Lord's Prayer can be said at funerals, council confirms

(Photo: Unsplash/Mayron Oliveira)

A Welsh council has clarified Covid-19 rules after a celebrant was wrongly told that she could not lead mourners in saying the Lord's Prayer together at a funeral. 

Alison Davies, 53, from Bridgend, was asked by the family of a deceased 94-year-old grandmother to end her funeral with the Lord's Prayer.

But she was left in tears when a council official approached her at the end of proceedings and told her that she had broken Covid rules around 'chanting'. 

The funeral was being held inside the Christian chapel at the council-run Coychurch Crematorium. Following the incident, a Bridgend Council spokesman said that saying the Lord's Prayer together constituted chanting.

"We appreciate the Lord's Prayer is of great comfort to many of those attending services and we are sorry if our actions caused any upset," he said.

"We ensured at no point was the service interrupted, only gently informing the member of clergy as they left the chapel that next time, the Lord's Prayer can only be read out by one individual."

His comments were later contradicted by the Welsh Government, however, which said that praying in a "low tone" was permitted and that people should use "common sense" in applying Covid rules.

Now Bridgend Councillor Richard Young has confirmed that reciting the Lord's Prayer by more than one person is in fact allowed.  

In a statement, he said the council was "previously not aware that these regulations were open to interpretation".

Councillor Young said: "We were very surprised to see the Welsh Government's media response contradicting our approach.

"We very much welcome the additional clarity, which now permits a number of people to pray out loud at the same time."

Responding to the U-turn, Mrs Davies said: "I am glad that mourners will now be allowed to get the comfort they need by saying the Lord's Prayer together.

"It was all very unprofessional and could have been handled so differently. I hope it serves as a warning to other council's and crematoriums that the wishes of those who are mourning at this time should not be taken away and restricted unnecessarily.

"The Lord's Prayer is very comforting to many, whether you are a Christian or not."

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which assisted Mrs Davies, said she was "glad that common sense has prevailed".

"There has never been a ban on saying prayers together at a low volume, as the Welsh government has made clear," she said.

"Those with responsibilities for churches, crematoriums and chapels need to know what the law really says and apply it with common sense and compassion. Unnecessary interventions and confrontations like this hurt the grieving process and cannot be undone.

"This story serves as a strong reminder to all of us that attempts to fight the coronavirus must not come at the expense of our humanity."