Coronavirus precautions

How to join our online Sunday worship

March 19, 2020 

As part of the ongoing response to the Coronavirus pandemic the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) will this Sunday (22 March) begin broadcasting video coverage of Eucharistic services via its website, social media channels and YouTube channel. The web page for the broadcast is located at www.scotland.anglican.org/broadcast-sunday-worship

The first service, held in private with no congregation, and led by the Most Rev Mark Strange, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, will be broadcast at 11am on Sunday, to coincide with when many people would normally be worshipping if church services had not been suspended following government guidance.

The website will also contain a downloadable video and audio format of the service. A new service will be broadcast every Sunday on the SEC website, to allow all congregations to worship. We are aware that some congregations will offer their own version of online worship, but others will not have the means or resource to attempt this, hence this province-wide broadcast.

In advance of the broadcast of each provincial service, the Liturgy will be available to download from the SEC website. We are conscious of the need to offer as much assistance as possible to those who have no access to the internet, and we encourage people to distribute the video/audio recordings and the Liturgy widely within their own personal networks. In households with no internet or playback capacity, people who can be helped by others through the provision of printed materials will have the opportunity to read the words of the Liturgy to themselves close to the appointed time, praising God along with others in the Church.

“Prayer is an important part of the tradition and spiritual life of the people of God” said Bishop Mark. “In hard times and good times, quietly being before God with the people we love in our hearts encircles us all in God’s everlasting love and the promise of hope and salvation.”

The service will be available online after its first broadcast, followed by a new one each week, the next at 11am on Sunday 29 March.

Cessation of services

March 18, 2020 

The College of Bishops continues to follow closely the developing situation in relation to coronavirus. The rapidly changing picture brings about changes on an almost daily basis. The College continues to hold in its prayers the clergy and laity of the Scottish Episcopal Church and the people of Scotland and the United Kingdom as a whole. 

The College expresses its thanks to everyone in the Scottish Episcopal Church for all that they are doing to adapt to current circumstances and continue in the provision of care and pastoral support. Clergy and lay readers are encouraged to be in touch with their Diocesan Bishop in connection with any matters of difficulty or concern. 

At this time, the College offers further guidance as follows. It should also be emphasised that in a rapidly changing situation, the guidance that follows must be regarded as subject to any public health guidance or direction, which must take precedence.

1. Advice issued last night by the Scottish Government is to the effect that church services should cease. Consequently, the Bishops ask that all gatherings for worship, including small gatherings such as house groups, should be discontinued until further notice. 

2. Church buildings can be kept open as a place for people to come and pray. However, if a church is open for private prayer, notices should be clearly displayed asking that visitors wash their hands on entry to the church.

3. The province is working on plans to make worship available online. The bishops encourage participation in the broader Eucharistic life of the church in this way and emphasise the such online involvement is a form of participation in the Eucharistic community, even though participants cannot physically partake of the bread or wine. 

4. Clergy and lay leaders must feel free to self-isolate themselves when that is appropriate either to safeguard their own health or the health of others. Again, however, any member of clergy or lay leader needing to self-isolate is asked to discuss the matter with the diocesan Bishop. Where a decision to self-isolate is taken, the bishops expect congregations to be understanding and supportive. Self-isolation, except in the case of illness, does not mean that ministry and pastoral care must cease. Contact and communication can still be maintained over the telephone, by email or other electronic means. 

5. The taking of funerals may give rise to specific concerns. It may simply not be possible for family relatives or friends of the deceased’s to be able to attend a funeral service as usual. However, clergy can still take a funeral at the graveside or crematorium, even if those present are limited to clergy and funeral directors. Again, in cases of difficulty, bishops encourage clergy to discuss such matters with them. 

6. In the light of the public health recommendation that non-essential travel should not be undertaken, it is clearly inappropriate to continue with meetings which would draw people from a wider area – _such as regional gatherings. Institutions, licensings etc will need to be dealt with differently from normal, and, again, such matters should be discussed with the diocesan Bishop. 

7. In some cases, where local income is dependent on regular giving through the weekly collection or giving envelopes, it is possible that congregations might encounter difficulties with cash flow. Churches are encouraged to consider alerting congregations to such potential difficulties and encouraging alternative ways of giving, for example by standing order. In cases where it is thought difficulty might arise, treasurers are encouraged to 

contact their diocesan office at an early stage to discuss whether any form of support can be made available. 

8. Consideration should be given to resilience planning in current circumstances. As a bare minimum, churches are asked to ensure that they have clear records for detailing those who hold keys for access to churches and halls and of the names of bank signatories and payroll officers, as well as plans on how to deal with circumstances if such individuals become ill or have to self-isolate. 

The Most Rev Mark Strange 

Primus

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