CAPTION: Bishop Robert and other clergy and lay ministers will still be able to broadcast acts of worship from church buildings

Second lockdown is a moment to draw together in mutual support

Posted: 1st November, 2020

The Bishop of Exeter has said the Government’s announcement of a second lockdown is a “body blow” but that this is a moment for people to “draw together in mutual support and renew our trust in God.”

A national lockdown, which will include the temporary suspension of public church services and weddings, is due to begin on Thursday 5 November.

Speaking on All Saints Day, The Right Reverend Robert Atwell said, “For many of us, this second lockdown is a body-blow.

“However, we must not pull back in exhaustion or fear.

“Earlier in the year, we learned that it is by drawing on the well-springs of our faith and reaching out to those in need that we mitigate isolation and smooth the abrasive edges of lockdown.

“As Paul writes, ‘We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair’ (2 Cor. 4.8).

“This is the moment to draw together in mutual support and renew our trust in God who journeys with us”

Families take part in a socially-distant Pumpkin Praise service as the Government makes its announcement

The new Government guidance for places of worship says church buildings can stay open for individual prayer and funeral services can still go ahead.

There are a number of other exemptions, for example if church buildings are used to house food banks or run support groups.

Services can also still be broadcast from church buildings and many churches across Devon already livestream their services or pre-record them to post on social media.

Speaking on BBC Radio Devon’s Sunday Breakfast  programme, Cath Ellis from St Margaret’s church in Northam, said “We are disappointed at the news because we like to be together in church, even sitting apart.

“However, we have got a very good online service and we have been phoning people right from the start (of lockdown in March) to make sure they are all right.”

In an interview on the same programme, Heidi Lewis, the Families’ Mission Advisor for the Ashburton and Moorland Mission Community, said, “The biggest challenge is that for churches this is one of the busiest times of the year coming-up, with Advent and Christmas.

“We need to look at the new guidance, at how we respond creatively and work out how we continue being a community even though we are apart.

“We need to use the technology that we have got, phone people, get online and engage with online services.”

“It’s important to remember that this is not a permanent state of affairs, everything passes and this will too.”

The Church of England is expected to publish more detailed guidance for churches in the next few days.