Today at lunchtime (Thursday 18th June) the First Minister indicated that from Monday 22nd June, “Places of worship may open for individual prayer and contemplation“.
Bishop Mark Strange, Primus, on behalf of the College of Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church subsequently made the following statement :
Today the First Minister of Scotland has announced moving the communities of Scotland into Phase 2 of the Route Map out of Lockdown, with aspects of easing taking place on different dates.
There are many things which people will now need to work on to ensure that these changes are carried through carefully and safely. It is good to be moving forward.
The Scottish Episcopal Church can now plan for some of its churches to open for Individual prayer following the guidelines carefully worked out by our own Advisory Group. Our Phase 2 Guidance, issued last week, now takes effect from Monday 22 June 2020.
We also recognise that in Phase 2 for various reasons some faith groups will still not be able to use any of their places of worship and we will continue to work and walk alongside them at this time. We move forward today in the knowledge that we will together continue to have opportunities to discuss and shape the route back towards the full re-opening of the places of worship of all faith communities in Scotland.
It is also important to recognise the work that has been done throughout the lockdown by the regular meetings of the Scottish Government with faith leaders and the various faith group secretariats. We thank the Government for its commitment to working together with the faith communities of Scotland.
The Advisory Group will continue its work towards the preparation of Phase 3 guidance.
The Phase 2 Guidance referred to by Bishop Mark’s will need careful study to work out if any of our Churches in East Sutherland and Tain could be opened. If we can open, any necessary preparations might well take a wee while to sort out. Church opening arrangements are subject to approval by Bishop Mark. It goes without saying that we need to protect both those supervising the opening and those visiting the Churches for Prayer.
In the meantime, the First Minister’s statement doesn’t mean that St Finnbarr’s, St Andrew’s or St Columba’s will be open for Individual Prayer, but that could change later on.
God of compassion,
be close to those who are ill, afraid or in isolation.
In their loneliness, be their consolation;
in their anxiety, be their hope;
in their darkness, be their light;
through him who suffered alone on the cross,
but reigns with you in glory,
Jesus Christ our Lord.