God will sustain you and encourage you. After consulting the House of Bishops we will be writing a more general letter to the whole nation we serve, a letter expressing the hope we have and calling for courage, calm and compassion.

In one of the climactic passages of the New Testament, Paul says to those who follow Christ that their “love must be genuine, that they hate what is evil and hold fast to what is good.” He asks them to “serve the lord”, exhorting them to “rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.” (See Romans 12.9-12.) None of this is easy. Especially not at the moment. But it is our calling.

Yours in Christ,

The Most Revd & Rt Hon Justin Welby

Archbishop of Canterbury

The Most Revd & Rt Hon Stephen Cottrell

Archbishop of York

The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally

Bishop of London

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Angusian
Angusian
22 days ago

How typical ! It is left to the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster to seek justification from the government for a further closure of churches for public worship. The pious platitudes of this letter further reflect the lack of concern the hierarchy has for parish priests and local congregations.

David Lamming
David Lamming
22 days ago

A legible copy of the letter is available to download from the Media Centre page of the C of E website:
https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2020-11/Letter%20to%20Clergy%20from%20the%20Archbishops%20and%20Bishop%20of%20London%2001112020.pdf

David Lamming
David Lamming
21 days ago

Somewhat surprisingly, though, there was no mention of the letter, or of a link to it, in this morning’s C of E Media Digest. The call for the Church of England to make the month of lockdown “a month of prayer” comes a month after the retired Bishop of Carlisle, Graham Dow, and his wife, Molly, asked in their letter to the Church Times on 2 October 2020, “Are we alone in longing for a call to prayer for the nation and the world?” They referred to Solomon’s prayer in 1 Kings 8 and added: “Might our bishops, at this… Read more »

Pam SMITH
21 days ago

I received a copy from my Diocesan bishop last night.

Roger Hill
Roger Hill
21 days ago

Another nail in the establishment coffin. And a severe let down to those who still trust a national church to speak to the nation.
“We fully intend to speak to the government” is hardly seizing this critical moment. Our congregations would be glad of some appreciation too. The two I worshipped with yesterday were bemused as to why worship is to cease. I am just sad that we weren’t up there with the Roman Catholics and the Muslim Council in a quick and effective response.

NJW
NJW
21 days ago
Reply to  Roger Hill

It is my understanding that there have been some fairly robust communications from bishops and others from the Church of England directed at ministers – the challenge is whether these are any more effective than the more public messaging from our Roman Catholic brothers.

Will Richards
Will Richards
21 days ago

A significantly different theological tone to this statement compared to the nonsense that emerged last March. This is just one clear indicator that we have a new occupant at Bishopthorpe who is confident about articulating a physicality that it is at the heart of Catholic Christianity.

Just a quick comment in relation to the comment by Angusian, there is a piece in today’s East Anglian Daily Times on the Bishop of St Eds and Ips’s intervention about the closure of churches for public worship – and the bishops of the SSHW have also issued a clear statement, too.

David Lamming
David Lamming
21 days ago

The article appears to be on the EADT website only: it is not in today’s newspaper (Monday 2 November 2020)

David Lamming
David Lamming
20 days ago
Reply to  David Lamming

The report is in today’s newspaper (Tuesday 3 November 2020) on page 7 under the headline ‘Church closure regret’.

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
21 days ago
Reply to  Will Richards

Will, I actually backed the March closure (but not the prohibition/guidance on priests entering their churches to offer Eucharist) on the grounds that we knew very little about Covid-19. But we now know rather more, particulary: “don’t go to crowded spaces, wear face coverings, ventilation is key,” (Professor Devi Sridhar). As a 70+ year old asthmatic, I’ve recently presided and preached in a number of churches with complete confidence in the way Covid-19 protocols were observed. Given that most of our churches are barns in relation to the size of their congregations, it shouldn’t be too difficult to follow the… Read more »

Angusian
Angusian
21 days ago
Reply to  Will Richards

Many thanks !

Michael
Michael
21 days ago

‘worship online still means that the people of God do not have access to the sacraments which are so central to our life in Christ. This is a huge loss’ It has taken the two archbishops and the bishop of London eight months to admit to this reality. For all that time they (and their fellow bishops) have enthusiastically promoted zoom communion and more recently communion in one kind for the laity. Too late. Holy Week, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost public worship was cancelled. To that, add Advent Sunday, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Perhaps even Holy Week and Easter 2021.… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
21 days ago

The English lockdown mirrors its French counterpart in various ways, including prohibiting services and in permitting the use of buildings for the conduct of virtual worship. It should be noted that the French lockdown is being assessed, dynamically, at 15 day intervals, whereas its English counterpart is rather longer, presumably because it has locked down much later than France despite the trajectory of infection in England and France being more or less in lockstep. The signal difference is that during the first lockdown in France the bishops were anxious that full provision of public worship be resumed promptly upon the… Read more »

David Emmott
David Emmott
21 days ago

‘The sacramental life of the church cannot be seen as an optional extra.’ At last! I don’t remember hearing that message from the hierarchy, let alone many local churches, during the last lockdown.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
21 days ago
Reply to  David Emmott

The “sacramental life of the church” has been an optional extra for years in today’s happy–clappy CofE. Missing the sacraments is hardly a problem in the countless parishes where they’re never celebrated anyway.

Charles Read
21 days ago
Reply to  FrDavid H

Which ones? Even the most liturgically lax churches I know celebrate Baptism and Holy Communion regularly (if not frequently).

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
21 days ago
Reply to  Charles Read

There are so many. Like St George’s Church, Gateshead for instance. Anglican in name only.

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
21 days ago

I wonder if the RC response was rather more robust in tone because it has rather more experienced of worship being forbidden or restricted than the C of E. If you had told me this time last year that public worship would be forbidden within 12 months I would have put you on the crazy conspiracy theorist category. Yet it has happened twice.

Bill Broadhead
Bill Broadhead
21 days ago

“After consulting the House of Bishops we will be writing a more general letter to the whole nation we serve, a letter expressing the hope we have and calling for courage, calm and compassion.” That is also a shift of focus outwards and away from institutional survival. So credit where credit’s due – to the Archbishop of York. However, this small snippet does hint at the fact that there is (I am reliably informed) currently no consensus in the House of Bishops about what a “general letter” should contain, so ‘consulting’ is a euphemism for the fact that they need… Read more »

Sam Jones
Sam Jones
21 days ago

Why has the Bishop of London signed this letter and no other bishop? Is this an attempt to give her equal status with the two archbishops?

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
21 days ago
Reply to  Sam Jones

The short answer is that by virtue of her office she is the senior bishop in the C of E after the two archbishops, and like them, a Privy Councillor, hence “the Right Honourable”. There’s really no mystery in this. The next in order of precedence are the Bishops of Durham and Winchester, both also by virtue of seniority of office and not the length of time since their consecration. I believe we owe this to Henry VIII

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
21 days ago

Or it may be that, as someone who before ordination had a distinguished career in nursing, rising to be Chief Nursing Officer in England, it has been recognised that she has some useful skills and experience to offer, and therefore she was made chair of the “Recovery Group” co-ordinating the CofE’s response to COVID.

Last edited 21 days ago by Simon Dawson
David Lamming
David Lamming
21 days ago

Rowland, I think the more likely explanation is that Bishop Sarah is chairman of the Church of England Recovery Group, set up by the House of Bishops following the first coronavirus lockdown.

Will Richards
Will Richards
21 days ago

It’s none of these reasons. It’s because the Bishop of London is Chair of the Recovery Group and leads on the C of E’s response to the Covid situation. Presumably, she signs to give some reassurance that there is some joined up thinking between London House, Lambeth and Bishopthorpe. We could not take that for granted last March!

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
21 days ago
Reply to  Will Richards

It seems to be agreed that this is the likely answer to the first question asked by Sam Jones, whereas my comment answered his second question which I took to be the real point which he was making.

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
21 days ago

She is also Chair of the Recovery Committee, possibly because she was Chief Nursing Officer

NJW
NJW
21 days ago

She is also the bishop heading up the House of Bishops dialogue with the government – though I think it is perhaps optimistic to describe a conversation where one party is not really listening a ‘dialogue’.

Richard
Richard
21 days ago

Bishop Sarah is also the head of the CofE Recovery Group, which might be the reason for her being a signatory to this.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
21 days ago

Thank you all for the further responses, but I think they miss the point. I was essentially answering the question posed by Sam Jones “Is this an attempt to give her equal status with the two archbishops?” The answer is clearly not, and I stand by my comment as the appropriate response to that question.

Last edited 21 days ago by Rowland Wateridge
James
James
19 days ago

Rowland, thank you for the clarifications. You are indeed correct, the Bishop of London is third in line after the Archbishops. But I object to the way you expressed it. “There really is no mystery in this.” Really? Well, not all readers of this website or many Anglicans may be aware of the Church’s structure, legal history, tradition etc. Frankly, they might not give two hoots about it. I’ve never contributed on here before (though I often read the posts) but I felt like I had to say something and that is (and this isn’t directed at you or anyone… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
16 days ago
Reply to  James

James: You and I have a different ethos. At the age of 79 I am still learning and grateful for anything imparted on TA or elsewhere which adds to my knowledge. As to your suggestion that my comment was arrogant – I believe it to be exactly the opposite and I was, of course, responding originally to Sam Jones. I hope I did not offend him. I think my answer exactly fitted the question he asked about the status of the Bishop of London. I won’t comment further.

Sam Jones
Sam Jones
16 days ago

Rowland, thank you for your comments which I think are spot on. For the record you did not offend me in any way

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
15 days ago
Reply to  Sam Jones

Thank you for that very gracious response. I don’t intentionally wish to offend anyone!

Charles Read
21 days ago

I think this letter is in fact a vast improvement on the communications we had earlier in the year and we should give credit to the three senior bishops who have put their name to this. Whether this is entirely due to the influence of Stephen Cottrell is debatable but we should be thankful for a more logical, sensible and theologically informed approach. The call to prayer is indeed overdue. If I have some reservations about this letter they are these : 1.     while it is good to send this letter to all clergy (I hope this has included retired clergy… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
21 days ago
Reply to  Charles Read

Charles, For information ref your point 1. As a LIcenced Lay Minister in the Salisbury Diocese I received an Ad Clerum email from Bishop Nicholas at 11.14 this morning, addressed to “all licensed clergy, LLMs and PtOs”, forwarding the Archbishop’s letter. So some Bishops have got the message.

Charles Read
Charles Read
21 days ago
Reply to  Simon Dawson

Thanks – this is very good to hear.

Filigree Jones
Filigree Jones
21 days ago
Reply to  Charles Read

Calling people ‘PtOs’ is rather horrid, though, isn’t it? A PtO is the piece of paper that the permission is written on.

Kate
Kate
21 days ago

I won’t repeat in detail what others have already said: it is substantially the letter which should have been written six months ago.

But I have a theological reservation. Although it doesn’t use the word, I fear that the call for a month of prayer is a call for a month of intercessionary prayer. I hope I am wrong. There is a place for intercession but I would like to see the majority of prayer be worship not intercession, focused on our Lord, not on our earthly concerns.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
21 days ago

It’s a pity that the archbishops and Bishop Sarah state categorically that ‘the people of God do not have access to the sacraments‘, when they will be aware that many of us are receiving Holy Communion via a service which is streamed online. It’s true that some don’t consider this valid, but there is no general agreement on that point and it isn’t helpful to pretend there is. Since the first lockdown sterling theological work has been done on this question, by Miranda Threlfall-Holmes among others. No one has yet been able to give me a good theological reason why,… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
21 days ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

Like so much in theology, beliefs can mean what people want them to mean. If I say an online communion is valid, and someone says it isn’t, there’s no way on earth to prove who is right. Despite the “sterling theological work” undertaken by Ms Threlfall-Holmes, its just a matter of opinion.

Harriet Stone
Harriet Stone
21 days ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

Actually, Janet, you are not receiving communion and Miranda Threlfall-Holmes’s ‘sterling work’ hardly represents a broad ecumenical consensus that allows us to call bread & wine placed in front of a computer screen sacramental – and certainly not in the way a broad sweep of Christian tradition and the majority of the world’s Christians understand it. You’ll be waiting a long time for any bishop (except Reading, perhaps?) to endorse it as theologically acceptable, which is why the archiepiscopal statement is clear that, if you are not present in church, ‘the people of God do not have access to the… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
21 days ago
Reply to  Harriet Stone

You haven’t given any reason why it shouldn’t be. This is new territory, of course, and the Church is typically slow in catching up.

Richard
Richard
21 days ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

And what if, with good intentions, a sincere individual holds up bread and wine in the home and replays a recorded Eucharist? If that’s too far from “real time”, what if the individual pauses the Eucharist for 20 minutes (for whatever reason) and resumes just a bit later: not “real time”, yet not the next day. Or “I don’t like today’s celebrant; I’ll replay last Sunday.” Or the priest “intends” that the words of consecration apply for a fortnight? I believe that it is the assembly of priest and people who together consecrate the Eucharist.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
20 days ago
Reply to  Richard

But we are assembling together, in real time, if front of our respective screens, joining together in Bible study and intercession and the liturgy. It’s just that we aren’t in the same room. If that isn’t valid, then neither is it valid to take the reserved sacrament out to people who weren’t present at the consecration.

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
20 days ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

Non sequitur alert, Janet.

Stanley Monkhouse
20 days ago
Reply to  Allan Sheath

Maybe non sequitur, Allan, but it touches on points never addressed. Here are some more, and yes my lingual and buccal epithelia are in contact, but the issues remain. reservation of sacrament – how long before the flesh rots? extended communion. Is there a mileage/time limit? (8 miles, 20 minutes in my curacy was the max). is the bread In Lidl next door consecrated with that on the corporal? If not, why not? If so, cakes? all wheat products? corn? … Then there’s the wine jars. FWIW (which is nothing) I wouldn’t be surprised to see lay presidency in my… Read more »

Last edited 20 days ago by Stanley Monkhouse
Kate
Kate
20 days ago

I don’t think it is a non-sequitur to discuss what constitutes a sacrament.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
19 days ago
Reply to  Allan Sheath

Not a non sequitur. The Book of Common Prayer, which all clergy affirm in our vows, forbids us to carry consecrated bread and wine out of the church. It’s to be consumed immediately after the celebration. And there must be at least 3 communicants besides the priest for a celebration of Holy Communion to take place. In the early years of my ministry I knew clergy who refused to reserve the sacrament, and always celebrated communion with the sick instead.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
19 days ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

My point is that adapting our practice to suit pastoral needs is part of the Anglican tradition. Holy Communion by extension is another example, as Stanley points out; and many a priest and bishop has celebrated communion for themselves or just one or two other people.

Church order is important, but Jesus showed us that the spirit of the law is more important than the letter. And I am sure that he wants his people to be fed, even as he allowed his disciples to harvest wheat to eat on the Sabbath.

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
19 days ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

Janet, the lived reality is that clergy have been carrying “consecrated bread and wine out of the church” for generations. Do you, as rubrically required, preside north side and read the exhortations? Quoting the BCP’s (highly political) rubrics is suggestive of a degree of desperation.

Charles Clapham
21 days ago

I am as frustrated with the lockdown as everyone else. But I can’t (yet?) see any engagement by critics cited here with the considerable weight of scientific argument in favour of lockdown (and that in fact it should have been done earlier); nor with the fact that it appears to be supported politically both by the government and the Labour party, with opposition coming only from the right wing of the Conservative party. Of course the scientific predictions are all debateable, as are the psychological and economic consequences, but when the arguments against following ‘the science’ are being led by… Read more »

Last edited 21 days ago by Charles Clapham
Charles Read
20 days ago

The disagreement is not with lockdown but with the specific element of stopping public worship.

Charles Clapham
20 days ago
Reply to  Charles Read

But every single group/business/organisation/sector is making exactly the same plea – don’t stop our activities, we’re not the ones speading covid, it’s other people and activities who need to be stopped. The golfers in my congregation were up in arms on Sunday! Why ban golf? And one could point to numerous other ‘unfairnesses’ or illogicalities. In that sense, I thought the catholic bishops letter (or that from the Society bishops) read like just one more group pleading for their own particular cause. But if the government responded to all these special pleadings, it would be end of lockdown by a… Read more »

Last edited 20 days ago by Charles Clapham
David Lamming
David Lamming
20 days ago

The trouble, Charles, is that the Government is not being consistent: this time (unlike in the earlier lockdown) garden centres and playgrounds are being allowed to stay open (according to the Cabinet Office Guidance issued following the PM’s press briefing on Saturday evening, though we still await publication of the new regulations, to be debated by MPs tomorrow). If children from different households may mix in a playground, how is that different from their doing so while participating in outdoor sport, and how do garden centres (which will include the indoor buildings) differ from churches that have been astute to… Read more »

Charles Read
20 days ago
Reply to  David Lamming

I am certainly not accusing Boris of being consistent, or even logical.

Charles Clapham
20 days ago
Reply to  Charles Read

I suspect David Lamming’s response was to this Charles (Clapham), not a comment aimed against you, Charles (Read)!! Perhaps I should add, I didn’t vote for this government, and I’m no great fan of them! Nor (as evidenced in various comments I’ve made on this forum before) am I necessarily a great fan of the House of Bishops! But I’m just arguing that for a lockdown to work, you need to have as clear and simple messaging as possible, and as few exemptions as possible. The more exemptions, and the more confusing the message, the higher the death rate. And… Read more »

Last edited 20 days ago by Charles Clapham
David Lamming
David Lamming
20 days ago

Your are right, Charles: I was responding to your comment, rather than to my General Synod colleague Charles Read. The problem I sought to highlight was the lack of consistency in the Government’s approach (and the unwillingness of Boris Johnson, exemplified by his answers to MPs’ questions in the House of Commons yesterday, 2 November, to seek to justify the apparently illogical differences in what will be exempt from the new restrictions and what won’t.) The new regulations have now been published, a day late. They were made by Matt Hancock at 2.45 pm today, 3 November, and were laid… Read more »

Charles Clapham
20 days ago
Reply to  David Lamming

Thank you David for this. As you say, it will be interesting to see the votes on this in the House of Commons. My concern would be about the optics of the Archbishop of Canterbury and other religious leaders now seeming to ally themselves with the right-wing of conservative party – which I don’t see as a desirable place to be – rather than giving vocal support to eg the recommendations of SAGE etc., or the view of NHS leaders.

Last edited 20 days ago by Charles Clapham
Savi Hensman
Savi Hensman
21 days ago

While there is much that is positive in the letter, I too think there is less certainty than it suggests about whether remote consecration is possible. More centrally, I would have liked to have seen more of a prophetic edge about the unnecessary deaths and suffering due to the UK government’s failure to protect the public in the way that so many other governments have done, largely due to putting profit for the few and worship of Mammon above human survival and wellbeing (especially of those already marginalised). Test and trace and personal protective equipment procurement could have been sorted… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
20 days ago
Reply to  Savi Hensman

Savi you wrote “ I too think there is less certainty than it suggests about whether remote consecration is possible”. Why do we need certainty and unanimity before we move forward on this? Surely there is space for individual conscience. When it comes to women priests we, as a church, proclaim officially that women’s ordination is valid, but make space for those who believe that it is ontologically impossible. Many members of our church believe that same-sex marriage is sinful, others believe that it’s introduction is long overdue. Why can’t we make space for those who believe that remote consecration via… Read more »

Savi Hensman
Savi Hensman
20 days ago
Reply to  Simon Dawson

At a practical level, some people are already eating bread and drinking wine which may or may not have been remotely consecrated, depending on whether this is possible. But my main point remains. Surely, important though worship is, if, because of grossly distorted social values (indeed a form of idolatry), far more people are facing suffering and death than necessary, this too deserves our attention as Christians?

Last edited 20 days ago by Savi Hensman
Kate
Kate
20 days ago
Reply to  Savi Hensman

“While there is much that is positive in the letter, I too think there is less certainty than it suggests about whether remote consecration is possible.” . Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” . Which is why bishops and ministers need to confidently assert that remote consecration is possible.… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
21 days ago

I found that communication from the (arch)bishops to be similar to what I call American “air bread”: Very fluffy and lightweight with little substance. I think it’s great that the new lockdown regulations allow for airing of services from the church building. Based on my own experience watching virtual services by my synagogue’s clergy from their offices or studios, broadcasting from the worship space is far more spiritual.than looking at the clergy’s bookcases or sound recording equipment. On the issue of receiving communion/the Eucharist: That is a tricky situation. Too many people in too small a space spreads COVID or… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
21 days ago

Alas, Peter, “too many people in too small a space” is rarely a problem in the English Church. The more so since around a third of regular communicants are now electing to stay away.

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
20 days ago
Reply to  Allan Sheath

But that it would not necessarily be the same situation in an RC church or a mosque. Rules in these situations must be made to apply equally to all religions or charges of bias are sure to be made.

ACI
ACI
20 days ago
Reply to  Allan Sheath

When I was chaplain in Fontainebleau our congregation was pretty typical, filling about a quarter/fifth of the space at most. It is probably possible to know what percentage of space in CofE parishes is actually used — would it be as high as 20%? Why wouldn’t a push back from the CofE include allowances for churches like this to remain open? Safe. And as Froghole reminds, the alternatives are very dire in terms of finances and viability.

TEC’s size is also workable. There must be some upside in having become such a small congregational church.

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
20 days ago
Reply to  ACI

That is why, in the US, as restrictions were eased, they were done so by number of people congregating or percentage of legal occupation (as defined by fire codes). My parish has restricted attendance at Sunday Eucharist to 25 people (far below the legal occupation of about 250) with only every other pew used and only related people allowed in one pew. Congregants must reserve a space in advance (much the same way you might reserve a seat in a theater) and when 25 people have made reservations, the option is cut off. But to have done so by saying… Read more »

ACI
ACI
20 days ago
Reply to  Pat O'Neill

I missed someone saying X church can worship and not Y. Not in the USA nor in England.

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
19 days ago
Reply to  ACI

You asked “Why wouldn’t a push back from the CofE include allowances for churches like this to remain open?” If that’s not an appeal for CofE parishes to get special dispensation what is it?

ACI
ACI
19 days ago
Reply to  Pat O'Neill

Because it said nothing about what other churches are doing — witness the Roman Catholic Church and Sir E. Leigh’s letter, which I cited. Let everyone push back, as many are. You seem to be reading something into this that is inapposite.

Stanley Monkhouse
20 days ago

“too many people in too small a space” pretty much sums up the state of the planet. It is set to get worse, much worse, by the end of this century. As human population-space encroaches on the habitats of other animals, there will be more disease, more epidemics, more pandemics. Get used to it. Some of us might hope that the sooner this happens the better, so that natural processes can do an Augean job. We’re all going to die anyway.

Charles Read
20 days ago

Well the fact is we have been providing communion is a safe way for weeks. The very large churches have needed to have a ticket system for attendance but most have simply spaced chairs out and offered communion in one kind.

Roger Hill
Roger Hill
21 days ago

Simon – can you please put a link in to sir edward leigh mp letter to the pm yesterday?

My comment:
A very good example of confident lay ministry.
Pity our bishops didn’t show a similar mettle. All Saints Day would have been quite fitting……..

Paul Waddington
Paul Waddington
20 days ago
Reply to  Roger Hill

Of course, the difference is that Sir Edward Leigh is a Catholic, whereas the bishops Roger Hill refers to are not. Catholics tend to show considerably more mettle on a variety of issues.

ACI
ACI
20 days ago

Including, apparently, the conviction about the cruciality of being able to worship in their church buildings.

ACI
ACI
20 days ago

“Anyone who has been to Mass recently will see that social distancing, cleansing, and masks are rigidly enforced. Why alienate a quiet, law-abiding part of the community?…

Might I suggest a compromise? The Government could allow religious services as long as all those attending apply online beforehand. I know many churches are using these systems already.” Sir E Leigh.

The parishes in my locale are using the reservation system. As he says, distancing and other protocols can work well.

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
20 days ago
Reply to  ACI

The problem may be that the government cannot depend on all congregations to follow the rules (certainly that has proven to be the case in the US), and it’s not clear what authority the government would have to shut down a place of worship that didn’t.

ACI
ACI
20 days ago
Reply to  Pat O'Neill

I trust what those close to the situation in the UK have to say. The USA is a very different set of parameters, and TEC within it.

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
20 days ago
Reply to  Pat O'Neill

I presided at a church where Covid protocols were willfully ignored by an individual confusing liberty with licence. The Incumbent acted by closing the church pending repentance.

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
20 days ago

I’ve always thought that the numbers attending Christmas worship was fools gold. At the first chapter after Christmas there would be much of ‘my turnout is bigger than yours’ going on. Of course bishops are not averse to looking for gold in foolish places either. There will be great anxiety in the HoB about a denuded Christmas this year, but I’m somewhat sceptical that it will impinge over much on the nation’s spirituality. I haven’t an opinion on the validity of a ‘virtual’ Eucharist but it seems empty to me anyway. The sacrament’s validity to me is in no small… Read more »

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