Bishop Philip is delighted by news that public worship can resume within social distancing constraints – but urges caution
The Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen, has said he is delighted by the news that churches will be able to start opening again for public worship from July 4. But he has also said that no parish should feel there is any pressure to reopen until they are comfortable that they can do so safely.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the announcement in the House of Commons today (Tuesday, June 23, 2020). It was among a raft of measures loosening the coronavirus lockdown in England.
Bishop Philip said: “It is of course very good news that we will be able to meet in fellowship once again, to worship – and see one another without the need for a webcam – albeit within the continuing constraints of social distancing.
“That weddings can also now take place will be an enormous joy and a relief to large numbers of people, although the numbers allowed to attend services will, for the time being, be restricted to 30.
“So of course, today represents a milestone – but I would also urge a degree of caution.
“Many people will quite rightly remain worried about what the news means for them, for their health and the health of those around them. The virus may be reduced, but it is still very much present in our society.
“It is very important that parishes only reopen their churches when they feel comfortable that they can do so safely – nobody should feel compelled to do so from July 4, or indeed at any point before they are really ready.
“It is important, too, to recognise that we will not be going back to pre-lockdown life. Rather we’ll be pressing on to the new future that our God opens up for us.
“Let’s walk into this new and emerging future with care, yes, but also with our hopes set high on the God who always calls us forward to follow him.”