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Coronavirus: Guidance on church worship (25 February)


Coronavirus ChurchWorshipGuidaWe have written guidance for Baptist churches in England and Wales that outlines what is permitted within places of worship according to the UK and Welsh governments. Our guidance interprets various government documents for a Baptist context and suggests what might be best practice for communal worship, prayer meetings and bible studies, weddings, funeral and baptisms. We update our guidance as and when the governments change theirs to reflect the dynamic nature of the pandemic.
 
Please read this guidance to discover more. Please note that there are some differences between England and Wales and these are explained on the document.  

We recommend these issues are discussed carefully among church trustees alongside the Guidance on Re-Opening Baptist Churches.  Above all, we encourage you not to rush to re-establish gathered corporate worship but only to do so prayerfully and after the widest possible consultation.
 
  • Version 32: 25 February (3:30pm) - Change to section 3 to replace BUGB recommendation that churches should remain closed with new guidance; Clarification in section 3 regarding permission for prayer and bible study on church premises and outdoors worship; Minor revisions to section 7 regarding open coffins and those who are self-isolating at funerals; Addition of new section 11 to lay out expected changes from 8 March 2021 onwards.   
  • Version 31: 14 January (5:05pm) - Changes to the table in Section 3 to show that private prayer is allowed in church in England but not Wales; ‘blown’ instruments and singing outdoors are again not recommended in England.
  • Version 29: 7 January (3pm) - Correction to table in Section 3 to show that outdoors worship is not permitted in Wales when at alert level 4 and that for England prayer and bible study groups may not happen; Related change to Section 10 on prayer meetings and bible study groups.
  • Version 28: 6 January (2:20pm) - Deletion of Section 11 regarding Christmas arrangements; Addition to Section 3 of national lockdown requirement in England.
  • Version 27: 20 December (8:30pm) - Changes in Section 3’s table and throughout to show extra restrictions for both ‘tier 4’ in England and ‘alert level 4’ in Wales.
  • Version 26: 17 December (10:25am) - Clarification in Section 3 of permission for social interaction during outdoors gatherings on church premises and in a public space; Clarification in Section 11 of the thinking behind group size for door-to-door carol singing.
  • Version 25: 10 December (5:20pm) - Clarification in Section 3 that: in Wales that funerals are for close friends and family only; ‘interaction’ means social interaction. Clarification in Section 7 regarding those who are self-isolating attending funerals in Wales. Addition to Section 11 about carol singing and services in Wales.
  • Version 24: 1 December 2020 (8:20pm) - Clarification in Section 3 regarding singing and bands.
  • Version 23: 30 November 2020 (11:55am) - Major revision of document to reflect revised rules in England from 2 December and in Wales from 9 November
  • Version 22: 12 November 2020 (5pm) - Addition to Lockdown Restrictions in England of permission to hold funeral wakes for up to 15 people; Deletion of paragraph regarding firebreak restrictions in Wales; Relaxation under What is Allowed of rules regarding singing in Wales; Tightening of restriction under What is Allowed  so that only four from different households may socialise in Wales; Change in Outdoors Worship to limit the number of people allowed to worship outdoors in Wales to thirty, both off and on the premises; Change to Prayer Meetings and Bible Study to disallow group meetings in homes in Wales; Deletion from Annual Events of Remembrance information.
  • Version 21: 5 November 2020 (4pm) - Addition at the document’s beginning of lockdown restrictions in England; Changes to Annual Events to allow limited communal singing at Remembrance Day events and to reflect lockdown rules on mixing.
  • Version 20: 22 October 2020 (9:55am) - Addition of Local Rules section at the beginning including ‘firebreaker’ restrictions in Wales. Addition of Annual Events section at the end including Remembrance and Christmas.
  • Version 19: 16 October 2020 (5:20pm) - Clarification under Other Life Events about child dedications; Addition of requirement for baptisms to be held as part of a general worship service.
  • Version 18: 15 October 2020 (5pm) - Inclusion throughout of specific restrictions relating to the different tiers of Covid-alert level; Inclusion in Funerals of provision for wakes of up to 15 people, clarification regarding services of thanksgiving, and suggestions regarding those self-isolating following a positive Covid test; Further suggestions of what to consider if meeting in a home for a small group.
  • Version 17: 25 September 2020 (12 noon) - Correction to Weddings to make clear that anyone working (minister, photographer, organist, premises manager, for example) is not included in the cap of fifteen people; Correction to What is Allowed to clarify the number of singers and the use of wind instruments.
  • Version 16: 24 September 2020 (11:35am) - Clarification of rules regarding Worship Outdoors; Change to Weddings to note reduction in England of the number permitted from 30 to 15; Clarification of rules for England and Wales regarding small groups in Prayer Meetings and Bible Study.
  • Version 15: 17 September 2020 (4:10pm) - Changes in What is Allowed, and in Weddings in light of face coverings becoming mandatory in Wales.
  • Version 14: 10 September 2020 (4:05pm) - Minor revisions throughout reflecting UK Government’s changes to social interaction guidance so that no more than 6 people from different households may socially interact whether indoors or outdoors. Note that each person should still remain physically distant from anyone from another household.
  • Version 13: 27 August 2020 (4:20pm) - Complete re-write of guidance document to reflect the number of churches now meeting for live services and further clarifications from Government.
  • Version 12: 24 August 2020 (3:30pm) - Addition to Baptisms of permission to baptise by immersion in England.
  • Version 11: 20 August 2020 (3:30pm) - Addition to the Introduction of permission for a small number of singers to sing in front of a congregation indoors or outdoors in England; Inclusion under Weddings of renewed permission for receptions of 30 people in England; Inclusion under Weddings and Funerals of probably permission in Wales for receptions and wakes of up to 30 people from 22 August. Inclusion under Baptisms of permission for baptism by immersion in Wales. Addition of a new section on prayer meetings and homegroups.  
  • Version 10: 13 August 2020 (4:00pm) - Confirmation in the Introduction and in Weddings and Funerals of the above changes regarding face coverings; Addition to Whole Church Worship of permission in Wales to use pipe organs.
  • Version 9: 5 August 2020 (12:45pm) - Further clarification that we anticipate that there will be an exemption for the bride, groom and minister from wearing a face mask at a wedding.
  • Version 8: 3 August 2020 (4:45pm) - Clarification on the requirement to wear face coverings from 8 August at weddings and funerals.
  • Version 7: 31 July 2020 (5:00pm) - Change to Introduction to make face coverings mandatory from 8 August. Addition to Weddings to say that the Government have withdrawn their planned allowance of 30 people at weddings receptions which had been scheduled for 1 August.
  • Version 6: 28 July 2020 (10:15am) - Addition to Introduction of request for face masks to be used in church worship in England; Changes throughout to reflect relaxation of rules in Wales; Addition in Children in Worship Services of a link to BU guidance on children’s and youth ministry.
  • Version 5: 23 July 2020 (14:30pm) - clarification on worship outdoors; life events to be held separately from services of worship; and wedding reception numbers
  • Version 4: 20 July 2020 (12:45pm) - clarification on worship outdoors; and wedding reception numbers
  • Version 3: 17 July 2020 (11:30am) - guidance on singing, pre-service and post-service times, and wedding receptions
  • Version 2: 2 July 2020 (3pm)
  • Version 1: 30 June 2020 (9am)
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Links to all our guidance information
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Updated to reflect the introduction of National Lockdowns in England and Wales
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The months ahead bring all sorts of challenges, and it is important that we don’t overlook the specific needs of those who are vulnerable
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Two updated guidance notes for churches offering volunteer support services to their local communities
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Guidance for churches following the Government's latest announcements
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The UK Government published guidance on Protective Measures for Out-of-School Settings on 1 July.
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