Coronavirus messages

We write regularly to clergy and church officers and whenever there is a significant change to Church or national guidance. Follow the Diocese of Oxford on social media for updates (Twitter | Facebook), or sign up for regular updates by email here.

Church House Oxford is closed and all face to face meetings and training events are cancelled until further notice. Staff can still be contacted by email and phone in the normal way and meetings will continue, but remotely, using MS Teams or other suitable technology.

Guidance notes

Note: some of the information in the older links below may have been superseded. Always check this page for updates before making changes.

  • 6 November – latest guidance for lockdown#2
  • 2 November – Remembrance Sunday guidance
  • 22 October – new guidance relating to national tiers
  • 8 October – Rule of six | toddler groups | Remembrance Sunday services | Keeping ventilated and warm
  • 24 September – revised guidance including test and trace compliance, revised numbers for weddings and life events, guidance for choirs.
  • 18 September – summary of changes since rule of six
    Please note there is a date error in the URL of this document. All other information was correct at time of publication
  • 18 September – RSCM Guidance for Safely Resuming Group Music-making in Church
  • 27 August – full immersion baptisms
  • 19 August – changes to the guidance for professional and non-professional singers and musicians.
  • 6 August – revised guidance concerning face coverings during worship or wedding services.
  • 24 July – new advice including: opening churches safely | children, youth and family ministry plus several updates to existing guidance.
  • 13 July – revised advice on the Conduct of Public Worship and Advice on individual private prayer. Includes a link to Government guidance for Children and Young people’s activities:
  • 10 July – a detailed financial update, including news that the Diocese of Oxford has identified a further series of savings for 2021.
  • 7 July Detailed guidance for PCC secretaries, Area Deans, Lay Chairs and Deanery Synod secretaries about Virtual Meetings of Deanery Synods and PCCs | APCMs/Annual Meeting of Parishioners | PCC consideration of resumption of public worship.
  • 2 July – Substantial new and revised guidance issued for: congregational worship and Holy Communion from 4 July | reopening church buildings (and Oxford DAC guidance) | baptisms, weddings, banns, and funerals, a revised risk assessment template and guidance from the Diocese concerning legal requirements.
  • 16 June – New guidance from the government and church, including: safe use of places of worship, a revised risk assessment, updates to private prayer and funerals guidance.
  • 9 June – new guidance and further planning guidance, including: a risk assessment for opening churches | guidance for permissions on temporary works | advice on ordinations | administration of holy communion (when permitted by government)
  • 5 June – new planning documents and guidance
    including: planning for when restrictions are lifted | liturgical resources | nurseries / early years provision in churches | briefing note, UK government financial measures | new resources for parishes | participate in research
  • 22 May – new guidance issued
    including: nurseries in church halls | accessing church buildings during lockdown | advice for clergy | parish risk assessment template | construction work.
  • 15 May – parishes can now appoint more than one person for each church in their benefice to enter that church building separately on a rota basis. DAC are allowing contractors site access.
  • 24 April – new podcast series
    Reflections for a Church in lockdown is a new series of podcasts by Bishop Steven to resource the church.
  • Advice on giving and donations during the crisis
    23 April – during the pandemic there will be concern about the strain current restrictions could place on church finances.
  • Diocesan Administrative Support for Funeral Ministry
    21 April – Central administrative support for clergy and undertakers arranging funerals is now available to support what may be a surge in this important ministry. Updated 7 May: We are now reverting to the normal arrangement of charging for all funerals in accordance with the established fees.
  • Technical guidance – 9 April
    Preparing for an increase in Funeral Ministry and changes to Funeral Fees during the Pandemic. UPDATED 8 May 2020: we have now returned to the normal arrangement of charging for all funerals in accordance with the established charges.
  • DAC and buildings guidance – 6 April
    How the DAC’s work, and the processing of applications, is adapting to the crisis. Includes latest guidance to parishes on looking after their building during closure, remaining vigilant to lead theft, and changes to the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules that came into force on 1 April.
  • Technical guidance – 3 April
    Clergy wellbeing, resources for schools and parents, a Scientific and Medical Background Briefing Paper, Holy Week services.
  • Technical guidance – 30 March
    Hospital visiting suspended, new funeral rites, register your C-19 community activities with the local authority, keeping your church building safe.
  • Parish treasurers email – 30 March
    A note on income, parish share and practical steps for PCCs to take.
  • Technical guidance – 26 March
    New resources and guidance published this week, including volunteer hub contacts, Parish HR guidance and a brief message from +Steven to all clergy.
  • Lambeth Conference rescheduled – 23 March
    The Lambeth Conference due to take place this summer has been rescheduled to Summer 2021
  • APCMs and meeting of parishioners – 20 March
    The Diosec writes to PCC and DCC secretaries concerning APCMs, includes signed instrument allowing changes to the current Church Representation Rules.
  • Keyworkers – 20 March
    Clergy and other ‘religious staff’ have been included in the Government key worker list. This email explains how to be authorised by your bishop.
  • Technical guidance – 19 March
    Detailed information for clergy and church officers about weddings, safeguarding, APCMs and PCC meetings.
  • eNews – 13 March
    Suspend direct physical contact as part of a blessing or “laying on of hands”. Prepare contingency plans for parishes and deaneries.
  • eNews – 6 March
    Challenge disinformation. How to sign the Peace.

From the Bishops

  • Comfortable words – series 5 of Bishop Steven’s popular podcast
  • Living is Christ, Dying is Gain – inspiration from Paul’s advice for a church living through a time of crisis. A brand new four-session course for small groups.
  • Reflections for a Church in Lockdown
  • As places of worship prepare to close on 5 November, an important letter to the Diocese from +Steven
  • Places of worship may re-open from 4th July. At this important point in the journey Bishop Steven underlines some key principles for the Diocese – 25 June
  • How important are our buildings for the practice of our faith?
    Bishop Steven explores this question in an episode of Reflections for a Church in Lockdown – 21 May
  • A small first step – 7 May 2020
    New guidance about funeral fees and the first stage of a gradual easing of restrictions on our buildings and activities.
  • Parish and Diocesan finances – 25 April 2020
    The financial situation is serious. We are anticipating a shortfall in income this year, and we need to work together to address it.
  • Stilling of the storm – 3 April 2020
    Bishop Steven writes to all clergy in the Diocese about Holy Week and Easter, emerging concerns around funeral services, ministry to the sick and the dying, and a reflection on Psalm 107.
  • Save lives – 27 March 2020
    As we move towards Passiontide, The Archbishops and Bishops call upon all our churches and church leaders, clergy and lay, to follow government advice to stay at home.
  • Cure of Souls – 24 March 2020
    Detailed guidance, pastoral support and a call to read Psalm 23 together each day. A letter from the four bishops to the whole Diocese.
  • Stay at home – 23 March 2020
    The Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of England have urged everyone to follow the instructions given by the Prime Minister to stay in their homes in a national effort to limit the transmission of the coronavirus
  • A very great crisis – 18 March 2020
    A pastoral letter from the four bishops, includes information about what can still happen while public worship is on hold.
  • Public worship put on hold – 17 March 2020
    Bishop Steven writes to confirm public worship has been suspended.
  • Dunbars number – 14 March 2020
    Bishop Colin reflects on how the church might reach out to all.
  • Suspension of the common cup – 10 March 2020
    Bishop Colin writes to confirm the suspension of the common cup.
  • Parish continuity plans – 9 March 2020
    Bishop Colin asks parishes and benefices to prepare continuity plans