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No livestreaming from UK churches

No livestreaming from UK churches

It may have passed notice here, but the UK the Prime Minister ordered churches closed to all including clergy (March 23). The Archbishops of Canterbury and York followed up with a statement to clergy saying, “Our church buildings must now be closed not only for public worship, but for private prayer as well, and this includes the priest or lay person offering prayer in church on their own.”

The archbishops’ declaration received pushback from some. The Archdeacon of Hastings wrote,

Rather than mothball the parish churches, my plea is that clergy might actually be encouraged to visit their parish churches regularly; to pray in them for their parishioners and ring the bell to signify that they are doing so; to live-stream or record services from them as much as possible, given the current restrictions; and to use key features of the churches as teaching aids for those who are currently unable to gather inside them.

Today, Thinking Anglicans reports the London College of Bishops tightens its position on livestreaming. In an Ad Clercum, the bishops write:

[We ask clergy, without exception,] to stop all live streaming from your church buildings for the time being…. [W]e want to thank you … for the way in which many have creatively streamed worship from your own homes.

Image: The Rev. Linda Tomkinson livestreams worship from her living room.


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Tim Kruse

The cat’s out of the bag and these bishops are fearing loss of control. What’s to stop people in the CofE from streaming Eucharists from the Scottish Episcopal Church, or any other church? What can the English Bishops do, “excommunicate” them?

Steven Wilson

Title III.9.6.2 For the purposes of the office and for the full and free discharge of all functions and duties pertaining
thereto, the Rector or Priest-in-Charge shall at all times be entitled to the use and control of the Church and Parish buildings together with all appurtenances and furniture, and to access to all records and registers maintained by or on behalf of the congregation.
While I am not a canon lawyer, a plain reading of the national canon would imply that no American Bishop has the legal right to bar a rector or priest-in-charge from being in the Church so long as that rector or priest-in-charge is performing functions related to her/his ministry. The civil authority, of course, can limit people’s ability to travel. But this isn’t the Church of England and our canons simply do not give that authority to bishops: suggest, invite, exhort sure, but ban, bar and exclude, nope. Or am I reading this canon wrong?

Eric Bonetti

At least one bishop here in the US has threatened to do the same if social distancing rules are not observed while live-streaming.

Clergy should be careful not to put parishioners in a position where they must choose between their health/safety and their affection for their priests, deacons, and other spiritual leaders.

Simon Sarmiento

Not quite accurate. The current UK Government rules specifically allow clergy to enter churches alone, and to livestream from churches. And this is what Roman Catholic (and other) clergy are doing. It was the Church of England bishops who made stricter rule so that Church of England clergy are not allowed to do this, even though the Government allows it.
Similarly the Government allows funerals in church buildings, but the Church of England bishops are not allowing funerals in Church of England churches.

Rod Gillis

Not clear why English Bishops have gone beyond UK empirical based rules and issued a more authoritarian decree which appears to be supported largely by moralizing. Just watched a social distancing Eucharist from Westminster (RC) Cathedral. Too bad Canterbury could not have done something similar.

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