News from the Kirk session
This is intimation that a meeting of the Kirk Session of this congregation is to be held virtually on 27th August 2020 at 7.30pm.
In recognition of the diversity of views within the Church about the historic and current practice of the Church in relation to human sexuality, and in the interests of the peace and unity of the Church, departure from the practice of the Church in relation to human sexuality is permitted in certain circumstances.
The purpose of the Kirk Session meeting just intimated will be for the Kirk Session to decide whether to depart from the Church’s practice in relation to human sexuality in order for applications for the current vacancy to be considered, from amongst others, individuals who are in a civil partnership or same sex marriage.
In terms of the process for a decision to depart contained in the Ministers and Deacons in Civil Partnerships and Same Sex Marriage Act (Act 1, 2015) this will be the second meeting of the Kirk Session on this matter. The vote at the second meeting will decide whether or not the decision is made to depart.
Any vote on this matter must achieve a majority of those present and entitled to vote in order to take effect.
The Kirk Session met via teams on Tuesday 7th July and decided that, although the Scottish Government has granted permission for places of worship to open, Neilston Parish Church building would not be opening for private prayer, worship or funerals at this time.
We know this decision will evoke a range of emotions across our congregation as restrictions are easing and many places start to open again. However, the Kirk Session was mindful we are not living in ‘normal’ times, the coronavirus is still present and circulating in communities, we know many in our congregation are over 70 and are therefore classed as ‘vulnerable‘ and our overriding concern was for the safety and health of our congregation.
Many considerations informed our decision. To meet government guidelines worship would be very different, there would be no singing, and to meet social distancing needs we could only allow a maximum of 38 people in the building. All seated in the lower pews as we are not able to use the balcony. We discussed how this could be managed and did not come up with a solution that would be accessible to all who wanted to attend.
The cleaning regime needed for indoor public spaces is rightly robust and considerable and as a consequence costly. Realistically given the time needed and frequency it is unlikely it could all be undertaken by our current cleaner Karen. The church would have cleaning needs before, during and after the building has been in use by people. It is likely when we open we will need a volunteer team as well as a professional cleaning company to work alongside our regular cleaner and everyone involved will need training on what is required and when and how to use and wear personal protective equipment.
We will also need to have Welcome Team volunteers who are trained to explain and guide people so that anyone attending church does what needs to be done to meet the additional requirements.
We know there will be some people who would be keen to volunteer, who we cannot involve because of the risks involved. We would ask for your understanding regarding this and would be happy to find you an alternative that doesn’t place your health in jeopardy.
Whilst this is not what many of us are used to or would choose if life was ‘normal’, over the last few months we have found other ways of being Church. Maureen Leitch, our minister, since week one of lockdown has been providing ministry and guidance through her weekly reflections posted on our website. We have added to this over the weeks by setting up a YouTube channel and more recently the setting up of our telephone broadcast service. This means the majority of our weekly congregation and many others have access to a weekly diet of worship and importantly remain safe at this time.
However, we need to prepare for opening and a small team will work to put in place the stringent but necessary requirements for the church building to reopen when we agree the time is right.
If you are interested in being part of the opening team, volunteer cleaning team or welcome team, please contact Ruth Shepherd Session Clerk firstname.lastname@example.org or 07853 665840 for more information.
The next scheduled Kirk Session meeting via Microsoft Teams will be held on Thursday 27 August 2020 at 7.30pm. However, this is an ever-changing situation and the Kirk Session will meet and respond as required.