You will have seen that the Government has announced that it has moved from the Containment to the Delay phase of tackling Coronavirus (COVID-19). As we move into this new phase it is likely that advice and guidelines will continue to be updated and change on a regular basis and I’m writing to let you know how we will communicate with you about Coronavirus (COVID-19) going forward.
To ensure that communication is as clear and effective as possible, I have convened a communications group. The group consists of myself; Bishop Peter; Ruth Patten the Archdeacon of Colchester; Roger Matthews the Dean of Mission and Ministry; Joel Gowen the Diocesan Chief Executive and Tom Geldard the Diocesan Director of Communications and Media.
All advice for parishes will be agreed and communicated from this group. Please pay particular attention to the following communications:
– – Regular emails from this email address to all clergy and church wardens, these emails will often contain important information and sometimes requests for you to take action
– – Chelmsford Diocese E-bulletins- these will go to a wider list of subscribers and contain more general information about the situation. If you aren’t subscribed you can do so here
– – The Church of England website– all our diocesan advice and guidance will be based on Church of England guidance which in turn is based on public health guidance. Please visit the website regularly and familiarise yourself with the advice.
If you feel there is guidance that is missing or you are unsure about anything, please contact your Area Dean in the first instance. They will then notify the Communications Group via their Archdeacon if necessary.
Our communications will also help you communicate about Coronavirus (COVID-19) in your own parishes. I know many of you are already doing great work in this area, but I hope the following pointers are helpful:
– -It is important that you only communicate advice and guidance that has come from the Church of England, the Diocese of Chelmsford or government websites. There is other guidance and advice in circulation that it is inconsistent with this advice and in some cases doesn’t reflect public health advice. Amplifying this information may cause confusion and unnecessary anxiety.
– -Please ensure that you are continually communicating good hygiene advice. If you haven’t already, you can print off Public Health posters and display them in church buildings.
– -It is important that leaders of children’s groups and educational settings are also communicated with. The Department of Education is providing advice that can be found here. Please draw particular attention to hygiene in these settings, highlighting the need to frequently clean and disinfect surfaces.
– -Please consider how you could quickly communicate with members of your church community in the event that you need to. Who has access to the church email and social media accounts? Do additional people need to be trained and given access?
– -If your Church uses social media, please share and retweet Diocesan and Church of England social media posts about Coronavirus (COVID-19)
– -As well as protecting people from the virus by sharing public health advice, communications can play and important role in providing spiritual and pastoral support, particularly to those who are anxious. There is a section about how to do this on the Church of England web page including advice on live streaming services and worship resources.
In the coming days we will send further emails to keep you updated with changes to advice and to help you prepare and plan in your parish.
If you have any questions, please do contact your Area Dean or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Yours in Christ
Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell
Bishop of Chelmsford