Details of how the developments on Coronavirus/Covid-19 affect Church life will be posted here as regularly as possible, the most recent showing first.
In accordance with legislation effective from September 23rd, we have prepared and are displaying the NHS Contact Track and Trace QR code posters in our Hall and Narthex. At the moment this is for Hall users only, there is no requirement to use this when attending a service of worship but logging in will certainly help the NHS to follow the situation.
From August 8th it will be mandatory to wear a face covering in church.
5th January 2021
Response from the Bishop of Birmingham to new COVID-19 restrictions – 5th January
Dear Co-workers in Christ,
Seeking together to respond to the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday as the country enters lockdown to protect the NHS and save lives, upper most in our plans will be the urgent need to take action against the increased danger of the COVID-19 transmission rate.
My senior colleagues and I echo the words of the Bishop of London,
“The Government guidance on the safe use of places of worship makes clear that those attending a place of worship must not mingle with anyone outside their household or support bubble. However, some may feel that it is currently better not to attend in person, and there will be parishes which decide to offer only digital services for the time-being. Clergy who have concerns, and others who are shielding, should take particular care and stay at home.”
I continue to be profoundly thankful for all that clergy, church leaders and local teams have done through-out the crisis of 2020. Now that we are moving into a third lockdown let us continue to work together to serve even more closely in Church and Society with the release of all our gifts to the glory of Jesus Christ.
Christians everywhere will want to respond with prayer, compassion and imagination as we re-shape to serve in these extraordinary times. Working to guard and support wellbeing, we will keep ourselves and others connected through safe, responsible and creative means, most appropriate to our contexts.
Every crisis brings opportunity and as we deepen our personal spiritual wells and extend our prayer life.
‘May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.’
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
Yours in Christ,
30th December 2020:
The Bishop of Birmingham’s comment on the latest restrictions
The Prime Minister’s briefing yesterday (December 29th) brought the majority across the region into Tier 4, along with the stark reminder, ‘1 in 3 people who have coronavirus have no symptoms and will be spreading it without realising it.’ (Gov.uk)
Places of worship remain open with the serious need to exercise ever increasing caution as you again review your conscientious Risk Assessments. Community centres and halls close except for a limited number of exempt activities set out by HM Government.
Funerals are allowed with strict limits on attendance and can only take place in COVID-19 secure venues or in public outdoor spaces. Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are permitted only in exceptional circumstances.
When in attendance at places of worship for a service, people cannot mingle with anyone outside of their household or support bubble, staying alert to strict 2 metre social distancing in every situation. As Professor Stephen Powis, National Medical Director of NHS England, says ‘Covid loves a crowd’.
Covid-19 tests have begun to record coronavirus infection amongst some ministers and congregations. Where a pause in public worship is deemed the responsible course of action, with PCC agreement, a consultation with the Bishop, in line with Canon Law, should be arranged swiftly through your Archdeacon.
We wait together for the roll out of essential vaccines, in the parameters of Tier 4, staying home whenever possible, mindful of the battle to saves lives, to preserve the Covid-19 capacity of the NHS and the wellbeing of all key workers, our families, friends, colleagues, congregations, communities and ourselves.
Now is the time to dig deep into personal faith and prepare for further Christian service, offering Hope to others as we turn from 2020 to 2021. In these concerning and changing circumstances, I wish you a New Year filled with Faith, Hope and Love.
“But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7
With my prayers, in Christ Jesus,
Friday July 31st - From the Church Times
FACE coverings in places of worship in England will be mandatory from August 8th, it was announced on Friday by the Prime Minister. Face coverings have been required in shops, supermarkets, shopping centres, and enclosed transport hubs since 24 July.
Mr Johnson said on Friday: “We will also extend the requirement to wear a face covering to other indoor settings where you’re likely to come into contact with people you do not normally meet, such as museum, galleries, cinemas, and places of worship. We now recommend face coverings are worn in these settings, and this will become enforceable in law from 8 August.” The Government had previously stated that from 24 July face coverings were only to be “encouraged” in places of worship.
Guidance from the C of E, updated on Friday afternoon, said: “We will study detailed government regulations and guidance once they are available and will update our guidance accordingly. In the meantime, we continue to strongly advise that face coverings should be worn by all those attending a place of worship, including ministers, worshippers, staff, volunteers, contractors and visitors, where there may be other people present; remembering that they are mainly intended to protect other people, not the wearer, from Coronavirus and that they are not a replacement for physical distancing and regular hand washing.”
Thursday June 12th 2020
Letter from Bishop David concerning church buildings re-opening for private prayer
Dear Co-workers in Christ,
Permission has been given by Government to take decisions about re-opening church buildings for individual private prayer from June 15th. This is a significant undertaking, and I am sure will be approached prayerfully, cautiously and with conscientious reference to Government measures and guidelines. We each continue to play our part in the on-going battle against the spread of Covid-19.
In addition, I expect that permission for funerals in church buildings will be modified to allow them to take place under guidance from Public Health England. Further details will be issued as soon as they are available. Government has still made no decision to allow weddings.
All plans and procedures will as usual be founded in social distancing directives. Church buildings will need to be prepared, with on-going provision for regular cleaning. While there is joy for some in being able to admit people to our spaces once again, I would urge you to work within limitations, and consider deeply the well-being of your fellow workers, yourselves and your communities.
Parishes and congregations have been served compassionately by your committed and imaginative leadership during this season, both through digital worship and countless other creative ways of connection and support that have been highly appreciated across our deaneries.
Meanwhile, acts of Public Worship are still not permissible in our buildings or in real gatherings. As we move forward together into this new way of living with the Covid-19 virus, I invite you to reflect with me on the varied expressions of worship, prayer, bible study and pastoral care that have developed. Many of these have been in small or neighbourhood groups. How could they be integrated into a sustainable, serving Church, now and into our shared future? How can we encourage the interest in Gospel proclamation and demonstration that has been generated in the last 13 weeks?
Now, as a priority, please continue to pray how to respond with our Brothers and Sisters, who in addition to unequal effects of the pandemic, are suffering continued injustice and exclusion from the privileges all of us should be free to enjoy in this country.
With my prayers,
Friday April 17th 2020
- This Bereavement Pastoral Ministry is open to all.
- The ministry is rooted in the Christian faith and draws on the spiritual resources of the Church of England.
- Our telephone service offers pastoral ministry of compassionate listening, and the opportunity for prayer in the Christian tradition for those who would welcome it.
- Pastoral Ministers are skilled volunteers recruited from experienced clergy and licensed lay ministers.
- We operate a policy of confidentiality, within the safeguarding framework of the Church of England.
- We are not able to offer long-term bereavement care or counselling, though we can signpost to other helping organisations.
- Callers will be invited to leave their name and phone number on an answering service, with a message undertaking to respond to the caller within 24 hours by phone contact from a Pastoral Minister. The phone line will be checked 5 days per week, and contact details passed to a volunteer Pastoral Minister who agrees to call within 24 hours.
Monday March 23rd 2020
URGENT PASTORAL STATEMENT FROM
RIGHT REV. DAVID URQUHART, LORD BISHOP OF BIRMINGHAM
In the light of our current national situation and the latest Prime Ministerial broadcast, here below is our initial response. Further updates and guidance will follow as the situation develops tomorrow.
Closing Church Buildings – UPDATE
Concerning measures to slow the COVID- 19 virus, the time has come not only for us to suspend public worship, but for us to close our church buildings entirely, across the Church of England, Birmingham. In doing this, we are demonstrating the importance of people staying at home and maintaining physical distancing in saving lives. Please add notices to your website and social media platforms, as appropriate, and tell people by phone, how they can join with the church in worship and prayer with an emergency telephone number so that contact can be made if required.
Clergy and Leaders should continue their pattern of prayer and worship in their homes. Those who wish to offer access to this online, are encouraged to do so from their homes only, in accordance with the strict government guidance to restrict all non-essential travel. St Philip’s Cathedral will also be closed and no longer continuing in use as a location from which services will be streamed or recorded. Resources to enable this further will be available via the Update and CofEB social media in the coming days. While the strong recommendation is in place to remain in your home except for key workers, essential supplies and in extreme circumstances, encouragement is also given to think creatively about use of telephones in situations where online connection is not possible. Further tools for worship, bible study and devotion at home will also be made available online over the coming days and weeks, to enable people with biblical reflection, spiritual communion, and personal devotion. Where you can meet virtually for prayer and Bible study, please do so.
For the duration of this Crisis, all are called to consider our actions against the need to support the common good and also protect ourselves, families and neighbours. The very love of neighbour that leads us to want to come together requires us to sacrifice congregating for a season.
Where church buildings house Food Banks, please contact the Archdeacons for guidance. Guidance on building maintenance and checks for insurance purposes will be issued shortly from the Property Team.
Closing Church Buildings – Funerals
With the closure of church buildings, provision should be made for Funeral Services to be held only at Crematoria and the graveside. Clergy and Ministers are asked to liaise closely with Funeral Directors, in the circumstances of each case, and ensure that the few necessary attendees are at no time closer than 2 metres to anyone, except those with whom they live. Particular attention will need to be given to arrangements for entering and leaving the Crematorium, and when there is a burial, for mourners at the graveside. New liturgical material will be made available shortly.
If the new government advice is causing severe and immediate pastoral difficulty, please contact the Archdeacons or the Bishops.
Closing Church Buildings – Weddings and Baptisms
With the closure of church buildings, weddings can no longer take place within them. Neither is it permitted for a wedding to take place at another location or virtually. Wedding services should be postponed.
Although we are rightly restrained from normal occasional offices, in cases of extreme emergency (i.e. imminent death) please contact your Bishop or Archdeacon immediately for guidance before proceeding.
Church of England Communications Team Tel: 0121 426 0400
The Church of England - Birmingham
1 Colmore Row, Birmingham B3 2BJ
Tuesday March 17th 2020
At 1.30pm today the Archbishops of Canterbury and York announced their decision that all acts of public worship are to be suspended with immediate effect for the foreseeable future, accordingly there will be no services at St. Michael’s until further notice. Please check back regularly for news and any changes to this which take place.
Anyone needing to get in touch can use the ‘Contact us’ form, see the menu bar above, and we will do our best to respond as quickly as possible. Although we don’t yet have our own Priest we can arrange prayers, or pass on prayer requests, for those in need.
Activities in our Hall are also affected, we suggest you make contact directly with the organisers to obtain details of the latest situation with them.