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Last updated 30th March 2020

COVID19 Advice for clergy including property and well being

This page is a summary of some of the advice published in the bulletins produced by the Coronavirus Task Group 

Contingency Planning for Clergy Households advice

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.

The measures being taken by the government are to slow, as far as possible, the rate of spread so that those initially infected are starting to recover as others start to fall ill.  This will allow the NHS to have the capacity to continue to care for those who need intensive care, (around 20% of those infected), whilst enabling other key services to continue to run. Without social distancing and self-isolation, there is a significant risk that the number of people infected by COVID-19 at the same will overwhelm the NHS and leave essential services with no staff.

Self-isolation and social distancing protect others as much as they protect you and your household.  The current evidence indicates that the lag time between being infected and showing symptoms can be up to 12 days, during which time it is possible to pass on the virus through physical contact, droplets from coughing or to a lesser extent through unintentionally leaving viral particles on surfaces such as door handles and the like.  Washing hands well with warm soap and water for 20 seconds and wiping down surfaces with an antibacterial product are highly effective at killing the viral particles which is why the government is telling us all to wah our hands and practice good hygiene. 

Whilst we still do not know exactly how infectious the virus (i.e. how many viral particles are needed to establish the infection in each person) is it is vital; we do not take any unnecessary risks.  Remember every risk you take exposes others unintentionally to risk too.

Plan for the worst hope for the best

Repairs and maintenance of property managed by DBF (26/03/2020)

(Only of relevance to those occupying DBF managed properties such as vicarages and curate’s houses.) 

To increase social distancing and limit contact we will be introducing a new protocol to help manage and maintain our repairs and maintenance service. 
All reported repairs will now be categorised and prioritised as follows; 
If you can smell gas or have a concern regarding a gas leak, please contact National Gas Emergencies immediately on 0800 111 999. 

  1. Emergency (such as a severe water leak, major electrical failure (not a power cut), exposed electrical wires, no heating or hot water).
  2. Urgent (such as blocked drains, water leak which can be contained, minor electrical faults). 
  3. Routine (such as low priority internal and external repairs). 
  4. Quinquennial Inspection work.  
  5. Planned improvement and programmed work.  

To balance our Contractors safety along with our responsibilities to protect our staff, occupants and also to prevent the spread of the virus we will be assessing all reported repairs to gauge the priority of the work and whether we need to instruct our contractors to attend. 

  • Where possible we will ask our Contractors to make contact with the building occupant with a view to providing over the phone advice to resolve the problem. This may work in certain circumstances such as where a boiler may need resetting or where an electrical fuse has tripped out. This may also work as a temporary measure until such a time as an appropriate repair can be carried out. 
  • Where a site visit is required, we will need our Contractors to make direct contact with the building occupant on the day of visit, to check and ensure that the appointment can still go ahead. This will be providing that the Contractor and the building occupants are not showing any signs of the Covid-19 virus. 
  • Where the appointment does take place we will need our Contractors to follow the Government's most current advice for social distancing protocols, such as avoiding contact within two metres, using hand sanitiser and washing of hands for a minimum of 20 seconds with soap and water before entering and upon leaving the appointment. 
  • If the building occupants do not want the appointment to proceed, the appointment can be rearranged accordingly to suit the situation. This information should be conveyed to the Property Department so the information can be logged onto the Property System. 

Looking after yourself (25/03/2020)

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. 
Some suggestions: 

  • Accept the restrictions imposed by the government and the national church. Recognise that for a while the working out of our roles as clergy will change, but the core of our ministry and vocation has not. 
  • Set a new routine for each day. Do not try and reproduce a typical day from last week. 
  • Prayer and care for our community is at the heart of who we are and what we do but can be done at home and there is a biblical precedent for it being somewhat hidden from sight of all except God (Luke 18: 9-14). Establish a new routine around prayer and reflection that ministers to yourself as well as others. 
  • Establish a new routine around reading and studying the Bible both on your own and with others, both within your household and virtually with others. Think about reading one of those theology books that has been on the shelf gathering dust for a while. 
  • Whilst clergy are used to working from home, we are not used to working at home so think how you will differentiate ministerial time from personal time. Perhaps wear different clothes such as a clergy shirt when undertaking ministerial duties and very deliberately change when having down time. Work with the rest of the household to work out a routine that works for all of you. 
  • Be realistic about what you can do and how many phone calls, social media posts and emails you can and should send each day. 
  • Make sure you incorporate time that feeds your spirit in addition to prayer for the world, nation, community and parish.  Do that thing you have always been meaning to do but have never had time for. Be courageous and imaginative. 
  • Do not try to plan too much or too far ahead, things are changing very fast and what might work today may be impossible tomorrow. 
  • Give attention to yourself, your family and to your friends and use time to reconnect and appreciate them.  You may not get time like this again. 
  • Try not to listen to/ read/ watch too much media.  If you can limit the places you get information from and the time you spend getting that information.  
  • Keep a journal.  Record your thoughts and prayers and ideas that come to you as you slow down a little from the usual hectic round of ministerial tasks.  Dare to dream some dreams about how to use the lessons learnt in your community once the pandemic has passed, which it will. 

Think about the Parish (23/03/2020)

Is there a list of important contact numbers and emails of those you need to inform easily to hand that either you or another member of your household can use, if you fall ill or need to self-isolate.  (Having them in your phone or computer) may not be sufficient if you are so ill that you cannot access them. 

Now is the time to set up an informal clergy / licenced lay workers / church officer clusters with neighbouring parishes so that you can call on each other for help and support.  Linking with up to 4 or 5 neighbouring churches will provide some resilience as well as support. Such clusters may not necessarily fall within deaneries but may be more geographically based.  Once you have established the cluster Inform your area dean.  If needed inform both Area Deans if your cluster flows across a deanery boundary. In your cluster:

  • Exchange key contact details for each other and consider setting up a What’s app group or similar to provide a means of communication and support
  • Agree how you might work collaboratively, especially if there is a significant increase in the number of funerals
  • Exchange key information particularly around how the parish conducts funerals and how you manage your churchyard if open – in case your churchwardens are unable to help a visiting minister
  • Think about any key individuals (such as those approaching the end of life) or other ministerial activity (such as foodbanks) which needs ongoing ministerial support and what needs to be done if you are unable to provide that support – who will step in – how will they know to step in and what will you expect of them when they do step in
  • Consider what support might be needed for your church schools and other key care providers in the cluster and how care might be shared