The following statement was issued by the Church of England late on the evening of 6 June following the government announcement, reported by BBC News that church buildings in England can open up for supervised individual prayer from 15 June.
Statement on individual prayer in churches
The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, chair of the Church of England’s Recovery Group said: “We welcome the Government’s announcement today that church buildings can open up for supervised individual prayer from June 15. This is the start of the journey for church buildings to open up safely in line with Government advice and we look forward to their detailed guidance on enabling this first step to happen.
“Advice has already been circulated to all our dioceses to enable local churches to plan ahead for opening up for individual prayer. Our advice recognises that a particular local church may or may not be able to open at the same time as others and collaborative working between local churches is encouraged. A simple risk assessment template has been provided.
“Throughout this crisis churches have been serving their communities in a range of practical ways but this announcement recognises that the buildings themselves are important sacred spaces for people. We also remember all at this time who mourn the loss of a loved one who died during the crisis and recognise that this is a fragile time in the prevention of the spread of this virus.
“We look forward to when it is safe for our church buildings once again to become meeting places for worship, prayer and all they do to serve and bless their communities.”
Resources can be found on our dedicated Coronavirus advice page.
Comment and update (10 June)
Yesterday we posted COVID-19: further guidance from the Church of England. Tonight’s announcement by government appears to have been timed to catch the 10 o’clock news and Sunday’s papers.
The Prime Minister’s statement at the coronavirus press conference on 10 June 2020 [“Transcript of the speech, exactly as it was delivered”] said:
“Finally, we will allow places of worship to open for individual prayer this weekend. And I hope that will be of some comfort to those of faith who have been unable to go to their place of worship”.
However, The Rt Rev Paul Bayes was quick to tweet:
“In @LivDiocese churches will have the option of opening for private prayer, depending on their local situation & on local resources available, from Monday (15th). Parish clergy will make these decisions for their own context. I trust my colleagues and will support them in this”.