Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

COVID-19 Update: 26th July 2020

Here is an update on where we are with the task of re-opening our buildings for worship, and possibly other activities. Before we go into further detail, we want to acknowledge how tough it has been for you to be unable to meet together in person for worship and fellowship in the buildings during this time.

You will be aware of the recent Scottish Government announcement stating that places of worship are permitted to re-open during Phase 3 of the exit from lockdown. A taskforce from the Church of Scotland’s head office has been in regular contact with the Government in order that it may produce its own guidelines for congregations. The latest version of these guidelines can be found at: https://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/68498/Buildings-Guidance-DOCUMENT-V3.pdf.  Before any place of worship is permitted to re-open, a risk assessment on each area of each building to be opened must be carried out. The risk assessment will involve signage being displayed to indicate where people may sit, and that a one-way system is in operation. There will be a thorough cleaning regime in place, with hand-sanitising available around the building. This risk assessment must be approved by the Presbytery. Even without further elaboration, you will appreciate that this is no small task. In our own context, a group has been established to carry out this work, and it is convened by the Session Clerk.

If the risk assessment for the worship sanctuaries in the church buildings is approved during Phase 3, it is worth bearing in mind the following points, specifically in relation to worship services:

 In the current phase:

1. The maximum number of people allowed in any building at one time is 50. However, with distancing restrictions in place it is likely to be a smaller number allowed.

2. We will not be allowed to use the gallery, with the exception of one person to operate the sound system.

3. Bibles, hymn books and soft furnishings will have to be removed and not used.

4. Communal hymn-singing is prohibited, as is the communal recitation of the Lord’s Prayer.

5. Face coverings will have to be worn by all present, with the exception of whoever is leading worship.

6. A register of everyone who attends worship would have to be kept and retained for 21 days for contact and tracing purposes.

7. Uplifting the offering could not be undertaken by passing the plate among the congregation.

8. There are many caveats to celebrating communion and baptisms.

9. We must also bear in mind the issue of handling transport safely, as we may not be able to use the Church minibus.

From the above, you can appreciate that returning to worship in our buildings will not be straightforward, but we are working on this, and will update you with further information when we have it. Whilst we would like to re-open as soon as possible, our priority is that re-opening must be done safely. In the meantime, there will continue to be online worship, which you can access at   https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHzL-LsV_eUH7KXvJd08INQ. Please bear with us, as guidance is subject to change. If you know of anyone who is unable to access this update online, please share it with them.

Our thoughts and prayers,

 Allan and Iona.

Ministry Team