Pastoral Letter

Dear Friends,

The Presbytery has given us permission to reopen our buildings on Sunday, 20th September.

In this letter I would like to share with you a number of points which I hope will be helpful to you.

The first thing I would say is that initially and possibly for a considerable time services will be different from what we have been used too.

We have to keep a register of all those who enter our buildings and this will be the case on a Sunday morning as well. This is to support contact tracing as part of NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect programme. Recording names and contact details will take time which means those of you wishing to attend services should be prepared to queue outside the main door of the Church or Parish Halls, maintaining as you do, the 2 metre physical distancing rule.

Hand sanitisers have been placed in both buildings and those attending will be required to  use the hand sanitisers as they enter and leave the buildings.

Those attending services in the Church will be taken to a pew by a Steward and will require to sit 2 metres away from others. Couples and family groups will be able to sit together.

A face covering will have to be worn unless there are medical reasons for not wearing one. (In these circumstances you should consider carefully whether or not you should attend live services) We will have a supply of face coverings for those who turn up without one. As the person leading worship I am not required to wear a face covering though if I move beyond the chancel I will require to wear one.

There will be no singing.

It should be noted that in accordance with guidance given all pew cushions, hymn books and Bibles have been removed from pews in the downstairs section of the Church. The balcony will be closed.

It is anticipated the service will last for approximately 30-35 minutes.

A maximum number of 50 people can attend a service. This number includes myself, the Church Officer, Organist and Stewards.

Though services will resume in the Church you will still be able to view online via the Church website, Facebook page and YouTube. We also plan to open the Parish Halls which will, if required, be able to accommodate an additional 16 people who will be able to watch the service on the screen in the main hall. Chairs have been set out observing the 2 metre physical distancing rule. CDs of services will continue to be available.

Again, in accordance with guidance given, I would recommend that those of you who were asked to shield or who have significant underlying health problems think carefully before deciding to return to services in our buildings. Likewise, people with symptoms, who are self-isolating or living with someone who is self-isolating, should not attend services.

Having given the matter a great deal of thought and prayer, I have concluded that due to the increase in the number of coronavirus cases in recent days, members in general should not feel under obligation to attend services at this time. Indeed, if you have access to the internet, it may be that you will prefer to remain at home and watch services online, though these will be slightly different from the online services we have had since the beginning of lockdown, due to the lack of singing. There will, however, be organ music played at different points during services.

The Kirk Session has decided not to adopt a ‘booking system’ the hope being that we will be able to accommodate those who wish to attend services in the Church or Parish Halls though this matter will be reviewed if it becomes clear that more people than we can currently accommodate wish to attend.

I would like to say a heartfelt thank you for the support you have given to the Church over these past six months. Many of you have given generously via standing order or by other means. It would be appreciated if, even though you plan to attend services, you continued to give via standing order or by other means, though there will be an opportunity for those who wish to give their offering on a Sunday to do so as they leave the Church or enter the Parish Halls.

It is my intention to have some form of activity for our young people. Though welcome to attend services in the Church, it is thought that an online activity and occasional gathering in the Parish Halls would be better and more meaningful for the children in the present circumstances.

These continue to be challenging times for us all but I am confident that the day will come when we will be able to gather together in greater numbers, to worship the way we are familiar with (while being open to new ideas!) and to enjoy fellowship with one another once again. In the meantime, please be assured of my prayers and do not hesitate to be in touch if you have any questions or concerns.

Every blessing,

Your Friend and Minister,

Gary J McIntyre