Coronavirus (Covid-19) guidance
Weddings and Funerals
Update July 6
Following the re-opening of various Church in Wales churches for private prayer from Monday 22 June, the Bishops of the Church in Wales thank all clergy and volunteers who have made such re-opening possible in a responsible and safe manner.
Updated guidance has been received from Welsh Government, so we can now permit the opening of those churches with the resources to manage re-opening safely to do so for funerals and weddings from Monday 6 July. Such events will be subject to strict regulation in respect of numbers, physical distancing and hygiene. The Representative Body has issued further guidance on this available here. We reiterate that what has been given is permission, and that there is no requirement for any church building to be opened, nor should any cleric or church community feel pressured or obliged to open any particular building at this time.
We are actively working with Welsh Government as to when church buildings in Wales may be able to re-open for regular services of public worship and we hope to have an update very soon.
Re-opening Churches guidance
Further Pastoral Guidance from the Bench of Bishops
Effective until further notice
This update guidance is issued in the light of recent amendments to Welsh Government Regulations relating to the re-opening of places of worship for private/personal prayer.
Church buildings: re-opening for private/personal prayer
Welsh Government has announced that places of worship may be re-opened for individuals or households for private (personal) prayer only from Monday 22 June.
- Places of worship cannot actively organise activities such as services and prayers that will encourage people to gather.
- Furthermore, religious activity involving physical contact, speaking in unison, singing or chanting and activities which utilise shared equipment will not be permitted
- A person cannot act as a leader of devotions, a form of service or prayer of any sort
- A Covid-19 risk assessment must be completed by each place of worship before opening.
A cautious approach to re-opening, based firmly on Welsh Government guidance, is essential. What has been announced is the giving of permission. There is no requirement, from Welsh Government or the Bishops of the Church in Wales, to re-open at this time. Any church contemplating re-opening must first undertake a detailed risk assessment. Guidance on what this involves is available here. This includes a template risk assessment form. This will need to be submitted to your Archdeacon (or other nominated person) in advance of any re-opening.
Whilst we all look forward to the day that all our churches can open safely, we urge local churches not to rush reopening. Only consider re-opening if you can do so effectively and safely within the guidelines. Match your opening arrangements to your capacity to address necessary safety measures. Our primary concern must be the health and wellbeing of our clergy, staff, volunteers and visitors.
Use of buildings
The Welsh Government Regulations permit a cleric to record or broadcast a service (without a congregation) from church buildings. Any such events should be held in accordance with diocesan guidelines, or otherwise with the explicit permission of the diocesan Bishop.
The Welsh Government Regulations also permit clergy to visit their churches, and for other church officers and volunteers to visit churches only to undertake a voluntary or charitable duty, where it is not reasonably practicable to undertake that duty from home. Site inspections can be undertaken by clerics, or by another person nominated by the Incumbent, Ministry/Mission Area Leader, Area Dean or Archdeacon. We ask that such visits are kept to a reasonable minimum.
The trustee body responsible for the church building can also now consider allowing contractors and local volunteers to undertake essential and necessary works to their church and churchyard subject to suitable distancing and hygiene arrangements.
The use of church buildings for essential voluntary services (such as existing foodbanks, soup kitchens and homeless shelters) is permitted by the Welsh Government Regulations. Church buildings may also, upon the request of the Welsh Ministers or a local authority, be used to provide urgent public services. All reasonable measures should be taken to ensure that social distancing practices and other hygiene precautions are followed while those services are provided. Any new use of a church building for essential voluntary / public services should be expressly supported by the incumbent or Area Dean and the diocesan bishop.
Church halls must currently remain closed although Welsh Government is considering whether some relaxation may be permitted particularly in relation to nursery school provision. We will update this guidance as soon as this is clear.
Further guidance on the care and use of church buildings is being issued by the officers of the Representative Body. Visit: Covid 19 - Church buildings guidance
Clergy and others duly licensed or commissioned should exercise their ordinary pastoral ministry from a distance, by phone and online. Pastoral visits should only be undertaken where essential; such visits should generally be to the doorstep and social distancing measures must be scrupulously observed. Individual Bishops may issue more detailed advice to their clergy on what they consider to be ‘essential’ visits and may be consulted by clergy in any cases of doubt.
Baptisms cannot currently take place in churches, and can only take place at home, hospital, hospice or other location in case of an extreme pastoral emergency, where baptism may be administered by a lay person. The order for emergency baptism is appended below.
Prayer and witness
The duty of the people of God to witness to Christ is not diminished at this time; neither is our obligation to pray without ceasing for our communities and all in need. We commend all that is being done in God’s service to care pastorally for our communities, and to enable worship, prayer and devotion to continue at home.
We continue to hold all who are anxious, all who are unwell, and all who are grieving in our prayers, asking that the presence of the risen Christ may be near to us all and give us assurance, peace and strength at this painful and anxious time.
An Order for Emergency Baptism
In an emergency, if no ordained minister is available, a lay person may be the minister of baptism. Before baptizing, the minister should ask the name of the infant / person to be baptized. If, for any reason, there is uncertainty as to the infant / person’s name, the baptism can be properly administered without a name (so long as the identity of the person baptized can be duly recorded).
The following form is sufficient:
The minister pours water on the person to be baptized, saying
I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Then all may say the Lord’s Prayer and the Grace.
Any person who has administered baptism privately in an emergency should make a careful record of the date and place of baptism and of the identity of the person baptised. He / she should forward details to the parish priest as soon as possible and without delay.
The parish priest should ensure that the customary record is entered in the baptismal register.
Bench of Bishops Friday 19th June 2020
O God, you know us to be set in the midst of so many and great dangers, that by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright: grant to us such strength and protection as may support us in all dangers and carry us through all temptations; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.The Bench of Bishops The Church in Wales