Bulletin no.32 - Thursday 3 December
1 month, 1 week ago
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The second lockdown is over and we are now in Tier Two. This means that Tier Two guidelines apply. With news this week that a vaccine has been approved and is due to be to be rolled out early next week, let us remain hopeful. There are still many challenging times ahead, but our prayer this Advent is ‘Come Emmanuel’. He is with us through it all.
We have attached the helpful poster we shared last week which outlines what you need to know as well as up-to-date COVID news from the Church of England and the Government.
- Tier Two Poster: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/local-restriction-tiers-what-you-need-to-know
- Government COVID-19 News: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
- C of E Guidelines: https://www.churchofengland.org/resources/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-churches
Please note that between 23 and 27 December, people can attend church with members of their Christmas bubble. This applies in all tiers.
- Holy Communion
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have written a letter advising parishes on Holy Communion which leaves it to the Diocesan Bishop to issue directions.
Bishop Christopher advises that unless there is a strong desire and support from the PCC to move to Communion in both kinds - and it is at the discretion of the incumbent whether or not to bring this matter to your PCCs - parishes should continue to distribute in one kind for the duration of the pandemic. Now that Advent is underway, you may not want to change your current arrangements until the New Year. Whatever you decide, please ensure that any changes are vigorously risk-assessed before being made so as to avoid unsafe practices and if a decision is made to administer in both kinds the guidance attached to the Archbishops’ Letter is followed scrupulously.
This December we are returning to earlier advice about Home Communion. Under Tier Two, we are not permitted to be in each other’s homes. This sadly also limits our ability to provide Communion in people’s homes, especially to the most vulnerable and those who look forward to receiving the sacraments at home because they are house-bound or for whatever reason unable to come to church. We need to keep people safe. Try to think of other ways of reaching out to people pastorally – send a Christmas card with a note or a special prayer or blessing inside, call the person up on the phone and perhaps pray with them too, make a video call or send them a text message.
- Children and Youth
Church buildings can now be used by schools as a place of worship or gathering. Government guidance does not prohibit school groups from coming into church, providing any use is in line with Government guidance both for safe operation of schools and use of places of worship. This means that as of 2 December a class bubble can attend a church for a Christingle service provided appropriate hygiene and protocols are in place.
The COVID-19 out-of-school settings guidance has now been updated to reflect the new local restriction tiers:
- Provider Guidance: Protective measures for holiday and after-school clubs, and other out-of-school settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Parent Guidance:
Under the tier system, out-of-school settings can continue to operate at all tiers for both indoor and outdoor provision for all children, meaning that we are essentially reverting to the pre-national lockdown position. Our Children and Youth Team have provided a document outlining the new guidance for children and youth groups, which is attached.
- Managing expectations over the Christmas season: essential advice for clergy
This Christmas will be like no other. Never before have we had to abide by guidelines from the Government to keep us safe.
Members of our communities will likely want to attend services over Christmas. So, to ensure that people will be able to worship safely, plan well in advance what your service is going to look like and let your parish and wider community know. You can communicate this on your website, in the local media, on a noticeboard outside the church, or via WhatsApp or e-mail. If you know that your congregation is larger than usual at this time of year, set up a ticketing page on EventBrite. In all your communications, let people know that once you have reached capacity you will be restricting entry. Do all this early enough so as not to disappoint. If you are continuing with streaming your services, please make this clear too.
- Carol singing
You can find all the information you need to know here: https://www.churchofengland.org/resources/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-churches?mc_cid=3441797cdd&mc_eid=2fd86fdc73#na
In summary: choir singing only - no congregational singing - in church and any congregational singing needs to be conducted out of doors and socially distanced.
- Streaming your service
If you want advice on how to stream your service, or upgrade any equipment you may currently be using for your services, contact the Diocesan IT Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Diocese’s Website Manager and Social Media Officer Daniel Stone at Daniel.email@example.com
- Communicating to the media during Christmas
There is so much bad news at the moment in the media. As Christians, even though we experience tragedy and loss – bad news- we also have such wonderful Good News to share! Christmas is a great opportunity for you to share with the media what you are up to in your parish and community. The Communications Team is blessed to get an overview of some of the amazing work parishes are doing by following you on Twitter, for example. Some of you have been in touch with Sophia to let her know what you are doing too and there will be a round-up of Advent and Christmas activities in February’s Bridge. Attached is some information on what to do should the media get in touch with you and also how you can share your Good News stories with them.
The Coronavirus Task Group
(Bishop Christopher, the Very Revd Andrew Nunn, the Venerable Alastair Cutting, Ruth Martin and Sophia Jones)