COVID19 – Reaching Out

17th March 2020

Discovering new resources of humanity and togetherness : COVID19

Cathedrals are exploring new ways of reaching out to their congregations and visitors following the recommendation by the Church of England to put on hold all public worship.

Durham Cathedral has just shared a recording of yesterday’s service of Holy Communion which includes prayers for Coronavirus. Watch it here.

St Edmundsbury is regularly using Facebook live to livestream its services.

Other cathedrals are exploring different streaming and recording options, while others will be using the Church of England’s online daily prayer service.

The news comes as the Archbishops of Canterbury and York asked all Church of England churches to put public worship on hold and find fresh new ways of doing worship in the face of the ongoing challenges of the Coronavirus.

The news has led to the closure to the public of Newcastle Cathedral. Due to present major building work which has drastically reduced it in size, it cannot ensure the recommended social distancing and so has taken the difficult decision to close.

COVID19 Newcastle Cathedral Closed

The Dean of Newcastle, the Very Revd Geoff Miller said:

“Be assured that we have not gone away or completely shut up shop. Our daily prayer will continue, perhaps in new and hopefully imaginative ways. Our concern for everyone will not be diminished, though we will have to learn to express it differently.

“My colleagues and I are now busy trying to put in place communications systems and resources to offer those who, like us, will miss our worship terribly. We will have to learn together to ‘be church’ in new ways, at least until things become clearer or more settled.”

The Dean and Chapter of York Minster have also announced its closure to the public until further notice to cover its many events, concerts and programmes. The Minster School remains open and all decisions will remain under review on a daily basis.

In a statement, it said the Minster Community had kept a rhythm of prayer and openness to God alive since 627 AD and even while it was closed to the public, the Minster clergy would still maintain a pattern of daily prayer, praying for the needs of the nation and our world at this time.

The Minster too will seek ways in which it can reach out to people through prayer, social media and through serving the community. Regular updates will be published on its website.

Commenting on the decision, The Right Revd Dr Jonathan Frost, Dean of York said:

“We find ourselves in unprecedented times. But the same disciplines of prayer and mutual care that have been life giving in the past will now serve us well in the future. I’m well aware that in the communities of York and across the North, there are plans developing for mutual aid and for taking care of our neighbours, particularly the most vulnerable and needy.

“At the heart of this is the care and compassion that we show to one another by keeping in touch and keeping aware. I would also encourage those affected by the current situation to keep in touch and to be aware of God through prayer. Whatever matters to us, matters to God. We can always bring our concerns and fears just as they are to the God who loves us and who will never fail or forsake us. Be assured that the Minster Community is praying for all our neighbours at this time and is ready to support and care in any practical way possible.”

In Worcester, they will be making video recordings of their worship available on their social platforms and while there will be no public services in Worcester Cathedral from Wednesday 18 March, the Cathedral will open to the public between 9am and 5pm each day.

In making the announcement the Dean of Worcester, the Very Revd Peter Atkinson, said the Cathedral would continue to fulfil its ancient function of providing peace and sanctuary for all who came.

“Resources for prayer will be available to visitors, with opportunities to light candles. At the same time, the Chapter will be mindful of the large number of worshippers and volunteers who will not be able to make the journey to the Cathedral for a while. We will be encouraging people to stay in touch with friends and neighbours by phone and email.

“There is more than one way of being a Christian community, and like other cathedrals and churches across the country we shall be learning how to be a more dispersed, but still lively and loving, community,’ he added.

The Dean of Lichfield and the chair of the Association of English Cathedrals said:
“The current crisis is going to be a testing time for all of us. It’s sad that at a time when we need friendship and companionship the virus forces us to keep our distance and lead more separate lives.

“Here at the cathedral, despite the restrictions on public worship for the foreseeable future, we will be opening Lichfield cathedral every afternoon from 1400-1600 for private prayer. The clergy and staff will be able to maintain the rhythm of morning and evening prayer when prayers for our world, nation and those most affected by the virus can be offered. Although these services won’t be open to the public they will be at the heart of our concern.

We are exploring new ways of reaching out to our congregations and visitors and offering, with others, the practical care and support many will need.

“Crises like the current one can bring out all sorts of ingenuity and talent; we pray that in these difficult times we’ll discover new resources of humanity and togetherness.”

Check our news stream for more information about the COVID-19 Coronavirus situation as it happens.