We know that from Monday 19th July, we will enter Stage 4 of the Government’s roadmap for easing restrictions relating to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Government website states that during this new phase it will continue to provide ‘cautious guidance for individuals, businesses and the vulnerable whilst prevalence is high’. The Government has not yet given any details of what continuing guidance – rather than legal restrictions – may relate to place of worship, and the Church of England has therefore not yet been able to consider how it might apply that ‘cautious guidance’ from the Government to our setting.
Our PCC and our LLTs will want to look carefully at national Church of England advice as soon as this becomes available. We also want to listen to the hopes and fears of the people in our churches at this time. We already know that some are looking forward enthusiastically to being able to resume worship as it was before the pandemic, while others are deeply concerned that we should not make meeting in church any less safe than it is at the moment in the context of rising rates of infection within the community.
One way or another, we are going to have to practice ‘bearing with one another in love’ (Eph. 4.2) in light of our different responses to these changes. We are also going to need time to think, listen, discuss and pray about the right way forward, so it’s likely to be at least a couple of weeks before we can confirm changes to current arrangements for Sunday worship. Please be assured that clergy, PCC members and LLT members will be making this a high priority, and would also value hearing your views about what changes we should be making.