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Coronavirus Task Group Update 10/12/2020

Please find attached briefing 10/12/2020

Dear Friends,

A 90 year old woman in a fetching blue Christmas tee-shirt receives a simple injection in her left arm and the world rejoices. The success of a range of vaccines really does seem to offer some light at the end of the tunnel and we must give thanks for the ingenuity of medical researchers and scientists who lie behind it.

But at the same time the tunnel is still a long one and it would be bad news if the hope that the vaccine brings were to cause people to lower their guard. Infection rates appear to be increasing in large parts of the country and have plateaued in Lancashire (with some worrying signs of growth amongst the over 60s). The pattern seems to be very local outbreaks where people have been lax about following guidance and this means that we need constant vigilance in our churches.

We always admire the energy and imagination of Blackburn's parishes and it is good to hear the plans that are shaping up in many areas. But please remember, Christmas is not a competition! You do not need to outdo the next door Parish, nor do you need to exhaust yourself or frazzle your brain with stress.

Christmas this year will be a careful balancing act between the duty to worship, the opportunity to proclaim and the need to heed public health guidance at all times. But don't forget, not even Covid, can strip away the unalloyed joy of the Incarnation. A vaccine might protect us for a while from a virus. In the child of Bethlehem we find eternal protection from sin, death, annihilation and indeed from everything that is at enmity with human flourishing.

New Guidance from the Church of England

A great deal of new guidance has been issued by the Church of England in recent days and it can be accessed on the website. The main areas covered are below:



  • You may have seen that the Archbishops have issued some guidance about 'simultaneous communion.' You can read it on the Church of England website above, but please note that your Task Group is highly dubious about the safety or wisdom of what is recommended.

Blue Christmas

For many, Christmas is a time that brings back memories of grief and pain, and that will be especially so this year. Fr Neil Kelley has produced a Blue Christmas resource, focusing on the Christ-child who brings light even into the deepest darkness. It can be downloaded directly from here . Scroll up and down the resource page while you are there to discover many more things you may find useful, with more being added all the time, including a Blue Christmas reflection video (available from December 15).

Weekly Message

This week's message will be from Archdeacon David and can be found on the Diocesan YouTube Channel. His (intriguing) theme will be, 'Are we nearly there yet?'

Sunday Worship

In recent weeks the Diocesan Service has been touring round the Diocese and this week we are joining the people of St John's Little Thornton for worship for the Third Sunday of Advent led by The Revd Jane Atkinson. It can be viewed from 9am onwards on the Diocesan YouTube channel.

Alternatively the Cathedral is also broadcasting an act of worship from 9am on Sunday. This will be on the Cathedral website.

Coronavirus Email Address

Don't forget that if you have questions or problems you can get in touch with the Task Group by emailing: It is important that clergy who are self-isolating send us a note to this address.

Loving God,

at this time of crisis

when so many are suffering,

we pray for our nation and our world.

Give our leaders wisdom,

our Health Service strength,

our people hope.

Lead us through these parched and difficult days

to the fresh springs of joy and comfort

that we find in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Coronavirus Task Group Update 03/11/2020

Dear Friends,

Our main priority for prayer at the moment is all those who will be most severely impacted by the current health crisis and the second national lockdown: the health services, the sick and the dying, those whose jobs and livelihood are at threat, those who face hunger and debt, those who are anxious or alone. As those who follow Christ, it is our vocation to speak words of hope and peace over our nation in these difficult days.

But it is our worship that enables us to speak the language of hope, and that is why this second suspension of public worship has hit so many of us so hard. There is a palpable sense of anger in many places because of the profound human longing to worship God. We must pray that these days pass swiftly so that we can soon gather together in person again for prayer and praise.

Life is awkward also for your Coronavirus Task Group! We pride ourselves on keeping a close eye on developments so that we can answer your questions, but just at the moment there are many important questions that we cannot answer simply because we are waiting more detailed clarification from the government. We will do our best to answer some questions here. But we will also send a second briefing later this week when we hope to have more clarity.

Public Worship

The lockdown begins at one minute past midnight on Thursday November 5th. From then churches are prevented by law from holding public or advertised worship. Regardless of our views of the rights and wrongs of this decision, it is important that we comply with this.

Open Churches

Churches may be left open for private prayer and we strongly encourage our parishes to make our buildings available to our communities at this time. We will re-issue the advice on open churches later in the week.

Remembrance Sunday

Remembrance Sunday outdoor events at cenotaphs etc are permitted and the latest guidance is here. Our strong advice is that such events must only be held when organised by or in partnership with the Local Authority.

Obviously it is not possible to hold public commemorations inside the church building either. Remembrance Services can be live-streamed from inside the church building as long as only those required to lead the worship are present.

The Diocesan YouTube channel will be putting out a Remembrance Sunday Service from Lancaster Priory on Sunday Morning. More details of this later in the week.

Occasional Offices

Funerals may take place in church buildings but with limited numbers attending. The maximum remains at 30 but the guidance is to try and reduce this number to close family where possible.

Weddings and Baptisms may not take place until after the national lockdown is ended except in emergency.

Banns of Marriage

We are already aware of a number of instances where weddings or the reading of Banns has been disrupted. This is yet another instance where your pastoral skills will be called upon and much appreciated.

If you are part way through reading Banns you cannot continue to do so via live stream or recording. It must be during an act of public worship and in person. If you have time to read them after the 2nd December but before the wedding then you can pause the process and take them back up when public worship has re-commenced.

If you have not started or do not have time to complete them after we re-commence (and of course there is no guarantee that we will re-commence on that date) then the legal means by which we can complete these preliminary checks is by applying for a Common License. This has the benefit of lasting 3 months so if weddings cannot go ahead immediately in December then there is time. The registry have also indicated that they are prepared to arrange a new licence after three months free of charge should it be necessary.

There is a cost to the license and the reduced cost is £152 and the couple will need to bring their ID documents and swear oaths before a Surrogate. If the Banns have not been completed the couple should have the Banns Fee returned. Please contact the Bishop's Chaplain should you require the name of your closest surrogate or if you have any further questions.

Online and Live-Streamed Worship

Once again we encourage churches to pre-record and livestream worship.

We are awaiting guidance on the details of live-streaming. Until this appears, please use the minimum number of people needed, which can include a small number of musicians. Please use wise judgement in this and ensure that those involved act wisely and maintain good social distancing.

Serving the Community

Once again it will be important for churches to seek ways to reach those in their communities who are suffering because of the pandemic and the lockdown.

Church buildings and facilities can therefore continue to be used for food banks and essential voluntary and public services.

Activities for Young People and Children

Sadly these will once again have to be suspended.

Prayer for the Nation

The Church of England is calling people to pray for our nation every night at 6pm. A range of resources are being prepared to support this invitation which will tie in well with our own Diocesan 'Called to Pray and Give' initiative. More details will be circulated when they become available.

The Coronavirus Email Address

If you have questions or problems, please get in touch:

Please email if you are off work or shielding.

Keep us, good Lord,

under the shadow of your mercy

in this time of uncertainty and distress.

Sustain and support the anxious and fearful,

and lift up all who are brought low;

that we may rejoice in your comfort

knowing that nothing can separate us from your love

in Christ Jesus our Lord.


The Coronavirus Task Group

Coronavirus Task Group Update 31/10/2020

Dear Friends,

You may have heard the words and will certainly have seen the reports of the Prime Minister's new conference tonight in which he outlined the true extent of the crisis which now impacts our nation. If you have not yet seen it you can view it here.

We were told that the tiered system of regulations has not been able to check the spread of the virus and so, assuming Parliament agrees, we will go back into a national lockdown on Thursday November 5th and remain in it until December 2nd. This means that the advice to stay at home returns.

There will be countless questions forming now in your minds, but sadly most of these cannot be answered because the details of the announcement will only emerge later in the week. You should however be prepared for the following:

  • It looks very much like public worship will once again have to be suspended from Thursday. This means that that there must be no acts of advertised or public worship in church buildings on Sunday or midweek.
  • It seems that churches will be able to remain open for private prayer. This should be done according to the guidance we issued in June and which we will re-issue later in the week.

None of this is confirmed but you may wish to prepare yourselves and your people for these likely scenarios.

We do not yet know about occasional offices, though in Wales funerals have been allowed to take place in church buildings even under their tighter lockdown restrictions.

Neither do we know about youth and children's groups but it seems highly unlikely that these will be able to run until December 2nd.

This is of course very sad news and this second suspension of public worship will come as a huge blow to you and your people. There is a minor consolation this time in that we at least have some idea of an end date and will, we pray, be able to celebrate most of Advent and Christmas. But of course the major consolation is our firm trust in the goodness of God, our strength and refuge in times of crisis and the one who in his mercy and goodness will never let us go.

We will send updates through the week as we receive more news. The coronavirus email address will remain but you may prefer to await updates as we are unlikely to be able to answer many of your questions of detail until we hear more from Government or the national Church.

The Bishop of London has made a statement which can be read here and we expect more to follow in the days ahead.

The Coronavirus Email Address

If you have questions or problems, please get in touch:

Please email if you are off work or shielding or if you know of someone in your congregation who has tested positive and attended church within the past 14 days.

Keep us, good Lord,

under the shadow of your mercy

in this time of uncertainty and distress.

Sustain and support the anxious and fearful,

and lift up all who are brought low;

that we may rejoice in your comfort

knowing that nothing can separate us from your love

in Christ Jesus our Lord.


The Coronavirus Task Group

Coronavirus Task Grooup Update 27/10/2020

Dear Friends,

As the evenings lengthen, as the weather closes in and as the darkness of a nation in crisis seems to gather and deepen, so the Church confronts us irresistibly with the promise of hope and light. November begins with the great festivals of All Saints and All Souls in which we celebrate the salvation we find in Jesus and remember that the Church of which we are a part is no time-bound human institution but is the faithful company of believers in every age and every place. Our worship matters because in it the veil between earth and heaven is torn away and we see for a while the life we are called to share for all eternity with all God's saints and holy ones.

The Church of England has produced a huge suite of resources for All Saints, All Souls and Remembrance. A bit last minute it must be said, but they can all be found here.

Meanwhile the situation in our own region remains serious with infection rates increasing significantly in Blackburn with Darwen and Rossendale and a number of our rural areas, notably Ribble Valley, also reporting growing numbers of cases. The intense political debate over free school meals will also have resonances for many of you as you continue the work of serving families who are struggling. Lancashire is at the heart of this crisis which makes your work and ministry all the more precious. Thank you for pointing your people to the hope found in Jesus and modelled in the lives of the saints.

Sunday Worship

For All Saints Day, Archdeacon David Picken will be preaching at our latest multi-lingual service which is led by the Revd Sarah Gill. You can join in with this from 9am on Sunday on the Diocesan YouTube channel.

Alternatively you can make a virtual visit to our Cathedral as they too celebrate All Saints Day. This can be viewed on the Cathedral Website.

Ensuring Places of Worship are Safe in Winter

A number of questions have arisen as the Autumn has closed in on us. Please bear in mind the following:

  • Churches should as far as possible be kept ventilated so that air is moving through to disperse any viral particles. However this does not mean leaving all the doors wide open so that congregants die of exposure in the Lancastrian gales! Please use common sense here - many churches are quite draughty enough already!
  • It is quite permissible to use church heating systems. Indeed many of these will help the air to move around.
  • An important thing to remember is to keep acts of worshipreasonably short. 45 minutes for a Sunday service is a good guide, but this will of course depend a bit on local circumstances.

EIG Church Risk Calendar

The Ecclesiastical Insurance Group have produced a really handy guide to maintaining a building across the year which take account of the current situation. It can be viewed here.

Covid-19 Cases in your Congregation

As is to be expected a steady stream of clergy are reporting Covid-19 cases in their congregations and we are grateful to you for being in touch. If you hear of a case, don't panic or rush to an instant reaction. If there are concerns or you need to take action then NHS Test and Trace will be in touch to talk you through the necessary steps. Do email us if you are unsure what to do.

Mental Health and Faithfulness in an Age of Anxiety - An online briefing

One or two of our Task Group briefings have touched on the importance of looking after your physical and mental health during the pandemic. Most recently we featured this advice from The Revd Andy Meeson on 'looking after yourself in lockdown'.

The National Deaneries Network is holding an online seminar/briefing very soon for clergy and laity, entitled 'Mental Health and Faithfulness in an Age of Anxiety'. Presented by The Revd Rob Merchant, Tutor and Director of St Mellitus College, Chelmsford, this will take place on November 11, from 7.30pm to 9pm. The event will help you to recognise when something is not right, will give advice on enabling the exploration of mental well-being and will offer information about further support.

More details about the seminar and about Rob plus the booking details you need are on this page of the National Deaneries Network website.

Lancaster Churches Night-shelter

Many parishes in the north of the Diocese have referred homeless people to Christchurch Lancaster where they have run a winter night-shelter for the past 28 years. Please note that because of Covid regulations this cannot run this year. From Monday 2nd November, Christ Church will host an Evening Drop-In, every evening from 8.30-9.30pm in the Church Hall. If you have concerns about homeless people please contact the Local Authority that covers your area.

The Coronavirus Email Address

If you have questions or problems, please get in touch:

Please email if you are off work or shielding or if you know of a case of someone in your congregation who has attended church within the past 14 days.

Keep us, good Lord,

under the shadow of your mercy

in this time of uncertainty and distress.

Sustain and support the anxious and fearful,

and lift up all who are brought low;

that we may rejoice in your comfort

knowing that nothing can separate us from your love

in Christ Jesus our Lord.


The Coronavirus Task Group

July Parish Magazine.

Hello Everyone,

I trust you are all getting through these tricky times ok; coping with the ups and downs. Time seems for me to fly as fast ever, and so I write to remind you that I'll be working on the mag next week when I know what I have to fit into the July edition. The advertised date for me to receive your contributions is . . . . . BEFORE JUNE 14th please It has been good to receive some items from new people as well as frequent contributors.Anyone in our communities is welcome to send something to help keep the magazine's content varied and fresh and hopefully providing something of interest for everyone. If you know of anyone you could encourage to join in, please do so. Children's ideas are welcome too. What they have found hard or what might they be enjoying? Anything of interest about the Home-schooling? How are folk now filling their lock-down days? Are any small relaxations helping? Suggestions and new ideas are often worth sharing?

Sometimes people post me items or even dictate over the phone.Remember, for emailed items I usually reply fairly quickly to tell of their safe arrival, so if you don't hear from me please try a re-send or ring 01772 683 827

With thanks


PS - As always, thank you to the people who have already sent me a contribution for the next mag; sorry if you are being bothered by receiving this reminder in my bulk lists.

Below is a link to Bishop Jill's latest words of encouragement on YouTube.

Words from Bishop Jill to Families and Information from the Board of Education

Many parents are juggling work, child care, solving maths problems and setting new boundaries and routines. Some parents have suddenly found themselves out of work; some parents have found themselves with incredible demands at work.

Please give yourself plenty of slack in this time. I'm conscious that as Christians we are often super-dedicated to the cause. Mother Teresa once said: "If you want to change the world, go home and love your family". My best child-care advice as a new mum was from a nun(!) who observed how our children often reflect back our own moods to us. And anyone who has been couped up with a toddler for too long can totally understand why tantrums break out at the worst possible times. And that's just the parent! I finished a Zoom meeting with the North West bishops yesterday then went out to play football in the garden. I enjoyed both: though sometimes virtual kids and football with colleagues is tempting.

It can be hard thinking of new ideas to engage and enthuse our children. Can I recommend our marvellous Board of Education Website and Social Media pages. There you'll find lots of resources for children, teenagers, RE and collective and family worship. Take a look at Lisa Horobin's films "Off the Shelf". You might even meet her dog.

The Children's and Youth teams in the diocese have produced some fantastic resources, click on the links below:

The team have been working hard to adapt many of the church focused resource to being home focused and for parents to use with their children and young people. The best way of keeping up with the new resources and those being adapted is through their Social Media pages, the links for which are below.

Jesus Himself faced cataclysmic threats. Herod was always out to kill him. I love his advice when living under that threat: "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough evil of its own" (Matt 6.34). May our Good Father give His peace and wisdom to parents and children at this time."

Live streaming weekday morning prayer - Ex parishioner, Anne Beverley, now priest at Christ Church, Wesham is providing this on alternate weekdays at 10am. Take part by joining their Facebook group, or by looking at their You tube channel:-

 The videos will be stored there for you to use at any convenient time.

The Church of England is streaming daily services enabling people to link up - just google C of E

They are provided in contemporary and traditional forms. You can do this without an I-pad or computer if you've a Smart speaker such as Alexa or Google home. Just say, "Alexa open the Church of England" OR "Hey Google, talk to the Church of England" and then ask for the daily service.

Television, Radio Schedules will inform of services and programmes offering religious encouragement and Smart-phone Apps will be useful too.

Remember also to use this website.

We are aiming to provide links to many of the items above.

Also the Vicar of our benefice, Rev Philip Chew, intends as far as possible

to post a fresh 'Thought for the day' and a regularly updated prayer.

This page replaces the magazine's usual list of services at St Nicholas and St Matthew's. and underneath is an explanation of plans made to assist our church and community in coping with the restrictions caused by the current emergencies.

"Do not be frightened or dismayed for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

Joshua 1:9


St Nicholas Wrea Green Parish Continuity Plan 

Use of Church

  • Our Churches will remain open as normal for prayer and reflection

Hand Sanitizers to be obtained and placed near to the inner doors

  • There are prayer stations within church with prayers written by specific groups: - Jam, LCF, Men's Breakfast and the weekly prayer rota
  • We will support Fylde Foodbank with donations and possibly offer assistance with the manning
  • Funerals, Baptisms, and Weddings can go ahead but with only immediate family or the minimum required by law. This is subject to review


  • The Web site is updated on a regular basis with news and prayers and words of comfort and encouragement. Links to COE web site and those churches who stream services will be made available
  • Poster/Notices in porch and on the notice board
  • Church bells will be rung each day at 12.00 noon
  • Everyone is invited to place a candle in a window in the home to be lit each Sunday at 7:00pm to show the light of Christ never goes out.
  • A letter will be distributed informing each house what we are doing and how to contact people will be delivered
  • The Easter Cross to be erected on the Green near to church subject to permission from Parish Council
  • The April Parish Magazine will have articles of support for the foodbank and services added or modified.

Pastoral Care

the Church will offer support to Wrea Green Coronovirus Helpers,.

  • As a Church we will continue to offer wherever possible Pastoral care by phone but not necessarily with house visits
  • We will contact all the vulnerable we know and offer help or put them in touch with Wrea Green Coronovirus Helpers. A list has been produced by Stanley Parkinson
  • If possible this same group to offer support in Weeton and Ballam
  • Soundings to be taken to see if we can put the Helpers group in touch with appropriately trained counsellors
  • To encourage people to ask for help if they need it

Social Activities and Use of the Centre

  • Nicholas Bear Club, Wednesday Get Together and Tea and Tea Cakes and other social gatherings have been cancelled.