It is with no small amount of sadness, I must inform you that 121 George Street has instructed us that as of tomorrow we are no longer to hold public worship in the Cathedral. We are not alone in this, as it affects all Church of Scotland parishes, and I suspect many other denominations as well.
We were informed by Rev Angus Mathieson, Interim Head, Faith Nurture as follows:
Church of Scotland – Covid-19 Briefing 17th March 2020 – Cancellation of Services and other information
The Church’s Covid-19 Task Group met this morning, and considered the most recent advice from the Scottish Government, issued on the evening of Monday 16th March, available here. This information from the Scottish Government takes precedence over the briefing note issued by myself at 17:53 on 16th March 2020.
The Scottish Government advised that people should minimise social contact by avoiding crowded areas and large gatherings, including religious congregations, and smaller gatherings, listing areas which were of concern.
Worship – Cancellation of Worship Services
In the light of the above, the Church of Scotland Task Group has agreed to ask, in the strongest terms, that all gatherings for worship should cease until further notice, with effect from Wednesday 17th March 2020, or earlier if possible. Other Scottish Churches are taking similar actions. This obviously includes Easter services. Some Presbyteries have already instructed this action. This will include, but not be restricted to, housegroups, meetings for youth work, and church cafes. It will still be possible for an individual to offer a livestreaming of a sermon and prayers. Further information on livestreaming, including information on copyright, can be found in this circular on the Law Department’s webpages here. Sunday broadcasts of a weekly service take place on Radio 4, and also on Radio Scotland; other radio stations are available.
Church buildings can be kept open as a place for people to come and pray. Notices should be clearly displayed asking that visitors observe robust hand hygiene, including washing their hands on entry to the church.
As a result, we have agreed with the Music Department, at least in the short term, that we will stream both a morning service and Choral Evensong at the normal times each Sunday, beginning on Sunday the 22nd. It is our intention to record these services in batches, and “play them out” at the appropriate times of 11:00 and 4:00. Both services will be available on YouTube and here on the Cathedral website.