Responding to the Government announcement that church buildings will be able to reopen for public worship from 4th July, providing physical distancing remains in place, The Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham said: “I welcome the announcement that permission for public worship in our church buildings has been agreed from July 4th. It will take some while for our churches to work through the practical implications of the reopening of our buildings for public worship. So this will happen over a period of time, not in a sudden rush.
“The church has been open throughout the difficult last 3 months. We have been heavily engaged in serving the communities in which we are set including through Foodbanks, supporting the shielded, conducting funerals; our schools serving the children of key workers and a range of other ways. There has been a great deal of public prayer and worship available online, and via the phone. As we begin to return to worship in our church buildings we will want to ensure we are offering the warmest of welcomes but doing so seeking to ensure the health and safety of all who choose to attend.
“As the Bishop of London says in her national statement, ‘This has been an incredibly difficult time for the whole country, especially for those who have been ill, who have suffered financial hardship, the loss of livelihoods and indeed, for many, those they love. We know that it is not over and the Church has a task ahead to bring consolation and hope.’
“I trust that the slow and careful re-opening of our church buildings for individual prayer, and then for public worship will be part of this message of hope for us all.”