Caring for and securing our church buildings

1 June 2020: Legionellosis guidance for churches. 28 May 2020: Minor updates have been made to the main content on this page and will be updated further as required to ensure it reflects the latest guidance.

Key Principles

  • We are following Government guidance for the safety of our nation as a whole
  • This is important because Covid-19 is highly contagious and can be transferred by touching surfaces as well as by person to person contact
  • Whilst until recently our church buildings have had to be closed this does not mean that the church is closed: God’s people are still serving their communities, but we are doing it in some new ways

Some practical ideas

Keeping an eye on the building

For those people who are doing the permitted daily exercise, someone could agree to incorporate the church on their walk and let you know if they spot (from the ground)

  • That lead has been stolen
  • That tiles or slates are missing
  • That anything else looks amiss e.g. trees down or in danger of falling, door open, window broken, dangerous headstones etc.

What to do if something is amiss

  • In case of a crime (e.g. lead theft, breaking in etc) contact the Police and follow their guidance.  Report any damage to your insurers, Archdeacon and church architect.
  • In case of something amiss that might cause immediate damage to your building, get in touch with Emma Brown, Church Buildings Adviser or your church architect

Basic guidance for the building and churchyard during closure

The guidance below should be read alongside any relevant manufacturer’s instructions.

The Church Buildings Council website has more detailed information.

Building

  • Non-essential electrical equipment should be switched off to reduce any fire risks.
  • Alarm systems should be set to work
  • Boilers should remain switched on to prevent any pipes from freezing, should the temperature drop.
  • Heating systems are best switched to the summer settings, given the time of year
  • Water systems – consider whether it is necessary to leave the water supply on or whether it should be turned off. And be mindful of your own risk assessments regarding stagnant water.
  • If any work on the building has had to stop before completion, liaise with contractors to ensure the building is left safe and that you have agreement on any costs like scaffolding. Inform your insurer and any funders of the situation. [Contact with the same groups is advisable for any work that has had to be postponed.]

Churchyard

  • Open access to the churchyard can be maintained for pedestrians as it is an important public space but ideally secure any large gates to prevent vehicular access
  • Mowing should cease whilst the building is closed and whilst some might not like this, there will be a benefit to wildlife during this time. If concerned about long grass, you could consider asking someone with grazing animals to place one or two in the churchyard as this is a green and economical maintenance option.

Visit the Eco Church website for guidance on living churchyards

Insurance

Check with your insurer about how the closure of the building might affect the insurance, as this varies slightly according to insurer.

Faculty Applications

Concerns regarding existing or new faculty applications should emailed to Sarah Williams, DAC Secretary

Additional Support and Information

Emma Brown our diocesan Church Buildings Adviser is here to support you, as are your Archdeacons.

There is a document on the Church of England’s CBC website with more detailed information on Covid-19 and church buildings and churchyards.  Ecclesiastical Insurance also has useful guidance on their website. These are likely to answer most FAQs but please just get in touch with Emma Brown, as above if you have further questions.

Who to contact

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