Thinking Anglicans

Is there now a postcode lottery in the Church of England?

Latest update 10.00 am Friday 20 March

The Church Times has reports on how the Coronavirus situation is playing out in the Church of England:

17 March: C of E suspends all services, though churches to stay open but this was followed on 18 March by

Church closures subject to postcode lottery which headline was later changed to C of E medical adviser gets tough with differing dioceses

THE Medical Adviser to the Church of England emphasised on Wednesday that the suspension of public worship must be implemented “without exception”, after advice from individual bishops appeared to contradict it, prompting confusion among the clergy…

…Within hours, different interpretations of the advice were circulating online. A central question was whether clergy would be joined by worshippers at the daily Offices or say them alone, and whether the laity could still receive communion. Clergy also questioned how public worship could be avoided if churches were to be kept open throughout the day. Some expressed frustration at the variation in episcopal advice and concern that people were seeking out loopholes in the Archbishops’ guidance…

On Thursday, the Archbishops issued a clarifying Ad Clerum, which acknowledged that “not receiving holy communion is a serious loss for the people we serve”.

The Ad Clerum mentioned immediately above can be found in the next article. At the time of publication here (11.30 pm Thursday), it had apparently not yet appeared on other websites, but had evidently been issued by email on Thursday afternoon. It isn’t mentioned in the official CofE Daily Media Digest for Friday, either.

Some other ad clerums and similar notices are linked below. Please would readers add comments below to provide links to other dioceses.
London College of Bishops  Archdeacon of London

Leeds ad clerum  Diocesan page

Sheffield 17 March  18 March

Winchester  Bishop’s letter

Ely  Bishop of Huntingdon

Oxford Diocese  Ad clerum

(interesting to note that “The Diocese of Oxford’s Emergency Planning Team wrote to incumbents and wardens on 9 March requesting that each parish and/or benefice puts in place a continuity plan in preparedness for the developing Coronavirus situation.”)

Peterborough 16 March  19 March

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God 'elp us allT PottStevie GambleSimon SarmientoFrDavidH Recent comment authors
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Rachel Noel
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Rachel Noel
Michael Mulhern
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Michael Mulhern

“…different interpretations of the advice were circulating online.” And why not? The Diocese and its bishop is the authority in the Church of England, not archbishops issuing quasi-papal decrees in the now-predictable “one size fits all” format. Yes, I know what the medical advice is that the Church of England has received – and it is the same advice given to the Government, which has been far less decisive. No wonder people are confused. No wonder the archiepiscopal machinery is less willing to trust people to be sensible, flexible and imaginative in the light of the given advice. In the… Read more »

Stevie Gamble
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Stevie Gamble

I should preface this by noting a very significant interest: my daughter is a consultant physician in an acute medical unit caring for patients with the virus; she is at the very tip of the sharp end, which carries the highest risk. Healthcare professionals are dying from the corona virus; that is indisputable fact. Anyone who is unaware of that fact has simply not bothered to acquaint themselves with the facts; the Lancet, for example, is making all the relevant scientific papers freely available to anyone visiting their website. In the circumstances one would have thought that thoughtful Anglicans might… Read more »

FrDavidH
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FrDavidH

One can only express profound gratitude and admiration for medics working in such challenging circumstances. I hope and pray Dr Gamble is reunited with her parent soon.

Stevie Gamble
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Stevie Gamble

Actually, Gamble is my maiden name, but thank you for your kindness. I have a lung disease which would – quite rightly in my view – put me out of consideration for treatment in an ICU should I acquire the virus; I have just completed a 14 day course of intravenous antibiotics for an ongoing lung infection which is dangerous to others if they are immuno-compromised. There is a long road ahead for us but we can walk it in hope, doing the best we can for others…

T Pott
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T Pott

Whatever demarcation should exist between bishop and archbishop in spiritual and many other matters, the question of what we need to do to deal with the pandemic is not one of them. If government advice is unclear, which I am afraid it is, the answer is not for each diocese or province or denomination to interpret, but to obtain clarification – it is vital the goverment are clear what needs to be done.

God 'elp us all
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God 'elp us all

Maybe now is not the time; there’s a lot of tension and people cannot always get the words finely honed; there will be fallouts. There is a case for discussing at some time the role (and power) of bishops and archbishops, and their advisers. I, like Michael, did not vote for a pope, or a ‘SPAD’; but at times of stress people look for ‘the smack of firm government’ (unfortunate term). Feeling so much for Stevie and all those hurting. Let us pray, as Anglicans, thinking and unthinking: Almighty and everlasting God, who alone workest great marvels: Send down upon… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
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Ely diocese page at https://www.elydiocese.org/parishsupport/coronavirus-guidance/ and pages linked from that, including the latest from Bishop Dagmar https://www.elydiocese.org/parishsupport/coronavirus-guidance/pastoral-letters-from-the-archbishops-of-canterbury-and-york.php

Additionally the diocesan office has been closed, with staff working from home to provide continuity.

Sarah
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Sarah