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UK News

Funerals in Church of England buildings to resume next week

by Tola Mbakwe

The Church of England will allow funerals in its buildings starting 15th June. 

The decision was made at a House of Bishops meeting on Wednesday.

Churches who wish to start hosting funerals will have to follow the Church's national coronavirus guidelines.  Rules include limiting the number of mourners, maintaining social distancing, and the provision of hand sanitizers and best practice for cleaning. The guidelines also suggest avoiding singing and sharing Bibles and prayer books. 

In March the Archbishops and Bishops had written to all clergy confirming that churches were to close for public worship and no funerals, weddings or baptisms should be held. 

Rt Rev James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle attended the House of Bishops' meeting and has since written to all clergy confirming their buildings may reopen for funerals. 

Bishop James said: "This represents a further step in the Church of England's phased approach to the reopening of our church buildings and follows the Government's announcement to allow churches to reopen for individual private prayer from next Monday.

"I know how difficult a time this has been for those people who have lost loved ones - some due to the coronavirus - and who may have wanted a funeral service to take place in church. But with concerns over social distancing and as the number of COVID cases grew, the closure of churches for funerals was the responsible way forward and helped protect lives."

Bishop James added the Diocese of Carlisle will "carefully monitor" the situation and if the infection rate increases, holding funerals will have to be readdressed. 

The House of Bishops also decided that Holy Communion in churches will only take place when churches are open for communal worship. The earliest that will happen is 4th July. 

The bishops agreed that worshippers will be allowed to take the bread, but the wine will be restricted to the priest only. Also, kneeling at the altar for communion and shaking hands has been prohibited. 

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