- Dear Friends,
Greetings in the name of our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ!
I hope and pray that you are well and staying strong in the love of our Lord through these very unusual and difficult days.
On behalf of the Session and following our last two meetings (on Tuesday 16th June and Tuesday 21st July), I wanted to update you with our plan for returning to church for worship on the Lord’s Day.
God willing, we will return to corporate worship on Sunday 2nd August. However, as you would no doubt expect, in the light of Covid-19 and the most recent guidelines from the Government, things will be considerably different - at least for the next few months.
In particular, the Session has come to the following conclusions:
- For the time being (until at least the October school break) we will have just one, shorter than usual, service on Sundays at 11am, as well as continuing our Wednesday prayer meeting online using Zoom. Please be assured that our desire is to return to morning and evening worship as soon as possible; however, given the uncertainties surrounding Covid-19, plus the extra measures that now have to be put in place, the Session felt that it was wise to take things one step at a time.
- Taking into account social distancing guidelines, as well as current restrictions on the numbers allowed to gather in church, it looks as though we will be able to safely seat approximately 45 people in the sanctuary and back hall, with an additional 5 in the “snug” area. The foyer will not be used for seating but instead left clear so as to provide plenty of space for people to safely come and go.
- Your Elder will be in touch with you soon to ascertain whether it is your intention to return to church in the short-term or whether you would prefer to stay away for the time being, perhaps due to an underlying health condition. If it appears that we are likely to exceed the maximum of 50 people prescribed by the Scottish Government, alternative arrangements will be made.
- For those unable to attend in the short-term, the service will be made available electronically (more information on this to follow).
In terms of our protocol each Sunday, please note the following:
- Two Elders will be on duty each week, one to welcome people at the front door and one to provide assistance and guidance in terms of seating. Upon your arrival, the main door will either be open already or it will be opened by the duty Elder, so as to prevent multiple people from having to touch the electronic door-pad.
- Please note that the Elder on door duty will need to record your attendance so as to comply with the Government’s test and trace guidelines. Please therefore be prepared to give your name and phone number upon arrival if we do not already have this.
- Immediately upon entering the building you will see hand-cleansing gel on a table to the left. Please do use this to disinfect your hands.
- For the time-being it won’t be possible to hang your coat; please keep any outer garments with you at all times.
- Psalm books, Praise! books and bibles will not be available for general use. However, a personal copy of those items will be provided for those who find it difficult to read what is displayed on screens. This should be collected the first time you attend church and then taken home after the service,
- Toilet facilities will be available but we would simply underline the importance of washing your hands thoroughly after use and before leaving. In addition, we would request that only one person use each of the three facilities at a time.
- Sadly, we will not be able to gather for fellowship or refreshments after the service. If you choose to linger for a short while outside the church with others, please do this well away from the entrance and be sure to maintain social distancing.
- The service will follow a basic format, similar to the structure we have used for home worship. Regrettably, as we are currently prohibited from singing, we will simply recite together portions from two psalms at both the start and the end of the service (It is important for us to continue joining together in the vocal expression of our devotion to, and worship of, the Lord!). As soon as we can, we will return to singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.
- Following the Benediction, it would be helpful if those at the back of the hall could leave first, followed by the next row and so on.
Sunday School and Bible Class will be cancelled for the time being, as will the Wednesday Club and Mums and Toddlers.
Our outreach café will re-open at the start of the new school term. Again, this will be in accordance with government guidelines with all necessary changes adopted.
Friends, as we think about these changes and how different our worship is going to feel (at least in the short term), I would like to make a few important points:
- Some of you fall into the “vulnerable” category, due to either your age and stage in life, an underlying illness, or both. It is important that you feel at liberty to refrain from attending church for the time being according to your own conscience before God. Both the Elders and the wider church are here to help and support you in any way that we can.
- Should you develop any symptoms associated with Covid-19 (cough, temperature, breathing difficulties etc.), please do not attend church, but do let us know so that we can be praying for you and helping in any way we can.
- For those returning, it is almost inevitable that we will fall into one of two “camps”: some will have little or no fear and perhaps feel that all of these measures are unnecessary and “over the top”; others will continue to be nervous about being back in a gathering of people. Whatever our own convictions may be, it is vital that we exercise the biblical principle of counting others better than ourselves and that by our own conduct and behaviour, we do not cause others to stumble (Philippians 2:3; 1 Cor. 8). How might this play out?
- Some of you may choose to wear a face mask whereas others will prefer not to. It is important that we do not judge, but instead respect each-other’s preferences and convictions in regard to these things.
- Some might feel that they want to shake hands and hug, but others may feel very threatened by this. We would request that you comply with social distancing guidelines for the time-being, avoiding contact and keeping 2 metres distance from one another.
- Some may feel that as a church the measures we have taken are too stringent/restrictive, whereas others will feel that we are not being stringent enough (after all, if there’s one thing we can be sure of, it’s that we will all have an opinion!). Perhaps more than ever then, we need to be intentional about maintaining the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3). We can be sure that the devil will do all he can to stir up dissension and division in these changing times and so let’s not give him that opportunity!
Finally, and above all things, please be much in prayer over the coming weeks and months. I know that this has been a very tough time for many, but our Good Shepherd has not left us and nor will He ever. Our Covenant God plays for keeps. He has continued to provide, sustain, protect, comfort and bless in ways that only He can. As we prepare to return to corporate worship, let us pray that God would pour out His Spirit on the church throughout our land and to the ends of the earth. Pray that the people of God would be repentant, strengthened in the faith, assured of His love, sanctified in His truth and equipped and emboldened to make known the unsearchable riches of our Lord Jesus Christ. We live in dark and difficult days, but our Lord is on the throne and He will build His church!
Please be assured of my continuing love and prayers for you all and, as always, if there is anything you are struggling with and wish to chat and pray about, please do not hesitate to be in touch with me or with one of the Elders.
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.”
With Love in Christ, Your Pastor and Friend,