Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Advice for church leaders and pastoral workers engaged in the healing ministry UPDATED 03-11-20

All churches are advised to follow the guidance being published by their national church leaders and the latest Government advice.

On 10th March, the Archbishop of Canterbury updated the advice for churches:

“A letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York advises priests to suspend the use of the shared chalice – known as the ‘common cup’ – as well as physical contact during the sharing of the peace when traditionally worshippers turn to each other during a service and shake hands.

The Archbishops are also advising that priests should suspend direct physical contact as part of a blessing or ‘laying on of hands’.

The Archbishops say that from today when they preside at Communion services in their official residences – Lambeth Palace in London and Bishopthorpe in York – they will give communion in one kind only – bread – and they will not share the peace or lay on hands for blessings.”

Other denominations are advised to follow instructions from their senior leadership teams.

You can find advice on hand santisation here.

If anyone is self isolating, then do not visit them but continue to offer pastoral ministry via the ‘phone. Visits to people in care homes or hospitals should follow advice from the staff on infection control.

The situation is very fluid, and so it is advised that you pay attention to church leaders who may advise removing the chalice and peace entirely if the situation worsens.

There is, understandably, a great deal of public concern about the situation.  There is an opportunity for churches, while taking advice in order to lower infection rates, to continue to proclaim the healing love of God in our communities. People will want to find peace in these turbulent times, perhaps by lighting a candle or by simply finding somewhere quiet to sit and pray. People will want to know that you are praying for them, for doctors and nurses, for local and government officials, for the anxious and the worried, for the infected and those searching for a vaccine. Our calling as Christians is to proclaim the love of God even when there is fear and panic. Hold close to your heart the words of St Paul – For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.