Churches turn to open-air services

Aug 6, 2020 by

Anglican churches are allowed to reopen for communal worship under certain conditions, with the final decision left with the PCC.

Government guidance says that gatherings of more than 30 people are now allowed for acts of communal worship in churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and meeting rooms in England.

Everyone attending the service should stick to social distancing guidelines, keeping at least 1m (3ft) – and ideally 2m (6ft) if possible – away from anyone not from their own household or support bubble.

A risk assessment has to be carried out at each place of worship. This will also determine the number of people allowed to take part in a service

Some opened, others did not, perhaps intimidated by all the regulations that needed to be met.

Meanwhile reports have been coming in from around the country of people meeting together for worship, for example at a drive-in venue with the speakers on a stage.

Martin Down in CEN July 31 asked “What about the open-air?”

Somewhere in the home counties a few local lay Christians in mid-July took the view that for all the quality of online services, what people missed was being able to sing to the Lord together.

So, while the weather is fine, starting with 11 people, now up to 20 from two denominations have been meeting on a playing field carpark for half an hour on Sunday morning, accompanied by a guitarist. People out for a run, passing cyclists and dog-walkers have looked on quizzically while these people sing, pray especially for those hardest hit by lockdown, read Scripture and also hear a biblical reflection.

Such a practice has venerable roots. When churches were locked against him, the Anglican priest John Wesley preached in the fields, and Jesus and Paul did much of their teaching and ministry in the open.

Publicity is by word of mouth only, to avoid the attention of those who might wish to use a rule book to find fault. Such a provision is particularly beneficial for those without computers (there are some) who cannot join online. On the way home we met a friend in his eighties who lives alone, on his way for private prayer in church at normal worship time. Perhaps he will come to the car park next week.

Church of England Newspaper August 7

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