Methodist Church Advice and Guidance
This page was last updated at 09:49 on Wednesday 23 September
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Updated guidance following Government announcement on steps to reduce the spread of Covid-19 - as of 23 September 2020
Full details regarding how the government announcement will impact our churches is yet to be released. However, here are the main points to take away:
Education establishments to remain open at present (this is assumed to include pre-schools subject to details);
Community & church cafés should only operate a table service and close by 10pm;
All staff and customers in community and church cafes, charity shops, etc will now have to wear a face covering (unless seated for eating/drinking where relevant);
In many sectors, which might include projects run through churches, working to Covid-secure guidelines will now be a legal obligation;
Weddings will only be able to have a maximum of 15 people (down from 30) attending the service and reception afterwards;
Funeral numbers allowed to attend remain unchanged at 30 people;
Currently new shielding measures for those who are more vulnerable remain unchanged at present;
Places of Worship are allowed to remain open
Updates have been made to the following guides:
The 'Rule of Six' and what it means for our churches - as of 17 September 2020:
The new 'Rule of Six' has been implemented by the government as a way of simplifying guidance around social gatherings. The impact on churches is yet to be fully examined but currently the following has been stated by the Methodist Church:
'...it is our understanding that the number relates to the maximum group size before they come into church and therefore can sit together in church. It is not a directive to sit people together in groups of 6 as part of worship. You can continue to space chairs and people as before with 2m distancing between household groups, which could be individuals, couples, larger families, etc.'
It is recommended that you read through the following documents for further information:
FAQ’s of What You Can and Can’t Do (specifically sections 2.8 – 2.12)
Meeting Safely with Others (specifically section 3)
Safe Use of Multi-Purpose Facilities (specifically sections 2a, 3a, 3c, 3d)
Guidance for the Phased Return of Sport & Recreation (regarding exercise and fitness groups)
Working Safely in the Performing Arts (regarding choirs/drama groups & with reference to section 3.3, 3.12)
Safe Use of the Places of Worship (recommended checking regularly for updates)
Updated guidance on social interaction - as of 10 September 2020
Places of Worship can remain open for services and prayer. As before, the limit on the number of people is determined by the risk assessment with attendees divided into multiple groups of no more than 6 people.
Weddings and funerals are still allowed and maximum numbers remain at 30 with people divided into multiple groups of no more than 6.
Community Halls remain open and activities are allowed as before but within each activity, participants can be in groups that consist of no more than 6 people.
The government has emphasised that venues must be Covid-19 secure and contact details must be left for Test and Trace. More information can be read here.
Conferring and decision making during the pandemic - new guidance as of 03 September 2020
The Methodist Church has produced a short resource to assist local churches in how they can approach decision making at a time when church meetings are required. To access the resource please click the link below:
Singing, the use of wind instruments and cleaning churches - updated guidance as of 19 August 2020
Guidance on singing during acts of worship has now been updated following revision of government guidelines. For more information please read the updated guidance sheets below:
Face coverings and Holy Communion - updated guidance as of 10 August 2020
Face coverings should be worn during the handling and distributing of any specific items related to the celebration of communion.
Face mask exemption during worship - updated guidance as of 07 August 2020
The government states that those leading a service in a place of worship as well as volunteers who are assisting with activities such as reading, preaching or leading prayer do not need to wear a face covering when performing those aspects of the service. However, a face covering should be worn social distancing cannot be maintained and when distributing communion or other consumables.
Updated and amended information as of 03 August 2020
Guidance from the Methodist Church has been updated to reflect revised government guidelines issued on Friday 31 July, including an update on face coverings:
Updated and amended information as of 28 July 2020
The following information contains new and updated information in relation to various items of guidance as directed by the Methodist Church:
Updated Guide for Face Coverings to include exemptions
Updated Cleaning Churches during Covid-19 (amended guidance to replace hand dryers with paper towels)
Newly updated information (22 July 2020)
Please be advised that there are 2 new pieces of guidance now available on the Methodist Church website:
The following pieces of guidance have also now been updated:
Guide for House groups and small gatherings (to reflect change in Government guidance for Open Air Worship and small gatherings)
Guide for weddings (additional note about wedding receptions)
Guide for Other Community Users (to reflect change in allowing small wedding receptions; additional user groups added and important note added regarding gyms, dance classes etc.)
New guidance available on the website (15 July 2020)
Please be advised that the Methodist Church's coronavirus guidance for property page has now been given a new format. This is to ensure that the information is more accessible and updates can be clearly located. You can view the updated page here.
The following pieces of guidance are now available for your use:
Please be advised that information and guidance from the Methodist Church pertaining to the re-opening of places of worship has now been updated. Please note the following:
The newly revised guidance also features an update to the below documents:
Opening of Churches for Worship v2
Re-opening a Building Checklist v2
Covid-19 Risk Assessment v5
The Director of Property Support, Stephen Hetherington, explains the work of the Property Team which you can listen to via the updated page.
We would also like to reiterate the following:
There is no compulsion to re-open if Managing Trustees do not feel it can be done safely, or it is too soon. As our guidance states:
It needs to be well planned, both before the opening and kept under review once the building is in use.
Do not assume that you can immediately do things ‘as you used to do’ and accept that saying ‘no’, ‘not yet’ or ‘not like this’ can be positive decisions.'
Please click this link for access to all the above information featured on the Methodist Church website.
Re-opening of places of worship from Saturday 04 July (23 June 2020)
The Government has announced that places of worship may re-open from July 4 2020 for services. The Methodist Church Property Team is working on what Managing Trustees will need to consider in order to re-open buildings and will update the Methodist Church website as soon as is possible.
A special service to celebrate a return to public worship will also be released.
In the meantime updates on what steps Managing Trustees will need to take when considering whether to open church buildings can be found here.
Property guidance relating to Covid-19 including a Re-Opening a Building Checklist and a Covid-19 Risk Assessment: both of these can be started now and will need to be followed in the event of any changes.
Safeguarding considerations during the pandemic can be viewed here.
Re-opening places of worship for private prayer (12 June 2020)
The Government has now published its guidance for the re-opening of places of worship for private prayer. You can read the guidance here.
Re-opening places of worship for private prayer (11 June 2020)
The Government has changed its advice to allow churches and other religious buildings to open for individual prayer from Saturday June 13.
The Methodist Church’s advice remains that churches stay closed, but we recognise that different parts of the British Isles might be at different stages and we appreciate that there may be those who feel their mission depends on their church being open for individual prayer. If Managing Trustees feel they are at a point where they want to open their buildings for individual prayer, this guidance must be followed.
When the Government announced its intention to change the advice it stated that: ‘Places of worship still have discretion over when they consider it safe to open and may decide to remain closed or reopen at a slower pace if they wish’ and we would like to stress that no-one should feel under any pressure to open buildings for individual prayer.
We understand the vital need for prayer at this time and have found that our people have been praying no less because they have not had buildings in which to pray. We know that mission, ministry and church has been happening in new and exciting ways in these times.
We are conscious that those churches in jurisdictions outside England may have different needs and mission opportunities, and have to abide by different regulations from English churches.
Above all, we want people to pray and worship safely and as we have already stated, we are committed to doing a full review of our guidance after the Conference.
Reopening places of worship (04 June 2020)
We continue to heed the Government guidelines for churches and to consider carefully the needs and risks involved in reopening places of worship. At this point, we do not anticipate making any changes to our own guidance until after the Conference which takes place between June 25 and July 2.
The Methodist Church is today updating its guidance on livestreaming or recording services to allow ministers or leaders to do this in Methodist property. (The updated guidance must be read in the context of where you live as devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales may have different guidelines.)
It is acknowledged that over this time many have found creative ways and locations to deliver spiritual support and continue to worship and while the updated guidance is not intended to replace this, it does provide an alternative if individuals wish to consider livestreaming or recording from their church buildings.
The guidance sets out what practical steps need to be considered, including who else can go into the building, how it should be cleaned, general safety and social distancing. This guidance needs to be carefully considered and strictly adhered to.
The Methodist Church has issued new property related guidance for managing trustees, following the launch of the Government's new strategy to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. The guidance covers many topics including:
Public spaces, outdoor activity and re-opening external places of exercise
Education in Early Years Settings
Information on funding
Re-opening Church Buildings - Update issued on 15 May 2020
The Property team are currently working on guidelines with regard to safe reopening of our buildings. Updates will be posted here: www.methodist.org.uk/for-churches/property/coronavirus-guidance-for-property/.
Many people are asking about the re-opening of nurseries and pre-schools in our buildings from 1 June, and please be assured we are working on the updated guidance which will be published as soon as possible.
Having checked the FAQ’s if you have specific queries regarding property please email email@example.com,
I am due to move this August. What’s happening?
The Conference will be asked to adopt the changes to the stations as usual and at present we are assuming that all moves will go ahead as planned during the summer (therefore removals should be booked). A small contingency group has been established to look at issues that might arise and we will publish further advice if the situation changes.
Update issued on 14 May 2020
The Government launched its new strategy on Sunday 10th May to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic which is outlined in its document Our Plan to Rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy on 12th May 2020, which came into effect today (13th May 2020).
A number of points within the plan will have an impact on many churches and their properties across the Connexion. In response to this the Conference Office, Connexional Property Team and TMCP are currently working together to develop a comprehensive set of property related guidance for managing trustees. This guidance will be published over the coming days so please refer back to this page for further information.
An update - issued Tuesday 12 May
A statement from the Revd Dr Jonathan Hustler, Secretary of the Conference:
“Methodists have missed being able to gather for worship in church buildings over the last two months and look forward to the resumption of public worship when it is safe for this to happen.
"The Church’s commitment to the pastoral care of its members and others has been at the forefront of our response and will continue to be. During the lockdown many congregations have shared in internet based services, usually broadcast from manses, following strict social distancing rules, and many people have continued to worship in their homes. Church communities have been creative in preparing worship materials and nationally we have a dedicated phone line for those who are not connected to the internet.
"The increased number of broadcast services on radio and television has helped to mitigate some of the sense of deprivation that people feel from a loss of fellowship. We would hope that those programmes continue to be scheduled as not all will be able to attend public worship even when all restrictions have been lifted.
"We recognise the paramount importance of the safety of members of the public and understand that any change to the current restrictions must be made with care.”
An update - issued Thursday 07 May
The Government is due to give an update on its lockdown guidance on Sunday May 10. We will consider any changes carefully and update our own guidance as necessary. The Secretary to the Conference will meet Ecumenical colleagues later this week and District Chairs and the Warden of the Diaconal Order on Monday May 11 and will discuss any possible changes with them. As usual, any updates will be shared on the Methodist Church website and on our social media channels.
*Lay Employment Advisory Information from the Methodist Church
This page contains information on the following:
Information on the job retention(furlough) scheme
Furlough confirmation letter template and explanation letter template
Employment related FAQ's for churches and circuits
Lay employment advisory pack
*Frequently asked questions:
The Methodist Church's frequently asked questions page is continually updated and contains information matters including, but not limited to:
Information on sabbaticals
Information on Methodist Conference
The Methodist Church has now issued guidance that all Methodist Churches are to close, including those currently open for quiet prayer and reflection. This does not include churches which provide essential services, such as food banks. There are however, guidelines about how these should be run. Closure also covers the live streaming of services in church buildings.
As churches will be closed, service sheets and resources for home worship are now available to download, You can access these resources here.