Executive Secretary

Reopening Churches

Throughout the UK and Ireland most of our churches are open again, though care must still be taken as COVID has not gone away. Much of the information below is now out of date, but as you may still find it useful for reference we will leave it here for a while.


We must all recognise that the reopening process may be difficult and will take considerable time and careful planning. The following guidelines have been agreed by the presidents of all fields within the BUC:

Action Summary

  1. Risk Assess
  2. Report to Conference or Mission
  3. Receive Permission
  4. Reopen Church
  5. Record Actions
  6. Reassess Regularly

Key Timeline Events

  • Government advice or guidance being updated regularly in all regions. Government guidance on the safe use of places of worship during the pandemic. Northern Ireland update. Ireland update. Scotland update. Wales update.
  • Church boards, working with their Health & Safety Officer in consultation with the Health Ministries department (where these are in place), must produce a risk assessment document, with a corresponding implementation document.
  • Government permission to return received – date may vary by region or even district when a “hotspot” system is in place.
  • Church boards “sign off” their churches as ready to open, notify their Conference or Mission office, and send them the risk assessments and implementation documents.
  • Conference and Mission executive officers collate responses and, based on that evidence, give formal permission for individual churches to open.
  • Churches open, in strict accordance with their risk assessment and implementation documents, in full compliance with legal requirements and government guidance, and in close communication with all of their members.
  • Church boards ensure that they keep a record of all actions carried out as they follow their risk assessment and implementation procedures.
  • Local church boards take responsibility for ensuring that risk assessments and implementation documents continue to be followed carefully.
  • If a risk assessment is not being followed, church board should close the church, repeat the risk assessment, sign off, and approval process as above.

Risk Assessment Factors to Consider

  • Churches vary considerably, therefore the risk assessment has to be customised for the local situation.
  • All churches, when reopening after a period of closure, will require a deep clean. This is not necessarily for the Coronavirus, but for other hazards which may be present, such as legionella in stagnant water etc.
  • Congregations which rent from others will have to consult their “landlords”.
  • Church is not just what happens on Sabbath, it includes weekly meetings, house meetings, travelling to and from meetings, the visitation programme etc.
  • The situation is changing all the time and the risk assessment will need to be checked regularly for changes in local circumstances, official regional risk levels etc.
  • Phased returns, multiple services in a day, singing, ordinances, fellowship meals, ticketing systems, deep cleaning, and any possible increased risk due to the demographic makeup of the church, all may need to be considered.
  • Adult and Children Sabbath School classes and social distancing.

Guidance Documents and Links for Church Boards

Below are just a few of the many documents and websites that local church boards may find helpful in preparing their risk assessments and guidance documents.

Covid-19 Risk Assessment Template 160 KB Based on a template from the Methodist Church, but customised for use in the Adventist Church by the South England Conference. We are grateful to the Methodist Church for giving us permission to use this, and also to Pastor Doug McCormac for his additional work on the document. 160 KB
Considering Reopening Your Church 114 KB 114 KB
Covid-19 Prevention and Planning Resources for Churches 163 KB 163 KB
Sample Framework for Church Reopening Risk Assessment 87 KB A useful chart to help local church assess the risks of post COVID-19 reopening 87 KB
Indivudual_Risk_Assessment_Chart.pdf 157 KB 157 KB
NEC_COVID-19_Risk_Assessment_Template__v3_.docx 6 MB 6 MB
Safety Committee Duties 429 KB 429 KB
Safety Officer Duties 435 KB 435 KB
Legionnaires Guidance 48 KB 48 KB
Parish Risk Assessment Template 200 KB 200 KB