Important Update: news from Duncan and Iain
Here’s a letter from Duncan MacPherson the minister, and from Iain Ross, Chair of the Congregational Board. (A PDF of the letter is available here.
We are now entering the 11th week since the lockdown was announced. It’s been a time of massive change in our society as we have sought to limit the spread of the Covid 19 virus. It’s also been an unprecedented time of change for Churches all across the UK as we have sought to adapt to a new landscape of faith and life, which doesn’t include the opportunity to attend a building for worship. Zoom, YouTube and Facebook Live have become the new mediums for sharing in worship and fellowship on a weekly basis. In common with so many congregations across the country, we have been hugely encouraged by the number of people who are joining us online every week. We could fill Hilton Church several times over with the increase in the size of the online congregation, which is quite amazing!
At this point it’s hard to predict what the future will hold in terms of some kind of a resumption of worship services within Church buildings. All the indications are that it will be a very slow process towards whatever the “new normal” might be. It’s probable that due to the requirements of social distancing, only about a quarter of our normal size of congregation might be able to attend. It’s also likely that we won’t be able to sing together, as research indicates that singing can significantly increase the level of transmission of the virus! All these issues will no doubt become clearer within the next few weeks and months. Whatever the future holds, we are planning towards retaining an online presence which will include a service every Sunday morning.
At the beginning of the lockdown, we immediately became aware of how dependent we were on the weekly services in terms of our income. The loss each month to the congregation amounted to around £2400. We wrote to you outlining the challenges we were facing and requested that you might prayerfully consider whether you could support us in addressing this deficit. We are delighted to confirm that through your generous response as a congregation we have moved from a deficit of around £2400 per month on offerings to a surplus of £343 per month. If we are able to maintain that level of income moving forward, we should be able to balance our budget for the year. On behalf of the Congregational Board we would like to thank you for all your generous support and we will continue to keep you informed of progress on a monthly basis.
It was a real blessing to be able to join with Church of Scotland congregations across the country on Sunday to celebrate Pentecost with the new Moderator, Martin Fair. Seven words really impacted on many who were watching – “THE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND HAS LEFT THE BUILDING.” It’s been wonderful to discover afresh as followers of Jesus, that even in our physical separation from one another, the work of the Holy Spirit has continued and enabled us to glimpse new possibilities. Who would have thought that in leaving our buildings, we would massively increase the number of people who we are sharing with Sunday by Sunday.
While we obviously look forward to a time when we can meet together again, let’s be alert to the opportunities that God is giving us now for worship, service and witness. We are grateful to John Dempster for all his work in keeping us updated on life around Hilton Church through the website and Facebook. Portraits for NHS workers, Befriending, Poetry, Foodbank, Hot meals delivered from the Lighthouse, Zoom quiz’s, Book groups, Crafting and Facebook live services are just some of the many ways in which the vibrancy of our life together as Jesus’ followers has been demonstrated.
We wish you good health and safety in these uncertain times. We will write again when the way ahead begins to become clearer.
Grace & Peace
Duncan MacPherson and Iain Ross