A new group is putting together a list and map of all the UK churches meeting in person during the latest lockdown.
UK Lockdown Churches has listed 15 churches since launching yesterday, all of which are either in London or near the South coast. They are calling for website visitors to submit any churches they know are still meeting so they can “provide this resource for those who are seeking an in-person gathering near them”.
“This website exists because we believe that the command of the Apostles in Hebrews 10:25 to ‘not forsake the assembling of ourselves together’ is vital for our faith,” the group says on their new website.
The group have no opinion on denomination, saying they “welcome submissions from any Christian church or congregation”. Of the churches listed so far, St Edmund’s and St Joseph’s in Southampton is the only Roman Catholic congregation, with the majority being Church of England.
An England-wide lockdown was announced by the Prime Minister this Monday and is expected to last until the middle of February. However, unlike in the first lockdown, places of worship were allowed to remain open.
Meanwhile, in Wales – currently under alert tier four restrictions – places of worship are open for communal service, but in Scotland the latest lockdown rules have meant they have had to close.
“We are thankful that the Westminster Government have not introduced a draconian restriction on gatherings as in lockdown 1.0,” said the group. They also express their gratitude “for all those priests, pastors, ministers and leaders who are continuing to facilitate the physical meeting of the Body of Christ”.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, spoke earlier this week about the importance of continuing to meet in person for charity work, and quoted figures that one parish had quadrupled its provision of food for the needy since March last year.
“I am glad that no measures have been introduced that would obstruct or curtail this essential source of energy,” Cardinal Nichols said. “Catholic parishes will continue to serve the needs of their local community.”
Despite the guidelines, many churches are making the decision not to meet in person. Rev Alan Peterson from Blaina Evangelical Church in Wales said: “We have chosen not to meet because, as a very small fellowship, we have a high percentage who have serious underlying health issues and are therefore vulnerable and not willing to meet in person at the moment.”
You can find out which churches near you are meeting in person or add a church to the list at https://uklockdownchurches.wordpress.com.