Churches in Wales can re-open for private prayer from Monday (22 June) as the Welsh Government’s eases lockdown restrictions.
Our Churches will need to meet strict safety measures can re-open for individuals and household groups to pray. However, all churches will remain closed for services, including weddings, funerals and baptisms.
The Church in Wales has worked with the Welsh Government on safety measures churches will have to implement in order to re-open. These include maintaining a two-metre distance between people and ensuring sufficient hygiene and cleaning protocols. Churches will also have to complete a COVID risk assessment before re-opening.
As a result not all churches will be able to re-open at this time. Precise opening hours for private prayer will vary depending on each church’s capacity to open safely. A significant factor will be the availability of volunteers to monitor social distancing and ensure churches are kept clean.
While welcoming the news that churches can now re-open for private prayer, the Church’s bishops say public safety must be the first consideration.
In a statement, they say, “A cautious approach to re-opening, based firmly on Welsh Government guidance, is essential. What has been announced is the giving of permission. There is no requirement, from Welsh Government or the Bishops of the Church in Wales, to re-open at this time.
“Whilst we all look forward to the day that all our churches can open safely, we urge local safely within the guidelines. At Aled Mission Area we are currently working on how and which of our churches can be opened safely for private prayer. Our primary concern must be the health and wellbeing of our clergy, staff, volunteers and visitors.”
Following the announcement, the Bishop of St Asaph, Gregory Cameron wrote to all clergy saying: “In this diocese, the key body in making decisions will be the Mission Area Conference or Executive. There are certain risk assessments and procedures that must be in place before churches are opened. In particular, I expect Mission Areas to develop a shared strategy towards the opening of church buildings in their area. Mission Area Leaders are asked therefore to liaise with the archdeacons, as they develop plans and move forward.
“We must see this permission from Welsh government as the first step to restarting our physical Church communities. ”
The Archbishop of Wales, John Davies, added, “We are grateful for the permission which has been given to open churches for private prayer where it is both safe and practical to do so. This will bring spiritual comfort and support to many people, particularly in these tense and anxious days. While we are still unable to hold services, it is a hopeful sign that we are coming though this pandemic.
“We are very grateful to our clergy and volunteers who will now be working hard to ensure the churches that can open can do so safely by meeting our robust criteria.”
While church buildings remain closed for services, people can continue to join in worship and fellowship online in the many services now being broadcast. Please contact us for more details.