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.
The following extract of a letter from the Bishop of Winchester has been shared with us by the Diocese
This afternoon, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have made a statement about the Church of England’s response to yesterday’s public health guidance. If you have not already seen it, you can read it here .
In the bishops’ letter this morning, there was a clear indication that life in the Church is going to change. As the Archbishops have indicated, we are going to need to adapt. Church buildings will remain open where possible, reflecting the fact that the Church continues to pray. Although public gatherings for worship will not be taking place in the immediate future, we are as a Church, nationally, regionally and locally, developing new ways of ensuring that acts of worship are accessible by other means. And our love of God and neighbour will be expressed in new ways, responding to the challenge of the coronavirus, and focusing on our closest and most vulnerable neighbours.
Knowing that these changes to our communal life raise many questions, here is a summary of how the latest advice will affect church communities:
- Communal public worship is suspended, although ministers will maintain rhythms of prayer and worship in church buildings where possible;
- Churches that are able to will make available electronic resources to help others participate in worship, whether through live-streaming or pre-recorded video/audio, or the publication of resources. In the next few days, the Cathedral will begin live-streaming of prayer and worship about which we will keep you informed, in addition to the resources already available on the website here;
- We will pray for and give generously of our time and money to assist those most in need, remembering not only the fearful, sick and grieving, but also those that work in hospitals, emergency services, logistics and supply chains – the list of key services is limited only by our capacity to imagine those whose lives are most affected;
- We will focus our prayers during a Day of Prayer and Action, this coming Sunday, accepting the invitation, wherever we may be, to light a candle of hope;
- Weddings and funerals may take place, with a small group present and appropriate precautions to reduce the risk of infection;
- Non-essential church meetings (which includes PCC meetings without urgent business) are to be postponed, and essential meetings held with appropriate precautions;
- Youth and children activities run with schools will follow school advice, but church-run activities should be treated as social activities or meetings for prayer and worship, and therefore suspended.