Tarbert, Harris Church of Scotland
A Statement from the Kirk Session
The announcement last week by the Scottish Government that church buildings could now open, with certain conditions, was a welcome indication of continued improvement in the situation relating to Covid-19 in Scotland. Along with other churches, our Kirk session met to consider the next steps and how we would proceed. After much discussion and prayerful consideration, we were unanimous in our decision that now was not the time for us to return to our church building. We know many will be eager to return to worshipping here and to meet others as we did before lockdown started in March and will be disappointed by this decision.
It is one that we did not take lightly but the current pandemic is still having a significant impact on everyday life and the risks are still there. The conditions attached to the permission to open churches indicate that the Scottish Government still see the virus as having the potential to cause harm in our communities.
We have a considerable number who are over 70 or in the vulnerable category and so we do need to ensure anything we do does not impact adversely on them.
Limiting the size of meetings to just 50 people mean that we could not welcome everyone who wished to attend every service. It would be very wrong of us to try and decide who could and could not attend.
Allied to this is the need to maintain the 2m social distancing requirement which would necessitate us using the whole of the sanctuary to try and fit everyone in. Our feeling is that we would not be able to accommodate everyone in the building. And if we did, we could only do it once on a Sunday. There is a very strict cleaning regime that needs to be followed after each use of a church building. The implications of this make it impractical to open the church to services on a Sunday.
Since the start of lockdown, we have been meeting every week using Zoom on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. Many people who do not have the internet are able to join these by landline. On top of that, we have been putting services on YouTube for anyone to watch.
When we consider every aspect of what we are currently doing and compare it with the reality of opening up the church building we firmly believe that it would be a retrograde step to do the latter just now. It would also be a failure in our witness as a caring, prayerful and community focused fellowship.
We continue to assess the implications of each stage of the Scottish Government roadmap out of lockdown and want to return to our church building as soon as we can, but will only do that when we believe it is safe for everyone to do so, there are no restrictions on numbers attending or on the content of the services and it gives us more than we already have as we seek to worship and proclaim the Word of the Lord.