flowersCoronavirus: funerals, weddings, baptisms and pastoral responses

Updated 30 November 2020
In every tier of coronavirus restriction church buildings will be able to open for public worship and private prayer in England. All necessary assessments of Covid-security should be undertaken, including keeping attendees 2m apart, supplying hand-sanitiser and wearing face masks. Sadly, the serving of refreshments is not possible, and as before, worshippers should leave as safely as possible, avoiding crowding at doors.
Who you can attend with depends upon which tier, and guidance is offered here

The Government website states (correct as of 2 November):

Funerals can be attended by a maximum of 30 people, and it is advised that only close friends and family attend. Linked ceremonial events such as stone settings and ash scatterings can also continue with up to 15 people in attendance. Anyone working is not included. Social distancing should be maintained between people who do not live together or share a support bubble.

Weddings, civil partnership ceremonies will not be permitted to take place except in exceptional circumstances.

Places of Worship will be closed, unless they are being used for:
  • Funerals
  • To broadcast acts of worship
  • Individual prayer
  • Formal childcare or where part of a school
  • Essential voluntary and public services, such as blood donation or food banks
  • Other exempted activities such as some support groups

Many of our Member Churches have established coronavirus guidance web pages, including:

Advice for funerals

See the Government's COVID-19: guidance for managing a funeral during the coronavirus pandemic. Funerals in a place of worship should be limited to 30 attendees, and social distancing guidelines must be followed. 
Options around holding memorial services at later times – after coronavirus restrictions are lifted – will be considered by many churches. Churches in some areas such as Lincolnshire are already hosting online remembrance events for their community.

Advice for weddings

Once the lockdown of 5 November comes into effect, 'Weddings, civil partnership ceremonies will not be permitted to take place except in exceptional circumstances.'

Advice for baptisms, confirmations and ordinations

Once the lockdown of 5 November comes into effect, these will not be allowed to take place.

Pastoral care

Normal patterns of pastoral care will also continue to be affected.

Essential voluntary or public service, such as food banks and blood donation sessions based in church buildings may continue.

Health Care Chaplaincy - The President of the College of Health Care Chaplains, Simon Harrison,  wrote an advisory to churches in early April.

The Church remains active

As we saw in the first national lockdown in the spring, although church services might be suspended, Christian churches remain active in serving their communities, gathering online to worship, and praying for our world in these challenging times.
There are countless examples of Christians providing practical help and support in their local communities, within covid guidelines – whether it’s hosting online remembrance events to help those who are grieving, coming alongside the local council to support practical initiatives in the community, or gathering together virtually to pray.
At this time we can truly be the Church for everyone, bringing compassion in the form of care and light in dark times, and proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ as the one great hope for our world. 

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