Churches can now open for public worship subject to additional rules laid down by the Scottish Government, and revisions have been made to the guidance issued by the Advisory Group of the Scottish Episcopal Church, and the pastoral guidance issued by the College of Bishops. Should you wish to read them you will find the latest version of the guidelines on the SEC website.
Updates with slight modification on previous guidance include a strict limit on numbers permitted to worship, with physical distancing remaining in place at 2 metres; a recommendation on collecting details of those attending to facilitate contact tracing; and limited singing by just a single voice.
The rules are challenging to say the least! All must abide by the Government guidelines and cannot take shortcuts. And, of course, as we worship in Methodist premises, we are also bound by their implementation of the rules, which at present means that we will not be worshipping at Rosyth until at least 1 September.
Also on the SEC website is a short video to ‘walk through’ the preparations and practices needed for public worship. This demonstrates in an easy-to-assimilate form what may well become the new normal. Don’t expect it to feel anything like things were when we last met on 15 March!
Fife Cluster Youth Fellowship has been continuing despite the pandemic situation, and have planned a Sunday evening programme for July and August which you can access at this link. Young adults (P7 and upwards) are invited to enjoy fun and fellowship despite the circumstances!
As it recommends on the /Together campaign website, “On Sunday 5 July mark the birthday of the NHS by joining together to say a big “thank you” to everyone who is helping us through these difficult times, from carers and helpers, to friends and family. And make a promise to each other to get through the months and years ahead, together!”
In the run-up to 5 July, the 72nd anniversary of the NHS, you can say a personal thank you to someone who matters to you by downloading one of our artists/together templates on the /Together website and displaying it in your window.
On the evening of 4 July, we are asked to put a light in our windows in remembrance of all those lost to the coronavirus pandemic. National landmarks will also be lit up in blue as part of our collective memorial.
At 5.00pm on 5 July, we are encouraged to take part in one last country-wide clap of thanks, and then stay out to raise a glass or have a cup of tea with our neighbours.
The Most Reverend Justin Welby, Chair of the Together steering group, is one of many public figures who voiced their support in an open letter which read: “We all owe a debt of gratitude to the nurses, doctors, physios, porters, cleaners, and countless others who have delivered for patients and their families along with all those in the care sector. But we are also hugely grateful to the shop workers, transport staff, delivery drivers, teachers, refuse collectors, farmers, armed service personnel and other key workers who have kept the country going.”
Our church meets in Methodist premises, so any recommencement of worship or other activities at St Margaret’s as we gradually move out of lockdown will be governed by the response of the Methodist leadership in Scotland to new Government guidance as it appears.
The decision announced last week is that no Methodist church buildings will be opened before 1 September 2020. The leadership will be looking at how the buildings can be made ready to receive people in a safe and healthy environment – cleaning, provision of sanitisers, sorting out of hygiene protocols, etc – and you will be kept informed as we progress through July and August.
The College of Bishops and its Advisory Group have issued guidance to the Scottish Episcopal Church on how to prepare for the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions as we approach Phase 2 of the Scottish Government route map through and out of the coronavirus crisis. The documents are available at this link.
Do please note that we are not yet at Phase 2 (expected not earlier than 18 June), so all church-based activities continue to be on hold. But we can still worship and study together on-line, we can pray, and we can support others in our community.