I hope that you and your families are well.
Thankfully, we will soon move from Phase 2 into Phase 3 of the ‘Scottish Government’s Emerging from Lockdown Plan’.
The College of Bishops has published guidelines in relation to the pastoral and liturgical ministry of churches as some of the proposed changes are implemented.
The full set of documents are available on the Scottish Episcopal Church website –https://www.scotland.anglican.org
In their guidelines the College of Bishops state,
“In Phase 3, it will become possible for us to gather together again for worship. The careful conditions for gatherings in church will make the experience of worship quite different from anything that we have known: the Eucharist in one kind only; the wearing of face coverings; the distance between worshippers; the absence of singing. But there are two reasons why being able to worship at all, even with these conditions, is something that we can give thanks for. Both are about who we are as the Church of Jesus Christ.
First, because, just as we have done by not coming together for worship but worshipping from home, so now, by gathering again but under the limitations and restrictions described here for Phase 3, we can continue to express Christ’s care for one another and for others around us. Our gathering for worship can be the means of loving not only God but loving our neighbour, of following Jesus’ new commandment, “love one another as I have loved you” (John 13.34)
Second because we can gather again for worship we will be able again to fulfil more completely the Church’s basic calling to be the visible Body of Christ in the world. Jesus taught that “where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18.20), and the embodied nature of this calling is what causes Christians to gather in worship, especially on Sunday, the Lord’s Day.”
All Episcopal Churches wishing to open for public worship, will be required to comply with the various criteria set by the College of Bishops and the Scottish Government. Due to St Margaret’s partnership with Rosyth Methodist Church it will also require the permission of the Methodist Council.
The transition to Phase 3 inevitably presents a variety of challenges that will need to be met. To ensure the safety of all who wish to use our church buildings each vestry will be fully involved in the necessary preparations required to open our churches for worship.
The Scottish Government recently stated, ‘Places of worship are unlikely to be able to open for communal worship prior to 23rd July.’ As I write, no date for the opening of places of worship has been set. However further guidance and possible dates of opening will be shared with you as soon as possible.
“The possibility of returning to worship and to share in the Eucharist together is good news for us, for the whole Church, and for the world we seek to serve in Christ’s name.” – College of Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church.
We have all missed seeing each other and sharing together as a worshipping community. Please continue to pray for one another, for the wider community and its needs. Pray also for all involved in the opening of our churches as places of welcome, worship, prayer and support.
The following prayer was included in a recent Ad Clerum from Bishop Ian which I hope you will find helpful.
the people I meet today are the people of your kingdom.
Strengthen me to use the gifts
which you have given me.
Protect me from the perils
I may face.
Use me as a lantern
to show your light in the world.
I ask this in the name of your Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ.
With my prayers and good wishes to you all.