Updated guidance on clergy and lay leaders entering churches

Published on: 21st May 2020

Following a meeting yesterday, the House of Bishops has asked diocesan bishops to issue guidance on the gradual easing of restrictions on our buildings and activities whilst our church buildings need to remain closed.The following are our new permissive guidance for Hereford Diocese.

Incumbents, or rural deans where there is no incumbent, can, in consultation with their churchwardens and bearing in mind their specific location, appoint one person for each church in their benefice to enter that church building. The appointed person should be the incumbent or a licensed or authorised minister, minister with permission to officiate, churchwarden, or, where there is no churchwarden, one member of the PCC.

The appointed person should be entering the church building for any or all of the following

  • Pray the daily office and/or celebrate the Eucharist on behalf of the community they serve,
  • Live stream or pre-record worship,
  • Ring one bell to mark prayers being said or mark events (e.g. Clap for Carers, VE day anniversary),
  • Check the fabric of the building.

The church should be near to where the appointed person lives and he or she may be accompanied by members of the household with whom they are living. The door should be locked whilst they are in the building.

Consideration should be given to what cleaning will be needed to make our churches safe. Gates and door handles should be disinfected. Extra care should be taken for churches that have no running water.We expect further guidance to be issued later this week in this regard and encourage clergy to continue to check the Church of England website COVID-19 pages.

Clergy and lay leaders, especially those with underlying health problems, or who are shielding people in their household with such problems, should not feel under any obligation to do this themselves, nor should anyone be asked who is in one of the government’s risk categories.

Our priority must be to act responsibly so as to safeguard ourselves and other people from infection. If you have any questions then please address them to Archdeacon Derek Chedzey or Assistant Archdeacons Stephanie Fountain or Simon Cawdell.

Please be assured that if you are content for the time being to lead worship from home, having set everything up to that end, you should feel under no obligation to switch back to the church. Likewise, it is perfectly fine to continue sharing services which are recorded or streamed by colleagues.

I hope in the coming weeks, if new COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to decline and subject to a change in Government restrictions, to offer guidance for opening our churches for parishioners and visitors to enter for private prayer. We long to open our churches for public worship and life events including funerals but I fear that is some way off.At present the restrictions relating to funerals across our diocese remain in place. We will continue to communicate via our weekly update including any changes as soon as restrictions are eased.

God’s love in Jesus is unchanging but in these strange times we are called to learn new ways to proclaim the Gospel afresh in this generation.

With my very good wishes,



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