The newly formed ‘Reopening of Buildings Team’ will be meeting on Tuesday 18th August to discuss possible timelines for a phased reopening of the church buildings. There are many factors to consider in this, given the extensive regulations and requirements of the Scottish Government and Church of Scotland which are being updated each week. In the light of this, the Local Management Team has agreed that we should delay the next issue of the Contact Newsletter so that we can include more detailed plans for the phased reopening.
Please note that the Church Office will remain closed until the Scottish Government permits ‘non-essential offices’ to reopen – currently estimated to be after the 11th September.
As we move into Phase 3 of Lockdown in Scotland, I would like to update you on our plans going forward. On the 1st July, the Office Bearers met to discuss the Church of Scotland Covid-19 (coronavirus) Guidance for Reopening Church Buildings. Advice was given by the Property Committee and others about the challenges and processes involved in preparing and managing our church buildings for reopening.
It was agreed that members miss the physical presence of being together in the church buildings for worship and other activities. However, it was also agreed that we have to be very careful not to rush into reopening our buildings while there is still a significant risk to our members and the volunteers who would have to undertake the work, many of whom are in higher risk categories.
A number of challenges were highlighted, including ensuring that people follow social distancing advice while in the buildings. It was also noted that no singing or provision of refreshments would be allowed in church buildings for some time. The consensus was that, while we should begin the work of preparing our buildings for reopening at a later point, we should develop our online worship and meetings, along with encouraging people keep connected with each other in other ways.
Following the advice of the Office Bearers, the Kirk Session have subsequently met and agreed the following responses to the Church of Scotland Reopening of Church Buildings Checklist:
- ‘We do not anticipate being in a position to reopen for private prayer, services of worship, or other activities – apart from the use of the church office – before Phase 4 of the Scottish Government’s four-phased plan.’
- ‘We envisage that there will be a step-by-step approach to re-opening the church buildings as follows: Stage 1 – church office; Stage 2 – sanctuary or large hall for services of worship and connecting corridor, toilets, and vestry; Stage 3 – other halls.’
As a result, our church buildings will remain closed at present. However, a team drawn from the Kirk Session and Board is being established to us move forward in these matters, and has already begun this work. Further updates will be given when available.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Gavin McFadyen, Minister