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Health secretary advises churches to halt gatherings

April 2020 | by Mike Judge

The situation is developing rapidly, but by the time this edition of Evangelical Times went to press, that is the latest situation.

Hancock was responding to a question in the House of Commons. He said it was with ‘the heaviest of heart’ that religious communities are included in the guidance.

‘We have taken advice on how to respond to the crisis, including from our ethics committee, which includes representatives of the major religious faiths,’ he said.

‘We have seen from elsewhere in the world how sometimes it is through religious gatherings that the virus can spread so, with the deepest regret and the heaviest of heart, we include faith groups and gatherings of faith within the advice.’

John Stevens, National Director of the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches issued a statement. He said it is up to each independent church to interpret government advice for themselves.

But he said, ‘In light of the statement from Prime Minister Boris Johnson and a clarifying statement by the Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Monday 16 March, our advice is that churches should not meet for the foreseeable future. A number of FIEC churches have already taken this decision.’

He added, ‘In practice, we would advise cancelling services and activities for an initial period of four weeks, and then reassess this on a rolling monthly basis as the situation unfolds and government advice is updated.’

The Banner of Truth Ministers’ Conference 2020 has been cancelled in light of government advice.

Mike Judge, editor