As many of you will be aware, the Scottish Government has announced that as part of Phase 3 churches may begin to reopen for congregational worship this week, with restrictions in place. These restrictions will include limited numbers, social distancing, track and trace information on all who attend and no (or limited) congregational singing.
The Kirk Session have given careful consideration to these restrictions as well as to advice from the Free Church of Scotland’s COVID-19 Committee. Whilst we understand and share the desire to be back physically together in our acts of corporate worship, we do have to take seriously the risks and the restrictions involved. With that in mind we have decided unanimously not to reopen our Church buildings at this time.
This has not been an easy decision to make and we appreciate that some people will be disappointed by it. We have reasoned that the current restrictions would mean that this was still not “church as we know it” and that it would actually be, in many ways, a step back from what we have at the moment. Not only that, but most importantly, theologically we do not believe it right to have services to which all cannot attend. The restrictions on numbers would currently make it impossible for everyone to attend.
It would be difficult to meet the distancing and hygiene requirements and a large group of our people would still be effectively excluded from the meetings. We have appointed a small group who are drawing up recommendations for the changes we will need to make to ensure social distancing and the safety of all when we do reopen. More information will be available on this when the group reports, but much will depend on the Government safety advice that is constantly changing, as well as advice from the FCoS COVID-19 Committee, so plans will be subject to change at short notice.
We will, of course, continue to monitor the situation and advice, but as things stand we are unlikely to reopen for regular worship until phase 4.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss this, please contact myself or one of the other Elders.
David Ferguson, Session Clerk