The COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly changing situation. We follow government advice closely, updating this page every few days, as things change, so please check back regularly.
UPDATED FRIDAY 22 JANUARY 2021
England is in National lockdown.
While there are ongoing constraints on gatherings in homes, in all Tiers (including this lockdown) churches are permitted to gather for collective worship, and people are allowed to leave home to attend.
- We will continue to host weekly Sunday services at The King's Centre. Household groups must not interact with others while attending services.
- We also continue to stream Sunday services for those unable to attend onsite.
- Our Communities can meet online and at The King's Centre. Meetings in homes and gardens are not permitted in lockdown.
PLEASE CONTINUE TO FOLLOW GOVERNMENT ADVICE.
In more detail
Our 'Covid working group' includes Trustees and staff with responsibility for events, communication, risk management and safeguarding and meets every 2-3 weeks to consider OCC's response as the situation changes, and make contingency plans.
- Guidance and legal requirements from the government
- Advice from other sources, including Evangelical Alliance, FIEC (John Stevens) and National Youth Agency
- Local Covid data: gov.uk (city/county), oxfordshire.gov.uk, hospitals
- Safeguarding requirements, where applicable
Government guidance for places of worship (updated 11 Jan 2021) permits public worship in all Tiers (including this lockdown). This applies to The King's Centre (TKC) (a registered place of worship), and also to other venues we hire.
You might ask, why are churches allowed to organise 'public worship' activities while other areas of life face ongoing restriction? The impact of loneliness, anxiety and damage to mental health people are facing in this pandemic is significant, and those in authority see that churches are good for people's wellbeing, and also are providers of charitable service to the wider community. (For more on this, see our blog here.)
Of course, even if we decide to run an activity, every person is in a different situation, and should consider the needs of their household when deciding how to participate.
We're grateful to those who are staying at home to protect themselves and others: shielding, self-isolating or working in frontline high risk roles. We're also aware that for many of you, perhaps living alone or facing significant challenges in your homes or feeling Zoom-weary and isolated, the ability to continue gathering safely on Sunday is a real lifeline.
Communities are vital for extended family, care and mutual support in this season.
Communities are encouraged to continue to meet by Zoom. Study/small group meetings are not permitted in homes or in places of worship. Please contact your Community leader for information.
Communities are also involved in supporting neighbours and community initiatives. We regularly update our advice on that and also refer to government guidelines on safely helping other people.
A notable difference in all nations of the UK from previous lockdowns is that places of worship are permitted to continue to meet for communal worship. Although it is now required to stay at home unless you have a reasonable excuse, you are allowed to leave home to attend a place of worship.
Since the announcement of 'lockdown 3' we've thought it through carefully and plan to continue with hybrid (onsite and online) 'public worship'. More on our thinking in our blog here. We continue to stream services for those who cannot attend in-person onsite.
Place of worship Covid guidance requires us to assess the number of people who can safely gather onsite while safely social distancing, and manage events in a Covid-secure way.
There are several aspects to our Covid-secure arrangements (this is a summary of full risk assessment):
- Anyone showing symptoms of Covid-19 or self-isolating should not attend onsite.
- No congregational singing is permitted.
- No food and drink will be served, but you are free to bring your own refreshments.
- Children and youth: Please see below.
- Social distancing will be maintained.
- Face coverings must be worn.
- The building is Covid-secure.
- Visitor records are stored to assist with any track-and-trace. Pre-booking is not required.
These arrangements apply at The King's Centre, and we are taking a similar approach for other worship services, including Student Nights, and Leys meetings at BLAP. For more detail please visit our Sundays FAQs page.
Workplace rules permit 'necessary' pastoral visits by church staff or volunteers as they "volunteer to provide charitable services". Such workers are seen as key public service roles.
Youth and children
Most children and youth activities can only operate online. There are some exceptions, including support groups, work with vulnerable young people, and public worship gatherings.
- 0-5s: Support groups for new parents are permitted. However, we cannot effectively open our Sunday creche.
- YR-Y6: Government guidance is unclear, but we have been advised by EA that worship gatherings for children as part of Sunday services are permitted, but not other activities. For this age group we ask that children have spent at least one term in school, as they are more able to comply with distancing requirements; face coverings are not required for under-11s.
- Y7-Y13: As above, we have been advised that worship gatherings for children as part of Sunday services are permitted. Support services for vulnerable young people can remain open. For youth activities: face coverings are required at all times; youth will be in bubbles of no more than 15; rules for under-18s include those in Y13 who are 18.
Our Sunday activities for children and youth will comply with current guidelines for places of worship, including social distancing, no inter-household interaction and no small/study groups.
Our pastoral and administrative staff work flexibly, mostly from home, and from The King's Centre where necessary.
Leadership and team meetings (staff and volunteers) are online, except where our Covid working group agrees with the team leader they are reasonably necessary. Contact your team leader for details.
Questions or concerns?
If you have any questions about our Covid-secure arrangements, or wish to raise concerns, please email the church office.