Falkirk area faith leaders offer messages of hope in new Covid-19 lockdown

Faith leaders have offered messages of hope after places of worship were again ordered to close amid a fresh coronavirus lockdown.

By Jonathon Reilly
Wednesday, 6th January 2021, 8:00 am

Falkirk district’s churches and mosques shut their doors when new laws came into effect across mainland Scotland on Monday night.

Designed to contain a faster-spreading strain of Covid-19, the restrictions mean no services can be held inside places of worship until February at the earliest.

Worships will once again be held over the phone and online, with platforms like Zoom, Facebook and YouTube enabling churchgoers to keep in contact.

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Grangemouth's Abbotsgrange Parish Church minister Reverend Aftab Gohar. Contributed.

While virtual gatherings became the norm for much of 2020, church leaders know not everyone has access to such technology.

Reverends in the Falkirk area are united in their calls for calmness, faith and compassion.

Reverend Raheel Arif, of Denny Old Parish Church, who will continue his services via YouTube and the ‘Minister Denny Old and Haggs’ Facebook page, said: “The impact is on people’s well-being.

Reverend Raheel Arif, of Denny Old Parish Church. Picture: Church of Scotland.

"With lockdown, we’ll just have to do phone calls. Not everybody has got Wi-Fi or internet devices in their homes. When we do online worships, 50 per cent watch.

“The good thing is we’re reaching out to many more people beyond our congregation and parishes. With restrictions, we usually have 50 in person but when I go online, there are sometimes over 200 or 300 watching.

“I just want to give parishioners hope. We’ve seen Christ’s light shine in the darkness – we will get through this difficult time.

“At the end of the tunnel there’s a light and that light’s coming in the shape of a vaccine.”

Bainsford Parish Church will broadcast its weekly service via Facebook and by phone on 0120 59993.

Rev. Andrew Sarle, locum minister, insists it’s vital congregations stick together.

He said: “Services are different as we’re not allowed to sing but there’s still a valid message being broadcast and preached.

“Let’s keep each other safe and in prayer. Look after your neighbours, look after other people and don’t do anything unnecessary that will endanger your health or that of any others.”

Abbotsgrange Parish Church in Grangemouth is another which will stream its Sunday services live on Facebook and YouTube, as well as a reflection on Wednesdays at 11.30am.

Reverend Aftab Gohar, Falkirk Presbytery moderator, said: “People miss being in the church.

“The online live streaming is a very good option and I will continue to do this from the church.

“I think I will continue the live streaming even after everything becomes normal because there are people who don’t want to come to church but they want to attend services.

“This is a very difficult time for all of us but we’re all together in it. Keep the faith.

“We have hope and there are vaccines available. Just be patient and help others as much as you can because there are people in need.

“People have lost jobs and their confidence; many people have lost their faith as well.

“People are suffering with loneliness and hunger – there are children who don’t have enough to eat because their parents can’t provide for them.

“Look around yourself and help others as much as you can. Share the love of Jesus.”

Rev. Gohar can be contacted for pastoral care on 01324 482109.

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