[Church of England] Following the U.K. Government announcement that church buildings will be able to reopen for public worship from July 4, providing physical distancing remains in place, Bishop of London Sarah Mullally, who leads the Church of England’s Recovery Group, said:
“I welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement today that we will soon be able to begin to meet and worship together in our church buildings again. The last three months have been an extraordinary time – the first period without public worship and the sacraments in England in more than 800 years. There will be real joy as we begin to come together again – if even at a physical distance – but I also know that many will be understandably cautious at this news.
“We will not be returning to normality overnight – this is the next step on a journey. We’ve been planning carefully, making detailed advice available for parishes to enable them to prepare to hold services when it is safe and practical to do so. It is important to say that the change in Government guidance is permissive, not prescriptive.
“I would particularly like to thank clergy and lay leaders for all they have done during the time our buildings have been closed. Not all church buildings will be ready to hold regular services from July 4th, but we are providing whatever support we can to enable them.
“There will still be restrictions and we must all still do everything we can to limit the spread of the virus to protect each other, especially the most vulnerable. The online services and dial-in worship offerings we have become used to will continue.
“This has been an incredibly difficult time for the whole country, especially for those who have been ill, who have suffered financial hardship, the loss of livelihoods and indeed, for many, those they love. We know that is not over and the Church has a task ahead to bring consolation and hope.
“Churches and cathedrals have risen to the recent challenges, finding new ways of meeting for worship, of serving our neighbours, and of reaching new people with the love of God. The challenge before us now is to take the next steps carefully and safely, without forgetting all that we’ve discovered about God and ourselves on the way.”