A celebrant was left in tears after being told by a local council that she was breaking Covid rules by allowing a grieving family to recite the Lord’s Prayer at a funeral service.
Alison Davies, 53, from Bridgend in south Wales, was reprimanded after conducting the funeral of a 94-year-old grandmother at Coychurch Crematorium.
The grandmother’s family had asked that Mrs Davies end the service with the Lord’s Prayer but as the proceedings were ending, a local council official approached her to tell her she had broken Welsh government guidelines around ‘chanting’.
Mrs Davies says she was told in front of mourners, “You can’t do that.”
“It was intimidating, humiliating and I was upset as I have been doing everything possible to follow the covid guidelines while also supporting grieving families,” she said.
“What is the world coming to when families grieving loved ones cannot say the Lord’s Prayer as they say goodbye?
“The rules and guidelines are effecting families who are grieving as they are not allowed to sing hymns; they cannot go near the coffin once it is inside the chapel and now they cannot not even say a prayer together.”
A Bridgend Council spokesman said it “believed prayer to constitute chanting” and that only one person can say the Lord’s Prayer out loud at a funeral.
“We appreciate the Lord’s Prayer is of great comfort to many of those attending services and we are sorry if our actions caused any upset,” he said.
“We ensured at no point was the service interrupted, only gently informing the member of clergy as they left the chapel that next time, the Lord’s Prayer can only be read out by one individual.”
The Welsh Government has said that praying in a “low tone” is permitted and that venues should use “common sense” when applying rules.
“While chanting is restricted in funerals, speaking in a low tone to pray would not be considered against the guidance,” a Government spokeswoman said.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which is assisting Mrs Davies, called for compassion in interpreting Covid-19 regulations.
“There is no ban on saying prayers together at a low volume, as the Welsh government has made clear,” she said.
“Those with responsibilities for churches, crematoriums and chapels need to know what the law really says and apply it with common sense and compassion. Unnecessary interventions and confrontations like this hurt the grieving process and cannot be undone.
“Our attempts to fight the coronavirus must not come at the expense of our humanity.”