Bishop Nick has written to clergy to explain the Government policy on church closures, as outlined in last night’s COVID-19 message from the Prime Minister.
All church buildings and cathedrals are to close for public worship and private prayer, with explanatory notices to be displayed on their doors.
Weddings and funerals cannot now be conducted in church buildings.
Thanking all clergy for “the remarkable and creative ways you are helping to lead the Church in these times,” Bishop Nick writes in his Ad Clerum sent out this afternoon:
“We often talk about ‘re-imagining ministry’, but now we are all just doing it. Thank you.
“The worship of the Church continues.
“It is being done differently. Through the prayers of clergy and lay ministers, through prayer in homes and families, via social media and streaming, we still meet, pray, care and worship.
“All church buildings and cathedrals are to close for public worship and private prayer.
“Live streaming must be from your home, not from the church.
“There are no exceptions and no ambiguity.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby has also written to all clergy. His letter is available on the COVID-19 section of this website: https://bit.ly/2Uo5pTN
The printable closure notice for church doors and a letter to parishes from Diocesan Secretary Debbie Child, are also available on that regularly updated section.
Bishop Nick’s letter comes following discussion and agreement by Church of England Bishops and continues: “Weddings cannot now proceed. This is a very sensitive matter, but all we can do is handle couples with sensitivity and clarity. Queries about licences and legalities should be referred to the Registry.
“Funerals cannot now be conducted in our church buildings. Clergy can commend the deceased and commit the body at the crematorium or graveside directly.
“Local authorities are beginning now to bring in emergency measures requiring bodies to be taken directly to the crematorium – in some cases without accompaniment of mourners.”
He also asks clergy to try to offer memorial services later in the year, where appropriate for those whose loved ones will have been interred or cremated without a service or any family in attendance.
Further details regarding funerals are expected later this week.
Bishop Nick is also writing daily reflections and comments on his blog at www.nickbaines.wordpress.com.