Waltham Forest faith leaders end in-person worship

Leytonstone United Free Church, one of the parishes to sign the statement

Virtual worship is back and in-person worship has ended, say local faith leaders and Waltham Forest Council in an unprecedented statement…

13 faith leaders in Waltham Forest have today joined up with Waltham Forest Council to go against the UK government’s position on group worship, a new statement reveals.

Leaders from numerous faiths – including Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism – have agreed to close their doors and end in-person worship in the borough for the duration of the third national lockdown.

Currently, government guidelines for England allow churches, mosques, temples and other places of worship to remain open for communal worship.

The statement comes after it was reported that 1 in 30 Londoners are now said to be infected with coronavirus – and that Waltham Forest remains one of the worst-affected boroughs in the capital.

“As faith leaders we know the power of our faiths in bringing people together,” the statement read.

“However, it is clear this is the most serious moment of the pandemic so far, which is why we have agreed together that although the current guidance allows for group worship we need to go further to protect our loved ones and the wider Waltham Forest community.”

“This means that we have decided to not meet together in person to worship until it is safe to do so. It will mean we can better protect each other and our friends, neighbours, and loved ones from the fast spread of this strain of the virus. We will continue to worship together virtually in safety, as we have done throughout the pandemic.”

“We have seen the incredible response from our community in Waltham Forest and know that despite all the restrictions we have found new ways to connect and rise to the challenges we face. Our diversity is our strength, and together we will beat this pandemic.”

Notable names among the 13 signatories include Abdul Majid on behalf of the Waltham Forest Islamic Association (WFIA) and Reverend David Britton, who is the Area Dean for Waltham Forest.

Other leaders belonging to the following organisations also signed the statement: St Andrew’s Leytonstone, Leytonstone United Free Church, St Anne’s Parish Church in Chingford, Shr Nathji Sanatan Hindu Mandir, St Andrews Church in Chingford, Blackhorse Road Baptist Church, St Mary’s Church and Parish of Walthamstow, Duldzin Dragpa Kadampa Buddhist Centre, Masjid-e-Usman, St Margaret with Columba and Holy Trinity & St Augustines of Hippo.

The council has also confirmed that all in-person group worship has come to an end with immediate effect.

If you’re unsure about what this means for you, contact your place of worship directly via telephone, email or social media for further information.