Church of England church buildings to temporarily close across Cumbria
The Diocese of Carlisle has temporarily closed all its church buildings in Cumbria with immediate effect, in line with national Coronavirus guidance issued by the Government.
It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new restrictions as to when people can leave their homes in efforts to further stem the spread of the virus. In his address to the nation, the Prime Minister confirmed that all places of worship are to close and that baptisms and weddings are not to take place.
Meanwhile in line with newly-published national Church of England guidance, funeral services must not be held in Church of England buildings in Cumbria. These can only happen at the Crematorium or at the graveside with only immediate family members there (if the crematorium allows) – that is, spouse, parents and children – and social distancing must be maintained.
Today the Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Rev James Newcome, has written to all clergy in the diocese, detailing the latest developments. He has also asked that information posters be attached to church doors and the home page of church websites.
Bishop James has also pointed clergy to a joint statement issued last night by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York which calls on people to follow the latest guidance and for the church to “continue to pray, to love, to care for the vulnerable”.
Bishop James said: “As we face this Coronavirus pandemic together, so our church communities must be seen to be doing all they can to help battle the virus. We stand alongside our Government and the national church in this regard. In line with the latest advice I can confirm that for the time being, our churches will not be open for public worship or as places where someone can go for private prayer. Baptisms and weddings will also be suspended at this time, and new guidance on funeral services means they must only take place in a crematorium or at the graveside. I am sure that people across our county will understand the need to adhere to these strict guidelines as we all look to lessen the impact of Coronavirus.
“This is a deeply unsettling time yet it is heartening and uplifting to see the many new and varied ways in which we are coming together in worship and prayer: from BBC Radio Cumbria’s virtual Sunday service through to some of our churches’ online daily prayer gatherings which are using video conferencing technology. Now, more than ever, the wave of prayer across Cumbria must remain strong. Our buildings may be temporarily closed but our churches remain vibrant, strong, Christ-filled worshipping communities. At this time I am reminded of the Bible passage, Matthew 18, verse 20, when Jesus tells his disciples, ‘For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.’ This is as true today as ever and includes all those people who can pray alongside their loved ones at home or with others over the internet.”
For further information please contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Manager, on 07469 153658, 01768 807764 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.