Thinking Anglicans

London tightens its position on livestreaming

Yesterday the Telegraph published an article with the highly misleading headline,

Vicars told they can ignore guidelines banning them from their own churches ahead of Easter service

And this strapline: The Bishop of London, has written to her clergy telling them they can conduct church services, contradicting Archbishop of Canterbury

Today the London College of Bishops have published a new Ad Clerum which you can read in full here.  Or alternatively here. The text is also copied below.

Church Buildings remain closed – the Church remains open

On Palm Sunday, Bishop Sarah reflected that because we cannot make the outward journey of Holy Week, the inner journey is more necessary than ever. Yesterday we saw the number of deaths in London rise to 1482. There was the grave warning that if we did not take the call for social distancing seriously, we are still three weeks off the peak of the virus.

We know that those working in our London hospitals are under ever-increasing pressure as they put their lives on the line for ours. It feels like we are already walking in the wilderness of Good Friday.

You may have seen the misleading headline in the Telegraph today, ‘Vicars told to ignore guidelines banning them from their own churches ahead of Easter service’. You all know this is not correct, and we want to remind you that church buildings remain closed in the Diocese of London.

The College of Bishops here in Diocese of London had taken the decision that:

“Because there are a very few churches in London Diocese where the church is accessible by an internal door from the clergy home, or can be accessed from the clergy home without leaving the curtilage of the church, we will encourage those – and only those – clergy to pray in their churches privately and to consider whether they could live stream their services from within the church building.”

However, this advice, which we published before the Archbishops’ latest direction, appears to be being used cynically by some, either to say we are ignoring guidelines from the Archbishops and Bishops in other dioceses, or to push the boundaries of the guidelines. This was never the intention. So, whilst it is painful to ask, we are asking the limited numbers of you to whom the above applied, to stop all live streaming from your church buildings for the time being.

It feels extremely hard to ask this of you, this week of all weeks. But you will know that some people believe that being in our churches to stream, even if it is accessed by a door in your home, is encouraging others to want to travel to their church, and for others to ask for churches to be open to the public. We would not want to be seen to encourage any laxity in the requirement to stay indoors except for designated reasons, because this will save lives, and protect the NHS.

We know this will be difficult for some and we want to thank you for all that you are doing, for the sacrifices you are making, along with the many others in the country at the moment, and for the way in which many have creatively streamed worship from your own homes. Beyond the cross, there is resurrection, as we journey together.

The London College of Bishops

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Kate
Kate
5 months ago

“However, this advice, which we published before the Archbishops’ latest direction, appears to be being used cynically by some, either to say we are ignoring guidelines from the Archbishops and Bishops in other dioceses, or to push the boundaries of the guidelines. ”

Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me – unless I am a bishop in London.

Susannah Clark
5 months ago

Like the prolocutors Simon and Chris, I support the Archbishops’ position on this, and the actual position of the London Bishops (made clear in today’s ‘Ad Clerum’, and as opposed to the unhelpful ‘fake news’ in the Telegraph overnight). My view is based, not on the specifics of health risk from a priest live-streaming a service from a church, but on the general principle: our whole country is handling lockdown, and not going to work except if essential, and I believe in the Church we need to get over ourselves and take the ‘hit’ the same as anyone else. That… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
5 months ago
Reply to  Susannah Clark

Let’s have a competition and see how long this discussion can be prolonged. That the oil price slump might destabilise the Middle East, that Africa may well be devastated, that infected refugees will be unwelcome in Europe, that the EU may collapse, that broken economies may affect millions – none of this matters compared to getting the details of our virtual/streamed services just as we like them.

Kate
Kate
5 months ago
Reply to  Susannah Clark

What you say looks plausible, doesn’t it?

But we started out banning worship in church on grounds of safety. Then some, including the London College of Bishops, identified that in some churches there wasn’t a safety issue: a minister could enter the church without ever having to go out in public and with 0% risk to him/herself or the public worship in private and livestream that worship.

Now that is to be banned too, not because of any revised risk assessment, but simply because of what people think. Can you really not see how shocking that is?

Stanley Monkhouse
5 months ago
Reply to  Kate

Kate, I can’t. Better – that is, worse – things to be shocked about.

John S
John S
5 months ago

I don’t think that we can or should be shocked about (or be concerned about, or post on social media about) only the single most shocking thing facing us at any one moment.

J Kirby
J Kirby
5 months ago

So you can’t be shocked by anything other than the worse possible thing in your imagination? That’s very odd Stanley.

Susannah Clark
5 months ago
Reply to  J Kirby

Stanley didn’t say that. Let’s be precise. His comment was comparative: there are worse things to be shocked about (and there are).

Furthermore, the fact that Stanley isn’t shocked by the specific issue of locking down a church to everyone (a point of view) does NOT = he can’t be shocked by anything else.

I don’t think it’s shocking either.

NJW
NJW
5 months ago
Reply to  Kate

I think the key problem was that as soon as some flexibility was introduced people started abusing it. We ourselves had significant difficulty in stopping people coming to the church to offer their ‘private prayers’ whilst the clergy alone streamed a service from the chancel. I am not sure that all clergy were so careful to make sure that it was understood that there was no public worship, and some at least who colluded to try to continue public worship whilst trying to claim it was private, but with the congregation only being present to offer their private prayers. Sadly,… Read more »

Kate
Kate
5 months ago
Reply to  Susannah Clark

“if a priest or other Christian wants to offer encouragement online, they can do that from their living room (my own priest does).” I tried several online Palm Sunday services and hated all of them. They seemed to try to take a format for worship honed for use in the formal setting of a church and replicate it in a home setting. So the minister was robed. They kept the same sequence and liturgy used in church. It was completely jarring.. If live streaming from the minister’s home into people’s homes then it needs to respect the revised environment. So… Read more »

Dennis
Dennis
5 months ago
Reply to  Kate

Kate: “So no robes and no use of stilted, authorised liturgies. Everything needs to be much, much simpler.”

So not Anglican then. Surely there are Quaker meetings or Baptist praise sessions out there enough all over the internet. And streamed casual evangelical worship isn’t hard to find. So taking away the option of participating formal Anglican worship won’t add to their number noticeably, but it will lessen the options of those who prefer our own traditions.

Richard
Richard
5 months ago
Reply to  Kate

It sounds like that is what you would prefer in church, as well. Many people are comfortable with what they find in their parish church and will feel that same comfort when they join in worship from their homes. The liturgy might be the one constant in our lives during these rough times.

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
5 months ago
Reply to  Kate

There’s nothing worse during a pandemic than seeing a minister wearing robes in his own home. Or perhaps there is. Having medics risking their lives without wearing the correct protective garments might be more shocking. Some people on here need to change their priorities.

Ian
Ian
5 months ago
Reply to  FrDavidH

Why so either or? I am isolating at home as instructed by Mr Hancock. That I have been able to join in spiritually with the mass offered at my church via live streaming does not in the least detract from my concerns in the wider world or more specifically whether my daughter has the correct equipment as she works on the front line as a nurse in hospital.

Angusian
Angusian
5 months ago
Reply to  Kate

For Anglo Catholics the daily noon Mass from All Saints, Margaret Street, off London’s Oxford Circus, has been the focal point of a Lenten discipline. Accessible internally from the vicarage, the church, itself a global icon of spiritual sustenance, has provided daily spiritual communion since the absurd knee-jerk instructions by the archbishops. The latest clarification/limitation is a further indication of bureaucratic insensitivity and unawareness of individual ecclesial architecture.

Kate
Kate
5 months ago
Reply to  Angusian

I wish I had known about it as it would have been my choice for Palm Sunday. Shame it won’t be available for Easter.

Tony Bellows
5 months ago
Reply to  Susannah Clark

I notice that the Catholics in the UK continue to livestream their services, with the blessing of Pope Francis. They evidently take the view that the church should provide pastoral support in this way, in just the same way that the essential workers in different areas are also doing theirs. And the Anglican Church in Wales has a much more nuanced approach: “Worship has been recorded and broadcast both commendably and effectively from parsonages over recent days. Whilst the Welsh Government Regulations now permit a cleric to record or broadcast a service (without a congregation) from church buildings, the desirability… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
5 months ago

“It feels extremely hard to ask this of you, this week of all weeks. But you will know that some people believe that being in our churches to stream, even if it is accessed by a door in your home, is encouraging others to want to travel to their church, and for others to ask for churches to be open to the public.” I admit I’ve never been a particularly observant or orthodox person in my own faith, so I routinely skip services at my house of worship (while still paying dues to help pay its bills) without any viruses… Read more »

JCF
JCF
5 months ago

“But you will know that some people believe that being in our churches to stream, even if it is accessed by a door in your home, is encouraging others to want to travel to their church, and for others to ask for churches to be open to the public. We would not want to be seen to encourage any laxity in the requirement to stay indoors”

So it’s meat-sacrificed-to-idols again. If a cleric livestreams from inside a sanctuary, it will encourage “our weaker members” to be lax. O_o

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