From Saturday 13th June churches across Lancashire began to open their doors again, offering quiet spaces for private prayer and reflection.
In a symbolic act, the Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Revd Julian Henderson started the week by knocking on the west door of Blackburn Cathedral and asking to be let in to pray.
Bishop Julian spent a time praying for the Diocese and new beginnings and then went outside and blessed the town and its people. He said that, "one thing we have learned from this lockdown is that we do not need to be in a church building to pray. We can do that anywhere. But it is good to be back in these ancient places of worship, which can help focus our attentions on Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith".
You can see a short video of his visit here.
For three months all of Lancashire’s 274 Church of England churches and worship centres have been closed, during the COVID-19 lockdown. But the Government signalled that places of worship across the country can open for individual prayer from Saturday.
“Our church buildings are treasured public spaces and in a time of crisis many people want a place to pray and reflect,” said the Rt Revd Philip North, the Bishop of Burnley. “Opening them for prayer and quiet reflection will be an important milestone for many. But it will be done in a careful and control way,” he says.
Each church will conduct its own risk assessment, and only with the agreement of the local leadership It’s being left up to individual parishes to decide what arrangements to put in place to best serve their local communities.
“In many ways churches have never closed,” say Bishop Philip. “Church communities have served their locations with help for the elderly and isolated, many have helped ensure food was delivered, as well as providing many different types of online worship and prayer. People are googling prayer more than ever, and engaging in numbers we haven’t expected. Many people are reaching out for God and finding him in unexpected ways. Our buildings have often been deep wells of peace, some over many many centuries”, he says.