Funerals may resume in churches from next week
From next week funerals in church buildings may resume in the Diocese of Carlisle – the Church of England in Cumbria – subject to guidance around the coronavirus being adhered to.
The announcement comes after the House of Bishops met yesterday and agreed that funerals may be held in churches from Monday 15 June.
In March the Archbishops and Bishops had written to all clergy confirming that churches were to close to public worship and no funerals, weddings or baptisms should be held.
The Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Rev James Newcome, attended the House of Bishops’ meeting and has since written to all clergy confirming their buildings may reopen for funerals.
Bishop James said: “This represents a further step in the Church of England’s phased approach to the reopening of our church buildings and follows the Government’s announcement to allow churches to reopen for individual private prayer from next Monday. I know how difficult a time this has been for those people who have lost loved ones - some due to the coronavirus - and who may have wanted a funeral service to take place in church. But with concerns over social distancing and as the number of COVID cases grew, the closure of churches for funerals was the responsible way forward and helped protect lives.
“As infection rates decrease, so now is the right time to look at the situation again. I am pleased to announce that our churches may reopen for funeral services, subject to all social distancing regulations being met and the necessary cleaning taking place.”
In his letter to clergy Bishop James has flagged up national church planning guidance which has been issued to support churches that may want to consider reopening for funerals. The guidance includes advice on how to establish the maximum number of mourners that can enter a church whilst maintaining social distancing, the provision of hand sanitizers and best practice for cleaning.
Bishop James added: “Whilst welcoming this news, I would stress that as a Diocese we shall continue to carefully monitor the situation. If an increase in infection rates means that this needs to be readdressed we shall do so.
“Meanwhile my prayers are with all those clergy colleagues who may be considering reopening their church buildings for funerals. I give thanks for the added comfort this may bring to those family and friends who have lost loved ones.”
For further information please contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Manager, on 07469 153658, 01768 807764 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.