In January of this year we were, I’m sure, all looking forward to another year of congregational worship and growth. Coronavirus was something we heard from news bulletins that was affecting China. Little did anyone imagine the effects it would have on our country and lives by the middle of March.
Our beloved church has now been closed for 15 weeks and our congregational worship and fellowship is greatly missed by all. Sandor’s weekly website “Message” and “Read, Meditate and Pray” are wonderful (although only available to those with internet access), as are the television services such as “Reflections at the Quay” , but they can never be a proper substitute for our gathering together, hearing the Word preached and singing praise to the Lord.
Phase 2 of the Scottish Government’s Route Map permitted the opening of churches for private prayer. This is not a tradition in the Church of Scotland and we will not be opening the church for this purpose. To do so would require a tremendous amount of work to be done in sanitising the church before, during and after any such opening.
The National Church of Scotland has issued a 35-page document of Guidelines for the reopening of church buildings and members of Kirk Session have been given access to this. A “Zoom” Kirk Session meeting is planned for early July when consideration will be given to the hygiene procedures which will require to be adopted; the number of worshippers who can be safely accommodated according to the Social Distancing restrictions applicable at the time, and the revised format for worship.
No definite date has yet been given for reopening of churches for general worship, but when we do return the service will not be quite as we remember it. The guidelines document mentioned above indicates, for example, that no Bibles or hymn books will be issued, there will be no singing and there will be no opportunity for fellowship afterwards.
All the necessary discussions and preparing for reopening will take time and our first gathering will not take place until after the Scottish Government has given its permission and, most importantly, the Kirk Session is completely satisfied that this can be done safely. Realistically it will probably be early to middle August before reopening can take place.
I will obviously keep you all informed of developments and our plans.