The hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners was asked—
Online and In-person Communal Worship: Covid-19 Restrictions
The Church of England is strongly encouraging churches to support both in-person and online communal worship, and training has been given to thousands of clergy to enable this. It is up to local churches to decide how best to do this.
I thank my hon. Friend for his reply. It is welcome that the Church is encouraging this both online and in-person. For those housebound, who perhaps in the past have only received home communion, to be able to participate more is very welcome, but nothing can actually replace the fellowship of being a part of a real-life congregation. Can he give an absolute assurance that no barriers will be put in the way of achieving that?
I could not agree with my hon. Friend more, and I can give him a complete assurance that the Church of England fully recognises the importance that so many people attach to worshipping communally together in church. At the same time, we are very keen not to lose those who join us online, and we hope we will be able to get to know many of our new online attendees as soon as possible in due course.
Choral Singing in Churches and Cathedrals: Covid-19
Some people relax with yoga, others with tai chi—perhaps you do, Mr Speaker—but in the good old days when I used to have a week in Westminster and then get back to Lichfield, I unwound by going to evensong in Lichfield cathedral, which is very relaxing indeed. Whatever reason people go to evensong—perhaps even religious reasons, for worship—there is a need for it to be restored. What assurance can my hon. Friend give that, come 19 July, things will truly get back to normal in Lichfield and elsewhere?
I was praising my hon. Friend in front of all the cathedral deans on Tuesday for his diligence on behalf of Lichfield cathedral. He is absolutely right about the beauty of our choral tradition and how much it is cherished. We all want to see a return as quickly as possible.