Opening our churches for prayer

Published: 25th June 2020

Many of our churches have been looking at how they might safely reopen to allow people to come in to the building for private prayer. Pershore Abbey, St Mary, Elmley Castle and St Cassian, Chaddesley Corbett have all made the decision to reopen and have put a number of measures in place to ensure the virus is not unwittingly spread.

Pershore Abbey socially distanced praying

Pershore Abbey reopened on Monday 15 June from 9am until 1pm with people allowed to go into just a small area of the Abbey. They have set up hand sanitiser stations and have signs throughout the church explaining where people can and can’t go.


Priest in Charge, Claire Lording said:

“We’d heard from lots of people how much they’d missed coming into the Abbey to pray. During the lockdown, it’s been particularly difficult for those unable to have funerals and in our group of parishes we felt it was important to have at least one visible place where people could go to for prayer. We had done some planning before the announcement was made and went through the risk assessments before a group of under 70s went to the Abbey to work out what was possible. I was there for the first day of opening to make sure everything was OK and we did move things slightly as a result. We had a gentle trickle of people and it was a very moving experience – one couple came in and cried because they were so overwhelmed. Once we’ve closed for the day, there are a team of people who come in to help clean. We’ve taken the view that the church doesn’t have to look beautiful at the moment, people just value the opportunity to come into a sacred space, where people have prayed to God for centuries.”

St Mary's Elmley CastleSt Mary’s Church in Elmley Castle in Pershore Deanery also reopened on Monday 15 June. The church building is open twice a week with at least 72 hours between each period of opening.

Churchwarden Peter Hayes said:

“Throughout lockdown I found it very difficult to walk past the ‘church closed’ notice, even though I understood the reasons behind it. I therefore spent some time thinking about how we’d be able to open safely once we were allowed to. We did the risk assessment and evaluated how often we might be able to open and how we would clean. We’ve provided hand sanitiser and put up some signs as unobtrusively as possible, we’ve also roped off 2/3 of our pews. Someone is there most of the time to reassure those who come in and door handles and handrails etc are all wiped down before the church opens. We’ve advertised on our emailed news sheets, and the village Facebook page and have used the diocesan posters on our external noticeboards. There haven’t been large numbers, but those that have come in have been really pleased that the church is open. We’ve also co-ordinated with the other churches in our group so that most days at least one of our churches will be open. We’re trying to be there for everyone who might need some peace and space and that feels like a much better situation than being completely closed.

 St Mary, Chaddesley CorbettSt Cassian’s Church in Chaddesley Corbett in the Kidderminster East team opened its doors on 22 June following a PCC meeting to agree their approach. The church is open from 10 – midday on Monday and Friday and 2 – 4pm on Wednesday with two stewards on duty at each session.

Churchwarden Clare Stockford said:

“There are pockets of people around the village who had suffered loss due to COVID-19 and we’d been asked quite often if individuals could just pop in. As a rural community we felt we could open the building safely. Our church is big enough to have a one way system and we have bought automatic hand sanitisers – you just have to wave your hand underneath. We’ve marked the pews with green and red circles with people only allowed to sit on the green ones. When a pew has been used, the circle comes off and the pew gets cleaned. The circles are rotated before each opening. We’ve also removed anything that people might pick up – bibles, hymn books and kneelers and asked people to bring their own materials if they’d like something to aid their prayer. We’ve advertised on the church WhatsApp group and the Facebook page. It was obvious from the first day that people desperately wanted to come and needed the peace in church. We’ve kept our team of volunteers deliberately small to start with – before opening we had a walk-through for all the stewards to make sure everyone felt safe and comfortable and knew where to signpost people if they needed additional support.”

Page last updated: 25th June 2020 4:40 PM
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