The Archbishops of York and Canterbury have written to the clergy of the Church of England this evening to reiterate their advice about local churches' response to the Government advice during the present Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak.

"We are in a time of great fearfulness. The numbers of those becoming seriously ill and dying is increasing. It therefore remains very important that our churches remain closed for public worship and private prayer. The Church of England is called to model the very best practice. We must lead by example. Staying at home and demonstrating solidarity with the rest of the country at this testing time, is, we believe, the right way of helping and ministering to our nation. Therefore, for a season, the centre for the liturgical life of the church must be the home, not the church building."

The Archbishops go on to affirm the radical and innovative new approaches to being church by many clergy and lay people, who "have already started streaming and live streaming daily worship from their homes. Often they create prayer spaces or a small oratory in a room or the corner of a room. It is hugely encouraging to hear stories of how our prayers and loving actions are blessing our communities and reaching out beyond our usual congregations. Similarly it is wonderful to hear stories of innovative pastoral practice and spiritual care being undertaken in new ways. Thank you for this."

"Our priority is to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. Our prayers are with you all; let us all support one another."

Download the Archbishops' letter in full