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Practicalities, Policy and Prayer

- Letter from Bishop Keith
- Archdeacon Mike on St Barnabas
- Permissions for temporary works
- Access to church buildings
- Template risk-assessment
- Administering Holy Communion
- Funerals in churches from 15 June
- Detailed advice for bell ringers
People and Parishes

- Church House Blog: Fundraising
- Heritage grants of up to £25k
- Bunbury kids online
- Virtual Santiago de Compostella

From Bishop Keith 

Dear Friends

No sooner have we got used to one “normal”, then the “normal” changes. This week we have churches open for supervised private prayer and funerals from 15 June, with more guidance awaited on weddings, acts of worship, and much more. Jim Butterworth is doing a great job at keeping the website up to date with the latest guidance so please do follow the links.

Please forgive the unoriginality of what follows but as I’ve been trying to make sense of the newly changing scenario, three “p’s” have come to mind!

Patience: if you’ve been using the hand prayer with Colossians 3:12, the last of the garments with which we clothe ourselves is “patience” (after, compassion, kindness, humility and meekness). There is no rush to respond. I hope people will understand that in order to follow the guidance about not leaving opened buildings unattended for example, this takes some organising, especially in relation to distancing and cleansing! So, let’s encourage a culture of patience, especially among any who will have wanted all this to happen yesterday.

Permissive: the new guidance is permissive, not prescriptive. Not everyone will be able to do this and there is no pressure to do what cannot be done. The new guidance is to help us with the next steps towards when church buildings can again be used for public worship and for us to do this safely without risk to ourselves or any others who come to our buildings. I am sure in deaneries and chapters we will find others’ experiences helpful as we try to plan this well. It will be so important that no Vicar or PCC feels they are on their own with this, that somehow everyone else has got this sorted and I/we haven’t. We are so much in this together. Again, there are stories on the website which may be of help, and I think it may be possible to make requests known in case there is anyone out there who can help with your particular challenge.

Prayer: so completely obvious, but I was struck by that reading from Luke 11:1-13 the other morning in which the Lord Jesus follows up his teaching of his prayer with the “how much more” will the heavenly Father answer prayer including the gift of the Holy Spirit. The challenge of any change, normal or not, is that we recognise that we cannot do this in our own strength. As I said last week thinking of the Lord Jesus’ invitation to “Come”, that coming invites us into relationship. As we come into that relationship we come into prayer and these new challenges and opportunities become the place and occasion for our asking, seeking, knocking.

May the Lord give us his patience, help us use this permission well, and meet us in prayer every day. May this time of transition help us to discover again the truth of our generous God in his giving above what we can ask or imagine by the power at work within and among us.

To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus (buildings or not) to all generations (Ephesians 3:21)
With love in Christ

Archdeacon Mike on St Barnabas

Described by Luke as a "good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith", St Barnabas is one of the most attractive characters from the earliest church.

Archdeacon Mike says Barnabas is "really relevant to us, right at this moment" and reminds us that he was a bridge-builder. He says: "We must work for racial justice and harmony, and as we do that, we're following in Barnabas' footsteps; he is a figure of hope for our time."

Watch the short video here.

Practicalities and Policy

An archive of past announcements and changes to policy can be found on the Coronavirus webpage of the diocesan website. 
The bishop's letter and the archdeacon's video, plus guidance in this Coronavirus Briefing released by the National Church earlier in the week, do not reflect unexpected changes to Government guidance published yesterday evening (10 June). 

In a statement published 07 June, it was announced that places of worship will be "permitted to reopen for individual prayer" from Monday 15 June. The Government, in an update to its FAQs on the 10 June, revised its guidance, stating that "anyone will be able to pray in a place of worship from 13 June."

If churches are ready to open earlier than planned, they may of course do so, however, many may wish to wait until 15 June or later, in line with their existing plans.

Although the guidance allows for places of worship to reopen, as always the decision of how and when to begin the process of doing so for individual private prayer should be taken locally, and as Bishop Keith states in his letter above, "the new guidance is permissive, not prescriptive. Not everyone will be able to do this and there is no pressure to do what cannot be done." 

Further guidance is still expected from the Government and the House of Bishops' Recovery Group before the 15 June. 

08 June: Permissions for temporary works in churches and cathedrals 
This looks at the types of temporary works that would be necessary to enable social distancing and hygiene measures to be put in place for the re-opening of churches and sets out the options for gaining permission for these temporary changes.
08 June: (Updated) Access to a church building for construction
The existing guidance for contractors and construction workers has been combined into a single document with a separate, dedicated risk assessment at the end of the new document. It includes a checklist to look at before contractors are allowed on site and advice on having multiple contractors on site.
08 June: (Updated) Template risk-assessment for parish churches
This an updated document for opening places of worship to the public for individual prayer. Please note this is a planning document and it will be updated once further government guidance on opening places of worship has been published. 
09 June: Advice on the administration of Holy Communion
This advice note seeks to enable Holy Communion to be celebrated in a safe and appropriate way. It includes practical steps in the administration of Holy Communion, as well as guidance on the practice of Holy Communion. It has been prepared with information available by the issue date and is for planning purposes.
09 June: Funerals in churches from 15 June
The House of Bishops discussed a range of issues around COVID-19 and approved further advice on funerals, the celebration of Holy Communion, and ordinations. The guidance advises that funerals may be carried out in church buildings from June 15.
11 June: Detailed advice for bell ringers, from the CCCBR
We have received a comprehensive document offering advice and information to bell ringers about the issues that will need to be considered in order to ring safely as church buildings are opened up once more. 


The team at Foxhill is continuing to coordinate prayer for the Diocese of Chester. If you require prayer, Text or WhatsApp to 07513 170210, or email your prayer to Foxhill.
Download the latest prayer sheet here, and read previous prayer sheets here.

Church House Blog

Church House staff are available to support parishes. Here they share their own thoughts and ideas to help churches and schools serve their communities. Read past blogs here

Fundraising during COVID-19 and beyond

01 June 2020
By Emily Allen, Church Buildings Missioner


URGENT: Historic England announces COVID-19 Heritage at Risk Fund
Historic England has launched a second emergency fund. Grants of up to £25,000 will be offered to fix urgent problems at locally-cherished historic buildings and sites which are normally visited by the public, so that they can re-open as quickly as possible, subject to COVID-19 restrictions. 

The funding can be used to address problems such as damaged roofs, masonry and windows, to hire scaffolding to prevent structural collapse, or commission surveys necessary to inform urgent repairs.
The deadline for expressions of interest is midnight on 28 June 2020. 
Full details, terms and conditions, Guidance Note and application details are on their website.

People and Parishes

Share your news, stories, and moments of inspiration as we respond to the coronavirus crisis.

Bunbury Kids Online

Created by kids for kids, this is the latest video from the kids at St Boniface Church, Bunbury. Presented by Rose Hayward, the videos are posted online every Sunday. Rose's Mum, Beth, says: "She is loving doing these" and wanted to offer them to other churches or parents to use. 

Walking the Santiago de Compostella

The inimitable Revd Steve Sheridan is walking 481 miles on a virtual prayer walk, along the ancient pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostella across Northern Spain. He's well on his way and is just clear of the Pyrenees having completed over 50 miles.

Steve says: "I don't quite know all the words to the Proclaimers' song, but as many of you know, I am walking 500 miles, primarily to raise money for childhood cancer charities. So far £325 has been raised through the kind donations and sharing of the link below."

Please share the link if you wish

A prayer...

O Lord, from whom all good things come:
grant to us your humble servants,
that by your holy inspiration
we may think those things that are good,
and by your merciful guiding may perform the same;
through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
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Diocese of Chester · Church House, 5500 Daresbury Park · Daresbury · Warrington, Cheshire WA4 4GE · United Kingdom