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Places of worship allowed to reopen for individual prayer

PUBLISHED: 12:12 13 June 2020 | UPDATED: 13:18 13 June 2020

The Bishop of Norwich the Rt Rev Graham Usher. Picture: Diocese of Norwich

The Bishop of Norwich the Rt Rev Graham Usher. Picture: Diocese of Norwich

Archant

The Bishop of Norwich has welcomed the announcement that from this weekend churches will be allowed to open for private prayer.

West front of Norwich Cathedral seen through the Erpingham Gate. Photograph: Norwich Cathedral/Bill SmithWest front of Norwich Cathedral seen through the Erpingham Gate. Photograph: Norwich Cathedral/Bill Smith

Since lockdown was announced, places of worship have only been allowed to open for small funerals, to broadcast acts of worship, to provide childcare and to offer essential services.

However, from June 13, churches and other places of worship across the country will be permitted to open to the public for individual prayer.

Worshippers will have to follow social distancing, are being advised to wear face coverings and the numbers of people allowed into places of worship may need to be restricted.

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham Usher welcomed the news.

He said: “This is good news as churches are sacred and special places - treasure troves of memory for generations of people.

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“They belong to all the community and it is a joy that they are now able to be places of welcome and prayer once again.”

He said it was important to make sure churches were safe places, adding: “Our churches will need to be cleaned thoroughly in the right way and with the appropriate materials having been closed for three months.

“Some of the people who look after our churches, may need to be shielding or isolating at present.

“This all may mean that some churches will not be able to open straight away and, especially in localities where there are a number of church buildings, this may take some time.

“There is no need to rush as we work together to open up our churches, safely, securely and steadily. Our journey out of lockdown will be made up of these small steps.

“Over the last three months the life of the Christian community hasn’t closed. It’s been different. Congregations have been meeting online in over 250 weekly services across Norfolk and Waveney, and people have been undertaking thousands of acts of kindness in loving their neighbours.

“We owe a great debt of gratitude to our clergy, lay minsters and churchwardens for their faithful leadership over the past few months and I trust them in working out how we open our church buildings in the weeks ahead.”


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