Category Archives: CofE Practical Guidance

Practical Guidance for Weddings

If you are due to get married in the coming months, we recognise that this may be a time of great concern.

It will be possible for your wedding to go ahead with minimal numbers in attendance, or if you wish to rearrange your day, we will do everything we can to help you do so.

The following advice is provided for those planning weddings, either who wish to go ahead or to find an alternative date in the future.

Before the wedding

It is advised that meetings between the couple and the priest are held by telephone, skype etc rather than face-to-face. If meetings can only be held in person, social distancing guidance will be followed.

This should also be communicated to anyone in the wider circle of friends, family or colleagues in advance who may wish to attend. Sadly, those over the age of 70 and those with an underlying health condition are strongly discouraged from attending any in the present circumstances.

Planning the wedding

While wedding services may continue, numbers attending the ceremony in church will need to be strictly curtailed to the legal minimum, which is the priest, bride, groom and two witnesses.

Where family relatives or friends are unable to attend given the restrictions on numbering, churches will be happy to explore ways to allow others to join the service, either through platforms such as Skype, or recording the service to send at a later date to anyone unable to attend.

Where no audio link can be achieved, an order of service could be sent either by email or post.

Apart from the bride and groom, the physical distance should be observed as far as possible.

The priest does not have to touch the rings to bless them, nor does he or she have to touch the couple’s hands as part of a prayer or blessing, so it is possible for the service to proceed as normal.

No additional church personnel will attend the service, for example, organists, vergers or sound system operator etc.

If a couple wishes to cancel their wedding, then any fees or deposit paid to the church will be refunded in full, and if the couple wishes to postpone, the church will work with them to find a suitable future date wherever possible.

Where it has not been possible for marriage banns to be read because of restrictions to public services, a Common Licence or Special Licence may be appropriate. The priest will be able to help you to ensure you have what is necessary.

For those going ahead with their wedding, it could be possible to have a blessing at a future date with more friends and family in attendance. Prayers can also be said during the service for any who are unable to attend.

 

During the wedding

Everyone attending the service must adhere to Government guidance on social distancing. Please follow the directions of the officiant if you are attending a service.

While naturally those present may wish to shake hands or hug, all present should refrain from doing so in light of guidance on physical distancing.

After the wedding 

In keeping with the recommendations to limit social gatherings, there should not be a reception or other gathering after the marriage; this should be arranged at a future date once Government advice permits.

We will do our best to explain any changes or delays which may be an inevitable consequence of the current restrictions,  but we are here to support you and to ensure your wedding can go ahead or be rearranged to a suitable date in the future.

Practical Guidance for Baptisms

In this exceptional time, the Government’s guidance on social distancing and self-isolation will have a major impact on all aspects of everyday life, including the way baptisms can be conducted for the immediate future. Baptisms can continue in the Church of England but inevitably there will be some adaptations to protect everyone.

This means baptisms can go ahead, but they may be different from what might normally be expected.

Before the baptism

It is advised that meetings between candidates or parents/guardians/carers and clergy are held by telephone, Skype etc. rather than face-to-face. If meetings can only be held in person, social distancing guidance will be followed.

Numbers of those attending the baptism must be kept to a minimum – the candidate, their parents/guardians/carers, godparents and the minister and no others.

This should also be communicated to anyone in the wider circle of friends, family or colleagues in advance who may wish to attend. Sadly, those over the age of 70 and those with an underlying health condition are strongly discouraged from attending any in the present circumstances.

If candidates or parents/guardians/carers wish to postpone the baptism in light of the restrictions in numbers, this is something that will be supported, and help given to find a suitable date in the future.

All baptisms will be “stand-alone” events rather than part of a Sunday service as there is no longer public worship.

No additional church personnel will attend the service, for example, organists, vergers or sound system operator etc.

Planning the baptism

Where family relatives or friends are unable to attend given the restrictions on numbering, churches will be happy to explore ways to allow others to join the service, either through platforms such as Skype, or recording the service to send at a later date to anyone unable to attend.

Where no audio link can be achieved, an order of service could be sent either by email or post.

Everyone attending the service must adhere to Government guidance on social distancing. Please follow the directions of the priest if you are attending a service.

While naturally those present may wish to shake hands or hug, all present should refrain from doing so in light of guidance on physical distancing.

Where infants are being baptised, a parent/guardian/carer will be asked to hold the infant for the duration of the service, including for the baptism.

Communal bibles and other items will not be used to minimise transmission risk and baptismal candles, if used, should be handled by one person only. A parent or Godparent will be asked to light and hold the candle on behalf of the candidate and to remove it safely immediately after the service.

The application of oil and signing of the cross will be done using an implement which avoids the need for direct physical contact.

While a parent/guardian/carer holds the infant, the officiating member of clergy will use an implement such as a shell to pour the water. A parent/guardian/carer will be asked to wipe the forehead of the baptised person with paper towels which can then be thrown away.

Unfortunately, baptism by immersion is not possible during the current restrictions.

During the baptism

Everyone attending the service must adhere to Government guidance on social distancing. Please follow the directions of the officiant if you are attending a service.

While naturally those present may wish to shake hands or hug, all present should refrain from doing so in light of guidance on physical distancing.

After the baptism

In keeping with the recommendations to limit social gatherings, there should not be a celebration or other gathering after the baptism, and this should be arranged at a future date once Government advice permits.

We will do our best to explain any changes or delays which may be an inevitable consequence of the current restrictions, but we are here to support you and to ensure baptism can go ahead or be rearranged to a suitable date in the future.

Practical Guidance for for Funerals

In this exceptional time, the Government’s guidance on social distancing and self-isolation will have a major impact on all aspects of everyday life, including the way funerals will be conducted for the immediate future. Christian funerals will continue in the Church of England but inevitably there will be some adaptations to protect everyone.

This means funerals can go ahead, but they may be different from what might normally be expected.

Before the funeral

It is advised that meetings between the bereaved and the person taking the funeral (officiant) are held by telephone, skype etc rather than face-to-face. If meetings can only be held in person, social distancing guidance will be followed.

Planning the funeral

Although this will be very difficult for everyone, numbers of those attending the funeral will have to be kept to a minimum – we advise immediate family only. This should also be communicated to anyone in the wider circle of friends, family or colleagues in advance. Sadly, those over the age of 70 and those with an underlying health condition are strongly discouraged from attending in the present circumstances.

Any changes to the normal service will be explained by the officiant to the family. 

Where family relatives or friends are unable to attend a funeral service, clergy can still take a funeral at the graveside or crematorium, even if those present are limited to clergy and funeral directors.

Consider whether a memorial service could be held at some point in the future, which is an opportunity for more people to come together once Government guidance permits.

Those who are self-isolating may be offered the opportunity to join the service via a system such as Skype or another audio link. Failing this, a recording could be made which can be sent to anyone unable to attend after the service.

Where no audio link can be achieved, officiants may be able to provide an order of service, either by email or post.

No additional people should be expected to attend the service, such as an organist, verger, sound system operator etc.

During the funeral

Everyone attending the service must adhere to Government guidance on social distancing. Please follow the directions of the officiant and funeral director if you are attending a service.

While naturally those present may wish to shake hands or hug, all present should refrain from doing so in light of guidance on physical distancing.

After the funeral

In keeping with the recommendations to limit social gatherings, there should not be a wake or other gathering after the funeral, although it may possible to hold a gathering at a later date

If you are organising the funeral of a loved one, we are acutely aware of what a difficult time this will be. We will do our best to explain any changes or delays which may be an inevitable consequence of the current restrictions – for example, to the burial of ashes – but we are here to support you and to ensure a Christian funeral and burial can still be provided.