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 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, responded to a written question on closure of places of worship for public worship during the second coronavirus lockdown:
Anne Marie Morris (Newton Abbot, Con):  To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what discussions the Church Commissioners have had with the Government on allowing places of worship to remain open during lockdown if they continue to implement additional covid-secure measures.
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.
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.”
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:
On 25th June 20202 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, answered questions from MPs in the House of Commons, on: church building reopening, weddings, housing, public worship, music, online services, family life, church finances and the Transition Pathway Initiative. A transcript is below:
On 19th May 2020 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, answered a written question on church service attendance, from Alexander Stafford MP.
Alexander Stafford (Rother Valley):47487 To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what is the average church attendance each week in (a) Rother Valley Constituency, (b) Yorkshire, and (c) England in each year of the last five years.
Andrew Selous: The most recent survey of church attendance was published in 2018, and the table below contains figures aggregated from 2014-18 using average weekly attendance figures at all age services. These figures are collected each year during four weeks in October.