In an announcement on 17 March 2020 the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have called for Church of England churches to put public worship on hold and become a ‘different sort of church’ in the coming months to face the challenge of coronavirus.
This follows implementation by the UK Government of unprecedented peacetime measures to try to control the spread of the virus, with restrictions on public gatherings, transport and working.
The Archbishops expressed the desire that church buildings may, where practical, remain open as places of prayer for the community, observing social distancing recommendations.
They also invited clergy to maintain the ancient pattern of daily prayer and, where possible, the eucharist – live streaming their worship if they have the resources to do so.
And they urged congregations to be in the forefront of providing practical care and support for the most poor and the most vulnerable during the crisis:
‘Being a part of the Church of England is going to look very different in the days ahead.
‘Our life is going to be less characterised by attendance at church on Sunday, and more characterised by the prayer and service we offer each day.
‘We may not be able to pray with people in the ways that we are used to, but we can certainly pray for people. And we can certainly offer practical care and support.
A defining moment for the Church of England
‘Please do carry on supporting the local foodbank and buy extra provisions for it. Ensure the night shelters wherever possible are kept open. There are many very encouraging schemes happening right across our country in communities to focus on caring for the most vulnerable and do continue to play your part in those.
‘This is a defining moment for the Church of England. Are we truly are a church for all, or just the church for ourselves.
‘We urge you sisters and brothers to become a different sort of church in these coming months: hopeful and rooted in the offering of prayer and praise and overflowing in service to the world.’
The Church will be providing a range of resources including #LiveLent daily reflections, prayer for the day audio and text and Alexa and Google Home smart speaker apps.
This output will be significantly expanded this output with audio of a prayer service, more video content and some live-streaming, new mental health reflections to support people, and webinars to help churches stream sermons, events and make the most of social media.
Header photo: York Minster