The dangers of coronavirus ‘are not over yet’, Queen tells Church

The Church of Scotland’s General Assembly opened online on Friday with a letter from the Queen in which she said she “greatly admired” its response to Covid-19

It is the first time the Kirk’s General Assembly has ever been held remotely after the physical gathering scheduled for May was cancelled due to the pandemic.

The General Assembly normally runs over the course of a week but the remote gathering has been condensed to two days, with only a small number of delegates in attendance to present reports, with the rest participating online.

The shorter gathering means that the programme has also been reduced to consider only urgent business over the weekend.

The letter from the Queen was read out loud at the start of proceedings on Friday evening by Rev Dr George Whyte, Chaplain-in-Ordinary and Principal Clerk of the Church of Scotland.

In it, the Queen spoke of “difficult” days as she said that the pandemic had “challenged every aspect of our common life” and “caused much suffering and heartbreak”.

She commended the Church for offering care to the bereaved “whose grieving has been constricted by restrictions on funerals”, and for keeping its doors open “to feed the poor and offer safe space to the children of key workers”.

With congregations moving their worship online, the Church has “touched the lives of people who did not in normal times attend church services”, she continued.

“The Kirk’s care workers have remained faithful in sustaining the services upon which so many older people and their families depend.”

She went on to say that the “dangers posed by the coronavirus are not yet over”.

“And we commend the Church as she seeks ways in which she can be true to her calling in the present while looking to the future,” she said.

“We wish those who lead the Church wisdom and foresight at this pivotal point in her history and may your faith and courage be strengthened during the days ahead and through the times to come.

“And so, praying that the blessing of Almighty God may attend your deliberations, We bid you heartily farewell.”