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Guidance for Funeral Services in Alert Level 2
Archbishop Philip's message to the Diocese on our Guidelines in Alert Level 2

At this time under Level 2, Funeral Services can be held with up to 50 people.  

Government Guidelines are reviewed regularly, always check for the latest guidance under Alert Level 2.  As of 15 May 2020, funerals are the only services permitted inside Church buildings in the Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki at Alert Level 2.  We will keep our Diocesan Guidance up to date as any changes are announced.  Version changes are recorded by the date on the cover page of the document. 

Archbishop Philip has released the following guidance on funeral services under Alert Level 2.  Thank you to the Dioceses of Waiapu and Christchurch for the preliminary work that underpinned these measures.  These measures can be found in our full Diocesan Guidelines for Alert Level 2 in Appendix 4.

In exceptional circumstances, and after discussion with your Archdeacon, a Diocesan Church may be used for funerals of up to 50 people held strictly according to Government and Diocesan Guidelines. The singing of Hymns at the funeral service is not permitted due to an increased risk of transmission. Churches are closed for all other worship services as all other ‘public gatherings’ are still limited to 10 people.

Funerals are permitted to take place in our churches under Level 2 provided the following measures are in place:

  1. The Vicar/PiC/Ministry team and Wardens are satisfied that all of the Diocesan and Government Guidelines for Level 2 can be, and have been, put in place for the church.
  2. Any funeral between 10 and up to 50 persons may only take place if the Funeral Director associated with the funeral registers the service with the Ministry of Health and otherwise complies with all Government funeral guidelines as announced on Wednesday 13 May 2020.
  3. There is clear communication and collaboration between the Clergy person leading the service and Funeral Director about expectations under the Diocesan Level 2 Guidelines and that there is agreement about who conveys these expectations to the family concerned. 
  4. There is provision for contact tracing to be included in preparations for the service. This will also be a useful tool for counting the number of people at the service.
  5. There is clarity about who conducts and covers the costs of cleaning the church before/after the service according to the parish’s Action Plan for Provision of Ministry.
  6. There is clarity between the clergy person leading the service and Funeral Director about how the limit of 50 people will be managed if more than 50 people arrive at the service and that this is communicated with the family in the planning of the service. (50 includes Clergy, Funeral Director, assistants)
  7. The Clergy person leading the service has confidence that the Funeral Director will comply with our Diocesan Guidelines and can also provide evidence of their own compliance with Level 2.
  8. There is to be no singing in the service. Following the advice of Professor Michael Baker to the NZ Choral Federation it seems that the best course of action is to have no congregational or choral singing in churches under Level 2. (note: in ordinary speech about 20 molecules of water are dispersed, when singing it is about 1000 water molecules) Professor Baker’s expectation is that communal singing will not happen until Level One
  9. There is no food served on church premises.
  10. The congregation are dismissed from the church following the end of the service. A simple approach to assist this would be for all the congregation to leave the church and follow the coffin/casket to the hearse outside and the doors to the church then closed. Remember physical distancing is a requirement outside as well.
  11. Any clergyperson unsure whether these guidelines can be followed in their local church because of the size and/or seating layout is encouraged to consider use of a funeral director’s chapel or other, larger church venue nearby.
  12. Any clergyperson unsure about any aspect of conducting a funeral safely at Level 2 is encouraged to consult with their Archdeacon.
  13. A reminder that the limit on people gathering for any other religious service or meeting of the church, inside or outside, is 10 (with review of this limit to be announced by the Government on 25 May 2020).

You need to consider whether you can adequately prepare to accept a request for a funeral to be held in your parish church. You can have confidence that if you follow the Diocesan Level 2 Guidelines you will be doing everything possible to make the church a safe and hospitable environment for those who would attend a funeral. Remember that you can say no to a request to have a funeral in the church if you think that you are not able to be compliant with the Diocesan Level 2 Guidelines and I will support you in that decision.
You may consider working with Funeral Directors to provide facilities for funerals that can comply with physical distancing measures. This is a positive way in which we can serve the community and support our local Funeral Directors during a difficult time for them as well as the families they serve.  A good collaborative relationship with clear consistent communication will be essential for making those situations viable.
When you are wishing to hold a funeral in your Church, or if you have any concerns or questions about any of the above, please contact your Archdeacon who will be able to provide support themselves or they will contact me for advice.
Funerals under Level 2 are potentially complex and challenging. As clergy you have the experience, the empathy and the skill to provide strong and compassionate leadership and pastoral care in these situations. May you be given gentleness, wisdom, and the compassion of Christ in your ministry with the bereaved and the Funeral Directors.
Follow this link to read the Joint Episcopal Letter to Government on Funeral Services in Alert Level 2.



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