13 Mar 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Latest


Here are latest updates and resources to provide guidance, information and support to the Diocese, including on use of digital and social media to support e-services.

Latest update:  18 Mar 2020 09:45 CET

Please note the Diocese in Europe is not responsible for the content of external websites.



Diocese in Europe guidance

13 March:

Our Bishops have written again to all our clergy and churchwardens. Everyone in the Diocese will wish to be aware of the following points:

Our recommendations regarding the conduct of church services went a little beyond what was then being said by the National Church in England.  The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have now written with similar guidance.  Their letter can be found here

The Archbishops write:

‘It is our view, in light of the continued increase of Covid-19 cases in the United Kingdom, that it is now necessary to suspend the administration of the chalice as well as physical contact during the sharing of the peace, blessing or "laying on of hands". We therefore advise that all priests should:-

• Offer Communion in one kind only to all communicants i.e. the consecrated bread/wafer/host, with the priest alone taking the wine;

• suspend handshaking or other direct physical contact during the sharing of the peace;

• suspend direct physical contact as part of a blessing or ‘laying on of hands’.’

This guidance is both prudent and lawful. 

We know that public worship in an increasing number of countries is suspended because of local regulation.   

There is advice on digital and social media resources available (see below) particularly for those unable to hold or attend services.  This is a good opportunity for chaplaincies to experiment with digital content, such as recorded sermons.

Sadly, a number of public events in the Diocese are feeling the impact of the virus.  These include the cancellation of the Synod in Hamburg this week, the public installation of the new Dean of Gibraltar in early April, and the postponement of the Archdeaconry of France Synod scheduled for the end of April.  Following medical advice, all the Holy Week Chrism Eucharists are cancelled. In general, many of us are having to curtail travel plans. 

We realise that many chaplaincies intend Annual Meetings to be held in the coming weeks.  Guidance will be issued next week on these important events. It is essential that Archdeaconry/Deanery Synod elections are held in order to ensure that we have electors for the General Synod elections due this Summer.

Some advice on continuity planning that is aimed at meeting the needs of chaplaincies in the Diocese will be shared as soon as possible.

We are working closely with The Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe  whose approach to these issues is in line with ours. Their website is at:


Church of England guidance:  

Advice from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York

UPDATE:  17 March 1330 GMT

In light of the UK Government's guidance around non-essential contact, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued advice that public worship is suspended until further notice.  You can read their letter to all Church of England clergy in the above link. 

It is addressed in the first instance to churches in England, but much of the advice and the ideas it contains are applicable to our own Diocese in Europe (always subject, of course, to the laws of the regions and countries in which we operate).



Using digital and social media

Church of England Digital Communications have put together step-by-step guidance, hints and tips on live video and streaming that you can use to run e-services. 

This resource covers YouTube video, Facebook Live and Instagram Live:

UPDATE (18 Mar)

Church of England Digital Communications team are now offering a series of webinars - sign up is via the link below.

These include:

  • 5 Ways to Keep your Church Connected 
  • How to Use A Church Near You During Social Distancing
  • Livestream Q&A session

Please note:

Church of England guidance at the above links notes potential copyright issues around music.  Legal advice to the Diocese is that careful choice of music may be important to reduce the risk of copyright issues in relation to hymns/worship songs held by other bodies.

The copyright in Common Worship and other authorised Church of England liturgical material is held by the Archbishops’ Council. A guide to liturgical copyright is available here 

On 4 March we reported that friends at The Anglican Church of the Holy Ghost, Genoa pioneered a Virtual Eucharist for the First Sunday of Lent:

We look forward to sharing more of your stories (ideally with a short article) for publication on the Diocesan website and our twitter feed. 

Let us know how you get on, and please send your content to us at




Sources of official guidance, health advice, and support:

Below are links to latest information and advice provided by national governments, World Health Organisation, and EU.  

UK Government:


World Health Organisation (WHO):

-          WHO Regional Office (Europe) This includes links to Health Ministries across national administrations in the WHO Regional Office (Europe) area.

-          WHO Regional Office (Eastern Mediterranean) – which covers Morocco:

European Union (EU):

-          European Commission:

-          European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control:



A Guide to hand-rub and hand-wash technique  (Belgian Federal Public Health Service)

Chaplaincies may wish to display this poster: 

Hand wash & Hand rub technique - A Guide



Talking to children about COVID-19:

Here is an example published by health authorities in Spain, covering (1) origin of the virus; (2) symptoms and (3) protection against the virus.

Check national health authority guidance in your country for any similar information.  This could help those we serve in our communities whose first language is not English.  


Prayer and reflection:

(with thanks to Exeter Diocese):

Keep us, Good Lord,

under the shadow of your mercy

in this time of uncertainty and distress.

Sustain and support the anxious and fearful,

and lift up all who are brought low;

that we may rejoice in your comfort

knowing that nothing can separate us

from your love

in Christ Jesus our Lord.  




Photos: With thanks to Allie Smith and Mike Labrum on Unsplash