Diocese of Manchester

Coronavirus support

This page has the latest information and guidance for churches concerning the Coronavirus. 

The Diocesan Coronavirus Response Group is responsible for responding to the evolving situation, getting information out to our parishes and keeping this page updated. 

Updated 13:45 on 20 May 2020

New:  FAQ on construction work in churches

Diocesan prayer in time of crisis

Download the prayer as a text document.

Latest guidance

On 5 May 2020 The House of Bishops affirmed that individual diocesan bishops can issue guidance about the first stage of a gradual easing of restrictions on our buildings and activities while keeping our church buildings closed.

The Church of England has now issued advice, intended to provide practical information to support those who do access church buildings in order to minimise the risk of virus transmission.  Access advice document

The advice should be applied in conjunction with the permissive guidance from Bishop David (6 May 2020) for Manchester Diocese.  Download the advice here.

Clergy can enter the church building for any or all of the following

  • pray the Daily Office and/or celebrate the Eucharist on behalf of the community they serve,
  • live stream or pre-record worship.

In situations where a parish is in vacancy or the clergy person is self-isolating it can be a Reader, ALM, Churchwarden where appropriate.

The Church of England will be updating its guidance over the coming days to offer advice and resources on best practice.  Please check the Church of England website Coronavirus page regularly to ensure that your church is following the most up-to-date guidance.

Pastoral Support during the Coronavirus Emergency

A new page offers practical advice and online resources to help you take care of yourself as you care for others during the pandemic

Pastoral Support page

Frequently Asked Questions

The national church has a comprehensive list of FAQs which is constantly being updated. We are following national guidance and recommend that you check the Church of England FAQ section daily. New FAQs provide advice on
  • Weddings
  • Baptisms
  • Funerals
  • Live Streaming, digital and broadcast resources
  • Church halls
  • Closure of Churches 

Funeral Advice (updated 31 March 2020)

Sadly, funerals may now 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 ( this is true also for burial of ashes). No wake or gathering should be held following the funeral, and this should be scheduled for a later date.

We recognise how difficult this will be for many and add to the pain of a loss, and encourage you to discuss with your vicar or minister the possibility of a memorial service at a date in the future where more people can be present.

The Church of England has new resources on funerals and bereavement (issued 27 March 2020)

Wedding Advice (updated 1 May 2020)

Can weddings take place?

The Church of England has confirmed that the continued advice is that there can be no weddings in church buildings until further notice.

It is not currently possible under English law for a wedding to take place using video conferencing technology without the couple, priest and witnesses being physically present.

Is it possible to apply for a common licence at the present time?

No common licences will be issued until the prohibition on church services is lifted. Couples are reassured that as soon as we are permitted to hold marriage services in our churches applications for common licences can be submitted to and processed by the Registry on short notice. This guidance applies to all couples.

General guidance and the standard forms can be accessed here.

Other FAQs

Can key workers in our diocese access coronavirus tests?

The government has now introduced coronavirus testing for essential workers. More information about who is eligible, how to apply for a test and details about how the system works are available on the government website.

Are there special prayers for use when it isn’t possible to meet in church?

Yes, the Church of England has Coronavirus liturgy and prayer resources on its website.

Has the faculty jurisdiction been suspended during the Coronavirus outbreak

No, faculty jurisdiction has not been temporarily suspended.

If the works concerned required faculty or List B approval at the beginning of this month, this is still needed and must not proceed without the necessary approval being in place.

Where a need to undertake urgent repairs arises, please contact your Archdeacon in the first instance. If an interim faculty approval is necessary, the Archdeacon will contact the Registry and permission will be sought from the Chancellor. Please be aware that the Chancellor has already indicated that he will need to be persuaded that an interim faculty is the only option open to the parish concerned.

Any questions or queries can be submitted to DAC@manchester.anglican.org

Specific advice about the  display of public notices for faculty applications was issued on 1 April 2020.  

Any questions or queries about this can be submitted to dm@mandioreg.co.uk

What do we do about church security?

Subject to observing the current advice regarding social distancing and vulnerable groups, it is acceptable for someone (a clergy person or a churchwarden) to check the building is secure.This should be considered as part of the parish coronavirus continuity plan. Advice is also available from the Church of England.

Is it possible to undertake construction work at churches?

Yes. Guidance, issued by the Church of England, must be followed

Is post (including cheques and invoices) being dealt with while Church House is closed?

Yes. Arrangements are in place to receive and deal with incoming post. If you would like to take this opportunity to explore paperless methods of dealing with your parish finances, please email  finance@manchester.anglican.org

Can parishes continue to hold PCC meetings?

The Provincial Vicars-General, the Provincial Registrars and the Joint Registrar of the Provinces Canterbury and York issued specific guidance about PCC meetings on 14 April 2020.

Face to Face meetings are not permitted at the moment. Parochial church councils can, if they wish, meet using virtual means such as Skype or Zoom which enable the members to see and hear each other. (Zoom and other platforms also allow people to participate using a conventional landline or basic mobile phone, using the dial in facility. You don’t have to have a webcam and microphone, nor a smart phone.)

However, care must be taken so that members of a PCC who are unable to participate in a meeting in that way are not excluded from the PCC’s deliberations and decision making. The Chair should take steps to ensure that they are able to participate so far as possible, including where necessary by means of the procedure for conducting business by correspondence set out in rule M29 of the Church Representation Rules.

It is recommended that following a virtual meeting, decisions such as the authorising of expenditure, entering into contracts or those that require a formal resolution of the PCC are put in written form and circulated for formal approval under the correspondence procedure in rule M29, which under Rule 76 can be conducted by email. 

Specific advice about holding PCC meetings is available on the  CofE website.

What should we do about our APCM?

Parishes which have NOT yet held their APCM

  • For those parishes which have not yet held their meeting of parishioners to elect churchwardens and APCMs to elect PCC members and deanery synod reps the deadline has been extended from 31 May 2020 to 31 October 2020
  • The term of office for churchwardens who were chosen in 2019 will be extended until 31st January 2021
  • The term of office of serving lay members of deanery synods is extended until 30thNovember

Parishes which HAVE held their APCM

  • If parishes have already held their meeting of parishioners and APCMs the churchwardens chosen in 2019 i.e. last year will remain in office until the new wardens are admitted to office which could be as late as January 2021
  • Similarly, deanery synod reps elected in 2017 (the beginning of their 3-year term of office) will continue in office until 30th November 2020 and newly elected members will take up their office on 1st December 2020.
  • Newly elected members of the PCC will have already have taken up their office at the conclusion of the 2020 APCM

A direct mailing has been issued (on 20 March 2020) to Area Deans, Lay Chairs, Deanery Synod Secretaries, Incumbents, Churchwardens and PCC Secretaries. Any queries should be directed to governance@manchester.anglican.org

Is there any safeguarding advice for virtual groups that churches are operating during the pandemic?

The current Pandemic is also affecting our children and young people and it is important to try and find ways of enabling their social interaction in a safe way that does not place themselves and others at risk. Social media will be a vital method of communication between children and a way of being able to meet virtually as part of our groups and activities.

Specific information is available on our  Safeguarding page. Please consider this carefully when undertaking any remote activities with children and young people. Guidance provided by 31:8 (previously CCPAS) and Youthscape in relation to youth work is also linked. New Advice if domestic abuse is suspected is available in the Safeguarding and Coronavirus document.

Is there any guidance available for community action by churches?

Yes – please follow this link to the  Church of England website.

How can parishes be helped to give financially during this time?

There are a wide range of options available and there is diocesan officer help and support to assist. Parishes are encouraged, in the first instance, to contact Paul.Bailey@manchester.anglican.org

Is there information about Coronavirus available in other languages to assist clergy?

Advice is available on government websites. 
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-entitlements-migrant-health-guide

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance

We are constantly updating our Frequently Asked Questions on this page and signposting to advice from the national Church. If you have a question not answered in either of these places, you can contact the Diocesan Coronavirus Response Group at pandemic@manchester.anglican.org

Loving our Neighbour - Ideas and resources

Many of our churches, clergy and lay people are finding wonderful ways to serve their communities during this time. Here are some ideas and resources that are being shared online.

For support with your questions surrounding being a church in the digital world, join our Facebook group: Diocesan Digital Support Group. In here we share our digital questions, good ideas, latest news and help each other by sharing digital resources and advice.

Share a prayer

Share prayers for your parish, community and the wider diocese on your social media. Tag your prayers with #PrayforManchester so that more people can see them and join you in prayer.

As ever we continue to hold in prayer our churches, the communities we serve, remembering especially the most vulnerable members of our society and those who are anxious and afraid at this time, giving thanks for our health service and all medical staff and support services.

Listen or read to the  Church of England's Prayer for the Day

Food Banks

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.



Prayers:

A prayer from an Assistant Head Teacher in Burnage

Dear Lord, at this time we pray for school leaders that you will give them peace and wisdom to make the right decisions. Help them to manage the demands of the government, with the needs of the children, the needs and wants of parents and the desires of staff. Help all who work in schools to stay safe as they currently care for the children of key workers and vulnerable children and work towards the next steps of reopening.

We pray for peace for all those anxious about the reopening of schools potentially from 1st June and the risks that carries with it. We pray that the right decisions will be made. We ask for good discussions to take place between the government and the teaching unions and that there will be positive outcomes from these.

We give thanks that some families have been able to spend quality time together during lockdown. We also pray for those families who have found lockdown challenging; for some because they are struggling to meet the needs of their children; for others who are balancing trying to work from home whilst also home educating their children; while others are facing financially difficulty or suffering from ill health.

We give thanks for the many different agencies that have supported schools as they continue to meet the wide ranging needs of their communities and we pray that the new partnerships formed will go from strength to strength.

Overall we pray, Lord, that you will protect the children in our schools and keep them well in body and in mind and we pray that we will overcome this virus so that children can return to school safely. Lord in your mercy; Hear our prayer.



A prayer from a school governor

“They just talk and talk”. Lord, this is what teachers have found when children have recently joined the provision for key workers having been at home for weeks.

Father of us all, our children are suffering. Adults in their homes may be too busy to talk to them. They miss their friends and they miss just talking. They are under-stimulated.

Lord, bring healing to body, mind and soul of our children especially as they start to return to school and give staff great skill in supporting and helping these children as they rediscover relationships outside the home and talk and talk.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.



A prayer for those working from home

Father of creation, the structure and the shape of our days are so different.

There are so many distractions at home and there is a huge temptation to spend more time working than we did before lockdown.

Help us to use our time wisely, to invest in the relationships most important to us and to take proper breaks.

May we rediscover a new shape to our days that is centred and guided by your Spirit.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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The Church of England Diocese of Manchester,
Church House,
90 Deansgate,
Manchester M3 2GH

Manchester DBF Company number 149999, Charity number 249424
Telephone: 0161 828 1400