Coronavirus

Opening of Churches for Private Prayer - 19th June 2020

 

Mark Drakeford announced on Friday 19th June that from Monday (22nd June) Churches may open for private / individual prayer. 

Individuals or a group from the same household may use the building for prayer but are discouraged from social interaction with others. Rules on social distancing and hygiene (see below) must be adhered to. Aids to prayer such as books or prayer sheets must be either brought and taken away by the worshipper or be single-use.  

We appreciate that the use of church buildings for individual prayer may be a comfort to other church traditions more than it is to Baptists. Baptists Together (BUGB) are actively involved in ecumenical discussions with the Government so that the recommencement of our tradition of ‘gathered church’ is considered as early as possible. 

 

This means:

 

  • We continue to abide by existing Government guidance not only because of its legal force but as an expression of our care for the vulnerable.  

  • It is clear that the opening of church buildings for individual prayer should not be used as an excuse for covert worship services or even prayer meetings.  

  • The guidance explicitly denies permission to use church buildings for corporate worship, led devotions, informal prayer meetings, study groups, baptisms, leisure and recreational groups, among others. 

  • The church may also be used by staff, volunteers or contractors who facilitate the use of the building by undertaking maintenance, repair, cleaning, or room rearrangement.

If you decide to explore re-opening your building for any of the permitted purposes, we stress again that you should read the complete government guidance (23rd June) . You will have to consider the viability of at least the following in your preparation:

 

  • Frequent cleaning of shared spaces, seating and surfaces that will be touched. 

  • Restricting numbers so that social distancing guidelines may be followed inside. 

  • Arranging chairs and marking floors to help people keep a 2 m distance. 

  • Hand cleansing, ideally with hot water and soap, at entry and exit points of the building. 

  • The use of hard rather than cloth-covered seating to enable quick and effective cleaning. 

  • A one-way system for worshippers through the building and/or staggered arrival times. 

  • Using screens, barriers or alternative rooms to separate worshippers. 

  • Encouraging worshippers to bring their own Bible or book of prayers etc. 

  • Ventilation of the building space whilst it is in use.  

  • Removal of all children’s toys and closure of play areas.  

  • Clear communication to users of what I expected of them within the building. 

  • The use of face masks, though these are not mandatory in church buildings.    

  • Providing dedicated times for individual prayer for those at higher risk of severe disease from Covid-19 including those over 70.   

  • It is recommended that anyone who is shielding does not attend a place of worship. Those who are self-isolating or have any symptoms of Covid-19 whatsoever must not attend. 

 

We strongly recommend that in addition to considering the government guidance in detail, a risk assessment is undertaken by the trustees. A helpful Covid-19 risk assessment template has been produced by Baptists Together. Although different regulations for opening vary in each part of the UK, the risk assessment template is still very useful.

 

For specific advice on risk management, you may contact the Risk Management Advice Line run by Baptist Insurance by phoning 0345 600 7531 or by email at risk.advice@baptist-ins.com. Advice is free to churches who are Baptist Insurance customers, though you should have your policy number to hand when you call them. The line is open from 9:00 to 17:00 Monday to Friday excluding Bank Holidays.

 

Churches are of course under no obligation to open their premises at all. Ministers and trustees should resist pressure to open buildings if the nature of their buildings or their ability to manage the above processes cannot minimise transmission of Covid-19.   

 

Further guidance from BUGB on general property considerations and unoccupied properties during the pandemic may be found in this leaflet: L18: Covid-19 Coronavirus Legal Issues. 

 

Guidance from the Health and Safety Executive website may also prove useful. 

This information was adapted from the Baptist Together Website

Other information on Welsh Government briefings to churches can be on the Cytun Website  

Coronavirus - message from the Regional Team - March 2020

 

During these challenging times the Regional Team are seeking to support in both practical ways and through prayer as we face these difficulties together.

Here is our latest practical advice sent out earlier to those on our email list. If you aren’t part of this but would like to be, please let us know:

Click Here for Baptist Union Advice 

We encourage all churches to keep up to date with the guidance released by the Baptist Union. There are regular updates and the National Team are doing a fantastic job. 

You can find links on this page for advice about:

  • Pastoral visiting

  • Keeping the Church Community connected

  • Church Meetings

  • Safeguarding considerations

We are monitoring decisions about planned Association events. However, we have taken the decision that all forthcoming Safeguarding training will be cancelled. We hope that this will start again in September.

It may be churches/ministers will seek to provide a live link for those in the churches to follow, either on Facebook or Youtube. Baptists Together have provided some advice on how to do this as well.

We are planning to develop some resources as an Association. We will let you know when these are available.

Prayer is vital. Baptists Together have produced some resources, which can be found on the above link.

We have taken the decision today to close the Association Office. The Regional Team will be working from home and the best way of contacting us in the first instance will be via email.

We are aware that if a minister needs to isolate, there may be specific situations that they are unable to respond to. If that happens, do let us know and we will seek to help if we can.

It would be great to share resources and stories during this time. If there is a way you are responding that might inform and inspire others, please let us know so that we can share it. Examples might include producing some reflections or preaching a recorded sermon; providing resources for prayer; how a particular action is responding to a community need. Let us encourage you to use our Facebook page for such purposes as well.

And finally, let us stand together as brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for our world, our churches and our communities. Let us pray for church leaders and churches, the government, our health service and all those providing care for the ill. Together let us pray for those who mourn, those who are fearful, those who are lonely and those struggling with varied practical issues.

Praying God’s blessing on you at this time.

 

From the Regional Team

South Wales Baptist Association 

54 Richmond Road, Cardiff, CF24 3UR

Tel: +44 02920 491 366