“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities” (Rom.13.1).
We recognise the God-given role which the ‘governing authorities’ fulfil, and prayerfully uphold them in the exercise of their weighty responsibilities in these days.
In line, therefore, with the most up-to-date government guidelines, and with a concern in so doing to safeguard our society from the worst ravages of Covid-19, the Leadership Team have taken the steps specified below. It’s with and obvious reluctance that such steps require to be taken, but equally it’s with a clear understanding of the absolute necessity of so doing.
In taking these steps the Leadership Team have been concerned to make provision wherever possible with a view to minimising the impact of such measures and alleviating as much as possible their effect.
We have stopped the following:
- We will not be holding services of worship at Gilcomston Church.
Our regular services here at Gilcomston on a Sunday and a Tuesday clearly constitute ‘social gatherings’ and will not be held.
- All meetings taking place at the church have been cancelled.
Mainly music (Wednesdays) and Toddlers (Fridays) have been put on hold; the Thursday lunchtime provision of tea, coffee and cakes has been suspended; the Prayer Meeting (Saturday) will be ‘re-configured’ to avoid any gathering of people, and all meetings of the Leadership Team, the Elders and the Deacons will be held henceforth remotely.
- The weekly gatherings of the Community Groups will not take place.
The Community Groups have always been essentially ‘relational’ in character; because their life and benefits are not dependent on physically meeting together we hope that their members will not cease functioning but find other ways to share with one another.
- Leafleting on the street will not be undertaken.
Our regular presence on the street (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays) involves social contact and will therefore cease meanwhile.
We recognise, however, the importance of addressing these various ‘deprivations’ in as constructive and creative way as possible, and are putting in place, therefore, a number of ‘corrective’ measures.
We have identified four major areas of particular challenge and concern which are likely to arise in the light of the considerable restrictions which are now in place.
(1) The loss of congregational worship week by week and its impact on our health: (2) the absence of person-to-person engagement and its impact on our fellowship: (3) the stopping of the Prayer Meeting and its impact on our ministry in the world: (4) the loss of evangelistic encounters and its impact on the lost.
We are accordingly providing the following:
- Services of worship will be ‘live-streamed’ week by week.
With a concern to secure the sense of maximum continuity and ‘normality’, services of worship will be ‘live-streamed’ from Gilcomston at our regular worship times (Sundays at 11am and 6.30pm and Tuesdays at 12.45pm). The ‘live-streaming’ will start a little while before the actual service time, and will be available from the home page of our website (www.gilcomston.org).
- We hope to continue providing a hot meal for the hungry on Tuesday lunchtimes.
We will aim to continue providing that service. We will trial serving hot soup (served in disposable cups with a lid) and ‘bagged’ rolls from a table at the stop of the church steps, enforcing the requisite 2-metre ‘social distance’
- Resources for the Community Groups will be increased.
Material will be prepared and sent out each week in the same format as ever: this comprises 7 (sets of) questions relating to the passage studied on the previous Sunday morning. In addition we hope to provide 7 video clips, working through each of the questions in turn, with a view to providing a sense of shared fellowship across the congregation.
- Elders will be in regular touch with each of their ‘flock’.
A significant number of our members do not have internet access, and we are very aware that they cannot benefit from the facilities which such access affords. Our elders have been encouraged to ensure that there is regular contact and communication with one and all, and to ensure that whatever help may be required is also provided.
- We will still ‘meet’ as a congregation for prayer on a Saturday evening at 7pm.
We believe that prayer – and indeed God’s people uniting in prayer – is more important than ever through these days.
We are intent, therefore, on maintaining this pattern of corporate prayer on a Saturday evening, and have taken steps to facilitate this through a thing called ‘Zoom’ (a remote conferencing service which many others are now using).