Churches need specific guidance before re-opening

(Photo: Pexels/Brett Sayles)

Christian charity CARE is calling on the Government to issue "specific" guidance to churches before they re-open as lockdown measures ease.

The advocacy group said that the guidance issued to places of worship must engage fully with the diversity of church life across the UK. 

CARE's chief executive Nola Leach has written to the Prime Minister asking that the Government recognise that church involves more than just Sunday services, with other areas like small groups and outreach needing to be taken into consideration. 

She said: "The UK Church is normally a hive of activity which extends further than the Sunday service – from outreach and compassionate projects, to small mid-week meetings, to children's and family work.

"This diversity needs to be engaged with if the guidance is to be truly useful and relevant."

The Government has said that places of worship could re-open from 4 July if it is deemed safe to do so, and has set up a Places of Worship Task Force to consult with faith leaders.

Ms Leach said that any guidance from the Government should be published before that date in order to help pastors with their planning and preparations. 

"Church is more than just a building, it's the people who together make up the Church of Jesus Christ in our nation," she said.

"Not being able to gather together with fellow Christians to worship and spend time together has been one of the hardest parts of lockdown for Christian communities.

"Of course, we also want to play our part in the national effort to contain the coronavirus and help save lives.

"So, while it's good to see places of worship mentioned in the Government's roadmap for recovery, we need proper, detailed and extensive guidance for church leaders, ahead of any re-opening.

"Churches play an immensely important role in national life and there's many different expressions of church across the country and we're calling on the Government to recognise this.

"Otherwise, the guidance will end up being overly broad and while it might help some churches, many will be left feeling unsure about the next steps."