“It’s been so precious for us worshipping together.”

Churches in Orkney are making history by teaming up for the first time to produce inspiring online services to mark Advent.

The project every Sunday in the run up to Christmas involves 10 churches from seven denominations in Kirkwall, Shapinsay and Stronsay.

A mixture of eight ministers, pastors and priests will, in pairs, lead 30 minute services in a show of community strength to brighten up the gloom created by COVID-19.

Each week’s recording will be available for members of their respective congregations as well as the wider public to enjoy on Facebook, with a ‘dial in’ version for those who may not have access to the internet.

Many of the churches involved are part of Kirkwall Council of Churches, an ecumenical partnership which has been running for 55 years.

Members include:

  • the Church of Scotland
  • the Scottish Episcopal Church
  • the United Reformed Church
  • the Baptist Church
  • the Salvation Army
  • Life Church
  • the Roman Catholic Church.

Rev Julia Meason, minister of Kirkwall East linked with Shapinsay and interim moderator of Stronsay, explained that the partnership has always been successful, but COVID-19 had brought denominations closer together.

She explained:

“We work really well together but usually we keep our worship separate as the members of Kirkwall Council of Churches are quite different.”

Rev Julia Meason

Each year, the groups have come together on Good Friday for the annual Walk of Witness where people can visit each of the churches and enjoy a 10 minute service at each one.

However, when lockdown hit in March, Radio Orkney decided to run a program called Radio Church which featured different worship leaders recording a reflection each week.

Mrs Meason said:

“After Radio Church finished we thought ‘why not continue to do something together?’

“It’s been very precious everything we’ve been doing together, and especially now to be doing Advent together. We are very proud of the partnership. We see the benefit of working together online, which we wouldn’t have been able to do in our own churches.”

“Over the last eight months, church has become even more important for people, and we’ve had lots of people who wouldn’t normally come to church taking part online. There’s a sense of community, a sense of being in it together.

“For us in Orkney, geography is always a challenge and the online services mean you don’t have to cross the water to be together.

“It’s been so precious for us worshipping together.”

Click on this link to Advent video –Facebook video

St Magnus Cathedral Orkney

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