This page is intended to be a starting point for churches and Christians seeking information on the various issues churches are facing in responding to the Covid–19 virus. The Irish Council of Churches and Irish Inter–Church Committee are representative bodies and, as such, have no authority or expertise so this page will mainly point to member church resources or other publicly available authoritative sources of information helpful to churches.
The information here is incomplete and we will endeavour to add to it and review it on an ongoing basis.
Returning to In–Church Worship
- Church of Ireland: – Return to In–Church Worship Protocols for RoI and NI
- Roman Catholic Church – Framework Document for a return to the public celebration of Mass and the Sacraments
- Presbyterian Church – Stay safe at church – Covid–19
- Methodist Church - Getting our Churches and Buildings Ready to Reopen. A short video has also been prepared: Return to Church
Member churches have produced many prayer resources, some intended for use in online broadcast services, some in pastoral circumstances and some for personal use.
- Short booklet of Lockdown Prayers – Esther Simpson
- Catholic Bishops’ Conference Prayer Resources for use during the Coronavirus Pandemic
- Church of Ireland prayer and worship resources for personal use from the Book of Common Prayer
- Presbyterian Church in Ireland “Let’s Pray” Resources
- “Lockdown” – a poem by Bro. Richard Hendrick
Member Church Covid–19 Resources
- Church of Ireland – COVID-19 Resources
- Salvation Army – The Salvation Army and the Coronavirus
- Methodist Church in Ireland – online resources including resources for worship, ideas for service and guidelines on safeguarding
- St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin – Digital Book of Condolences for Covid–19
Information from the Government
Republic of Ireland
As well as general guidance on preventing the spread of infection and preparation of premises, this document includes specific sections for:
- Fonts for holy water
- Touching or kissing objects/icons/symbols
- Sharing items/equipment
- Sacrament of reconciliation
- Holy Communion
- Funeral services
- Funeral Directors guidance
- A Guide for the Bereaved during the COVID–19 Pandemic prepared by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government
- You, Your Community and COVID–19 - information on Community Support from the Dept of Rural and Community Development
- Advice for Vulnerable People from the Dept of Rural and Community Development
- Local Authority Covid–19 Helplines: Each local authority has established a Community Response Forum to coordinate COVID–19 related community supports. As part of this, each local authority has established a helpline that vulnerable people can phone if they are looking for basic services such as delivery of food or meals, or transport for essential trips.
- HSC Public Health Agency: COVID-19 (coronavirus)
- Health and Social Care NI Online: Your gateway to local health and care services
- nidirect: Coronavirus (COVID–19) overview and advice
- Northern Ireland Department of Health: Covid 19 (coronavirus) situation
Guidance and Suggestions of How to Help
- Alone run Befriending Network Ireland, a national support network for befriending services for older people across Ireland.
- Alone also coordinate a more general volunteer service where people can deliver groceries, prescriptions, fuel or provide telephone support for older people.
- Follow \#CommunityResponseIRL on Twitter for ideas on volunteering in the community.
- Faith Sector Coronavirus Action Hub at the NICVA Faith in Community Facebook Page.
Services for Vulnerable Groups
Refugees and Migrants
Covid–19 Information updates from Migrant Rights Centre Ireland
Christians Against Poverty are revising their working practices given the current constraints on face–to–face meetings.
SeniorLine: Third Age Ireland is a national organisation who take care of the elderly. SeniorLine is one of their programmes and could pastorally be very helpful to your bishops, priests and older members of your lay faithful at this time. SeniorLine has been the national, confidential listening service for older people, run by trained older volunteers since 1998. This peer–to–peer helpline for older people receives in excess of 10,000 calls per year. If you are feeling worried, stressed or isolated at this very unnerving time, please feel free to ring this FREEPHONE service anytime between 10am and 10pm on any day of the week on 1800 80 45 91.
Family Relationship Difficulties
Accord has established couple & relationship support phone lines to help relationships during COVID–19
Good news stories
- Building community with street collective prayer: Many people across the diocese of Down and Dromore took part in Saturday’s Day of Prayer and Fasting and at 8.00 pm prayed the Lord’s Prayer on their doorstep. Some had the joy of sharing the experience with their neighbours
Many churches are making or donating masks for healthcare workers across the island:
- ‘Nimble Fingers’ group from Lisburn Cathedral crafts hearts and masks.
- From sower to sewer! Archdeacon Stephen McWhirter helping Ballina Costume Company, by sewing PPE for frontline workers in hospitals.
- Generous donations of masks for Saint Luke’s Home, Cork.
Churches responding together to Coronavirus challenges:
- Eglinton Churches Together. Churches in Faughanvale respond to Coronavirus challenge.
- Donaghmore and Castlecaulfield. Cross–community effort for those in self–isolation – BBC News.
This is a stressful and anxious time for clergy and church leaders themselves as they go about their ministry and pastoral work. Many are amongst the at–risk groups and wonder how to balance the needs of their church community with their own physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. Some of these resources may help:
- Flourish Self Care Toolkit for Clergy
- Minding your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak – HSE:
- Who pastors the pastor? Care4Clergy offer information and supports to clergy, including a listening service.
- A short article from the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress – *Sustaining the Well–Being of Healthcare Personnel during Coronavirus and other Infectious Disease Outbreaks*
- Supervisors from the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education are offering free support/clinical supervision/resourcing to chaplains & pastoral carers who are providing frontline pastoral care in healthcare facilities. Details here.
- David Brown. MA. ILM., a qualified Life Coach says:
“ Shout out to those in Christian leadership and ministry during our current pandemic crisis. As a qualified Life Coach should you need an hour of confidential, free, coach support do message me and we can schedule a session online. Zoom, Skype and WhatsApp options available.”
He is available at: mobile +44 (0) 7919016979; email:email@example.com
Some Grief Resources
- From the Irish Hospice Foundation – including grieving in exceptional times, planning a funeral, and helping children grieve.
- Interview with Orla Keegan, head of education and bereavement with the Irish Hospice Foundation, on grief when you can’t say goodbye: [How to grieve loved ones if you can’t say goodbye – in the Independent.
- Cruse Bereavement Care have new Covid-19 resources on their website including easy read factsheets on:
- Grief and isolation
- Grief and trauma
- Coping with talk of death and dying
- Funerals and memorials
- Weekly short online retreat on Thursdays at 3pm by the Church of Ireland’s Ministry of Healing.
- Article by Carrie Doehring: *Coping with moral struggles arising from coronavirus stress: Spiritual self–care for chaplains and religious leaders*
Still Church (church from home)
Worship and Prayer Resources
- Presbyterian Church in Ireland – “These Three Remain” – A range of devotions, prayer points, blogs and stories are provided to encourage and equip churches and their members in these days.
- Methodist Church in Ireland Covid-19 resources – including online resources, worship, ideas for service and safeguarding.
- C of I Daily Worship app
- The Bible Society Northern Ireland: Where to Look in the Bible
- 24–7 Prayer has resources in many languages and a family-friendly prayer guide
Guidance for putting church online
When planning an online presence for services you need to consider if you want to livestream a service, or record it first and then upload it for viewers to see later. Here are some resources which can point you in the right direction for either option. Licensing issues for songs and lyrics also need consideration.
- Digital tools for churches collected here
- Church of Ireland – Covid-19: Organising an online service
- Church of England – A beginner’s guide to going live with your service or event for free
- Vineyard UK – Getting Started With Filming
- Vineyard UK – Streaming Live Worship
- iSingWorship is a great site for help with songs and hymns, both music and lyrics
- James Doc has written *“A note about livestreaming and song licensing in churches”*
- Church of Ireland – Covid-19: Worship and copyright
T he Digital Parish has put several useful posts on facebook including:
For those who are not connected to the internet
Paul Freeman–Powell has written a post showing a way to create a phone number which plays podcasts or sermon recordings over the phone.
It’s moderately technical but enables someone to dial a local phone number (and therefore pay the local rate) which then automatically plays an audio track which could be the sermon from this week’s service, or the whole service itself.
It’s a great way to ensure that all members of the congregation are able to participate even if they haven’t got a computer or smartphone.
Instructions can be found here (thanks to Jonny Mould from Belvoir Parish)
Links to Webcast Services
Mass aired every weekday at 10.30am from St Eunan’s and St Columba’s Cathedral, Letterkenny on RTÉ News Now which can be accessed on Saorview (channel 21), Sky (521), Virgin Media (200), Eir (517) as well as via the RTÉ Player, the RTÉ News Now app.
- Roman Catholic
- Church of Ireland
- Presbyterian: Moderator’s Sunday Service each week. See “The Sunday Service” entries.
- Moravian Church Services
Resources for Young People and Families:
- Church of Ireland Covid-19: Resources for Family Activities
- Eco–Congregation Ireland’s (ECI) Climate Justice Candle initiative, whereby churches throughout Ireland have hosted their Climate Justice Candle and focussed on climate justice for a week has had to be temporarily paused. Therefore, ECI suggests that all households can now participate by designating a candle as its very own Climate Justice Candle by decorating it and putting it in a prominent place in the home. They provide prayers that can be used to involve the family and start discussion as to why it is being done and why it is needed, perhaps on a particular day and time each week. Details here.
- The Church of Ireland Youth Department (CIYD) have produced a resource to help with youth ministry, available here, and their Facebook page will be updated weekly.
- Irish Methodist Youth and Children’s Department covid19 resources
- Sunday nights @ 7pm – live youth session on Facebook
- Fridays @ 12noon – children’s teaching and craft on YouTube
- Wednesdays @ 4pm – podcast from IMYC
News and Press Releases from Churches
- COVID–19: Church Leaders respond to NI Justice Minister’s statement
- Cold calling continues during Covid–19 Pandemic
- Thanks to Northern Ireland’s teachers and school governors from the Transferor Representatives’ Council (Church of Ireland, Presbyterian Church and Methodist Church)