On 17 March, the Church of Ireland issued Advice to Clergy (Northern Province) which was promulgated following consultation with the General Secretaries of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and the Methodist Church in Ireland. In brief:
- Until further notice, all parish organisations and activities should cease: If some meetings are required (for example a meeting of Select Vestry), or deemed important to hold, these should follow current Public Health guidance. ‘Virtual meetings’, including decision taken by e-mail or other similar means, are permissible (and indeed encouraged) in the current circumstances.
- Until further notice, all Sunday and midweek services (gatherings for worship) should be suspended.
- Until further notice, steps should be taken to ensure that numbers attending funeral services and weddings are kept as low as possible.
Similar advice was being issued by the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and the General Secretary of the Methodist Church in Ireland. The advice explained that it was “not possible to ascertain a realistic end date for the above restrictions”, but that it would be withdrawn as soon as Government guidance permitted.
It should be noted that the boundaries of the Province of Armagh are not coterminous with the political boundaries of Northern Ireland, so the Province has to take account of the current law in both jurisdictions.