Thinking Anglicans

Church of England suspends public worship

Updated 4.50 pm Tuesday

Revised FAQs have been published, but there are major gaps in the information available on subjects such as baptisms, confirmations, wedding banns, and funerals, all of which are urgently required by parish clergy across the land.

at 1.30 pm Tuesday, the Church of England published the following notice:

Last updated Tuesday 17 March 2020 at 13:30

In light of the Government guidance around non-essential contact, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued advice that public worship is suspended until further notice.

Churches should be open where possible but with no public worship services taking place. Prayers can be said by clergy and ministers on behalf of everyone and churches should consider ways of sharing this with the wider community. See more below on digital resources that are under development and currently available.

Read more in this press release, published at 13:30 on Tuesday 17 March 2020. The full text of the release is copied below.

There is also a letter from the archbishops to all the clergy, which can be read here.

We will update this article with further information as soon as we can.

 

Archbishops call for Church of England to become radically different as public worship put on hold to help stem spread of coronavirus

17/03/2020

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.

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 are 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.

The Church will be providing a range of resources to enable people to continue to walk with God at this difficult time. This includes #LiveLent daily reflections, prayer for the day audio and text and Alexa and Google Home smart speaker apps.

In the days and weeks ahead, the Church will be significantly expanding this output with audio of a simple daytime prayer and night prayer service, more video content and some live-streaming, new mental health reflections to support people, and webinars to help churches stream sermons, events and make the most of social media. Read more here. The aim will be to make as much as possible available in simple downloadable and printable formats for those who can’t easily access the technology.

Notes to editors

  • In normal circumstances, individual incumbents and parochial church councils would apply under Canon B 14A to bishops for dispensation from holding the public services required by the Canons of the Church of England.  However, on the basis of legal advice, and in the light of the Government’s advice on preventing the spread of infection, we consider that the canon law doctrine of necessity can be relied on and that the public services required by the Canons need not – and should not – take place until further notice.
  • This advice covers the public services which the Canons normally require to be held every Sunday and on principal feasts and holy days (Holy Communion and Morning and Evening Prayer) as well as the weekday Daily Offices.
  • Read the full letter here.

 

 

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T Pott
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T Pott

We have a funeral on Friday. What are we supposed to do?

Froghole
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Froghole

Three hours ago there was this in the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2020/mar/17/coronavirus-live-news-updates-uk-us-australia-europe-france-italy-who-self-isolation-travel-bans-borders-latest-update?page=with:block-5e70e5998f085e564ad85c9a#liveblog-navigation ‘In Britain, the archbishop of Canterbury has announced that public worship is “suspended until further notice”, but a Church of England spokesman said weddings and funerals could still go ahead.’ I hope you will be able to attend the committal of your family member or friend, and am sorry that you are having to endure this as well as all the wider anxiety. As to weddings, I would wager that most sane people will be scrutinising the force majeure clauses in the contracts they have signed, only to find that… Read more »

Just Sayin
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Just Sayin

So just to be clear, we cannot offer public worship, but we should keep the buildings open for members of the public to wander about as the mood takes them? Are we clear who will deal with the mundane things like opening and locking up, preventing damage or theft, etc ? And who do we ask to place themselves at risk to allow this to happen ? It is so frustrating when, as ever, the leadership fail to act decisively, preferring to have their cake and eat it. Lambeth 2020 still on ? Any news or advice on restriction of… Read more »

Charles K
Guest
Charles K

This is decisive action! The decision has been taken with the care of the most vulnerable as a highest priority. Its up to you when and who opens the church. Surely we are grown up enough to do those mundane yet precious things? And I think that yes – the public should be able to wander about as the mood takes them if that mood makes them want to seek sanctuary in our churches. This is Key Stage 1 pastoral care!!! If your church is open anyway (which I hope it is!) then you will have things to mitigate against… Read more »

Janet Fife
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Janet Fife

There’s no need to ‘shout’ at Just Sayin. He/she is voicing real questions and anxieties. Some parishes have no available volunteers who are ‘healthy and not at as much risk as the elderly’. The whole congregation may be elderly and at risk. The priest may have a number of churches to look after and can’t sit in all of them waiting for people to drop in (or not). Those reasonably well themselves may have vulnerable people in their homes they can’t risk passing the infection to.

We’re all working this out as we go along.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“Lambeth 2020 still on?”
This is the very least of our worries.
But given how the Archbishop of Canterbury has discriminated in issuing invitations, I might view the cancellation of Lambeth 2020 as a blessing.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Early Christians risked martyrdom to worship. Even today, Christians face persecution in many countries.

There is much which appals me about the present Church of England but everything pales in comparison with this shocking announcement.

FrDavid H
Guest
FrDavid H

Perhaps you would be inspired Kate if hundreds of thousands of Anglicans were killed by the virus.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Oh, and might we not even have Easter services?

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

You’re trolling us, right?
Or are you really demanding that Easter be celebrated with public worship, even if public worship cause mass illness and many deaths?
Here I thought Christ had freed us from temple sacrifice….

Mary Hancock
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Mary Hancock

Our C of E Diocese has given instructions about pastoral or occasional services. I guess they will be generic. Baptisms postpone – urgent ones ok, ie emergency but no further definition. Funeral service – yes but with small group of mourners only. Banns – couples will need to marry under a licence. Details being worked out. Weddings – if the couple wishes to go ahead then a minimal number of people. (I guess that is the parents and immediate family plus witnesses or something like that.) More information to come re weddings.

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

So, what does ‘small group of mourners’ mean? 6? 20? 100? Who decides what is small? Clergy? Family of the bereaved? Absolute clear guidelines with specified numbers are needed or the pressure for clergy to allow large gatherings and thus put people at risk will be intolerable. The pressure is already there and still nothing from the hierarchy.

Charles Read
Guest
Charles Read

The advice is ten at weddings and funerals and no more.

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

Thanks Charles. Is there a source for this online I can refer to?

Susannah Clark
Guest

The bottom line is that if elderly and ‘at risk’ individuals do not distance conscientiously, they are not only putting themselves at risk (which you could argue it is their right to choose to do) but – and it’s the point of these measures – if lots of these vulnerable people expose themselves to this virus they will disproportionately fall critically ill, will disproportionately take up critical care and other hospital beds, and the outcome of that is the very real danger of the NHS being overwhelmed, and ventilators running out, with much larger numbers of deaths – and dire… Read more »

Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

Add APCMs to the subjects on which guidance is not yet clear

Simon Cowling
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Simon Cowling

Diocesan Bishops (under the relevant Measure and CRRs) have the power to extend the time limit for holding APCMs and elections beyond the 31 May.

Anthony Archer
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Anthony Archer

The bishop has power to make supplementary provision etc. under new Rule M78(5) I believe, but clearly there will need to be a scheme agreed for all dioceses. The APCM does a number of things, few of which are seismic in importance, but one of which is to elect deanery synod representatives. That is rather more important in a year when there will be General Synod elections. One solution is for all current representatives to hold office for a fourth year until the APCM in 2021. But that might need legislation, and as General Synod might not meet in July… Read more »

Laurence Cunnington
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Laurence Cunnington

You won’t catch me complimenting the Archbishops of Canterbury or York very often (legal action passim, ad nauseam) but I thought that, overall, this was a sensible message, and parts of it were excellent: “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.” As I’m not a Christian perhaps I shouldn’t comment, but, to me, that sentence summarises nicely what I imagine the early Christians intended the Church to be.

Susannah Clark
Guest

I agree with you Laurence. It was a good message. And as for you saying ‘perhaps I shouldn’t comment’ – getting the feedback from someone outside the religion is great. I wish we had more contributors from different traditions and worldviews. The great thing about the ‘agora’ / market place as a meeting square for lots of different people is that we are challenged to think beyond our own perimeters, and that can expand understanding. It’s highly relevant, in the Church’s present state, what people looking in think. And, like you, I have at times disagreed with what Justin has… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

https://greece.greekreporter.com/2020/03/06/holy-communion-and-church-in-times-of-coronavirus/

I know this is Thinking Anglicans but I think that article about how the Greek Orthodox Church is approaching matters is very good at showing both sides of the debate. And, notwithstanding the comments on TA, there are two sides to the debate.

Fr. Dean Henley
Guest
Fr. Dean Henley

The thought of not receiving the sacrament of the Eucharist on Easter Day appals me but it seems that there is no alternative this year.

FrDavid H
Guest
FrDavid H

Why not celebrate it yourself Fr Dean?

Kate
Guest
Kate

Even lay Christians will be doing that this year. And once that horse is out of the stable there is no going back.

Not a father
Guest
Not a father

Perhaps he sees his vocation in less purely selfish terms?

Fr. Dean Henley
Guest
Fr. Dean Henley

As a carer I will take my home communion set to my parents and we’ll have a celebration around their dining table. I can play Jesus Christ is Risen Today on YouTube presumably. I think we’re all conflicted and we should be kinder to each other on TA. My heart breaks for all of our elderly members who will have nothing to sustain them this Easter. The internet is meagre fare for the lonely and the unloved, assuming they have access to it. As my former parish is still interregnum I’m going to busy myself ‘phoning my former churchgoing parishioners… Read more »

John Wallace
Guest
John Wallace

Thanks, Dean and I will be praying for you and what you are doing to support your parents and former parishioners. Even in my very large parish, the burden will be too great for our incumbent and those of us in any pastoral / leadership / liturgical role will be seeing how we can support once the Diocesan issues his pronouncements tomorrow. The whole people of God need to be active and support both the weaker members as well as continuing to show by what we do, the love of God in Christ.

Tim Chesterton
Guest

We were a week ahead on this in the Diocese of Edmonton, in Canada. Yes, Sunday was tough, but I’ve been frankly inspired by the creativity of my colleagues. Some did streaming services; some (as I did) put up written liturgical resources for use at home, including a YouTube sermon. I’ve been amazed by the number of people who have emailed me to thank me. This week I have colleagues who are leading daily Morning Prayer on Zoom and Facebook Live. Yes, we know we’re not reaching everyone, but people are reaching out and doing what they can in a… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

“Our leaders are doing their best to help keep people safe. I call this loving your neighbour as yourself, and I think that’s what Jesus asks us to do.” Couldn’t agree more. Stay safe out there in the west, Tim.

Tim Chesterton
Guest

You too, Rod.

Jonathan Jamal
Guest
Jonathan Jamal

i have been trying to make sense of this Corona virus, from a Spiritual point of view and it is sometimes at times like this that Theology is done in context and not from Books. Not so may days ago I logged in one evening to You Tube and there was a Jewish Rabbi in Jerusalem standing in front of the Dome of the Rock, and he declared with certain confidence and aplomb that Corona Virus was “God’s Punishment For Sin”. i must say as a person of faith I found this quite disturbing and I wondered what kind of… Read more »