Diocese of Winchester 

Covid-19 news, prayers and intercessions






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The Prime Minister has outlined plans to make face coverings mandatory in places of worship from 8th August and has withdrawn guidance to permit indoor professional performances with immediate effect.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.