Dear church family at Granton,
We have been instructed to cease all acts of public worship for the foreseeable future alongside stopping other parts of our core activity. This means everything except Share ‘n’ Wear which we are deeming an essential community service will cease with immediate effect. That is only continuing with strict social distancing measures in place.
I enclose a copy of the instruction below so you can see what has been decided:
Worship – Cancellation of Worship Services
In the light of the above, the Church of Scotland Task Group has agreed to ask, in the strongest terms, that all gatherings for worship should cease until further notice, with effect from Wednesday 17th March 2020, or earlier if possible.
Other Scottish Churches are taking similar actions. This obviously includes Easter services. Some Presbyteries have already instructed this action.
This will include, but not be restricted to, housegroups, meetings for youth work, and church cafes. It will still be possible for an individual to offer a livestreaming of a sermon and prayers.
Further information on livestreaming, including information on copyright, can be found in this circular on the Law Department’s webpages here. Sunday broadcasts of a weekly service take place on Radio 4, and also on Radio Scotland; other radio stations are available.
Church buildings can be kept open as a place for people to come and pray. Notices should be clearly displayed asking that visitors observe robust hand hygiene, including washing their hands on entry to the church.
Whilst challenging this is not the first challenge God’s people have faced nor will it be the last.
These past 2000+ years of Christian faith have proven beyond doubt the church is resilient in the face of difficulty. We are going to take a series of pro-active steps to keep our faith community going as a community and to help resource our people in continuing to live out our faith.
Initially we are going to:
Open the church for prayer every Sunday between 10 and 12. This is not a ‘stealth’ service or a service by another name. The church will be open and there will be music playing with the chance to sit and reflect and connect with God. We would encourage people to make use of this but also to observe good practice in social distancing.
Open the church at various other points during the week for prayer. Check the website for these as they develop.
Put in place a telephone tree where people take responsibility for connecting every couple of days with others. This way we will keep relationships going and ensure our most vulnerable people have someone checking on them. If you are willing to be part of this please email email@example.com or let Norman know.
Record a weekly message with accompanying notes which will be made available on the website. We have the technology to do this!
Encourage small groups through online platforms like Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp and Zoom where people can hold face to face conversations even though they are not in the same space. All you need is a mobile phone that can handle video and an internet signal.
Encourage Acts of Kindness amongst neighbours. We are being asked to isolate, we are not alone and that is a significant difference.
Alter the Weekly Bulletin so it becomes a way we can swap messages of support and ask for help. Watch this space!
Right now, can you please make sure that we have your up to date contact details of telephone, mobile or email, again reply to firstname.lastname@example.org or phone Norman on 0131 551 2159. Remember to pray and to pick up the phone and speak to your friends. Even though not physically present our friendships will endure.
These are our initial ideas and we are sure you have more. I have been your minister in Granton for over 15 years now and in that time I have been amazed at the resilience and creativity of this community. We will rise to this challenge and at the end of it we will throw the greatest celebration this community has ever seen!
In the meantime when people look at the church and its people may their response be,
‘See how those Christians love one another.’
God Bless us all as we embark on this next phase of our journey together.