FURTHER PASTORAL GUIDANCE FROM THE BENCH OF BISHOPS OF THE CHURCH IN WALES
DATED 24th MARCH 2020, EFFECTIVE UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
The Prime Minister has told us all that, in order to slow the spread of coronavirus at this critical time, we must stay at home other than for very limited purposes about which helpful guidance has been given.
We may go outside:
If leaving home:
We know that our churches have always been places of sanctuary, peace and wellbeing. However, it is now clear that health and healing are best served by church buildings being closed. All church buildings should therefore be closed until further notice. This means churches should not be open for solitary prayer. Any exception from this action (other than as noted below) should only take place with the diocesan bishop’s express permission.
Where worship is to be broadcast or recorded, it is preferable to do so from home. Clergy who live immediately adjacent to churches may do so from the church, but the doors should be locked and others should not be invited to be present.
An exception may be made, if necessary, to open church buildings to host existing foodbanks, soup kitchens and homeless shelters. However, these church buildings should be open for this purpose alone, and all appropriate hygiene precautions should be taken.
Clergy and others duly licensed or commissioned should exercise their pastoral ministry from a distance, by phone and online. Pastoral visits should only be undertaken because of an extreme pastoral emergency when the presence of a priest or deacon is exceptionally required. Bishops are able to give advice on what might constitute an extreme pastoral emergency
No funeral services can take place in church. Graveside funerals should now be understood to be private funerals with no more than ten immediate family and friends in attendance, and with social distancing practised among mourners not of the same household. Clergy and others duly licensed may preside at funerals in crematoria, at which we expect numbers to be strictly limited by the crematoria authorities, with hygiene precautions specified by the authorities, and with social distancing practised among mourners.
Marriages or marriage blessings can no longer take place in churches. If a couple wish to marry because of an extreme pastoral emergency, it may be possible to obtain an Archbishop of Canterbury’s Special Licence, and clergy should discuss the matter with their diocesan bishop before then contacting the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Faculty Office at email@example.com.
Baptisms can no longer take place in churches, and should 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.
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.
Bishop June wrote that we were all living in difficult and unsettling times, and she wanted to write to everyone so I would encourage you to read her words. We are all unsettled by Covid 19 and Bishop June wanted to reassure us that everything that could be done is being done and assured us that we will continue to be a prayerful presence in our communities. The diocese is putting together a range of resources to support everyone at this time so please check them out, here https://llandaff.churchinwales.org.uk/news/2020/03/covid-19-staying-at-home-resources/
To protect us all, and see an end to this virus as soon as possible; we are all following professional medical advice. Sadly this means there will not be a public service this Sunday, or for the foreseeable future. That does not mean that churches are in any way “going out of business”. The work of prayer continues, in St Illtud’s church, and the Rectoral Benefice of Llantrisant (of which we are an integral part), you, as part of the former Parish of Llantwit Fardre, are being prayed for on a regular basis. If you hear the Church Bell ringing, please do not come in or expect a service; all public Services have ceased, to protect everyone, in line with Medical advice. If you hear the bell it is there as a reminder that the church is still there, and the Community is still in the hands of God; and under his love and protection.
However it is the intention (on a trial basis) to open St Illtud’s Church (building) on Sunday between 11-30 am and 12-30pm for private prayer only. You can also light a candle, as a symbol of your prayer. But there will not be any public worship or gathering, until we are instructed otherwise. If you do come, please respect all the current guidance regarding social distancing.
In the meantime pray for each other, as I will continue to do. If you are in need of anything, please reach out to someone as we are all here to support each other through this.
Cytun have organised a Covid-19 Call to Prayer and Action this Sunday at 7pm, when you are all encouraged to light a candle and place it in your window, so please join me in taking part in this.
A Prayer of St Patrick
Christ be with me, Christ within me
Christ behind me, Christ before me
Christ beside me, Christ to win me
Christ to comfort me and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger
Christ in hearts of all that love me
Christ in mouth of friend or stranger.
Pastoral Declaration of the Bench of Bishops of the Church in Wales (17th March 2020)
At such a time as this, and during this holy season of Lent, we are mindful of the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for his sheep. We are holding 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, wherever we may be, throughout the difficult months ahead.
We are issuing this pastoral declaration in light of new governmental advice on Coronavirus (COVID-19). On the evening of Monday 16 March 2020 the Prime Minister advised that all non-essential social contact and all unnecessary travel should cease. During questions in the House of Commons the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care confirmed that the guidance relating to non-essential social contact includes faith groups and religious gatherings.
All church services and gatherings for public worship should no longer take place. This includes regular Sunday services and weekday services, as well as occasional offices (save as set out below). Study groups and other parochial events that gather people together should also no longer take place. We are awaiting further information from the government, which will help us all to measure and reflect upon the gravity and potential duration of this cessation. However, given the information we have available to us at present, the ceasing of public worship and gathering is the prudent course of action.
Vestry Meetings should not take place for the time being. Detailed guidance will follow as soon as possible.
Baptism is the Church’s hope-filled sign and seal of new birth in Christ. It is vital that baptism continues to be offered to all. Given the guidance on cancellation of public worship, baptisms will no longer take place in the context of regular worship. Baptisms should take place in the presence of no more than ten people (the minister, the candidate and up to eight others including parents/guardians and godparents).
For infant baptism it is preferable that the candidate be held by their parent/guardian rather than the minister. Where available a baptismal shell should be used to pour water. Full immersion baptism should not be used.
Unless the government changes the law, the common law right of parishioners and those with a qualifying connection to be married in a parish church remains. However, the date, time and other arrangements are, legally speaking, for the minister to determine. Weddings scheduled until 31 July 2020 should be postponed and any fees already paid refunded. Couples with a later wedding date should be free to cancel/rearrange without financial penalty.
If for pressing pastoral reasons a wedding must take place, it should be solemnized with a maximum of ten persons present (the couple, the minister, two witnesses and up to five others).
In the absence of a principal Sunday service, banns of marriage cannot be called. Any weddings which must go ahead (and for which Banns have not already been completed) would need to proceed by Common Licence.
Some couples (for example those with wedding insurance) may need a letter from the parish informing them that their wedding ‘as arranged’ cannot proceed at this time.
Our guidance relating to the ceasing of public worship applies to funerals in church.
Clergy may continue to take a funeral service at the graveside (in accordance with their common law duty to bury the dead of their Parish) and at crematoria (adhering to such guidance as the crematorium authority may give).
Once the wider situation makes it safe so to do, the bereaved should be offered opportunities for remembering their loved ones in church at a future date.
We are postponing all confirmation services scheduled between now and 1 June 2020 across the province. Dates subsequent to that will remain under review and updates will be provided periodical
Given that there are no public services of Ordination in the Province scheduled until June, we will consider the position on such services in due course. Please keep all candidates for ordained ministry in your prayers at this time.
We are clear that the duty of the Church to speak in the name of God, and to interpret the gospel of salvation continues at all times and in all places. Our obligation to pray without ceasing is paramount at this time, and we have been encouraged by the ways over recent weeks in which church communities have been enabling their members to sustain a life of prayer and devotion when gathering for worship has been difficult or impossible. These efforts should continue and intensify. Our church buildings can be kept open as places of prayer and contemplation – but notices should be in place about the washing of hands and the maintaining of social distance.
As the clergy and people of the Church in Wales, we have special care for all people in our communities, and especially the poor, the outcast and the needy. At this time, we know that there will be a burning desire to labour in God’s service and to be alongside those in our communities who will be anxious, in pain and in need. This ministry will take many forms, including staying in touch by phone, by post and online with those who are having to stay at home; helping the most vulnerable with the delivery of food, medicines and essential services and supplies; and helping us all to look after our physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Where foodbanks are hosted by our churches, extra hygiene precautions should be taken and consideration should be also be given to other means of providing support. Churches providing shelter for the homeless should refer to specific government advice, recently updated.
Parishes are encouraged to review all external hiring agreements of church premises and liaise with all hirers as to what, if any, activities can safely continue.
As chief pastors, we have a responsibility not only towards the wellbeing of clergy and those who minister in the Church’s name, but also towards their families. For this reason, parochial meetings in parsonages should not take place. In addition to the usual notification procedures for sick leave, clergy should inform their Archdeacon if they are required to stay at home in accordance with the latest government guidance.
Further advice and assistance for clergy, ministers and wardens will be provided on the provincial website and will be updated as frequently as required, whether due to wider developments, formal government action, or queries received.
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.
17 March 2020