Reopening of church buildings for public worship - Bishops' response

Responding to the announcement by Government (Tuesday 23 June) that church buildings will be able to reopen for public worship from 4th July, providing physical distancing remains in place, Bishop James and Bishop Simon have issued the following message:

"We welcome the announcement today from the Prime Minister that from 4 July, church buildings may reopen for public worship including weddings. We also echo the Bishop of London’s comment that, while there will be real joy at this prospect, we are still very much on a journey. There will be many who will understandably be cautious at this news.

"Many churches across the Diocese have already, where possible, opened their buildings for private individual prayer. Much care has been taken, and much comfort given to visitors.  Many parishes are also well advanced in planning for this next phase.

"We continue to be thankful to all who are responding so responsibly and carefully to each new possibility, and in ways that are right for them and their communities.  We are particularly conscious that many of these careful decisions come at a time when many are feeling fatigued.

"There is no rush to next steps – each place must make its own decisions based on local circumstances – and we also await further detailed guidance from Government and the Church of England nationally.  Please continue to seek guidance where needed and to support one another.

With our prayers and good wishes."

+James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester                                            +Simon Burton-Jones, Bishop of Tonbridge


Bishop Sarah Mullally is Chair of the Church of England Recovery Group. You can read the Church of England's full statement here.

Detailed advice for parishes and cathedrals is available on the Church of England website. It will be updated, as necessary, in the coming days to reflect the detail of the Government guidance once published.

Weddings will be able to resume, along with other services. Updated advice for couples will be published on the The Church of England website this week. The Church of England Recovery Group will also issue advice on subjects including singing and music for which a review by Public Health England is currently in progress.

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