Bonn Unlike in spring, church services can continue to be held in Bonn churches. However, strict hygiene regulations apply. When it comes to congregational singing, it is even measured in minutes.
A church is not a concert hall, and certainly not a leisure centre. This time around, the churches are not included in the compulsory closures due to the corona. In contrast to the first lockdown in spring, and in contrast to public participation in sports events, church services will continue to take place - but within a detailed set of rules. Should concert halls remain closed for a longer period of time, the churches could become an alternative stage for musicians under certain conditions.
Sunday services in Bonn's churches were characterised by keeping a great distance from one another, with people refraining from singing together. A spokeswoman for the Bonn City Deanery confirmed on Monday that singing in the churches is still possible in principle, and explained the discrepancy with the city's general decree of 16 October, which explicitly states that singing along and chanting is not permitted at all public events, performances and concerts - which also applies to religious gatherings and funerals.
However, it appears that the Archbishopric of Cologne has obtained a commitment from the state government that the official regulations do not apply to the liturgical sphere. In "explicit agreement with the state of NRW", singing remains permitted in all North Rhine-Westphalian church congregations. Contrary municipal regulations are therefore no longer valid.
This does not mean, however, that loud singing has been happening again in all Catholic churches in Bonn in recent days, although the congregations are allowed to sing along. Yet, in the same breath, the Vicariate General has set a very narrow framework for this issue. For example, congregational singing should not exceed five minutes in a 60-minute service, but can last up to ten minutes in a room that’s more than ten metres high. Singing time outdoors is not limited. If the incidence figure is higher than 50, as is currently the case in Bonn, congregational singing should be reduced, but remains possible. The same applies to choir rehearsals in rooms with a height of five metres or more. "The aim is to give all those in need of spiritual strengthening the opportunity to do this without infection and with low-threshold at prayer and church services. Naturally, this is done in strict compliance with the Corona guidelines," says City Dean Wolfgang Picken about the overall situation.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Bonn's Protestants have tended to refrain from singing. From the point of view of press pastor Joachim Gerhardt, this is also a good thing: "We will at least use our opportunities in the church services, especially because we don't sing, to involve musicians and singers from the cultural scene in Bonn. Here, too, I see those of us in churches as having a special responsibility".
Original text: Rüdiger Franz
Translation: Mareike Graepel