Delaying re-opening of church buildings

From archdeacons Mike Gilbertson and Ian Bishop:

Over the last few weeks, it has been a great encouragement to see many parishes re-opening their church buildings for public worship. However, we appreciate that different parishes will be moving at different speeds in this regard.

The national church has issued guidance to parishes about the legal aspects of how to comply with the Canons during this period of transition, in the annex to this guidance note (p11). The guidance says that PCCs can pass an appropriate resolution to delay re-opening for public worship for a few weeks. As we have previously advised, in this diocese, PCCs should feel able to use such a local resolution to delay re-opening until any point up to Sunday 6 September, without the need to seek further approval.
We are now giving further guidance to parishes who wish to delay re-opening for public worship until beyond 6 September.

If all churches in a benefice (or a plurality) decide they wish to delay re-opening their buildings for public worship each Sunday until a date beyond 6 September, they should seek a dispensation from the Bishop. Such a dispensation is not necessary in the case of individual churches which are delaying re-opening when other churches in their benefice are re-opening. A suggested template to use is below:

Dear Bishop

I am writing to confirm that the Parochial Church Council [s] of the Parish [es] of [xxx] [and xxx] in the Benefice of [xxx] has [have] met [digitally as the case may be] and has [have] passed a resolution reflecting its [their]  discussions and consideration of the current circumstances relating to the Coronavirus issues facing the country at the present time with particular reference to the ministry of the Church of England within the Parish [es] and the Church [es] of [xxx]  [and xxx]. 

The resolution for each PCC was “to request the Bishop to exercise his/her powers under Canon B14 to dispense with the obligations to say, sing or celebrate services under Canon B11 and B14 within the Church [es] of [xxx] until [date]”. [As minister, I concur with this request]

There is no intention that the Church [es] of [xxx] should cease to be used altogether for public worship and there is a full intention that services should be resumed as soon as is appropriate. 

The factors which [I]/[the PCC] took into consideration included the following:”

Parishes should please submit any such requests via their archdeacon.

Email the Archdeacon of Macclesfield
Email the Archdeacon of Chester


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