Following the Government announcement that church buildings will be able to reopen for public worship from 4th July, providing physical distancing remains in place, the Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, who leads the Church of Englands Recovery Group, said:
I welcome the Prime Ministers announcement today that we will soon be able to begin to meet and worship together in our church buildings again. The last three months have been an extraordinary time - the first period without public worship and the sacraments in England in more than 800 years. There will be real joy as we begin to come together again if even at a physical distance but I also know that many will be understandably cautious at this news.
We will not be returning to normality overnight - this is the next step on a journey. Weve been planning carefully, making detailed advice available for parishes to enable them to prepare to hold services when it is safe and practical to do so. It is important to say that the change in Government guidance is permissive, not prescriptive.
"I would particularly like to thank clergy and lay leaders for all they have done during the time our buildings have been closed. Not all church buildings will be ready to hold regular services from July 4th, but we are providing whatever support we can to enable them.
There will still be restrictions and we must all still do everything we can to limit the spread of the virus to protect each other, especially the most vulnerable. The online services and dial-in worship offerings we have become used to will continue.
This has been an incredibly difficult time for the whole country, especially for those who have been ill, who have suffered financial hardship, the loss of livelihoods and indeed, for many, those they love. We know that is not over and the Church has a task ahead to bring consolation and hope."
Guidance for parishes
Bishop David has also welcomed this development and reaffirmed his commitment that Manchester Diocese will to continue to provide updated guidance advice and support to parishes and clergy over the coming days and weeks. The diocesan guidance will reflect the detail of the Church of England advice once it is available after detailed Government guidance is published.