Preparing for the re-opening of church buildings
Last updated: 28 July 2020
A range of resources are available below to help churches as they consider how and when their buildings may carefully re-open, following the coronavirus lockdown.
We must stress that guidance here on the CTE website is for English churches only. Devolved Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Norther Ireland are following similar, but not identical, patterns of re-opening society and the economy.
The latest government guidance
Since mid-June, it has been permissible for churches in England to open for private and individual prayer. Far wider opening of churches in England will be permitted from 4 July 2020, including public worship, weddings and baptisms (though not by full immersion).
Official government guidance ‘COVID-19: Guidance for the safe use of places of worship from 4 July’ covers most activities that churches are likely to engage in, and emphasises the importance of a local risk-assessment. A summary of some key points in the guidance is available on our website, including details of an update to the guidance by the Government on 27 July 2020. Churches will need to ensure that they consult the official guidance directly for full details.
Advice for Single Congregation LEPs and shared buildings which are opening for prayer and public worship may also be relevant.
The government's guidance of 29 June explains that a COVID-19 risk assessment will need to be completed by each place of worship – in addition to any risk assessment already in place. Please consult the guidance for further details on risk assessments – particularly sections 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8, as well as Annex A.
A link to the HSE website’s generic guidance on completing a risk assessment is included in the guidance.
Sample church risk assessments:
Emerging into the new "normal"
The United Reformed Church, one of CTE's Member Churches, has produced a helpful guidance document encouraging churches to consider key questions for when the lockdown starts to ease, including: what must resume, what shouldn't resume, and what might we do differently?
Access the resource Emerging into the New "Normal" on the URC website.
New reality, same Mission
This second booklet from the United Reformed Church aims to enable individuals and local churches to explore, in more detail, questions of community presence and engagement and social justice in the new reality which we all face. It was produced by members of the URC's Church Related Community Work, Mission and Discipleship teams, along with Church Action on Poverty.
Access the resource New reality, same Mission
Emerging from lockdown: advice and FAQs
The Evangelical Alliance UK has produced a helpful advice and FAQs page, helping churches to think through the practicalities of emerging from lockdown.
They have also produced an online resource: Changing Church Toolkit: Gathering church.
Everyone Welcome to the Future
Everyone Welcome to the Future, published on May 28th, aims to help churches make the most of opportunities to connect with people online.
Supported by Durham University Centre for Digital Theology and CPAS, the team explain on their website: "There are a lot of new online churchgoers - the document tries to work out how many. Then it suggests how to welcome people into church and faith today, and how to plan for a mixed in-person-online church future. Lockdown and online give us a unique opportunity to re-think and re-grow our churches."
Find a range of guidance, resources and stories in our CTE Coronavirus web hub.