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Church Welcomes Permission to Re-open Buildings for Worship

Thursday July 9 2020

The Church of Scotland has welcomed confirmation that church buildings will be able to re-open for worship from the middle of next week.

Under the latest update to the Scottish Government’s route map out of the coronavirus lockdown, from Wednesday May 15 places of worship can re-open for congregational services, communal prayer and contemplation, with physical distancing and limited numbers.

The rules on the number of people permitted at funerals and weddings will also be relaxed.

In response, the Church is to update its own guidelines to congregations next week.

The Rev Dr George Whyte, Principal Clerk to the General Assembly, said: “We welcome the news that worship services will be able to resume on a limited basis after being required to close our buildings earlier in the year due to the COVID-19 emergency. We have been grateful to the Scottish Government for the way in which they have listened to our concerns and worked with us to get to this stage.

“Ahead of today’s announcement, we have prepared guidance to help ministers and congregations as they consider if they should open their church building at this point. As we continue to live with the threat of coronavirus, ministers and congregations must consider carefully whether or not they should return to the church building in these early phases, depending on their own circumstances and the nature of their church.

“Our guidance is designed to support those who will need to implement the changes and restrictions which will need to be put in place so that congregational worship, funerals and weddings can safely take place.

"Parishioners and ministers in high risk groups may be at particular risk from infection and many will prefer to continue with online worship options at this stage. Others will know that with physical distancing and a cap on numbers that there simply will not be room for all those who might wish to attend Sunday worship.

“However, we recognise that for many the buildings themselves are an important sacred space and the opportunity to return to their place of worship, even on a limited basis, will bring spiritual and mental-health benefits.”


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