The Journal

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27th March 2020


Coronavirus (COVID-19)
guidance for churches


Following the Prime Minister’s announcement of 23rd March, the Archbishops of York and Canterbury wrote to clergy in support of the measures (see below) requiring that churches must close both for private worship and public services.

On Friday 27th March they have written again, to affirm their advice that church buildings are therefore closed for public worship,  private prayer and all other meetings and activities, except for vital community services conducted under strict hygiene conditions until further notice. 

Archbishops affirm Coronavirus advice;
churches to remain closed

"We are in a time of great fearfulness. The numbers of those becoming seriously ill and dying is increasing. It therefore remains very important that our churches remain closed for public worship and private prayer. The Church of England is called to model the very best practice. We must lead by example. Staying at home and demonstrating solidarity with the rest of the country at this testing time, is, we believe, the right way of helping and ministering to our nation. Therefore, for a season, the centre for the liturgical life of the church must be the home, not the church building."

The Archbishops go on to affirm the radical and innovative new approaches to being church by many clergy and lay people, who "have already started streaming and live streaming daily worship from their homes. Often they create prayer spaces or a small oratory in a room or the corner of a room. It is hugely encouraging to hear stories of how our prayers and loving actions are blessing our communities and reaching out beyond our usual congregations. Similarly it is wonderful to hear stories of innovative pastoral practice and spiritual care being undertaken in new ways. Thank you for this."

"Our priority is to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. Our prayers are with you all; let us all support one another."


Download the Archbishops' letter in full

Please follow the links above for the fullest current guidance, which draw on advice about best practice from the NHS and Public Health England, and be sure to scroll down the page for next steps and Frequently asked questions (FAQs).

Updated 6.00pm Friday 27th March 2020

Services streaming this Sunday

Join the Archbishop of York and the Bishops of Selby, Whitby and Hull via Facebook for prayers during the day on the 5th Sunday in Lent, Passion Sunday, the 29th March.

Archbishop Sentamu will lead an Act of Worship for the Church of England ( at 9.00am, while the Diocese of York ( will offer moments from Midday Prayer, Evening Prayer and Night Prayer at 12.00 noon, 4.00pm and 8.00pm.

We're approaching Passion Sunday - the 5th Sunday in Lent - on the 29th March, in these extraordinary days when we're unable to meet in our churches to worship God and hear his Word together.

Bishop of Whitby Paul Ferguson has compiled a downloadable A4 sheet of a reading with some reflective prayers and the Collect of the day, which you might find helpful for your own use, or if you are recording or streaming material for others to follow via the internet.

Download now

Coronavirus Update - Safeguarding Training

In the light of the Church of England decision to suspend gatherings, all face to face training in the Diocese of York has been cancelled today, 18th March 2020 and for the immediate future.

We are aware that, particularly for those due to attend mandatory Safeguarding training over the next 12-16 weeks, this may cause some additional anxiety at what is already a difficult time.

It has been agreed nationally that the rules around authorisation for Ministry will be relaxed so that nobody who currently holds an authorisation to minister will be immediately barred on the basis of non-attendance at training. As the situation develops, we will put in place new schedules for training and will try to provide as many opportunities to undertake training later in the year before whatever new deadline is set for completion.

Read more

To the Parishes of the Diocese of York, from the Generous Giving Team

The Diocesan Generous Giving Team have been looking at resources to help parishes to maintain levels of generosity and giving to which we are all called over the coming months.

The letter has been written to assist Parishes in thinking about sustaining income to their churches, including helping set up standing orders, putting aside gifts which might have ordinarily come in the form of an envelope, and encouraging giving through online or telephone banking.

Details are also given on how the Generous Giving Team can support parishes in their time of need, as well as links to where they have laid out their "Top Tips" to help with sustainability.

Download the letter here

Resources from the Diocese of York

As the outbreak continues, we will be adding prayers to this list, which people can use for worship at home, or during live-streams of services.

Prayer for Lent 5 - 29th March, 2020

The Education team in the Diocese of York have already put together a fantastic webpage full of resources for those who are educating at home, as well as links that point to general guidance on how to handle the Coronavirus outbreak with students.

Follow this link to be directed to the COVID-19 Information, Schools and Education page.

With the suspension of public worship, churches will be dependent on the generosity of others as they themselves are able to be generous to the wider community at this time. 

Follow this link for the Generosity and Stewardship resources page

Follow this link for up to date news on our Generosity and Stewardship team

What follows is an eclectic and possibly idiosyncratic collection of theological resources under a number of headings, first helping us make sense of the present, then looking to the future. On the last pages are some open-ended questions.

Click here to download the full Theological Resources document

Live-streaming prayers, reflections and offices from people's homes or vicarages needn’t be daunting, with user-friendly technology more accessible than ever, you can easily get your services to the congregations at home.

Click here for the full resources page
Click here for a downloadable resources page


Looking back on the Come and See Mission

John Carter headed to Mowbray Deanery to lend his voice to a celebration.

“And at the piano - Bishop John!”

The former Bishop of Huntingdon, John Flaxby, now retired and living in Wakefield, was the guest at a special morning held at the newly built Orchid House, an ‘extra-care’ housing development in Thirsk, North Yorkshire.

Bishop John, himself in his 78th year, played the piano for ‘This is my story, this is my song’, an ecumenical event co-led by Salvation Army captain, Paula Haylett.

Favourite songs, sung with vigour by residents and friends, included, Lord of the Dance, How Great Thou Art, and Abba’s ‘Thank you for the music.’

Bishop John spoke about his own life, and introduced his personal favourite, ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’.


Among the many bishops taking part in our Come and See Mission (12-15 March), Bishop of Sheffield, Dr Pete Wilcox had brought a team of eight to the Deanery of Stokesley. John Carter caught up when, after school visits on Friday morning, they joined locals in Kirklevington for a Lent Lunch of soup, bread and cheese in the local village hall.

“Come and See – those words are taken from John’s Gospel where some of Jesus’ first disciples bring others to Christ saying ‘Come and See’.

“And I love that low-key way of giving people who would not normally come to church worship or regard themselves as practicing Christians that low-key invitation, to just come and see.

“Here in the Stokesley Deanery a whole weekend of activities has been arranged to blur the boundaries between those who are in church and those who are outside church, to give those who might never have thought of themselves as followers of Jesus a chance to encounter him through those who are already his followers.”


As he sped across the Diocese on the Friday of our Come and See Mission, John Carter paused for a musical interlude…

It was an almost full St Cuthbert’s Parish Centre in Marton-in-Cleveland to see children from Marton Manor Primary school perform The Tale of Three Trees Easter musical, part of the Come and See Mission in Middlesbrough Deanery.

Along with parents and friends, local education leaders and the Bishops of Whitby, Paul Ferguson, and Wakefield, Tony Robinson, were in the audience for a gospel-centred afternoon.

In Scarborough many faith-based events had been planned across the town for our 12-15 March Come and See Mission weekend; John Carter sampled one on the Friday.

At St Martin-on the Hill one of many events to reach out to the local community, was a new venture on Friday, the ‘Craf-Tea shed’.

The inaugural model making and craft afternoon was making use of the church’s undercroft, and drew some half a dozen model-making enthusiasts, working on a variety of projects including a motorised Thomas the Tank Engine.

Organisers Craig Henderson and Martin Dalby said there were a lot of people in flats and bedsits around the church who would appreciate the chance to sit down, ‘have a brew’ and enjoy the space together to work on hobbies and crafts.


Since many church members in Clifton, York, work with Refugee Action York and other plans for supporting Syrian asylum seekers in the city, Clifton Moor Church was a natural venue for a ‘pop-up’ Syrian restaurant on Friday night, run by a team of Syrian chefs co-ordinated with help from York City Church, and much enjoyed by Martin Sheppard.

The entire Mission team visiting York Deanery, led by Bishops Paul Williams (Southwell & Nottingham) and David Williams (Basingstoke), came to share the authentic Middle Eastern meal and hear the Revd Stephen Griffith speak about his ministry in Syria, and answer questions about the country including about the present political class and the remote prospects for peace.

“In Jesus’ ministry he was concerned with where people were broken, and he calls on the church today to be mending. Syria is very broken, and there are huge opportunities for the church to be doing something about that, whether with refugees here in York, or back home in the Middle East. This is the mission of the church; mending the brokenness,” said Stephen.


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