Dear Lord Greenhalgh

We would like to thank you for the regular opportunities to meet with you throughout this pandemic. We recognise the importance of public health and the difficult decisions faced by political leaders; however, the Evangelical Alliance is concerned that from Thursday, 5 November churches in England will be prohibited from all acts of collective worship, except for funerals. Churches have worked incredibly hard to meet safely and to continue to serve their local communities. The lack of prior consultation and evidence of any concerns makes the decision very difficult to understand. We ask the Government to review this matter urgently.

The Evangelical Alliance is concerned that churches across the UK find themselves facing different restrictions. Churches in England are closed for four weeks, while in Wales they are closed during a fire-break’. Churches in Northern Ireland and Scotland can open but with restrictions. The evidence underpinning these decisions seems to be the same across the UK and yet different policy approaches have been taken. The evidence base also seems to be very limited, ignoring good practice in countries such as Germany which has introduced new restrictions while allowing churches to remain open for worship. 

The Evangelical Alliance is asking the Westminster Government to:

  • Recognise the work carried out to make churches across the UK safe places in which people have been able to gather responsibly, including refraining from congregational singing.
  • Allow churches in England to continue to hold marriage services, even with strict limits on participation.
  • Allow churches in England to hold outdoor and drive-in services during this lockdown. If it is considered safe and important to do so for Remembrance Sunday we believe it can be done safely for public worship services. 
  • Publish the data that has led to the decision to ban in-person public worship in England.
  • Consult with church leaders about future decisions and potential mitigations, especially during the Christmas season. 
  • Work towards an approach that recognises the importance of churches as gathered worshipping communities committed to serving their neighbours. 

The Evangelical Alliance has called a UK day of prayer on Friday, 13 November. We are working with networks, denominations and churches to bring people together to pray for our country. The growing pandemic has taken the lives of many people and cases are increasing. Regardless of lockdowns, we have the great privilege and freedom to be able to call upon God, wherever we are, for healing in our country. We will continue to pray for all in leadership at this time, especially those making decisions about the containment of the virus, and for those working in health and social care, those working on a vaccine, those most at risk, and those suffering hardship and distress. 

The Evangelical Alliance will continue to work with each of the governments across the UK. The church will continue to worship online, meet the needs of the most vulnerable, and together make Jesus known. The church is much more than a building, but gathering together is important. We hope Westminster will reconsider the most recent changes in England. We also hope the UK day of prayer will provide the UK with a reminder of the hope that Jesus Christ offers.

Yours sincerely,

Gavin Calver

CEO Evangelical Alliance 

The church will continue to worship online, meet the needs of the most vulnerable, and together make Jesus known.