The Press Release Bishops revise and produce further guidance was issued following today’s meeting of the House of Bishop, and is reproduced below together with the Church’s summary of the changes to the guidance.
Bishops revise and produce further guidance
The House of Bishops today discussed a range of issues around COVID-19 and approved further advice on funerals, the celebration of Holy Communion and ordinations.
The guidance advises that funerals may be carried out in church buildings from June 15.
It has been issued in light of the easing of restrictions on individual private prayer in places of worship, the reduction in death rates linked to Covid-19 and the pastoral needs of those who have been bereaved. It is in line with guidance from Public Health England.
In keeping with the Church of England’s wider approach to a phased reopening of places of worship, it will be up to each diocesan bishop and senior team how they use the guidance to support churches and cathedrals depending on their local context.
The House noted that this guidance is permissive and not prescriptive. If a building could not open because staff were ill or shielding or could not be easily cleaned, for example, it would be a local decision by those with authority over the building as to whether the permission was used or not.
The funeral may take place at a local crematorium or cemetery if the decision is taken not to open the church as is the case now.
The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, who chairs the Church of England’s Recovery Group, said: “While the restrictions on everyday life necessary to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus pandemic have been difficult for us all, I’m only too aware that those who have lost loved ones have suffered most of all. I know that the grieving process has been even more difficult because of the limitations on funerals themselves.
“There are now least some signs of hope of an improvement with a fall both in the number of new infections and the death rate, but there will still, sadly, have to be significant limitations on how we mark funerals for some time to come.
“Nevertheless the House of Bishops has agreed that in light of the changing circumstances it is time to review our advice so that it will soon be possible for funeral services to be conducted inside church buildings following Government guidelines.
“At the same time we are actively planning for a wider phased reopening of places of worship when it is safe and practical to do so and look forward to the time when we can meet and worship together again in our buildings which mean so much to so many.”
Separate funeral and bereavement resources for clergy and officiants for funerals can be found on our website.
- Further resources can be found on our dedicated Coronavirus advice page
Summary of changes to Church of England guidance
Last updated Tuesday 9 June at 16:15.
Read the House of Bishops’ statement accompanying the below updates:
- Updated risk assessment document for opening church buildings
- New opening church buildings for works to the building and interior during document (combines previous Access to church buildings for building maintenance and Church and cathedral building access for construction work into a single guidance document)
- New permissions for temporary works in churches and cathedrals document
- New FAQ Can ordinations still go ahead? and advice document
- New FAQ What guidance is available for Holy Communion? and advice document
- Updated FAQ Can funerals still go ahead?, and advice document, v2. [3 June]
- Updated FAQ Can churches open for individual and private prayer?
Whilst some Government guidance has been revised, it is still vital that the necessary hygiene and social distancing precautions are kept in place in order to protect the NHS and save lives.
COVID-19 Advice on Ordinations
para.21 Face Coverings “… We recognise that during the ordination
process, and when administering Holy Communion, social distancing will not always be possible. We advise that those involved may wish to consider wearing face coverings for those elements of the proceedings.”
How do you receive Holy Communion, albeit the bread element only (see para.20), when wearing a face covering?
If the face covering/mask/shield is worn upside down, resting on the chin/lower lip, it could be used as a chute for direct reception of the host. But that about as dignified as the US priests who use a water pistol for baptism!. However, a friends who is an LLM (Canon Law) and a priest alerted me to “some neat liturgical hand-spraying”, at around 1:09:00 on:
You will gather that I regard any such suggestion as risible, and having taken an early decision to receive in only one kind (with prior application of hand gel after the Peace), and then not to receive at all, I am quite willing to wait until I decide the time is appropriate, rather than to prat around as suggested.
Amen ! David. Liked the hand-spraying @ 1:09:00. Also the administration at two points from behind glass screens at around 1:43:00 !