Diocese of Carlisle

Guidance for Parishes on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

This page links to information on parishes with advice on managing the coronavirus (COVID-19) update.Please continue to also check the Church of England's national website coronavirus page which continues to be regularly updated.

Updated guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19) posted 15 May, 2020

The Archdeacon of Westmorland and Furness has provided a reflection on politics during lockdown.

The Ven Vernon Ross is encouraging churchgoers to offer prayers and support to their elected representatives.

He writes: "I want to encourage the local church to pray for your MP; send them a card or even a box of chocolates. Let them know that you value the work that they try to do on behalf of the community. Let them see that the church is not just another lobby group, but a community of faith that cares for their local community and wants all to prosper."

Updated guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19) posted 28 April, 2020

Bishop James has circulated a reflection he has written on 'The New Normal'. The document has been distributed to all Licensed Clergy, Retired Clergy, Chaplains, Readers, Lay Ministers, and the Bishop’s Leadership Team.

It also draws on feedback from clergy who responded to questions about their view of church post-lockdown. Bishop James' reflections are available here:

Updated guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19) posted 27 March, 2020

Funerals - Advice and Resources

Churches in the Diocese of Carlisle are to continue to remain closed for funeral services, in line with national church guidance. The letter of the 27 March, 2020, from Bishop James to all clergy makes this clear as does the associated letter from the Archbishops and bishops.

Meanwhile the Church of England has released resources in support of funerals during the Coronavirus pandemic. These include:

  • a short advice document for clergy;
  • outline orders of service for funerals at crematoria and at the graveside, observing the current public health guidance;
  • a simple reflection and prayers which can be shared by ministers with those who are unable to attend funerals; and
  • printable graphics and stationery to share prayers and to point to online light-a-candle page.

Click here to access the new clergy funeral and bereavement resources.

Church closures

The Bishop of Carlisle has written to all clergy to confirm that the Diocese of Carlisle's stance on church closures remains as previously explained. 

Churches are to remain closed for:

  • Public worship;
  • Private prayer;
  • The saying the of the office as a lone clergy person by themselves; and
  • Live streaming of services.

Churches which host Food banks can still open for that purpose though operating under strict guidelines.

The Diocesan stance has been further underlined by a letter from Archbishops and bishops which was also circulated to clergy yesterday.

Financial Implications

Both bishops have written to all clergy and self-supporting ministers to reflect on the financial implications of the coronavirus.

The Diocese is also rolling out a series of resources to support clergy, treasurers and other PCC members.These will also be available on the associated Coronavirus - Finance and Stewardship page.

Please click on the links below for the latest resources to be circulated:

Meanwhile a joint letter from Ric Jaques, Head of Finance, and Sophie Hodge, Stewardship Enabler, has been sent to all treasurers detailing practical measures which can be taken to support church finances at this time:

Updated guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19) posted 24 March, 2020

The Archbishops and bishops have written to all clergy outlining that all our church buildings must now be closed not only for public worship, but also for private prayer which includes the priest or lay person offering prayer in church on their own. 

A notice explaining this should be put on the church door (click here to download a template). 

In summary, these are the guidelines we must all now follow:

  • Our church buildings are closed for public worship and for private prayer.
  • Emergency baptisms can take place in hospital or at home, though subject to strict hygienic precautions and physical distancing as far as possible.
  • There can be no weddings in church buildings until further notice.
  • Funerals can only happen at the Crematorium or at the graveside. Only immediate family members can attend (if the crematorium allows) – that is, spouse or partner, parents and children, keeping their distance in the prescribed way.
  • Live streaming of services is more important than ever and is still permissible from homes. We encourage us all to consider how we can be as creative as possible with streaming services and other resources. There are many, many fantastic examples of churches and clergy using technology to reach and engage communities. Read more guidance here: https://www.churchofengland.org/more/church-resour... .
  • Foodbanks should continue where possible under strict guidelines and may have to move to be delivery points not places where people gather. If you can do consider making a financial contribution to your nearest foodbank.

Updated guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19) posted 19 March, 2020

Wedding banns

Clearly banns can not be read when there is no public worship, so a common licence will need to be obtained in person form one of the ‘surrogates’ in Carlisle Diocese. Common licence fees have been waived for the period during which there is a cessation of public worship. To apply for a common licence, one or both partners to the proposed marriage must:

  • Have resided in the parish where the marriage is to take place for at least 15 days immediately preceding the date when the affidavit for the common licence is sworn; or
  • be on the church electoral roll: or
  • be able to show a ‘qualifying connection’ with the parish (Church of England Marriage Measure 2008).

Any queries on this, please ask your Archdeacon.

Click here to see a list of 'surrogates' and associated contact details.

APCMs, elections, etc.

A Bishop's Instrument has been prepared which will allow:

  • APCMs and “Vestry Meetings” to be delayed beyond 31 May until 31 October 2020 .
  • To extend the office of elected lay members of the PCC to the conclusion of the delayed APCM.
  • To extend the period of office of those Deanery Synod lay representatives until the conclusion of the delayed APCM.
  • To extend the period of office for the current Churchwardens until their successors have been appointed and
  • Finally to extend the admission date for Churchwardens beyond 31 July 2020 to 31 January 2021.

Click here for the Bishop's Instrument and associated Explanatory Note.

Updated guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19) posted 18 March, 2020

In light of the Government guidance around non-essential contact, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued advice that public worship is suspended until further notice.

Churches should:

  • Pause normal meetings for worship until further notice in line with Government Advice as a measure to help protect the most vulnerable.
  • Consider keeping the church open as a place for prayer and contact, with appropriate signage to remind people of the need to keep at least 2 metres apart.
  • Explore other means of sharing ministry including videos, live streaming, and sharing prayers online
  • Encourage everyone to continue to maintain good hygiene and observe social distancing if attending necessary meetings. Please provide hand gel at entrances and ensure there is a good supply of soap or hand gel in cloakrooms for hand washing. 
  • Pastoral visits:
    • In circumstances where people are self-isolating because they are symptomatic or have been in contact with someone who has been symptomatic, no pastoral visits should be undertaken until their isolation ends. However, do offer phone support.
    • In circumstances where someone is self-isolating for their protection and a pastoral visit is thought to be necessary, please make sure you follow rigorous health and hygiene practices and maintain social distancing.
  • Ensure good regular cleaning of surfaces people touch regularly, including such things as door handles, light switches etc.
  • complete a Parish Continuity Plan to ensure, as far as possible, your continued mission and ministry.

Read the full guidance currently issued by the Church of England.

Coronavirus liturgy and prayer resources

Updated guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19) posted 12 March, 2020

On 12 March the Church of England has issued updated guidance on dealing with coronavirus. This advice is commended by the Bishop of Carlisle and we urge all clergy and parishes to follow it.

Advice has been issued under the FAQs section of the website page on:

  • best practice at baptisms, confirmations and ordinations;
  • specific advice on visiting/giving Communion in care homes; and
  • best practice for churches where there is no running water.

A 'Planning Ahead' section also includes a downloadable Continuity Plan which all churches are encouraged to review and complete to ensure, as far as possible, their continued mission and ministry:

Updated guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19) posted 10 March, 2020

On 10 March the Church of England has issued updated guidance on dealing with coronavirus. This advice is commended by the Bishop of Carlisle and we urge all clergy and parishes to follow it.

A letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York advises priests to suspend:

  • the use of the shared chalice - known as the 'common cup';
  • physical contact during the sharing of the peace; and
  • direct physical contact as part of a blessing or 'laying on of hands'.


Guidance for parishes on coronavirus (COVID-19)

We are committed to making sure our priests and parishes have the best possible advice. Our approach is to follow the advice published by the Church of England which is informed by Public Health England and the Government.

As the situation is continually updated we are not going to publish advice on this page but recommend that our priests and parishes follow the links below to the Church of England's dedicated advice page, which is kept under constant review.

We will regularly point out updated information in our Diocesan eNews or direct emails to clergy and parishes. We may also publish updated information on our social media feeds.


General health advice

The main advice at the moment is around a good handwashing routine. Soap, water and twenty seconds of washing is the advice we are given. Also follow the basic advice when sneezing – catch it, bin it.

All people entering the diocesan offices at Church House in Penrith are required to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water, using the toilets to the left of the main entrance.

For general advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) including hand washing advice see the NHS site https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19...

In terms of general advice. If you have the known symptoms of coronavirus – COVID-19 – Cough, high temperature or breathing difficulties then while it doesn’t mean you have the virus we advise you to use the NHS Coronavirus Helpline.

If you have contact with someone who may have been infected then also contact the NHS Coronavirus Helpline.

If you have booked or are looking to book a holiday abroad then follow the NHS advice for travellers.