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Baptist Union Updates

The Baptist Union have continued to update the essential guidance for churches.Covid
Please continue to check any updates here.
 

Update Published on 27th January 2022

Guidance on church worship
Guidance re-written reflecting the gradual lifting of restrictions and the expectation that we learn to managed COVID-19 sensibly and indefinitely.
Guidance on church worship

Guidance on re-opening Baptist church buildings
Major re-write for endemic phase of pandemic.
Guidance on re-opening Baptist church buildings

Children's, youth and families ministry
Guidance re-written reflecting the gradual lifting of restrictions and the expectation that we learn to manage COVID-19 sensibly and indefinitely.
Children's, youth and families ministry

Guidance Leaflet L18: Covid-19 Coronavirus Legal Issues
Amendments throughout property section to reflect changing of restrictions and updated commercial property code of practice.
Guidance Leaflet L18: Covid-19 Coronavirus Legal Issues

Statement Published 10th December 2021

The UK Government's guidance says that face coverings must be worn in places of worship from 10th December, for those not exempt. Regarding singing, the guidance says:

'There is a reasonable excuse for someone to remove a face covering when it is reasonably necessary for them to sing, for example, if they are singing as part of a choir, or during a service, rehearsal to for a performance. This does not extend to circumstances where it is not reasonably necessary to sing. For example, it may not be reasonably necessary for someone to sing whilst shopping, on public transport, or whilst in an in-scope setting such as a cinema, theatre or library. This change allows those who are taking part in activites where singing is reasonably necessary to choose to remove their face covering if they prefer whilst singing. When singing, you should consider keeping the face covering on.'

The guidance therefore permits the removal of face coverings during singing, though the last sentence sounds a note of caution. BUGB's recommendation is that you think carefully about your church's context and worship space before encouraging the congregation to remove face coverings during singing. Scientific advice has long been that singing, and especially loud singing, increases the risk of aerosol transmission for those nearby. It may prove pastorally wise for church trustees to come to an agreed position and then clearly communicate this to the congregation, rather than leaving it to each congregation member's personal choice.

Update Published on 28th November 2021

On 27th November, the Prime Minister announced new precautionary measures in light of the emergence of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 in the UK. These focus on the rules around international travel, and on the compulsory wearing of face coverings from Tuesday 30th November in shops and on public transport for those not exempt.

Update Government guidance on face coverings does not make it mandatory to wear face coverings in churches in England, though we note the ongoing recommendation that they are worn in enclosed and crowded spaces.

BU continue to suggest that it is both sensible and appropriate for churches to take some measures to limit the spread of Covid-19 and we trust churches are already engaged in considering how to make Christmas events accessible and safe for all.

Update Published on 7th September 2021

Guidance Leaflet L18: Covid-19 Coronavirus Legal Issues
Churches are facing a very challenging time because of the lockdown imposed by the Government due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
This guidance from our legal Team aims to gather in one place the various legal and regulatory issues that have arisen because of the lockdown.
The updated version now reflects the easing of lockdown restrictions and what churches should consider in reopening their buildings to some tenants, including Early Years childcare settings; routine maintenance of grounds; residential leases; burial grounds and open spaces; informal hiring; property issues; and preparing for the next stage of lockdown easing.
https://www.baptist.org.uk/Articles/575810/Guideline_Leaflet_L18.aspx

Guidance on re-opening Baptist church buildings
On 19th July, the UK Government confirmed the move to step 4 of their Covid-19 recovery roadmap.  From 7th August, the Welsh Government moved to Alert Level 0.  In both cases the vast majority of the previous legal requirements have been removed.  Nevertheless, as infections continue to rise, the Government recommends continuing caution.  Good ventilation, diligence in hygiene, wearing a face covering in enclosed and crowded spaces, and minimising the number, proximity and duration of social contact with those we do not live with, are all noted as beneficial behaviours.
https://www.baptist.org.uk/Articles/582203/Coronavirus_Guidance_on.aspx

Children's youth and families ministry
We have written guidance for Baptist churches in England and Wales that outlines what voluntary children's and youth activities are permitted according to the UK and Welsh governments.  Our guidance interprets various government documents for a Baptist context and suggests what might be best practice for activities such as junior church groups, uniformed organisations, youth groups, parent and child groups and more.  We update our guidance as and when the governments change theirs to reflect the dynamic nature of the pandemic.
https://www.baptist.org.uk/Articles/582740/Coronavirus_advice_Children.aspx

Guidance on church worship
We have written guidance for Baptist churches in England and Wales that outlines what is permitted within places of worship according to the UK and Welsh governments.  Our guidance interprets various government documents for a Baptist context and suggests what might be best practice for communal worship, prayer meetings and bible studies, weddings, funeral and baptisms.  We update our guidance as and when the governments change theirs to reflect the dynamic nature of the pandemic.
https://www.baptist.org.uk/Articles/582206/Coronavirus_Guidance_on.aspx

Advice for ministers - pastoral visiting
Find the latest information about pastoral visiting to people in their homes and rules around visiting care homes.
https://www.baptist.org.uk/Articles/579298/Advice_for_ministers.aspx

Update Published on 22nd July 2021

Guidance on church worship
Updated list in Section 1 of the source documents. Addition in Section 2 of extra factors to consider when planning worship in England, including further remarks on singing.
https://baptist.org.uk/.../Coronavirus_Guidance_on.aspx
 
Advice for ministers – pastoral visiting
Changes in Section 2 to the introduction to what is allowed in England, and to the arrangements for care home visiting in England.
https://baptist.org.uk/.../579298/Advice_for_ministers.aspx
 
Children’s, youth and families ministry
Updated list in Section 1 of the source documents. Changes to introduction in Section 2 regarding children’s and youth activities in England. Change to Section 3 regarding residential visits in Wales.
https://baptist.org.uk/.../Coronavirus_advice_Children.aspx
 
Guidance on re-opening Baptist church buildings
Amendments to reflect that England has now moved to Step 4 and to incorporate the published government guidance for Places of Worship in England.
https://baptist.org.uk/.../Coronavirus_Guidance_on.aspx
 
Covid-19 Coronavirus Legal Issues
Revision of all property section to take account of changes in England on 19 July and Wales on 17 July.
https://baptist.org.uk/.../575810/Guideline_Leaflet_L18.aspx

Updated Statement from the Baptist Union (July 2021):


From 19 July, the UK Government moved to step 4 of their Covid-19 recovery roadmap. From 7 August, the Welsh Government moved to Alert Level 0. In both cases the vast majority of the previous legal requirements have been removed. Any number of people may meet for any purpose both indoors and outdoors in either nation. The notable exception to this lifting of legal requirements is that in Wales face coverings are still mandatory in almost all public indoor places. This includes churches. Despite the lifting of legal restrictions, both Governments recommend continuing caution. Good ventilation, diligence in hygiene, wearing a face covering in enclosed and crowded spaces whether or not it is mandatory, and minimising the number, proximity and duration of social contacts with those we do not live with, are all noted as beneficial behaviours. 
 
In the light of this, we recommend that it is both sensible and appropriate for churches to continue to take some measures to limit the spread of Covid-19. Churches have a responsibility to protect their staff, congregations, communities, and other users of their buildings. However, it is now down to each church to determine for itself what these measures should be.
 
Our main guidance documents have been updated with suggestions of questions that churches should now consider and recommendations of best practice.
 
The Coronavirus section of the BU website will be maintained to help churches practically and spiritually during these changing times. We are acutely aware that the process for making decisions going forward has the potential to be divisive. In some respects it was easier when rules were more restrictive but at least definite. How we make decisions may prove to be as important to churches as the decisions themselves. We appeal to everyone involved to be kind to each other, to listen well, to appreciate the pressure leaders are under, and to compromise accordingly. This is a very vulnerable time for churches and we ask you to recall the exhortation in Ephesians 4 to 'be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace'.