24 March 2020

Dear Sister and Brothers in Christ,

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement last night, it is imperative that for the health of

the nation and in  order for the National Health  Service itself to manage the  increase in those

requiring medical help, the Church of England strictly observes the new guidelines on staying

at home and only making journeys that are absolutely necessary, such as shopping for essential

items and to take daily exercise.

Our church buildings must now be closed not only for public worship, but for private prayer as

well and this includes the priest or lay person offering prayer in church on their own. A notice

explaining this should be put on the church door (please find template attached). We must take

a lead in showing our communities  how we must behave in order to slow down  the spread of

the Coronavirus.

We must also do  all that we can to provide  resources and support for those who  are isolated,

fearful and vulnerable.  But we have to do  this from our homes. A  number of national online



Including weekly streamed services and daily audio, as well as additional worship provision on the BBC

are there to  help us, and more are  on their way. Please do  all that you can  to point people to

this content.

It is  also imperative that  as the Church  of Jesus Christ,  called to offer  hope and light  in the

darkness of this world’s ills, we maintain a praying presence for our community, though from

today onwards this must happen from our hearts and from our homes.

Our Church buildings are  closed but the Church must continue  to support and encourage our

communities making use  of telephones and  other forms of technology  to keep in touch  with

people  and ensure  pastoral  care is  maintained,  and  as shepherds  of  Christ’s flock  we  are

committed to making this happen.

In summary, these are the guidelines we must all now follow:


1.   Our church buildings are closed for public worship and for private prayer.

2.   Emergency baptisms  can take  place  in hospital  or at  home, though  subject to  strict

hygienic precautions and physical distancing as far as possible.

3.   There can be no weddings in church buildings until further notice.

4.   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.

5.   Live streaming  of services is  more important  than ever  and is still  permissible from

homes. We  encourage us all  to consider how  we can  be as creative  as possible with

streaming services  and other resources.  There are many,  many fantastic examples  of

churches and  clergy using technology  to reach  and engage communities.  Read more

       guidance here:

https://www.churchofengland.org/more/church-resources/digital-labs/labs-learning-blog/beginners-guide-going-live-your-service-or .

6.   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.

These are unprecedented times. We are all having to get used  to being the Church differently.

It is not  easy. However, our  belonging to Christ  has never been measured  by the number  of

people in church on a Sunday morning (though we long for the day when this way of knowing

Christ can  return)  but by  the service  we offer  to  others. Therefore,  and despite  these very

harrowing restrictions, please do all  that you can to minister to your people  safely, especially

to the sick, the vulnerable and the poor.

With our thanks to you  all for you are bearing at this extraordinary  time.  We know that God

is with us  and we pray  with you that in  the midst of all  this pain and  sorrow we can remain

focussed on the One who gives us hope.

With every blessing,

Justin Cantuar                                                                    Sentamu Eboracensis

Knowing Jesus,

Growing in God’s love

Sharing it with all