Dr Warner adds: "At a time when tensions run high, I believe that there is a deep thirst for access to churches and cathedrals as places of prayer for people of committed faith, or for anyone who is in search of space in which to find peace."
The Bishop has been in receipt of an increasing number of emails and communications reflecting many people's frustration about the perceived low priority status of the re-opening places of worship. He explains that it is an "open" letter "in order to indicate to those who have made comments to me on this matter that I have shared their concerns with you."
"We urgently need places and experience that build hope, trust and endurance, " writes the Bishop. The capacity of the Christian Church to engender those virtues through prayer and stillness in its buildings should not be underestimated, " he adds.
Parishes across the Diocese of Chichester have been working flat out to respond to the needs of many communities since the lock down began when churches were closed. Offering support to the relatives of those who are sick and those who have died, as well as the many projects supporting the young, elderly and vulnerable across East and West Sussex, the Diocese has largely adapted to different ways of working. Worship has of course been offered online in a variety of ways.
Online response and coordination have been a top priority across parishes, local communities and with church schools supporting the families of front line workers.
But Dr Warner is now requesting that the churches should be allowed to re-open with safety a top priority. He explains that much work has already been done to enable churches to be opened in a phased way with every attention given to working with the Government and relevant authorities to ensure that buildings, when open, are as safe as possible.
A copy of the full letter is attached here