The Church has re-opened for worship on 2nd December.
Due to the Government announcement of a new lockdown the Parish of Belle Isle and Hunslet suspended public worship at Saint John and Saint Barnabas Church from 5th November until 2nd December.
The Parish of Belle Isle and Hunslet had previously suspended public worship at Saint John and Saint Barnabas Church from 17th March 2020 and had followed the guidance on the re-opening of churches as the situation developed.
Following the Government's decision to allow the re-opening of places of worship from 4th July, both the Church of England and the Diocese of Leeds have issued guidance on the safe conduct of public worship and how to make a decision about re-opening our churches.
Further information incuding the full guidance is available on the Church of England website. This page is updated as the guidance changes.
A Prayer from the Church of England
Keep us, good Lord,
under the shadow of your mercy
in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us from your love
in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
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Throughout the pandemic lockdown the Parish of Belle Isle and Hunslet has sought to share the faith within our community although not being able to worship in church.
We welcomed the decision to re-open our churches and we resumed public worship from the first Sunday of September.
The advice on the re-opening of Churches emphasised the need for responsibility and care in the way in which we emerge as a Church and community from the lockdown and we will be following the government and Church of England guidance in relation to this.
At present, the wearing of face coverings is mandatory unless an exemption applies, and congregational singing in church is not allowed. In addition to this, a weekly register of those attending will be kept for 21 days to facilitate contact tracing, should that prove necessary.
Saint John and Saint Barnabas Church during the pandemic
The Church of England has made a number of statements in relation to the pandemic and the closure of churches. The following articles from the Church of England website sumarise the guidance as the situation has developed. Other news articles can be found at https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre
Following the announcement by the Prime Minister of new restrictions to limit the spread of Covid-19, the Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, chair of the Church of England’s Recovery Group said:
“We have heard with others the announcement from the Prime Minister this evening of a second national ‘lockdown’ in England and how this will affect the life of our communities and public worship.
“We will study the detailed regulations and continue to liaise with Government departments to offer clarity to churches.
“This is a time of real uncertainty for everyone and the Church will continue to be central to the life of our communities in bringing light and hope.”
Following the announcement of new ‘rule of six’ restrictions to help limit the spread of coronavirus, the Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, who chairs the Church of England’s recovery group, said:
“I welcome confirmation from the Prime Minister that places of worship can still hold more than six people in total, despite the new restrictions on gatherings, and the reassurance that public worship can continue.
“We will continue to work with the Government on specific areas relating to our churches and church-based activities.”
Following the Government announcement that church buildings will be able to reopen for public worship from 4th July, providing physical distancing remains in place, the 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.”
Guidance for parishes and cathedrals
Detailed advice for parishes and cathedrals is available on the Church of England website. It will be updated, as necessary, in the coming days to reflect the detail of the Government guidance once published.
Weddings will be able to resume, along with other services. Updated advice for couples will be published as part of the updates mentioned above. The Church of England Recovery Group will also issue advice on subjects including singing and music for which a review by Public Health England is currently in progress.
In a discussion led by the Bishop of London, Dame Sarah Mullally, who chairs a group examining how the Church of England might proceed once the current restrictions for COVID-19 are relaxed or lifted, the House of Bishops recognised that there have been some welcome signs of improvement in the current situation, including a reduction in new cases and hospital admissions giving evidence for hope.
While church buildings remain closed for public worship, in line with Government advice, the Bishops agreed in principle to a phased approach to lifting restrictions, in time and in parallel with the Government’s approach, with three broad stages as infection levels improve:
The Bishops agreed that the decision on the timing of when to implement the revised advice on ministers or worship leaders praying and streaming from their church buildings should be made by individual Diocesan Bishops, depending on their local situation.
The Bishops were clear once again that this is guidance – not an instruction or law – and that it will be constantly reviewed depending on the national situation.
National Church of England guidance will be updated in the coming days with further advice on how the staged process could be implemented and with factors and information for dioceses to consider.
Bishop Sarah said: “We are hugely grateful for all that our churches and clergy have been doing to support the Government’s message to stay at home, to support the NHS, and to save lives.
"While it is clear there will be no imminent return to normality, the emphasis is now turning towards how and when aspects of social distancing can be eased, although we remain mindful of the potential risks of a second wave of the virus.
"Nevertheless, it now makes sense for us to start to look ahead to the potential easing of restrictions so that our clergy and churches can be prepared.”
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are calling for Church of England churches to put public worship on hold and become a “different sort of church” in the coming months to face the challenge of coronavirus.
In a joint letter, Archbishops Justin Welby and John Sentamu said it was now necessary to put public services on hold until further notice.
But they said that far from having to “shut up shop”, the Church of England must face the challenge by becoming a radically different kind of church rooted in prayer and serving others.
It comes after the Government announced unprecedented peacetime measures to try to control the spread of the virus, with restrictions on public gatherings, transport and working.
The Archbishops expressed the desire that church buildings may, where practical, remain open as places of prayer for the community, observing social distancing recommendations.
They also invited clergy to maintain the ancient pattern of daily prayer and, where possible, the eucharist – live streaming their worship if they have the resources to do so.
And they urged congregations to be in the forefront of providing practical care and support for the most poor and the most vulnerable during the crisis.
“Being a part of the Church of England is going to look very different in the days ahead,” they wrote.
“Our life is going to be less characterised by attendance at church on Sunday, and more characterised by the prayer and service we offer each day.
“We may not be able to pray with people in the ways that we are used to, but we can certainly pray for people. And we can certainly offer practical care and support.
“Please do carry on supporting the local foodbank and buy extra provisions for it. Ensure the night shelters wherever possible are kept open. There are many very encouraging schemes happening right across our country in communities to focus on caring for the most vulnerable and do continue to play your part in those.
“Then by our service, and by our love, Jesus Christ will be made known, and the hope of the gospel – a hope that can counter fear and isolation - will spread across our land.”
They added: “This is a defining moment for the Church of England. Are we truly are a church for all, or just the church for ourselves.
“We urge you sisters and brothers to become a different sort of church in these coming months: hopeful and rooted in the offering of prayer and praise and overflowing in service to the world.”
The archbishops have joined other church leaders in calling for a day of prayer and action this Sunday (Mothering Sunday) particularly remembering those who are sick or anxious and all involved in health and emergency services.
Our Lady Queen of Apostles, pray for us!
Saint John & Saint Barnabas, pray for us!
Saint Andrew, Saint Jude, Saint Silas, Saint Oswald & Saint Chad, pray for us!
All Saints of England, pray for us!