As various parts of life start to open up people have been asking lots of questions about when St Ninian’s will be open. It’s a good question and one worth explaining properly.
What Needs to Happen for the church?
To open for worship we need to put in place a range of measures to help keep people safe:
limited to 24 up to a maximum of 50 people (the white signs show where people can sit)
removal of all cushions and pew Bibles
face coverings for everyone
one way system
seats 2 meters apart
record attendance for test and protect
cleaning between each use
To reopen the church must complete a risk assessment and have a plan in place to comply with all of the safety measures. These plans have to be approved by Presbytery. We have begun that process but obviously there’s a lot of work involved before we are at a point where we can open safely. When we do open church won’t look like what we are used to.
What About You?
We can make the church as safe as we can but we know that covid-19 transmits more effectively in indoor spaces and the longer we spend in those spaces the more risk we face. We’re also learning more about the things that put particular groups of people at higher risk of severe illness. To help you work out your own risk the United Reformed Church and The Church of Scotland have adopted the same Personal Risk Assessment which you should complete and use the results to seriously consider how great the risk is of attending for you or whether you should continue to take part in church online.
Children & Young People
Today (20th August) the Scottish Government has indicated that groups for children and young people will be allowed to resume. There will of course be subject to strict conditions which both groups and venues will be required to meet. This would include cleaning thoroughly between groups, something we don’t have the capacity to do at the moment and also leaders completing the personal risk assessment. Over the coming weeks we’ll be talking to our groups and the Kirk Session will work to see if we can get to a place where we would be able to open for groups.
This week feels different.
More settled. A little more predictable. A patern for the week is emerging.
Reinventing everything in a fortnight is exhausting. At the time you’re caught up in it and the adrenaline keeps you going. And it’s creative and there are problems to solve and new things to learn and everyone else is in the same boat.
And then Holy Week comes along, which is always busy anyway, and you are drawn into an emotional rollercoaster… while already being on one.
And then it all stops.
You have a moment to take a breath and look back and realise that in the last 4 weeks loads has happened; church services, morning prayers, a quiz, sunday school, a bible study, talent show, evening reflections for Holy Week, an online communion… as well as helping to set up a community support group and working out how to provide funerals in these new circumstances.
Almost everything that we had planned to do in person happened online, all while we are in the middle of a crisis.
So, why am I telling you all this?
Because it turns out that church is important. The faith part, but also the community part.
We always talk about how the church isn’t just a building. Well, it turns out to be true. We have already worked out how to do the worship stuff, but I have the feeling that the church has been liberated in the last few weeks to be what it should be… a movement, a community, a caring and compassionate force for good.
Oh… and there are new things appearing on the whiteboard…
It’s only been just over a week since we were asked to stay at home but it seems already as though the way we live has changed.
Of course church has changed too. Or at least how we do church has changed because we can’t gather in person to share in worship or to have coffee and cake or to pray together or to study the bible or for sunday school. So, we’ve had to find new ways of doing some of that.
In just a week we’ve gone from almost everything happening in our church building to almost nothing happening there. That’s a huge change in such a short space of time.
The sunday service is now a video on Facebook, YouTube and the website… and, interestingly, these services are been watched by over 300 people.
Morning prayers and Sunday school happen on zoom, along with, it seems, everything else! We’re having a bible study tomorrow night using it too and on Friday we’re having a go at a family quiz.
My study has become a tv studio with editing punctuated by pastoral visits by phone and meetings on Microsoft Teams.
And all of that is in many ways pretty great. But I’m also acutely aware that lots of our members aren’t online and so I’m also working on ways to help them access worship and stay connected to the life of the church.
And in all of this change some things stay the same, like paying the bills. We’re acutely aware that for many people this is a period of huge financial uncertainty as people stop work to self isolate or are furloughed by their employers.
In terms of your weekly giving… If you usually use envelopes please keep them. We will not send anyone to collect them so keep them somewhere safe until we can all meet together again.
If you can switch to a Standing Order then that would be fantastic. Just click here to email Bill who will be delighted to help you set one up.
You can also give here on the website using the donate button at the top using PayPal.