Advent Day 10: Orkney churches to mark Advent together with ecumenical services online

In a historic move 10 churches across seven denominations in Kirkwall, Shapinsay and Stronsay in Orkney will mark each Sunday of Advent together with an online service.

Julie Meason
Rev Julia Meason carrying a large wooden cross.

A group of eight ministers, pastors and priests will, in pairs, lead 30-minute services in the run up to Christmas offering a show of community strength during what will be a challenging time for many.

Each week's recording will be available for congregation members, as well as the wider public, to enjoy on Facebook, with a 'dial in' version for those who may not have access to the internet.

Many of the churches involved are part of Kirkwall Council of Churches, an impressive ecumenical partnership which has been running for 55 years.

Members include the Church of Scotland, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the United Reformed Church, the Baptist Church, the Salvation Army, Life Church, and the Roman Catholic Church.

The two island churches on Shapinsay and Stronsay have been worshipping online with Kirkwall East since the lockdown, and so have joined in with the Kirkwall Council of Churches.

Kirkwall Harbour
Kirkwall Harbour. Photograph by Stevekeiretsu

Rev Julia Meason, who is the minister of Kirkwall East linked with Shapinsay and interim moderator of Stronsay, explained that the partnership between the different Kirkwall churches has always been successful, but that the Coronavirus pandemic had brought them closer together.

"We work really well together but usually we keep our worship separate as the members of Kirkwall Council of Churches are quite different," she said.

Each year the groups have come together on Good Friday for the annual Walk of Witness where people can visit each of the churches and enjoy a 10-minute service at each one.

However, when lockdown hit in March Radio Orkney decided to run a program called Radio Church which featured different worship leaders recording a reflection each week.

Mrs Meason said: "After Radio Church finished we thought 'why not continue to do something together?'

"It's been very precious everything we've been doing together, and especially now to be doing Advent together.

"We are very proud of the partnership.

"We see the benefit of working together online, which we wouldn't have been able to do in our own churches.

"Over the last eight months church has become even more important for people and we've had lots of people who wouldn't normally come to church taking part online.

"There's a sense of community, a sense of being in it together.

"For us in Orkney, geography is always a challenge and the online services mean you don't have to cross the water to be together.

"It's been so precious for us worshipping together."

Join in

Services will be made available every Sunday on the Kirkwall Council of Churches Facebook page or alternatively people can phone 01856 404667 to listen to services (callers will be charged at a local rate).

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