COVID-19 Briefing 29/09

Coming up for the month of October is the Transforming Generosity initiative across our diocese: a daily podcast and a weekly sermon – perhaps also other things in your parish too? – to encourage us all to think more deeply about the subject of giving.
I wonder if there’s any resistance in you as we raise this topic? I confess to it myself, in these uncertain times when the demands can leave me feeling I’ve already given everything. I felt it even as I set about preparing ‘my’ sermon in the series: because it is so costly. Giving can demand more than we ever set out to offer. Yet, in my experience, it also returns more than we are ever ready to receive. It’s the only way to live, to really live.
If I could invite one further contributor for the coming month it would be Chuck Feeney. He is one who set about Transforming Generosity among the super-rich elite, with Bill Gates and Warren Buffet (where, most commonly, he found a similar resistance to giving!). Dubbed the ‘James Bond of philanthropy’, you might have read about him in the papers last weekend. At 89, he recently fulfilled his lifetime ambition of giving away all of his $8bn fortune – and while he is still around, rather than leaving it in legacies. He challenges his billionaire colleagues – and us – to recognise what money is for. He speaks of his joy to see the impact it has made.  He names his responsibility towards the world’s problems. And finally: he’s tries to do it all secretly, anonymously, without seeking thanks or glory.  He’s not a Christian and yet models just the kind of giving that Jesus advocates
Though I do feel a tad sorry for Chuck just now – because someone has blown his cover and written a book about him! I’m glad they did, to inspire us.
Bishop Jo

Critical Reading

Outdoor Worship

We have been getting a number of queries regarding outdoor worship. The issue is a complex one and the guidance you should follow will be determined by several factors.

If you choose to hold the service on ground belonging to the church you are permitted to hold it according to public worship guidelines e.g. the number of people would be determined by the number of households at 2m distancing that your outdoor space can accommodate, face masks should be worn and there should be no congregational singing.
If you wish to hold a service on land that does not belong to your place of worship government guidance says that you will need to liaise with the owner of the land and that the “local authority will make decisions on applications for prayers in public places, including those on private land which are not attached to a place of worship”.

For special religious services and gatherings (Church of England examples might be harvest festivals, All Souls Day services and Remembrance Sunday) the outdoor services guidance says “you should work alongside the owner of that space and with other relevant authorities such as the local authority and police to put safety measures in place. You may want to do that even if on the grounds of a place of worship to manage other risks.” We advise parishes in who wish to hold services outside, and particularly those being held on land not owned by the church, to contact their Local Authority (our suggestion would be to start with the Temporary Event Licensing team), to ensure you have their permission for the service, their decision is likely to depend on the nature of the service you intend to hold, the current COVID-19 situation in your locality, how many people are likely to attend and your risk assessment.
We know this is one more requirement and burden to be placed on you and your churches and we want you to know that we understand how difficult this time is for everyone who is trying to organise church life at the moment. We are so grateful for the lengths you are going to in keeping your congregation and your community safe.

Ventilation during Worship

Risk Assessment is all about balancing risk, and if you increase risk by reducing ventilation (eg by shutting the windows and doors during worship) you should mitigate this increase by reducing risk elsewhere (eg by increasing social distance between households from 2m to 3m) Guidance on ventilation can be found on the HSE website: (…/air-conditioning-and…). This says doors (not fire doors) and windows should be kept open.
You should also warn your congregation that it will be very cold and if they still choose to come they could bring warm coats hats and gloves, hot drinks in flasks, blankets and hot water bottles.
The performing art guidance states that increased ventilation is a requirement for singing by choirs/bands and any blown instruments. If you choose to shut doors, you have not increased ventilation. We don’t know how draughty your particular building is – but any increased risk caused by not opening windows and doors needs to be clearly mitigated by taking further measures to reduce risks. It is perfectly acceptable to turn up to worship with coats and blankets in 2020, and hot water bottles might be good to for your congregation. Just make sure people bring their own.

Transforming Generosity goes live this week

An invitation for all parishes to journey together this October as we study the Gospel of Luke through the lens of generosity. Amongst the resources we have some great ‘podcast’ reflections to share with you from across our diocese.

Please encourage your congregations to sign up to receive a daily email reminder

Promoting Transforming Generosity
To help parishes promote their participation in Transforming Generosity, we have a created a promotional powerpoint slide and sample text which can be found in the Transforming Generosity Parish Resources section of the diocesan website.

Advance Notice
Living in Love and Faith is a set of teaching and learning resources from our archbishops addressing topics of identity, relationships, sexuality and marriage, to be released in early November. Quite unlike any project before, the Bishops have worked intensively with a diverse group of scholars, consultants and volunteers who have been willing to share their stories. The materials consist of a five-week course based on a substantial book, accompanied by a suite of podcasts and short films, and a good many research papers, all produced online (as well as in hard copy) to help us delve more deeply and constructively into issues which are sensitive yet foundational to us all. Given that the resources are designed for learning and reflection together over coming months – to inform and inspire! – we encourage you to plan accordingly.

Clergy will have opportunity to explore these resources at the Study Day on 30th November so they can plan for wider engagement in small groups at parish or deanery level in the new year or for Lent.

Join us this Wednesday evening – practical workshop ideas for Autumn festivals

What does COVID-19 mean to Christmas? We know that a number of you are already planning your autumn activities but that the ever changing restrictions or easing makes it more difficult. Join us on the 30th September at 7.30 for a practical workshop on ideas, resources and the national campaign Comfort & Joy. 

Let’s plan together and support each other.

For your information 

Sunday Sermons – a choice in October

During October you have a choice for your Sunday Sermon – either using the materials created for Transforming Generosity that will run throughout October or our usual Bishops’ sermons on the lectionary readings. 

Each week we will highlight one sermon from the Transforming Generosity resources and the weekly Bishops’ sermon. 

Transforming Generosity Sunday Sermon

During October the Transforming Generosity sermons can be used and are in a playlist on YouTube.
This week, the Ven Paul Davies preaches from Luke 10:25-37 – The Good Samaritan

Sermon video: The Ven Paul Davies, Archdeacon of Surrey

Sermon transcript (Word)

Service outline (Word)

Service template (Powerpoint)

Bishops’ Sunday Sermon

The lectionary readings for next Sunday include the 10 commandments in Exodus chapter 20 and the parable of the tenants in the Vineyard. In this week’s Bishop’s Sermon, though, Bishop Andrew focusses on the epistle reading from Philippians 3:4-14, and on the theme of ‘forgetting what is behind and straining to what is ahead…’.

Ordinations to be held 10/11 October – watch live from our Youtube

The ordinations postponed in June, of both priest and deacons, are taking place on 10 and 11 October. Although we are not holding the usual large gathering of more than 1,000 guests at the Cathedral, we will be holding small celebration services across the diocese. 

To celebrate this moment well we have local teams of people who are working to make sure that loved ones can watch the services online where the current COVID-19 restrictions limit attendance.

What does Coronavirus mean for Christmas?

We know that a number of you are already planning your autumn activities but that the ever changing restrictions or easing makes it more difficult. Join us on the 30th September at 7.30 for a practical workshop on ideas, resources and the national campaign Comfort & Joy. 

Let’s plan together and support each other.

Can you capture the Diocese?

With a new phase of life after months of lockdown, the Diocese of Guildford is launching a photography competition inviting people to celebrate what a transforming church means to them across our diocese. 

The Diocese encourages amateur photographers and budding phone snappers to seek out and share how church has evolved, how your community is working together and the life, buildings and people that represent what Church is all about.  

Open to anyone in the diocese, the top three winners will be selected by a panel comprising The Bishop of Guildford, the Diocesan Communications team and a professional photographer. 

To enter, send your photo by email to with a completed entry and permissions form by 1st November. 

For the latest National guidance click here
For the latest Diocesan guidance click here
Next briefing will be issued on 6th October 2020