You may have seen reports in the news that the government will probably allow church buildings to be re-opened for individual private prayer from Monday 15th June.
This is clearly excellent news. It’s one of a number of signs that things are improving, that the government believes the risk of transmitting Covid-19 is coming down, and that life can slowly begin to revert to normal.
If this is allowed, it will be up to each church to decide whether it will re-open for private prayer, and if so with what hours and with what measures in place to ensure people are not put at risk from the virus in the process.
The vicar and the churchwardens met (over Zoom) on Wednesday morning to discuss this. We worked carefully through the guidelines we’ve been given from the Diocese and the government, to work out what we would have to do to re-open either of our buildings safely. We reached the conclusion that if we were to open a building, it would be with so many constraints that it would not provide the access for private prayer that people are hoping for. We also concluded that even with precautions, the risk of visitors transmitting the virus to others who come would be unacceptably high at this time. We therefore decided that it would not be practicable to re-open either building yet. We will keep this under review, as fresh government and national church guidance is issued.
We are well aware that this will disappoint some people. In times of anxiety, people do like to come into our churches to use the peaceful atmosphere to pray and to reflect. Jesus said this: “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen” (Matthew 6:6). One of the wonderful truths Jesus taught is that when we follow him, God his Father becomes our Father, and we can pray to him at any time and place. Whilst those who find a church building conducive to prayer will be frustrated not to be able to pray there, we would like to encourage everyone to turn to God in trust for help at this time, wherever you are. Both our churches are situated in picturesque churchyards with benches where you can sit in the open air to pray.
It's not easy to curb our own freedoms in order to protect the most vulnerable in our community. Please continue to pray for us as we process the ever-changing guidance, so that we can work to open things back up safely.