Phased return of ministers to churches in the Diocese

Bishop Simon Burton-Jones, the Bishop of Tonbridge has written to all clergy and lay ministers to inform them that, although our churches remain closed for public worship, the first phase of an easing of restrictions on the use of our buildings can now begin.

With immediate effect, ministers may now enter their churches for the following reasons:

  1. Pray the daily offices
  2. Live stream or pre-record worship
  3. Celebrate the Eucharist on behalf of the community
  4. Ring one bell from the ground floor to announce prayers being said
  5. Check the fabric of the building in the course of these duties


Other stipulations apply and necessary precautions round hygiene should be taken, for which the national Church has issued guidance. This guidance can be found here and will also be available in due course on the Church of England website.

He also made clear that there was no onus on any minister to return to church at this point and that worship can continue to be offered from home.  

The annoucement follows a decision of the House of Bishops on Tuesday 5 May, which backed a phased approach to lifting restrictions on accessing church buildings, in time and in parallel with the Government’s approach
The Bishops agreed that the decision on the timing of when to implement the revised advice on ministers or worship leaders praying and streaming from their church buildings should be made by individual Diocesan Bishops, depending on their local situation.

You can read the full House of Bishops statement here


Bishop Simon also informed everyone that Bishop James has recently developed some relatively mild symptoms of possible Covid-19. He has not as yet been able to have a test but will now be off sick for at least the next week. 

He asked the Diocese to join him in praying for a good recovery, along with prayers for so many others in our community.

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