COVID - 19


For the latest COVID-19 advice and prayer resources, please visit - https://www.churchofengland.org/


Coronavirus Task Update 01/07/2020

Dear Friends,

If you're like the Coronavirus Task Group you'll be feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment! Advice and guidance keep coming in at phenomenal speed! There seems to be endless reading and planning to do. Doubtless there are some robust conversations going on in different churches because of the different reactions that people have to risk and its management. Please...

KEEP THE VISION! Worship is the heart of our lives, our purpose, our duty and our joy. When we can do it safely it will be a delight together again for Word and Sacrament.

BOOK A HOLIDAY! The last few months have been challenging for clergy and church leaders and have required maximum agility. Try and get away at some stage in the Summer. It may be possible to use the Local Networks that have been set within Deaneries to help with cover.

We focus today on some practical issues. Many of you have been asking about re-opening Church Halls and we will issue advice on this soon.

Important Church of England Updated Guidance

There is new and updated guidance on the Church of England Website on a whole variety of areas in response to the Government Guidelines that we circulated yesterday.

  1. Many of you have been asking for an updated risk assessment template, please follow the link to find one which should help in this regard.
  2. Guidance on conducting public worship. This includes how to calculate capacity within social distancing measures and information on what the government guidance says about hygiene and issues such as music and singing.
  3. Guidance on legal questions on conducting public worship. This deals with some of the issues of law around when and how worship re-commences and will be of particular interest to those who are delaying re-starting and to clergy who are shielding.
  4. Guidance on opening cathedral and church buildings. This is a significantly revised version of the previous 'general access' guidance and includes information on welcoming visitors and tourists, as well as on issues such as bell ringing, churchyards, bats and maintenance.

Managing Church Finances as Lockdown Eases

David Barlow, Chair of the Diocesan Board of Finance writes;

When the2020 Parish Share booklet was prepared during Autumn 2019, none of us could have predicted recent events. Although our buildings are gradually reopening for private prayer and also soon for public worship, some churches, particularly those with a high rental or fundraising income have had a significant drop in revenue.

Many parishes have already been proactive in responding and have taken action to review income and outgoings and prepare revised cash flow projections for 2020. We've asked all parishes to make maintaining Parish Share a priority. In his introduction to the 2020 Parish Share booklet Bishop Julian noted that 'as a diocese with minimal historic assets, we can only meet the cost of stipendiary clergy if our people give generously just as Jesus has given so generously to us.'

As we move through this year, we have produced a checklist here of seven stewardship steps all PCC's should be taking to ensure that generosity continues to be encouraged and expressed.

Online Giving

The national church has produced a new animation explaining how to promote online giving. It can be found here.

Looking After Yourself

Many priests and lay leaders have been working under huge pressure in recent months as they adapt quickly to fast-changing circumstances. The guidance we issued at the start of the pandemic in taking care of yourself has been updated and can be found here.

Installing IT Equipment into a Church Building - Grants and Faculties

Many churches are asking what help is available if they want to live stream or move from service books to screens when they restart worship in church. Some helpful things to know are:

  • Grants of up to £2,000 are available from the Financial Assistance Group for equipment that will enable live-streaming or for the installation of projector and screen. Parishes have to find 25% of the cost. The application form can be found here.
  • The installation of WIFI Routers is covered by List A 5 (4)l which also covers installing equipment for card payment systems. If parishes are installing WIFI routers before they apply for List A the DAC needs to see:
  1. A map with a method statement for the route of the cable;
  2. Depth of trench and how it will enter the church building;
  3. A couple of photos to back the application
  4. Up to date electrical inspection report.

When the DAC have checked this then the parishes can go ahead with the List A application.

  • Installation of a projector and screen - if the church is not listed this can be approved under List B (B1 -15). If the building is listed, the Chancellor has indicated he may be willing to grant an interim faculty provided the work has the support of the DAC and the Archdeacon. For further information please contact, Christine Ellis, DAC secretary.

Guidance on Ministry with Children and Young People

If any of you are considering recommencing children's activities in the light of yesterday's note then Stephen Whittaker, our Director of Education, is happy to make himself available for latest and reasoned advice. His email is: stephen.whittaker@blackburn.anglican.org

APCMs and Other Meetings

The advice is that it is still not advisable to hold physical meetings such as PCC's or Clergy Chapters but to keep zooming for a while yet.

There is no need for APCMs to take place until at least the end of October.

Coronavirus Email Address:coronavirus@blackburn.anglican.org.

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.

Yours,

The Coronavirus Task Group

Coronavirus Task Update 30/06/2020


Dear Friends,

Today's briefing contains important information on:

  • Government Guidance on Re-opening Churches for Worship
  • Baptism
  • Forthcoming Webinars
  • Bell-ringing
  • Guidance on Ministry to Children and Young People

The situation in Leicester, where tighter lockdown restrictions have been re-imposed, is a cautionary tale that emerging from the current crisis will not be a one way process. We may be able to re-start worship on Sunday but we must not fall into the trap of thinking that we are back to business as usual. The re-opening of public worship and the greater degree of contact we will have with our people provides an opportunity for us to reinforce messages about the need for safe distancing and good hygiene.

But of course that will not detract from the joy of being able to gather together once again. We are aware that there are many churches who, for very good reasons, are having to delay the re-opening of worship, but it is important to set a direction of travel. To that end we advise parishes who are not starting worship this weekend as follows:

  • Have a plan with target dates and share this on your website, on ACNY and with a notice on the church door.
  • You can always start small for example with a midweek celebration of the Eucharist or with public recitation of the Daily Office (something which has been joyfully rediscovered in many parishes who have streamed or zoomed it during the lockdown).
  • If you can't re-commence public worship by the end of July then Bishop Julian will need to know. You can either email him direct or send a message to the Coronavirus email address.

Government Guidance on Public Worship

The guidance was published on Friday and can be found here.

Please note the following:

  • The words 'should' and 'must' are used very carefully. Should means you are strongly advised. Must means that it has the force of law.
  • The only significant area of difference with our guidance last week involves the use of books or hymnbooks. These can be distributed as long as they are quarantined for 48 hours afterwards.
  • We are awaiting 'guidance on the guidance' from the House of Bishops and will bring this to your attention as soon as we receive it.
  • Remember that the Government has placed churches in a privileged position by allowing us to break the general rules which do not allow more than two households to occupy the same internal space, so it is important to respect the guidance that allows this.

Baptism

Though it calls them 'life cycle ceremonies' the government guidance DOES allow baptism. These are restricted to 30 guests unless they take place within a main act of public worship in which case there is no formal limit except that which the church building allows.

This strikes us as potentially extremely difficult advice to follow, especially if there should be a large baptism party on a Sunday morning. Please use your own wisdom, but our advice would be that for now Baptisms generally take place outside of the main Sunday service. As for a funeral it would be wise to ensure that there is another person such as a sidesperson or volunteer present to assist.

Weddings

We await any further advice on weddings but for now the most recent government advice can be found here.

As a reminder, if you are planning a wedding with a couple and there is not time to read Banns please contact Sam Cheesman at Bishop's House who can direct you to a local surrogate.

Forthcoming Webinars

A discussion on the forthcoming Sunday's gospel reading

led by Bishop Julian

on Wednesday 1st July at 4 pm

To book, please contact Jennie Bentham: secretary@bishopofblackburn.org.uk

A discussion on truth and how we handle it today

led by the Revd Sam Cheesman

on Thursday 2nd July at 10 am

To book, please contact Sam Cheesman: chaplain@bishopofblackburn.org.uk

A follow up question and answer session about working digitally as a church

led by Peter Murden from the Digital Church Toolkit

Thursday 9th July at 3.30 pm

To book, please contact Judith Henderson: Judith.henderson@blackburn.anglican.org

It's a Poor Do - Nurturing our Children during the Holiday -

How churches can get involved in addressing food insecurity

Thursday 9th July at 10 am

Organised by Gill Beeley with Bishop Jill and invited guests who will share practice from across Lancashire

More information from Gill Beeley: gillian.beeley@together-lancashire.org.uk

Bell-Ringing

This is permitted from July 4th. However bells may be rung for no more than 15 minutes and ringers should wear masks and keep social distance which will limit the number of ringers in most towers. Before re-commencing bell-ringing the Incumbents and Wardens should be consulted and a risk assessment conducted.

More advice can be found here:

Guidance on Ministry with Children and Young People from July 4th

Government advice released on 29th June 2020 has the following specific advice regarding Young people and children attending places of worship

  • Young children should be supervised by the parent or guardian. They should wash hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with running water and soap and dry them thoroughly or use hand sanitiser ensuring that all parts of the hands are covered. Places of worship can help remind children and young people, and their parents and guardians, of the important actions they should take during the COVID-19 outbreak to help prevent the spread of the virus. Posters on general hand hygiene can be found on the eBug website.
  • Any shared facilities for children, such as play corners, soft furnishings, soft toys and toys that are hard to clean, should be removed and/or put out of use.
  • Outdoor playgrounds are permitted to open where venue managers risk assess that it is safe to do so, see relevant guidance. Particular attention should be paid to cleaning frequently touched surfaces by children and those that are at child height.
  • Principles in general guidance from the Department for Education should also be followed for any separate children's activities being organised by the place of worship alongside or within a service.

We assume in that in most instances churches will seek to return to public worship as one congregation of all ages as it is one of the best ways to engage with children and young people and as family units can be together allows all to be part of a service together

If you are thinking of running activities in separate rooms from the main act of public worship several practical issues need to be borne in mind that are outlined in the sections below.

However, due to the significant practical challenges to be overcome, our current advice would be for churches not to resume separate Sunday activities whilst the main service is happening.

Advice for churches on children's groups

First and foremost, if churches wish to restart any kind of groups with children and young people face to face it is important to do a thorough documented risk assessmentof the impact on the children and young people and wider congregation. This must be clearly agreed and signed off by the incumbent, if there is one. In the case of a parish in vacancy by the churchwardens.

Currently, there are strong reasons to not engage in face to face sessions, but to continue to use digital media sessions that have been so prevalent over the lockdown period and so the decision to restart groups should be taken carefully.

The guidance is still to reduce larger social connections and whilst gatherings, socially distanced, are permitted, schools are already grouping children into 'pods'. Therefore it would not be wise at this stage to add another grouping as it will potentially increase social connection across a larger cohort of children and therefore increase the risk of transmission.

Some children may not return to schools until September and in these cases, it may be possible to bring a group together without greater risk. This will need to be managed on a case by case basis as each school is engaging differently with their school community and will potentially keep increasing their numbers if it is safe to do so. The evidence suggests that children are unlikely to suffer significantly from the effects of the virus, but the greatest threat continues to be their passing the virus unwittingly to other households.

Sunday School

Whilst technically under the guidance Sunday School could restart in a separate space whilst the main service is happening, there are a number of difficulties that need to be thought through. Churches would need to ensure:

  • The area used is thoroughly cleaned before and after use
  • The space is very well ventilated.
  • Safeguarding ratios are maintained and social distance applied. The combination of the two means that the church would need to manage who has access to different parts of the building to ensure the children and young people don't mix with adults inadvertently (toilet facilities being such a potential problem) and therefore increase the risks of transmission
  • Drop off and collection systems ensure that there is no potential for social distancing rules to be compromised.

Therefore, given these challenges, our current advice would be for churches not to resume separate Sunday activities whilst the service is on.

Mid-week youth groups/children's groups

It is only possible for churches to resume groups that meet midweek if they are in the category of public worship. Even then caution is needed in the implementation of these sessions. At present, there is still the risk that face to face sessions will increase social contact to a level that is not in line with the government guidance (as stated above), but there may be circumstances where this is possible and beneficial. The following issues will need to be addressed before running a session.

  • A clear and documented risk assessment should be undertaken and approved by an appropriate officer of the church
  • Cleaning regimes should be thorough and in line with government guidance and the meeting space needs excellent ventilation.
  • Social distance should be preserved, and children/young people therefore need to be able to understand this and play their part in compliance
  • Games and activities need to minimise social contact
  • Leaders should be mindful of any underlying health conditions of those who work with children and young people
  • Safeguarding ratios must be adhered to

More generally, churches should be aware that for many as they return to face to face meetings, concerns and worries about the virus and its impact on their families and themselves may be at the fore. Sessions should be geared to allow conversation and support to young people and should be mindful of the potential trauma that children and young people may have been exposed to. In turn, it is possible that there may be more disclosures of a safeguarding nature in conversations with leaders and all leaders need to be reminded of the need to discuss with their church safeguarding officer and Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser.

Messy Church

The features of messy church, such as sharing a meal, mean that it would not be appropriate to undertake this kind of service even with reduced numbers and therefore this is not advised at this stage.

Fundamentally the best advice is to plan carefully and move cautiously into wider opening of churches and to the restarting of groups for children and young people. Risks need to be assessed and sensible precautions taken. All are anxious to restart this vital ministry with our young, but it is better to start later and well than to rush into a gathering that raises risks for the church and wider community.

Briefings this week will appear tomorrow (addressing practical issues) and Thursday. You can be in touch via Coronavirus Email Address:coronavirus@blackburn.anglican.org.

Please email if you are off work or self-isolating.

And finally...

If you are missing live music, try out these wonderful 'Keyboard from Home' videos from John Robinson, Director of Music at Blackburn Cathedral:

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.

Yours,

The Coronavirus Task Group



Coronavirus Task Group Update 25/06/2020


Dear Friends,

Most parishes will still be absorbing the news about the re-commencement of worship and it has been good to hear some of the imaginative plans that are being put into place around the Diocese. For many Sunday July 5th will be an occasion of great joy.

However it should be emphasised once again that every context is different. Those with large congregations, very small buildings or a weak volunteer base will need to think carefully and may not be able to offer public worship at this stage. Bishop Julian has indicated that he will exercise leniency should an approach have to be made to him for public worship to be suspended for a while longer. This is not a competition! Do what is wise locally and trust your judgement.

Please keep in your prayers this weekend those who were to have been ordained to the priesthood or the diaconate this Petertide. Our briefing today carries a reflection from one of these ordinands, Matt Guilder.

Online Worship this Sunday

  • 9am Live from the Diocese of Blackburn is led this week by Bishop Julian. It can be viewed from 9am on Sunday onwards on the Diocesan YouTube channel. The service will be accomompanied with British Sign Language throughout.
  • Worship is also available from 9am on the Cathedral YouTube channl.

Baptism

We still do not yet know what the guidance is going to be on baptism. We will bring you this update as soon as possible, even if it means an additional briefing.

Confirmations

The nature of Confirmation Services in our Diocese means that it is still not safe for them to re-commence at present. Confirmations in July and August have therefore been cancelled. We will bring you news of future developments over the next few days.

Facemasks in the Eucharist

A number of people have expressed concern about celebrating the Eucharist whilst wearing a face mask. The risk of infection if a priest has sung or spoken over the exposed Eucharistic elements which are then distributed is obvious. However if the hosts which are to be distributed to the people are kept in a sealed ciborium or other seemly container then it is perfectly safe to celebrate without a mask. Any elements which are exposed (the chalice and the priest's host) must be consumed by the celebrant.

The Briefing and the Coronavirus Email Address

We are still awaiting the Government guidelines on worship and if necessary we will put out an additional briefing when they appear. Otherwise we will be back on Monday.

Drop us a line if you have any questions:coronavirus@blackburn.anglican.org.

Please email if you are off work or self-isolating.

Talking about Evangelism as we come out of Lockdown

The Leading Your Church Into Growth Team have produced a very helpful 7 step guide here for churches considering how they can continue to be witnesses as we move out of lockdown into a 'new normal'.

Youthscape

Are you thinking about the shape of your youth ministry after the pandemic?

Our very own Rachel Gardner who works with Youthscape is hosting a 24 hour online event via the Youthscape Facebook and YouTube channel from July 16-17. It's free! The aim is to create space for youth workers and all those involved in church youth ministry to listen to God and to cast vision for youth ministry in a COVID19 world. More details on the webpage which is here.

News and Activities from the Diocesan Board of Education Team

You've Got the Power Holiday Club Activity eBook

This activity eBook is a fully downloadable purchase. It contains 6 weeks' worth of activities for children to complete so they can earn 6 special badges. You've Got the Power follows 6 incredible children in the Bible, and through fun activities and challenges we can learn what they did, discover new skills for ourselves and celebrate that we've all got the power to do amazing things for God no matter what our age. To earn each badge there will be a food activity, a science activity with its own prediction sheet, outdoor activity, creative, getting active and so much more. Each week comes with a handy cheat sheet for the responsible grown up which includes fun facts, exclusive how to videos and special Pinterest boards full of inspiration. At £6 for the whole product, that's only £1 per week of the holidays! This could be a great gift to your families who are in transition from primary to secondary if you're not able to give them a physical gift.

https://www.bdeducation.org.uk/product/youve-got-the-power-holiday-club-ebook/

£6

Indoor and Outdoor Summer Activity sheets

These are downloadable activity sheets for families to complete in what ever order they'd like. Each sheet contains 10 activities, that's 10 for outdoor and 10 for indoor. Creating memories and sharing our faith together at home. How many can they complete?

https://www.bdeducation.org.uk/product/indoor-summer/

https://www.bdeducation.org.uk/product/outdoor-summer/

Free

Weekly@ We're All in This Together Home Version

We always have a Weekly@ Summer special (last year we had Summer Explorers which is a forest church special, still available to download) and this year we've created a special at Home version which has adapted the parish version for families to be able to use at home. Filled with devotionals, activities, songs, games and more.

https://www.bdeducation.org.uk/product/weekly-summer-were-all-in-this-together/

Free

Black Lives Matter

Herrick Daniel, a retire priest in the Diocese, has been campaigning against racism throughout much of his ministry. He has written a powerful reflection on the Black lives Matter movement which can be found here.

A Reflection from Matt Guilder

Along with others, Matt was due to be ordained Deacon on Saturday to serve his Title at St Thomas' Lancaster.

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!

All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 36, 7

So, as you are reading this the 2020 deacons and priests should have been on retreat. Taking time to prepare and focus on the journey so far and look to the ministry which God has for them in the future. But like everything over the last three months Covid19 has put a halt on proceedings. The joke at college was you would chat about ordination and end the sentence with 'God and the Bishop willing'. None of us could predict in this turn of events.

It would be possible to write of disappointment, of missed rites of passage; leaving college without the fanfare over the leaving party. Moving to a new house without the hugs with our neighbours or the community in which you've lived with and arriving at what is much more than arm's length. Not sure how to interact with the neighbours who are shielding. The disappointment of moving schools without a goodbye for some of the children and perhaps not being able to start at the new school either. The disappointment of the vast amount of money spent on robes which currently lie dormant in a wardrobe.

Today I will attend my uncle's funeral he died of Covid 19. My rite of passage disappointment feels insignificant in comparison, our three years of training, our setting up house all a little bit uncomfortable. My uncle loved Jesus and believed in raising up good leaders in the church. His wife a minister, his three children and six grandchildren. A week before he died I led the funeral for my grandmother under Covid restrictions, I couldn't hold the hand of my Dad or Granddad as the wept.

We all have stories like this I am sure and yet one thing remains God's steadfast love! Let us cling to his steadfast love. When the time is right we will become that which God has called us to be. Until then let us continue to praise him because he invited us to do that first.

I found this song by Rend Collective so helpful during the pandemic.

"When the enemy says I'm done, I'll lift my praises
When my world come crashing down I'll lift my praises high
'Til the darkness turns to dawn I'll lift my praises
I choose to worship, I choose You now"

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.

Yours,

The Coronavirus Task Group



Coronavirus Task Group Update 24/06/2020


Dear Friends,

As expected the Prime Minister announced yesterday that we can re-commence worship from July 4th and this briefing will focus on that development. There will also be information on:

  • Weddings
  • Giving
  • Meetings and gatherings

Our Weekly Message features Archdeacon Mark Ireland and it can be found here.

Re-commencing Public Worship

For many it will be an absolute joy that once again we can gather with our people to worship God from July 4th and we have no doubt that many of you will have been planning for this for some time. At the same time, we acknowledge that not every church will be able to offer worship from that date and that we have some clergy who will not be able to lead worship because they are shielding. Many of our people will be fearful or bereft, and our nation is still living through a time of risk because the virus will be a major factor in our lives for months or even years to come.

The Government is still to release its advice and we will bring this to your attention as soon as it is available. However indications are that it will include the following, so please pay very close attention to each of these points:

  • Churches may open for worship from July 4th as long as they are COVID safe.
  • There is no restriction on numbers for worship other than the restrictions needed to maintain safe social distancing
  • People must maintain social distance. This should be 2 metres where possible. If it can only be one metre (plus) then consideration should be given to asking people to wear face masks or other such measures to mitigate the increased risk of transmission.
  • Where possible there should be different ways in and ways out of the church building.
  • There should be hand hygiene points at the entrance and the exit with clear signs to ask people to use it.
  • Books and re-usable Orders of Service should not be handed out. Single use service sheets may be given out as long as they are then taken away by the person using it. They must NOT be given out by a sidesperson but collected by each individual as they enter.
  • There cannot be any congregational or choral singing. It is permissible to have a single cantor and organist. There may be instrumentalists but no wind or brass instruments. Please watch out for more advice on music as this may be updated over the next few weeks.
  • There is to be no food or drink, 'except that which is central to worship.'
  • The Government will give guidance on Holy Communion which is likely to say:
    • There should be no common cup and no exchanging of the Peace.
    • The celebrant should wear a facemask 'when speaking or singing over food' - ie during the Eucharistic Prayer.
    • Hands should be washed carefully at the offertory and again before the administration of communion.
    • Communion should be received in the hands with arms outstretched
  • Cash poses a risk of infection. Ideally as many people as possible would switch to standing order, but if cash collections are taken they should be left somewhere secure for 72 hours in a sealed bag or box before counting. This may be a time to look into contactless card giving.
  • The advice will be that services should be kept short and the people should be discouraged from remaining in the building for any significant time afterwards.
  • If you are holding multiple services on the same day, there will need to be cleaning after each one. If you have a number of spaces, chapels or halls an option might be to have different acts of worship in different places.
  • Records of those who attend will need to be kept for test and trace purposes. Good practice suggests that this will also include people who come into the church to clean etc. We are awaiting guidance on the GDPR implications of this.

The lifting of the prohibition on worship brings to an end the legal dispensation concerning the obligation to offer Sunday worship within each Benefice and this canonical duty will therefore return from July 4th. If you are not able or ready to offer worship for a few weeks from that date, then for a short period of time the Incumbent and the PCC can agree a local dispensation. Application will need to be made to the Diocesan Bishop for this to be extended beyond a few weeks. Clergy who are shielding should also make contact with Bishop's House.

You can read a statement from the Church of England here.

And you can read a message from the Archbishop of Canterbury here.

Weddings

It is possible to have weddings from July 4th. The maximum number who may attend is 30 and please note that this number includes the priest, the verger, the organist, the photographer etc.

Meetings and Gatherings

The regulations still state that only two households may meet together indoors and only in certain circumstances, so it is still not possible to hold PCCs, APCMs, Nurture Groups etc except online. Groups of up to six may meet outdoors.

Giving and Finances

The Chair of the DBF, David Barlow, writes:

In these challenging times we place our hope in the Risen Christ, as we continue to focus on sustainability, growth and all the aims of Vision 2026.

In recognising the financial challenges facing the Diocesan Board of Finance, we would like to thank all the parishes who have prioritised maintaining their contributions to parish share over the past three months.

We do understand the financial pressure parishes are under, as are we as a Board of Finance, and non-stipendiary diocesan expenditure has been significantly reduced over the past three months. However, just as some parishes have been using their reserves to fund their parish share contributions, we have been drawing on diocesan reserves and this may not be sustainable over the medium term.

Please be assured that we are in regular discussion with the national church as to what assistance they may be able to provide. We pray that the re-opening of our buildings for both private prayer and for public worship will also help the finances of parishes that rely on collection plate cash donations.

NB Archdeacon Mark's film referred to above also relates to giving and should be a useful resource for parishes.

Tomorrow's briefing will contain advice and ideas relating to youth and children's ministry as well as much else. Meanwhile you can get in touch via the Coronavirus Email Address:coronavirus@blackburn.anglican.org.

Please email if you are off work or self-isolating.

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.

Yours,

The Coronavirus Task Group



Coronavirus Task Group Update 22/06/2020


Dear Friends,

It's rare that the Governor of the Bank of England quotes Lenin on the radio, but that was just what happened this morning, and the quotation was an apposite one. 'Sometimes nothing happens for decades. Sometimes decades happen in a week.' Living through this crisis takes extreme agility and the capacity to adapt to swiftly changing circumstances. As the Diocesan Secretary said this morning, we need to be like five of the ten virgins in Matthew 25. Be ready, be wise, don't do anything foolish.

This will be particularly the case this week as we await a big announcement tomorrow and the possible resumption of public worship in our churches.

Today's briefing carries guidance and information on the following areas:

  • Re-commencing public worship
  • Weddings
  • Cafes and catering operations
  • Funeral Fees
  • Webinars

Re-commencing Public Worship

Whilst being able to worship with others again is joyful news, this is not a resumption of business as usual.

  • Please think through very carefully what sort of pattern of worship you are able to offer and how.
  • Refer closely to the relevant guidance: the Buildings Checklist and the advice on Holy Communion and Funerals.
  • Keep reading this briefing and listening out for announcements as there may be important news such as a maximum total number permitted in a church at any one time.
  • There will be no singing at first and no refreshments or hospitality before or after worship
  • If you have learnt to broadcast worship online, don't stop! You have found a new fringe.
  • We will issue advice on ministry to children and young people later in the week
  • Don't forget - the Police will not hesitate to re-close church buildings if they find churches that are flouting the regulations.

Weddings

We have received a number of questions about weddings and understand the pressure clergy are under from couples who, quite reasonably, are growing increasingly anxious over their wedding plans. At present we still do not know when weddings will be allowed to take place. We have been doing a lot of work in the background to make sure that the process can be as quick and easy as possible for you once we are allowed to progress. We will work in 3 categories as below:

Category one - those who, for medical reasons or other factors wish to get married as soon as is physically possible once weddings are permitted. For these couples the Revd Sam Cheesman, Bishop's Chaplain, will attend as surrogate with a ready prepared common licence which can be issued as soon as the affidavit is sworn in his presence. This will allow the wedding to take place immediately.

Category two - those who wish to marry 10 days or more after weddings are permitted, up to 6 weeks after public worship is permitted. As banns will not be possible to prepare and read in this time a common licence will be needed and can be prepared in the normal way with the couple attending a surrogate and then the Diocesan Registry issuing the licence. With regards to the couples attending surrogates, please contact Sam Cheesman who can assist in arranging these appointments.

Category three - those who wish to marry more than 6 weeks after public worship is permitted and is planned to take place in the parish where the wedding is to take place. Please attend to these as usual through the reading of banns. If banns are to be read in more than one parish please check that the other parish is also open for public worship as it is possible that different churches and different diocese may have divergent policies regarding opening for worship. If banns cannot be read, a common license must still be used.

For couples in categories one and two above, the Diocesan Registry has agreed to reduce their fee for preparing the common licences and the Chancellor has agreed to waive the fee payable to him on issue of such licences, which is much appreciated. Taking this into account please prepare couples to have to pay £152 for the licence- £100 payable to the Diocesan Registry and £52 payable to the surrogate. The couples will also need to prepare for meeting a surrogate by gathering a number of documents together (these include ID documents, proof of address and evidence of qualifying connection). They can start to do this now in advance. Any licence issued will be valid for three months from the date of issue and if the wedding does not take place within these three months then a new licence would need to be applied for.

If you have any further questions, please call Sam at Bishop's House 01254 248234.

Cafes and Catering Operations

  • Churches that run cafes or catering operations that are open to the general public should follow government guidance before re-opening.
  • Many churches who offer food to families or vulnerable adults have adapted a takeaway method in recent weeks. It may be wise to retain this way of working until a very careful risk assessment has been made.

Funeral Fees

Clergy received a letter last week stating that the DBF has decided that we will cease to waive funeral fees from July 4th.

Webinars this Week

Multiply 2020: Church Multiplication Conference Thursday 25th June, 9 am to 5 pm

The Gregory Centre for Church Multiplication are offering leaders and planters and their teams the opportunity to explore the big picture and the detail of the church planting journey and make it as practical as possible. Speakers include: John Tyson, Jo Saxton, Archbishop Justin Welby, Archbishop of York designate Stephen Cottrell, Alan Hirsch, Ness Wilson and Fr James Mallon.

Ticket prices: individual - £25; group ticket for team of 10 - £75; ordinand/student - £10.

More details from: @gregorycentreCX on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter or email at: infor@ccx.org.uk or https://www.multiply2020.com/

Supporting vulnerable children and children with additional needs in lockdown and beyond.

Wednesday 24th June, 1 pm to 3 pm

Led by Lynn McCann, a specialist teacher and writer of a blog, 'Included by Grace' and Rachel Harris, Children and Families Worker at Buckshaw Village church. For more information and to book go to: www.reachoutasc.com

Webinars from the Church of England Digital Team

In the coming week, the following are being provided:

  • Five ways to keep your church connected: Tuesday 23rd June, 10 am
  • Receiving online donations: Tuesday 23rd June, 12 noon
  • Making the most of Zoom: Wednesday 24th June, 12.30 pm
  • Facebook pages for churches: Thursday 25th June, 10 am

More information on these webinars and others can be found here.

Briefings this Week

We will be writing out on Wednesday and Thursday this week. Meanwhile the Coronavirus Email Address is constantly monitored:coronavirus@blackburn.anglican.org.

Please email if you are off work or self-isolating.

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.

Yours,

The Coronavirus Task Group



Coronavirus Task Group Update 18/06/2020


Dear Friends,

There is a growing mood of impatience across the nation and within many churches as we wait to 'get back to normal.' At the same time international news such as new outbreaks in China and New Zealand demonstrate to us very clearly that the pandemic still has a long way to run and we cannot rush the processes put in place to contain it.

For many of us part of that impatience is our desire for public worship. It is likely once again that, when permission is granted, it will be at very short notice which is why parishes need to be drawing up plans now This should include not just the logistics but also the style and content of worship which is why we include in this briefing some guidance about music and singing. We also include a reflection, this time by The Revd Martin Duerden.

Worship This Sunday

  • 9am Live from the Diocese of Blackburn will be led by Bishop Philip, assisted in word and song by some of the boy and girl choristers from Blackburn Cathedral and by musicians from St Andrew's, Leyland. It can be seen from 9am onwards on the Diocesan YouTube Channel which is here.
  • There will also be worship from Blackburn Cathedral led by the Cathedral clergy. This can be seen on the Cathedral YouTube channel which is here.

The Coronavirus Briefing and Email Address

Barring dramatic developments this is the final briefing of the week and we will be back on Monday. Any questions or problems, drop us a line: coronavirus@blackburn.anglican.org.

Please email if you are off work or self-isolating.

Safeguarding - PCR2

Parish returns. There are still a number of parish returns outstanding and it is a matter of utmost importance that these are completed and returned to the PCR2 email address ASAP pcr2@blackburn.anglican.org. Parishes have been offered help to complete their returns by the Bishop's Chaplain and the Area Deans. Further work to encourage the returns and to offer help has been agreed with a final deadline for returns by 29 June, this will include the involvement of Area Deans to help vacant parishes. One key thing to remember is that a separate return must be completed for all churches in a benefice, and the forms which were sent out must be used. An email reply is not sufficient. All of what is necessary to know and all resources can be found here.

Commencement of the review. The review of the blue files at Bishop's House by the Independent Reviewer is due to commence on 1 July and it is important to have all the parish returns back by then.

Music in Church

We have had an increasing number of enquiries about music and signing in church. Below is our current local advice. Please note this is an area around which there is ongoing scientific research and it could be that the advice here changes over the next weeks. If so we will draw it to your attention.

Singing in Church. To be able to sing as part of worship is as old as worship itself. Like so many aspects of our lives the presence of COVID-19 has seriously impacted on what we long to be able to do. We have to balance the joy and affirmation of being able to sing with others with the risk of transmitting the virus to others in doing so. There continues to be significant debate about the accounts of "choir singing related" outbreaks around the world but there remains a theoretical risk associated with singing which appears to be greater than the risk of transmission from speaking.

The reason singing is a risk for virus transmission is that droplets of saliva can spray from someone's mouth, and those droplets can be made out of the mucus that coats the lungs and larynx and could contain virus particles if someone is infected. What is unclear is how far those droplets may be projected when singing (as opposed to speaking) and what, if anything about the singing, might influence the extent of that spread. In addition, we are more likely to cough when we sing and strain our voices, increasing further the risk of spreading the virus.

This makes it hard to know how risky it is to allow a choir, music group or the wider congregation to sing in church and what the risk may be for those listening in an enclosed building. The least risky option is not to allow singing in places where people from more than one household gather. However, others would argue that the risk can be managed by scrupulous social distancing, excellent hand hygiene, scrupulous cleaning of all hard surfaces and individuals acting responsibly if they have symptoms or fall into a category who should self-isolate. Wearing a non-surgical, unfitted face mask does not protect individuals from inhaling viral particles. Wearing a mask whilst singing will reduce the number of viral particles shed by the singer but it is incredibly difficult to do comfortably.

Whilst there is no vaccine and COVID-19 continues to be prevalent in the community if singing, as part of a service is to allowed, then it must be assessed as an essential part of an act of worship and can only be undertaken following a scrupulous and honest risk assessment for all those taking part in that act of worship.

Music groups. At the moment the government guidance is clear that people from different households cannot meet in a building for any length of time even if they are socially distancing, other than as part of paid employment when they cannot work from home or to shop. So, at the moment, music groups cannot meet either in church or in each other's homes to rehearse or record music for services.

Once members of different households are allowed to meet indoors then music groups may meet to rehearse and record music whilst maintaining appropriate social distancing, excellent hand hygiene and appropriate cleaning or instruments and the place they meet. Music groups should undertake a comprehensive risk assessment around their personal vulnerability as well as the risk associated with the instruments they play. All wind and brass instruments should not be played in shared spaces due to the risk of droplet spread.

Due to the time that a music group will spend with each other in an enclosed space, without personal protective equipment, if one of the group develops symptoms all of the group will have to self-isolate and follow appropriate guidance around testing. It may be appropriate to consider a smaller music group, using those instruments with the most versatility such as a keyboard to reduce risk.

Organs and organists. Currently organists may go into a church building to play the organ to keep it functioning. In doing so they should follow social distancing and hand hygiene guidelines and wipe down the key board and other surfaces once they have completed their session. The maintenance of the organ may happen during a time when the church building is open for private prayer as long as the number of people in the church does not exceed the number agreed in the building's risk assessment.

It is anticipated that there will be national guidance around the conduct of public worship including the role of choirs, music groups and organists in the near future.

Bishop's Harvest Appeal 2019 - A note from Arton Medd (former WDG secretary)

The lockdown has delayed declaration of and the sending out of the proceeds from the Bishop's Harvest Appeal 2019. However I am pleased to report that the appeal raised an excellent total of £23,789.11. This brings the amount raised since the appeals began in 1996 to over £575,500 for some of the world's poorest people in 26 countries.

Almost all appeals have been concerned with helping local people to improve their food provision reliability, or their water supplies for drinking or for agriculture. The natural environments have ranged from the Amazon Rain Forest to semi-arid areas in Mali, and the beneficiaries last year were Christian Aid and Friends of Malawi Orphans.

On behalf of the former World Development Group which has historically organised the appeals, I wish to thank all churches, schools and individuals who have contributed so generously to them.

A Reflection

The Revd Martin Duerden is Vicar if St Peter's Salesbury. He was due to retire this Summer but has had to defer because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Here he reflects on the need to go on trusting God through all the changes and contingencies of life.

When I was at theological college, 33 years ago, I was given a verse from God's Word, by a fellow student. That verse 1 Thessalonians 5: 24 has stayed with me ever since and has proved to be important to me both personally and throughout my ministry: "The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it."

As believers we depend upon God for our salvation and sanctification. Verse 24 reminds us that this is rooted in God's faithfulness and, therefore, we can depend upon it. God is in control of history, including our lives. He has called believers to follow Him

God has started something in our lives. Let us not dampen the work of the Spirit. Let us keep going in the strength and power of God the Holy Spirit so, when he returns, God the Son can present us as blameless to God the Father.

On his deathbed, British preacher Charles Simeon smiled brightly and asked the people gathered in his room, "What do you think especially gives me comfort at this time?" When they all remained silent, he exclaimed, "The creation! I ask myself, 'Did Jehovah create the world or did I?' He did! Now if He made the world and all the rolling spheres of the universe, He certainly can take care of me. Into Jesus' hands I can safely commit my spirit!"

Hudson Taylor, founder of China Inland Mission, in the closing months of his life said to a friend, "I am so weak. I can't read my Bible. I can't even pray. I can only lie still in God's arms like a little child and trust."

We are called to trust Him and let Him do the rest.

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.

Yours,

The Coronavirus Task Group



Coronavirus Task Group Update 15/06/2020


Dear Friends,

Early this morning Bishop Julian entered Blackburn Cathedral to pray privately for our county and its churches and schools, a sign that some of our church buildings are once again open for private prayer. Today also non-essential shops have been able to open, you can go to the zoo and later this week Premier League football will return. Many single people enjoyed seeing family and friends with whom they had formed 'bubbles' over the weekend.

Whilst many will welcome the slow return of the things they enjoy, there is a risk that the nation starts to think that the crisis is behind us and returns to pre-pandemic patterns of behaviour. But we still have a very long way to go, especially here in the Northwest where there are still some very badly effected communities and where test and trace is not yet operating smoothly. Patience and determination are still important messages to communicate to the people we serve.

This Week's Webinars

Two not-to-miss webinars await you attention this week.

  • First we are thrilled that Canon Robin Gamble who leads the national 'Leading your Church into Growth' team will be leading a webinar on Thursday (June 18th) from 2pm until 4pm. The theme will be 'Evangelism in a time of lockdown' and you can book my emailing Judith.henderson@blackburn.anglican.org
  • Second Bishop Julian's will lead a discussion on Sunday's Gospel reading (Matthew 10, 24-39). This will be at 15:30 on Wednesday the 17th June. To book email secretary@bishopofblackbun.org.uk

Government Advice on Church Buildings

The long-awaited government advice on opening places of worship was published at the end of last week. It does not add greatly to the advice and guidance that has already been handed out but those of you who take particular delight in reading government documents can find it here.

Ready for Step 3?

The buildings checklist that we issued to parishes some weeks ago is here. It is possible that we may be able to re-start worship from July and so our advice would be that parishes start to make plans for that now. The checklist will take you through the steps that are required and should be read in conjunction with the advice on Holy Communion which is here.

Over 70's and Vulnerable Groups

There have been some questions on the coronavirus email about those aged over 70 and what they can and cannot do with regard to volunteering, leading services etc. Those aged over 70 are considered to be a more vulnerable group and the general advice to them is that they stay at home as much as possible and minimise contact with others when out and about.

However this is not a hard and fast rule and in making decisions individuals need to consider the importance of the activity and their own health and wellbeing. It is an area where judgement and responsibility are required.

This of course does not apply to those who for health reasons have been asked to shield, whatever their age may be. We are especially aware of the frustrations faced by clergy who have been asked to shield.

Briefings this Week

We will have briefings for you this week on Wednesday (which will focus on more practical issues) and Thursday.

The Coronavirus Email Address

Any questions or problems, drop us a line: coronavirus@blackburn.anglican.org.

Please email if you are off work or self-isolating.

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.

Yours,

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

Sandy

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xY6_fCoYJFQ



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:

https://www.bdeducation.org.uk/product-category/under-5s/

https://www.bdeducation.org.uk/product-category/primary-age-5-11/

https://www.bdeducation.org.uk/product-category/secondary-age/

https://www.bdeducation.org.uk/podcasts/

https://www.bdeducation.org.uk/product/podlets-discussion-notes/

https://www.bdeducation.org.uk/youth/youth-blog/

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.

https://www.facebook.com/BDBEupdates/

https://twitter.com/BDBofE

https://www.instagram.com/bdbofe/

https://www.youtube.com/user/blackburndiocese

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:-

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCigVOWiV6aVxsXllWtJ7cGQ

 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

Communication

  • The Web site www.stnicholaschurchwreagreen.com 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.