- Timescale for parishes to choose churchwardens and for APCMs to be held (and the business transacted there including the election of laity to the Deanery Synod) extended to 31 October. Bulletin No.1 - 23rd March 2020 (Bishop’s Instrument (APCMs Wardens) letter)
- Emergency baptisms can take place in hospital or at home, though subject to strict hygienic precautions and physical distancing as far as possible. Archbishops' Letter - 24th March 2020
- Because church bells have not been rung for many months, it is important for incumbents and churchwardens to be aware that ringers should arrange to undertake appropriate maintenance checks and any necessary remedial work in every bell-tower before ringing can re-commence. The guidance note "When We Ring Again – preliminary preparations" explains what will need to be done. However, at present, national Church of England guidance is that only one “appointed person” may ring a single bell from a church.
- Guidance from the Central Council of Bellringers is available on their website at https://cccbr.org.uk/coronavirus/
- As we start to plan for moving out of Lockdown the Archdeacons of the Diocese issued guidance on preparing church buildings for reopening (20 May 2020 - Archdeacons’ Letter: Use of Buildings as Lockdown Eases)
- The national church has issued advice for parishes concerning care for our buildings whilst they are closed. Download 'Caring for church buildings during the pandemic - advice for parishes v3' Bulletin No.6 - 9th April 2020
- Guidelines from our Archdeacons have been issued concerning the use of church buildings now that they are shut. Bulletin No.1 - 23rd March 2020 (Archdeacons’ Letter). They have also issued further guidance on caring for empty buildings. Bulletin No.4 – 1 April 2020 (Archdeacons’ Letter: Care of empty buildings)
- Foodbanks should continue where possible under strict guidelines and may have to move to be delivery points, not places where people gather. If you can do consider making a financial contribution to your nearest foodbank. Archbishops' Letter - 24th March 2020
- Guidance from EIG concerning temporarily closed churches and church properties: https://www.ecclesiastical.com/risk-management/unoccupied-properties-during-covid-19/church/ Bulletin No.3 - 27th March 2020
- As the novelty of spatial distancing wears off, clergy will be experiencing different emotional and physical responses to the situation in which we find ourselves. As we look forward and recognise that the current situation is unlikely to change for some weeks, it may be helpful to take stock of your wellbeing and to make some adjustments. Please take the time to read this blog post from the Tragedy and Congregations Project, which offers some insight into the situation we all face https://tragedyandcongregations.org.uk/category/blog/. Please do also be aware of the helpful guidance provided by the Church of England here: https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2020-03/Guidance%20on%20mental%20health%20and%20wellbeing%20and%20Coronavirus.pdf. Bulletin No.5 - Friday 3rd April 2020
- What clergy should do if they need to self-isolate. Bishop of Southwark's Pastoral Letter of 17th March 2020
- Clergy should remember to make use of their own support networks. Bishop of Southwark's Pastoral Letter of 17th March 2020
- St Luke’s (healthcare for the clergy) has issued some materials concerning clergy wellbeing. They have more information on their website at https://www.stlukesforclergy.org.uk/st-lukes-virtual-wellbeing-programme/
UPDATED 15 May:
Since the general guidance below was issued, it has been brought to our attention that there have been some incidents of (‘Zoombombing’) affecting services being livestreamed by some of our parishes.
The latest edition of Zoom (Zoom 5.0) was issued on 27 April containing security enhancements and additional meeting safeguards to help keep your meetings safe from Zoombombing (https://zoom.us/docs/en-us/zoom-v5-0.html). Please ensure that your Zoom account is updated to this latest version.
Please note that:
- All meetings are now required by Zoom to have a password. Only circulate the meeting password to trusted individuals and please don't share it online - it's the same as letting the public know where your spare front door keys are kept!
- To add additional security, we advise that you ask people to let you know in advance that they will be attending the meeting, and to tell you the screen name they'll use.
- The Zoom waiting room should now be enabled automatically on all meetings. Check the screen names against your list, and only let in those people you are expecting.
- Screen sharing is now set, by default, to only be an option for the meeting host. We recommend that you keep it set this way to avoid any unwanted interruptions.
Several parishes have experienced their live streams being hijacked. If you are using these platforms, please try to implement some additional security:
a) Use password security on any parish livestreams you are planning, and make sure that the password is distributed in a different way than the stream link is.
b) Check the host security settings of the broadcast, to make sure that only the host can allow screen sharing, and if necessary, muting.
- https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/115005759423 Managing participants in a Zoom meeting
- https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoftteams/meeting-settings-in-teams Manage meeting settings in Microsoft Teams
- https://support.skype.com/en/faq/FA34800/how-do-i-manage-group-chats-in-skype-on-desktop How do I manage group chats in Skype on desktop?
Funeral Directors who need a Church of England minister can now access a Diocesan helpline as a contact point for all churches in the Diocese. Details received at this central helpline will be passed on to a local co-ordinator who can arrange a minister and deal with the Funeral Director.
Tel: 020 3196 6656
- Covid-19 Funeral Helpline Poster
- Funerals Litergy at Home
- A short Service for children that cannot be at a funeral
- Funerals can only happen at the Crematorium or at the graveside. Only immediate family members can attend (if the crematorium allows) – that is, spouse or partner, parents and children, keeping their distance in the prescribed way. Archbishops' Letter - 24th March 2020
- Special material issued for funerals at the graveside or at crematoria during the pandemic Bulletin No.3 - 27th March 2020
- Bishop of Southwark's Pastoral Letter of 19th March 2020
- There will be an increase in the number of funerals – contact Area Dean if you don’t feel able to take them yourself
- Readers who have been trained can take funerals
- Clergy should consider livestreaming the service and offering a memorial service at a later date
- Remember to maintain social distancing and hygiene precautions – no evidence that any extra precautions are needed if the person has died of COVID-19
- The House of Bishops, at its meeting on Tuesday 9 June made the decision that small, socially distanced funerals could take place in church from 15 June. A new guidance note issued by the House of Bishops to help you plan to conduct funerals safely is available and can be found on the Church of England website here: https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2020-06/COVID%2019%20Advice%20on%20Conducting%20Funerals%20v2%20links.pdf.
- Clergy should look at developing a telephone pastoral ministry to continue regular contact with parishioners so that the isolated are not left entirely alone. Bishop of Southwark's Pastoral Letter of 19th March 2020
- Bishop of Southwark's Pastoral Letter of 17th March 2020
- How Diocesan core services will be maintained
- Notification of formation and membership of Coronavirus Task Group (CTG) and publication of contact e-mail address for CTG: email@example.com
- Please make sure there are plans in place to maintain pastoral care and support – telephone or video calling etc
- Material made available by the Diocesan Human Resources department, concerning the Government’s Job Retention Scheme. This contains details of the process for furloughing staff who can no longer work in the current situation. Bulletin No.4 - 1st April 2020
- The HMRC guidance on the Job Retention Scheme was updated again on 15 April 2020, https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme. It includes an updated list of information needed to make a claim – it is important that PCCs that have furloughed staff have this information ready for when the Job Retention Scheme portal opens, which is expected to be on 20 April. Payments are then due to be paid by the end of the month.
- The Department of Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation has shared helpful information and suggestions from Mutual Aid UK concerning caring for those supporting migrants and asylum seekers.
The information can be found at; https://docs.google.com/document/d/11cKMCy08ebN-lJQsP1jvsTcSfwC6YeE8FYrmAZCoZ1w/mobilebasic Bulletin No.6 - 9th April 2020
- Advice on how to start livestreaming services. Bishop of Southwark's Pastoral Letter of 19th March 2020
- Consider expanding social media presence and website or think about beginning to use these if you currently don’t. Bishop of Southwark's Pastoral Letter of 19th March 2020
- More information and links to webinars on our dedicated Church Online page.
- People to send in prayer requests and encouraging people to pray the Lord’s Prayer at 1pm & 7pm, lighting a candle at 7pm if possible. Bishop of Southwark's Pastoral Letter of 19th March 2020
- Advice that Mission Department will be working on relevant prayer materials in the coming weeks. Bishop of Southwark's Pastoral Letter of 17th March 2020
- Continue PSF payments and speak to your Archdeacon in the first instance if there are concerns around this. Finance, PSF and Giving queries Diocesan letter of 6th April; Bishop of Southwark's Pastoral Letter of 19th March 2020)
- Further advice regarding PSF, parish finances and encouraging giving was sent to treasurers and incumbents on 6th April - see Finance, PSF and Giving queries
- There are a number of emergency funds available for churches and community groups. Historic England and the Heritage Fund are two specific heritage funds offering funding – and there are two further lists containing more general funding opportunities here: http://ahfund.org.uk/s/COVID-19-support-09042020.pdf https://charitybank.org/news/covid-19-emergency-funding-for-charities-and-social-sector-organisations.
- These funders include the Mayor of London's Emergency Support Fund for Civil Society Groups. This initiative seeks to offer financial support to groups which provide food and/or essentials to communities affected by the Coronavirus outbreak and social distancing requirements. Requests for funding can be up to £5,000 and you may want to bring this to the attention of groups in your community whom you know to be struggling. Information about the fund can be found here: www.london.gov.uk/coronavirus-civil-society. Bulletin No.5 - Friday 3rd April 2020
- The government announced that churches were able to open for individual private prayer from Saturday 13 June. We would encourage our churches to open only when they feel that they have made all the necessary preparations to do so.
- The Government has issued guidance concerning places of worship being open for Individual prayer
- We are able to say that churches do not need to have someone in attendance during the time that they are open for prayer. Please do, however, consider whether it is safe to leave them open and unattended. We know that this will be different in different places in the Diocese.
- The Church of England has issued a revised Risk Assessment for re-opening our churches.
- As we re-open our churches it will be very important that we make provision for people to remain as safe as possible. To this end the Archdeacons have worked with the Chancellor of the Diocese to ensure that the faculty permission which will be needed in order to affix hand sanitiser dispensers (for those requesting them) permanently to the wall, near to doors into the church can be obtained in the fastest and easiest way possible. Read the advice from the Chancellor - Work to facilitate the re-opening of churches to prayer.
Liturgical Resources as Churches re-open
- We are pleased to be able to make available to you liturgical materials which have been prepared by the Bishop’s Liturgical Advisory Group for use by clergy and lay people as they re-enter our churches after the lockdown.
We very much hope that you will want to make these available to people who come into your churches but, as you will know, we cannot at present leave materials in the churches for people to take or to use. Please display the material near the entrance to the church and add a note beside them explaining how they can be accessed and used.
We have put together PDF documents of the materials as well as a single sheet with QR codes that, when scanned with a mobile device, will open the prayers and services. A zip folder containing all the liturgical resources as churches re-open in both PDFs and Word formats is available to download.
Recording numbers of attendees at online services
- Many of you have been in touch with us to ask about recording numbers of attendees at your online services. These materials on recording numbers from the national church might be of help with this (link to COVID-19 Attendance Tracker and guidance which went out with bulletin no 15). These suggestions are there to be helpful and are not to be seen as a requirement. Nonetheless, if you would like to use this or any other means to record the numbers of those at your services this information may be useful in the future. Please consider if you would like to use these but do not feel compelled to do so.
- The national church has issued advice for working online safely with young people which can be found here: Advice for using video conferencing for youth work. Bulletin No.5 - Friday 3rd April 2020
- The government have issued a very helpful safeguarding factsheet on the use of community volunteers during the Covid-19 outbreak which can be found here https://www.churchofengland.org/safeguarding/promoting-safer-church-safeguarding (under Safeguarding and Coronavirus) Bulletin No.2 - 26th March 2020
- Details of where to find online services and other resources for continuing to be Church in these changed circumstances. Bulletin No.4 - 1st April 2020
- Our church buildings are closed for public worship and for private prayer. Archbishops' Letter - 24th March 2020 (reiterated in Archbishop's Letter - 27th March 2020)
- Clergy may now go into church buildings to pray or to stream services. Bulletin No.10 – 8th May 2020
- Should they wish, clergy may continue to live stream services from homes. Archbishops' Letter - 24th March 2020 (reiterated in Archbishop's Letter - 27th March 2020)
- Bishop of Southwark's Pastoral Letter of 19th March 2020 - other points from this letter have been superseded by later instructions/guidance
- Livestreaming services
- No open air services – they are still public gatherings
- Suspension of home visits & communions (except in extremis)
- Advice and resources for offering prayers around the time of death
- In view of the restrictions placed upon us all by the coronavirus pandemic the decision has been made to publish the Bridge online only for the next few months. Online editions of the paper can be found here: https://southwark.anglican.org/thebridge. There are some wonderful stories in the paper of how people are helping their communities at this time and of God at work and we hope that these will be an encouragement to you and to them. Please do let us know of initiatives that you are taking in your parish to care for others at this time so that we can share them in the Bridge and on our website and blogs. Stories should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Bulletin No.5 - Friday 3rd April 2020