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Last updated 17th July 2020

Coronavirus Compendium of advice and resources

This compendium of advice and resources was correct on 17th July 2020 based on the best available advice on that date 

Staying in touch

The Diocese has a dedicated email address which is constantly monitored:

coronavirus@blackburn.anglican.org

Please email if:

  • You want advice or clarification
  • You are an Incumbent, Curate or Assistant/Associate Priest aged under 70 who is unwell or self-isolating (with the date you started self-isolating)
  • You have something to share about good practice in your parish
  • You have concerns and worries and need pastoral support or prayer

Until further notice a regular bulletin will be sent out to all clergy and licensed lay ministers, church wardens, PCC secretaries, PCC treasurers and Vision Champions.

National Church of England advice

The Church of England has a dedicated Coronavirus area of its website that is updated regularly here.

Churches reopening for public worship guidance (01/07/2020)

On 23rd June it was announced that the earliest date for re-opening churches for public worship in a Covid-safe maner is 4th July. The Government released its advice on 26th June and can be found here

The House of Bishops have provided a response to the government guidelines here.

A risk assessment template from the national church can be found here.

Bishop Sarah's letter also states on 30th June that there will also be updated versions of the existing enabling papers with advice on Holy Communion, baptisms, weddings and funerals made available in the next few days. As ever, these papers contain advice to assist parish churches and cathedrals, not regulation, and all decisions on how and whether to conduct public worship will be taken locally.

There may be times when local or national government advice is amended to respond to the local situation. In those situations the advice for churches may change accordingly.

Please do read the information carefully, noting the following:

  • The words ‘should’ and ‘must’ are used very carefully. Should means you are strongly advised. Must means that it has the force of law.
  • The only significant area of difference with our guidance last week involves the use of books or hymnbooks. These can be distributed as long as they are quarantined for 48 hours afterwards.

Remember that the Government has placed churches in a privileged position by allowing us to break the general rules which do not allow more than two households to occupy the same internal space, so it is important to respect the guidance that allows this.

The lifting of the prohibition on worship brings to an end the legal dispensation concerning the obligation to offer Sunday worship within each Benefice and this canonical duty will therefore return from July 4th. 

We are aware that there are many churches who, for very good reasons, are having to delay the re-opening of worship, but it is important to set a direction of travel. To that end we advise parishes who are not starting worship this weekend as follows:

  • Have a plan with target dates and share this on your website, on A Church Near You and with a notice on the church door.
  • You can always start small for example with a midweek celebration of the Eucharist or with public recitation of the Daily Office (something which has been joyfully rediscovered in many parishes who have streamed or zoomed it during the lockdown).

If you can’t re-commence public worship by the end of July then Bishop Julian will need to know. You can either email him direct or send a message to the Coronavirus email address.

The national church have provided a form of words for PCC resolutions about delays to the re-commencement of public worship here

Guidance on Ministry with Children and Young People as lockdown eases (17/07/2020)

As lockdown measures start to ease, the National Church of England are working to understand what a safe return to face to face mission and ministry with children, young people and families may look like. They have produced a comprehensive guidance document with Q&A that also covers advice about events planned for children and young people over the summer holidays here.

The guidance referred to above should be read with the Government advice released on 29th June 2020 has the following specific advice regarding Young people and children attending places of worship

  • Young children should be supervised by the parent or guardian. They should wash hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with running water and soap and dry them thoroughly or use hand sanitiser ensuring that all parts of the hands are covered. Places of worship can help remind children and young people, and their parents and guardians, of the important actions they should take during the COVID-19 outbreak to help prevent the spread of the virus. Posters on general hand hygiene can be found on the eBug website.
  • Any shared facilities for children, such as play corners, soft furnishings, soft toys and toys that are hard to clean, should be removed and/or put out of use.
  • Outdoor playgrounds are permitted to open where venue managers risk assess that it is safe to do so, see relevant guidance.Particular attention should be paid to cleaning frequently touched surfaces by children and those that are at child height.
  • Principles in general guidance from the Department for Education should also be followed for any separate children’s activities being organised by the place of worship alongside or within a service.

We assume in that in most instances churches will seek to return to public worship as one congregation of all ages as it is one of the best ways to engage with children and young people and as family units can be together allows all to be part of a service together

If you are thinking of running activities in separate rooms from the main act of public worship several practical issues need to be borne in mind that are outlined in the sections below. 

However, due to the significant practical challenges to be overcome, our current advice would be for churches not to resume separate Sunday activities whilst the main service is happening.

Advice for churches on children’s groups

First and foremost, if churches wish to restart any kind of groups with children and young people face to face it is important to do a thorough documented risk assessment of the impact on the children and young people and wider congregation. This must be clearly agreed and signed off by the incumbent, if there is one. In the case of a parish in vacancy by the churchwardens.

Currently, there are strong reasons to not engage in face to face sessions, but to continue to use digital media sessions that have been so prevalent over the lockdown period and so the decision to restart groups should be taken carefully.

The guidance is still to reduce larger social connections and whilst gatherings, socially distanced, are permitted, schools are already grouping children into ‘pods’. Therefore it would not be wise at this stage to add another grouping as it will potentially increase social connection across a larger cohort of children and therefore increase the risk of transmission.  

Some children may not return to schools until September and in these cases, it may be possible to bring a group together without greater risk. This will need to be managed on a case by case basis as each school is engaging differently with their school community and will potentially keep increasing their numbers if it is safe to do so. The evidence suggests that children are unlikely to suffer significantly from the effects of the virus, but the greatest threat continues to be their passing the virus unwittingly to other households.

Sunday School 

Whilst technically under the guidance Sunday School could restart in a separate space whilst the main service is happening, there are a number of difficulties that need to be thought through. Churches would need to ensure:

  • The area used is thoroughly cleaned before and after use
  • The space is very well ventilated.
  • Safeguarding ratios are maintained and social distance applied. The combination of the two means that the church would need to manage who has access to different parts of the building to ensure the children and young people don’t mix with adults inadvertently (toilet facilities being such a potential problem) and therefore increase the risks of transmission
  • Drop off and collection systems ensure that there is no potential for social distancing rules to be compromised. 

Therefore, given these challenges, our current advice would be for churches not to resume separate Sunday activities whilst the service is on.

Mid-week youth groups/children’s groups

It is only possible for churches to resume groups that meet midweek if they are in the category of public worship. Even then caution is needed in the implementation of these sessions. At present, there is still the risk that face to face sessions will increase social contact to a level that is not in line with the government guidance (as stated above), but there may be circumstances where this is possible and beneficial. The following issues will need to be  addressed before running a session.

  • A clear and documented risk assessment should be undertaken and approved by an appropriate officer of the church
  • Cleaning regimes should be thorough and in line with government guidance and the meeting space needs excellent ventilation.
  • Social distance should be preserved, and children/young people therefore need to be able to understand this and play their part in compliance
  • Games and activities need to minimise social contact
  • Leaders should be mindful of any underlying health conditions of those who work with children and young people
  • Safeguarding ratios must be adhered to

More generally, churches should be aware that for many as they return to face to face meetings, concerns and worries about the virus and its impact on their families and themselves may be at the fore. Sessions should be geared to allow conversation and support to young people and should be mindful of the potential trauma that children and young people may have been exposed to. In turn, it is possible that there may be more disclosures of a safeguarding nature in conversations with leaders and all leaders need to be reminded of the need to discuss with their church safeguarding officer and Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser.

Messy Church

The features of messy church, such as sharing a meal, mean that it would not be appropriate to undertake this kind of service even with reduced numbers and therefore this is not advised at this stage.

Fundamentally the best advice is to plan carefully and move cautiously into wider opening of churches and to the restarting of groups for children and young people. Risks need to be assessed and sensible precautions taken. All are anxious to restart this vital ministry with our young, but it is better to start later and well than to rush into a gathering that raises risks for the church and wider community. 

Bell ringing from 4th July (30/06/2020)

This is permitted from July 4th. However bells may be rung for no more than 15 minutes and ringers should wear masks and keep social distance which will limit the number of ringers in most towers. Before re-commencing bell-ringing the Incumbents and Wardens should be consulted and a risk assessment conducted.

More advice on bell ringing can be found here

Guidance for the safe use of multi-purpose community facilities (01/07/2020)

The government has provided extensive guidance about multi-purpose community facilities eg community centres, village halls, and by definition church halls here 

The government states that these facilities support a wide range of local activity. However, their communal nature also makes them places that are vulnerable to the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

This information is for those managing multi-use community facilities. It signposts to relevant guidance on a range of different activities that can take place in these spaces, in line with the government’s roadmap to ease the existing measures to tackle COVID-19.

Until 4 July, community centres will be closed

We would draw your particular attention to the following sections of the guidance:

  • Section 2 Core principles for safely reopening community facilities
  • Section 3a: Early years and youth provision
  • Section 3b: Voluntary sector and other service provision
  • Section 3c: Recreation, leisure and social gatherings
  • Section 3d: Meetings and civic functions

Community ministry (27/03/2020)

“Learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow” Isaiah 1:17

Serving the community is one of the core parts of ministry. But how we provide such ministry must change, at least on a temporary basis, during the COVID-19 pandemic in order that we can protect the most vulnerable in our society.

Please follow the link to the COVID19 page in the Resources: Community Projects section of our website.

Confirmations (25/06/2020)

The nature of Confirmation Services in our Diocese means that it is still not safe for them to re-commence at present.  Confirmations in July and August 2020 have therefore been cancelled. 

DBF managed properties (26/03/2020)

To increase social distancing and limit contact we will be introducing a new protocol to help manage and maintain our repairs and maintenance service.

Please follow the link to the COVID19 page in the Resources: For Clergy section of the website.

Board of Education resources for children and young people (25/06/2020)

You've Got the Power Holiday Club Activity eBook

This activity eBook is a fully downloadable purchase. It contains 6 weeks' worth of activities for children to complete so they can earn 6 special badges. You've Got the Power follows 6 incredible children in the Bible, and through fun activities and challenges we can learn what they did, discover new skills for ourselves and celebrate that we've all got the power to do amazing things for God no matter what our age. To earn each badge there will be a food activity, a science activity with its own prediction sheet, outdoor activity, creative, getting active and so much more. Each week comes with a handy cheat sheet for the responsible grown up which includes fun facts, exclusive how to videos and special Pinterest boards full of inspiration. At £6 for the whole product, that's only £1 per week of the holidays! This could be a great gift to your families who are in transition from primary to secondary if you're not able to give them a physical gift. Find out more here.

Indoor and Outdoor Summer Activity sheets

These are downloadable activity sheets for families to complete in what ever order they'd like. Each sheet contains 10 activities, that's 10 for outdoor and 10 for indoor. Creating memories and sharing our faith together at home. How many can they complete? FREE

https://www.bdeducation.org.uk/product/indoor-summer/

https://www.bdeducation.org.uk/product/outdoor-summer/

Weekly@ We're All in This Together Home Version

We always have a Weekly@ Summer special (last year we had Summer Explorers which is a forest church special, still available to download) and this year we've created a special at Home version which has adapted the parish version for families to be able to use at home. Filled with devotionals, activities, songs, games and more. FREE. Find out more here 

The Board of Education Website and Social Media pages. have lots of resources for children, teenagers, RE and collective and family worship. 

Occasional offices (weddings, baptisms and funerals) (02/07/2020)

Weddings in church are permitted with a maximum number of 30 people in the church building. Updated CoE advice can be found here:Weddings (updated)

Baptisms are permitted limited to 30 people in the church building unless as part of public worship where the social-distanced capacity of the venue will limit the number of people present.  Emergency baptisms can take place at home or hospital, subject to strict hygiene precautions and with social distancing. Updated CoE advice can be found here: Baptisms (updated)

Funerals will be permitted to happen in church. Updated CoE advice can be found here Funerals (updated). The Liturgical Commission has produced additional resources which can be found by visiting the COVID19 page on the Resources: For Clergy section of our website.

It is possible that several of the family will be in self isolation during the initial days after a COVID19 death and possibly at the time of the funeral.  Further information can be found by visiting the COVID19 page on the Resources: For Clergy section of our website.

Decisions on whether to offer occasional offices (and the socially distanced capacity of each church) will be made by each church/parish leadership taking account of the context and guidance. There will therefore be differences in what can be offered from church to church.

Parish finances (19/05/2020)

We are aware that many parish clergy, churchwardens,  treasurers and PCC Members (as charity trustees) will be concerned about the effect of prolonged church closures on parish finances. 

Please follow this link to the COVID19 page in the Resources: Parish Finances section of our website for more guidance.

Parish governance (19/03/2020)

There are many implications for how we maintain and enable our institutional life to continue nationally, as a diocese and in parish. These notes are intended to offer guidance to help you the ‘living stones ‘(1 Peter 2:5) to be the Church in our parishes.

Please use this link to visit the COVID19 page in the Resources: Parish administration and governance section of our website.

Pastoral visiting

Pastoral support for individuals is an important part of role of the church but in light of the current pandemic guidance, face to face pastoral care should only be undertaken if seen as essential and where the risks of doing so to both the person being visited and the person doing the visit have been carefully considered and appropriately managed.

Further information can be found by visiting the COVID19 page on the Resources: For Clergy section of our website.

Prayer and liturgy resources (10/06/2020)

In response to the Coronavirus outbreak there are a number of prayer and liturgy resources available here on the national CofE website (follow the link). 

In addition, courtesy of St Laurence's Church in Chorley, we now have an Order of Service for prayer and worship at home each week here

We also now have prayers available to be said by a family or carer at end of life. Click here for those. 

Safeguarding (including domestic abuse risk) (18/06/2020)

As we consider the changes taking place in society as a result of Coronavirus (COVID-19), one thing does not change; the need to consider best practice in safeguarding is as important now as it has ever been.  

There is also a link for those at risk of domestic abuse and an update on PCR2

Please follow this link to the COVID19 page in the Safeguarding section of our website.

Social media use (31/03/2020)

It has been good to watch how social media platforms have been used in new and exciting ways to engage with communities. It can, as we know, also be used for harm and we would want to advise against any use of social media which may promote upset, angst or discord at this time. 

Please follow the link to the COVID19 page in the Resources: Communications section of our website 

Supporting congregations and people exploring faith online as churches begin to reopen (06/07/2020)

As church buildings begin to reopen, it is worth considering what provision you wish to make available online to enable those members of your congregation who may still be shielding or unable to join in person. Many churches have reported substantial numbers of people engaging online who may only come at Christmas, Easter or not at all. This has certainly been the national experience. How can they be included in ongoing activities? The Opening the Doors project is the national Church's initiative providing resources to help encourage people into churches, when it is safe to do so. You can read more advice from the national Digital Team here

Please also follow the link to the COVID19 page in the Resources: Communications section of our website.

Test and Trace (14/07/2020)

The National Church of England have published advice here for churches in recording service attendees/visitors as part of the government test and trace initiative.

Templates:

  • Data consent form here
  • Privacy notice here
  • On-line privacy notice here