Week beginning: Sunday 13th September 2020
By now most of you should have received an email or hardcopy letter detailing our planned return to public worship next Sunday, 20th September 2020.
As with so many other aspects of life during a pandemic, this date is not an absolute certainty. It is dependent on the Presbytery ‘signing off’ the relevant paperwork that gives us permission to meet again. We would ask you to pray that all necessary requirements and obligations are met timeously, giving the green light for the doors to open.
The church website and Facebook page will be updated should there be a problem.
If all does go to plan it will be an emotional and poignant day for those who are able to return to the church.
We believe the timing is crucial.
At the beginning of lockdown there was a strong sense that both Christians and non Christians were taking stock of their lives. Having a slower pace of life allowed for more of a time of reflection. Considering that maybe the things that we held so dear were, in fact, idols in our lives and too often we were giving them too much attention.
It was clear more and more we were looking to God. In the early days many spoke about praying now more than ever. The number of times the word prayer was googled skyrocketed and online services received many more views than would have been expected.
However, there is a sense now that as people are struggling with the ever changing pattern of lockdown, the ever increasing threat of unemployment for so many of our friends and family, the closing down of many big names in the High Street, both in retail and in the hospitality sector, there is an increasing sense of helplessness and for many, despair.
That is why we strongly believe that as a church, as part of the body of Christ, we must come humbly before the Lord, the one constant, the same yesterday, today and forever, and bring Him our prayer petitions for those whom we love and for the healing of our nation.
In the United States there has been a call for Christians to gather together in Washington in an event called The Return. This is a movement which is calling Christians to 10 days of prayer, fasting and repentance, from Saturday 19th September until Monday 28th September, but also gathering together physically on Saturday 26th September.
More details of this event are available on The Return website: https://thereturn.org/
The organisation ‘Prayer For Scotland’ is also calling for believers to ‘humble themselves and seek His face’ over the weekend Friday 25th to Monday 28th September. They are also sensing there must be more than a ‘one off event’ but rather a season of prayer and they have arranged evenings of worship and prayer accessible via their Facebook page.
We believe God is also calling us to gather together for a time of repentance and intercession. We would seek to do this by gathering together via Zoom for half and hour each evening, at 7.00pm, from Saturday, 19th September (The Feast of Trumpets) until Monday, 28th September (The Day of Atonement). This season is known from ancient times as the Ten Days of Repentance.
Each night will be a stand-alone event. In other words you are welcome to join us for all the meetings or only one or two as your schedule allows. We know that for many the novelty of a zoom meeting wore off a long time ago, however we would strongly encourage you to join with us as we consider what God wants for us as individuals and as a nation. In order to hear from Him we must look inward and repent of all that has stopped us from being in a close relationship with Him and position ourselves so that we can fulfil the call He has on our lives, as individuals and corporately.
The cry of our heart is to see revival in our land and there is no reason why it cannot begin with us. Please do consider joining us. There will be no pressure to speak out or pray out loud but there is power when God’s people gather and His promise to be in the midst of where two or three are gathered in His name stands whether we meet physically or virtually. Please feel free to invite others from outwith our congregation to join us.
For security reasons we will not publish the link here. Please contact either Douglas Nicol (details below) or Katherine Nicol on 07877 302 189 or Kmnicol19@gmail.com.
If you have no experience of zoom but would like to be part of this gathering please contact Katherine who will happily discuss with you all that you need to know ahead of time.
Again, we take the time to mark the times of celebration in the lives of our church family members.
Congratulations to Mirren Sinclair who celebrated her 4th birthday also on Tuesday, 8th September; to Barry Luke who celebrated his birthday on Friday 11th September; and to Leoni Palmer who celebrated her 14th birthday on Saturday 12th September. Many happy returns to you all!
As ever, if you have any worries or concerns, prayer requests or indeed good news to pass on, please do not hesitate to contact one of the ministry team...details below.
MINISTER: Rev Douglas Nicol, 36 Springkell Drive, GLASGOW G41 4EZ
0141 427 7877 Email: DNicol@churchofscotland.org.uk
PART-TIME PARISH ASSISTANT: Kirsteen Marshall
07720 625 789 Email: KMarshall@churchofscotland.org.uk
PART-TIME children and Families Worker: Naomi Sutton
07486 563 779 Email: NSutton@churchofscotland.org.uk
Letter to those who wish to return to Sunday Worship at Priesthill Road
9th September 2020
As we entered into 2020 little did we know how different our lives and way of living would become in just a short number of months.
Our last Sunday morning of worshipping God together in the sanctuary was on Sunday 15th March and I am writing to let you know that we should have the go-ahead to meet together again on Sunday 20th September, at the usual time of 11.00am, subject to ‘final sign off’ from Presbytery.
You will no doubt be aware that the gathering of people together in a Sunday morning service must take on a very new look.
Our numbers will be restricted to 26 individual people in the sanctuary, although there can be more if people come as members of the same household, as they can sit together.
Should the sanctuary become completely full, there would be the opportunity for some people to listen in the concourse as we have a speaker there which can relay the sound.
On entry to the church building your name and contact details will be recorded to comply with the Trace and Protect Strategy.
When in the building we must adhere to social distancing regulations.
Masks must be worn but be assured if you do not have one with you on the day, these will be provided on your way in.
(Masks do not need to be worn if you have a medical condition that makes you exempt.)
You will be asked to sanitise your hands on entry and exit and you will be directed to where you can sit.
If you need a cushion you are asked to bring one with you and also to take it away with you at the end of the service.
If you are wearing a mask you must keep it on during the service.
Some elements in the format of the service will be familiar such as prayers, Bible readings and teaching. However, although there will be music played, singing is, at the moment, prohibited.
Due to the restrictions we will not be using hymnbooks and there will be no weekly parish newsletter.
The offering will not be uplifted in the usual manner. Instead a plate will be situated at the door for you to deposit your weekly gift as you leave the service.
This can be in the form of your freewill offering envelopes, gift aid envelopes, cash or a cheque.
At the moment the provision of tea and coffee at the end of the service is prohibited and the disabled toilet, except in the case of an emergency, will be the only one in use.
I do hope that in amongst all the strangeness of these new arrangements, you will, nonetheless, be aware of God’s presence and blessing as we join together to worship Him.
If you are considering returning to worship, it would be helpful if you could let me know before the return date so that we can ensure that we are complying with social distancing number restrictions. You may have heard of other churches who are using a booking system. At the moment we do not feel that this will be necessarily required but a rough idea of numbers would be helpful.
It is our intention to record the worship services so that those who are unable to attend can have an opportunity to watch or listen to the services at home at a later time. There will be more details about this in the weeks to come.
Whether or not you choose to come back to church under these new restrictions is something you must prayerfully consider and there is absolutely no pressure to do so or not to do so.
Accompanying this letter there is a chart (described as an assessment ‘tool’) which is an aid to help you decide whether you think it is appropriate for you to return to Sunday morning worship in the sanctuary at Priesthill Road at this time.
With reference to the chart, let me take the example of myself:
I am 65, which gives me 2 points.
I am male, which gives me 1 point.
I am Caucasian, which gives me 0 points.
I have suffered a heart attack, which gives me 1 point.
This gives me a total of 4 points.
This score of 3-5 suggests that I am at greater risk and I should consider ways of reducing my risk by taking additional precautions or avoiding some activities.
As I am the minister it might prove difficult for me to find ways to take additional precautions, but I will prayerfully consider how that might be achieved.
I encourage you to also engage with the chart according to your own personal circumstances as it will help you get a better sense as to whether you think it is appropriate to return to Sunday worship at this time.
In the narrative which accompanies the chart you are encouraged to read the full text of the Church of Scotland’s “Covid-19 (Coronavirus) Reopening of Church Buildings.” Included in this document there is guidance about minimising risks in the church context, and other government or local advice about staying safe.
Here is the link to the document: https://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/69174/COMMS-Buildings-Guidance-DOCUMENT_5.0.pdf
(If you don’t have internet access and would like a copy of the Guidance Document please let me know and I will get a copy to you.)
There is a stark statement in this document, which I feel obliged to draw to your attention:
“The reality is that those over the age of 70 will have to consider carefully whether they should be attending church.”
I must emphasise that whether you decide to come to church or to stay away from church at this time, it is your own personal decision to make and my plea is that we should all respect the personal decision that we each individually make.
Some members have been concerned that they have not been able to fulfil their promise of giving tithes and offerings over the last 6 months. If you would like to speak about this in confidence please feel free to contact our Treasurer, Jess Mitchell or myself.
Should you wish to discuss any of the above arrangements or any other concerns or reservations you may have, please do not hesitate to contact me, again, in the strictest confidence.
Contact details of Douglas Nicol and Jess Mitchell
Douglas Nicol, Parish Minister: Tel. no. 0141 427 7877
Jess Mitchell, Church Treasurer: Tel. no. 0141 881 7344
Assessment ‘Tool’ for individual and group health risks
The assessment ‘tool’ above (or perhaps below on some mobile phones) helps you to see how different risk factors may combine to give serious health complications should you catch the COVID-19 virus. It does not include the factors that may make you clinically extremely vulnerable, where you should be following the guidance for those who are ‘shielding’. It includes the factors where there is significant statistical evidence but does not include any rarer conditions which you may have, so this only offers a starting point. You may want to discuss the results with your doctor or with those who have expectations about your involvement with church life.
This should be read alongside the full text of the Church of Scotland’s “Covid-19 (Coronavirus) Reopening of Church Buildings” which includes guidance about minimising risks in the church context, and other government or local advice about staying safe. We are not claiming medical expertise in sharing this way of scoring your risk but giving a way to show how serious catching the virus may be for you or the groups using your church building(s).
Circle the score next to each one that applies to you and add up your score.
A score of under 3 indicates a lower risk, but you should still be following the guidance for staying safe.
A score of 3-5 suggests a greater risk and you should consider ways of reducing your risk by taking additional precautions or avoiding some activities.
A score of 6 or more suggests a high risk and indicates that you should continue to work or participate in church life from your home.
The scoring is based on an article from the British Medical Association website. Risk Stratification tool for Healthcare workers during the CoViD-19 Pandemic; using published data on demographics, co-morbid disease and clinical domain in order to assign biological risk: David Strain, Janusz Jankowski, Angharad Davies,
Peter English, Ellis Friedman, Helena McKeown, Su Sethi, Mala Rao medRxiv 2020.05.05.20091967; doi: