Implications for Fortrose and Rosemarkie Church of Scotland
The following is a response to guidelines that have been issued by the government and the Church of Scotland in recent days by the Kirk Session of Fortrose and Rosemarkie Church of Scotland.
(Such responses will be updated as necessary in the days to come.)
The challenge that faces us is this: how we can function as a worshipping caring and praying Christian community in fellowship with others when we are not able to meet together normally and how to point folk in our congregation and our community to God at this time.
In the midst of this crisis, we need to remember that God is sovereign and to put our trust in God.
As the Psalmist reminds us in Psalm 46 (in a version that we can freely cite):
1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed,
and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled,
though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.
[King James Version – Public Domain]
In light of UK and Scottish government directives, we are advised that
“… 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. … This obviously includes Easter services. Some Presbyteries have already instructed this action. This will include, but not be restricted to, house groups, meetings for youth work, and church cafes.”
(email from Church of Scotland Task Group Tues 17th March 2020)
In short, there will be no Sunday Services, no public worship, no groups, no meetings, and no pastoral visitations in person until further notice (subject to review.)
PLEASE SEE THE SECTION OF THE WEBSITE ON COVID-19 AND THE SEPARATE SECTION GIVING THIS SUNDAY'S SERVICE TO PARTICIPATE IN AT HOME. ALL SERVICES IN THE CHURCH AND CHURCH MEETINGS ARE CANCELLED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
THE PARTIAL RE-OPENING OF THE CHURCH NOW HAS PRESBYTERY APPROVAL. THE NEXT SERVICE IS PLANNED FOR 8 NOVEMBER (not 1 November) AND FORTNIGHTLY THEREAFTER, INITIALLY FOR THOSE IN THE CONGREGATION AT PRESENT UNABLE TO JOIN IN THE WEEKLY 'ZOOM' SERVICES. THE SERVICES WILL BE LAST FOR ROUGHLY HALF AN HOUR, COMMENCING AT 12 NOON, AND SPECIFIC INSTRUCTIONS ARE BEING SENT TO ALL THOSE WHO HAVE EXPRESSED A DESIRE TO ATTEND. THERE IS A MAXIMUM OF 21 PLACES IN THE CHURCH, SO ATTENDANCE IS LIMITED TO THOSE WHO HAVE INTIMATED THAT THEY INTEND TO ATTEND. THE BIBLE FELLOWSHIP MEETINGS HAVE ALSO RECOMMENCED ON A FORTNIGHTLY BASIS.
However, this does not mean that we cease to function as a worshipping community, a praying community, a pastoral community or, indeed, a caring community.
A Worshipping Community
As a worshipping community we intend to take a number of steps. These will include putting a simple order of service on the church website for Sundays that can be followed at home. (These will also be available as printed sheets on request through elders). The service for this coming Sunday can be found in the 'This Sunday's Service' tab on this website
Fortrose and Rosemarkie Church of Scotland
Given the elderly demography of our congregation and certain technical limitations we are not thinking of live-streaming at present.
We would encourage those who would like to use internet and other media to look at the following links which may be useful:
The Church of Scotland
The Free Church of Scotland – local church in Inverness
The Church of England
section on “Digital Resources - includes “live streaming” “TV & radio” and “resources for Lent”
At present, our societies in Western Europe and beyond are having to respond week by week and even day-by-day to this crisis. Let us continue to support one another and to pray for those who have responsibility in government, local government and those in the frontline in medical professions.
The book of Hebrews (ch4) reminds us of the fact that the God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in whom we believe and to whom we come in prayer is not unaware of our frailty and the human predicament:
14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
[King James Version – Public Domain]