29 March – Number 1
- Any use of a church building is by permission
On Friday I advised that Diocesan Council had formally suspended any right of entry to church buildings during the COVID19 emergency period.
For clarity, any use of a church building is by permission. The current permission is outlined below –
This permission is based on the public health orders, a risk assessment and the expectation that people will remain at home if possible.
- Churches and church grounds (as public places of worship) must not be open to members of the public except for the purposes of conducting wedding services or funeral services.
- There is no permission for the public services of baptism or other services including the Holy Communion.
- Only 5 people may be involved at a wedding – the member of the clergy, the couple and 2 witnesses. Those participating should adhere to social distancing guidelines (4m2 and 1.5m apart).
- Only 10 people may be involved in a funeral, the clergy plus 9 others. Those participating should adhere to social distancing guidelines (4m2 and 1.5m apart).
- Parishes involved in emergency food relief can continue to do this with strict social distancing. Hand sanistiser should be available for people who seek assistance and for the people assisting. This ministry should be limited to two people.
- If no alternative to the church building can be found for recording worship, then no more than 4 people may be present. Those participating should adhere to social distancing guidelines (4m2 and 1.5m apart). There should be no unncessary travel to participate. The service cannot be open to the public. At a diocesan level we have ceased using the Cathedral for this ministry.
- A member of the clergy or a churchwarden may be present in a church building for security and urgent maintenance. No more than 4 people should be present. Church cleaning is not an urgent and should be deferred.
- Where possible, parish emails and accounting records should be accessed from home and not from a parish office. No parish office should be open to the public.
- Parishes should use telephone and messaging to update parishioners of parish news.
I have been deeply encouraged by the stories of innovation in online worship and meeting.
I have also been encouraged by the affirmation that people are being pastorally and spiritually cared for by phone, virtual connections and messaging.