Coronavirus: Latest advice for parishes Get resources and information
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Last updated 4th August 2020

COVID 19 Communications resources

This page provides advice plus links to resources to enable clergy and parish officers to communicate well with their worshipping community and wider parish as we emerge from lockdown

Local and national digital resources (last updated 17/04/2020)

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

  • There are a number of places from where services are being livestreamed or broadcast which you can promote for your worshipping and wider community. You can also watch livestreams of people from your own parish (or perhaps the nearest parish to you). For all current livestream or recorded video activity, bookmark the 'A Church Near You' livestream webpage
  • If you plan to livestream services, please consider asking your local 'A Church Near You' editor to add it this page. Here's a handy guide to the basics of livestreaming from the Church of England.
  • The Bishops and Archdeacons are currently also leading worship on a rota basis at 9am every Sunday via our Diocesan YouTube channel

You can view and engage with all this material on this page of the national website for The Church of England (once there, follow the link at the top of the page).

More from our Diocese ... 

  • YouTube videos, on our Diocesan YouTube channel including the Sunday worship mentioned above every week at 9am but also additional messages (all from the senior clergy) during the coronavirus outbreak. 
  • Follow on Twitter @cofelancs for the latest tweets and retweets of activity around the Diocese of Blackburn
  • Don't forget to log on and view our Facebook page 
  • And great Christian resources to keep children busy can be found here on the Diocesan Board of Education website.

Digital resources from the national church

Digital training (last updated 04/08/20) 

National CofE training webinars. Since the coronavirus outbreak started the national church digital communications team has introduced a series of webinars to help churches stream sermons, events and make the most of digital platforms. These cover subjects like ...

  • Keeping a church connected during a time of social distancing
  • Five ways to keep your church connected
  • Livestream question and answer session
  • Make the most of your A Church Near You page
  • Youth and young people: Keeping connected
  • Introduction to Instagram for churches
  • Facebook for churches

You can access details about the webinars and book on to them via this page of the national Church of England website. (Note: There will be a break in August before the webinars resume again for the autumn.) 

Digital training course: Meanwhile Norman Ivison, who worships at our own St James’ Church in Clitheroe, has also been producing some helpful digital resources to share with the Diocese (which are also useful for any parish in any Diocese). Norman is a former BBC Producer.

If you are struggling to produce online worship, or if you are doing it but know you can do better, Norman has developed an online course. Three one-hour units take you through both theory and practice. You can join an online community and get help from others wrestling with similar issues. Here's a short promotional video

On the course you will hear from those leading worship online regularly and those who work in professional broadcasting. And there are practical tips galore to make your streaming stand out and make an impact. It’s totally free! 

All you need to do is register and start at your own pace. God is reshaping the Church and it’s up to us to catch up and move with him. The course is on the 'lifelong learning' pages of the Central Readers' Council website, where you can also register. (Note: You don't have to be a Reader to take the course.)

Related to this video course, Norman had previously produced an excellent downloadable document for us which is filled with further tips and ideas.

Topics covered include: 

  • 'Framing' and 'sizing' your shot
  • Lighting
  • Talking on camera
  • Editing tips
  • Copyright (see also the copyright section below)

That full document containing Norman's advice can be downloaded from here

Social media: Best practice online (31/03/2020)

What follows are a summary of good practice guidelines in a social media context with the current virus outbreak particularly in mind. 

They have been compiled by Ronnie Semley, our Diocesan Communications Manager, specifically to advise our clergy, office holders and others associated with the Diocese already active on social media (or thinking about it!) during the current coronavirus outbreak.

The common-sense points which follow should help you fulfil, with confidence, your role as an effective and responsible online representative for your local parish, the wider Church and our Christian faith at this difficult time in our nation’s history.

It is true to say that social media platforms are being used in new and exciting ways to engage with communities. Many parishes are engaging with some of these for the very first time. This should be encouraged.

Meanwhile, while we know social media can be good for maintaining connections, it can also be a terrible source of harm, anxiety, fake news and angst. So please consider carefully not just about what you choose to read yourself, but also what you write and put out in the public domain.

We would want to advise against any use of social media which may promote upset or discord at this time. Please also ensure social media content associated with you is consistent with your role and with Christian values of love, tolerance, truth and forgiveness.

Words have power. At this difficult time there should also be opportunities to reassure people while also sharing our Christian faith.

Three ways to remember social media is different from more traditional forms of media:

  • DIALOGUE: it is a two-way conversation;
  • IMMEDIACY: it’s happening in real time
  • NETWORKS: it depends on our network of friends

In these contexts, please be wise: If you engage in an online discussion on Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere else, remember this: everything you say is public and shareable, possibly even something which originates in a private chatroom initially.

Also consider carefully, in the context of the coronavirus outbreak, whether the content you are engaging with, sharing or commenting on is going to be received well by other people; perhaps inadvertently adding to the stress or pressure another person is experiencing? We all have different levels of tolerance. If in doubt, don’t forward or retweet.

Guard your own back too. As well as being careful about what you engage with personally, be careful who you ‘follow’ and ‘like’. Do also feel free to ignore or even block people who ‘troll’ you or are just plain rude! This is a difficult and stressful enough time without those kinds of added pressures.

And please just try to be loving and kind as much as possible. If the powers and authorities make decisions which you disagree with, you should be able to voice your concern of course but please remember to disagree well; always do it in a way that is factually accurate, while keeping in mind that they too may be under considerable stress and strain.

The immediacy of social media is one of its benefits of course – we can respond quickly to questions, correct misunderstandings or just give our perspective about a breaking story. Responding quickly doesn’t mean doing so without due consideration, however.

You may not have thought about things in this way before, but if you choose to identify online in your Church of England role, whatever role that is, others will likely see you as a Church of England representative or ambassador.

If your comment is in the ‘public domain’ it could therefore pique the interest of the media if it is considered ‘newsworthy’ depending on what you might say, so please consider this carefully too when you are posting.

Before posting always think:

  • Is this my story to share?
  • Would I want this on the front page of a newspaper or featuring on a news website?
  • Would I want God to read this?
  • Is what I’m posting just gossip?

Before you post anything, spend a while listening to others; maybe getting a feel for the tone of the particular forum you are involved in at the same time as giving careful thought to how you might then participate (if at all).

If this short summary of common-sense advice has been useful to you, as part of the national church ‘Digital Charter’ launched in 2019 you can also find further  suggested advice about how to operate on social media in a Christian context here.

Social media insights, including safeguarding (23/04/2020)

Lindsay Wright, Digital Media and Resources Lead in the Diocesan Board of Education, has also produced some information about social media that may be useful for parishes.

The advice can be read for general information but has a particular slant towards younger people.

It gives some insight into the main current social media platforms: what they are, what they do etc; some general points on how to use social media.

It also includes a section on the importance of safeguarding in a social media context. 

You can download the full document by clicking here

Using technology and copyright (21/04/2020)

Please note that under current Church of England guidelines, livestreaming or pre-recording of services may not take place in church buildings. However there are many imaginative solutions to this, for example livestreaming from home.

There is excellent advice on how to livestream here (including copyright implications):

We have people in the diocese who can advise you with recording/streaming your services. Please contact Diocesan Communications Manager, Ronnie Semley via ronnie.semley@blackburn.anglican.org if you would like to be put in contact with someone. 

Further important copyright advice

This further advice is extracted from the filming advice document (link in the filming advice section above) ...

Copyright is something of a minefield but some things are clear:

You can’t simply use a track of music or video or image in a video or any other kind of broadcast without permission. Some copyright free material is available online if you look carefully. But if it doesn’t say ‘copyright free’ or ‘no licence required’ assume you can’t use it without permission.

You can’t simply sing a song, unless you have personally written it, in a live or recorded video (for example a worship service) without permission or a relevant licence.

But there is good news of you use YouTube or Facebook Live as far as local sung worship is concerned. This is from this page of the national Church of England website: 

Those wishing to livestream via platforms such as Facebook and YouTube should be covered by the existing licensing agreements in place with those platforms. Please ensure you follow the terms of use and copyright requirements of each respective platform. But note: If a church wishes to host a live-stream on their own website, rather than simply embedding a link from YouTube, then they can apply for a limited online music licence (LOML) from the Performing Rights Society (PRS). 

If you use a YouTube video in a video which is then streamed via YouTube, you should be covered by YouTube’s own licence. This does not cover videos you might download free or at cost from elsewhere.

Check copyright with your supplier before you use. If you do upload copyright music (the biggest risk area) to YouTube, which is not covered by the generic YouTube licence, then YouTube will warn you and, in some instances, stop you uploading. You don’t want to find this out 10 minutes before your premiere is about to start!

Images are normally copyright unless it specifically says otherwise on the site you get them from. If you use Google Images, click on TOOLS>USAGE RIGHTS. Labelled for non-commercial reuse with modification is probably your safest option and will give you the widest range of images and allow you to alter them in some way.

Alternatively, a great images site (with excellent quality images) is Unsplash.com. Unlike some free images sites with limited options, ALL images are FREE to use on Unsplash. 

Useful sites with contact details if you are still unsure: