A message from Bishop Peter and Bishop Ruth:
We welcome the announcement from the Prime Minister that public worship in our churches can resume again from 4 July, where that is possible locally and subject to physical distancing guidelines. It will bring joy to many but even as we look forward to it, we remember those for whom Covid-19 has brought bereavement, grief, suffering and great hardship. Christians have sought to minister and support, both through practical means and through constant prayer, all those in need while our church buildings have been closed. Reopening our churches for services will mean bereaved families will be able to plan the memorial services they so desperately need in order to help them grieve, and those who wish to celebrate their marriages will once again be able to do so, in smaller numbers. As the Church, we grieve with them and we rejoice with them.
This guidance is permissive and not prescriptive, which means churches do not have to return immediately to holding services from 4 July, and there will be some churches who are not able to do so yet. We are expecting guidance from the government and the Church of England on how churches should follow physical distancing, as well as address concerns like singing, in the next few days. This will be published as soon as possible.
As we move towards being able to come together again, we thank God for the decline of the virus in this country, and we pray for all those who have died, those who are grieving, and those who are still caring for the sick. We pray for those parts of the world where people are still falling sick in great numbers.
Thank you to all those who have ensured that despite closed doors, the Church has reached further and deeper, through online worship and through practical action, than we can remember.
Read the statement from the Church of England here.