The Acting Bishop of Chester, Keith Sinclair, and the Dean of Chester, Tim Stratford, have offered their support for the Prime Minister’s decision to close all places of worship.
Commenting on the decision, Bishop Keith says: “It is a regrettable but necessary step and I am in full support of the decision from the UK Government. We must do all that we can to stem the spread of coronavirus across our nation.”
Chester Cathedral and churches in hundreds of parishes across our region are now closed to all forms of worship, including private prayer and reflection, weddings, and baptisms.
Funerals can still go ahead but within strict limits with only immediate family in attendance and essential physical distancing measures in place.
Further information on the closure of church buildings, and in particular the practicalities of funerals, will be made available on the Church of England website. This page will be regularly updated with further details and FAQs. Please visit this page.
The announcement was made by the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, in an address to the nation in which he said places of worship must close with immediate effect.
The decision is part of a series of stringent measures put in place to try to stem the spread of Coronavirus and save lives.
Bishop Keith said Church is still alive and active and must be open to new possibilities: “The Church continues to be alive and active: the doors are closed but our hearts are open to the new possibilities of reaching out to our communities through prayer, social media and innovation. This is a crisis in our time, but in God I trust.”
In Chester, the Cathedral and Abbey have kept a rhythm of prayer and openness to God alive for centuries. Even though the Cathedral will be closed to the public the clergy will still maintain a pattern of daily prayer, praying for the needs of the nation and our world at this time.
Prayer has been offered at Chester Cathedral, and in hundreds of parish churches across the county for many centuries, and it will continue. In the coming days, Chester Cathedral and the Diocese of Chester will seek ways in which they can reach out to people through prayer, social media and through serving communities in the City of Chester and across the diocese at large.
Regular updates will be published on the Cathedral website and the diocesan website.
Commenting on the decision, The Very Revd Dr Tim Stratford, Dean of Chester said: “At this challenging time for the whole human race we know how important it is to pray to our loving Father who created and gave us life. All we know about God tells us that we should love and care for one another. In these unprecedented days that means limiting our contact with others for a season to cut transmission of a deadly virus. It is with regret that we must close Chester Cathedral to individuals who would otherwise want to come here for prayer and reflection. We hope you will join your prayers with ours from home.
“In the meantime, we will ensure that you can join with the prayers of the community that lives here, on the internet at chestercathedral.com/stream.”
Church buildings across the Diocese of Chester will open again as soon as they are advised that this would be of public benefit.