27th September 2020

Alison’s Sunday Sermon for today is available to read at the ‘Weekly Sunday Sermons’ tab at the top of this page.


26th September 2020

A message from Falkirk Presbytery:

Presbytery Plan

Firstly, I write to confirm that a special meeting of the Presbytery of Falkirk has been called for the sole purpose of discussing a new Presbytery Plan in terms of Act VII 2003 Anent Appraisal and Adjustment as amended.
Here is the citation concerning this matter which you are asked to intimate to your congregation. A group of four to six folk maximum would be a normal representation on an occasion such as this. It should be noted that those cited will not be called upon to speak, and that the meeting will be streamed on the Presbytery website www.falkirkpresbytery.org.uk and Presbytery Facebook page www.facebook.com/falkirkpresbytery to enable those cited who are not members of Presbytery to observe the meeting. Debate and decision on all matters will be by the members of Presbytery and those representing your own congregation on Presbytery will participate accordingly.

To be read on one Sunday:

“Intimation is hereby given that the Presbytery of Falkirk will meet to deal with the matter of the Presbytery Plan on Tuesday the 6th day of October 2020 at 7.00pm o’clock on Zoom, and that the congregation are hereby cited to observe the meeting online for their interests.”

24th September

Private Prayer: If you would like to attend Church this Sunday, 27th September, please phone 07762 743376 to reserve a seat on Thursday 24th September between 6pm till 8pm or Friday morning between 10am till 12 noon. As the number of seats available are now reduced due to Covid-19 it is important that you phone to reserve a seat in Church.

24th September 2020


NHS Scotland have launched a new test and protect mobile phone app, “designed to help us protect each other, reduce the spread of coronavirus and avoid further lockdowns”. The app will alert you if you have been in close contact with another app user who tests positive for coronavirus and can help in determining contacts that you may have.

If you are contacted by NHS (test and protect) it will be by phone on a single national telephone number
0800 030 8012

Be aware scammer’s are now exploiting this to commit fraud by contacting the general public advising them that they have been in near contact with someone who has tested positive with Coronavirus and as such you must get a test and self- isolate.
Scammer’s are thereafter asking for payments for booking tests / sending out testing kits by post / courier etc

This is a scam

Real or a scam?
NHS Scotland contact tracers will:
· in some cases, send a?text to let you know that you will be receiving a call from NHS Scotland??(if mobile is available)
· call from a single, national telephone number – 0800 030 8012
· always introduce themselves, tell you why they are contacting you and address you by your name
· give you the option to call back the above number to provide reassurance that the service is legitimate

**Be aware that phone numbers can be spoofed. Consider phoning back using a different phone from the one your received the call. Call will be received on mobile, if concerned phone back on landline**

They will never ask you:
· for information other than your movements and the people you have been physically close to
· to phone a premium rate number
· to make a purchase, payment or donation?
· for your medical history unrelated to coronavirus
· for your bank details
· for your social media identities or login details, or those of your contacts?
· for your passwords or PIN numbers, or to set up any
· for control of your computer, smartphone or tablet, or to download anything
· to visit a website that does not belong to NHS Scotland or the Scottish Government

For further information please go to

Anyone with information can contact Police Scotland on 101, or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111

21st September, 2020

The September edition of the Zetland Parish Church Magazine is available to view at the tab above.

21st September 2020

Our Church Is Open Again!

Yesterday, Sunday 20th September Zetland Parish Church in Grangemouth successfully reopened for private prayer.

The attendance was greater than expected and the Minister had made up an excellent slide show that was played on the large screen with relaxing music in the background. Although pew cushions have been removed and the doors had to be left open to comply with Covid-19 rules it was not cold or draughty in the Church and most people stayed for the full hour so sitting on the pews couldn’t have been too uncomfy!

Although being in the Church is very different since we were last there in March everyone adapted well to the new way of using hand sanitiser on entry and exit, observing the 2 metres distancing lines on the floor, using the one way system through the Church, checking in with the Track & Trace desk and being guided to a seat by the Door Duty Team.

There were several favorable comments by members on exit and they are looking forward to coming back again next Sunday.

If you would like to come along on Sunday 27th September for Private Prayer phone 07762 743376 on Thursday 24th September between 6pm to 8pm or Friday 25th September between 10am to 12 Noon to reserve a seat.

19th September

Zetland Parish Church opens on Sunday 20th September for Private Prayer between 10.30am and 11.30am

Seat bookings can be made on Thursday’s between 6pm and 8pm and Friday’s between 10am and 12 noon for Sunday Private Prayer or Sunday Service. The phone number to reserve a seat is 07762 743376

19th September 2020

Here is the link for tomorrow’s, Sunday 20th September, morning service:


14th September 2020

Here is a link to the ‘Welcome Back’ letter from our Minister to our Church members.

Welcome back letter[17176]

12th September 2020

Here is the link for tomorrow’s, Sunday 13th September, morning service:


5th September 2020

Reopening the Church – Update

We are pleased to announce that Zetland Parish Church obtained permission from the Presbytery of Falkirk on 27th August 2020 to reopen our Church building here in Grangemouth.

At a meeting of the Kirk Session and Congregational Board on Wednesday 2nd of September2020 it was agreed that the Church will reopen on Sunday 20th September 2020 at 10.30am for private prayer. The Church will be open until 11.30am and people are welcome to come and go at any time within this one hour period.

We are now operating a Track & Trace system at Church therefore if you would like to come along please telephone 07762 743376 to book a seat. The phone line will be available on a Thursday evening from 6pm till 8pm and on a Friday from 10am till noon prior to Sunday Service/Sunday Prayer.

When you phone, we need to record your name and a contact telephone number to comply with Track & Trace guidance. Your details will be held for 21 days in a locked storage area within the church and then destroyed.

This system also helps us to manage the numbers visiting Church as due to social distancing regulations there are only 42 seats available in Church for public use. If there are more than 42 people asking for a seat, they will be given the opportunity to put their name on the attendance list for the next again Sunday Worship/Sunday Prayer.

Anyone who is displaying symptoms of Covid-19 or is self-isolating due to living with someone who is displaying symptoms or as a result of contact tracing staying at home to minimise the risk of spreading Covid-19 must not attend Church.

Also, please consider your age and health condition before attending Church. The Church of Scotland has published an assessment tool to help you decide it you should be attending Church or should you be participating in Church activities by other means eg online services.
Here is a link to the Church of Scotland assessment tool that helps you towards making a decision regarding whether or not you should be attending Church.
The assessment tool is on page 44 of the document.

On arrival at Church please observe the social distancing lines marked on the block paving outside the Church and put on a face covering. In the entrance vestibule you will be welcomed by the Door Duty team and asked to follow the one way system in Church, use our hand sanitiser and then directed towards the Track & Trace desk.

At the Track & Trace desk, please give your name and telephone number to the person at the desk and they will record your attendance on the Track & Trace Record Sheet.

You will then be shown to a pew seat by a member of the Door Duty team. The seating area on the pews are marked by purple cards with a seat number and are spaced a minimum of 2 metres apart.

At the end of worship/prayer please leave the church as directed by the Door Duty team exiting by the south door and using the hand sanitiser before leaving the Church.

Church Reopening Team

5th September 2020

Here is the link for tomorrow’s, Sunday 6th September, morning service:


27th August 2020

We were pleased to receive an update from Ruth Webster who is on a Christian mission in Nepal and her message is available to read in the tab at the top of this page.

20th August 2020

There will be a Kirk Session/Board Meeting on Monday 24th August at 7.00pm on Zoom. This meeting will only be about Coronavirus and the impact on our Church and how we move forward. Contact Alison for log in details.

20th August 2020


Jeremiah 1; 1-19
We are all equals, all brothers and sisters in Christ; all confused by what is going on around us, because structure and boundaries are being blended. In addition, as we struggle with the foibles of society, we have mixed feelings, we worry. We feel we don’t have the courage and bravery to deal with the many serious issues that require maturity, commitment and firmness of mind. We hear that kind of confession from Jeremiah who protests a call from God to serve as God’s prophet to the people of Judah. Jeremiah struggles against the call from God, arguing he’s still a boy, a youth who couldn’t handle such a high calling.
Jeremiah had good reason to think twice about answering the call of God to minister to Judah. He was highly sensitive, emotional and felt deeply for his people. It didn’t take a ton of bricks to fall on his head, for him to take note that his people were highly vulnerable to attack from other world powers. As now, the Israelites were in a strategic location in the Middle East that made them a crossroad to the Mediterranean. However, it is Iran which seems to be obsessed with the notion that if it were to destroy Israel with atomic weapons, it would be the power house of the Arab nations. In Jeremiah’s day, the threat came to Judah from other nations, there was always a superpower like Babylonia looking for ways to extend its domination and influence in the world.

Judah should have learned from the Northern Kingdom of Israel what kind of fate awaited a people of its own tradition when they didn’t heed the word of God. Judah and Israel had suffered and had to join forces to ward off common enemies. Yet the Northern Kingdom fell, because the nation had been indifferent to the word of God. Now the Southern Kingdom of Judah was inviting disaster and judgment because of the same kind of hard-hearted attitudes toward the word of God.
One can appreciate why Jeremiah would be reluctant to be excited about the call he received from God to minister to Judah. He wasn’t 20- Someone else may have been flattered by the idea he was being drawn into God’s service at a youthful age. Not Jeremiah. He would have had good reason for feeling at home and comfortable in the work of the Lord, because he had grown up in a manse- his father, Hilkiah, was a village priest in Anatoth in the land of Benjamin. He came from a long line of priests. However, that didn’t mean Jeremiah would give a quick positive reply to God’s call. But his youthfulness, wasn’t Jeremiah’s only excuse- he said he didn’t know how to speak or what to say; He didn’t have experience. It was one thing to learn from relatives in ministry like his father, grandfather, and uncles. But how could he articulate words that would represent the thoughts of God for his people? And into the bargain, Jeremiah had great misgivings about his people.

It was typical of the prophetic calling that those who assumed the high calling of representing God to God’s people did so with a good measure of reluctance. God drags many candidates for prophetic roles into divine service, in spite of their protests, their yelling and screaming about inadequacies, their fear for their lives. What God has to say to them, however, far outweighs any objections the ill-prepared candidates can think up to make themselves exempt from service. God made a convincing argument as to why Jeremiah was chosen. God had an eye on him before he was born; that Jeremiah would be properly prepared by his parents for God’s task to consecrate him for the nations.
When Jeremiah did try to object to the call because of his age- God was ready,- God was the one sending Jeremiah. God would pick the targets for Jeremiah, and would also make clear what Jeremiah should declare to his audience. The clincher was that God could say, “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you.” God would choose the mission, provide the words; God would be present to make the work effective. Jeremiah could take up this calling with supreme confidence. For “The Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth.” This was a significant, symbolic action- Later God says to Jeremiah, “You shall serve as my mouth” (15:19). In Isaiah 9:6, God does the same thing by touching Isaiah with a coal to purify the mouth for the task of sharing the word. It is the sharing of the word, that is important- the word is to be proclaimed, dialogued, preached, taught, pored over in seminars, and meditated on in groups.

Luther said, the word is to be shared more by speaking than by writing. Hebrew rabbis also have said that it would be far more preferable that the word remain in an oral tradition than in a written tradition. The reason is that the word is to be personally applied and personally witnessed. We all know that to be true. We feel much more efficient in a learning situation when the teacher is present to explain and to give the assignment meaning and life.
Jeremiah would speak on behalf of God. He was an “announcer.” The prophet announced what God wanted the people to hear. The word which the prophet Jeremiah was to share on behalf of God was a lively word, because God would accomplish what the word has to say. God keeps God’s word. The greatest accomplishment, the most difficult miracle God performs through the word, is to make believers out of people.

No doubt, all of us have in one way or another sensed the inadequacy Jeremiah felt when he was called to the prophetic office. We think of the many times we hope that no one will call on us to serve on a group or team. We may have offered feeble excuses when asked to speak out about the word or the church. We feel our lack of experience, and our conviction that we just won’t have the right words to say. Most of us don’t feel we have the ability to talk about anything publicly, let alone our faith. Nor do we feel that we can sell anything, least of all our faith. I’m sure God finds those answers acceptable, though they are so true.

What God would expect of us, in whatever opportunity we have to share the word, is to share exactly what Jeremiah was called to share. Jeremiah was not called to share his word, but the word of God, and God gave that to him. God has given the word to us. We know God’s love and grace in the Person of Jesus Christ, who lived, died, and rose again for us. All that we are ever asked to proclaim on behalf of God, is only what that has meant and he means to us. We know what forgiveness means. We know what it means to be loved by God. And we know that God is perfectly willing to share eternity with us. Those are the words God has put in your heart, and God will also put them on your lips.
Jeremiah’s timidity about speaking on behalf of God faded with God’s assurance that God would equip him with the message to speak to others. Likewise we should not really have a problem deciding what we should say.

God has written the script for us. Our Lord Jesus Christ himself is the Word of God Incarnate. What Jesus has done for us says it all. Too often our problem is that we think that we must find new, clever ways to express it. That is the opposite of the timidity that is usually our first excuse. By thinking that we have to have special ways to do the job we make new excuses for ourselves. We don’t have to do that. What we need to do is simply share the experience of being loved and cared for by God. When God was finished getting that point across to Jeremiah, Jeremiah was able to speak not only about the plight of the people Israel, but he could also announce how God ruled in the history of the other nations of his day. We can take heart that the word which we do share as the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ has that kind of force and power in the lives of people. Jeremiah went on to do the work of God. All of us know we will not match what he achieved. Nor is it likely that we will have to suffer what he did. Yet because, he did what he did, we can take heart that what we do in the name of our God will also take effect.

20th August 2020

Website: Over the past week we have had problems updating the content on the website. We now have a workaround in place and are pleased to be able to update the site again.

8th August 2020

Here is the link for tomorrow’s, Sunday 9th August, morning service:


27th July 2020

Reopening of Zetland Parish Church – Click on the tab above for information regarding opening the Church that was discussed at the Kirk Session/Congregational Board meeting on 27th July 2020. If anyone would like a copy of the slideshow that was presented at the meeting please email us on zetlandpc@gmail.com


25th July 2020

Here is the link for tomorrow’s, Sunday 26th July, morning service:



22nd July 2020

Monday 27th July at 7.00pm – There will be a Kirk Session/Congregational Board meeting on Zoom. Contact Alison for log in details.

The meeting will also be available on the telephone, so if you know anyone who does not have internet access and would like to take part by telephone please contact Alison for login details. 



20th July 2020

Here is a message from Alison, our Minister regarding re-opening our Church building.

Hi everyone,
On Friday evening, we received version 3 of the Church of Scotland guidelines for re-opening, which has increased from 34 pages to 56 pages of instructions.

This was following the information from the Scottish Government who stated last week that places of worship can re-open. And that’s a positive step, however I need to share with you that there are multiple conditions attached to this directive, to comply with the Scottish governments regulations and that is naturally to be understood.

As much as we want to see people gather for worship at Zetland, we don’t believe that this is the right time to do so. The limitations placed upon us at this stage include the fact that there will be a very limited number of people attending and that’s due to the social distancing requirements. We measured it out last week, and there would be a very limited number of people able to meet together, due to the physical distancing requirements, and in Zetland that would be 44. There is a cap on this throughout every church, of 50.

There are also restrictions on the people who are advised to attend or not attend a service of worship at the moment and that would severely restrict quite a number of you. There also have to be certain regulations in place things like installing sanitising stations, at the entrance and exit; we have to have a one way system around the church; you would need to wear a face mask all the time during the service; and we haven’t worked out what to do in the event more than 44 of you wish to attend. Do you book ahead, in order to come; do we just allow so many of you into the building and if you are no 45, say to you, after having queued at a safe distance and maybe in the rain, sorry; we need to ask you for and keep your name and phone number for 21 days, for the track and trace system; we would be able to have tea and coffee but only 5 households and a maximum of 15 people. The Sunday School and youth couldn’t meet due to the numbers allowed either, and there are many other scenarios to take into consideration.
We understand all of these things, because they need to happen but there are also restrictions about what we can do in worship- we are unable to sing; we can now say the Lord’s prayer, but if you speak it, you need to wear your mask, we can’t sing any Amen or our Blessing; the pew bibles and hymn books can’t be used, no orders of service, pew cushions have been removed and with other considerations such as the multiple times that we would need to clean the building before and afterwards, waiting for 72 hours between any service, whether a funeral or worship time.
The Kirk Session and Congregational Board met on zoom, and we agreed that we would look at the situation again at the end of July.

There is a small group of us who are meeting on zoom to discuss how we go forward. I’m sure many of you are looking forward to being together in the church building again to worship, but it’s not the time to do so.

We do continue to offer a service on our Zetland facebook page and on the Grangemouth Churches facebook page, on Grangemouth Churches youtube.
You can also access the whole service by listening on your phone- just dial 01324266990, if you don’t have Internet access.

I encourage you to watch and worship and wait with us in this way. We have made this decision to keep you, safe and ourselves safe, but believe me we will be back as soon as we can.

God Bless, stay safe and I hope you keep well.



18th July 2020

Here is the link for tomorrow’s, Sunday 19th July, morning service:



The Church of Scotland has issued, on the 17th July, their up to date guidance regarding re-opening Church building for worship etc. Here is the link to access the information:



Church Gardens

The Church Building is still closed, but The Prayer Labyrinth in the Church Gardens is now open.

Thank you to Stephen for the design, John and Hugh for creating it and to the Sunday School for their decorative stones. Please follow physical distancing rules.

Take your time and enjoy a quiet wander.


Facebook Reflection by Alison on 9th July 2020

Do you remember saying to your child, sibling or friend- did you take that last biscuit? Or did you take your sisters toy? Do you remember hearing the reply- no it wasn’t me, as they wipe away the crumbs or chocolate from their face, or hide the toy behind their back. That behaviour is expected of a child. But as we grow older, we learn to take responsibility and own up to our actions. It’s a mark of maturity to rely on honesty rather than denial, on reality rather than blame. And it’s a mark of God’s grace. Adam and Eve took the ,kids way out in Genesis, blaming and denying. But God, like a loving parent knew what had happened and used it as a teaching moment- the first and most crucial one in history- for we learn what guilt should do for us- and serves as a signal that we need to turn away from our bad behaviour and return to the Father who loves us. So when you put your hand into the biscuit tin and take the last tunnocks snowball, remember to take responsibility for your actions before God. It’s not easy to confess, but it’s the first step in accepting God’s miraculous forgiveness.
And we are forgiven through the atoning actions of our Lord Jesus Christ. ‘[Jesus] was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.’ (Romans 4:25)

This statement from Paul might seem reasonably straight-forward, for it’s a condensed version of the gospel message, right? A few words that basically sum up what Jesus came to do. But what does it actually mean? Once you begin to dig below the surface of a verse like this, things start to look decidedly less straight-forward.
For starters, this is just one translation. In lockdown, or whatever we want to call it now as we slowly come out of it- you could spend a little time exploring other versions of the bible- you could go onto bible gateway- free and it has many different translations- all you do is type in the passage, or a word, and you will get the option of which version you want- but you will find that Jesus could have been… delivered up for death, given to die or handed over to death… for our sin (singular), trespasses, offences, mistakes, violations, failures, or transgressions… so we may be justified, made right, or so we could meet the requirements of righteousness, or be made acceptable, or receive God’s approval, or made to be as we ought to be. It depends who you ask.

Folks have often asked me- how do we know what a passage means for us today- we can take some passages at face value, but not all, so we need to do research; When I went to university a good few years ago now- I was appalled, when a lecturer said some of the stories were myths!; which means traditional stories or widely held but false idea of the time eg the creation story should not be taken literally. We need to see why a book was written; what kind of book it is- for although the bound book of the Bible is in 1 binder, there are 66 different books – it’s a bit like books of short stories today- but not all about 1 topic for the Bible is full of history, liturgy ,poetry, songs, proverbs, law, eye witness accounts, letters, prophecies, events and actions, miracles .

So how can we make sense of Jesus] was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification? What actually is sin? How should we define it? What did Jesus’ death change? What about his incarnation and life and teaching and resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit? And what does believing it change? What is the right state of how we ought to be? What does that look like or feel like? And does it matter?

As mind-boggling as the whole thing remains, there is one way of thinking about it that still makes sense to me. I think that it’s about being connected as we heard Martin Fair speak about on Sunday.
Connected to God our maker, the source of all being and life and love.
Connected to the rest of creation, with whom we share the dust of which we’re made.

Connected to each other in the self-giving, interdependent community of the Kingdom of Heaven that reflects the self-giving, interdependent community of the Trinity.
And connected to ourselves – seeing, knowing and reflecting the love of God in our being.

Most of us instead tend to feel disconnected, especially now. We believe the myths of independence, self-sufficiency and separation. And the results of this perceived disconnection are what we often call sin.

The birth of Christ as a vulnerable and dependent child named Jesus, told us that to be human and to be connected are good things. The life of Jesus showed us what connection, community and interdependence looks like. The death of Jesus showed us the cost of separation and the price God was willing to pay, to show us the truth of our connectedness. And the resurrection of Jesus shows us that death is not the end of connection, but the beginning of a reconnection.

There have been so many ways of understanding this through the centuries; it’s not about finding the one correct understanding – just the one that helps us best live in it and live it out.
Abraham didn’t have any theology of sin, salvation or eternal life. He had an experience. Paul says that Abraham’s faith did not waver… but Genesis tells us that Abraham doubted and lied and laughed and tried his own way when there was no sign of God making it happen. But despite all of Abraham’s wavering, God was faithful and fulfilled the promise of a child and a nation.

Abraham is held up as an example of faith – being faithful to God and blessed by God because of that faith. And yet Abraham was pretty rubbish at it. I love that! I love that the model, Paul presents as an example of a life lived well with God is a life full of failings, screw-ups, stubborn self-will and second chances. It gives me such hope for my own failings, screw-ups and stubborn self-will.

Abraham had an experience, encountering and connecting with God. He lived in a promise, and I think that’s Paul’s point in describing Abraham’s faith as a case study for us.

We too can live in the promise of a hope and a future with more and better things to come. It’s not about theology or theories. It’s not about being right or even about getting to heaven. It’s not about acting in our own way to make God’s promise come about. It’s about living and loving in such a way that the interdependent, mutually self-giving, connected community of heaven is reflected here on earth. And that I think is what we are all missing. As a minister, relationships are crucial for us, as we care for our congregations- and that has been turned on its head- we are having to try different ways- whether its on the phone, by email or on zoom. We are missing the face to face nature of our calling- to be beside people when they need us. But one day we maybe able to do that. We can live in hope, but when we can gather together, it will be totally different, and so we grieve for what’s been, what we’ve been used to.

But we can live in the promise that we and our neighbours and our world will one day be connected as we ought to be. We can live in the promise that God can use a bunch of messy, stubborn screw-ups to bring about the Kingdom here. We can live in the promise that the impossible can be done.
But we need to trust in God, no matter how difficult it is. Our days are different- but I think we will all have our routines- breakfast, lunch and dinner- ironing, hoovering, cooking, eating, TV, daily exercise if we can, quizzes, bible studies, coffee and chat- all good. Daily and Sunday routines have changed for many of us; routines can be good, stable- but we can get into a rut- so we need to see how we spend our time. Today is one of a kind, it won’t be repeated. God has a plan for each of us, which matches our gifts and our heart- our unique role may take courage and strength , which we may not have right now- but God wants us to work with him, even as we work for him, and he will carry us through our days.

Alison, 9th July 2020


12th July 2020

Check out our own Church’s YouTube channel – there are some new video clips about the Sunday School including their recent Virtual Prizegiving 2020!



11th July 2020
Here is the link to tomorrow morning’s service on 12th July 2020 on youTube:


and also our own Church youTube channel:



9th July 2020


“Drake he’s in his hammock till the great Armada come.
(Capten, art tha sleepin’ there below?)
Slung atween the round shot, listenin’ for the drum,
A’ dreamin’ arl the time o’ Plymouth Hoe.”
Henry Newbolt, Drake’s Drum

It was 4.30 in the morning, and I had been woken up by the seagulls! It’s
common in a seaside village to hear seagulls squawking and screaming at
various times of the day, so I’d been wakened by seagulls before. But this
was different – because the seagulls were doing a clog-dance on the roof
right above my bedroom! I was slung in my metaphorical hammock,
“sleepin’ there below”, dreaming about whatever – maybe even Plymouth
Hoe – when the seagulls started their racket, bigtime, right above me.

I’ve seen birds in parks sometimes thumping on the grass, the theory
being that this bring worms to the surface. Maybe the seagulls are doing
the same. But don’t they know there are no worms in my roof? Don’t they
realise that, far from the clog-dance providing them with an early morning
breakfast, all it does is waken me up – at 4.30 in the morning?

We all need our rest. Disturbed sleep-patterns are hard to bear,
whatever the reason. It’s especially common in the aftermath of the death
of someone you’ve lived with, slept with, shared everything with for many
years. Sleep patterns are very often disrupted, leaving people confused,
anxious and, often, quite exhausted. This is a normal and expected part of
the grieving process. So we point people to “sleep hygiene” programmes,
in books, leaflets and on-line, a set of self-caring actions that will offer a
better chance to sleep, and more opportunities to allow our bodies to rest.

Virgil in The Aeneid, Book 6, suggests that “there are two gates of
Sleep”, the gate made of common horn, with “easy egress to real ghosts”,
and the gate of gleaming white ivory, which offers a “way to the light”. I
hope, by looking after yourself, and giving yourself the best possible
chance, you’ll find the gate to Sleep that offers you a way to peace and
rest – especially when the other gate has noisy seagulls all around it!

A prayer for today
Loving God, in life, in thought and in prayer, let me find rest in you.

An original reflection by © Tom Gordon


4th July 2020

Here is the link to tomorrow  morning’s service on 5th July 2020 on youTube:


and also our own Church youTube channel:



4th July 2020


“Providence has not created mankind
entirely independent or entirely free.”
Alexis de Tocqueville, De la Démocratie en Amérique

It has been said that when you feed a dog, it thinks you’re God. And when
you feed a cat, it knows it’s God. Such a line has obviously been coined by
a dog-lover, or, at the very least, someone not enamoured by the apparent
arrogance of cats. Or maybe cats exude such a quality of superiority –
usually with a disdainful, feline look – that they give off the wrong signals.

But the truth is, cats appear more independent than dogs. End of story!
I’m not a great cat lover. I can tolerate cats, and I appreciate people
who appreciate cats. But cats are not for me. Though, here I pay tribute to
the only cat who’s ever shared our home, a beautiful little thing, called
Kola. He belonged to my daughter, but we had to look after him when
Kathryn went to college. And here’s where independence came to the fore.
Kola was an outdoor cat, only appearing at feeding time and to sleep by
the fire. But he was always affectionate when he was around us. I cried
when he had to be put down by the Vet, that’s how much Kola got to me.

Independence is good, and we use our independence to good ends.
We can make our own decisions, forge our career, choose where to stay,
vote for whatever Party we like. So, independence, and all the freedoms
that go with it, is good. But de Tocqueville is also right when he suggests
that we are not entirely independent and free. For, despite our liberties,
are we not bound together as one humanity? Do we not live in
community? Are we not integrated with others on a daily basis?

When we exercise the independence we value, it cannot be good
when we use it for selfish ends, or when personal attitudes or actions do
damage to others. So, on what in the USA and elsewhere is celebrated as
Independence Day, let us join with them and celebrate independence and
freedom. But let us also celebrate community and partnership, and the
bonds of love and mutuality in which we are pleased and fortunate to live.

A prayer for today
“Bind us together, Lord, bind us together,
O, bind us together in love.”

An original reflection by © Tom Gordon


3rd July 2020


“The Right Hon. was a tubby little chap
who looked as if he had been poured into his clothes
and had forgotten to say ‘When!’”
P G Wodehouse, Very Good, Jeeves

I’m learning to be patient. Those who know me are well aware that I am
not the most patient person in the world. Being a stickler about
timekeeping, I get irritated when things don’t run to time. If a bus is due
at 11.04, why has it not come now it’s 11.06? If a tradesman says it’ll take
three days to do a job and it’s not finished in five, I’m not best pleased. I
envy people who can “go with the flow” or adjust their expectations
“depending on contingencies.” But being patient is hard for me.

But I’m learning … I expected this Covid-19 crisis to run to a
timetable. Once I’d got over the initial impact of it and realised we were
likely to be dealing with it for a long while, I began to look for measurable
stages, examine dates, formulate plans, work on processes. Government
briefings; parliamentary statements; missives from Church authorities … all
subjected to detailed analysis and scrutiny, because I needed to know
“When?” My prayers began to echo the plea of the Psalmist (Psalm 6:3)
“How Long, O Lord, how long?” I suspect many of you will have prayed
the same prayer. Perhaps you’re praying it right now.

But it’s interesting that the Psalm contains no answer to the
Psalmist’s plea. God does not say, “Oh, sorry. Here’s the timetable you
asked for.” No hint is given that it’s ever going to be different. So, at the
end of his prayer, all the Psalmist can say is, “The Lord heard my
supplications; the Lord accepts my prayers.” All the Psalmist can say

Maybe this is all we can say too. Maybe if we voice the “When?”, we
need to know there is no answer. Maybe if we express the impatience that
is part of our nature … we can learn how to be patient.

So I’m learning to be patient. It isn’t easy to change the patterns of
lifetime, but I’m getting there. When? I’m not at all sure …

A prayer for today
O Lord, you wait and wait for me to get things right. Your patience unending.
So, be patient with me while I try to have a little part of that in my own life.


An original reflection by © Tom Gordon


27th June 2020

Here is the link to the morning’s service on 28th June 2020on youTube:


and also our own Church youTube channel:



27th June 2020


“So, follow me, follow, down to the hollow …”
Michael Flanders and Donald Swann, The Hippopotamus

From time to time I’m invited to Church and Community groups to read
some of my stories and poetry. A few years ago I was programmed to give
two talks to Church Guilds on successive Monday evenings. It meant I would
be offering the same set of readings two weeks in a row. But since the
churches were on opposite sides of the city, it wouldn’t be a problem.

The first talk went well, and I pitched up for the second one in good
spirits. But I was surprised to see, sitting in the front row, the same lady
who’d been sitting in the front row the previous Monday. Thankfully, she
still laughed in the right places and applauded loudly at the end. Clearly, she
wasn’t disappointed, and I decided it was another successful evening.

But I was intrigued. So I sought her out afterwards and said, “I seem
to recognise you. Have we met before?” “Oh yes,” she replied, reddening
somewhat. “I enjoyed your talk at my church so much last week, when my
friend told me you were to be here tonight, I just had to come again. I could
listen to you all day. Tell me where you’re speaking next, and I’ll be there.”
There was a burst of laughter from round about. I didn’t know where to look.
I was rescued by the Guild President, but not before I shook hands with a
lady who would clearly “follow me, follow, down to the hollow” – wherever
that might be. The truth was … I’d bagged my first groupie!

I haven’t attracted any further groupies, it has to be said, and,
thankfully, this groupie hasn’t followed me everywhere. But, embarrassed
as I was (and the butt of some surprisingly ribald comments from mature
church women) I’ve never forgotten that lady – though I don’t even know
her name. In my less successful times, I remember a Guild member who liked
me enough to come to hear me a second time. In my darker days, I picture
someone who was pleased with what I’d done. When I find that I’m doubting
myself, I give thought to my one and only groupie, for, whatever I did for
her, I thank God for the lasting gift of worth and value she has left with me.

A prayer for today
Lord, how good it feels when someone says, “Well done!” to me.
Help me to see the good in others, and to offer them a “Well done!” too.

An original reflection by © Tom Gordon


23rd June 2020


We could open this church building for private prayer now. But we won’t.
Why not?

Because if you came into pray we would have to;
-make you wash or sanitise your hands at the door,
-instruct you to wear a mask
-ask you if you had any covid symptoms, if you have any underlying health issues, or get a flu jab, (and then have to turn you away if the answer to any of these is yes!)
Tell you which seat you can sit in
-not to touch any of the church furniture
-warn you not to sing
-ask you to leave by another church door
– ask you not to loiter
-and then clean and sanitise any surface you touched.

-you can sit at home in the comfort and safety of your own home with a cup of tea
-sit in the park or by the burn and watch and listen to the birds
-walk around the Kelpies and the Helix

And talk to God, just as easily. You don’t need special words, a special place, special seat, special objects or special people to talk to God. He loves you and he is listening to you. So just do it!

The church building is shut, but the Church of Christ is always open. For the ears of Christ are always open.


21st June 2020


“I always love to begin a journey on Sundays,
because I shall have the prayers of the church,
to preserve all that travel by land, or by water.”
Jonathan Swift, Polite Conversation, Dialogue 2

From the very beginning of this lockdown – a long time ago now – I’ve
been wearing jeans, a T-shirt and trainers. Not the same ensemble all the
time, I hasten to add, for I do change clothes occasionally. But having
had to dress “smartly” all my working life – clerical dress, suit, shirt-andtie,
or whatever – it’s a pleasure to be relaxed in casual dress.

Why then, still in lockdown, with one day much like another, with
nowhere to go and no people to meet, without business to conduct or
meetings to chair, do I wear different clothes on a Sunday? I’ve done this
right from the start: a T-shirt replaced by a collared shirt; jeans giving
way to smart trousers; black shoes instead of trainers; a V-necked
pullover and not a sweatshirt. Does it matter? Is there anyone around to
notice? No! Yet I still dress differently on a Sunday. So why?

It’s simply because, all of my life, Sunday has been different, and,
even in a small way, I want to keep it like that. Of course, the nature of a
Sunday has altered irrevocably from the Sundays of my childhood. But
that’s not the point. The difference in a Sunday for me is spiritual and not
about practicalities. How I dress is a small symbol that the “feel” of a
Sunday is retained, so that spiritual shape of my week remains the same.
Jonathan Swift tells us that he loved beginning a journey on a
Sunday. What his Sundays gave him sustained him on whatever travels
he was about to embark upon. I am no different. The journeys of my
week need a good starting point, so that, wherever I travel, I feel I’m in
the right state of mind for whatever the days that follow might contain.

So, if you’ll excuse me, I must go and change. For it is a Sunday,
after all. And today has to feel right as a good start for the week ahead.

A prayer for today
Lord, watch over my travelling this week. Preserve me on my journeys.
May the prayers of this day hold me in your love for all I have to face.


An original reflection by © Tom Gordon


21st June 2020

Here is the link to this morning’s service on youTube:



16th June 2020

Here is the latest update from Ruth Webster in Nepal. Thanks to Elspeth S. for maintaining contact with Ruth,

Dear friends and churches around the UK,
Greetings from Nepal! I hope you are all staying well and strong and finding life during lockdown and hard times.

I recorded this interview for my home church in Perth just over a week ago, to share how things are in Nepal, for the work of the United Mission to Nepal and for me.


(a shorter conversation was used in the service). Thought I’d share in case any of you would like to watch, and before more time passes. It includes a wee tour of my roof at the end – not a very clear guided tour as I wasn’t prepared, but just informal.

Here I am well, still in lockdown and despite my apparent cheeriness in the interview (I am very happy to be here living and working in Nepal for UMN), unfortunately the cases have just started to jump up in the last 10 days, so we see no sign of an end, while thousands -millions?- suffer now or in the future through loss of jobs and inability to work, with all the knock-on effects. The clean air is blessing us though – with occasional views of Himalayas (from my roof attached, others here


 and making breathing much easier for people usually suffering from asthma etc.

I do hope to send a longer update soon, perhaps by the end of May…

Thank you for your interest in my work in Nepal.
Best wishes,


13th June 2020

Sunday Service
A reminder of the youTube link for the Sunday Service on 14th June:



13th June 2020

Alison has accessed a phone number to enable those who have no access to the internet/ facebook/youtube etc to hear the sermon from the previous Sunday.
It is a local call- 01324 266990, so may cost between 10-20p per call.

Coffee Afternoon at 2pm on Wednesdays on zoom.

Bible Study and Quizzes– Thursday evenings at 7pm on alternate weeks -both on Zoom.

Anyone wishing to take part, please contact the minister for login details/ help.


8th June 2020


“Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made
By singing – ‘Oh, how beautiful!’ and sitting in the shade,
While better men than we go out and start their working lives
At grubbing weeds from gravel paths with broken dinner-knives.”
Rudyard Kipling, The Glory of the Garden

It’s been said: “A weed is a plant you don’t want that’s appeared in a place you don’t want it to be.” Unsightly weeds have begun to appear in copious quantities in our village in places we don’t want them to be growing – between pavement-slabs and kerbs; along the bottom of walls; in gutters and around lamp-posts. Weeds are normally controlled by the Council Environmental Department. But, with cut-backs, redeployment, scarce resources and the lockdown, weed-clearing isn’t happening. And, unwanted and unsightly weeds are the result.

For too long, the unsightly and unwanted weeds of racism and discrimination have been growing in the pavements and streets of our society. These are plants we do not like, and we will have said so on many occasions. But still they appear, in copious quantities, in places where we don’t want them to be. It doesn’t need me to spell out where and how that’s happening. You know well enough where such weeds are.

Walking through my village, I got to asking, “Why isn’t someone doing something?” “Isn’t this a terrible time we’re living in?” “Look at the state of the place?” But then I realised that I had a personal responsibility. I couldn’t walk past the weeds any more. So I stopped and pulled a few of them up. It didn’t make the village perfect, but at least it made a wee corner of it look better than it did before.

I can curse the weeds of racism, as I do often enough. I can sit in the shade and give myself to singing as I ignore the problem. Or I can do my bit to rid our society of the nasty things that have grown in places we don’t want them to be – to stop, take responsibility, pull up a few weeds, and begin to make our pavements and streets look good again.

A prayer for today
Creator God, the garden of your world is spoiled when weeds are ignored. Let me stop and weed out hate and discrimination where they’re not supposed to be.


An original reflection by © Tom Gordon


Sunday Service

A reminder of the youTube link for the Sunday Service on 7th June:




5th June 2020

Good news!
John Haston has today received the news that he has been accepted as a Candidate for full time ministry.
Congratulations from all at Zetland.
Be blessed as you go forward.


1st June 2020

Church Magazine – June 2020

The June edition of the Church Magazine is now available by clicking on the tab above entitled ‘Church Magazine – June 2020’


3rd June 2020


A proposal! To be accepted, or not …?
“Nam homo proponit, sed Deus disponit.”
“For man proposes, but God disposes.”
Thomas à Kempis, De Imitatione Christi

Along the wall of Port Seton’s esplanade there’s been a strange development. From nowhere, a row of painted stones has appeared, a few at the start, then more and more each day, so that a coloured ribbon of stones now stretches a very long way. Rumour has it there’s an attempt to have them reach the next village along the coast.

The ever-expanding line of stones is lovely. There are big ones and little ones; some by children and others by skilled artists; insects and flowers; birds and animals; quotations and rainbows – and “Support the NHS” too.
Following the myriad of brightly coloured stones, past one displaying a beautiful sunset, then a lovely purple-and-pink bee, the next one caught my eye … a big stone with a rainbow and the words
“Will You Marry Me?”

I was full of questions. Is this a way to make a proposal? What kind of person put it there? Who is it directed to? Will they know it’s for them? Might the proposal be accepted? Will they live happily ever after? I’ll never know – unless a stone appears in the future with “Just Married” printed in big letters, or an invitation to a post-lockdown party! But even then, would this be the result of the original proposal – or not?

Like me, you’ll have made proposals over the years, and accepted some too: a marriage proposal; a friendship proposal; a meeting proposal; a development proposal; a contentious proposal – offered forcefully and with purpose, or simply and quietly, but made in sincerity and with integrity. So let’s keep on making good proposals. Now, more than ever, we need people who think deeply, reflect with awareness and propose good things – even colourfully and boldly like a stone on our esplanade that says “Will You Marry Me?” And, you never know, maybe there’s someone who can take you up on your offer, and say “Yes I will!”

A Prayer for today
Colourful God, you say to us, “I propose to love you today.”
And today I’m inclined to say … “I accept!”

An original reflection by © Tom Gordon

Read more of Tom Gordon’s reflections in the ‘Thoughts & Prayers’ tab above.


30th May 2020

A reminder of the youTube link for the Sunday Service on 31st May:




29th May 2020

Quiz Night

Alison is hosting a quiz on Zoom next Thursday 4th June at 7.00pm. If you wish to take part contact Alison for sign in details.


28th May 2020

Moderators message for Pentecost.

This is a phone number with a local rate for those who wish to listen to the Moderators message for Pentecost.

The dial-in number for those who want to literally phone in and listen to the audio version is:

0131 378 7895

If you’re putting that to members, they should know that there will be nothing there until 10am on Sunday morning – other than me saying ‘come back at 10am on Sunday!’

There will also be the Grangemouth Churches Live on YouTube and on Facebook just after 11am. It appears after 11am as the link doesn’t come through till 11am.

And Reflections on the Quay as usual.

Thank you.



26th May 2020

Scotland’s Churches Trust has sent us a link to a talk by Professor Adam Cumming, who is one of SCT’s trustees and co-organiser of our Church Recording Project.

The talk was originally given at the National Trust for Scotland Edinburgh Members’ Centre and has some interesting information on old Church buildings in Scotland.



25th May 2020


During the pandemic you may have heard of the computer programme called Zoom.

Zoom is not a social media platform like Facebook, Twitter etc. It is computer program that enables people’s PC’s, Mac’s, tablet’s, phone’s etc to all be connected together to enable a group of people to have an online, private meeting, get together, etc.

Alison is planning to organise an online quiz, bible study, meetings and perhaps worship on the Zoom platform.

If you would like to join in with any of these activities you will need to download the programme first of all on to your device whatever it may be. Zoom is currently free to download and is a handy tool to have on your computer. Once you have downloaded it Alison will supply you with a password to join in the activities.

Here is the link to the Zoom website: https://zoom.us/


25th May 2020

Church of Scotland Webinar

Here is a link to the Church of Scotland Webinar by the Assembly Trustees.


This is a video clip of a meeting held on Friday 22nd May regarding the Church, led by The Moderator, Rt Rev Dr. Martin Fair.

This is going to be the start of a major talking point and it is recommended that you watch it.


22nd May 2020


“The man who makes no mistakes does not actually make anything.”
Edward John Phelps, from a speech in The Mansion House, 1889.

Winston Churchill said on one occasion: “All great men make mistakes.” He should have added that making mistakes is not confined to “great men”, because mere mortals are also inclined to make mistakes too.
I decided to make sure that, however long this lockdown lasted, I would have enough to do to stop me being bored. So, I bought some jigsaws on-line. And, sure enough, when they arrived, they more than adequately served their purpose. I found a particularly interesting one on EBay, a picture from The Magic Roundabout, a children’s TV show I loved when I was young. It only cost a few pounds, including postage. A good buy, I reckoned. The jigsaw arrived in the post a few days ago. But what I expected to be a 1000 piece jigsaw turned out to be a children’s puzzle with only 48 pieces. “Aged 4+” it said on the box, and boy, did I feel very childish when I realised my mistake?

We all make mistakes – the great men Churchill was referring to, and mere mortals who buy jigsaws from EBay. We’re all human and prone to getting things wrong. In Romans 7:19 St Paul puts it this way:
I do not do the good I want to do,
but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.

Buying the wrong jigsaw isn’t evil, and I’m only a few pounds down on the deal. But I promise you this – I won’t keep on doing it. I’ll forgive myself, laugh at myself, and even encourage you to laugh at me too. But I’ll learn. I’ll do better. I’ll try never to make the same mistake again
Oh, and while I’m writing, would anyone like a Magic Roundabout jigsaw; free to a good home; 48 pieces; suitable for a child aged 4+, preferably one who doesn’t make mistakes?

A prayer for today
Forgiving God … yes, you can laugh at me too because of the mistakes I make.
But I know you’ll also forgive me, and encourage me not to make the same mistakes over and over again.


An original reflection by © Tom Gordon


20th May 2020


“All this and heaven too.”
Philip Henry, in ‘Life of Mr Philip Henry’ by Matthew Henry

Working in a hospice, I had many conversations about heaven. For some people, it was an unshakeable belief in eternal life; for others, a fear that they would be “judged” harshly and denied heavenly rest; for many, a vague belief but profound hope. But for one lady, it was complete denial.

Winifred had been admitted to the same floor in the hospice where her only son had died two years before. I had met her back then and had been invited to conduct her son’s funeral. So, I was anxious that she was now a patient, particularly because of the association of the hospice with her son’s death. One day, I found her distressed. She told me that her eldest daughter had been comforting her with the assurance that, when she died, she would meet up with her son again in heaven. “Well?” I responded enquiringly, only to hear her reply: “I don’t believe that!” And she elaborated on what was clearly an atheistic understanding of life in which heaven and a belief in eternity did not figure.

This was no time for a doctrinal debate, though she did ask me what I believed myself. But her belief system remained unaltered, and she was still distressed. Then I noticed a framed photograph of her son on her bedside table. Soon we were holding the picture together and she was talking warmly about the son she had lost. “Do you still love him?” I asked. “More than ever before,” she replied, “and I tell him that every day.” “Maybe that’s what really matters,” I responded. ”If you carry the depth of your relationship with your son towards the conclusion of your life, that will be enough. And, if you do, maybe that’s heaven for you here and now, and you can leave what happens after you die to take care of itself.” Winifred smiled for the first time. And as she held the photo of her son to her chest, she whispered, “That’ll do for me.”
A prayer for today
“So do not fear all that is yet to be:
Heaven is close and God is good.”
John L Bell, from “Who is there to understand?”
An original reflection by © Tom Gordon

There are more wee stories like this from Tom Gordon in the ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ section of this website.


16th May 2020

Online Sunday Worship Service on Sunday 17th May by Zetland Church, Abbotsgrange Church & Kirk of the Holyrood will be available on YouTube Channel “Grangemouth Churches Live ”



12th May 2020


“Civilisation is nothing more than the effort
to reduce the use of force to the last resort.”
José Ortega y Gasset, La Rebelión de las Masas

What makes for a civilised society when we’re “allowed” and “not allowed” to do certain things? We debate whether restrictions on us are too harsh, or how long they’ll last, and who should make decisions about our freedoms anyway. For example, when “lockdown” rules begin to be eased, how many people will be permitted to gather, and where will that be, and how often might it be legitimate? And what about our churches? If, say, we’re “allowed” to have ten people together, what happens if there are twelve? And if we’re “allowed” to gather in a certain place, what happens if we choose to go somewhere else? And who will police that?

The Riot Act of 1714 was used regularly in the 19th century to force people to disperse if there was a chance of a riot developing. They needn’t be doing anything, just being together. If twelve or more people were “unlawfully … assembled together” then a “Riot Act Declaration” could be read, giving people an hour to disperse. If anyone remained after that, they could, in law, be killed by troops called in to enforce the Act. And we say restrictions on us now and the policing of them might be draconian? The Riot Act was last read in the UK 1919 – thank God!

Being civilised means not calling on troops to disperse or shoot at people who meet “illegally”. What matters in 2020 is dispensing with an unnecessary use of force, persuasion rather than imposition, a society where fairness and freedom are key. But civilisation also requires cooperation. We need to see the bigger picture, each one of us not doing things because we feel our purpose and rights are more important than everyone else’s. Civilisation is an acceptance that we’re in it together, and have respect for the whole, not just our individual part.

A prayer for today
Loving God, St Paul reminded us we are “one body”. If one part hurts, we all hurt. If one part rejoices, we all rejoice. Help us to work together, as one body, through pain and joy, for the good of the whole. Amen.

An original reflection by © Tom Gordon


12th May 2020

God of Justice, Peace and Love

As the United Kingdom is now divided in its approach to Coronavirus be with all of us as we try to keep to the rules to keep this virus under control. Bring peace and unity into this divided and divisive situation.

We think again of our parish ministers, many overwhelmed by the increased workload of funerals. We pray especially for those in their first charge or in a new charge where they are ministering to folk they don’t really know. That’s really being thrown in at the deep end. And Father there are those who are ministering to the bereaved while grieving themselves. Enfold them in Your loving arms to know Your presence with them.

Comfort and console all who have lost loved ones at this time, be with the dying giving them the knowledge that they do not walk through the dark valley alone. Bring healing and wholeness to those who are sick, not just from Covid19 but those who are sick in body mind and spirit and are weary. Give them strength not just to cope but to carry on.

Loving Father, You are our hope, our strength and our shield. You are our Miracle Worker, our Promise Keeper and our Light in the Darkness.

Loving and Healing God draw close to us all in this pandemic crisis and let us feel your healing, loving and gracious presence.


Evelyn Robertson

10th May 2020

Here is a link to this mornings live service:



8th May 2020

A message from the Moderator of The Church of Scotland:

Dear All,

This is a note to tell you about two upcoming, on-line worship services which are for the whole Church of Scotland.

Saturday 16 May, 11am – live on the Church of Scotland website and our Facebook page
The Revd Dr Martin Fair will be installed as Moderator of the General Assembly. The ceremony will take place in the Assembly Hall with only a few people physically present because of the COVID-19 restrictions, but followed by thousands of people across Scotland and around the world. The service will be captioned and there will be the option of BSL interpretation. Join us for an historic occasion and a clear statement that the Church is alive and active in these difficult days.

Sunday 31 May, 10-10.30am – Pentecost – streamed on the Church of Scotland website and Facebook page
The Moderator will lead a service to mark the birthday of the Christian Church, with contributions from many different places. Like the disciples on that first Pentecost, here is the invitation to step confidently into whatever the future holds. We would like to invite you to make this the service for your congregation on that Sunday, so that as much of the Church of Scotland as possible will be gathered in fellowship and praise.

Wishing you every blessing,

Rt Revd Colin A M Sinclair


8th May 2020

Gracious Father

We stop for a few moments in the day to spend time with You. We know that You are our hope and our anchor in this time of crisis but You are our hope and our anchor in the good times too.

We think of our frail and elderly in care homes throughout the country but especially we think of the people of Skye where Covid19 has ravaged a care home in Portree. Comfort and console those who have lost loved ones and sustain and strengthen those who carry on the fight against this virus there. Bring Your healing to all who are ill with the virus. Keep the islanders strong in their faith for it will carry them through.

We ask you blessing on the governments at Holyrood and Westminster as they make plans to release the lockdown. Help them to focus on the economy and getting things moving again while still keeping this scourge of a virus under control. May all their decisions be in accordance with Your will.

Today we give thanks as we remember all who have served their country and its citizens through time, as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE day. May we take time to be peaceful and give thanks for life, even at this time- for if it hadn’t been for the sacrifice of so many, we wouldn’t be here today.

Loving Father, You are our hope, our strength and our shield. You are our Miracle Worker, our Promise Keeper and our Light in the Darkness.

Loving and Healing God draw close to us all in this pandemic crisis and let us feel your healing, loving and gracious presence.


Rev Alison Meikle
Zetland Manse


5th May 2020


The General Assembly may have been cancelled but we do need a Moderator to be our spokesperson to the world beyond the Church but also to speak into the Church as we step forward on what is really an unmapped road. Martin Fair was chosen last year by the Committee to Nominate the Moderator in very different times but they have given us someone ideally gifted for today. Martin will not be working in the “normal” way but he will be busy at the forefront of the Church’s life.

His installation as Moderator will take place in the General Assembly Hall on Saturday 16th of May at 11am with just a few people physically present.
You can watch the service live on the Church of Scotland website or Facebook page   https://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/

5th May 2020

Churches in Germany are opening up again but they have to meet conditions laid down to enable them to do so. There may be some clues here as to what we may have to do when our Church in Grangemouth eventually reopens:

Guidelines for services in churches / chapels / prayer rooms in the Palatinate during Coronavirus

From May 2020, the celebration of services in churches and parishes will be permissible again.
The presbytery of the respective church congregation decides on the opening of the worship areas and the date of the resumption of the services. Health protection and the responsible handling of risks have top priority. Nobody can be obliged to participate in the service. The presbytery or persons commissioned by it are responsible for compliance with the guidelines.
If services are to take place, you must comply with all of the following requirements:
A. preparation for worship
1. At the start and end of worship, leave doors open, so that people do not need to touch the handles. Handrails and door handles must be disinfected.
2. In order to track possible chains of infection, the visitor’s full name, address or telephone number must be recorded at the entrance. This is done by a person appointed by the presbytery. The data is to be kept in the parish office for 14 days and then destroyed.
3. In order to keep the minimum distance of 2 m between people (next to each other as well as in front of and behind one another), the seats must be clearly marked. For ease of organisation, people from the same household should also keep the minimum distance.
In the entrance and exit area, the 2 m distances must be clearly marked on the floor.
4. There should be no access to the sanctuary and choir/music group areas.
5. Sanitisers should be available at entrances and exits.
6. Before and after the services / devotions, the worship area must be deep cleaned.
7. A small number of face masks must be available for members of the congregation who arrive without face masks. Admission without a face mask is not permitted.
8. Hymn books are not to be used. Hymns must be displayed using a projector or printed on service sheets.
9. If the congregation is too large to comply with the regulations, a second service of worship should be scheduled, so that everyone can be accommodated.
B. Guidelines for a service of worship
1. Stewards at the entrance will manage admission. Once the maximum number of places has been reached, no further visitors can be admitted.
2. Only minimal choirs and music groups are permitted. The minimum distance between singers and musicians must be 4 metres (next to each other as well as in front of and behind each other).
3. Those leading the service are not required to wear face masks but must remain a minimum of 4 metres distant from the front row of the congregation.
4. Services of communion are not permitted.
5. No sharing of the peace or handshaking.
6. Offertory plates are not to be held. There must be hygiene protection for the people who count the offertory.
The service must not exceed one hour in length.

C. Guidelines for other services / devotions
1. The regulations above also apply to baptism, memorial and funeral services.
2. For a service of baptism, the minister must use hand sanitiser before the act of baptism.
Outdoor services can only take place if the local authority permits it and permission must be sought from the authority. Where open-air services are permitted, the hygiene and distancing rules must be observed during set-up and clearing away and during the service itself, adhering to the church service guidelines (Section B).
3. No Sunday School for children for the time being.
4. Confirmation services and similar which attract large congregations should be avoided.

28. April 2020


5th May 2020

Below is an update from the Church of Scotland, 121 George Street regarding the current situation:


Dear Colleagues
Here are some things which are happening away from the public gaze but which I think you should know about. I have not set these items out in order of importance but I hope you find the information helpful
In the coming weeks I would hope to build on this as new information and insights are gained. The next issue may not be so long winded as this one!
I have attached to this a document from the Lutheran Church in Germany describing how they are coming out of lockdown – it is a sobering read!
George Whyte, Principal Clerk
Meetings with the Scottish Government
I have a weekly meeting with the Head of Connected Communities along with Archbishop Cushley and Bishop Mark Strange. We discuss a range of Covid-19 related issues and in doing so are building relationships into the structures of the Scottish Government

On Monday I was able to participate in an interfaith meeting with officials of the Burials and Cremation unit of the government. There was a general view that we are not in position to open churches for funerals because:-
• those we ask to be on duty at church during the week may well be volunteers over 70
• the person on the door would be in charge of deciding how many of those who turned up could get in
• we do not have the know-how to make the building infection-free afterwards
• if we open for a funeral then why not a wedding, or a small service, or a prayer meeting….
Ministers as Key Workers
Angus Mathieson (Interim Head of the Faith Nurture Forum) is currently exploring how ministers might be categorised as “key workers” not only so that there is access to childcare provision but also access to testing so that people know if they are infectious and whether they have had the disease.
More to follow on this.
Keeping in Touch with Presbyteries
Myself and Hazel Hastie (Presbytery Resource Officer) have phoned all the Clerks twice in the last three or four weeks just to hear how things are and if there are ways in which we in the national office could help. These have been useful conversations.

We are now in the middle of a series of virtual meetings with groups of Clerks (is there a collective noun for that?) based on the potential new Presbyteries. These meetings have focused on headings like these:-
• What’s happening where you are? Lessons learned so far?
• need to plan for the longer term – end of the year anyway – what does that mean for Presbytery, Kirk Sessions, sustaining the new things, planning the future
• over 70’s and the shielded may be locked down longer than everyone else – how do we respond to that?
• organising/coordinating on-line what churches are doing on-line – how can we achieve variety and sustainability
• What is the money situation in your area? – steps being taken, projects or congregations imperilled?
• Presbytery Reform – where are we at with process, what can we do in the coming months
• Pressure on Presbytery Plans – the availability of stipend support and people to fill the vacancies is being hit and we have learned many new ways of doing things – how and when can we reshape the Presbytery Plan
• Anything else we should be doing in 121 in terms of resources, information?
There have been two meetings of Scottish church leaders where we seek to learn from each other’s response to the crisis and find ways of acting together. There is also a very busy WhatsApp group.

There have also been UK wide meetings of church leaders (Our Moderator), “senior officers” aka Principal Clerks and that ilk, Finance Officers, and HR Managers. Again we are trying to learn and share good practice. These are also places where we can talk about how we might move out of lockdown.

I have also met with the other Principal Clerks of the UK’s Presbyterian Churches and they have been very useful meetings with helpful suggestions about how we can work through the pandemic restrictions.
The General Assembly may have been cancelled but we do need a Moderator to be our spokesperson to the world beyond the Church but also to speak into the Church as we step forward on what is really an unmapped road. Martin Fair was chosen last year by the Committee to Nominate the Moderator in very different times but they have given us someone ideally gifted for today. Martin will not be working in the “normal” way but he will be busy at the forefront of the Church’s life.

His installation as Moderator will take place in the General Assembly Hall on Saturday 16th of May at 11am with just a few people physically present.
You can watch the service live on the Church of Scotland website or Facebook page. Could you share that more widely?
The Commission of Assembly
The General Assembly was cancelled but there were still things we needed to decide. We have used the Commission of Assembly elected last year and they have agreed (without meeting) to make the following decisions:-
1. Elect the Rev Dr Martin Fair (Arbroath: St Andrew’s) as Moderator of the General Assembly 2020-2021. (see section 1)
2. Pass an Act uniting the Presbyteries of Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy, and St Andrews to form the Presbytery of Fife as set out in the Overture received from the Presbyteries. (see section 2)
3. Pass an Act uniting the Presbyteries of Aberdeen and Shetland to form the Presbytery of Aberdeen and Shetland as set out in the Overture received from the Presbyteries. (see section 3)
4. Pass an Act uniting the Presbyteries of Dumbarton and Greenock & Paisley to form the Presbytery of Clyde as set out in the Overture received from the Presbyteries. (see section 4)
5. Note the process undertaken to streamline the governance arrangements proposed, agree that membership of the Social Care Council will with effect from 1st June 2020 be reduced to 12 in accordance with a revised nomination process and thank the existing members of the Social Care Council for their outstanding commitment and contributions. (see Report of the Social Care Council at section 5)
6. Appoint the Rev Donald McCorkindale as Convener of the Assembly Business Committee (see Report of the Nomination Committee at section 6)
7. Appoint the Rev Thom Riddell as Convener of the Social Care Council. (see Report of the Nomination Committee at section 6)
8. Make alterations to Standing Committees and Forums as set forth in the Report of Nomination Committee. (see Report of the Nomination Committee at section 6)
9. Make appointments to Trusts as set out in section 7 and as requested by these Trusts. (see section 7)
10. Agree that the Ecumenical Relations Committee shall act on behalf of the General Assembly in the dissolution of Local Ecumenical Partnerships (see Report of the Ecumenical Relations Committee at section 8).
11. Amend Regulation I 2013 in the terms set out in the Appendix to the Report of the Assembly Business Committee.(see Report of the Assembly Business Committee at section 9)
12. Instruct the Nomination Committee to populate the Committee to Nominate the Moderator in terms of the amended Regulation I 2013.
13. Pass the Act amending the Income Protection and Ill-Health Act (Act VI 2019) as set out in the Appendix to the Report of the Faith Nurture Forum. (see Report of the Faith Nurture Forum at section 10).
You can see the Reports and Appendices on the CofS website under General Assembly Publications.
National Office Work
A team of senior managers and officials meets twice a week to coordinate our response to the coronavirus pandemic and to consider ways in which we can assist the Church in these challenging times.
Steps have also been taken to furlough “121” staff so that we can take advantage of Government to save jobs and protect resources for the future.. This inevitably will mean that some services will not be available in the short term.
Assembly Trustees
The Trustees have established three task groups with membership drawn from across the Church. These are as follows:-
• Finance – the Church’s income will be greatly affected by the pandemic lockdown reducing offerings and closing off hall letting. There will be short and longer term difficult decisions to be faced.
• IT and Communications – work is focusing on developing an intranet resource so that we have better channels of communication inside the Church as a whole and on learning how best to develop our online Church presence.
• Presbytery Planning – there is a tremendous pressure now being put on the ability to pay all the stipends suggested by current Presbytery Plans and, as you know, there are not enough ministers to fill the posts. How might we face these challenges and what support would the new Presbyteries need to reframe their Plan in the light of these problems but also in reshaping the life of the Church in the greatly altered landscape which lies before us.
During what would have been General Assembly week the Moderator will host a number of online events where the Trustees will bring you up to date with the challenges that we are facing now and likely to face going into the future. More information on this will be issued shortly.
Ringing Church Bells
I have had a fair number of enquiries about whether church bells can be rung to mark a number of occasions from Clap for Carers through Easter to the 75th Anniversary of VE Day.
This is a typical response which I have sent:-
I have been asked about this several times in recent weeks.
My advice to all of these is that we should not be ringing church bells. Firstly it sends the wrong signal – our buildings are closed and then we ring the bell that is meant to call people to worship. And even if people know it is not being rung for that purpose it still says that there is somebody in the building and they are not there for one of the essential activities which have been listed in the regulations – feeding the poor, caring for the homeless, working with local authorities on essential child care or indeed the live streaming of worship. Then there is asking someone to leave their home to go to the church which is not one of the reasons for leaving home listed in the Government’s guidance. And lastly there are questions of access, lone working and cleaning.
So I’m afraid my advice is no ringing of church bells during the current lock down arrangements. Sorry!
Best wishes
Stepping Confidently into the Unknown
One of the remarkable features of this emergency has been the way ministers and congregations across the Church have responded with imagination, energy and creativity. Things have been laid down which will not be picked up again and in their place there has been a blossoming of new ideas.

This should be celebrated.

There are plans developing focused around Pentecost for a series of initiatives which will help renew our sense that God is with us on the road ahead. There will be the offer of a national service lead by the Moderator but with contributions from far and near. There will be some new resources which might open fresh possibilities for Church life. And most importantly there will be a chance to listen to each other as we try “not to go back to where we were but to go to where we want to be” (source unknown).

21st April 2020

There are a couple of new items on the website that may take your interest during these difficult times and both can be accessed by clicking their relative tabs above; Hope in the time of Coronavirus” and Thought’s and Prayers.”


11th April 2020

The online Easter service will be on the Church Facebook page  tomorrow at 11am.  

Holy Communion will be celebrated. If you wish to partake please have some bread/ biscuit and some eg grape juice/ tea. This service will also be on YouTube-Grangemouth Churches Live. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-2t9XbLqSNGNRl1U4TdjPA

Hope to see you here again.

9th April 2020

BBC – Easter TV and radio programmes: 

During these difficult times, the BBC recognises the importance not only of delivering accurate and trusted news but also of providing our audiences with programmes that can help them best cope with the many impacts of the pandemic.

And with social distancing now the norm, it has never been more important for us to reach out, as a public service broadcaster, to those faith communities whose opportunities for public worship have been so curtailed.

That is why, in Scotland, we have introduced a series of new TV and radio programmes and increased the prominence of others within our schedules, offering an opportunity for all to reflect and to worship.

On Easter Sunday, our new and increasingly popular Reflections at the Quay (BBC One Scotland, 11.15AM) will feature the Rt Rev Colin Sinclair, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and the Most Reverend Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh. Future programmes will reach to other faith communities and contributors.

And we are currently finalising arrangements around a televised broadcast of an Easter Sunday Mass with Fr. Michael Kane from St Augustine’s in Coatbridge.

That day, BBC ALBA will broadcast Ar N-Aran Làitheil (Our Daily Bread) from Kyle Church of Scotland (6.50PM), as Alleluia! brings a mix of hymns, psalms and readings led by Father Seumas MacNeil and Rev Donald Michael MacInnes (7.30PM).

For radio listeners, Radio Scotland will continue to feature Thought for the Day within the Good Morning Scotland news programme each weekday. Every New Sunday has moved forward an hour to a new slot of 7.30AM and Sunday Morning with Cathy Macdonald will continue to feature conversations with guests from across all faith groups.

On Good Friday, the station features Tree of Life, a reflection on how nature can provide a path through pain, at 6.00AM, and Shadows and Half- Light, at 6.30AM, will reflect on how compassion can help us overcome adversity.

For Gaelic listeners, Radio nan Gaidheal celebrates Easter Sunday with Deanamaid Adhradh (Let’s worship) at 9.03AM, repeated again at 3.00PM and a broadcast of the Easter Alleluia! special at 9.00PM.

Looking forward, on Sunday 19 April, the BBC Scotland Channel features Priest School. Narrated by Scots-Italian actor Daniela Nardini, this distinctive observational documentary gained unique access to the inner workings, personnel, seminarians and history of the oldest Scottish institution abroad, Il Pontificio College Scozzese – The Scots College in Rome.

And on the same day, April 19, BBC ALBA will feature Sorchar nan Reul (The Lightener of the Stars – spiritual music) and a new series – Slighe Anndra (St Andrew’s Journey – the story of the Church of Scotland in Europe) – from 31 May.

Across the BBC, our network services will include live worship and virtual church services as well as special new content on the BBC’s flagship religious strands on TV and radio, as well as providing content to mark the major festivals of worship. There’s much more detail to be found on the BBC website

7th April 2020

Zetland Church Facebook – Live

Zetland Facebook will host live services on Thursday 9th and Friday 10th April at 7.00pm

On Maundy Thursday, please have some food and a drink to share online in the sacrament of Holy Communion.

There will be further posts etc each day.


7th April 2020

Our Sunday School Teachers have been keeping themselves busy during the Coronavirus outbreak! 🙂



27th March 2020: 

A message today from our minister, Alison on the Church Facebook page:


The Moderator’s Reflection:

Every day from 10am, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Rt Rev Colin Sinclair, will be leading a short reflection live on his Facebook page:


24th March 2020:  Notice for Our Congregation:

Good morning everyone,

It is with deep sadness that we have to close our churches completely from today to encourage people to stay safe and stay at home to pray as advised by the prime minister.

The building will no longer be open even for private prayer until further notice.

This includes the daily time of prayer and night church.
I hope you all stay safe and I am wondering what I can do to communicate with those who don’t have access to internet or Facebook. I gave hard copies of a service to 2 members at the weekend who asked for this. But now that isn’t possible. Answers on a postcard please!!! Well post answers here or give me a call?

Thank you.

Alison Meikle
Zetland Manse
Ronaldshay crescent

March 22; Worship wherever you are.

Welcome to worship! It is good to remember that wherever we gather, there is God.
At home, alone or with your family, we are united in spirit.

You may use these thoughts, prayers, bible readings and hymn words at a time and place that suits you. You may share freely with friends and neighbours.

Today’s reflections are centred around the words of the hymn, “What a Friend we Have in Jesus”, and from St. John’s gospel, chapter 9 1-12.

What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit, oh, what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!

What a privilege it is, to be able to bring our concerns to God in prayer.
As we gather today, cast your mind back through this week…
What troubled you? Name it. What cheered you? Name it.
What do you now regret? Name it. What would you do differently? Name it.

Prayer; Precious Holy, as we name before you, things that trouble, things that cheered;
As we name before you our regrets and remorse; We seek you comfort, we seek your grace, Forgive us we pray And refresh our souls, as we pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name. thy kingdom come, they will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, now and forever more, Amen

Have we trials and temptations, is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged: take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful, who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness: take it to the Lord in prayer.

Read John 9: 1-12
The healing of the man born blind.
The disciples wondered, what caused the man’s blindness? His sin? Or his parents’?

It is tempting today to wonder if God has sent our current predicament.
To which I say – NO!!!!
For I truly believe things happen, and God is with us, with all humanity, in that.
God is good. God is love and compassion.
In this time of trial and trouble, we can hand it over to God in prayer; we can ask God to help doctors and nurses; researchers and scientist.

We can remember Jesus’ compassion and love and willingness to come alongside those who were marginalised and outcast, helping them to feel acceptance like never before.

If you are unsure; if you have doubts; remember you are in good company. Even the disciples who witnessed Jesus healing and miracles doubted.
Even those who saw with their own eyes the man born blind with sight restored doubted: “they said to each other, ‘no it’s not him; it’s just someone who looked like him…’”

Are we weak and heavy-laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Jesus is our only refuge: take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In his arms he’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

In these strange and uncertain days, three things remain, faith, hope and love.
We all know the greatest of these is love.

However you are feeling today, and in the days to come, take it to the Lord in prayer.

Know that you are loved; you are prayed for. Know that Jesus is our refuge
Know that Jesus hears you . Know that you can find comfort in Jesus
And that even though we are apart – we are together in prayer and spirit.

Rev Alison Meikle
Zetland Manse
Ronaldshay Crescent


20th March 2020:

Worship Live Streaming/YouTube:   Worship will be live-streamed from KHR at 11am on Zetland Facebook page on Sunday 22nd March.
And will also be Grangemouth Churches live on YouTube. All you need to do is subscribe.  YouTube link – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-2t9XbLqSNGNRl1U4TdjPA  You may have to copy and paste this address into your browser.
If you know anyone who doesn’t have access to social media or computer, who would like to know what has been said , please let Alison know.

Church Open for Prayer:   The following church buildings will be open for prayer and reflection between 11-12noon on the following days.
Please come in via the hall door at Zetland, where you can wash your hands in the disabled toilet. You can sit 2 metres from anyone else quite easily!
And you can leave by the front door. All doors will be open so there is no need to touch handles. Hope that is reassuring.

Mon -Abbotsgrange
Tue – St Mary’s
Wed- KHR
Thu- Zetland
Fri -Abbotsgrange
Sat- KHR

Alison Meikle
Zetland Manse
Ronaldshay crescent

19th March 2020: A video update from our Minister, Alison. https://m.facebook.com/Zetlandchurchgrangemouth/  You may have to copy and paste this address into your web browser.


Church of Scotland – Grangemouth Churches, 17 March 2020
Coronavirus and the Church

Dear Member,
As you are no doubt aware these are unprecedented times with the various restrictions arising from Coronavirus (also known as Covid-19), and now with the suspension of all worship services it is even more important that we take care of each other.
We shall be looking at ways in which we can continue to spread God’s word meantime.
It may transpire that you may need to self-isolate and the church is concerned for any spiritual or physical needs you may have during this time.
Should you find yourself in need of support please do not hesitate to contact your minister, or in their absence, indeed any of the Church of Scotland ministers listed below.
None of us know what the immediate future brings but with God’s help and the assistance of everyone in the church family we can overcome many difficulties.

Yours in Christ’s name,

Rev Alison Meikle telephone 01324 336729
Rev Aftab Gohar telephone 01324 482109
Rev Ronald Matandakufa 01324 337885

In all cases it is our prayer that you stay safe and well.

17th March 2020: An update issued earlier this evening by The Church of Scotland, 121 George Street, Edinburgh:

Church of Scotland – Covid-19 Briefing 17th March 2020 – Cancellation of Services and other information

The Church’s Covid-19 Task Group met this morning, and considered the most recent advice from the Scottish Government, issued on the evening of Monday 16th March, available here. This information from the Scottish Government takes precedence over the briefing note issued by myself at 17:53 on 16th March 2020.

The Scottish Government advised that people should minimise social contact by avoiding crowded areas and large gatherings, including religious congregations, and smaller gatherings, listing areas which were of concern.

Worship – Cancellation of Worship Services
In the light of the above, the Church of Scotland Task Group has agreed to ask, in the strongest terms, that all gatherings for worship should cease until further notice, with effect from Wednesday 17th March 2020, or earlier if possible. Other Scottish Churches are taking similar actions. This obviously includes Easter services. Some Presbyteries have already instructed this action. This will include, but not be restricted to, housegroups, meetings for youth work, and church cafes. It will still be possible for an individual to offer a livestreaming of a sermon and prayers. Further information on livestreaming, including information on copyright, can be found in this circular on the Law Department’s webpages here. Sunday broadcasts of a weekly service take place on Radio 4, and also on Radio Scotland; other radio stations are available.

Church buildings can be kept open as a place for people to come and pray. Notices should be clearly displayed asking that visitors observe robust hand hygiene, including washing their hands on entry to the church.

The Moderator, the Right Reverend Colin Sinclair, has, along with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and other church leaders, have issued a call for a National Day of Prayer; more details here.

The Task Group is aware that closing down worship services will impact on congregational income, and we’d want to encourage people to continue contributing financially as far as possible, and to encourage the increased use of standing orders as an expression of ongoing stewardship.

Funerals The key phrase here is to minimise social contact. Sensitive conversations will need to take place with families and mourners ahead of funeral ceremonies, and to consider the size of groups gathering for funerals. It may be necessary in the future to consider whether funerals should be restricted exclusively to minister, immediate family, and funeral directors. In addition, local guidance from funeral directors and crematorium staff will be critical here. It should be noted that many crematoria have the facility to livestream services and to host a recording of services for a period of time after the cremation service.

For weddings, the advice offered in the briefing note of 12th March 2020 remains unchanged; certain venues will be restricting attendance, and it may be that couples have to work through what changes have to made, including in some cases rearranging. Travel restrictions on travel into the UK will also have an effect on guests at weddings. Again, sensitive conversations will be the order of the day.

Pastoral Care Networks
Please find attached a guidance note from the Church’s Safeguarding Department with some useful guidance about setting up small pastoral care networks with a practical outcome. This guidance note contains a postcard which may be useful There are some good ideas here about small groups; such groups can mitigate social isolation, and help people to continue to feel that they are part of the wider community of faith. Previous advice about using tools such as Skype, email, letters, greetings cards, Facetime, and Whatsapp groups are all useful approaches and some of these are particularly helpful where people don’t use technology.

General Assembly
The decision has been taken in the light of Scottish Government advice to cancel the General Assembly of May 2020. The Office of the General Assembly will be in touch with commissioners separately.

The above is offered in the light of current information, and is of course subject to further public health guidance and directives from the Scottish Government. The above has taken some time and care to compile, and at this stage we apologise for not being able to respond to every email.

Task Group Members
The Task Group Members are:
the Rev Dr George Whyte, Principal Clerk;
Dave Kendall, Chief Officer;
Catherine Skinner, Strategic Programmes Officer;
Ruth MacLeod, Head of Communications;
Mary MacLeod, Solicitor of the Church;
Liam Fennell, Head of Facilities;
Elaine McCloghry, Head of HR;
the Rev Angus R. Mathieson, Interim Head of Faith Nurture.

Angus Mathieson (Rev)
Interim Head, Faith Nurture
Church of Scotland
121 George Street

17th March 2020: An update issued this afternoon on The Church of Scotland Facebook Page: “Cancellation of Worship Services:
We are asking that all gatherings for worship should cease until further notice, with effect from today (Wednesday 18th March 2020). This includes all Easter services. Some Presbyteries have already instructed this action. This will include, but not be restricted to, housegroups, meetings for youth work, and church cafes. It will still be possible for an individual to offer a livestreaming of a sermon and prayers. Sunday broadcasts of a weekly service take place on Radio 4, and also on Radio Scotland; other radio stations are available.” 

15th March 2020: All group meetings have been cancelled until further notice ie; Baby Group, Toddlers Groups, Sunday School, Girl’s Brigade, Boy’s Brigade, Stitchers, The Guild, The Choir, The Gardening Club and the Congregational Board Meeting due to Coronavirus concerns.

At the moment Worship next Sunday (22nd March) is still planned to go ahead but this may change during the week so keep checking back here for updates.

14th March 2020: Baby Group and all Toddler Groups have been suspended for the next two weeks.

Morning Service tomorrow morning (Sunday) as per usual.

We are regularly checking the Church of Scotland website for up to date advice for congregations and will update this page as required.