Kirk responds to Scottish Government Phase 3 announcement

The Scottish Government has announced churches may reopen for communal worship and prayer from 15 July with continued strict physical distancing and hygiene measures, as the country enters Phase 3 of the easing of restrictions. The latest updates include some relaxation of restrictions for attendance at funerals and weddings and a limited number of people will be allowed in a church building at the same time.

Learn more from the Scottish Government's roadmap for Phase 3.

Rev Dr George Whyte, the Principal Clerk to the Church 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."

The Church of Scotland has created extensive guidance to help congregations as they prepare to return to church buildings. The existing guidelines will be updated in the next week following the latest updates from the Scottish Government regarding phase 3