Prayers for those affected
The thoughts and prayers of everyone at Chelmsford Diocese are with those affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak around the world. We pray for those who care for the sick, for those who are combatting the spread of the virus and for those who are worried about friends and loved ones.
Guidance from the Diocese of Chelmsford
On 25 February 2021 Bishop Peter emailed all clergy, churchwardens, LLMs, lay chairs and members of Diocesan Synod with the latest guidance on congregational worship.
Dear sisters and brothers
On Monday the Prime Minister set out the Government’s road map to emergence from lockdown: it is to be cautious and very gradual in four dated phases. Alongside the national roadmap, I believe it is right for us in God’s Church to prayerfully review our own local decisions on the opening of church buildings for congregational worship, and with the same caution and diligence.
Even though thankfully the vaccines are in rapid roll out and virus infection rates are in significant decline in our diocesan areas, we must avoid adding to the risk of yet another sharp rise in the spread of the virus, especially due to the possibility of mutations.
However, I hope that when we reach Holy Week, which coincides with the start of the second phase of step one of the Government’s roadmap, many churches might be able to resume some congregational worship, with limited numbers and following guidelines. Indeed, we hope that this year’s Maundy Thursday Chrism service will enable a small number of us to gather in the Cathedral whilst others participate from home on Zoom. From 12 April, when the next step of the Government’s plan starts, I hope we will be able to do more. Of course, all this will remain dependent on the changing situation.
This is not the time to cast all caution aside, but rather for those of us whose church buildings have been closed for congregational worship to carefully consider the timing of re-opening in the light of our local circumstances, our own health, and capacities to minimize risk. The Public Health Directors for Essex, Thurrock and Southend have today written to faith leaders providing their own guidance on reopening which can be read here. There is no need to rush to a decision and further practical advice from the Church of England nationally is expected soon. If you feel able to consider re-opening for public worship before Easter you should review your risk assessment. Then, in consultation with your PCCs, you should only re-open if you are confident of your ability to fully manage and mitigate the risks. The final decision remains a local one.
We will be in touch again with further updates when new information and guidance is published.
If you have any concerns about your own local situation, please speak with your Area Dean in the first instance who will be able raise this with their Archdeacon if necessary.
Further guidance and support from the Diocese of Chelmsford:
- Detailed Guidance and FAQs
- Online Church: Guidance, Resources Webinars and Links to Online Worship
- Examples of our churches serving their communities during the pandemic from our 12 Days of Christmas campaign
- Giving and Finance Guidance and Resources
Keeping up to date
The Diocese of Chelmsford is sending regular updates about Coronavirus (COVID-19) in our email bulletins. Please sign up here.
Clergy, Church Wardens LLMs, LLWs and Lay Chairs receive additional advice and guidance by email.
In addition, our Archdeacons speak regularly with Area Deans about the the implications of Coronavirus in their own areas. These meetings then feed back to a central Diocesan Communications Group who are overseeing the diocesan response, communications and support for parishes. The group meets weekly and consists of Bishop Peter, the Diocesan Secretary, two of our Archdeacons, the Diocesan Director of Communications and the Director of Operations at Chelmsford Cathedral.
- Church of England Coronavirus guidance and FAQs
- Government Guidance for places of worship
- NHS website - For medical advice, including advice on symptoms and self isolation, please use the NHS website.