Churches reopen to public for Sunday services

Churches across England have reopened their doors for public Sunday services after more than three months of online worship during lockdown.

Places of worship welcomed their first congregations on Saturday after lockdown measures were eased to allow public services to recommence.

Worshippers were asked to observe hygiene and social distancing guidance, including changes to singing and Holy Communion, during services.

Coronavirus – Sun Jul 5, 2020
The Dean of York, the Right Revd Dr Jonathan Frost leads the first public Holy Communion to be held at York Minster since the easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions across England (Danny Lawson/PA)

At York Minster, which reopened for evening prayer on Saturday after being closed since March 16, worshippers were limited in number and asked to leave their names and contact details.

Staff and clergy wore face masks and visors to welcome visitors, a one-way system was in place and hand sanitiser was available.

Ahead of the reopening, the Minster said services will be simpler and shorter initially, with changes including no congregational singing, hand-shaking or drinking from the common cup during Holy Communion.

The cathedral reopened for individual prayer on June 16 and will welcome sightseers from July 11.

Coronavirus – Sun Jul 5, 2020
The Dean of York, the Right Revd Dr Jonathan Frost leads the first public Holy Communion to be held at York Minster since the easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions across England (Danny Lawson/PA)

The Dean of York, the Right Rev Dr Jonathan Frost, said: “We are delighted to open our doors again to welcome people for public worship and to explore this magnificent sacred space.

“Over the last few weeks we have welcomed many for individual prayer, but to gather again for worship – with relevant physical distancing measures in place – will be a huge encouragement for many.”

In Swanmore, Hampshire, St Barnabas Church overcame restrictions surrounding singing by holding a drive-in “Songs of Praise-style service”.

Around 40 cars gathered in the village hall car park on Sunday morning to take part in the service, led by Reverend Claire Towns.

Participants were asked to book places beforehand, choose their favourite hymns and songs and sing within their cars with members of their own household.

Rev Towns said: “We decided that we wanted to offer people the chance to sing, as that is an important part of Christian worship.”

We had around 40 cars for our drive in Songs of Praise…the sun shone, the musicians played and sang…it was fab! Thank you to everyone who made it happen 🙂

Posted by St Barnabas Church on Sunday, July 5, 2020

She added: “For people in the village, it’s another sign that the church is at the heart of this community.”

A post on the church’s Facebook page said: “We had around 40 cars for our drive-in Songs of Praise…the sun shone, the musicians played and sang…it was fab! Thank you to everyone who made it happen.”

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