Coronavirus - Guidance for parishes

All our places of worship are now fully closed with immediate effect – that is, for private prayer and daily offices as well as for public worship. 

What can churches do now?

The central Church of England team have been putting in enormous efforts to provide parish, clergy and church specific guidance on what do in light of the changing Government advice on coronavirus.

This Guidance is updated regularly on a dedicated page on the Church of England website and includes areas covering the following:

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued a letter (Tuesday 24 March) offering further reflection and guidance to churches about the way forward, now church buildings are closed.

This includes around funerals, baptisms and weddings.

​​​​​​Please consult your Archdeacon or Bishopscourt in the case of any uncertainty.

Community outreach at this time

While our buildings may be closed, the Church is not. The Archbishops have urged the Church to continue to meet the needs of vulnerable people in our communities.

How this can be carried out under the new restrictions is a constantly changing picture, and Government plans and Church of England advice is being updated all the time.

Here are some resources to help you:

This is a very dynamic situation and so adherence to current public health advice and safeguarding must be paramount at all times

If in doubt please contact the Community Engagement and Social Action team on:

  • Caroline Clarke: caroline.clarke@rochester.anglican.org / 07585 101606
  • Keith Berry: Community Engagement Adviser - Tonbridge Archdeaconry: keith.berry@rochester.anglican.org / M: 07585 101624

Our Safeguarding Team can be contacted as follows:

  • Greg Barry (Case work advice and training): 07585 952174 / greg.barry@rochester.anglican.org
  • Claire Langridge (DBS and safe working practice) : 07825315748 / claire.langridge@rochester.anglican.org

 

Going online

Many churches are finding creative ways to serve their communities and maintain worship. Technology offers many possibilities to do this - whether telephone contact, online resources, or social media.

While live streaming is still possible, it has been made clear that this must now only take place within a home setting. Church buildings are not to be used. Please be mindful that copyright around books and reading books during a live stream still apply - contact publishers direct.

If you need any help or advice, please contact Jennifer Ross, Communications Manager and Bishop's Media adviser, on jennifer.ross@rochester.anglican.org.

She can also put you in contact with other churches who can share their experience and knowledge in this area.

Free webinars

The national digital team are really stepping up their offering and are hosting lots of FREE webinars to help you as you explore digital ways of being Church. 

All of these can be booked for free in the Labs Learning section of the Church of England website: cofe.io/Webinars.

Please tag your live streams and on your A Church Near You page using the 'Live stream' tag. This will mean they appear on the map: www.achurchnearyou.com/live-stream/?tags=Live_stream

 

Church processes and Finances

It is clear that the current crisis and closure of church buildings is hitting many parish finances immediately and significantly.

These are unusual and unexpected times for all of us. We are assessing new information daily, including being in contact with National Church Institutions, and looking at how we can support you best through this time:

There have been questions too about Annual meetings (APCMS) and elections: 

 

Youth Ministry

Staying in contact and ministering to our young people is still very important. The Diocese's Children and Young People's team have been looking at ways they can help you to support your young people, children and their families during this period of uncertainty:

Your physical and mental health 

If you become ill, do not simply carry on working. Seek appropriate NHS advice. If you are the vicar or a member of the church leadership team, please contact the Area Dean or Archdeacon’s office.

For specific advice for clergy around support during sickness see this additional note here and accompanying absence reporting form or please contact Bishopscourt.

Parishes are also advised to check with their insurers as to the position of their cover with regard to the coronavirus. For those with Ecclesiastical, see this note.

There are many resources that seek to support those who may now find themselves self-isolating or working from home. This section links to a few of these that you might find helpful. It is not expected that all the guidance is appropriate to you in your current role, simply that you might find elements helpful.

Mental health and wellbeing:

Staying at home and self-isolation:


Accessing prayers and reflections online

We appreciate that live streaming may not be for everyone. The national digital team have provided a wealth of online liturgies and prayer materials for people to access at home.

We have also produced a new morning and prayer pack which can be shared with others, or which you can follow on your own. The Cathedral clergy offer prayers each day in their homes at 9am and 5pm - why not offer these prayers in communion with them at these times?

Worship at Home pack (online friendly / A4 print friendly)

As well as this, we also have a number of local initiatives and resource to support your prayer life:

 

A list of our most recent messages shared regarding the coronavirus:

We don't want to share out of date guidance, so only the most recent messages from the Bishop and our Diocesan Communications will be shared here

 




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