(Previous updates have been emailed: Update 1 on 20th March 2020  and Update 2 on 23rd March 2020)

Dear Clergy, Churchwardens, LLMs, Deanery Lay Chairs and Bishop’s Council members

I enclose a letter from the Archbishops and Bishops which sets out the Church of England’s response to the Prime Minister’s broadcast last night. Please do read it.

In relation to the six summary points;

1.’Our church buildings are closed for public worship and for private prayer’, without exception.

There will no longer be services, live streaming or recordings from the church building, even by clergy on their own. Clergy and churchwardens in a vacancy please adapt and print off the enclosed poster to put up at every church in your benefice as soon as possible.

2. ‘There can be no weddings in church buildings until further notice’. 

We appreciate that for those couples who had decided to go ahead in spite of the restrictions, this news will be particularly difficult and that pastoral conversations with clergy will be important.

3. ‘Emergency baptisms can take place in hospital or at home, though subject to strict hygienic precautions and physical distancing as far as possible.’

If clergy receive a request for an emergency baptism for someone in hospital, check with the hospital chaplaincy team as the are the ones who should take a lead on the baptism.  If the emergency baptism is requested in a home, please consult me, as Archdeacon, before accepting the request.


‘Funerals can only happen at the Crematorium or at the graveside. Only immediate family members can attend (if the crematorium allows) – that is, spouse or partner, parents and children, keeping their distance in the prescribed way.’

As a result, I will be writing to crematoria staff, as I did to funeral directors, to brief them on the information in the Archbishops and Bishops letter.

5. ‘Live streaming of services (or pre-recorded messages) will be more important than ever and is still permissible from homes.’ 

In relation to this, please refer to national guidance and the resources that are on the national and diocesan website. If you are intending to live stream from home Richard Ellis, the Diocesan Director of Communications, will be sending out issues for you to consider. However, please do not feel that you must offer live streaming if this is not a natural communication channel for you or you do not have access to suitable technology.

6. Should our Foodbank continue?

We will be following up with particular churches who have a Foodbank whether it is possible for them to continue to operate, in the current circumstances.

Other Questions

Is it still the case that clergy and Readers/LLMs over 70 or with an underlying health condition should stop taking funerals?

Yes. There is an expectation that clergy in other local areas will help to take funerals.

Will parsonage repairs be undertaken?

Only emergency repairs will be undertaken so please do contact Ian Greaves as usual if this applies.

Clergy health status

We want to make sure that you and your family are supported during the Coronavirus outbreak.

So that we can do this in the best way possible, we have set up an on-line Google form.

Please now use this form to let us know you are ill from Coronavirus or self-isolating for any reason, instead of sending an email.

This will help us to keep up to date with everyone’s different situations.

 You can access the form using this link

 All information is used in line with the Diocesan Privacy Policy. Information will be included in a password protected document on the Diocesan CMS Database and then deleted from the Google form system.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch with me on any specific issues.

With my continued prayers for the ministry that you are exercising,


The Venerable Phil Williams

Archdeacon of Nottingham

letter from archbishops and bishops-24.3.20_2.pdf

Thoughts on Isolating (Coronavirus)

It occurred to me that King David knew a thing or two about finding God in period of isolation. Here are a couple of examples.

David as the youngest son of a large family was given the job of shepherd of his father’s flock. Whilst his seven older brother feasted at the family table, David was out alone with the sheep. Rather than brooding in resentment, David flourished in isolation. He wrote songs and he communed with his God. He stayed fit out in the open air and took responsibility and ownership of his lowly role. He put himself in harm’s way to protect the sheep. Many NHS workers are doing that right now for us. Among them is one of my children (a hospital care worker) and two of my daughter-in-laws (a nursing home activities coordinator and a classroom assistant in a school for pupils with special needs). You will have your own heroes. One of David’s songs has come to us across 3000 years of time: Psalm 23 The Shepherd Psalm. What he learned as a shepherd has brought comfort to many down the long centuries. God is there even in the deepest darkest valleys and he rescues us and feeds and nurtures us. Meanwhile back where people gathered in large numbers, he was singled out as God’s person to lead the nation and to pass on covenant faith. When he appeared he looked the part and inspired confidence.

(1Sa 16:11)  So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.” Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”

(1Sa 16:12)  So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”

Life was going to be tough for David and he would need to apply those lessons, learned in isolation. Faith is tested most in the biggest crisis. For him it was to come through the terrors of civil war. The man who had the right to dwell in an honoured place at the palace was forced to hide in a cave.

(1Sa 22:1)  David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there.

How did David handle this massive reversal? Did he cave in to depression and self pity? Did he lose sight of God and forget the promise of his own song? No. He stayed the man that Samuel had chosen and he showed there had been no mistake. I love the words of the next verse.

(1Sa 22:2)  All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander.

In the midst of all this he was given an opportunity to end his troubles by killing Saul but instead he showed mercy and compassion.

David was far from perfect and he made tremendous mistakes but he continued to listen to God and to his spiritual advisors. I think he was made the man he was in those early years as a shepherd. Few men have inspired for 3000 years and he will always be remembered as Israel’s greatest king.

In this enforced isolation may God speak to us and put his song in our hearts.

Alan Howe


Due to the Coronavirus Emergency our Annual General Meeting has been postponed to a date later in the year. The date will be announced later.