Church and Religious services across the UK have been suspended over the coronavirus pandemic.
This includes all Catholic and Church of England services, as well as services held at mosques and synagogues across the county. All faiths and beliefs have been affected by COVID-19 but many are offering worship online through live streaming services.
The Prime Minister’s statement on the 23rd of March asked non-essential businesses to close, including places of worship.
In the Catholic Church, the Archbishops have written to the Clergy in support of the government’s advice, requiring all churches to close for both private and public worship.
“All churches must be closed, and remain closed. It is eSSENTIAL we follow this instruction.”
VINCENT NICHOLS, ARCHBISHOP OF WESTMINISTER
The closure of churches across the UK has had a massive knock-on effect. This includes the ability of parish priests to socialise and support the community and a lack of funding is having an effect too in other ways.
Weddings, funerals, baptisms and other events in the church have all been cancelled and it is still unknown when they can take place again.
Father Denis, Parish Priest of The Church of the Holy Trinity and St Augustine, Baldock, says “We have to pay a mortgage for our parish house but now the loan has been stopped.”
“Financially churches will suffer from not having collections at services but the generosity of parishioners donating by Direct Debit or donating through websites will help massively.”
The lockdown hasn’t helped him personally, either, as he lives alone and can’t visit people. “It is difficult and as a priest I know I should be helping someone else in this time but I can’t do it.”
However, the community have not been forgotten in these times and services are still running. This church and many others across the county have moved online for the community to celebrate Mass with their families from the comfort of their home.
Elderly and more vulnerable people may be using online mass streaming for the first time and will have to adapt to this new style. Priests like Father Denis are also restricted as they cannot visit people in the community and cannot visit the sick.
The Church of the Holy Trinity and St Augustine, Baldock, LIVE Mass.
Churches will re-open again when restrictions are lifted but the impact of COVID-19 won’t go away anytime soon, it is most likely social distancing guidelines will be in place for the foreseeable future, meaning fewer people can attend services, there will be reduced income from collections and communities will not be able to celebrate together.
It is still uncertain what will happen in the near future but Mass celebrations online are becoming the new norm, helping bring families and communities closer through the power of the internet.
For more advice and updates on how to protect yourself and others from the COVID-19, please visit: www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak