Joint Statement From Presidents Within the BUC Territory on the Present Situation Regarding Re-opening of Churches
While it is our hope that congregations will meet again to enjoy and experience the fellowship of worship services, we are mindful that the Coronavirus is still among us. With the absence of any vaccine for COVID-19 and with many of our members being among the most vulnerable to COVID-19, we are exercising a high degree of caution regarding the reopening of our churches.
The British Union Conference (BUC) comprises of the countries that make up the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland), Ireland, as well as Crown Dependencies- the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. The governments response to COVID-19 differ, not only between the UK and Ireland, but within the UK too. Even within a country e.g. England, local factors to lockdown are also being taken such as is the case with the city of Leicester.
For our membership in England, 4 July is the date heralding a lifting of lockdown restrictions and the reopening of our churches if it can be done so safely, see here.
However, following a meeting of the 'Returning to Church Guidance Committee' and the presidents of the five entities of the BUC, we issue the following statement:
No congregation should meet except they meet all of the following criteria -
(1) They follow the requirements of their country/territory for holding public services.
(2) Each church board conduct and submit a risk assessment to their local executive committee (see here …for a sample risk assessment template)
In addition to this we would also encourage our members to do their own personal risk assessment as to whether they should attend their local congregation when it is open e.g. are they in a shielding or vulnerable group? Will they need to take public transport to church etc.?
We must restate that there is no cure or vaccine for COVID-19, it is still with us and we are going to have to live around its presence for the foreseeable future. To this end we stress that churches wishing to meet again understand and follow the 2 criteria above.
While we believe in a God who is greater than COVID-19, this does not negate our responsibility to act and live responsibly, not only for our own protection but for that of others too.