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Last updated 19th May 2020

Coronavirus Compendium of advice and resources

This compendium of advice and resources was correct on 19th May 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 (currenly daily) 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 Coronaviurs area of its website that is updated regularly here.

Worship and church buildings (07/05/2020)

The Archbishops have asked that all public worship cease until further notice. The danger of infection caused by significant numbers of Christians gathering together, especially given the age range of our people, is so great that it outweighs even the solemn duty we have to worship the Saviour corporately. This means that your normal pattern of public worship, including Sundays, has been suspended.

Following a meeting of the House of Bishops on 5th May, the decision whether to relax guidance on church closures was delegated to diocesan bishops. Hence the Diocesan guidance from Bishop Julian changed on 6th May 2020 so that recording or live-streaming services from church buildings is now permitted. It remains the case that clergy, or a designated lay person, are permitted to visit their building(s) on a regular basis to offer prayer and keep an eye on the building. Only the priest or designated layperson (and members of the same household) should attend and the doors should remain closed.

The checklist below may be helpful in ensuring the health and safety of those entering the church building.

Action

Activities to consider

Completed Y/N?

Entering/leaving the building

  • The person (and any members of their household) should go directly to the church, wash their hands, ideally with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds on entering the building and complete the time of private prayer / recording/live streaming
  • The person (and any members of their household) should return directly to their household and wash their hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds on returning home
  • Wiping down/cleansing of all hard surfaces before and after touching with alcohol wipes – especially those which are frequently touched such as door handles, microphone stands, taps etc and if multiple households will have access to the church over time. All used wipes should be doubled bagged and left in a safe place for 72 hours before being disposed in the appropriate bin.
  • Personal safety if entering the building alone eg taking a mobile phone, informing someone that you are entering the building and the time you expect to be back home

 

Livestreaming service

  • Check strength of wi-fi/4G signal before livestreaming

 

Please note that no one should feel under any obligation to enter their church building in this way and some may wish to continue recording from their own homes. Increasingly decisions around buildings will be about good, sound, local judgement. Ultimately only you know what is best for the community that you serve.

The Church of England advice discourages the ringing of bells and the raising of flags because, under the current arrangements, it will often require lone working at high level. However if these activities can be simply done at ground floor level by the single designated person or a member of their household, then that would be preferable.

There is no problem with cutting grass as long as it can be done safely, hygienically and with proper social distancing.

In all these things local church leaders need to exercise intelligence and good judgement as they reach a decision appropriate to context.

People should be strongly encouraged to maintain and develop their devotional life in their own homes. A huge range of resources is appearing to help people to maintain a life of worship, prayer and discipleship in their own homes including on the COVID19 page of the resources: discipleship section of our website. 

Church and building closures (19/05/2020)

You will be used to managing your buildings, so we have prepared a checklist of things to you may wish to consider as you shut your church and other buildings; which might be for a prolonged length of time. 

The national Church of England has also published some guidance on professional contractors accessing church buildings during the lockdown. 

Please follow this link to the COVID19 page in the Resources:Church buildings and land section of our website.

Contingency planning for clergy households (23/03/2020)

COVID-19 will infect a significant percentage of the population, (possibly up to 80%), over the next few weeks and months. This briefing paper outlines the reasons behind the measures taken by the government and the plans you need to make as the pandemic runs its course.

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

Communicating key messages well (30/03/2020)

Sadly, the news is going to worsen before it starts to improve around the pandemic. It is vital that as leaders within our community we play our part in giving out the right messages not just to our congregations but the wider community.

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

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.

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.

Discipleship resources (28/03/2020)

Ruth Hassall writes:

“Let the Word of God dwell in you richly; ... and with gratitude in your heart sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to God.”           Colossians 3:16

During these challenging days, with gathered worship in its different forms having been put on hold, you may be wondering how you can stay firm in your faith and maintain or establish a regular pattern of Bible reading and prayer.

If you search the internet you will find a plethora of resources to do this. Please follow the link to the COVID19 page of the Resources: Prayer, worship and discipleship section of our website to find out more. 

Funeral Fees (14/04/20)

Incumbents, Curates and those with PTO should have received a letter on Tuesday 14th April informing them that the Diocesan Board of Finance has decided temporarily to waive funeral fees during this time of national emergency. The letter also asks PCCs to consider likewise waiving graveyard fees. 

More details can be found on the COVID19 page of the Resources: Parish Finances section of our website

Information from the Board of Education for children (27/03/2020)

Bishop Jill writes, 

'Can I recommend our marvellous Board of Education Website and Social Media pages. There you’ll find lots of resources for children, teenagers, RE and collective and family worship. Take a look at Lisa Horobin’s films “Off the Shelf”. You might even meet her dog. 

The Children’s and Youth teams in the diocese have produced some fantastic resources, click on the links below:

The team have been working hard to adapt many of the church focused resource to being home focused and for parents to use with their children and young people. The best way of keeping up with the new resources and those being adapted is through their Social Media pages, the links for which are below. 

Jesus Himself faced cataclysmic threats. Herod was always out to kill him. I love his advice when living under that threat: “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough evil of its own” (Matt 6.34). May our Good Father give His peace and wisdom to parents and children at this time.” 

Lancashire Resilience Forum (17/04/2020)

The Lancashire Resilience Forum have produced a helpful overview of their work 

Liturgical resources for funerals (28/03/2020)

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.

Looking after the health and wellbeing of yourself/your household (15/04/2020)

Do not take unnecessary risks with your own health of the health of those in your household.

Think carefully about the risk you may expose yourself to in undertaking face to face meetings with people.  Is it essential you meet, or could you provide support or discuss the issue by phone, email or virtually using zoom or skype? If you do assess a face to face meeting as essential and unavoidable then follow the guidance provided – do not be tempted to cut corners even if you feel uncomfortable, for example asking to wash your hands etc.

If you fall ill or know you have been in contact with a potential case of COVID-19 please follow NHS guidance around self-isolating and contact NHS 111. Do not go to your GP surgery or hospital unless life is endangered when you must dial 999 and follow the advice of the emergency services. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Think about your household

If you make plans whilst well it will make it much easier if you fall ill.

Whether you live with others or are on your own, what plans have you in place to inform people and get the help you need?   For example, who will walk the dog, get provisions for you, pick up prescriptions etc

  • Think about an average week and consider if there are there specific issues that people may need to know about such as allergies, mobility issues that may impact on the help needed.
  • If you live on your own think of a number of local people who you might be able to help you beyond the churchwardens and the congregation.
  • Do you have a reasonable supply of basic household provisions including paracetamol to keep you going for a few days if you need to self-isolate. For example, how will you get bread and milk, pay for shopping, get cash if needed etc
  • Are there key bills that need to be paid on a regular basis – how will they get paid if you are not able to go online, sign a cheque go to a cashpoint.
  • Do you have a reasonable supply of your prescription medications – do not wait until the last minute to get a repeat prescription. Does someone in the household know how to get a repeat prescription for you.

Think about what you need to stay well when social distancing, particularly if you live on your own. Some key points follow about this and Rev. Lesley Hinchcliffe from the Diocesan Ministry of Sport team has also produced some helpful tips for staying healthy in mind, body and spirit, including an exercise routine (with helpful pictures!) you can follow to keep as active as possible during the coronavirus outbreak. Download that advice from Lesley here. 

  • Establish a new daily routine – life will not be the same for several weeks.
  • Balance your weekly routine and have a good mix of ministry activities (prayer, phone calls, reading etc) relaxation and rest
  • Think about which regular activities are most important to you and think of ways you can do them at home or remotely. For example, if you enjoy seeing people socially set up regular skype meetings with good friends that happen at the time you would normally socialise. If it is not possible then think of other activities that will feed your spirit.
  • Set daily goals that can provide you with a sense of purpose and achievement. Be realistic but see this time as an opportunity to do things you might not do otherwise.
  • Identify the triggers that make you feel low and look for ways to manage them.
  • Talk with family, friends, neighbours and those you trust about what will help you stay well and positive. Ask them to tell you if they are getting worried about you and agree what steps you will take if needed.
  • Take care of yourself. Eat and drink healthily. Drink plenty of water each day. Adhere to the government guidance on the amount of alcohol that it is safe to consume each week.

(NHS advice is less than 14 units a week, which is 6 pints of average strength beer or 10 small glasses of low strength wine. They also advise at least three alcohol free days).

  • Avoid staying still for too long. Go for walk, work in the garden, do some indoor exercise every day.
  • Have a good sleep routine
  • Keep in touch. Make sure you speak to someone every day for yourself.

These are unsettling and unprecedented times, but we are people of faith and whilst it is right for us to lament all that has been taken away we are also called to seek God in new ways in the days and weeks to come.  As Bishop Julian reminded us in his pastoral letter of 24th March, this is a time to pause and reflect on what is truly important about our faith, our prayer life and our worship and to be courageous enough to explore new ways of being, at least for a short while.

Thank you once again for the amazing imagination you are bringing to ministry in complex and fast-changing times. And please be assured of our prayers.

Staying fit and well

We know that the current measures laid out by the government are to last at least 3 weeks but we do not know what measures will continue after that period ends. One of the things deemed essential enough to continue in this current state of ‘lockdown’ is a daily opportunity for outdoor exercise. This is because inactivity, particularly during a stressful or difficult time is not good for the body or the mind, and exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress, clear minds and even aid good sleep.

This opportunity to exercise will look different for each and every one of us. For some it is a stroll to the end of the street and back, for others it might be a dog walk through the forests, for others still it might be a 10K run; each of us know our preference and out limits. Whatever your ability is in this regard the task group would like to encourage you to take up your opportunity to exercise daily.

We are acutely aware that some of you will not be able to leave the house, possibly for some time yet. Taking some time outside in a garden if possible is a good option. Gardening is for many people an excellent way of staying fit.

But there also many ways to get exercise without even leaving your front room. TV personalities and YouTube stars are falling over themselves to produce videos encouraging us to get active in our own homes; even Mr Motivator has returned to our TV screens! All energy levels are catered for: from a workout for the whole family, to a dance class with Oti Mabuse for single people or couples, to chair exercises. For Oti’s dance class be sure to click on the videos for adults as she is also doing dance classes for children each day.

Thinking about what you eat and when is also important as most of us become less active than usual. We are allowed to shop and are encouraged to shop for a week at a time where possible. Planning your meals, making sure to get lots of fruit and vegetables and not stocking up on too many unhealthy snacks might be a good idea.

Ministry of Sport ‘staying healthy’ advice

Rev. Lesley Hinchcliffe, Vicar of Fence and Higham and part of our Diocesan Ministry of Sport team, has produced some helpful tips for staying healthy in mind, body and spirit. There is also an exercise routine (with helpful pictures!) you can easily follow to keep as active as possible during the coronavirus outbreak. Download Lesley's advice via this page. 

Your mental wellbeing is just as important to look after as your physical health. Yesterday we sent out advice on establishing a new routine, but there are other things that you can do to keep a healthy mind. Physical exercise in the fresh air is one of those, but so is making sure you speak to people via phone or video call. The constant news about the impact of the virus around the world can be troubling, so whilst it is good to stay informed, there may be a time where it would be better to switch off and change your focus. Similarly, social media can be good for maintaining connections but it can also be a terrible source of anxiety, fake news and angst. Think carefully not just about what you chose to read, but also what you write and put out in the public domain.

Maintaining a regular time of prayer and Bible study can help you establish a daily routine, and can also remind you that there is someone bigger than even this, and that He wants to meet with us where we are.

Please, if you are starting to become anxious or worried about your health in any way, do contact the group via the coronavirus@blackburn.anglican.org email address or phone someone who has pastoral care over you.

Ministry for those approaching the end of their life (26/03/2020)

The care of the dying is an important of ministry.  We need to be prepared for a significant increase in the number of deaths in our community in the next few weeks. 

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

Occasional offices (weddings, baptisms and funerals) (23/03/2020)

No weddings are to take place until further notice.

No baptisms are to take place until further notice. Emergency baptisms can take place at home or hospital, subject to strict hygiene precautions and with social distancing.

No funerals are to take places in churches until further notice. Funerals can only happen at the crematorium or at the graveside. 

For the latest advice on baptisms, weddings and funerals it is best to go to the FAQ section of the Church of England Website here.

We realise that many clergy are having extremely difficult pastoral conversations at the moment and you remain in our prayers. 

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.

Please do remember to submit the annual return of parish finance by 31st May 2020. 

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 support around funerals

It is possible that several of the family will be in self isolation during the initial days after a death and possibly at the time of the funeral.  In addition, the number attending the funeral will be extremely limited.

Further information can be found by visiting the COVID19 page on the Resources: For Clergy 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 resources

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. Sunday April 26 is here and there will be a new one available every week.

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) (30/03/2020)

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.

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

Schools (20/03/2020)

Schools have now closed and we are very aware of the intense demands that this will place on clergy and lay leaders who have school-aged children.

Clergy are keyworkers under the government guidelines and this means that clergy can technically send their children to their local school. Your particular circumstances or heightened pastoral demands in the community may make it necessary for some of you to take up this opportunity.

It would be good to send supportive emails or letters and offer prayer support to local schools. Some may appreciate more hands-on pastoral support, but please remember other pressures you may be under before committing too much of your time.

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 

Thy Kingdom Come 2020 (18/05/2020)

Please follow the link to the #ThyKingdomCome 2020 page of our website.

Using technology to share worship (26/03/2020)

As we continue to adapt to the current situation many churches are looking to technology to continue to provide services and other gatherings online. 

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

VE Day resources (04/05/2020)

Friday 8th May is a Bank Holiday for the national celebrations of VE Day. There are quite a few resources to which you can direct people who wish to commemorate in their homes.

  • Within our own Diocese, St Laurence Chorley have made a special VE Day Service which will be released at 3.00pm on Friday. This includes contributions from the Lord Lieutenant and the Speaker of the House of Commons. It will be shown on the St Laurence YouTube Channel here
  • More regionally, the Archbishop of York will be leading a Service of Commemoration from Ripon Cathedral at 11am on Friday. This can be accessed from the Ripon Cathedral website: https://www.riponcathedral.org.uk. More details here
  • Blackburn Cathedral, in common with other Cathedrals is inviting people to join in with a Big Picnic for Hope, joining with friends via social media. Participants are encouraged to take some pictures of their picnic and post them using #Bigpicnicforhope and #feed5000 and tag the Cathedral. They are also encouraged to make a donation to the Trussell Trust.
  • There are liturgical resources for VE day here: