The church buildings will reopen for public worship on July 4th
(Photo: Pexels / Brett Sayles)
The government has confirmed that the churches in England can resume public worship as of July 4th.
The long-awaited announcement came from Boris Johnson in the House of Commons on Tuesday.
The reopening of churches includes church services and weddings with a maximum of 30 people, subject to social distancing measures.
Churches in England have been open to private prayers since June 13th.
Mr. Johnson said he was "pleased" that places of worship could finally be reopened.
"I know that many have mourned the closure of places of worship, and this year Easter, Passover and Eid all happened during the closure," he said.
Bishop of London Sarah Mullally, who heads the Church of England recovery group, welcomed the Prime Minister's announcement.
"The past three months have been exceptional – the first time without public worship and the sacraments in England for more than 800 years," she said.
"There will be real joy when we get back together – albeit at a physical distance – but I also know that many will understandably be careful about this news."
She continued that not all churches could reopen on July 4th.
"We won't go back to normal overnight – this is the next step on a journey," she said.
"We have carefully planned and provided detailed advice to the communities so that they can prepare to hold services when it is safe and practical.
"It is important to say that the change in government policies is permissible and not mandatory."
She added that, given the country that had been closed, the Church must play a role in providing spiritual support to those who have suffered from illness and financial difficulties.
"This was an incredibly difficult time for the whole country, especially for those who were sick, facing financial difficulties, losing their livelihoods and indeed for many who love them. We know that this is not over and the Church has a job to bring comfort and hope, "she said.
"Churches and cathedrals have faced the latest challenges and found new ways to meet, serve our neighbors, and reach new people with God's love.
"The challenge we face now is to take the next steps carefully and safely, without forgetting everything we discovered on the way about God and ourselves."
The Methodist Church has announced that it will soon publish a special service to celebrate the return to public service.