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Anglicans say their churches may not open fully until year end

Social distancing will be impossible in some places of worship if government ministers allow them to reopen, religious leaders have warned.

The Anglican Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Sarah Mullally, said their churches might not return to normal services before the end of the year.

Mosques, churches and temples in the UK have been closed for almost two months.

The prime minister is due to make a statement about the lockdown restrictions later. It is not clear if the government will change its guidance for places of worship.

The Rt Rev Sarah Mullally is leading the Church of England’s planning for reopening its buildings. She told the BBC that there would have to be significant changes to key aspects of Christian worship “for some time” to come.

“I don’t envisage, even up to the end of the year, we will be back to our normal services.

“We’ll have some churches doing things differently. And of course, this approach will depend on the part of the country you are in. Being in Devon is very different to being in the centre of London. So we need to approach this based on our local circumstances,” she said.

“There are some very challenging questions that we’ll have to face, not least about singing and about the receiving of Holy Communion. So the future will look different.

“But we want to continue to support people in their spiritual journey with their faith,” she told the BBC.

“When we open our church buildings, we will still have to ensure physical distancing. We’ll have to make sure people can wash their hands on the way in and on the way out. We are likely not to be able to use hymn books or service sheets or sing.”

Many religious communities have seen a spike in numbers as services and prayers are forced online during the pandemic.

A survey by ComRes last week found that almost one in four British adults have watched or listened to a religious service since lockdown began.

Bishop Sarah Mullally said the findings showed that while religious buildings are closed “the Church continues to be open”.

She added: “Now there is going to be a challenge for us in the future, about asking ourselves why do more people access online than may be coming to our buildings? How do we enable them to enter into our community, to be part of our community in church?”

Story courtesy BBC News

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The Music Scene: Window Shopping by Rory Butler

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