Diocese of Winchester 

Covid-19 news, prayers and intercessions







January 5th 2021 Update



Dear Friends,

 

COVID-19 update

 

‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.’
(John 1:5)

 

Tomorrow we celebrate the Epiphany of Jesus as the Light of the World. We may draw strength from the hope which Jesus brings as we face the darkest days of the Covid pandemic. The availability of two vaccines has brought a practical expression of hope even as we face a new national lockdown.

 

Yesterday the Prime Minister announced details of new lockdown restrictions to reduce social contact and limit the spread of Covid-19. This time, the Government has chosen not to suspend public worship in England, and we are aware that many church buildings will continue to be used as centres for the provision of vital services to the most needy and vulnerable.

 

While churches are permitted to hold services in line with national guidance on the safe use of places of worship, clergy and PCCs should consider not doing so and instead offer some form of digital worship if at all possible.  Face-to-face worship should only be provided where the church’s risk assessment and precautions have been rigorously reviewed.  Ministers and others who have concerns, and those who are shielding, should stay at home.  We recognise the challenges for church communities, and ask for your prayer and support for the clergy as they face these very difficult decisions and seek to lead faithfully and responsibly. 

 

The announcement of these latest national restrictions will be causing distress and hardship for many at what is already an anxious and stressful time. But throughout the Diocese, churches are offering hope to our communities in lockdown, working with voluntary groups and others to care for the vulnerable. Let us pray that we can respond to this lockdown as we have before, with perseverance and faith.

 

We will keep you updated as further advice is issued by the Government and the National Church, and we anticipate that more detailed information will soon be available on the National Church website. We also remember all those with whom we are in fellowship across the world who will in their own context be facing the challenges of Covid-19. May we all draw strength in trusting him who came to share our lives and bring us hope in a dark world.

 

And now we give you thanks

because, in your incarnation of the Word,

a new light has dawned on the world,

that all nations may be brought out of darkness

to see the radiance of your glory.

 

 

With our prayers for you all,


Bishop Tim, Bishop David and Bishop Debbie  

  

And the Bishop’s Staff Team:   

Andrew Robinson, Diocesan Chief Executive    

Catherine Ogle, Dean of Winchester   

Richard Brand, Archdeacon of Winchester   

Mat Phipps, Bishop’s Chaplain


December 18th




 

We all know that this year’s Christmas celebrations will be different. For many families, there will be no celebration, as they come to terms with spending Christmas without their loved ones, and perhaps grieving.

 

The coronavirus pandemic, which has devastated so many lives, has emphasised how fortunate we are to live in a country where we can access free medical care through the NHS, regardless of our background or financial status. For many of our brothers and sisters in other parts of the Anglican Communion, access to medical care is not freely available, and the pandemic has pressurised under-staffed health services in our Companion Links Provinces.

 

In the Diocese of Winchester, this year’s Christmas Appeal is raising funds through the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Anglican Communion Together in Unity Appeal to support Covid-19 projects in Chile, Burundi, DR Congo, Myanmar, Rwanda and Uganda: our gifts will be designated to support the projects which these Companion Link Provinces have submitted. By giving generously to our friends in the Anglican Communion, we can help to bring hope and light this Christmas.

 

The birth of God’s Son Jesus Christ, more than 2000 years ago, brought new hope and light to a broken world: the promise of a transformed world and eternal life with him. This same promise is offered to each of us today.

 

Usually, Christmas brings with it the comfort and joy of family, friendship, and celebration. For Christians celebrating the true meaning of Christmas, comfort and joy are found in knowing the love of God, who came to us in the birth of Jesus, and who comes to us now in all our joys and sorrows, celebrations and disappointments. It is my prayer that we all find comfort and joy this Christmas, perhaps in unexpected ways, and as we journey together into 2021, may we be ‘surprised by joy’. 

 

Please donate to the appeal: https://www.give.net/dioceseofwinchester

December 17th Update


Dear Friends,

 

Yesterday’s Government announcement

We have known for some time that this would be a Christmas and Advent like no other. While our Diocese has been largely unaffected by the latest changes in the Government’s COVID-tier system, over half of the country is now under the tightest restrictions – although, of course, places of worship remain open under each of the three tiers in operation across England.

 

You are all doing extraordinary work as you continue to support your parishes, your communities, and your families during this period. We make no apology when repeating ourselves in reminding you to look after yourselves as well - we hope a number of you will, in the coming weeks, be able to take the opportunity for some rest.

 

We will of course keep you updated as further advice is issued by Government and the National Church. The latest information is available on the National Church website.

 

 

Bishop Tim’s Christmas Appeal

 

Last month, we announced that Bishop Tim has chosen the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Together in Unity initiative, which supports the Anglican Communion Fund’s coronavirus response globally, for this year’s Christmas Appeal. Thank you to all of those who have engaged with the Appeal so far, in support of our world mission partners.

 

Please remember too that, given the particular pressures on our time and generosity this December, the Appeal will run until the end of Lent 2021. Early in the New Year, we hope to be able to update you all with messages from our companion links around the globe.

 

 

Deployment planning

 

We have written previously about the severe economic pressures facing the whole country, and the necessary savings we are looking to make in this Diocese to ensure that we are financially stable for an uncertain future. Bishop’s Council and the Joint Mission Pastoral Committee have in recent weeks been reviewing proposals for the future deployment of clergy, and the necessary changes to parishes and benefices. Needless to say, we realise that our clergy and parishes are anxious to find out how and whether their benefices may be affected. We can assure you that you will be directly contacted early in the New Year if this is the case.

 

Where benefices are affected, there is a detailed pastoral scheme process that has to be followed, through informal and formal consultation stages, consulting all interested parties at each stage. A considerable amount of care has gone into forming the proposals, through detailed analysis and assessment, and then multiple prayerful conversations with the deanery leadership of every deanery. We trust that the proposals will be the best options overall, within an extremely difficult discernment and decision-making process. 

 

This remains an unsettling time in every sense. We will do our best to provide support through any uncertainty to come. We remain inspired by, and grateful for, the tireless service of each and every one of you.

 

With our continuing prayers for you in these last few days of Advent preparations,


Bishop Tim, Bishop David and Bishop Debbie  

  

And the Bishop’s Staff Team:   

Andrew Robinson, Diocesan Chief Executive    

Catherine Ogle, Dean of Winchester   

Richard Brand, Archdeacon of Winchester   

Mat Phipps, Bishop’s Chaplain



December 1st Update


Dear Friends,

 

The four-week lockdown is coming to an end and from tomorrow the whole of the Diocese will go into Tier 2 restrictions, meaning we will be able to hold public worship within our churches. If you feel able to re-start public worship in a COVID-secure way you will be able to, but you should not feel under any pressure to do so. As we approach Christmas we would once again like to thank you for all you are doing to support your communities during a period when many will be separated from their loved ones and may find the ongoing restrictions particularly difficult.

 

Following confirmation from the Government that indoor singing by both amateur and professional choirs will be permitted, and that congregations can sing carols outdoors, the National Church has issued guidance on carol singing. The guidance confirms that carol singing can take place outdoors as long as COVID-secure measures are followed, including social distancing. For indoor performances or services, choirs are permitted to sing but the total number of individuals should be limited as far as possible, and therefore the audience or congregation should not join in.

 

The Archbishops have also written to all clergy to give advice relating to Holy Communion and its distribution as we move towards the Christmas season. They have offered guidance from a working group looking at an appropriate way to allow for Communion in both kinds while minimising possible health risks. The letter from the Archbishops and the guidance is available on the Diocesan website.

 

Christmas is a particularly busy period for us all, and we realise that adapting to the ongoing restrictions will increase the workload. December 27th is a Sunday, you may decide that there will be little demand for Sunday worship. In which case, you could offer a pre-recorded service or no service at all. Parishioners can be pointed to a church where Communion is being celebrated or to other online worship. Whatever you decide we hope clergy will take a well-earned post-Christmas break.

 

The Nativity story and its message of hope will be more important than ever this year. Although restrictions mean we will not be able to celebrate Advent and Christmas in the same way as in previous years, we pray that our worship will bring Christ’s promise of comfort and joy to many. As ever, we will continue to keep you updated as further advice is issued by Government and the National Church, and the latest information is available on the National Church website.

 

With our prayers for you all,   


Bishop Tim, Bishop David and Bishop Debbie  

  

And the Bishop’s Staff Team:   

Andrew Robinson, Diocesan Chief Executive    

Catherine Ogle, Dean of Winchester   

Richard Brand, Archdeacon of Winchester   

Mat Phipps, Bishop’s Chaplain


















































November 5th Update

Dear Friends,

 

The four-week lockdown, announced by the Prime Minister on Saturday and confirmed by Parliament in a vote last night, came into force today. As part of the restrictions intended to reduce social contact and limit the spread of Covid-19, we will no longer be able to hold public services in our church buildings. So from today, places of worship can remain open but only for the purposes of independent prayer. They may also be used for the broadcasting of services and for funerals.

 

For the next four weeks therefore, we can continue our communal worship through broadcasting our services or by digital communication, but we will not be able to be with our church communities in our buildings.  In whatever form we worship, we engage with the God who sustains us as we serve our communities and pray for the world.  From Him we draw strength to face our challenges with serenity, care, courage and compassion, the qualities commended to the nation in yesterday’s letter from the Archbishops to the nation.

 

The Archbishops have also issued a call for a month of prayer in response to the lockdown starting today, and across the diocese we will be answering their call to pray for our nation and to serve our communities. You can find resources and information about the diocesan response to the call for prayer on the diocese website. 

 

Winchester Cathedral will be responding to the Archbishops’ call to prayer in their daily offering of evening prayer. For information on how to join the services online, please visit the cathedral website. The Cathedral Chapter also have a daily morning prayer service, and they have invited all clergy, LLMs and LLWs to join them – details to follow.

 

We know that the next four weeks will be hard for all our communities. We pray for all that you are doing, and we thank you for the support you are giving those members of your communities who are struggling. Please also remember to look after your own mental health and wellbeing even while you are helping others, and resources to support wellbeing are available on the diocese website. As ever, we will continue to keep you updated as further advice is issued by Government and the National Church, and the latest information is available on the National Church website.

 

With our prayers for you all,   


Bishop Tim, Bishop David and Bishop Debbie  

  

And the Bishop’s Staff Team:   

Andrew Robinson, Diocesan Chief Executive    

Catherine Ogle, Dean of Winchester   

Richard Brand, Archdeacon of Winchester   

Mat Phipps, Bishop’s Chaplain 


September 25th Update


Dear Friends,

 

Test & Trace

The NHS Covid-19 app was released yesterday, providing an alternative way for organisations to collect data for Test and Trace purposes - an organisation can print out a unique QR code which can be scanned by visitors using a mobile phone. Use of this new QR code system is not mandatory for worship in churches, but the government strongly recommends the collection of worshipper data to help the Test and Trace effort. You may already have effective systems for doing so, but if you do not then you may find this system makes doing so much simpler for you. More details can be found on the CofE website:

 

https://www.churchofengland.org/media/21016

 

Although the collection of data is not required for worship, it may be required by law if your church, church centre, or parish hall is open for leisure/tourism, social and recreational activities, or hospitality (e.g. café). See the advice on the CofE website to check the activities for which collection of data may be mandatory.  In these situations the relevant activities and/or parts of your church buildings must have an NHS QR code poster, as well as having a system for the collection of details from visitors who do not use the app.  Government guidance on this is available here:      

      

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/maintaining-records-of-staff-customers-and-visitors-to-support-nhs-test-and-trace

 

Also of interest and use to some churches will be the newly published advice on the CofE website for Fresh Expressions, and for Parish Continuity Planning.

 

Virtual Synod

General Synod has approved a change to its rules to enable it to meet online, if necessary, because of the coronavirus restrictions. A special session of General Synod was held in London to approve a measure amending Synod’s standing orders to allow remote meetings. The measure was taken through all its Synod legislative stages in a day. It will now be referred to Parliament and will come into force on receiving Royal Assent. The new measure would enable the November group of sessions to take place online, if necessary, and consider legislation and other important business.

 

Archbishops’ Address

At the start of the special session of General Synod, Archbishops Justin Welby and Stephen Cottrell gave a joint address about how the Church will emerge “renewed and changed” from the coronavirus crisis.

 

Archbishop Justin said, “Out of these times we will see renewal - not because we are clever but because God is faithful. We will see a renewed and changed Church emerging from the shocks of lockdown. It is a Church that at the most local has fed so many, been in touch with the isolated through the heroic efforts of all who take part in it, of clergy and laity and those who even weren’t near the church before these times. It is a Church which has continued to pray and to offer worship through our Lord Jesus Christ, even if in new and unusual ways.” The full address from Archbishop Justin and Archbishop Stephen’s is available to read here.

 

With our prayers for you all,   


Bishop Tim, Bishop David and Bishop Debbie  

  

And the Bishop’s Staff Team:   

Andrew Robinson, Diocesan Chief Executive    

Catherine Ogle, Dean of Winchester   

Peter Rouch, Archdeacon of Bournemouth   

Richard Brand, Archdeacon of Winchester   

Mat Phipps, Bishop’s Chaplain 


September 23rd Update



Dear Friends,


 


The nation is still coming to terms with the stark news, delivered by the Prime Minister last night in his televised address. While it has been increasingly likely from the scientific and public health data in recent weeks that further restrictions to our daily lives could come, that reality is now here. Even a ‘new normal’ suddenly seems a long way off, and the emphasis is now on the next six months, and prospects for the winter ahead.


 


The Government has emphasised that places of worship remain open. One significant change is that the maximum number able to attend a wedding will be reduced from 30 to 15 from Monday 28th September and the National Church, over the coming days, will continue to work with Government departments to update the guidance available to churches on other aspects of ongoing church life.


 


The country as a whole faces the prospect of prolonged economic pressure, mounting national debt, and significant unemployment. Undoubtedly it will be the vulnerable and marginalised who will be most affected by what is to come – and those are often the same people most at risk from the virus itself. We will continue to serve our communities in whatever way we can, providing hope, prayer, and support, and we pray that the action being taken now will ultimately save lives and protect the NHS.


 


The entire Church, as you know, has also inevitably been impacted by the wider economic picture facing us all. We too have had to act now, to secure this Diocese’s future. Earlier this week, the Winchester Diocesan Board of Finance approved a package of measures, designed to put us on a stable footing for the coming years, in the light of the pandemic and growing deficit. This involved a number of difficult decisions, all of which have been carefully considered and weighed up over the past four months by the Diocesan Resilience Taskforce (DRT), led by Bishop Debbie.


 


The WDBF agreed that £2m of savings are required and must be implemented by the middle of 2021 in order to balance future budgets. They will be met by a combination of central savings in the Diocesan Office, and through a decrease in the number of incumbent stipends, which will go to the Joint Mission and Pastoral Committee, before detailed consultations with deanery leadership teams.


 


None of this is easy to say. We realise it will be an extremely unsettling period, and we will support everyone as best we can. Everyone across this Diocese continues to work tirelessly for their communities and colleagues alike. We remain so grateful for your service, particularly amidst the challenges that lie ahead.


 


Finally, the Archbishops have this morning written to the Bishops, and we would like to offer the following words from their letter to you:


 


“Most of all we need to draw close to Christ, and continue to offer the hope and stability of the gospel. It is this gospel joy, even in the darkest times, that alone can help us through this crisis, bringing hope and an eternal perspective to the very pressing trials of the moment.”


 


With our prayers for you all,   



Bishop Tim, Bishop David and Bishop Debbie  


  


And the Bishop’s Staff Team:   


Andrew Robinson, Diocesan Chief Executive    


Catherine Ogle, Dean of Winchester   


Peter Rouch, Archdeacon of Bournemouth   


Richard Brand, Archdeacon of Winchester   


Mat Phipps, Bishop’s Chaplain 



August 7th Update



Dear Friends,

Face coverings in church

 

The Government has announced that, from 8 August, face coverings will be legally required in places of worship. Revised government regulations and guidance will be published shortly, and the Church of England will then update its own detailed guidance documents. However, in the meantime, FAQs regarding face coverings have been updated on the COFE website accordingly:

 

From 8 August, face coverings are required by law to be worn in a greater number of public indoor settings including places of worship, museums, galleries, cinemas and public libraries.

 

There are valid exemptions for some individuals and groups not to wear a face covering in these settings. In particular, those who are leading services or events in a place of worship, and those who assist them (for instance by reading, preaching, or leading prayer) do not always need to wear a face covering, although one should be worn especially if physical distancing cannot be maintained (i.e. distributing consumables). This exemption does not apply to worshippers, who should wear face coverings consistent with the requirements for any other public space.

 

Those exemptions will also cover the bride and groom at a wedding and those officiating/leading the wedding. This exemption does not apply to those observing the wedding, who should wear face coverings consistent with the requirements for any other public space.

 

 

AMPs and APCMs

 

The Diocesan Registry has advised that it is now possible for AMPs and APCMs to be held, provided this can be done safely. The revised deadline for 2020 is 31 October 2020, and further information will be sent to PCC secretaries, incumbents and parish administrators in the next few days. This will include details of how online AMPs and APCMs may be held. 

 

With our prayers for you all,   


Bishop Tim, Bishop David and Bishop Debbie  

  

And the Bishop’s Staff Team:   

Andrew Robinson, Diocesan Chief Executive    

Catherine Ogle, Dean of Winchester   

Peter Rouch, Archdeacon of Bournemouth   

Richard Brand, Archdeacon of Winchester   

Mat Phipps, Bishop’s Chaplain 


July 31st Update


Dear Friends,

 

Advice on face coverings

The Prime Minister has outlined plans to make face coverings mandatory in places of worship from 8th August and has withdrawn guidance to permit indoor professional performances with immediate effect. The House of Bishops Recovery Group will be updating guidance for churches accordingly, and we will give an update when this becomes available on the National Church website.

 

In the meantime, the Recovery Group continues to strongly advise that face coverings should be worn by all those attending a place of worship, including ministers, worshippers, staff, volunteers, contractors and visitors, where there may be other people present; remembering that they are mainly intended to protect other people, not the wearer, from coronavirus and that they are not a replacement for physical distancing and regular hand washing. If you have any questions, please speak to your archdeacon for advice.

 

Clergy wellbeing

The St Luke’s Clergy Wellbeing programme has been offering a helpful series of reflections to support clergy wellbeing through COVID. In the latest article, Revd Hilary Ison offers insights from her work as part of the Tragedy and Congregations team about living with uncertainty and the longer-term impact of stress caused by crisis. She reflects:

 

One of the hardest things of living through this pandemic crisis is living with uncertainty, with the anxiety of simply not knowing. Nobody knows how this will all turn out, and what ups and downs there will be on the way. It makes us feel insecure and vulnerable. How can we resource ourselves to live with such vulnerability – both our own and as leaders, trying to hold it for others? For leaders in these times, it means holding your nerve and being prepared to live with the vulnerability of ‘not knowing’ the answers but being prepared to work them out together. 

 

The poet Rainer Maria Rilke counselled his ‘young poet’ to be patient with the uncertainties in his heart, to ‘love the questions themselves’ and to live them, without seeking answers. He would not be given the answers, wrote Rilke, because he could not live with them. Instead, he should ‘Live the questions now.’  ‘Perhaps [we] will then gradually,’ suggests Rilke, ‘without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.’ 

 

We are travelling this journey as the disciples did in the experience of Holy Saturday – of the extreme vulnerability of not knowing the outcome, nor of what lies ahead.  What holds us is that we are accompanied; Jesus has travelled this road.  We can only be present to the experience and live into it in the company of the one who is faithful and who holds our souls in being.

 

Revd Hilary Ison’s reflection is available to read in full here, and further helpful wellbeing resources can be found on the St Luke’s website.

 

 

With our prayers for you all,   


Bishop Tim, Bishop David and Bishop Debbie  

  

And the Bishop’s Staff Team:   

Andrew Robinson, Diocesan Chief Executive    

Catherine Ogle, Dean of Winchester   

Peter Rouch, Archdeacon of Bournemouth   

Richard Brand, Archdeacon of Winchester   

Mat Phipps, Bishop’s Chaplain







24th July Update


Dear Friends,


Advice on face coverings

Face coverings are now mandatory in shops and supermarkets, as well as on public transport. Government guidance encourages people to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces where there are people they do not normally meet, such as church buildings.

 

The House of Bishops Recovery Group has produced Advice on Face Coverings to help ministers and their congregations to understand how this applies in churches. The advice strongly recommends that face coverings should be worn by all those attending a place of worship where there may be other people present. The advice highlights that face coverings are mainly intended to protect other people, not the wearer, from coronavirus and that they are not a replacement for physical distancing and regular hand washing.

 

COVID-compliance of Church Halls

Under Health & Safety legislation, the PCC is required to risk assess churches and halls and actively manage risks so that our buildings are safe for use. This now includes COVID-secure buildings.

 

National Church guidance has focused on the use of buildings which are “places of worship”.  However, some church hall use falls more naturally under government guidance about multi-purpose community facilities. The PCC is the “responsible body” in relation to the Government’s Guidance for the safe use of multi-purpose community facilities.

 

Many of the matters to be considered will be familiar to you from your thinking about re-opening for worship. The following should be emphasised:

 

  • Buildings that cannot be safely opened for public use must remain closed
  • If achieving safe opening requires the PCC to incur additional costs in professional cleaning, it may be possible to pass these on to your users
  • Whilst the PCC is responsible for the building, your users are responsible for running their activities in a COVID-secure way. It would be wise to exchange emails with them to ensure that they recognise their obligations
  • We recommend that you inform your insurers of steps being taken to re-open for community use

 

 

Further guidance is available on the National Church website, including updated advice on Outdoor Worship and a new Safer Churches document which gives further advice on helping public places to reopen safely document. Information on buying COVID-19 supplies, including cleaning supplies, face coverings, and PPE, is available through Parish Buying. If you have any questions, please speak to your archdeacon for advice.

 


Racism and equality in the Church

Bishop Tim recently recorded a discussion with the Reverend Canon Yemi Adedeji, Director of the One People Commission at the Evangelical Alliance, and a former colleague at CMS. Bishop Tim and Canon Yemi discussed his experience as a Nigerian Christian working in the Church and living in the UK.

 
Bishop Tim and Canon Yemi discuss the need for change across all parts of society including the Church, and how Christians can approach this emphasising greater ethnic integration within churches, organisations and communities. You can find out more and watch the full conversation on the
Diocese website.

 


Companion Links

Following the very sad death of the Bishop of Goma, Kadhoro Desire Makanirwa, from COVID last week, Archbishop Masimango has asked us to pray for him and the Church in the DR Congo as they come to terms with this loss, make arrangements for the Diocese and try to raise funds for the cost of hospital treatment. This is a very difficult time for our brothers and sisters. Please pray for God’s comfort and peace to be with Bishop Desire’s wife, Claudine, and his family through their grieving.

 

As you will know from new stories, South America has been very badly impacted by the COVID pandemic. Our friends in Chile tell us the country is still in lockdown, with an increasingly uncertain political situation. Please pray for the Province, churches continue to meet regularly online but they are facing some financial difficulties during this pandemic with one parish already in financial crisis.

 


Eucharist commemorating the Anglican Communion

On Sunday, Winchester Cathedral will be offering an online Eucharist service celebrating the Anglican Communion. The service will include a sermon from Archbishop Tito from our Companion Link with the Anglican Church of Chile. The service will be made available on the Cathedral website and we encourage churches to include the opportunity in your services this weekend.

 


With our prayers for you all,

 
Bishop Tim, Bishop David, and Bishop Debbie

 

 

And the Bishop’s Staff Team:   

Andrew Robinson, Diocesan Chief Executive    

Catherine Ogle, Dean of Winchester   

Peter Rouch, Archdeacon of Bournemouth   

Richard Brand, Archdeacon of Winchester   

Mat Phipps, Bishop’s Chaplain 


 Please click here to read Bishop Tim's Weekly Briefing.

3rd July Update



Dear all,

 
Update from the Bishops: finances, resources and Diocesan Vision
We realise that this is an extremely busy time for us all as the Church, like the rest of the country, makes these first, tentative steps out of lockdown. Thank you again for all that you have done, especially for your creative ministry and mission across our communities over this extraordinary period.


Following last month’s Bishop’s Council meeting, we wanted to provide you all with a further update on finances and resources. There is barely a sector, industry, or household that remains wholly unaffected by the pandemic. The daily headline figures from the Government - both health and economic-related - make for sobering reading. Away from the bald statistics, they are borne out on a local, personal level. The fact that, during this time, you have all ensured that this Diocese continues to serve, help, and reach all of our communities, even while our buildings have been closed, has been a real blessing.

 
This has been an enormously challenging period, and difficult decisions lie ahead. In these coming months, as we aim to put the Diocese on a secure footing for the future, we will also look in tandem at our vision and missional priorities. Those do not require reinvention, but we intend to go through a process where we reconsider and refine our priorities and focus, to ensure that our mission strategy remains at the core of all that we do.

 
With our churches, alongside businesses, shops, schools, and high streets, starting to ease out of lockdown, we are continuing to adapt and plan for our new situation. The Diocesan Office at Wolvesey remains closed but we have begun a phased reopening of Old Alresford Place, incorporating the necessary health precautions.

 
In previous updates, we have detailed the short-term measures we took to mitigate the financial shock of the past three months, including the use of the government furlough scheme. Approval recently came through from the DBF’s bank to provide an emergency COVID-19 loan, which has shored up our cashflow in the short term. We are now in a place where a number of staff have returned from furlough, and our curates are also back at work.

 
As we said in our recent letter regarding Common Mission Fund, we are hugely appreciative of the efforts that many parishes have made in ensuring that CMF continues to be paid.  Parish finances remain highly uncertain, especially for those reliant on income from activities outside of congregational giving, with social distancing still in place. However, for the Diocese - as is the case across almost the entire country - COVID-19 will have a lasting, economic impact. We must ensure that we protect our longer-term financial stability.

 
The Diocesan Resilience Taskforce (DRT), chaired by Bishop Debbie, was set up early in lockdown. It was asked to look at costs across the Diocese, and recently gave its first report to Bishop’s Council. Ultimately, it will be for the DBF and Bishop’s Council together to make final decisions based on the DRT’s recommendations.

 
Clergy vacancies will remain frozen for the time being as the DRT, along with the rest of the Bishop’s Staff Team, assesses the context for our future deployment. This will be discussed at the joint meeting of the Archdeaconry Mission and Pastoral Committees in September, involving Deanery Lay Chairs, Area Deans, and their Assistants.

 
In terms of the Diocesan Offices and staff, all new hire processes have similarly been put on hold, and immediate savings have been made through the furlough scheme and the deferment of planned repairs and maintenance. Again, however, we must look beyond the here and now and, over the summer, we will be looking at implementing further savings. As part of this, a review of diocesan office facilities is being undertaken.

 
We recognise that there is much uncertainty at present, and that further uncertainty lies ahead. Although this may at times try our faith, we know that God is with us and has provided for us all that we need. We hope that this update goes some way towards showing the careful, considered steps that are being taken in planning for the future.

 


With our continued prayers for you,

 
+Tim, +David, +Debbie

 



2nd July Update



Dear Friends,

 

In the message we circulated yesterday, we mentioned that further updates were due to be made to the published guidance from the Church of England in relation to specific questions for churches preparing to resume public worship in church buildings.  Those updates have now been made, and we see that the changes include the addition of substantial and useful advice on Holy Communion, as well as the occasional offices of Baptism, Confirmation, Weddings and Funerals. The advice on Individual Prayer has also been updated. For those making plans, we recommend checking this new advice, all of which is available here. As ever, if you have any questions, please speak to your archdeacon for advice. 

 
With our prayers for you all,   

 
Bishop Tim, Bishop David, and Bishop Debbie  

  

And the Bishop’s Staff Team:   

Andrew Robinson, Diocesan Chief Executive    

Catherine Ogle, Dean of Winchester   

Peter Rouch, Archdeacon of Bournemouth   

Richard Brand, Archdeacon of Winchester   

Mat Phipps, Bishop’s Chaplain   





1st July Update


Dear Friends,
 
Advice on the Conduct of Public Worship
The House of Bishops Recovery Group has published new Advice on the Conduct of Public Worship to help address questions arising from the return to public worship in churches. The guidance document is available on the National Church website, and we would ask that you read it thoroughly.
 
This guidance is permissive; although it offers advice for those parishes who wish to make provision for the safe conduct of public worship, no parish should feel obliged to do so.  There remain many reasons why a church may not be able or feel ready to take this step.  Bishop Tim has therefore directed that, where the parish priest and PCC of any parish agree not to resume public worship, the canonical requirement for regular services to take place in the parish church (under Canons B11 and B14) is dispensed with until further notice.
 
The new guidance has been adapted from published Government Guidance for use by the Church of England. It follows the principles of physical distancing, hygiene, and safety which have been outlined in previous guidance for opening church buildings for individual prayer, and should also be read in conjunction with advice on cleaning and other detailed guidance available on the National Church website.  We anticipate updates being made over the next few days to the published advice on baptisms, weddings, funerals, and Holy Communion, and we will keep you updated on further guidance as it becomes available. If you have any questions, please speak to your archdeacon for advice.
 
We recognise the daunting challenge that this presents for so many of you and take this chance to reiterate our profound appreciation for your ministry.  We pray for God’s continued accompaniment in your journey as communities and individuals.

 
Bishop Tim, Bishop David, and Bishop Debbie 

And the Bishop’s Staff Team:  
Andrew Robinson, Diocesan Chief Executive   
Catherine Ogle, Dean of Winchester  
Peter Rouch, Archdeacon of Bournemouth  
Richard Brand, Archdeacon of Winchester  
Mat Phipps, Bishop’s Chaplain  




26th June Update


Dear Friends,

Reopening of church buildings
The House of Bishops has welcomed the Government announcement that church buildings will be able to reopen for public worship from 4th July, providing physical distancing remains in place. The Bishops have encouraged us all to work within the Government’s guidance whilst ensuring proper care is given to those most vulnerable to the virus. Following the Prime Minister's statement on 23 June, the House of Bishops’ Recovery Group will be reviewing the detail of the Government's guidance before providing further guidance for churches on the Church of England website. Recognising that some parishes will be eagerly awaiting further information to address questions that arise from public worship in churches, we will continue to keep you updated on the Recovery Group’s latest guidance as it becomes available. If you have any questions, please speak to your Archdeacon for advice.
 
Archbishops’ taskforce on racism
The House of Bishops has voted to create a new commission to drive forward structural and cultural changes to ensure racial equality in the Church of England. The announcement follows a series of reports on racial justice and equality in the Church of England, including recommendations on action to combat racism. Further information is available here.
 
St Luke’s Clergy Wellbeing Programme
The St Luke’s Clergy Wellbeing programme has offered a helpful reflection responding to stress and anxiety from Michele Hampson, psychiatrist and priest in the Diocese of Southwell.  She considers how creating a ‘safe space’ can help to manage anxiety. The reflection is available here.
 
With our prayers for you all,  
 
Bishop Tim, Bishop David and Bishop Debbie 

And the Bishop’s Staff Team:  
Andrew Robinson, Diocesan Chief Executive   
Catherine Ogle, Dean of Winchester  
Peter Rouch, Archdeacon of Bournemouth  
Richard Brand, Archdeacon of Winchester  
Mat Phipps, Bishop’s Chaplain 









 


 

Notes
Detailed advice and guidance to churches on coronavirus is available on the Church of England website.