Almost 1500 leaders of the church urge the UK government to accept Christian worship as ‘essential’

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1484  Church ministers and leaders from all over the United Kingdom wrote to the Prime Minister urging him to recognise that Christian worship is an essential activity that should not be compelled to close in the coming lockdown.

The signatories come from a very diverse spectrum of Christian denominations, including Presbyterian, Anglican, Pentecostal, Independent, Roman Catholic and Baptist churches.

They are united in expressing their dismay that anything that should be closed by the force of law is utterly important to the lives of so many millions of people in this country. As there has been no proof that churches have contributed to the transmission of the virus, they describe themselves as ‘baffled’. In enforcing covid-secure steps, churches, they say, have been stringent and are therefore among the safest of all venues, and church worship is among the safest of all events.
The leaders of the church describe themselves as “caught in a serious tension between our duty to God and our strong desire to submit to our government, a tension we wished and expected to never face in this country.” For Christians, and for us, it is a matter of great distress that the government of the nation we love should prevent us from gathering to worship the God who claims our greatest loyalty; particularly when this has been done without specific explanations why it is appropriate.’
The letter was sent to the Prime Minister on the evening of November 3rd, 2020.
Matthew Roberts, Minister of Trinity Church York and a former Moderator of the International Presbyterian Church said, “Worshipping the God of love is the most essential thing in life, the thing which underlies all that is good about our lives. Churches are also a vital means of support and strength to countless people. At a time of national crisis, they are the very last thing which the government should be forcing to close.”

 

Dave Gobbett, Minister of Highfields Church Cardiff, said,  “It’s extremely disappointing that local churches have been asked to close again. We were already seeing the negative spiritual side-effects of the previous lockdown, and I fear that these new restrictions against gathered, in-person ministry—albeit only temporary, for now—will only serve to weaken our communities, our pastoral care, and our spiritual health.“

Graham Nicholls, Christ Church Haywards Heath (Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches), director of ‘Affinity’: “We believe the gathering of the church is an essential part of life, for Christians and for everyone else. Imposing the closure of churches at this time is unreasonable and unfair under the circumstances where churches are thoroughly covid-secure.”

 

Rev Julian Bidgood, Minister of Barkham Church, Wokingham (C of E) said, “Church is one of the safest environments that there is at the moment. There is no good reason why, having adopted the covid-secure practices that churches have, we shouldn’t be able to gather for public worship.”

Rector of St Mary, Newington, Giles Fraser, said: “The right to worship is fundamental to human freedom. We can do it safely and responsibly. What we do in church is not some recreational activity for a religious club. It is at the very core of our being. The voice of public praise must never fall silent.”

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