The Church of England has voted for changes to a roughly 400-year-old law, ending the institution's mandate for Sunday services. The motion was passed due to plummeting church attendances in England, forcing some priests to care for nearly 20 rural churches, a press statement said on Thursday.
The law was considered "out of date", according to the Bishop of Willesden, with the General Synod introducing six "pastoral principles", including better treatment towards the LGBT community.
— The Church of England (@churchofengland) February 22, 2019
The organisation's Simplification Task Force, which was formed in 2014, is chaired by the Right Reverend Pete Broadbent, Bishop of Willesden, and aims to reform processes in the Church of England. Priests looking after several churches would be better reflected in changes to the law, according to Rev. Broadbent.
"You're meant to get a dispensation from the bishop — this just changes the rules to make it easier for people to do what they're already doing," Rev. Broadbent said following the vote. "It stops the bureaucracy."
"This was just one (amendment) where we said, 'Out of date, doesn't work, we're operating differently in the countryside now, therefore let's find a way of making it work.'"
Rev. Broadbent said that the decision would not affect elderly churchgoers in rural locations "because at the moment this is already regularised and it's already happening".
“If you’ve got 20 churches, you’ve got a pattern of services on a Sunday where you say ‘well we’ll have a communion over there on the first Sunday, and communion over there on the second Sunday’ … this is just making that clear."
“Larger benefices are a reality, particularly in rural areas, and this legislation allows schedules to be set within a local context, alongside other forms of worship not covered by this legislation.”
Morning and Evening prayer would “continue to be the heartbeat of church life, and whether urban or rural, communities are prayed for on a daily basis,” the spokesperson added.