AN IRVINE minister hopes churches will reach “beyond their walls” by continuing to stream services as they begin to reopen after more than four months closed.

Churches across the country are slowly opening for the first time since March as lockdown restrictions continue to be eased but numbers inside are limited to 50 and must be socially distanced with singing restricted.

Despite the recent announcement from the Scottish Government that services could take place again, some have made the decision not to go ahead just yet.

They include Reverend Neil Urquhart from Fullarton Parish Church who had been streaming services long before lockdown was introduced with the parish already having a strong following online.

He said: “It’s obviously been a very challenging time for us and our community but it has also presented us with opportunities to connect through the internet.

“We have been streaming our services on Facebook for three years so that has evolved and grown further during the pandemic.

“Throughout the week, at least 2,000 people connect in some form with our online videos.

“Because we have such an internet presence we don’t see the need as pressing to reopen so quickly. We think it will be to our advantage to let a month go by in order to learn from other churches in regard to what they are able to do, what works well and what does not work well.

“There is great opportunity on the internet to get beyond our church walls and I think more and more churches are realising that.

“Of course with streaming services you don’t get the same personal and face to face relationships as you do when you meet together but I am excited about the opportunities that we are starting to take seriously.”