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Church of England to list outdoor carol services in light of new singing freedoms

by Cara Bentley

The Church of England will be listing all their available outdoor carol services this December to reflect the Government's permission to allow outdoor singing for the whole congregation in churches in England. 

The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, has welcomed guidance from the Government permitting outdoor singing for places of worship in all tiers in England from 2nd December and indoor singing by choirs.   

Guidance published by the Government on Sunday confirmed that indoor singing by both amateur and professional choirs will be permitted and that congregations could sing carols outdoors, providing they are physically distanced.

The maximum number of people present should take into account the area of the space and the requirement to maintain 2m social distancing at all times

Churches planning Christmas services are encouraged to complete a risk assessment to ensure that worshippers can be welcomed as safely as possible.  

In 2019, 5.7 million people attended Advent and Christmas services in churches and cathedrals in England and since the lockdown began in March 2020, more than 17,000 online services and events have been provided across the Church of England.   

A special fucntion has been added to their church-finding website 'A Church Near You' for each church to list their services and events which are taking place outdoors. Last year the site featured more than 25,000 Advent and Christmas services and was accessed by nearly 7 million people. 

Bishop Sarah, who chairs the Church of England's Recovery Group, said: "Singing is a very special part of our worship, especially at Advent and Christmas, so I know that the announcement that we will be able to come together for public singing outdoors this Christmas will bring comfort and joy to many. 

"Advent and Christmas this year will not be the same as previous years but having outdoor congregational singing and indoor carol services with choirs is a reasonable balance and recognises our duty to protect and care for each other. 

"Following news that the official number of people who have died and are Covid positive has reached almost 700 a day, we are mindful of the terrible toll this virus is taking in this country so I pray that our worship this Christmas will reflect the light and hope at the heart of the nativity story." 

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