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Nicola Sturgeon Jan 2021 banner.jpg
Nicola Sturgeon Jan 2021.jpg
UK News

Churches to reopen for public worship in Scotland before Easter on 26th March

by Cara Bentley

Churches in Scotland will be opening earlier than originally planned, on Friday 26th March.

They were due to open on Monday 5th April, a day after Easter Sunday. 

Announcing a number of changes to the Covid restrictions, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "The other careful change that we feel able to make, at this stage, relates to places of worship.

"I can confirm that, assuming no deterioration in the situation with the virus between now and then, we intend to allow communal worship to restart from Friday 26th March.

"This is in time for Passover, Easter, Ramadan and Vaisakhi.

“In addition, the limit on attendance at communal services will be increased from 20, which was the limit in place before lockdown, to 50 – assuming of course that a place of worship is spacious enough to accommodate that many people with two-metre physical distancing.

“I know that the restrictions on communal worship have been difficult for many people, despite the exceptional efforts made by faith groups to reach out to their communities.

“This change is a proportionate step, which we believe can be achieved relatively safely, and which will hopefully enable more people to draw strength, comfort and inspiration from acts of collective worship.”

The earlier date means it also includes the whole of Holy Week and thus Good Friday services as well. 

On Thursday, there is a hearing scheduled which aims to investigate whether the closure of places of worship for public services was unlawful. 27 church leaders in Scotland are claiming it was a breach of their human rights and the Scottish constitution. 

Before Tuesday's announcement, Rev. Dr Williams Philip of The Tron church in Glasgow, said: “This is a crucial moment for the freedom of the church in Scotland. For public Christian worship to be prevented is deeply damaging to society in terms of the most important health of all: eternal health. Death is not just a risk for some in a pandemic but a certainty for all, and the Church’s calling is to teach people how to live, and how to die, through proclaiming Jesus Christ, the only hope that dispels all fear, death included.
 
“The justification for closure is that the state may regulate a host of civil matters that can affect places of worship. Our response is that the regulations clearly trespass from ‘civil’ to ‘spiritual’."

 

Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said: “We welcome the latest announcement from the Scottish Government that communal worship can potentially resume from 26 March with the possibility of up to 50 people in attendance, assuming physical distancing of 2m can be in place. 

"Christians are Easter people, we live with hope in all circumstances, and the Church will be providing guidance to congregations to help them ensure that buildings are re-opened in a safe and responsible manner.

“While some congregations will adopt a cautious approach regarding the re-opening of our buildings - and others won't have the practical means to do so – everyone will be very glad at this news and will already be looking forward to how most appropriately to celebrate Easter 2021.

“In whatever we do, we'll be remembering that the God who raised Jesus from the grave has been faithful to us throughout the whole of this last year.” 
 

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