Regards to the recent move by the Government to a ‘Delay’ phase in the response to Coronavirus, Covid -19, the Church of England Birmingham fully endorses the latest Government, NHS and National Church of England advice, rooting its own recommendation to parishes, below, in these directives.
The Government have made no move to close schools or restrict large gatherings at this time, and advice tailored to parishes for the National CofE Team advises,
‘At this time, there is no guidance to cancel services and events.’
CofE Birmingham parish churches should continue to provide a public service of worship, on a Sunday, which may include Holy Communion.
Please, as usual, make contact with your Area Dean and Archdeacon should support be needed to maintain this provision for public prayer and worship. There is guidance on the national Church of England website, link below, providing steps to mitigate risk to those attending. Should parishes be faced with exceptional circumstances and they wish to consider more stringent measures, this would be in consultation with their Archdeacon.
Prayer and public worship is fundamental at this time of national concern, where the impact is felt so keenly at local level. The witness of the local church offers hope and stability in uncertainty and acknowledges the trust we place in the love of God.
For small scale meetings or events, the national advice is, again, to continue. We would recommend in all circumstances where people are invited to gather, the following guidance be considered and responsibly addressed,
- Continue to meet, providing opportunity for people to choose whether to attend or not
- Care for the vulnerable, and assess each gathering against the necessity to travel and the group of individuals invited
- Be hygienic at all times, by strictly following NHS advice on hand washing and hygiene.
- All actions should be predicated on government, NHS and National Church of England recommendations
During this time of national concern, CofE Birmingham urges its parishes to work to main contact with its communities and neighbours, through the other means at our disposal. Social media provides an excellent way to communicate support and foster connection. Energy and time given usually to gathered groups face to face, can be creatively redirected into the local churches online platforms to maintain the presence, witness and support of the church its locality and context.
It is very important that parishes intentionally connect with those who are vulnerable or self -isolating, to offer support for their needs and the gift of conversation.
Other examples may also include keeping advisory information updated and publicly viewable, focused published prayer and reflection and offers of responsible practical service.
Church of England Birmingham strongly recommends that clergy and lay leaders review the current advice being issued by the Government, NHS and National CofE, every 12 hours.
CofE Birmingham specific advice will continue to be updated on the CofE Birmingham website.
National Church of England - https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-churches#na