Menu

Transforming the communities of Essex & East London through Christ’s presence

Coronavirus Guidance and FAQs

This page contains detailed guidance to support parishes through the coronavirus pandemic.

Section menu


Log of recent updates

This log lists the most recent changes to this page so you can see what has been added or updated recently.

 

20 January - New Church of England guidance for services during Lent, Holy Week and Easter in Public Worship

12 January - Updated guidance on singing and choirs in new section  on singing

11 January - Updated Government guidance for places of worship published in General Guidance

8 January - Re-organisation of the web page to improve readability

8 January - Letter from Public Health Directors in Essex to faith leaders in News

6 January - New Church of England guidance published following introduction of lockdown in General Guidance

4 January - Government announces new England wide lockdown and updated advice from Chelmsford Diocese in News

 

 

1) News  

12 January 2020 - New guidance on singing and choirs

Updated guidance on singing and choirs in new section 

 

8 January 2020 - Letter from Public Health Directors in Essex requests places of worship close for congregational worship

The Public Health Directors for Essex, Thurrock and Southend have written to faith leaders across Essex requesting that they close for congregational worship where a congregation is phyiscally present. You can read that letter here. 

 

4 January 2020 - New National Lockdown and Diocese of Chelmsford advice

The Prime Minister has announced a new national lockdown across England.

The accompanying Government guidance states that ‘you can leave home to attend or visit a place of worship for communal worship’ during the lockdown period.

However, we continue to be the worst hit area of the country and our hospitals are now under extraordinary pressure. We must do all that we can to protect the most vulnerable in our communities and the NHS.

We therefore strongly advise that following the Feast of Epiphany on Wednesday 6 January, all services should move online (with no congregation physically present). The only exception to this is funerals. We also advise that any face to face meetings take place by other means or are cancelled.

The Church of England has also issued a statement  which can be read here.

We will email clergy, churchwardens, LLMs and lay chairs with further information as the details and implications of this new lockdown become clearer. We will also update this web page with these details.


2 General Guidance

This section highlights the main sources of guidance from Chelmsford Diocese, The Church of England and the Government.

 

Chelmsford Diocese Guidance:

We continue to be the worst hit area of the country and our hospitals are now under extraordinary pressure. We must do all that we can to protect the most vulnerable in our communities and the NHS.

We therefore strongly advise that following the Feast of Epiphany on Wednesday 6 January, all services should move online (with no congregation physically present). The only exception to this is funerals. We also advise that any face to face meetings take place by other means or are cancelled.

 

Church of England guidance

The following guidance has been updated since the introduction of the new national lockdown:

 

Government guidance 

The following guidance has been updated since the introduction of the new national lockdown:

 

 


3 Church Activity

 

Public worship 

Some of the Government and Church of England guidance below has not been updated following the announcement of a national lockdown on 4 January. Please read this advice accordingly and see sections 1 and 2 above.

 

Template posters and banners

This section provides links to posters that you may wish to display around your church buildings

The coronavirus pandemic has seen a tragic increase in incidents of domestic violence. We are encouraging our churches to display posters in and around their church buildings to advertise helplines and other services for victims of domestic violence. Posters and other resources are available at the following.


Individual private prayer 

Churches opening for individual private prayer should read and follow the guidelines below and complete a risk assessment.


Holy Communion 


Singing and choirs

The Government has advised that: 

Where singing or chanting is essential to an act of worship, this should be limited to one person wherever possible. Exceptionally, where it is essential to the service, up to three individuals should be permitted to do so. Strict social distancing should be observed and the use of Plexi-glass screens should be considered to protect worshippers, and each other.

Communal (congregational) singing should not take place. This applies even if social distancing is being observed or face coverings are used, indoors and outdoors.

It has been confirmed that this guidance applies both to professional and amateur singers where a congregation is present.

Under the Performing Arts guidance professional groups may continue to rehearse and train, and perform for broadcast or recording purposes if a congregation is not present. In such cases the numbers or people involved should be kept as small as possible to minimise risks and participants should follow social distancing guidance.

Non-professional activity, such as amateur choirs and orchestra, cannot take place.

Please see Government guidance on places of worship and on Performing Arts for more information.


Weddings, Funerals, Baptisms, Confirmations, Ordinations

Church of England guidance documents on life cycle events 

Updated Government guidance on attendance at funerals

The Government have updated their guidance relating to people attending funerals when they are symptomatic and/or are required to self isolate. The guidance can be read here.


Children and Young People 

Much of the Government and Church of England guidance below has not been updated following the announcement of a national lockdown on 4 January. Please read this advice accordingly.

Mission and Ministry with young people

The Church of England have published a new resources document for Mission and Ministry with young people and children


Communtiy Activity and Church Halls 

Guidance  from the Government

 

Foodbanks

Foodbanks should continue as they have during lockdown. Please read the Foodbank Advice from the Trussel Trust

The Diocese have also  been in touch with Ecclesiastical Insurance regarding the opening of church buildings and halls to run foodbanks and other essential community services. Ecclesiastical state the following:

As long as the activities are co-ordinated and run under the auspices and control of the individual PCC, their Employers' Liability and Public Liability covers will respond accordingly, subject to following Government guidelines and the PCC's safeguarding, long working policies etc.

Where volunteers are not usually church volunteers, the PCC must supervise and co-ordinate these individuals in relation to safeguarding etc. They should also keep a list of the volunteers.

If the PCC are just providing the building to enable a third party to run the foodbanks, as the PCC will effectively just be the Property Owner, the PCC’s Public/Property Owner liability cover will respond.

We would advise the PCC to ensure they are following the Public Health England and NHS guidelines, and for the PCC to ensure their health and safety policies are up to date. The Church of England have some useful information on their website including a link to the Trussell Trust website which is specific guidance for foodbanks.

The third party organiser should also have their own liability cover in place and should again ensure they carry out Health and Safety risk assessments.


Providing pastoral support

Some of the Government and Church of England guidance below has not been updated following the announcement of a national lockdown on 4 January. Please read this advice accordingly and see sections 1 and 2 above.


Organ playing and bell ringing (advice from the Church of England)

Some of the Government and Church of England guidance below has not been updated following the announcement of a national lockdown on 4 January. Please read this advice accordingly and see sections 1 and 2 above.

Organs

The organ can be played, including during public worship.

Bells 

The Church of England state that bells can be rung if the guidance they have agreed with the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers is followed.  The guidance can be read here 

Please ensure your ringers have read the guidance and undertaken the ringing risk assessment.


Face Coverings

Some of the Government and Church of England guidance below has not been updated following the announcement of a national lockdown on 4 January. Please read this advice accordingly and see sections 1 and 2 above.


Vaccines and Vaccination

Some of the Government and Church of England guidance below has not been updated following the announcement of a national lockdown on 4 January. Please read this advice accordingly and see sections 1 and 2 above.


NHS Test and Trace

Much of the Government and Church of England guidance below has not been updated following the announcement of a national lockdown on 4 January. Please read this advice accordingly and see sections 1 and 2 above.

The NHS Test and Trace app went live on 24/ 09 and churches are encouraged to print out and display a QR coded poster in their buildings to support the programme. This is an easy way to support Test and Trace without having to collect visitor data yourselves. Please read the updated Church of England guidance document to find out how you can do this. Please note that churches and church halls hosting certain types of non-worship activities are legally required to participate in the programme.


Protecting those at additional risk from Covid-19 


Safeguarding

The Church of England have published guidance on Safeguarding during the Coronavirus Pandemic which can be read here.

As more of us are now using digital and video communications in our ministry it is important that we are aware of the safeguarding implications and following best practice. Please ensure you are familiar with the following guidance and share it with those in your parish who organise online meetings or worship activity.

  1. Advice for using video conferencing for youth work during Covid-19
  2. Using Zoom for video meetings with young people
  3. Keeping children safe online

Live streaming and copyright

The following guidance is from the Church of England

CCLI

CCLI introduced a streaming licence in mid-March 2020. It is available to any church which holds a CCLI Church Copyright Licence, which the majority of Church of England churches do. For many churches, this licence will cover them for their streaming activity:

  • For churches who are streaming their services via YouTube or Facebook, the CCLI Streaming Licence will cover them for live worship music performed as part of that stream. (This would include services streamed or webcast via YouTube but embedded into the church’s own website).
  • You can check on the CCLI website as to whether permissions for a particular hymn or song are covered by them.
  • If the church is hosting the stream/webcast on their own website, they will need the PRS for Music Limited Online Music Licence (LOML) in addition to the CCLI Streaming Licence.
  • The CCLI Streaming Licence includes the right to show the words on screen.
  • The CCLI Streaming Licence allows a church to make recordings of the services available on their website indefinitely provided you keep renewing your streaming licences.
  • These licences cover ‘live’ music performances. If a church is using recorded music as part of the stream, additional rights come into play. Commercially available CDs or music recordings cannot be played unless specific permission is granted by the copyright holder.

One Licence

Another license, One License is available which covers an additional range of church and choral music e.g. Taize, GIA Publications, Oxford University Press, Wild Goose Resource Group, Kevin Mayhew.

  • The Church of England uses both a One Licence and CCLI Streaming Licence for the weekly online services to enable access to a broad range of Christian music.
  • The same rules described above over seeking permission for ‘recorded’ performance still apply.

Rights-free music from the Church of England, St Martin in the Fields and the Royal School of Church Music

  • The Church of England, working with St Martin-in-the-Fields and the Royal School of Church Music, is providing a resource of rights-free music for Church of England churches to use on streamed services, via the A Church Near You resource hub providing you have a CCLI Streaming Licence. Read the press release for more details.
  • There are several other  Christian organisations that provide apps or software that provide backing tracks for worship, some of which are giving churches permission to use their pre-recorded tracks as part of their streams. Please carefully check first before using this material.

Using other copyrighted material

  • Permission should also be sought from the owner(s) of any other creative works included in the service. If reproducing bible verses, or liturgy, usually there will be copyright information in the front of the publication, and usually they will allow for a certain proportion to be reproduced.
  • For any images etc. the same rules would apply as in normal circumstances. Never assume that you can take an image found on Google and use it in a church service or include it in a service sheet or similar without permission. Read our guidance on using images here.
  • Regarding a Service Sheet, as long as there are appropriate licences/permissions in place, making that service sheet available online should be fine.

Advice on using Zoom to stream services

Churches using Zoom to stream services need both the CCLI Streaming Licence and the PRS for Music LOML. This is because Zoom doesn’t currently have an agreement with PRS for Music as YouTube and Facebook do.


Delivering printed communications

Some of the Government and Church of England guidance below has not been updated following the announcement of a national lockdown on 4 January. Please read this advice accordingly and see sections 1 and 2 above.

Parishes are encouraged to use digtial and telephone communications as the Covid-19 may live for some time on paper or card. Where paper communications are used, precautions should be taken to minimise the risk of transmission.

 


 

 

 

4) Building maintenance and management

 


Heating and ventilation 

Much of the Government and Church of England guidance below has not been updated following the announcement of a national lockdown on 4 January. Please read this advice accordingly and see sections 1 and 2 above.


Cleaning 

Much of the Government and Church of England guidance below has not been updated following the announcement of a national lockdown on 4 January. Please read this advice accordingly and see sections 1 and 2 above.



Construction work

Much of the Government and Church of England guidance below has not been updated following the announcement of a national lockdown on 4 January. Please read this advice accordingly and see sections 1 and 2 above.


Clocks and organ maintenance 

Much of the Government and Church of England guidance below has not been updated following the announcement of a national lockdown on 4 January. Please read this advice accordingly and see sections 1 and 2 above.

Clocks can be wound and the time changed if a safe working practice can be established with clock winders. If the clock is hand wound and has been left to run down completely, the weight lines should be checked before the clock is wound. When the weights reach the floor or other resting location, especially for the strike and chime trains, it is possible for the clock to run on a little and for the lines to then jump off the pulleys. Winding the clock without first checking the location of the line can end up with the weight hanging directly on the line rather than with the weight line running over the pulley. With very heavy weights it might not feel wrong to the winder. Caution is needed.

The organ humidifier and blower can also be serviced. If your organ has a humidifier that has been turned off for an extended period of time please seek advice from the company that maintains it about bringing it back into use.


 

 

5) Governance and finance

Annual Meetings, Elections of Church Wardens, Synod Reps and PCC members (updated 15/09 with new guidance which includes guidance on electronic meetings.)

Guidance for 2021 will be available soon.

 

Guidance from 2020:

If you have already had your Annual Meetings….

  1. The churchwardens chosen in 2019 remain in office until those chosen in 2020 are admitted unless the archdeacons of bishops allow otherwise.  Incumbents will be able to admit new churchwardens only when safe and absolutely necessary, and following consultation with their archdeacon. The archdeacons will hold a service of celebration for new churchwardens at a future date.
  2. Deanery Synod representatives elected in 2017 (or subsequently to fill a casual vacancy) continue in post until 30th November 2020. They will, therefore, comprise the electorate for the House of Laity of the General Synod, when those elections go ahead. 
  3. PCC members will already have been appointed at your APCM.

If you haven’t yet had your Annual Meetings….

  1. Don’t panic!  The deadline for Annual Meetings (Annual Meeting of Parishioners and APCM) has been extended until 31st October 2020.
  2. Churchwardens elected in 2019 continue to hold office until 31st January 2021 unless their successors are admitted to office before that. (See 1. above). This extension applies also to churchwardens who were already in their sixth year of office.
  3. Deanery Synod representatives elected in 2017 (or subsequently to fill a casual vacancy) continue in post until 30th November 2020. They will, therefore, comprise the electorate for the House of Laity of the General Synod, when those elections go ahead
  4. PCC members will remain in post until the end of the next APCM, whenever that takes place.  This extension applies also to any who were due to step down from office in 2020.

Holding APCMs by electronic means

On 15 September, a further Bishop's instrument was issued and sent to clergy, churchwardens and PCC Secretaries. Amongst other things, this instrument authorises APCMs and annual Meetings of Parishioners to be held by electronic means. Please read a detailed guidance note about what this means here. 

Note:     Details regarding elections for the General Synod will be circulated in due course.


PCC decision making and online meetings

  1. Based on guidance from the Provincial Vicars General and Provincial Registrars, we consider that parochial church councils can, if they wish, meet using virtual means such as Skype or Zoom which enable the members to see and hear each other. 
  2. However, care must be taken so that members of a PCC who are unable to participate in a meeting in that way are not excluded from the PCC’s deliberations and decision making. The Chair should take steps to ensure that they are able to participate so far as possible, including where necessary by means of the procedure for conducting business by correspondence set out in rule M29 of the Church Representation Rules (CRRs). The Church Representation Rules can be read here.
  3. We recommend that following a virtual meeting, decisions such as the authorising of expenditure, entering into contracts or those that require a formal resolution of the PCC are put in written form and circulated for formal approval under the correspondence procedure in rule M29, which under Rule 76 can be conducted by email.
  4. It should also be remembered that the Standing Committee of the PCC may transact the PCC’s business between meetings, subject to the statutory limitations and any directions of the PCC. See CRRs Model Rule M31. The comments above relating to virtual meetings apply similarly to the Standing Committee.
  5. These are, of course, the provisions for formal meetings and business. There is nothing to prevent email and telephone interaction between members of the PCC to give informal consideration to matters. It may be possible to deal with many straightforward and uncontroversial matters in this way. However, formal decisions would need to await a properly constituted meeting of the PCC or, as appropriate, the Standing Committee.
  6. PCCs required to submit accounts and an annual return to the Charity Commission should note that the Commission’s current advice is that the charity should contact the Commission if it believes that it will need an extension to the (10 month) deadline for filing the annual return. Given the number of charities likely to be affected, it may be helpful for a member of the PCC to check the Charity Commission website from time to time, in order to check for any further guidance.

Financial guidance for churches

 

 


We are continuing to work on answers to additional FAQs.

Coronavirus advice from:

Chelmsford Diocese

Church of England


For more information please contact The Diocese Communications team
Is there anything wrong with this page?