This email communication has been sent to all licensed Active Clergy, clergy who hold the bishop's Permission to Officiate, Retired Clergy, Readers, Authorised Lay Ministers, Churchwardens, Lay Chairs, PCC Secretaries, and the members of the Bishop’s Council of Diocesan Trustees.

Dear colleagues 

As we write, news is still coming in of the local lockdown that has been imposed in Leicester.  We are also mindful of other newspaper articles and media headlines that relate to the opening of church buildings for worship, including, especially, of the potential impact of restrictions on the way in which weddings are to be conducted.  Our key theme remains:  the government guidance is that it is possible to begin to open churches from this weekend rather than by this weekend, and only so long as certain conditions are fulfilled.  We know that the pressure is on, and we do want to assure you of our support in resisting rushed decisions. 

We received the government guidance at 1.00am yesterday morning.  We are yet to receive the full suite of updated national church guidance on public worship that is based on it.  We think that this time delay indicates the seriousness of the issues that must be handled, together with the complexity of the protocols and precautions that must be put in place. There is a great deal of information to work through, all of it with implications for clergy and PCCs.  For example, we understand that a new risk assessment is required for each place of worship, but we do not as yet know what should be done with this assessment:  is it simply to be securely filed, should it be communicated to a third party? We are currently seeking further advice, including from the Registrar, and will return to you with our conclusions as quickly as we can, we hope within 24 hours. 

The process in which we are all engaged requires prayerful, thorough, careful and individualised contextual preparation.  The consultation amongst clergy and PCCs, and with colleagues across the diocese, necessarily takes time. A huge amount of work has already been done in parishes and at diocesan and national level - but unless there is coherence with the latest guidance all the foundational work has the potential to be undermined.

It goes without saying, and as events in Leicester demonstrate, the virus is still very active. Our duty for all concerned is to urge what we might term 'pastoral caution for all'.

This message comes with our prayers and deepest appreciation,

Bishop David
The Right Reverend Dr David Court
Bishop of Grimsby
Acting Bishop of Lincoln

and

Bishop Nicholas
The Right Reverend Dr Nicholas Chamberlain
Bishop of Grantham