Latest updates

Updates from the Church of Scotland, to help churches manage the Coronavirus/COVID-19 lockdown. This page will be updated when new advice becomes available from NHS Scotland and the UK Government.

Guidance on reshaping church life and reopening and looking after church buildings

Our two-part guidance, Reshaping Church Life and Reopening and Looking after your Church Buildings is regularly reviewed and updated with the latest information from the Scottish government regarding the safe operation of church buildings during the pandemic. We encourage you to check them on a regular basis.

Reshaping Church Life has been updated to reflect the latest recommendations in response to the spread of the Omicron variant:

  • Introduction – new text reflecting current situation
  • Worship
    • Capacity, Distancing and Managing those who attend – to encourage distancing and taking note of the legal position and liabilities on Kirk Sessions
    • Booking, check-in and contact details – to encourage keeping a register of those who attend.
    • Face coverings – updated to reflect new position for choirs of 2m distancing
    • Multiple acts of worship in a day – recommending congregations consider more cleaning than simply touch points and leaving a longer period between services
    • Music and singing – reflecting latest guidance on choirs being distanced by 2m
    • Intergenerational worship – recommending ceasing serving food and drink at this time.
  • Worship over the Christmas period – stating that Nativity Services can go ahead with new mitigations thinking about space and the need to clean and sanitise between Christmas services wherever possible (more than just touch points)
  • End of Term School Arrangements – encouraging those involved to think about the implications of leading an in-person assembly and catching an infection and having to isolate over Christmas.
  • Funerals and Weddings
    • Funerals – updated to remind about distancing and asking ministers and celebrants to ensure that there is 2m between them and the family at a crematorium and asking staff to alter seating if not prior to starting.
    • Weddings – updated to new regulation for 2m between minister and couple and couple and congregation and need to generally keep distancing
  • Church meetings and small groups (such as Bible Study) – stating that in person meetings should not take place and neither should small study groups or prayer meetings in church or in homes at this time.
  • Hospitality – updated to strongly recommend ceasing serving food and drinks at this time, as well as updating the hospitality mitigations
  • Church Offices and workplaces – updated to remind of the legal duty on employers to allow staff to work from home and that church and presbytery offices should be closed at this time.
  • Tasks of Ministry
    • Pastoral Care – updated to reflect that visits can take place but lateral flow test should be undertaken, face coverings worn, household limits adhered to.
    • Schools and School Chaplaincy – reminding those involved to consider carefully the implications of leading in person events at this time.
  • Face Coverings - updated to reflect new position for choirs and bridal couples of 2m distancing
  • Ministers, Deacons, MDS and Self-Isolation – a new section outlining the need for self-isolation and to consider how individuals might work during this period if they are not ill.

End of the Furlough Scheme

The UK Government Furlough Scheme reached its planned end on 30 September 2021. Congregations should ensure that their employees are brought back to their pre-furlough role or any changes to posts that may be required are fully considered. Congregations wishing guidance on this should contact the Law Department (LawDept@churchofscotland.org.uk) using the subject heading "Furlough Scheme".

Church of Scotland COVID-19 Group

A group is meeting on a weekly basis to compile guidance.

Group Members:

  • Brian Auld, Assistant Secretary (Safe Buildings), General Trustees
  • Graham Biggerstaff, General Trustees (Convener, Safe Buildings, General Trustees)
  • Eva Elder, Admin Team Manager, GT's
  • Rev Dr John Ferguson, Parish Minister and Clerk to Presbytery of Aberdeen and Shetland
  • Rev Bryan Kerr, Parish Minister and Clerk to Presbytery of Lanark
  • Mary Macleod, Solicitor of the Church
  • Ruth MacLeod, Head of Communications
  • Rev Angus R. Mathieson, Partnership Development Secretary
  • Rev Dr George Whyte, Principal Clerk