restrictions and governments’ stay-at-home requirements begin to gradually
ease across the UK, the United Reformed Church (URC) Synod Moderators
provided updated advice to churches on 5 March:
know that churches are keen to make plans to reopen for public worship and
other activities and so provide the following guidance. We want to urge
continued caution, both in the timing for reopening and what happens
afterwards. Information is still being gathered about how new variants are
spreading and whether people who have been vaccinated spread the virus. The
pandemic is not over and neither shall it be for some time yet.
Pay attention to
the relevant government guidance on what you can and can’t do, and, vitally,
remind you of 1 Corinthians 10:23: “All things are lawful but not all
things are beneficial, and not all build up.”
Even though it
may be lawful for church buildings to be open in the later season of this
pandemic, it might not yet be the right time to open. Covid prevalence and
consideration of local ‘hotspot’ information must take precedence over any
date of the diary, which might mean further delay to opening up, with
decisions being reversed at short notice.
Follow the law
who will you be protecting by remaining closed for public worship, and who
will you be excluding? What is the most loving response you can make over
We know that many
have been starved of human contact through lockdown and are desperate to
resume activity. You might just find, as in God’s kingdom, that you need to
turn your thinking upside-down. Those you thought safest to be out and about
might now be the most vulnerable (as they won’t yet have been vaccinated).
Those you have included through online worship now may again find themselves
outside your fellowship.
The decision to
re-open must properly be made by Elders’ Meetings, considering the
regulations/restrictions in place, local prevalence of the disease and
pressures on the NHS, and measures in place to control risk of infection
both in the church and the grounds.
Even if/where it
is permitted, we urge churches to consider carefully whether they should
open as soon as Easter Day, unless the current improvements are sustained
and the risks are properly assessed and managed. Rather, we suggest that
Pentecost may be a better time to consider as a point for the resumption of
in-person worship, subject to a number of important conditions being met, as
described below - see website for the rest...
In the light
of the above, the Elders of SURC feel that, after prayerful reflection, it
would be unwise to gather people for in-person services for the time being.
We will review
the situation when we meet on 16th April as we see how the road
map unfolds. Do please pray for wisdom and guidance.
We stand with you
Although the Government
has allowed church buildings to be open for worship
(subject to strict Covid restrictions),
we do not feel it is appropriate to meet in person when many other local
businesses remain closed. The risks of infection are still very real and we
do not wish to be the cause of any spread.
worship services and other meetings continue online – see