CHURCH leaders in Clydebank have spoken of their joy following the latest announcement on lockdown restrictions from the Scottish Government – but not every church will be opening straight away.

Places of worship in Scotland are expected to be able to reopen for communal gatherings from this Friday, March 26, in time for Easter and other religious festivals including Passover and Ramadan – with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon due to announce final plans as this issue of the Post went to press.

Among the local churches planning to reopen on Palm Sunday are Kilbowie St Andrews Parish Church, Our Holy Redeemer’s and St Margaret’s, as well as St Mary’s in Duntocher and St Joseph’s in Faifley.

Others, however, will wait a little longer, including Duntocher Trinity and Faifley Parish Church.

Rev Gregor McIntyre, minister at Faifley Parish Church, said that while he was delighted at the news, his church would be waiting until May to resume in-person worship.

Mr McIntyre told the Post: “My elders and deacons have decided that we won’t reopen until Sunday, May 23.

“We’re not going to hurry to reopen on Easter Sunday and wanted to wait until we knew things were safe.

“I can’t wait and I’m delighted we will soon be able to reopen. It allows us to start our worship again on one of the Christian festivals, Pentecost.

“It all feels very positive.”

The church has been producing video services during lockdown, with viewers tuning in from around the world on YouTube and Facebook.

Mr McIntyre added: “We now have more people viewing the services than we did attending before the pandemic, which is a very positive aspect of it all.

“We have a regular viewer in Canada and others all over Scotland so it’s been very successful and we’ve had positive feedback.”

Meanwhile, the Rev Mitchell Bunting, who is responsible on an interim basis for the United Reformed Church congregations at Morison Memorial in Clydebank and at Essenside in Drumchapel, said the former would hold its first service on Palm Sunday and the latter on Easter Day.

Mr Bunting said: “I know from the period between September and December last year, when we were able to hold public worship in the churches where I am minister, that this meant a great deal to worshippers.

“Despite the social distancing and hygiene requirements – and of course no congregational singing – it was good to be able to gather in each other’s company and worship together.”