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Support: Additional information for London parishes

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Answers to queries raised by London parishes.

Parish Confirmation

What if the Parish Confirmation is delayed?

In these difficult times many Confirmations have had to be delayed. It is our Diocesan policy (set out here) that since ‘communion before Confirmation’ is a departure from our inherited norm it requires special permission. In normal times the agreement of the Area Bishop is required before a parish introduces the practice of admitting baptized persons to communion before Confirmation, and this has to be undertaken following agreement by the PCC and only after a policy has been agreed and a programme of preparation is in place. This remains the case. However in the particular circumstances of the Covid outbreak, where preparation for Confirmation and Holy Communion has been underway, but the Confirmation service has been delayed, Area Bishops may give permission for candidates to be admitted to Holy Communion before Confirmation on the understanding that they are confirmed as soon as possible thereafter.

Clergy who have been preparing candidates for presentation should contact the Area Bishop’s office giving the names of those to be admitted and certifying that they have been carefully prepared, and have received specific spiritual preparation before coming to receive Holy Communion for the first time.  The Area Bishop should liaise with the parish to ensure that when we are able to bring these candidates to Confirmation they are confirmed as soon as possible.

We should maintain the important discipline of preparation as the approach to the sacrament and the Anglican norm that Holy Communion follows Confirmation, while making provision in the special circumstances in which we find ourselves to enable those who seek Him to come to the Lord’s Table.

APCM and elections 2020

In view of the challenging times which we are all facing at present, it has been decided to extend considerably the deadlines for the holding of Annual Meetings this year.

In particular,

  • APCMs and Meetings of Parishioners to choose churchwardens can be held up until 31 October 2020 (instead of 31 May);
  • Elections of deanery synod members, and members of the PCC therefore also take place up until 31 October;
  • Current deanery synod members continue in office until 30 November. They will comprise the electorate in the General Synod election this year.
  • Churchwardens who were chosen in 2019 continue to hold office until 31 January 2021, unless their successors are admitted to office before that.

Further details can be found in the Bishop’s Instrument and the Explanatory Note at the end, which can be read here.

An FAQs document for those arranging APCMs and other meetings can be read here.

Guidance on Polling using Zoom can be read here.

Is there appropriate wording which parishes can use in a notice regarding the postponement of the Annual Meetings?

The following can be used,

‘Owing to the extraordinary circumstances that have arisen due to the Coronavirus which have prevented meetings from taking place, both the Annual Meeting of Parishioners and the Annual Parochial Church Meeting, originally planned to be held on xx  xxxx 2020, have had to be postponed.

A notice will be publicised in due course with the new date on which these meetings will be held, once this has been decided.’

We have already started the revision of the electoral roll. What shall we do now that the APCM will no longer be held on the date that was originally intended? 

The timing of the revision of the electoral roll is dependent on the date of the APCM. Parishes that had already got the revision process underway, should start the process afresh when the dates of their APCMs become known.

Use of Church Halls

What should I do about hall hires or the lessee using the hall?

If you let your hall on a casual hire basis the hire for all public meetings can now be continued provided the advice from the government here is followed. The Church of England has guidance on this on page 8 of this document.

If your hall is leased to a third party, a nursery for example, it is for the nursery to make their decision based on the Government advice.

What do I do if the hall tenant says they cannot pay the rent?

In the first instance speak to your Archdeacon. Agreeing to vary when the rent is paid might be a pragmatic solution.

Food banks

LATEST ADVICE 26th March 2020:   The most recent guidance from Trussell Trust, updated since the lockdown about foodbank operation is here:  https://www.trusselltrust.org/coronavirus-food-banks/

This states:

“food banks can legally continue operating and buildings that host food banks can continue to open for those sessions, provided we follow social distancing rules, because your work qualifies you as key workers ‘caring for the vulnerable’. 

However each local foodbank will need to decide whether they are in a position to open, so you’re urged to cotact your local foodbank to find out their arrangements.

The general need for foodbanks, across the Diocese is:

  • food donations
  • healthy volunteers
  • drivers with vehicles to do deliveries

PCC business

The following notes interpret the provisions of the Church Representation Rules 2020 and do not replace or supersede them.

  • Standing Committee will be the most regular route for making decisions in the current context – CRR2020 M31 sets out its power and responsibilities.
  • PCC decisions must either be “face-to-face” (inadvisable in the current context) or by email and/or post.
  • Any online or phone conversations should be minuted, but are not in themselves sufficient for taking official PCC decisions.
  • Those who cannot participate in online conversations must not be shut out of decision-making.
  • Decisions agreed online/by phone must then be approved via email/post (see CRR2020 M29 for the process).
  • There will be additional advice regarding APCM’s, elections and other matters in coming days.

Q: Can certain items of PCC business be conducted by email? For instance, the PCC wishes to appoint an Assistant Churchwarden to help to share the load of our current churchwardens who (due to the Bishop’s Instrument of 20 March 2020) will now be in office until 31 January 2021.

A: The Church Representation Rules 2020 now enables PCCs to conduct business by correspondence (whether on paper or by email) where the chair of the PCC decides that particular business can properly be conducted in that way (Rule M29’).

Can members of clergy and foundation school governors enter a school building?

You should contact your Headteacher about access arrangements and follow the school guidance. More information about school opening can be found on the Government website.

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