To all clergy (licensed and PTO) from the Bishop of Huntingdon
Please find attached two documents:
- a letter from the Archbishops and bishops, particularly in the light of some permissions regarding church buildings and funerals on government documents*; Letter from Archbishops and bishops - Stay home, protect the NHS and save lives - 27 March 2020
- guidance for caring for church buildings – a useful document also to share with churchwardens and any other people in your parish who have a concern for the building, including eg bellringers. Securing and caring for your church buildings during the Covid-19 pandemic - 27 March 2020
*Regarding the Letter from the Archbishops and bishops: You will note that guidance has not changed. It has not changed because medical and epidemiological advice has not changed and as the Church of England we are called to model the very best practice. Here are some of the key points:
The decision to close the church buildings and to prevent them being used for streaming has been a very difficult one. Some government advice suggests that we should be able to allow streaming from church buildings. Our advice, however, is that we should go the extra mile in following the clear public health advice and guidance which is to stay at home and to stay safe.
The government guidelines also continue to assert that funerals can take place in church buildings. The medical, epidemiological and public health advice we have received clearly indicates that this represents an additional layer of risk that we don’t need to take. … Consequently, we are continuing to ask clergy to conduct funerals at the graveside or in a crematorium chapel.
Please read the attached letter in full.
So we lead by example, stay at home, demonstrate solidarity with the rest of the country and encourage the (re-)discovery of our homes as places of prayer and worship.
There are many good resources on the Church of England website, including these new funeral resources found here which we may sadly need to draw on in the near future:
- a short advice document for clergy
- outline orders of service for funerals at crematoria and at the graveside, observing the current public health guidance
- a simple reflection and prayers which can be shared by ministers with those who are unable to attend funerals
- printable graphics and stationery to share prayers and to point to online light-a-candle page
Don’t forget the comprehensive resources page on our Diocesan website here. The numerous links on offer include advice for physical and mental health and homeworking, as well as resources for children and young people prepared by our great team from the Diocesan Office who are all working from home.
You will also find here a reflection by me on this coming Passion Sunday.
SERVING THE COMMUNITY
Many of you are involved in church and community networks, supporting the most vulnerable members of our communities. This is excellent.
Please can I ask you to remain alert to the needs of the whole parish, beyond your church, and to continue to cooperate with others and the local authority, or, as required, to facilitate such cooperation in your area, maybe in conjunction with local clergy colleagues.
And let’s be on the front foot and help lead when it comes to the public health and safeguarding implications of engaging with those most vulnerable.
Please don’t hesitate to be in touch with any questions.
Thank you and may God be with us all as we enter Passiontide.
The Rt Revd Dr Dagmar Winter
The Bishop of Huntingdon
PA: Mrs Jo Godfrey
14 Lynn Road, Ely, CB6 1DA
t: 01353 662 137
We pray to be generous and visible people of Jesus Christ.