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—
Covid-19 Lockdown: Public Worship
Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): What representations the Church of England has made to the Government on the importance of public worship during periods of covid-19 lockdown.  Continue reading “Church Commissioner Questions: public worship, tree planting, Christmas services, gender-based violence, Living in Love and Faith, cathedral services, Christian persecution, community support, consistory court appeals”
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.
Andrew Selous: The Church of England’s seasonal campaign ‘Comfort and Joy’ will provide online, booklet and social media resources for all parishes and worshippers to use and enjoy this Advent and Christmas. More information is available here: https://www.churchofengland.org/resources/preparing-advent-christmas-2020-comfort-and-joy Continue reading “Church Commissioners written answer: Coronavirus and celebrating Christmas”
On 17th November the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, answered written questions on church finances and the impact of coronavirus on church social action:
Chris Green (Bolton West and Athert0n, Con) :  To ask the hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what assessment the Commissioners have made of (a) trends in the level of closure of churches and (b) the ability of worshipping communities to fund ongoing repairs to church buildings. Continue reading “Church Commissioners written answers: church finances, covid and social action”
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.
Religious worship is not a leisure activity: the freedom to worship and to assemble for this purpose is a right that we enjoy in this country and strongly advocate for in other countries. Continue reading “Bishop of Winchester protests Government suspension of public worship”
On 3rd November 2020 the House of Lords heard the repeat of a statement made by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons, announcing a second lockdown in England to tackle coronavirus. The Bishop of Winchester responded to the news that public worship would not be allowed to continue during the lockdown period:
The Lord Bishop of Winchester [V]: My Lords, the situation facing the country is gravely concerning and we all have a collective responsibility to avoid over- whelming the NHS with the spread of the virus. Churches and faith communities continue to play a crucial role in supporting their local communities. The social and economic support of churches has been estimated at more than £12 billion a year. In my diocese, many churches have offered emergency food and essential supplies to those in desperate need as part of the love your neighbour initiative. It is pleasing, therefore, that the Government have recognised the significance of this contribution by permitting places of worship to continue to offer such essential services during lockdown. I also welcome the provision for private prayer, broadcast and the continuation of funerals.
However the most reverend Primates the Archbishops and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London said in their letter to clergy this weekend:
“The sacramental life of the church cannot be seen as an optional extra.”
Access to the sacraments and communal worship are essential to sustain us with much needed hope at this time and to strengthen our commitment to social action. Continue reading “Bishop of Winchester asks Government for evidence to support lockdown suspension of public worship”
On 15th October 2020 MPs put questions to Andrew Selous MP, Second Church Estates Commissioner, on covid and church attendance, baptisms, weddings and funerals, IICSA, renting of church premises, and woodland holdings. A transcript is below:
Continue reading “Church Commissioner Questions: covid and church attendance, baptisms, weddings and funerals, IICSA, renting of church premises, woodland holdings”
On 14th September 2020 the Second Church Estates Commissioner Andrew Selous MP answered eleven written questions from Jim Shannon MP, on ethical investment, St Margaret’s Westminster, Christian persecution, South Sudan, church schools, coronavirus and church buildings, lead theft, the Beirut explosion, marriage, mental health, and ordinations: Continue reading “Church Commissioner Written Answers: ethical investment, St Margaret’s Westminster, Christian persecution, South Sudan, church schools, coronavirus, church buildings, lead theft, Beirut explosion, marriage, mental health, ordinations”
On 22nd July Lord Lexden asked Her Majesty’s Government “further to the Written Answer by Lord Greenhalgh on 26 May (HL4184), what discussions they have had with (1) the Church of England, (2) the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and (3) other Churches, about the reopening of church buildings for private devotional prayer and public worship.“
The Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, asked a follow up question focusing on singing and compulsory wearing of face masks:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, many of our churches and cathedrals are desperate to enable small groups of singers, perhaps four singers standing five metres apart from each other. Is there any possibility that that will be allowed soon? Secondly, will the Minister tell the House whether there are any plans for the compulsory wearing of face masks in places of worship?
Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government for clarity about Covid-19, singing and face masks in churches”
On 20th July the Rt Revd Nick Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury, received a written answer to a question on the green homes grant.
Lord Bishop of Salisbury: HL6798 To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the green homes grant on 8 July (HC Deb, col 976), whether (1) clergy housing, and (2) buildings open to the public and run by charities, such as churches, are eligible for that grant.
Continue reading “Bishop of Salisbury asks Government about Green Homes Grant eligibility”