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

Coronavirus advice from:

Chelmsford Diocese

Church of England


This  page addresses some of the questions we have been asked by parishes across the diocese. We will continue to update it to respond to issues as they arise and where guidance changes. Please keep checking for updates.

Log of recent changes to this page

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

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Use of church buildings

General Guidance and risk assessment (new section 08/07)


Opening of churches for public worship (08/07)

Church buildings have been permitted to open for public worship since 4 July. This is permissive guidance and not an expectation that all church buildings should open in the near future. We recognise that for some churches, taking the necessary health and safety measures will make this step prohibitve at this stage.

Government guidance:

Government guidance on public worship from 4 July

Government guidance on collecting visitor information to support Track and Trace. We are expecting more detailed guidance in the coming days.

Church of England guidance:

Church of England guidance on public worship (updated 6 July)

Restarting public worship- legal questions and answers

Risk assessment 

Opening the Doors

The Church of England have published new  resources to help churches promote and facilitate a return to prayer and worship in their church buildings when the time is right to do so. Included are liturgical resources, posters, invitations and a series of webinars. You can access the Opening the Doors resources here.

Holy Communion (01/07)

Church of England advice on Holy Communion

Individual private prayer (last update 01/07)

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

Template posters to help churches implement social distancing and other health and safety measures 

Please download and edit these posters to make use of them in your own church if and when you are opening for private prayer.

Template posters for churches that aren't yet able to reopen for individual private prayer

These posters have been produced for churches that aren't yet able to re-open their buildings. The 'Bishops' Message Poster' helps explain why your church isn't yet able to open its building and the 'Church Building Temporarily Closed' Poster' can be edited and used to advertise other activities and other churches that are open for private prayer.

Domestic violence helpline posters for displaying as church buildings re-open 

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.

Weddings, Funerals, Baptisms, Confirmation (01/07)





Communtiy Activity (new section 08/07)

Government guidance where buildings are used as community facilities

Government guidance where buildings are visited by tourists

Government guidance where churches operate restaurants or cafes and for food businesses



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.


Children and Young People (08/07)

Sunday schools, clubs and youth groups

The Church of England has published a new FAQ on children and young people's activtiy. The FAQ states that children’s activities being organised by the place of worship alongside or within a service or at other times during the week should follow principles in the general guidance from the Department for Education on Out of School Settings.

In outline, these recommend that, to reduce the risk of transmission, children and young people who attend should be kept in small, consistent groups, and of no more than fifteen children and at least one staff member. Children should be assigned to a particular class or group and should then stay in those consistent groups for future sessions and avoid mixing with other groups in your setting.

If possible, those attending should practise physical distancing in line with the government’s current guidance. As the risk of transmission is considerably lower outdoors, providers who normally run sessions indoors should consider whether they are able to do so safely outside on their premises.


Childcare Settings in Church Buildings

The Government gave the go ahead for childcare providers on the Early Years Register, who usually use church buildings, to open their settings from 1 June provided that appropriate risk assessments and Covid-19 mitigations are undertaken.  Please see the Department for Education website for full guidance.


Organ playing and bell ringing(advice from the Church of England) (new section 08/07)


The organ can be played, including during public worship.


Church bells can now be rung provided that guidance agreed between the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers and the Church of England is followed. The advice is here. Please ensure your ringers have read the guidance and undertaken the ringing risk assessment.

Building maintenance and management

Cleaning (new section 08/07)

Church of England advice on keeping church buildings clean

Construction work (new section 08/07)

Church of England guidance on building works

Risk assessment template for contractors and construction workers

Advice on temporary works in church buildings

Clocks and organ maintenance (new section 08/07)

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.

Insurance (30/03)

Advice from Ecclesiastical Insurance on unoccupied buildings during the coronavirus pandemic.

Governance and finance

Annual Meetings, Elections of Church Wardens, Synod Reps and PCC members

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.

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

PCC decision making and online meetings (15/04)

  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 (08/07)

Finance and giving guidance and resouces for parishes


Protecting those at additional risk from Covid-19

Those in the clinically extremely vulnerable group should be advised not to consider employment or volunteering outside their homes. Please see the Church of England guidance document for details.

Safeguarding (08/07)

The Church of England have published guidance on Safeguarding during the Coronaviru 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 (new section 08/07)

The following guidance is from the Church of England


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

Parishes are encouraged to use digtial and telephone communications as the Covid-19 may live for some time on paper or card.

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
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