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Lockdown in Fife: Impact on churches In Kirkcaldy, Burntisland and Kinghorn
The move comes after the First Minister announced that Scotland is going back to lockdown until the end of January with a legal requirement for people to stay at home except for essential purposes.
The new restrictions mean churches will not be allowed to open from the end of the week for the rest of the month.
Justin Taylor, minister of Abbotshall Parish Church and interim moderator of St Bryce Kirk, said lockdown will impact on his parishioners – but believes it also brings new opportunities.
He said: “This current lockdown has allowed for a new opportunity to work together as churches in the town centre that historically might have been difficult. Linktown, Auchtertool, Kirkcaldy Congregation, St Bryce, Bennochy and Abbotshall are finding ways to share online services and for new talents and voices to come to the fore. The hope is that we can use our shared resources to better serve our community.”
“Services are like live concerts; they are always better in person than online,” he said.
“That said, you can still create a sense of community using these platforms. We have YouTube and Facebook pages (KirkTogether) as a way for people to connect. One thing I enjoy is that I can speak to the community wearing baffies which never happens on a traditional Sunday service!”
But juggling the needs of his parishioners as well as his own family is challenging.
He continued: “It is hard as a minister to try to divide yourself to meet the needs of hundreds of people while doing childcare.
“I find that we are not only dealing with the welfare of our community but also carrying the welfare of our families and as well as our own.
“It is a privilege, but it is tiring and requires resolve. Phone calls, zoom, ringing the bell have become vital in this period. We are also asking people to phone each other, talk to their neighbours, see what needs to be done. Rather than going to church, we can be the church in the community.”
He added that they are going to be looking at other ways of keeping in touch with people using new technology: “In the next couple of weeks, we are going to be experimenting with virtual coffee mornings. However, we will still stick to the traditional methods of communication as for many, technology is a bridge they haven’t been able to cross.
“We are looking for partners to help bridge this gap.
Meanwhile Jim Reid, minister at Kinghorn Parish Church, said he has never stopped the online “BEK and call” services live on Zoom and Facebook live and also on YouTube.
He said: “Holding services online has and continues to be a good way of bringing our three churches (Burntisland Parish, Erskine Church and Kinghorn Parish) together and our two communities and folks from all over the world who have a connection with us: France, Switzerland, Bahamas etc!).
“We will also be considering how we can maintain and develop an online presence once we come out of the pandemic into some sort of new normality.
“We are dealing with the welfare of parishioners by supporting the foodbank, phoning and encouraging people to keep in touch.
“I also do a pastoral letter each week and have done 80 Vlogs on Facebook, an average of three per week since April and some for the local school as school chaplain.”
But he added there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“Having two vaccines to see us safely out of the pandemic crisis gives us hope and this is the main difference from the Spring lockdown last year.”
Robin McAlpine, minister of Bennochy Parish Church in Kirkcaldy, said Sunday worship is now officially suspended for at least the month of January: “Until the restrictions are eased, there will be online reflections, on the Sunday, every week, from myself, along with joint online services. These will be offered by different churches in the Kirkcaldy town centre area,” he said
“Online services work up to a point, for those who are computer literate or get help from family or friends. However, there are members with no internet connection.”
He said there is no doubt lockdown is having a long-term impact on the health and well being of some members. But having said that, people have been good at keeping in contact with others by visiting when they can and on the telephone. He said much of his pastoral care is now done by phone, email, text, and cards.
He also believes there is light at the end of the tunnel: “In a recent video blog I wrote: “What makes the situation different from March 2020 is, vaccines are now available. I like the analogy that is being used. We are now in a race between the virus and the vaccine. And to enable the vaccine to win, the virus needs to be suppressed. To do that, each one of us need to play our part, and have as little contact with others as possible. I know that is not easy.
“But now there is hope, that by around May, everyone over 50 and those with underlying medical conditions will have been vaccinated, and hopefully, life will begin again.
“It will not be the ‘old normal’, but the freedoms we take for granted, will be returned to us.”