The Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of England have urged everyone to follow the government’s instructions to stay at home homes in a national effort to limit the transmission of the coronavirus (COVID-19). This means our churches will be closed and weddings and baptisms cannot take place.
The Church of England is regularly updating its Coronavirus (Covid-19) Guidance page on its website, so do check it regularly for updates.
On this page you will find answers to some of the questions related to the Diocese of Bath and Wells as a result of the suspension of public worship during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. We will update these page as soon as the information becomes available.
For 2020, the time for holding a meeting of parishioners to choose churchwardens is extended until 31 October (instead of 31 May). Similarly, the period for holding an annual meeting of parishioners (APCM) is extended to 31 October. Bishop Peter has issued an instrument to that effect which can be downloaded below.
“It goes without saying that as a church our first concern is for all of God’s people; those sick, those caring for others and for all those who are finding isolation and a disruption to the rhythm of life unsettling and uncomfortable. We are aware that for some parishes, financial concerns add another layer of anxiety . Together, we can work through the financial challenges for PCCs that this may bring over the coming weeks and months. We want to ensure that PCCs , clergy and diocesan staff can continue to work. We understand that for some parishes their income streams from plate collections, fundraising events, church hall lettings etc. may decrease significantly due to the social distancing and any other forthcoming national measures. In addition, some members may face their own financial struggles and may have to reduce their planned giving. diocesan staff are there to support you, so please do get in touch if you need us.
“If any parish has specific cash flow problems, and is making parish share payments monthly by direct debit, the direct debit payment can be suspended temporarily to ease the immediate problems. To do this, please contact Jessica Cook. The DBF relies upon parish share contributions to provide the cash income to meet clergy stipends payments monthly so, where possible, we would gratefully ask that these regular payments do continue.
“Most churches receive donations from their members by regular pledged gifts, whether by way of envelopes or standing orders. These gifts are vital not just for keeping up with parish share contributions (which directly pay for the parochial clergy) but also for all the other ongoing costs of running the building and the ministry and mission of the church. Therefore, we would encourage you to ensure that your members continue with their regular giving for the ministry and mission of the church where they can. You might also encourage those who don’t give in this way to consider doing so, if they are able. By providing your PCC bank account details to your congregation you can give them the opportunity to set up standing orders, or give directly to support not only the existing work of your church but also any new work that you may be undertaking to support your local communities during this very uncertain time.
“We pray that together we can continue to live out our shared vision to live and tell the story of Jesus.”
Nick May, Diocesan Secretary
Allow your staff to work from home. If they are unable to work from home, the HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers costs to enable employers to continue paying them a salary. More information can be found via the link above.
Most importantly keep in contact with your staff – these new ways of working can be challenging and lonely. Keep checking in with each other, phone or use online chat tools. Recognising the good work being done can go a long way in helping everyone cope with working from home or being at home.
Email the HR Department should you require further advice.
Live streaming should be operated by the person presenting or a member of their household. External personnel should not move between households to facilitate.
If a church wishes to host a live-stream on their own website then they can apply for a Limited Online Music Licence (LOML).
The Church of England is encouraging us all to consider how we can be as creative as possible with streaming services and other resources. There are many, many fantastic examples of churches and clergy using technology to reach and engage communities. They have more guidance here.