Coronavirus - latest information6 May 2020 By Sam Setchell
A page bringing together the latest advice and resources for parishes during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Church of England guidance
As a diocese, we are following the guidance from the Church of England. You can find this at www.churchofengland.org/coronavirus - please check it regularly as it is updated constantly.
All Church of England churches are closed to the public in line with the Government’s instructions.
There should be no weddings or baptisms and funerals should only take place at the crematorium or at the graveside.
- Read a letter from the Archbishops and Bishops
- Download a poster which can be customised and put on the church door.
Who can enter church buildings?
Incumbents, or rural deans where there is no incumbent, can, in consultation with their churchwardens and bearing in mind their specific location, appoint one person for each church in their benefice to enter that church building. The appointed person should be the incumbent or a licensed or authorised minister, minister with permission to officiate, churchwarden, or, where there is no churchwarden, one member of the PCC.
The appointed person should be entering the church building for any or all of the following
- pray the daily office and/or celebrate the Eucharist on behalf of the community they serve,
- live stream or pre-record worship,
- ring one bell to mark prayers being said or mark events (e.g. Clap for Carers, VE day anniversary),
- check the fabric of the building.
With an increase in funerals expected, as well as the potential for clergy becoming unwell, we are putting in place a temporary arrangement within the Diocese to support funeral ministry. Read advice on funerals during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Playgroups/ preschools in church halls
The Government has said that those offering early years' childcare provision can prepare to open from 1 June. Parishes can, if they wish, allow playgroups and preschools to meet in their church halls with the group following all appropriate measures with regard to hygiene and distancing. Read the Government's advice re: implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings.
Churches as extra classrooms
We are aware that several vicars have kindly been open to the possibility of schools making use of the church in order to accommodate a larger number of children in the coming weeks. Having consulted the national Church, at present we are unfortunately not able to agree to this possibility. Church buildings remain closed even for individual prayer and the guidance around their use is explicit and extensive; using the church to give schools extra space is not one of the permitted uses.
Please contact your Archdeacon if you with to discuss this further.
While churches are closed, no entries are required in the Register of Services. However, you may with to include the following in the Service Register:
The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), otherwise known as COVID-19, is an infectious disease first identified in China. Infections were reported around the world with symptoms including fever, coughing and breathing difficulties. As a consequence, the UK government advised many changes to everyday life for a time, which was further endorsed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Church buildings were closed for public worship, private prayer and all other meetings and activities. The last service in this Church was on XXXXXXXXX and worship was able to resume [in a limited way] on YYYYYYYYY. In the intervening time we became the Church in different ways, specifically ….. INSERT ACTIVITY.
Clergy are classed as ‘key workers’ in terms of COVID-19 testing. This means that if clergy are undertaking essential duties, such as funerals, and believe that they (or a member of their household) may be suffering with COVID-19, it is possible to be tested. You cannot refer directly for this but instead should contact the Bishop’s Office explaining the circumstances and need which can then begin the arrangements. Please utilise this sparingly as it is the same testing regime as other essential workers such as NHS staff, carers, and so on and it is important to only use it when essential.
Who should I contact with a query?
Although the diocesan office at the Old Palace is now closed, diocesan officers are here to serve you during these difficult times using phone, email and video calling. In order that we can do so most effectively, please use this document to find where best to direct your query . This should hopefully avoid duplication of effort and enable us all to focus on priorities. For anything that doesn’t fit into these categories, please call the archdeacons’ office as a first contact point.
We have lots of resources and ideas for when churches are unable to meet on this page.
Many diocesan and church meetings are happening using Zoom, which you can sign up for here
While Zoom is fairly intuitive, there is a good series of tutorials on how to use it here on YouTube. We have also published some advice for using Zoom as securely as possible.
Annual Parochial Church meetings
The deadline for holding APCMs has been extended until the end of October, with current office holders (churchwardens, deanery synod representatives and PCC members) remaining in office longer than they would otherwise do so. It means Churchwardens and PCC members remain in office until the APCM, current deanery synod representatives remain in office until 30 November 2020 (instead of 30 June).
Liturgy and prayer resources
The Church of England has put together prayers and intercessions for personal or group use, special prayers for use if it isn’t possible to meet in church, and a simple form of prayer for the morning and evening, which can be downloaded, printed, and shared with those remaining at home or who are unable to access the Internet.
The Vicar of Broadway is producing a monthly prayer booklet (May) which includes simple worship and prayers as well as details of the lectionary bible readings. She has also put together a booklet for those who are unable to attend a funeral .
Children's Officer, Emma Pettifer, has compiled some ideas and resources for families to be able to worship at home and Youth Officer, Simon Hill has pulled together a list of resources for those working with young people.
Church Buildings Officer, Mark Carter, offers some advice on caring for your church building when it is closed.
Blurt has a great blog on looking after your mental health during this time.
Sally Bubbers, psychotherapist and wife of the Revd Richard Bubbers, has sent two articles which some ministers might find useful:
- Coping with Stress and Lockdown
- Thoughts for ministers during the first phase of the coronavirus crisis
Helping children, young people and families deal with bereavement (from the Diocese of Birmingham)
Death, Grief and Hope: In partnership with an experienced school chaplain, this booklet has been put together by Church Army to help youth workers help young people who have been bereaved during the Covid 19 crisis. Visit website.
Worcestershire Community Foundation is giving out grants to organisations who are supporting individuals and communities during the Covid-19 crisis. They are keen to ensure that where churches need to pull in extra funding to do community work, they can help facilitate this. More information at: https://www.worcscf.org.uk/covid-19-funding-for-charities.aspx
The safeguarding team continue to be available via email and mobile and will respond to all urgent matters within 24 hours, and other queries as soon as possible.
Please use this link for advice issued from the National Team regarding support for parishes, volunteers, and DBS checks.
Connecting with your church virtually
You may wish to connect with your congregation through your website/ Facebook page or a Youtube channel to enable people to access church when they're not able to leave home. Have a look at our resources to help your church to connect with its congregation and community digitally.
The Church of England has produced this beginners' guide to live streaming your services.
See a list of churches who are offering live content online (some of which streamed their service from church last week)
Youth Officer, Simon Hill has put together this guide to video conferencing with young people and Children's Officer, Emma Pettifer has put together a guide to video conferencing with Primary School age children.
Parishes with church hall bookings should be following the national advice that everything that isn't essential must stop to minimise the risk of infection. You should be asking:
- What are the key services, groups and activities we need to keep open, which will keep people out of crisis support and hospitals?
- How can we maintain those services during the challenges which are to come?
Will continuing to run each group/ activity keep people out of crisis/hospital or potentially increase the burden on the NHS? If the former, what additional support/resource might we need? If the latter, we should cancel those groups/activities until the period of heightened risk is over.
The Diocesan Office is following Government advice and the Old Palace is now closed. If you need to contact a member of the diocesan office team, email is the best option in the first instance.
Please see this document for how best to direct any query relating to the Coronavirus pandemic.
All Diocesan meetings and training events have been cancelled until at least the end of April.
Guidance for visiting hospitals
Hospital communities - patients, families and staff will be glad of the prayers of the Diocese, as they face challenging situations and difficult decisions.
- Read the latest guidance for visiting Worcestershire Acute hospitals in Kidderminster, Redditch and Worcester.
From Tuesday 24 March, all in-patient areas managed by the Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust are closed to visitors. This includes all Community Hospitals, Mental Health Wards and Recovery Units. Exceptions will apply to relatives of those who are at end of life subject to infection considerations - relatives should liaise with the Nurse in Charge. Minor Injury Units at Evesham and Tenbury Wells remain closed until further notice. MIUs at Malvern and Bromsgrove are open as normal.
Update on schools
Margaret James, Diocesan Director of Education has written to clergy with an update on the current situation in schools .
The Department for Education's (DfE) Coronavirus helpline is available to answer questions about Covid-19 relating to education and children's social care. Staff, parents and young people can contact this helpline by telephone on 0800 046 8687 from 8am - 6pm, Monday to Friday and 10am - 4pm, Saturday and Sunday. If you work in a school, please have your unique reference number (URN or UK PRN) available when calling the hotline.
The Diocesan Education Team have compiled guidance and resources for schools and home-learning into one document.
'Never the Same', a bereavement, grief and loss resource for school leaders, has been developed as part of the Church of England's Faith at Home initiative. It is rooted in the Church of England's vision for education and offers a combination of theological reflections, practical ideas for engaging with children and young people, and signposting to the vast range of resources that are already available. It is available on our website. Visit the Church of England's website for further details about Faith at Home.
Response from major funders
If you are in the middle of a big church project, here are the responses from three of the main funders, which you may find useful:
- National Lottery Heritage Fund - https://www.heritagefund.org.uk/news/coronavirus-update
- Historic England - https://historicengland.org.uk/coronavirus/
- Garfield Weston - https://garfieldweston.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Covid-19-Update.pdf