A letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the Bishop of London

To the clergy of the Church of England:

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Greetings to you on this All Saints Day and as we are reminded again that we are indeed part of a universal company of saints.

We are writing to you to set out some of our thinking in the light of the most recent announcement by the Prime Minister. We are very aware that details are still not clear and there is much discussion still to be had about what the impact of the new lockdown will mean. We are also writing to assure you of our prayers for you and our thanks for all you do. We are clear that we do now need to call all Christian people to pray and to do so continually over this next month. In this letter as well as reflection we also set out an invitation to you to join in this call to prayer and to keep both praying and serving our communities.

This is a difficult and challenging time for all of us. We are sure that some of you reading this letter will wish we had made other decisions during the period of the first lockdown, or even challenged the government harder on the decisions it has made. You may be right. However, it is our view that the best way we can serve our nation now is by pouring our energy into doing the things that we can do, which is to pray and to serve. We also dare to hope that we will be kind to each other and that God will give us the courage and humility we need to be faithful witnesses to the gospel of peace.

A second lockdown will be upon us on Thursday. It is going to be different from the first one. The days are getting shorter and colder. We are anxious for ourselves, for those we love, especially those who are vulnerable and elderly, and for our families. We know that this pandemic is having a devastating effect on our economy and on people’s mental health. Thousands of people are dying. The National Health Service is being stretched to the limit. We also know and must continue to bear witness to the fact that the poorest communities in our nation are suffering the most. We are in for a long haul. It is going to be a hard winter.

But this second lockdown will also be different in other ways. There is much that we have learned from the first lockdown and there is much to celebrate and be proud of. Of course we are full of gratitude and respect for the amazing courage and commitment of all key workers, especially those working in the NHS. Their contribution is rightly and widely recognised. We also applaud the many creative ways that churches up and down the land have been serving their local communities and working with others to make sure that the hungry are fed and the vulnerable cared for. We have managed to maintain and, in many cases, extend our outreach by streaming worship online and by developing other ways of building community online.

We are grateful for people’s energy, hard work and creativity in making this happen and we hope and pray this will continue. We are grateful that the new guidelines being introduced on Thursday not only allow churches to remain open for private prayer but also enable online worship to be broadcast from the church building. We were cautious about these issues during the first lockdown – perhaps overly so – but in this second lockdown we want to encourage church buildings to remain open for private prayer wherever possible, making sure that their buildings are Covid secure in the ways that we have learned in recent months, and to broadcast services from their church buildings. However, if you do not have the resources or wherewithal to do this, please do not feel that you have failed in any way. The good thing about provision of worship online, is that people can join in from anywhere and therefore we can support each other more easily in this endeavour. Our national digital team will continue to offer training and support and provide national services each week.

However, worship online still means that the people of God do not have access to the sacraments which are so central to our life in Christ. This is a huge loss and since we were not consulted about the lockdown provisions, we fully intend to speak with government about why certain exemptions are made and not others, emphasising the critical role that churches play in every community. The sacramental life of the church cannot be seen as an optional extra. Nor can we separate out our worship from our service, it is always both and not either or.

Nevertheless, we will of course abide by the law and ask you to do the same. We must do all that we can to keep our communities safe and to enable the NHS to manage this crisis. The Recovery Group chaired by the Bishop of London will be issuing specific guidance in the next day or two.

Bearing in mind our primary vocation as the Church of Jesus Christ to pray and to serve we call upon the Church of England to make this month of lockdown a month of prayer. More than anything else, whatever the nation thinks, we know that we are in the faithful hands of the risen Christ who knows our weaknesses, tiredness and struggles and whose steadfast love endures for ever.

Above all we recall people to some of the fundamental spiritual disciplines that shape our Christian life. How we do this is up to each congregation and clergy person. We will publish resources to support you before the first day of lockdown. During the first lockdown we cheered for the NHS every Thursday. During this second lockdown we invite you to fast in a way appropriate to you as well as pray for our nation every Thursday, for its leaders, its health and essential services and all those who suffer.

We thank you for your service and ministry and pray that God will sustain you and encourage you. After consulting the House of Bishops we will be writing a more general letter to the whole nation we serve, a letter expressing the hope we have and calling for courage, calm and compassion.

In one of the climactic passages of the New Testament, Paul says to those who follow Christ that their “love must be genuine, that they hate what is evil and hold fast to what is good.” He asks them to “serve the lord”, exhorting them to “rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.” (See Romans 12.9-12.)

None of this is easy. Especially not at the moment. But it is our calling.


Yours in Christ,
The Most Revd & Rt Hon Justin Welby , Archbishop of Canterbury
The Most Revd & Rt Hon Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York
The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally, Bishop of London

Confirmation of Bishop Mark…

…As Bishop of Chester

Canon Veronica at Chester Cathedral

As a Cathedral Canon, our Vicar was involved on 28 May 2020 in the election of Bishop Mark Tanner as our new Bishop of Chester. One of the few perks of her job! Today +Mark’s election has been formally confirmed by the new Archbishop of York, who charged +Mark with the task of (amongst other things) “challenging the status quo (whilst encouraging what works well) and championing the diocese’s work with young people”.

The ceremony can be watched on Youtube here.

Despite the fact that the Confirmation has been carried out via Zoom, the legal part of the process still seems firmly rooted in a previous century. No wonder the C of E is called the Established Church!

  • Helen Buchanan on Confirmation of Bishop Mark…God bless Bishop Mark and God bless Canon Veronica and all those who have ensured we have a very worthy...

Rural Dean of Macclesfield 2014-2019

Canon Veronica has completed her five-year stint as Rural Dean of Macclesfield. A number of well-wishers from around the Deanery showed their appreciation…

Gifts of a mainly liquid variety

Revd Dr John Harries, Vicar of the Peak Parishes (Bosley, Sutton, Wildboarclough and Wincle ) was Commissioned as the next Rural Dean of Macclesfield at St James, Sutton on Tuesday 10 September, one of Bishop Peter’s last services before he retires at the end of September.

The next Bishop of Chester

#YourBishList – Have your say!

copied from the Diocesan Website

The Church of England is looking to appoint the next Bishop of Chester to lead the Diocese of Chester, and the Vacancy in See Committee is seeking your views on who that person should be and the qualities he or she should have. 

Click HERE to participateDeadline for submissions: 10 September

Comments will be received and read by the Vacancy in See Committee, the group tasked with preparing a brief description of the diocese and a statement setting out the desired profile of the next bishop.

Bishop of Chester to retire.

Bishop Peter has announced that he will be retiring on 30 September this year. He has served as the 40th Bishop of Chester since 1996.

Official portrait of The Lord Bishop of Chester – by Chris McAndrew

Bishop Keith (Birkenhead) will become acting Bishop of Chester from 1 October until Bishop Peter’s successor is in post. No Suffragan Bishop of Stockport will be appointed before we have a new Bishop of Chester.

Putting the final piece into our mosaic – May 2014

Veronica made Honorary Canon of Chester Cathedral – March 2014

Revd Simon Marsh – A message from Bishop Peter

A statement from the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, following the Judgement of the Clergy Discipline Tribunal in the case of the Revd Simon Marsh, a former incumbent of St John the Baptist, Bollington:

Following the decision of the Tribunal fully to uphold the charges against the Revd Simon Marsh, I am greatly saddened that a member of the clergy in the Diocese of Chester should so misuse his position and abuse a vulnerable young woman.

I would pay tribute to the courage of the Complainant in supporting the formal complaint and being willing to submit herself to cross-examination during the hearing. I apologise unreservedly to her on behalf of the Church, and we will continue to offer pastoral support to her.

This is a sad and inexcusable tale of the abuse of trust and power by a priest of the Church of England. We will do all that we can to minimize the likelihood of the recurrence of such abuse.

It is now nearly 5 years since the original complaint was made to the police. This has been a very difficult time for the parish of St Michael, Bramhall, and I pay tribute to all those who have enabled the worship and wider life of the parish to continue with admirable resilience. We will now move as quickly as possible to appoint a new Vicar.

Rt Revd Peter Forster
Bishop of Chester

Read the full judgement and penalty decision on the Church of England website.