Suspension of public worship in Church of England churches in Cumbria
The Diocese of Carlisle is to suspend all public worship in Cumbria with immediate effect, in line with national Coronavirus guidance issued by the Church of England,
The decision also follows publication of a joint letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to all clergy which calls for the suspension, affecting Sunday services and other planned gatherings.
Weddings and funerals can still take place, but with limited numbers of people in the congregation to ensure social distancing rules are not breached.
Today the Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Rev James Newcome, has written to all clergy and chaplains, noting: “In these changing times we are a ‘changing church’. So we will need to consider how best to use online resources for worship. I know we have already signposted clergy to those available on the Church of England’s Coronavirus website page and these will be updated in coming days."
Where possible, churches are also encouraged to remain open as places for private prayer, providing the two-metre social distancing rules are observed alongside those around general public hygiene and handwashing.
Bishop James concludes: "Finally, as this situation continues to develop I would ask that clergy hold in their prayers all those who have contracted the virus, those who have lost their lives and our wonderful NHS staff who continue to work on the frontline to battle Coronavirus."
Churches across the diocese have already been signposted to national online resources for worship, with further advice offered on how to livestream services. These resources will be added to in the coming days.
Christians in Cumbria are also called to join a national day of prayer and action by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York on Sunday 22 March . From today people are invited to pray for seven days - saying the Lord’s prayer every time they wash their hands whilst also praying throughout the day for healing for those who are sick with COVID-19 and for God’s healing power.
Meanwhile the Diocese is working closely with BBC Radio Cumbria to develop a regular Sunday service which is due to be broadcast just after 8am this Sunday 22 March. Senior clergy – including both bishops – and a number of parish ministers have already confirmed their willingness to participate in the broadcasts.
For further information please contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Manager, on 07469 153658, 01768 807764 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.