Church lockdown

Churches were banned from many ministry activities when Covid-19 lockdown measures started – while other sectors of society could continue with equally risky activities. A group of church leaders is challenging the government to uphold the principle of church independence.

 

At the end of May 2020, a letter was sent to the government on behalf of a group of 25 church leaders, urging the government to reconsider its approach to the blanket lockdown of churches. The pre-action letter argued that lockdown restrictions imposed on churches are both unlawful and unnecessary and asks the government to prioritise the opening of churches as soon as possible.

Rev. Melvin Tinker, vicar of St John Newland, commented: “A church by definition is a meeting of Christian people, namely around the Bible and the sacraments … It’s not simply that Christians are having to forego some gathering, but that the state is denying something Jesus commanded: ‘Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am in their midst’.”

The government then replied, rejecting the grounds that the restrictions are unlawful and instead announcing that churches would reopen for private prayer from Monday 15 June – yet at the same time, Sunday trading laws were to be eased, allowing large businesses to open all day on Sunday.

 

Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, commented: The government should allow churches to make their own decisions about what kind of ministry to host in their buildings, rather than continuing to impose highly restrictive constraints.

“Churches can easily be made as safe as supermarkets. Churches should be allowed to do so if they so wish.

“We call on the government to recognise the vital importance of church ministry and the principle of church autonomy from the state. The government should urgently rescind its restrictions on church ministry.

“Since the letter to the government was sent seeking an urgent review of the lockdown restrictions on church ministry, several other church leaders have come forward in support of our action. We hope the government takes this seriously. Private prayer only, while supermarkets are in full flow is not enough.”

If you are a church leader and would like to add your support, please contact us.

Signatories of the initial letter:

  1. Rev. Ade Omooba MBE, Co-Chair, National Church Leaders Forum – NCLF, A Black Christian Voice
  2. Dr David Muir, Co-Chair, National Church Leaders Forum – NCLF, A Black Christian Voice
  3. Rev. Derek Andrews, Pastor, The Presence of God Ministries
  4. Dr Gavin Ashenden, Former Chaplain to the Queen, Former Anglican Bishop
  5. Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo, Senior Pastor, Kingsway International Christian Centre, KICC
  6. Bishop Lovel Bent, Presiding Bishop, Connections Trust
  7. Rev. Ian Christiansen, AoG UK, Senior Minister, New Life Christian Centre International
  8. Chris Demetriou, Senior Pastor, Cornerstone
  9. Professor John Durodola, National Chairman, Overseas Fellowship of Nigerian Christians (OFNC)
  10. Rev. Asif Gill, Senior Leader, Ecclesia International
  11. Dennis Greenidge, Senior Pastor, Worldwide Mission Fellowship
  12. Rev. Alex Gyasi MBE, Convener & Senior Pastor, Kingdom Culture Alliance & Highway of Holiness
  13. Rev. Dr David Hathaway D.D., President, Eurovision Mission to Europe
  14. Pastor Thabo Marais, Senior Pastor, Christian Revival Church London
  15. Canon Yaqub Masih MBE, Secretary General, UK Asian Christians; Secretary General & Founder, New Horizons
  16. Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, President, Oxford Centre for Training, Research, Advocacy and Dialogue – OXTRAD
  17. Rev. Dr Brad Norman, Salvation For The Nations Intl. Churches
  18. Pastor Sunday Okenwa, Regional Overseer, Deeper Christian Life Ministry
  19. Pastor John Quintanilla, Hebron Christian Faith Church, Coventry
  20. Pastor Sally Quintanilla, Hebron Christian Faith Church, Coventry
  21. Pastor Paul Song, London Shepherd Church
  22. Pastor Kola Taiwo, Senior Pastor, New Wine Church
  23. Rev. Melvin Tinker, St John Newland
  24. Rev. Keith Waters, New Connexions Church
  25. Bishop Alfred Williams BA (Hons), LLB (Hons), LLM (Inter. Business Law), MCIArb., Presiding Bishop, Christ Faith Tabernacle International Churches

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