How Covid-19 may have Changed the Church Forever!

How Covid-19 may have Changed the Church Forever!

Rosalind Lund
Rosalind Lund is a Trustee of Modern Church
and a keen church-crawler living in Cambridge

COVID-19 has changed the Church forever! Historians and commentators often preface their remarks with a statement along these lines and often it is very much a statement of the obvious. However, when we found ourselves experiencing the first lockdown in March 2020, it was not at all obvious that COVID-19 would be one such defining moment either for the Church at large, or for the Church of England in particular.

A year on however, it does very much feel that this is the case.

In some ways the churches have had similar experiences to society at large and trends already being felt have now accelerated in ways that now seem unstoppable. On 1st February the Church Times carried an article by Hattie Williams, “Financial Crisis threatens Church’s strategic plans”. In her first sentence, she said: “Declining income, accelerated by the pandemic, means that dioceses are facing “indiscriminate cuts” to clergy posts, undermining the Church of England’s attempts at strategic reform.”

She referred to a discussion paper circulated to bishops and diocesan secretaries with stark warnings about the financial difficulties facing the Church. Clergy numbers will have to be cut with the likelihood that increasing numbers of church buildings will become redundant.

During the last year since the end of March 2020, some churches have had no physical services at all, while most have only had a very few during the late summer and autumn. Unsurprisingly, given the continuing dependence of many churches on plate collections at services, income has plummeted. Although this has been mitigated somewhat by the mothballing of plant, many expenses have continued regardless. In this, the churches share much of the experiences of the hospitality and entertainments/arts industries.

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