English churches free to open during third lockdown

6 January 2021

On Monday 4 January, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that England would be entering a third national lockdown to try to combat the rise in cases of Covid 19. However, unlike previous lockdowns, this time churches and other places of worship are permitted to stay open.

Following the pursuit of a judicial review by over 120 pastors and vicars, the government has this time allowed church leaders the freedom to decide whether or not to keep churches open. A hearing for permission to seek a judicial review into the English and Welsh government’s previous decisions to close churches is due to be heard in the Court of Appeal on 25 January.

However, a similar lockdown policy introduced by the Scottish government has once again banned places of worship from opening.

Christian Concern, which is supporting the legal challenge from the 122 pastors, released this statement in light of the news:

“We welcome the government’s decision not to close churches or ban communal worship during the English lockdown announced on Monday by the Prime Minister.

“There can be no doubt that the legal challenge and pursuit of a judicial review by 122 church leaders has helped the government understand the crucial importance of church independence.

“Never before in our history have our churches been forced to close – not during wars, plagues or famines. Instead, church have always been places of respite and hope.

“In England, the decision on whether to hold public worship is now in the hands of church leaders, which we have campaigned for since last March. However, the Scottish government has once again criminalised gathered worship. We are considering whether to take any further legal action to challenge this in addition to the existing judicial review case.

“Churches throughout the UK have demonstrated their responsibility – and indeed their safety – throughout the pandemic. It is right that church leaders continue to be trusted to decide if and how we meet, given their local circumstances and the needs of their members.

“We ask you to pray for and support all church leaders and their congregations in the crucial days, weeks and months ahead. May they be given wisdom and courage to responsibly honour and worship God and love their neighbours at this challenging time.”

Find out more about Church lockdown
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