A Christian public policy charity has called for the UK Government to be inclusive when it creates guidance for how places of worship can re-open after the coronavirus lockdown.
CARE has commended the government for meeting with senior faith leaders about the reopening of religious buildings but has pointed out that the diversity of church life needs to be taken into account.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, CARE's chief executive Nola Leach said that the guidance needs to recognise church involves more than just Sunday services.
She said: "…The UK Church is normally a hive of activity which extends further than the Sunday service - from outreach and compassionate projects, to small mid-week meetings, to children's and family work… this diversity needs to be engaged with if the guidance is to be truly useful and relevant."
This letter comes after the government said places of worship might be able to open as part of phase three of the easing of lockdown, but only if it was safe to do so and no earlier than 4th July.
CARE wants guidance to recognise that not all churches meet in traditional buildings and the many Christian denominations in the UK worship in different ways.
"Churches meet from buildings like a cathedral, to cinemas and rented community halls," said James Mildred, communications manager at CARE.
"You've got your Anglican churches. But you've also got Baptist churches, Charismatic churches, Pentecostal churches, and many, many more. In order to serve and help these different church expressions to reopen, when it's safe to do so, I think to avoid potential problems further down the track, we're trying to get ahead of the game."
CARE has urged the UK Government to meet with leaders from a variety of Christian denominations to get a full scope of how to write guidance that will be helpful to all churches when it's time to reopen.
Mildred said if guidance isn't done properly, it could have devastating effects.
"I think that the danger is that if, if suddenly some churches start to reopen, and everything seems to go well, because the guidance is helpful for them and clear for them, other churches will start to kind of get itchy and want to follow suit," he said.
"And in that context, if there isn't that clear guidance from the government, they'll create confusion and into that confusion, the risk is that almost kind of accidentally that the Church of Jesus Christ in this country will contribute to a rise in the rate of infection, which will have a massive knock-on effect, not just for individual lives, but also for the nation as a whole."
Listen to Premier's interview with James Mildred here: