15th JUNE 2020: New regulations have gone into effect today, permitting churches and other religious institutions within the United Kingdom to re-open for ‘private prayer’ by individuals. While this development in UK policy still puts Christians on these islands on a schedule far behind believers in every other nation in Europe (and hence all the other countries of our Diocese), where a return to public worship has already been permitted — albeit, with certain restrictions in place — for some time, this nevertheless represents a welcome shift in the circumstances of our Orthodox faithful in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
From today, it is now possible for faithful to come into our temples individually (or as a single family unit) in order to light candles, pray before the icons, as well as seek counsel from the clergy who are there; and to commune in the Divine Mysteries of Christ during their time of individual prayer within the church. Being deprived of access to the temples has been amongst the most painful of the measures in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic over the past months, and this ability to once again enter the churches, venerate the icons and offer prayers within the sacred walls is most welcome.
It is important that all the faithful recognise that a degree of organisation is essential in ensuring that too many people do not arrive at the church at the same time, etc., as group gatherings within churches are still prohibited by the UK Government, as are public services of worship. Therefore, faithful are instructed to contact their priest directly to arrange a time for them to come to the church when they will be able to pray without being rushed, commune in the Divine Mysteries, and make their spiritual offerings before God.