Due to new Covid regulations, from the 26th December 2020 the Church is once again closed for both Public Worship and Private Prayer. Please see below excerpts from the letter sent to all Congregations from George Whyte on behalf of the Covid 19 Group.
This afternoon I have chaired a meeting of our own Covid-19 Group and subsequent to that I attended a meeting of faith representatives and Professor Jason Leitch, the National Clinical Director.
What follows comes from those meetings and I hope answers some of the issues which you have raised. Some of what is said below applies to all parishes in Scotland, some only to Level 4 areas (mainland Scotland and Skye) but there may be items that are of general interest in the Presbyteries of England and International Charges.
PUBLIC STATEMENTS ON THE LOCKDOWN
You will have seen that some other denominations have issued statements to the media criticising the decision of the Scottish Government to close churches for worship and private prayer. Some have asked why the Church of Scotland has not also issued a statement.
There are two reasons.
One is that we as a Group see the sense of the Government’s decision in the face of the growing threat of the new variant of the coronavirus and we believe our Church should be supportive of the very difficult choice that has been made. You should know that Prof Leitch has just stated in the meeting that as places of worship were the last settings to be closed, they will also be the first to be reopened when restrictions are eased.
The other reason is that we have consciously adopted an approach of building trusted relationships with the SG and its civil servants in which we are able to put across our concerns and they are able to share something of the reasoning behind the policies they have adopted. The “letter to the editor” approach can damage these relationships of trust and can make politicians more defensive and less willing to be open about the policy debate. In essence, we are better heard by Government in these weekly meetings than we would be by issuing press statements.
You should, however, know that when we are approached by the media we do offer comment and that happens on a daily basis. We say that we deeply regret that it has been necessary to close for worship but that we accept that the Government’s decision had to be made. In the meantime, we continue to sustain our life through a variety of approaches and our premises remain open for essential services upon which the most vulnerable of our neighbours depend. And that we look forward to the day when can meet in person.
The whole thrust of the lockdown is to stay at home – and only to leave home when it is essential to do so because it is when we are near other people that the virus has the chance to spread. Given the dangers of the moment and the promise of the vaccines the Covid Group believe that the absence of the already very restricted physical worship services is a price worth paying to keep people safe from an infection which, in its new form, is threatening to run out of control.
FUNERALS IN CHURCH IN ENHANCED LEVEL 4 AREAS
There should be no more than twenty mourners at a service. The minister, funeral director, organist do not count in this number. Further details can be accessed here.
RECORDING ON LINE WORSHIP
This is permissible and the worship leader is allowed to leave home to fulfil this activity. A number of people have asked about numbers who might be permitted – the minister, the organist, the “tech” person, the reader and so on.
Please remember that whenever we increase the number of people gathering we increase the risk of infection.
So it should be the absolute minimum number of people in the church for the task in hand and you should have a justification for each person you ask to be there – ask if it really couldn’t be done without them being physically present. Prof Leitch assured us that the police will not be checking on compliance but we must take care of each other and it would be a terrible thing if our recording session became a place where the virus was spread.
A number of congregations are issuing materials such as newsletters, service transcripts and DVD’s. The Covid Group recognise that these are important in keeping those without the access to technology connected with the church. However, as with the previous period of lockdown it is important that every care and precaution is made in preparing and distributing materials. This means
• One person, or as few people as possible, copies or prepares mailings
and adheres to all prope hand hygiene guidelines
- Congregations should not be asking volunteers to break the legal duty to ‘stay at home’ to deliver such materials.
- Congregations should utilise Royal Mail (or another delivery company) to deliver the materials to members.
CHURCH BUILDINGS AS VACCINATION CENTRES
With the encouragement of the Covid Group I repeated to Prof Leitch the Church of Scotland’s willingness to assist with premises for the vaccination programme. I know of a couple of cases where this has been set up already and there may be others. Prof Leitch indicated his gratitude for the offer.
The question of timescales was raised – when will the lockdown end and when will the churches reopen? Prof Leitch said, that in his view, we are probably talking two to three months rather than several weeks but it all depended on how successful the lockdown was in suppressing infection rates, virus prevalence and the progress of the vaccination programme.
We continue to engage with the Scottish Government on at least a weekly basis and we find that they are keen to hear our experience, understand our perspective and share their knowledge.
These are going to be the most difficult of times where we need to support each other. The vaccine holds out real hope of better days to come. May that be soon.
George Whyte On behalf of the Covid-19 group 6 January 2021
Click the green link below for important announcement from the Kirk Session regarding opening the Church for public worship.
The Church will now be open every Wednesday from the 16th September 2020, from 11am – 12mid-day
FOR PRIVATE PRAYER.
You’ll be very welcome to come to church to offer your
prayers, but you need to know these guidelines :
this is how we’re going to do it!
The Church will be a 2m social distancing zone
(just as we’re all used to)
Face masks will be required. Masks will be provided for you if you don’t have one.
The main door will be used for both entry and exit and you must enter the sanctuary immediately.
The number of people in the small corridor between the two internal doors should be
kept to a minimum.
A member of the Welcoming Team will be stationed at the entrance.
They will record attendance, and details for contact tracing.
(We have to do this, of course.)
These records will be held securely for 21 days and then destroyed.
There are areas of the Church which will be out of bounds and this will be clearly indicated by red and white tape and ‘No Entry’ signs.
PLEASE NOTE : Toilets will not be available.
Jackets / coats / jumpers etc.
must remain with you.
Signage will be in place to inform everyone what to do and where to go.
Please obey all the signs!!
Stewards will be there to guide you to a seat.
There will be hand sanitiser at the point of
entry / exit.
And of course, please, please, please …
… if you have any of the symptoms of
COVID – 19 do the responsible and loving thing – don’t come for now …
We hate having to say “Please don’t come”, but we all know it’s absolutely necessary to be safe.
… and of course, if you’re drawn to come, you’ll be very welcome, and you’ll see that we are doing everything we can to keep you safe!
Last updated 7th September 2020
During the current coronavirus epidemic this link will take you to the official Church of Scotland guidelines –
advice to churches
Any locally specific information will be added here, if and when necessary.
At their Zoom meeting on Wednesday 22nd July 2020 the Kirk Session agreed that the Church buildings would not be opened until the Scottish Government move to Phase 4 of the Covid arrangements.
Last updated 24th July 2020
The May issue of ‘Life and Work’ can be accessed here.
Last updated 15.00 Friday 13th March 2020
The Kirk Session at their meeting this morning (Sunday 15th March 2020) endorsed the Church of Scotland guidance (as at 11.03.20) on the Coronavirus outbreak.
The Monday morning Koffee Klub is suspended until further notice.
Dated 16.00 Sunday 15th March 2020
“The Church of Scotland Task Group has agreed to ask, in the strongest terms, that all gatherings for worship should cease until further notice, with effect from Wednesday 17th March 2020, or earlier if possible. Other Scottish Churches are taking similar actions. This obviously includes Easter services. Some Presbyteries have already instructed this action. This will include, but not be restricted to, housegroups, meetings for youth work, and church cafes. It will still be possible for an individual to offer a livestreaming of a sermon and prayers. Further information on livestreaming, including information on copyright, can be found in this circular on the Law Department’s webpages. Sunday broadcasts of a weekly service take place on Radio 4, and also on Radio Scotland; other radio stations are available.”
Dated 5.00pm Tuesday 17th March 2020
A ‘Pilgrimage’ project funded by Creative Scotland allowed Ruth Slater to explore the question ‘what makes Bute important to the people who live here’. The 15 people who were interviewed, who will remain anonymous, were chosen to represent the broad range of folks who make up our island community (matching the demographics from the 2015 census data).
Ruth then created the panels, interpreting the words, sounds and emotions contained in each story. Each panel has a mood, expressing the ever-changing weather, beneath which the words and feelings of each participant have been interpreted by Ruth into a continuous flow of writing. The rear of the panels shows an exact depiction of the coast line of Bute. For some this represented safety for others entrapment.
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