Coronavirus - essential advice for churches
(updated 5 June)
Following the Prime Minister’s statement on Sunday 10 May and the release of new guidance, the situation for churches in the UK remains unchanged. As things currently stand, church buildings are closed for Sunday services and weekday activities. We have added new guidance on the use of church buildings which explores the what the roadmap may mean for churches. On this page we have also added guidance on:
The furlough scheme
Guidance for Independent Examination.
Advice on pre-schools
We first publicised the Government’s advice on good hygiene practices regarding the Coronavirus on 28 February (with further updates on 10 and 13 March as things developed).
All of us should be following Government advice regarding good hygiene practices including:
carrying tissues and using them to catch coughs and sneezes, and binning the tissue;
washing hands with soap and water (for 20 seconds) or using sanitiser gel to kill germs;
avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands;
cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.
The latest information can be found at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
What do these measures mean for our churches?
The latest Government guidelines state that places of worship should remain closed. Live streaming of a service from an empty church is currently permissible, but within the wider limitations regarding social distancing and the numbers of people meeting together (only two people meeting together). We would encourage you to livestream from your home, and only do it from a church building if you absolutely have to. You must not open your church building for solitary prayer.
Furlough update for churches - Update 5 June
URGENT - 10 June is the last date for putting staff on furlough
The government have published guidelines about new arrangements for part time furlough provisions and for the sliding scale of employer contributions that will be required later in the summer. However, it is important for churches to be aware that the cut off date for placing any member of staff on furlough is Wednesday 10 June. This includes staff where you may wish to use part time furlough arrangements from July onwards. After 10 June it will not be possible to add anyone to the furlough scheme and make a grant claim in relation to their pay costs, whether on a full time or part time furlough basis.
Please note that if you already have staff on furlough, this arrangement can continue and you can continue to make grant claims for the time being.
Our Guide for Churches as employers is being updated to reflect all of the new guidance and will be available by email and on our website on Monday, but in the meantime, if you do wish to use the furlough scheme for any member of staff you will need to have sent them a letter (this can be sent by email) before next Wednesday. If you have not done this before, you can use the template letter to talk to a member of your staff and the confirmation letter.
Guidance for Independent Examination - Update 14 May
The Charity Commission, alongside the charity regulators for Scotland and Northern Ireland, have published joint guidance on independent examination of charity accounts during the Coronavirus pandemic here.
The guidance includes information on practical issues arising from restrictions related to COVID-19. The guidance is intended to supplement, and be read alongside, the existing guidance on independent examination, which for the Charity Commission is contained in CC32.
Advice on pre-schools - Update 15 May
Actions for educational and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020 - Next steps for the phased wider opening of educational and childcare settings can be found here.
Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus outbreak - What childcare services early years settings, childminders and local authorities need to provide during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak can be found here.
Coronavirus (COVID-19): financial support for education, early years and children’s social care - Funding and financial support available for education, childcare and children’s social care organisations can be found here.
The Early Years Alliance has provided detailed guidance on this page about business support and are providing detailed Welcome Back resource packs about re-opening here. There is further information about other issues such as infection control and funding issues on their website.
Guideline Leaflet L18: Covid-19 Coronavirus Legal Issues (updated 4 June)
Advice for ministers – pastoral visiting (1 June)
Volunteering - Update 18 May
Please see the latest information here
Guidance for churches
We have been offering guidance for our churches as tighter restrictions came into operation, some of which was revised following the Prime Minister’s announcement on 23 March.
Finance letter to churches (18 May)
Advice for churches regarding the use of buildings (12 May)
Guidance for weddings, funerals and baptisms (updated 5 May)
Covid -19 testing for ministers and other church workers (4 May)
Everybody Welcome Online (24 April)
Pre-schools and Nurseries (21 April)
Job Retention Scheme – update on furlough payments (20 April)
Counselling Support (7 April)
Empty buildings checklist (7 April)
Safeguarding: Volunteer Support Services (6 April)
Covid-19 Pandemic Statement from the Baptist Pension Scheme (2 April)
Baptist Ministers in the UK - Facebook Group (1 April)
Update on DBS ID checks (30 March)
Coronavirus: a guide for churches as employers (updated 6 April)
Advice from Anthony Collins Solicitors (updated 2 April)
Keeping your church community connected during the Coronavirus shutdown (updated 23 March)
Coronavirus: advice for ministers – pastoral visiting (updated 24 March)
Guidance for foodbanks (24 March)
Church meetings and Covid-19 (20 March)
Coronavirus resources for children, young people and families (26 March)
Safeguarding considerations for Baptist churches (updated 24 March)
Using social media with young people (updated 23 March)
Coronavirus – financial response for churches (18 March)
Coronavirus – further financial response - lettings (26 March)
Financial response - delaying payments to HMRC (20 March)
Advice for churches which are temporarily closed during the Covid-19 lock down (Opens Baptist Insurance website - 26 March)
Our Christian identity is reflected in how we do life together and how we serve our communities. Since the Government has brought in these restrictions, we know that our churches have been reflecting with us on how we might do this well.
Hebrews 10:24-25 encourages us to keep meeting together in order to encourage each other and to stir up love and good works in our life together.
And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (NRSV)
Have a look at our article on keeping connected to explore options to enable churches and small groups to meet, gather and encourage each other in the virtual space
Do get in touch and let us know if you have things that have worked well and we can share them across the Baptist family
Let’s continue to pray for all our sisters and brothers across the world who have been, and are continuing to be, affected by COVID-19. We pray that all will know God’s overwhelming, steadfast love.
We pray for those who are particularly fearful at moment.
We pray for the most vulnerable and isolated in our neighbourhoods.
We pray for the medical staff on the front line of care, we pray that they will be sustained physically, emotionally and spiritually in the coming weeks.
We pray for all those leading the response to COVID-19 across the world.
We acknowledge the Lord’s sovereignty in and through all things and pray using the words of Paul to the church in Ephesus:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:14-21 (NRSV)
For further information and questions the following sites are a useful source of information: