During “lockdown”, many activities have been able to move online, via phone and printed material. As we work through the phases emerging from lockdown we do so within Scottish Government legislation, Church of Scotland guidance and local context.
Link to the congregtions’ websites are on the Home page of this site. All are warmly invited to engage in the various opportunities for worship, family ministry and other activities.
While Scottish Government legislation allows Church buildings to open for Private Prayer, this requires many mitigating requirements including rigorous cleaning, wearing of face-coverings, stewarding of open buildings, signage and so on.
Statement for Kirk Sessions – June 2020
The Business Committee of Lochaber Presbytery have met and discussed the use of church buildings during the current Covid-19 pandemic, in the light of current government guidance and the extensive guidelines provided by the Church of Scotland.
Business Committee recommends that all church buildings in the Presbytery should remain closed for the duration of phase 2 of the Scottish Government’s release plan. It is considered that full compliance with all the necessary safety aspects of the current guidance cannot reasonably be achieved by our local congregations.
Business Committee further recommends that all congregations should be reviewing their preparations for eventual reopening of buildings in the light of the guidance provided, and that kirk sessions, who hold trustee responsibilities should not aim to reopen buildings until the checklist and risk assessment has been completed and submitted to Presbytery.
We recognise that the importance of place in other Christian traditions is different, so their pace of reopening may be different to ours. Kirk sessions and congregations are reminded of the fact that prayer is not restricted by place or time. Church buildings may be closed but the ears of heaven are not.
Advice from our Health and Safety Co-ordinator
Each congregation has a Health and Safety policy which should have the safety of all users of church buildings as its objective.
The Church of Scotland Covid 19 (Corona virus) Reopening of Church buildings: outlines the requirements necessary to make our buildings safe.
It is the responsibility of the congregations and Kirk Sessions to familiarise themselves and apply these guidelines to ensure the safety of anyone who enters the church building.
The cleaning required by the guidelines is not conventional cleaning, rather the purpose of it is to decontaminate areas which may have been contaminated with the virus. The person/s responsible for meeting the Health and Safety requirements should be suitably trained and given appropriate equipment. People over 70 years of age are considered vulnerable and should not engage in this training, or cleaning work.
The risk assessment attached to the Church of Scotland Covid-19 guidelines must be completed and submitted to Presbytery before any church building can be opened to the public subject to Scottish Government guidance.
Risk assessment is an ongoing process.
Ken Gill, Health & Safety Officer, Lochaber Presbytery
The Business Committee of Lochaber Presbytery have advised that church buildings should remain closed during phase 2 of the Scottish government’s release plan.
Before reopening buildings, congregations are required to put in place a detailed plan to comply with current Church of Scotland guidelines. These currently include ensuring those who enter buildings are required to wash or sanitise their hands, make use of face coverings, are reminded of the guidelines for those shielding or with underlying health issues, and directed to a seat at safe distance from others. It also involves a rigorous and frequent cleaning to a high standard of any surface or object which may have been touched.
In our tradition prayer is not connected to particular places. It can happen anywhere and at any time. No special places, objects or people are required. We have therefore concluded that for the time being our buildings may remain closed, but the ears of heaven are open, so the life of the church, which is not restricted to buildings, continues as strongly as ever.
Details of Congregations’ web sites are on the Home Page. At congregations’ web pages and Facebook pages there are details of Worship and other activities.