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Coronavirus - essential advice for churches
(updated 18 May)


Following the Prime Minister’s statement on Sunday 10 May and the release of new guidance, the situation for churches in the UK remains unchanged.  As things currently stand, church buildings are closed for Sunday services and weekday activities. We have added new guidance on the use of church buildings which explores the what the roadmap may mean for churches. On this page we have also added guidance on:

  • Pastoral practice,
  • The furlough scheme
  • Guidance for Independent Examination.
  • Advice on pre-schools
  • Volunteering

We first publicised the Government’s advice on good hygiene practices regarding the Coronavirus on 28 February (with further updates on 10 and 13 March as things developed). 

All of us should be following Government advice regarding good hygiene practices including: 

  • carrying tissues and using them to catch coughs and sneezes, and binning the tissue;
  • washing hands with soap and water (for 20 seconds) or using sanitiser gel to kill germs;
  • avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.

The latest information can be found at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

What do these measures mean for our churches?
The latest Government guidelines state that places of worship should remain closed. Live streaming of a service from an empty church is currently permissible, but within the wider limitations regarding social distancing and the numbers of people meeting together (only two people meeting together).  We would encourage you to livestream from your home, and only do it from a church building if you absolutely have to.  You must not open your church building for solitary prayer. 

Pastoral practice - Update 12 May
The government advice to stay alert continues to emphasise that we should stay home whenever possible, work from home if we can, and maintain 2m distance in public while travelling, enjoying parks and public spaces or exercising. At this stage small steps are being taken to relax the restrictions without causing the R value to rise. We recommend that while we remain in the first stage of the relaxation of the requirements, ministers and other church leaders continue to follow the safe pastoral practices established through the lockdown, except in exceptional circumstances when you may conclude that it is appropriate to meet someone outside, within the social distancing guidelines, for a pastoral conversation.

Extension to furlough scheme - Update 12 May
Many churches are using the government’s furlough scheme to support the ongoing employment of church staff during these difficult times today, the Chancellor has confirmed that the furlough scheme will continue until October, but that employers will be asked to contribute more to the ongoing employment costs of their staff. There is also the prospect of more flexibility in terms of bringing workers back part-time, although no detail on this as yet.
 
The government is publishing more detail later in the week, and we will update our Guide for Churches as Employers accordingly.

Guidance for Independent Examination - Update 14 May
The Charity Commission, alongside the charity regulators for Scotland and Northern Ireland, have published joint guidance on independent examination of charity accounts during the Coronavirus pandemic here.

The guidance includes information on practical issues arising from restrictions related to COVID-19. The guidance is intended to supplement, and be read alongside, the existing guidance on independent examination, which for the Charity Commission is contained in CC32

Advice on pre-schools - Update 15 May

  • Actions for educational and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020 - Next steps for the phased wider opening of educational and childcare settings can be found here.
  • Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus outbreak - What childcare services early years settings, childminders and local authorities need to provide during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak can be found here.
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19): financial support for education, early years and children’s social care - Funding and financial support available for education, childcare and children’s social care organisations can be found here

The Early Years Alliance has provided detailed guidance on this page about business support and are providing detailed Welcome Back resource packs about re-opening here.  There is further information about other issues such as infection control and funding issues on their website.

Volunteering - Update 18 May
Please see the latest information here 

Guidance for churches

We have been offering guidance for our churches as tighter restrictions came into operation, some of which was revised following the Prime Minister’s announcement on 23 March.   

Finance letter to churches (18 May)

Advice for churches regarding the use of buildings (12 May)

Guidance for weddings, funerals and baptisms (updated 5 May)

Guideline Leaflet L18: Covid-19 Coronavirus Legal Issues (4 May)

Covid -19 testing for ministers and other church workers (4 May)

Everybody Welcome Online (24 April)

Pre-schools and Nurseries (21 April)

Job Retention Scheme – update on furlough payments (20 April)

Counselling Support (7 April)

Empty buildings checklist (7 April)

Safeguarding: Volunteer Support Services (6 April)

Covid-19 Pandemic Statement from the Baptist Pension Scheme (2 April)

Baptist Ministers in the UK - Facebook Group (1 April)

Update on DBS ID checks (30 March)

Coronavirus: a guide for churches as employers (updated 6 April)

Advice from Anthony Collins Solicitors (updated 2 April)

Keeping your church community connected during the Coronavirus shutdown (updated 23 March) 

Coronavirus: advice for ministers – pastoral visiting (updated 24 March)

Guidance for foodbanks (24 March)

Church meetings and Covid-19 (20 March)

Coronavirus resources for children, young people and families (26 March)

Safeguarding considerations for Baptist churches (updated 24 March)

Using social media with young people (updated 23 March) 

Coronavirus – financial response for churches (18 March)

Coronavirus – further financial response - lettings (26 March)

Financial response - delaying payments to HMRC (20 March)

Advice for churches which are temporarily closed during the Covid-19 lock down (Opens Baptist Insurance website - 26 March)

Along with:


Staying connected

Our Christian identity is reflected in how we do life together and how we serve our communities.  Since the Government has brought in these restrictions, we know that our churches have been reflecting with us on how we might do this well.

Hebrews 10:24-25 encourages us to keep meeting together in order to encourage each other and to stir up love and good works in our life together.

And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.  (NRSV)

Have a look at our article on keeping connected to explore options to enable churches and small groups to meet, gather and encourage each other in the virtual space

Do get in touch and let us know if you have things that have worked well and we can share them across the Baptist family


Prayer

Let’s continue to pray for all our sisters and brothers across the world who have been, and are continuing to be, affected by COVID-19.  We pray that all will know God’s overwhelming, steadfast love.

We pray for those who are particularly fearful at moment.

We pray for the most vulnerable and isolated in our neighbourhoods.

We pray for the medical staff on the front line of care, we pray that they will be sustained physically, emotionally and spiritually in the coming weeks.

We pray for all those leading the response to COVID-19 across the world.
 
We acknowledge the Lord’s sovereignty in and through all things and pray using the words of Paul to the church in Ephesus:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit,  and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.  I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Ephesians 3:14-21 (NRSV)

 
For further information and questions the following sites are a useful source of information:
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/common-questions/
https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

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The Government has recently updated their advice regarding coronavirus.
coronagoodpractice
We are all aware that we are in extremely unusual times and there is much uncertainty about the future. The closing of our church buildings has had a major impact on our life together and presented challenges to how we operate as a church.
coronagoodpractice
The Government has published guidance and a FAQs document to provide information on the Government’s roadmap for how and when the UK will adjust its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
coronagoodpractice
We have revised our guidelines on weddings, funerals and baptism still further.
coronagoodpractice
Guidance from our Legal Team on various legal and regulatory issues that have arisen because of the lockdown
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Ministers and other church workers who are showing symptoms can now be tested for Covid-19
coronagoodpractice
     Coronavirus 
    Posted: 18/05/2020
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