Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for parishes

Use the content below and the section links to the right of this page for specific help and guidance from the Diocese of Oxford. If you have specific questions or concerns not covered in any of these pages, please contact your archdeaconry office.

New information

National and Diocesan colleagues are working at pace to update and add to the Frequently Asked Questions pages, linked below. Please be patient. Church House remains closed to visitors at this time. Only a small number of staff are currently furloughed; their out of office messages will direct you to others. All other staff remain contactable by phone and email.

Recent updates
This section shows recent updates only. A full listing of updates and communications issued during the pandemic can be found in the message library

Marriage banns

While our churches have been closed it has not been possible to call banns for marriage. Banns must be published at the principal service (being a service physically attended by the public in the church building) on three Sundays, in accordance with the Marriage Act 1949. If public worship will be taking place in a church on three Sundays before the proposed date of a wedding, it is now possible for banns to be read and the wedding to proceed on that basis. If banns were called only once or twice before ‘lockdown’ then the second or third calling can now take place.

If banns were called three times before ‘lockdown’, then the calling of banns must begin again. If there is insufficient time to do so before the proposed date of the wedding, or if a church is unable to hold public worship (and, therefore, call banns), the couple may instead apply for a Common Licence.

Banns must be called in the church in which the wedding is due to take place as well as in the parish or parishes in which the bride and groom are currently resident. If it is not possible for banns to be called in all those parishes then the couple must apply for a Common Licence.

In the first instance contact should be made with Sara Leader ( to discuss whether a Common Licence is likely to be possible, to agree potential timetable for appointments, and so that she can advise what documentation will be necessary as and when an appointment with a surrogate is made.

Emerging from Coronavirus

The journey of recovery will be slower than our journey into lockdown. Life is not going to be a quick return to the old normal, but rather a new living with the virus, certainly for the rest of this year and through next year. Lockdown has been difficult but has also brought new insights, opportunities and priorities to the surface. Part of being a contemplative church will be to reflect carefully on lessons learned and next steps. A new tool is available to help.

This page was last updated 2015hrs 22 October 2020

This page will be updated as and when the advice from Public Health England and/or the Church of England changes.

For all other national guidance see: