The Church of Scotland Manse, Lossiemouth, 23 July 2020
We have reached Phase 3 of the Scottish Government’s Route Map from Lockdown and I’m sure you are aware that church buildings are now permitted to re-open under certain strict conditions.
It is important to make the distinction between permissive legislation and the ability to open safely and it is clear that no church building may re-open unless Presbytery is satisfied that the church is ready to do so safely.
This will result in
- a significant reduction in capacity for all church buildings,
- thorough health and safety interventions which include a prohibition on singing, and
- considerable demands on volunteers to ensure adequate disinfecting and cleaning.
The Kirk Sessions of St. James’ and St. Gerardine’s High have met independently…
…twice, in June and July, to consider if re-opening the buildings is possible at this time.
After careful consideration, both Kirk Sessions decided that their buildings should remain closed until the two metre spacing rule is relaxed.
The capacity of both buildings is severely restricted by two metre spacing and it would be possible to accommodate only a small proportion of our usual weekly attenders in either building.
The buildings would require cleaning and disinfecting after every service and the Kirk Sessions feel that it is not reasonable to ask volunteers to clean premises regularly for such small numbers of people.
Accordingly, all buildings will remain closed for worship services, funerals, weddings or any other purpose until further notice.
I understand this is disappointing news for many of you.
But I do hope you understand the reasons for the decision. The Kirk Sessions will continue to meet on a regular basis to assess the changing situation.
In the meantime, the life of the church continues.
I am very grateful to Peter Brash for his excellent work with the St. James’ website which serves both churches with audio and written worship material each week and to Kath Robertson who chooses the hymn which always reflects the theme so well.
This material can be accessed at www.stjameslossie.org.uk for those reading this letter on a printed copy.
We hope to be able to upload a short video service each week to the St. James’ website which will allow us to develop our online worship facility.
I host a short Wednesday evening online meeting, open to members and attenders from both churches, using the Zoom platform. The meetings consist of some reflections, a Bible reading and prayers and all are most welcome to join. Please send me a message via this website and I will forward an invitation and instructions to you.
I know that many folks don’t have access to the internet and so printed sermon scripts and prayers will continue to be delivered to those who have requested them.
These times are challenging and we are all still required to exercise care.
While visiting under certain restrictions is permissible, I have decided to limit physical meeting with others as much as possible. However, I am always pleased to catch up with folks via email or phone (208852). Please don’t hesitate to get in touch at any time.
May you all know the quiet assurance of God’s love and his peace in these unsettling times.
Every blessing to you all,