May 28, 2009

Virtual ministers to solve Kirk’s clergy shortage

by David Masters

Virtual ministers could soon be set up by the Church of Scotland to make up for the Kirk’s shortage of full-time clergy.

Sermons would be preached by one minister to several congregations over video link technology under proposals currently being considered by the Kirk’s General Assembly.

The minister would visit a different church each week to lead worship, with the service beamed over broadband to the other churches in the minister’s circuit.

If trials of the technology prove successful, Orkney presbytery will be the first to have the technology installed.

Orkney presbytery’s twenty one congregations are spread over more than ten islands. Initially, four congregations in Rousay, Shapinsee, Flotta and Hoy, will be linked.

Reverend Trevor Hunt, presbytery clerk of Orkney, said: “We don’t want congregations just sitting there watching television as if it was Songs of Praise so we want to make it interactive.

“Somebody might do a Bible reading, somebody else might lead the prayer.”

Gordon Bell, the Kirk’s media relations officer, said preaching by video link is “one of many radical changes being proposed” to combat declining numbers of clergy.

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