When the coronavirus pandemic began and lockdown took force across the country – shuttering shops and pubs, closing schools and barring places of worship – much of what we saw, heard and experienced was dictated and driven by “the centre”. Ministers and officials commanded our attention and determined the daily details of our lives. Few of us have experienced the sheer power of government like that in our lifetimes.
It makes sense to instinctively look for central direction in such an acute crisis, and we’re indebted to the roles many played in doing so, especially those who organised the NHS to cope with the increased demand. Within the Church there are lessons to be learnt about the role and importance of central guidance, and its crucial interplay with government rules that exist for the benefit of all.
But with a vaccine still far from certain, infection rates rising and winter on the horizon, the new normal of living with Covid-19 will only be sustainable – or even endurable – if we challenge our addiction to centralisation and go back to an age-old principle: only do centrally what must be done centrally.
As a country, this principle is in our DNA. In the Church of England, we have been committed to localism for centuries.
In today's Telegraph @bishopsarahm and @justinwelby write about localism “…it is our churches and our clergy on the ground that are its lifeblood. In the last six months, it has been they to whom we owe our deep gratitude.” https://t.co/RY2vIPDc5n
— London Diocese (@dioceseoflondon) September 16, 2020