flowersCoronavirus: funerals, weddings, baptisms and pastoral responses

Last updated: 28 May 2020

In the current extraordinary circumstances, the normal routines of funerals, weddings and baptisms are all challenged. Member Churches of Churches Together in England are responding to Government advice by adapting their usual practices to the urgent and serious requirements to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

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

Advice for funerals

Only members of the deceased person’s household or close family members should attend funerals. Any individual displaying symptoms of COVID-19 should not attend. Those who do attend will need to adhere to social distancing at all times, including when travelling to and from the funeral. Refer to the detail of the Government measures.
 
Both the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church have decided that funerals will proceed at the graveside or crematorium only, with household groups at least two metres apart. The Church of England also states that congregations may consist only of the closest family, specified as spouse or partner, children and parents. All must abide by self-isolation guidance for any who are ill or vulnerable.
 
A cremation will require strict adherence to time constraints.

Options around holding memorial services at later times – after coronavirus restrictions are lifted – will be considered by many churches.
 

Advice for weddings

All weddings, including all Church weddings are sadly unable to take place at the current time.
 

Advice for baptisms, confirmations and ordinations

No baptisms (including naming ceremonies) or confirmations may take place at this time. There is no specific advice about ordinations but churches are required to remain closed and social distancing measures suggest that they are not possible either.
 

Pastoral care

Normal patterns of pastoral care will also be affected, with contact now needing to be by telephone or other remote means . This will include funeral preparations, as well as the care for the house-bound. Member Churches have provided guidance on the websites above.
 
In general, assisting neighbours or vulnerable members of a community by shopping or talking to them with at least two metres distancing apart, is permitted. Care should be taken to ensure good safeguarding practices are upheld at all times.

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

Health Care Chaplaincy - The President of the College of Health Care Chaplains, Simon Harrison, has written an advisory to churches.

 
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