Barham Downs Churches

  • The Rectory
  • The Street, Barham
  • Canterbury
  • Kent
  • CT4 6PA

01227 941561
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COVID19 Update

Benefice Church Life - Moving forward together from 27th Jan 2022

Although all restrictions have been lifted we are aware that there are still high rates of the omicron variant and therefore we will continue to ask thos who come into our churches to wear masks and to sanitise hands so that we continue to protect our vulnerable members.

Holy Communion has been of both kinds for sometime now ensured by safe sanisiting practice but we will not share the common cup until further notice.

Benefice Church Life - Moving forward together from 19th July 2021

 From 19th July the government abolished the remaining restrictions of the COVID pandemic allowing for optional restrictions to be deployed by organisations.  We know that many of the restrictions we undertake are not for our own benefit but for the benefit of others, especially when considering those most vulnerable in our congregations. In a recent benefice Churchwardens meeting (19th) we came up with the following generic proposals which I am sure our PCCs will support. Each church may differ slightly about how they adopt these proposals even if it means closing the church during the week and only opening for worship services and other events 

 ·  We strongly advise that people wear a face mask during the service.

 ·  Hand sanitizer will continue to be available at the beginning of services. 

·   Those who use the track & trace app will be encouraged to continue to check in but we will no longer require everyone to sign in.

·    We will retain socially distanced seating

 ·   We have the option to be able to sing but this must be done with masks on while remaining seated. If we have too many people in the building then we may ask the congregation not to sing. At Barham the choir will resume but to remain in the Chancel/Quire throughout the service (first to arrive and last to leave) with no singing procession.

 ·  We will request that people remain in their seats during the peace – the continued use of smiles, small bows and sign language for sharing the peace will be encouraged

 ·   We will retain reception in one kind only until there is clear guidance on how we can return to the common cup safely.

 ·    Churches may resume the serving of refreshments after the service, however social distancing remains a must, with one-way systems in place to limit close social contact.

    These decisions will be reviewed  by the end of September.

 For weddings, baptisms and funerals, the recommendations will broadly stay the same as above, but we will offer flexibility with regard capacity, whilst ensuring that vergers, clergy and organists are able to maintain social distancing.


Rev Stefan Thomas   21/07/21

28th March 2021

From Palm Sunday (28th March) and Easter Sunday (4th April) our churches will be open for services including the mid week services but continuing with our vigilance against Covid-19 infections

18th March 2021

From Palm Sunday (28th March) and Easter Sunday (4th April) our churches of the benefice will gradually open but very much keeping to the government and church guidelines. Social-distancing will be observed, sanitising and a register and masks must still be worn. Holy Communion will be of one kind (bread/wafer) only.

See the below links for further information:

15th June 2020

Under the current law places of worship are permitted to open solely for the following purposes:

·         funerals, in line with restrictions on those who can attend as per Regulation 7(2)(b)

·         to broadcast an act of worship, whether over the internet or as part of a radio or television broadcast

·         to provide essential voluntary services or urgent public support services, including the provision of food banks or other support for the homeless or vulnerable people, blood donation sessions, or support in an emergency

·         for early years childcare provided by a person registered on the Early Years Register under Part 3 of the Childcare Act 2006

This law is enacted through the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020

Places of worship will be permitted to open for the following additional purpose, depending on the most up to date scientific advice of the risk posed by the virus:

·         individual prayer (see section 4)

The government will continue to consider how to allow places of worship to reopen for additional uses in Step 3 of its Roadmap, which is expected to be no earlier than 4 July, subject to further scientific advice.

As a benefice we will endeavour to keep you informed at all times as to which churches can open and at what times. Thank you for your patience and remembering that we - the people - are the church

12th May 2020 - 

At this time we are unfortunately still being asked to keep our churches closed to public worship and visiting with access at this particular time given to a designated person for each church for maintenance. This measure is expected to be in place up to the 1st July 2020 to assist in reducing the ability of catching the coronavirus.

We all miss our wonderful and sacred buildings at this time but please be assured that worship and prayer continues by checking our WORD19 and BENEFICE PEW SHEET tabs. Also other 
Worship & Prayer Resources through the CofE

Also check out the 15 minute daily service on BBC Radio 4 Long Wave (or Sounds App)    

24th March 2020 - 

The Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of England have urged everyone to follow the instructions given by the Prime Minister to stay in their homes in a national effort to limit the transmission of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

But they called on the Church to “continue to pray, to love, to care for the vulnerable”.

It follows the announcement by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson of sweeping restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.

It means all Church of England churches will close with immediate effect in line with the Government’s instructions. There will also be no Church weddings or baptisms.

Funerals at the graveside or in crematoriums can still take place, but only in line with the Prime minister’s Statement.

In a joint statement the bishops said: “In the light of the Government’s measures, announced by the Prime Minister this evening, we urge everyone to follow the instructions given. 

“We will give a fuller statement of advice as soon as possible. Let us continue to pray, to love, to care for the vulnerable, and build our communities, even while separated.”

23rd March 2020 - 

Please follow the below link for updates and also check tabs re Wedding and baptism advice.

17th Mar 2020 - Suspension of Mothering Sunday Service and subsequent worship services until further notice 

Dear Parishioners,

In line with government and Church of England advice we are having to suspend public worship until we are advised otherwise. Nevertheless the majority of our wonderful church buildings in our benefice will remain open.

Starting from Sunday evening (22nd) a bell of St John's will be tolled twice a day at 12pm and 7pm as prayers are continued to be said by the parish priest and assistants during the time of the restrictions.

As Archbishop Justin Welby only commented today, that we will have to do church differently and in doing so will continue to offer pastoral and practical support where ever we can.

Rev Stefan Thomas (RevT)

Message from Bishop Rose

Dear brothers and sisters,

Church isn't closing - it's changing

Many of you will be aware that today our Archbishops have issued guidance that Church of England churches should suspend all acts of public worship, with immediate effect. You can read about their guidance here. However, far from “shutting up shop”, this means that we must face this challenge by becoming a radically different kind of church as we seek to continue to be rooted in prayer and serve others.

Keeping our churches open for prayer

To that end, we ask that - as far as possible - churches should remain open as places of prayer for the community, while observing physical distancing recommendations. Some of the practicalities of this are as follows: 
  • all clergy have a commitment to saying the Daily Office and this can be said in church, as a witness to the prayer being offered for the community
  • if your church has a bell, you may wish to ring it before prayer to signify to the wider community that you are praying for them
  • please encourage anyone who may be in church and wishes to pray with you to observe physical distancing measures (2 metres between people) and good hygiene practices
  • please do not provide prayer books or sheets for people to use - if passed around, these can be vehicles for transmission of infection - prayer 'signs' posted appropriately on walls or pillars in the building may be helpful
Occasional Offices

  • Weddings and funerals may go ahead - but should have as few people as possible in attendance and should observe physical distancing guidance
  • We would advise that baptisms and confirmations should be postponed - except where there is a very strong case for going ahead, and where every possible step is taken to observe health guidance in doing so

Sunday 22 March 

Our Archbishops have called for a day of prayer and action this coming Sunday - Mothering Sunday (22 March). Mothering Sunday has always been both a day of celebration for many and a sensitive and emotional day for some. Wherever you are this Sunday please do join in this day of prayer and action and remember especially those who are sick or anxious, and all involved in our Health Service. As one action, they are calling on everyone to (safely) place a lighted candle in their window at 7pm as a sign of solidarity and hope in the light of Christ that can never be extinguished. 

What should churches do now?    Church of England Guidance 

16th Mar 2020

Please note that ‘Washing hands’ always refers to washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using a hand-sanitiser with minimum 60% alcohol content. 

  1. Ensure everyone maintains good hygiene (we should be doing this already as part of normal good practice) at all gatherings, whether services or other occasions. This includes those handing out books etc or having other direct physical contact with numbers of people, as well as those administering the Eucharist (see below for more guidance):
    • Provide hand gel at entrances and ensure there is a good supply of soap or hand gel in cloakrooms and kitchens and any other appropriate areas.
  2. The best way of protecting us from the spread is for everyone to use universal good hygiene, - this means everyone, all the time, which will effectively disrupt the spread of the virus. Display the public information poster attached, which states:
    • Catch it – sneeze into a tissue.
    • Bin it – bin the tissue.
    • Kill it – wash your hands.
    • Do not touch your face unless you’ve washed your hands.
  3. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have written to advise that the Common Chalice/Cup now be suspended until further notice
    • As a church we will 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;

3.       suspend direct physical contact as part of a blessing or "laying on of hands" 

  1. Churches are encouraged to complete a Coronavirus Parish Continuity Plan to ensure, as far as possible, their continued mission and ministry. 
  2. Intinction is not recommended as an alternative to the Common Chalice/Cup. It is a route for transmission from the individual through handling the wafer/bread/host, and tiny fragments could affect people with allergies to gluten etc. 
  3. Please note that the distribution of individual cups for use by communicants is not a lawful practice in the Church of England.
  4. Ask those attending services to wash their hands as they come into church.
  5. Ensure ministers of the Eucharist wash their hands before and after distributing communion. 
  6. Suspend catering (teas, coffees etc.) where multiple people touch mugs, utensils and foodstuffs.
  7. No pastoral visits should be undertaken to people who are self-isolating until isolation ends. However we offer phone support.
  8. When visiting parishioners at home, we wash hands before and after giving the sacraments.
  9. Refrain from passing collection plates around.
  10. Suspend the use of holy water stoups.
  11. Wash vestments (surplices, cassocks) on the hottest cycle you can without damaging them. Chasubles etc. which could become contaminated, may not be able to be washed. Instead, they should be securely stored away from people, ideally in a well ventilated and brightly sunlit area, for at least 48 hours before re-use, 
  12. Visits to people in care homes or Hospitals should follow advice from the staff on infection control.
  13. Ensure good regular cleaning of surfaces people touch regularly, including such things as door handles, light switches etc.

More importantly that as disciples of Christ we do not neglect those who will in time be struck by this coronavirus, especially those who are elderly and/or have compromised immune systems. It is important that when the rich man asked Jesus "and who is my neighbour?" (Luke 10:29) that although we may love God with all our being we must ensure that our love for Christ continually flows to those in need.

Our neighbours around us, and those further afield in the parish who we know to be lonely, vulnerable and isolated must be pastorally assisted. If we know of parishioners that have had to self-isolate having contracted this virus then we should ensure that food can be left for them at the door and that regular contact by phone is a must throughout the infected period. Even after the illness encouargement of looking after our neighbour should always be a natural deed as with our own families. 

I expect the church guidelines to be updated regularly and the following link should be bookmarked:

We are a praying and prayerful community so please keep your prayers 24/7 as we ask the Holy Spirit to guide us and those in national and local leadership positions, for our medical communities and for the upkeep of the common good.