NO singing, contactless collections and three 20 minute services on a Sunday - the future of Springburn Parish Church looks uncertain and there is no guarantee of when it will be back.

Reverend Brian Casey of the North Glasgow kirk has called on the Scottish Government to improve its support and guidance for places of worship taking tentative steps to reopening.

“Normal church life isn’t back,” said the Reverend. “The Government are making out that it is and have put the onus on us as ministers figure out this is going to look. How is it going to play out in the long run? How safe are people going to be? I really don’t know.”

As a former police officer, Reverend Casey has more experience than most men of the cloth in enforcing the rules but is still feeling uneasy about manning the door when his church does reopen.

He said: “I was a cop for ten years, so I know how hard it is to get people to do things. It’s a bit of a worry.”

Springburn Parish Church sits at the heart of its community and has been running a community foodbank for the entirety of the lockdown. Projects such as this, alongside a host of other support groups and activities are part of the everyday life of the church, all of which were stopped by the pandemic.

Without parishioners for four months, money is dwindling, but Rev. Casey is not keen to get “bums on pews” just for the sake of collections. Even if they will be cashless, he noted, there is no guarantee elderly churchgoers will be comfortable donating by card.

The reverend thinks that poorer congregations such as his should be supported financially - either by the government or pooling resources with richer parishes - to cope with the added costs of maintaining hygiene. He wants to see the Scottish government sit down with clerics of all stripes to ensure a safe return to worship.

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: “We understand the important role of congregational worship in supporting spiritual wellbeing and do not want these restrictions to last any longer than is necessary. But we must ensure that people who enter places of worship to undertake congregational activities will be safe.

“Our safety guidance for places of worship reflects the evolving scientific and health advice and has been developed through engagement with Scotland’s faith communities. We will continue to work closely with those communities as we move towards fully reopening places of worship as soon as it is considered safe to do so.”

The Church of Scotland has distanced themselves from Rev. Casey's remarks. 

A spokeswoman for the Kirk said: "Baptisms and communion are permitted under Scottish Government guidelines and in the Church of Scotland once a building has completed a Covid-19 risk assessment and has approval from the presbytery. Along with other faith groups, we have been working very closely with the Scottish Government and Health Protection Scotland to ensure that people feel safe to return and that churches can safely ease back into worshipping together communally. 

"Churches face challenges that include finding the resources to clean their buildings and maintain the strict hygiene measures needed to reduce the risks of transmitting the COVID-19 infection. At present we believe the limit of 50 people is a sensible precautionary measure."

NOTE: An earlier version of this article quoted Rev. Casey saying that baptisms and communions were banned. This is not the case and has since been removed.