Diocese of Portsmouth

What will going to church look like as we transition out of lockdown?

When national lockdown was announced in March 2020 to slow the spread of Covid-19, church life became very different. Ministry continued through digital worship, pastoral support via the phone, and community action and assistance like Foodbanks. Now that restrictions are easing, and church buildings are starting to open up again, what will worship look like in the coming months? And how might you be able to join with worshipping communities across our diocese while following the government’s guidelines for social distancing and gathered events?

Watching online

Most parishes are continuing to stream some form of worship online, through their social media platforms. This is likely to continue even as church buildings open for physical acts of worship. Watching a church’s digital service has the benefits of being to see what a church is like from the comfort of your sofa or kitchen table. Each parish’s online provision will vary, depending on the technical skill and equipment they have available. Most will include familiar elements such as songs and hymns to sing along to, readings from the Bible, prayers for local and national situations, a message, and often also the Eucharist.

The diocese will continue to provide a streamed service at 9am each Sunday, either led by the Bishop or other senior clergy from their homes, or shared from Portsmouth Cathedral or a parish church within the diocese.

Outdoor services

A new idea starting to take off across the country is that of holding outdoor services – either in the church yard with socially-distanced seating, or in a car park with people remaining in their cars. A small number of parishes in our diocese have already successfully started meeting like this. Click below to read more.

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Limited attendance in church buildings

Many people have been looking forward to being able to worship in the sacred space of their church building, and are now being allowed to do so, albeit with some restrictions in place. These restrictions will remain in place at least for the coming months at least. Other parishes have chosen not to open yet, because they want to ensure they will keep all their visitors safe before doing so.

Read the stories below to find out how some of the parishes in our diocese are finding ways to enable people to use their church buildings and surrounding area for services:

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How can you find something that appeals to you?

Most churches will have a website that should give clear details of how they are meeting, or not meeting, as lockdown restrictions ease. The easiest way to find out what your local church is doing is to use the A Church Near You website (ACNY), run by the national Church of England. This site lists every church in the country, and each church’s listing shows when their weekly services are and how you can access them.

If you wanted to find a church that was streaming their services on Facebook, for instance, you can add your location to ACNY, and then use the search term live stream. You’ll get back a map showing all the churches nearby that live stream their services, with links to view those churches and connect to the social media platforms and watch a recent service.

If a church is holding in-person services, these will be listed under their Services and Events.