Reopening for Worship – A Guide 

Dunblane Cathedral will reopen for worship at the 10.30am Service on Sunday 20th September. However, a number of restrictions will be in place, including on numbers. As all of this is very new and may seem rather strange to us, you may have a number of questions. This is our attempt to answer any questions you may have.

Do I need to book?

Yes. Until we have more of an idea of how many people might be planning to attend, booking will be required. If we permit more than fifty people to attend at any one time, we will be breaking a law intended to ensure that people can attend worship as safely as possible. The last thing elders on duty wish to do is to turn people away simply because they have not booked and we have reached our total allocation of fifty.

Does this upper limit of fifty people include the ministers, organist, beadle and duty elders?

Yes. Only fifty people in total are permitted to attend any one service, irrespective of the size of a church building. If, for example, we have two ministers, a student for the ministry, an organist, a beadle and four duty elders in the Cathedral, this reduces the number of others able to attend to forty-one. 

How do I book?

There is a designated mobile telephone number for those who wish to book a place at a service. You may, if you wish, book on behalf of yourself and other members of your family. Those wishing to book a place at a service, should telephone the following number FOR THE FOLLOWING SUNDAY ONLY:

at any of these times:

Monday:           10am - 12pm
Wednesday:   7pm - 9pm
Friday:               3pm - 5pm

Please do not phone except at these times as the phone will not be answered and there is no ability to leave a message.

If you are unable to attend after having booked it would be helpful if you dialled back to let us know so we can free the booking. Thank you for your help.

Why not an online booking system?

Whilst we recognise that an online booking system might be simpler for some people, we know that there are other people who do not have internet access. Given that most people have access to a telephone, we believe a telephone booking system to be the fairest way.

Can’t I simply ring the Cathedral Office or the Manse?

No, please don't. The Cathedral Office has not yet reopened and we do not currently have an Administrator. The only person who will have the list for bookings is the person in charge of the mobile telephone and not the Minister.

Can I book several Sundays at a time?

We regret that this will not be possible. We currently don’t know how many people are likely to book, and we wish to give as many people the opportunity to attend as possible. Block bookings would make this difficult to achieve.

What about any visitors who may simply turn up? 

Dunblane Cathedral often has visitors attending worship and it is always our privilege to welcome them. However, we are having to work with restrictions that are not of our own devising. We encourage those who have booked to be seated by 10.20am at the latest, if at all possible. This will enable us to allocate any remaining places to people who have not been able to book in advance, provided that no more than fifty people are admitted to any one service. Sometimes visitors enter the Cathedral during a service simply in order to have a look at the interior of the building. Sadly, in the current circumstances, this will not be possible. 

What if there are no places left on the Sunday I want to attend?

If that is the case, we would encourage you to try booking the next week that does suit you. If we consistently have more than fifty seeking to book a place, we will consider more than one Sunday service each week. 

NHS Scotland Test and Protect System– What details do I have to give, and how long will those details be kept?

In order to help in keeping the spread of the Coronavirus to a minimum, we will be cooperating fully with the NHS Test and Protect System. When booking a place at a service, you will be asked to give your full name along with a contact telephone number or e-mail address. These details will be held in a safe place for the statutory period of three weeks before being securely destroyed. The information we collect will not be used for any purpose other than the contact tracing in response to an official request from the NHS.  Your data is collected on behalf of the entire Church of Scotland, and their data privacy policy can be seen HERE.

Do I have to wear a face-covering?

Yes. This is now mandatory. It is recognised that there may be a few medical conditions which make the wearing of a face-covering difficult, but the advice we have received is that such conditions are extremely rare.  Wearing a face-covering over both your nose and your mouth is for your protection and that of the people around you, and we ask for your co-operation on this important matter. We encourage people to bring their own face-coverings, but disposable ones will also be made available. 

Do I have to sanitise my hands?

Yes. Sanitiser will be made available and should be used as you enter and leave the building.

Can I sit in my usual pew?

Not at present. The pews in the Cathedral have been moved slightly to ensure social distancing of a minimum of 2 metres and not all pews are currently accessible as a result. You will be shown to a seat.  People from the same household or “support bubble” are encouraged to sit together. Otherwise, social distancing of 2 metres is expected, with people sitting only at opposite ends of each pew. 

Will there be singing?

No. Although research on the matter is ongoing, the current understanding is that singing may be a means through which the Coronavirus is transmitted from one person to another. There will be music, including recordings made for worship by the Cathedral Choir, but live congregational and choral singing is currently not permitted.

Will there be an offering?

Offering plates will not be passed around during services. However, there will be an opportunity for you to make your offering for the work of the Cathedral as you leave the service. The easiest, and safest way of making your offering for the work of the Church is through a standing order or via the Donate button on the Cathedral website. 

Will I be permitted to repeat the Lord’s Prayer?

Yes, but the guidance is that this should be done softly, and only when wearing a face-covering.

Will I be able to follow any Bible readings? Will there be an Order of Service sheet?

 Unfortunately, medical advice on cross-contamination on surfaces is such that we cannot provide Bibles for use during the service, nor an Order of Service sheet. We are advised by the Church of Scotland not to provide any shared resources for services.

Will I be able to look around the Cathedral after the service?

Unfortunately this will not be possible as the Cathedral needs to be sanitised immediately after the service. If you wish to look around the Cathedral we would suggest you come during Historic Environment Scotland's opening hours, where you must pre-book a ticket for entry - click HERE for full details.

What about Cathedral Kids?

Children and young people are always welcome in worship and will continue to be so. For the time being, they will be invited to sit with their family for worship, and will be included in the maximum total of those able to attend a service. Cathedral Kids will not be resuming, as usual, in September. However, their leaders have put various other activities in place. These will include:

  1. A Treasure Hunt around Dunblane for the children. Details of this will be emailed to the Cathedral Kids.
  2. Children will be invited to a monthly Zoom meeting until they are able to meet up again
  3. A weekly blog will still be put onto the Cathedral Kids’ area of the website and parents will be asked to give feedback with any thoughts they may have. 
  4. The weekly Talks2Kids will continue to be posted online. 

How long will services last at present?

We envisage that, given the very different nature of services at present, these will last no more than 30 minutes.

Will tea and coffee be available following services?

Not at this point. Whilst we realise that this is an important part of fellowship at worship, this is not currently permitted. We will keep this under review in the light of how the situation develops. 

Will toilet facilities be available?

Yes. These will be available in the Cathedral Halls, via the entrance to the newest part of the halls. Access via the fire-exit at the corner of the Main Hall or the door to the Cockburn Lounge will not be possible. If you need directions, an elder on welcome duty will guide you. 

When will the Cathedral Halls be open for other activities?

Right now, we don’t know. Current restrictions for gatherings or meetings – other than worship itself - are that no more than eight people from no more than three different households can meet indoors at present, which precludes most gatherings that would normally take place in our halls. However, we will continue to monitor the situation in the light of changing Government and Church of Scotland guidelines. Any updates on our part will be given via the Cathedral website or Facebook page. 

Is any group or category of people banned from attending worship?

Absolutely not! Everyone is welcome to attend, providing we adhere to the numbers permitted. However, Government and Church of Scotland advice is that it may well be safer for people who could be at a higher risk of contracting the Coronavirus, perhaps because of age or underlying health issues, to engage with the life of a congregation in other ways, such as online worship, until the risk of contracting the virus diminishes. Whilst out of concern for their wellbeing, we might encourage people who are particularly at risk not to attend worship for the time being, no one will be turned away on grounds of age or health. If you are unsure about whether or not you may be in a higher risk category, the Church of Scotland has published guidelines, which can be found on the Cathedral website HERE. However, if you are displaying some of the recognised symptoms of Coronavirus, such as a high temperature, the loss of taste or smell, a persistent cough, diarrhoea or vomiting, we ask that you remain at home and refrain from entering the building. 


All of this may sound very restrictive, as if intended to discourage you from joining us in worship. Nothing could be further from the truth! We do look forward to welcoming you back to Dunblane Cathedral and very much look forward to the day when we can all join for worship and sing together!

These guidelines and restrictions are being put in place only for as long as necessary and for the well-being of us all. We ask for your co-operation in what are still difficult circumstances. Please be patient with us – we are all learning about how to keep everyone safe in difficult times. These days will pass, but we don’t yet know when.


Rev. Colin C. Renwick - on behalf of the Kirk Session Working Group.