Transitioning out of lockdown
Update 3

19th July 2020 
Edited 20th October 2020

The Scottish Government has now published regulations allowing church services to resume.   Here the Elders set out the plan for how we will conduct church services in the Chalmers’ building.

Thankful to be meeting together again

  • We are thankful that we can now meet together in person for services. 
  • Our spiritual desire is to meet together in person and, as Elders, we want to encourage everyone who is able to do that.  Alongside meeting together in person, livestream via YouTube and Zoom will continue.  
  • The government has produced detailed regulations to enable us to meet together safely.  It is important to recognise that these regulations will change over time.
  • At this stage, people shielding will not be able to come.  Anyone with Covid or who has symptoms associated with Covid illness is not allowed onsite.
  • Mindful of those of us not able to come to a service in person, whether because you are shielding, or not currently living in Edinburgh, we are all part of a loving church family, caring for one another.  

Creating a safe environment

  • We have worked hard to implement the government’s regulations for Chalmers, creating an environment where everyone who is able to come feels safe. This involves scrupulous compliance with health and hygiene protocols, including asking people to wear face coverings and registering their attendance, cleaning the building thoroughly after each service, and asking people to leave promptly and safely at the end of a service.  An explanation of the health and safety procedures we will have in place to ensure Chalmers is a safe environment was sent out in July; if you did not receive it, please get in touch with Naomi Wright.
  • The maximum number of people who can meet on site for a service is 50 (including children).  This is the maximum number for all churches.  Social distancing of 2m is also required and is achievable in the Chalmers’ building for this number.
  • We also want to be able to welcome some visitors and people who are new to Chalmers.

Plan for services

  • Our goal is for people to be able to come to a service every second week. 
  • This requires us to have 4 services at 9.30 & 11.30 (repeats) and 4.30 & 6.30 (repeats). Services are resourced by 2 separate teams, one team covering 9.30 & 11.30; the other team covering 4.30 & 6.30.  Services last for one hour, occasionally slightly longer, but never more than 75 minutes.
  • For the week when you are not on site, we encourage you to tune into Zoom or YouTube for live services at 11.30 and 6.30.  You might consider joining with others in homes for service times (in line with the relevant guidance).
  • Having considered various options, we think the best way to make all this work is for people (as far as possible) to commit to come to the same service every fortnight.  We ask you to respond to a short questionnaire indicating what your preference is.  It would be a big help if people from the same household (or extended household) can come to the same service.   The questionnaire is on the website now.  Please can you fill it in as soon as possible. 
    We do recognise that for some people, for example people who work shifts, coming to the same service time once a fortnight  is difficult.Where that is the case Fiona and Naomi will work with you to facilitate swapping between services.
  • As services begin on-site, we’ll have a team of 5 people cleaning after each service.  On the questionnaire you’ll see you can indicate if you are willing to serve in this way.  It will mean staying on site for around 20 minutes after the service ends.  If that is something you could help with please can I encourage you to tick that box.

 Children and youth programmes

  • Along with the rest of the church family, the plan is for children and youth programmes to meet on site fortnightly and continue on Zoom the other week.  Parents would come to the service that meets at the same time.  We anticipate that children and youth programmes (up to Youth Church) will run at the 9.30am service.  As parents need to come to that service, it won’t be possible to accommodate others at 9.30am.  We realise that is frustrating for some, but trust we can see why this is necessary, and as a loving commitment from us all to our families in Chalmers.   

What services are like

  • While there can be no congregational singing in services, there is a live band (with 2 or 3 people) with one person singing behind a Perspex screen.
  • We can express our corporateness in other ways, like reading a psalm together or saying the Lord’s Prayer.
  • Baptisms (but not full immersion), dedications and membership events can now happen on-site.  The regulations acknowledge that 2m social distancing may not always be possible.
  • We are also be able to share communion together. The bread and non-alcoholic wine will be distributed in individually wrapped communion cups to minimise contamination.
  • We have to ask everyone to leave promptly at the end of the service and we’re not allowed to serve tea and coffee.  However, we have set up the church garden with bamboo sticks spaced 2m apart, so that we can stand and chat safely outdoors after the services. If you wanted to, so long as you comply with the government guidance for meeting family and friends, you may also wish to go for a walk with someone after church, or to go for a coffee or picnic together.
  • Our spiritual desire is to meet together in person and we thank God that we can now make plans to do that.  Notwithstanding the necessary restrictions, our meetings have been rich in fellowship and blessing.  It is good to meet together. 

What we're asking you to do now

Loving one another

  • With every step we take out of lockdown, as Elders we commend to us all a loving awareness of others in the church family.  
  • We need to be particularly mindful of those of us not able to come to a service in person, whether because they are shielding, or not currently living in Edinburgh.  We are part of a loving church family, whether we are meeting in person or on Zoom. 
  • And we need to be loving towards those who will be anxious about coming back to services on-site.  All of us have a part to play in giving them the confidence to do that.