Question for Church Commissioners, UIN 31286, tabled on 12 July 2021
Michael Fabricant, (Conservative, Lichfield): To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, with reference to the article by the Revd Marcus Walker, Rector of the Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great, London, entitled, Is this the last chance to save the Church of England, published in the Spectator on 10 July 2021, what assessment the Church has made of the implications for its policies of the (a) findings of Revd Walker and (b) potential merits of proposals to create 10,000 new lay-led churches in the next 10 years in private homes and public halls.
On 17th June 2021 MPs put questions to Andrew Selous MP, Second Church Estates Commissioner. Text of the oral and written answers is below.
Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes) (Con): Whether the Church of England plans to support online and in-person communal worship as covid-19 restrictions are lifted. (901321)
The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Andrew Selous): The Church of England is strongly encouraging churches to support both in-person and online communal worship, and training has been given to thousands of clergy to enable this. It is up to local churches to decide how best to do this.
On 15th June 2021 the House of Lords heard a repeat of a Government statement on covid-19 rules.
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, regardless of matters of hindsight, does the Minister agree that prolonging the restrictions might be justified for certain reasons? I do not demur from that, but the prolonging of inconsistencies is a serious impediment to public adherence to the rules. You do not have to look very far to see where the discipline broke down a long time ago. For example—this is not special pleading; it is just at the forefront of my mind—you can sing in a pub but not in a church. This is what brings the rules into disrepute, and therefore people do not agree with them.
Secondly, can the Minister say something in response to Michael Gove’s reported comments about acceptable death rates? We have learned to live with acceptable death rates from flu and other seasonal diseases. Will the Government do some work on what might be an acceptable death rate from Covid in future and be up-front with the country as to what that might be? I think we can take it.
On 25th May 2021 the Bishop of Blackburn asked a question about finding energy saving solutions for historic and educational buildings.
The Lord Bishop of Blackburn: My Lords, I am grateful for the Question and the Minister’s response. My question is about the outcome for the many heritage buildings and schools in this country, where the challenge is often the greatest. Will the Government do anything to make them part of the solution rather than the problem?
Andrew Rosindell (Conservative Romford): To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps the Church of England is taking to ensure the future of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Andrew Selous (Conservative South West Bedfordshire): The Church Commissioners and other National Church Institutions have been in regular contact with the Dean and Chapter of St Paul’s Cathedral throughout the pandemic as they have with all the Anglican cathedrals in England. The Church Commissioners made additional financial support available to all cathedrals and dioceses throughout the pandemic over and above the financial support they regularly make available.
On 26th November MPs put questions to the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, on public worship, tree planting, Christmas services, gender-based violence, Living in Love and Faith, cathedral services, Christian persecution, community support and consistory court appeals. A transcript is below:
The hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners was asked—
On 17th November the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, answered a written question on coronavirus and celebrating Christmas:
Dr Luke Evans (Bosworth, Con):  To ask the hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps he is taking to support churches across Leicestershire to conduct Christmas services in 2020.
On 10th November a Government statement on the UK terror threat level was repeated in the House of Lords. The Bishop of Durham asked a question:
The Lord Bishop of Durham [V]: Places of worship have been included as targets of recent European attacks and there is a history of lone individuals targeting locations such as synagogues, mosques and churches. Considering that, what guidance and support is being given by the Government to faith communities and places of worship as they seek to balance being places of welcome and safety, open to all, without fortifying themselves unhelpfully? Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks about guidance and support on safety for places of worship”
On 4th November 2020 the House of Lords debated the Government’s Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (England) (No. 4) Regulations 2020. The Regulations introduce a second coronavirus lockdown in England, including the susp0ension of public worship. The Bishop of Winchester responded:
The Lord Bishop of Winchester [V]: My Lords, I am grateful to Her Majesty’s Government for seeking to ensure that the appropriate measures are in place to protect the most vulnerable and restrict the spread of this virus. It is important that we do not prolong such stringent lockdown measures because of the way that they impact on the mental, physical and, indeed, spiritual well-being of the population. However, I will not be supporting the fatal Motion. I recognise the exceptional nature of these times, and welcome that the regulations will enable places of worship to remain open for private prayer and broadcasting acts of worship. Creating such broadcast acts of worship often requires a team of people, both amateurs and professionals. I would welcome more clarity from the Minister on the number of people allowed to do this.
Clergy across the country have worked hard to ensure that our church buildings are Covid-secure for public worship, education settings, food banks and other essential services. In most places, by distancing and limiting congregation sizes, communal worship can safely take place without the need for an outright ban.