Due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, Ferryhill Church, along with the vast majority of church buildings have been closed for public worship since late March 2020. This has been a very difficult time for us all as we learnt to adapt to a new way of life.
Theologically, congregations have often stated that the church comprises the people and not the buildings, however when faced with the reality it becomes apparent that our church buildings provide a sense of place for many to express their faith, experience worship and grow in relationship.
Ferryhill Parish Church has livestreamed worship for a number of years but, with lockdown in place, this became the only means of viewing worship available to our congregation. We know that this has been widely embraced as our viewing numbers have steadily increased, however we are acutely aware that this is not accessible to all.
As the Scottish Government moves us through the different phases of response to the pandemic, churches have the opportunity now to reopen sanctuaries for public worship. We are working though the processes required in terms of risk assessments to reopen the sanctuary and now we are seeking some feedback from you on how we can best bring opportunities for worship to you over the next months.
There are many things to consider as we put into effect physical distancing, hygiene and cleaning, and safety requirements as part of an ongoing Covid-19 Risk Assessment checklist.
All of this means that public worship services at Ferryhill Church, when we do go ahead, will look and feel very different to what we’re all used to.
Changes will include:
- No more than 50 people present (including the Minister, Organist, volunteers, etc), necessitating a booking system to be put in place whereby you will need to phone the church office to book your place at the upcoming service
- Worshippers must sit in household groups only, in specified locations that are marked out in the sanctuary (note that if only individual people are in attendance the sanctuary will allow for attendance of a maximum of 28 people)
- The gallery will be out of bounds to all
- Hand sanitiser will be available when entering the church
- One point of entry, and another to exit the church building
- Doors will remain open to allow air to circulate through the Sanctuary (so you must wrap up in many layers on cold days)
- Pew cushions will be removed
- Face coverings must be worn within the buildings (unless where an exemption applies or where there is ‘reasonable excuse’ not to)
- Singing is not currently permitted in public worship in church so services will be shorter with hymns omitted (around 25 or 30 minutes duration)
- The traditional method of taking the offering by passing the plate will not take place
- There will be no time of fellowship following worship
- No refreshments will be available
Anyone who is displaying symptoms of Covid-19, or is self-isolating due to living with someone who is displaying symptoms or as a result of contact tracing is staying at home to minimise the risk of spreading Covid-19, must not attend church. Those who have been shielding prior to 1 August 2020 can now follow the same guidance as the rest of Scotland, however you should strictly follow physical distancing and hygiene measures.