Churches are rejoicing after the easing of lockdown restrictions means parishioners can celebrate Easter in buildings this year after nearly 12 months of online services.

Rev Ross McMahan at Cumnock Congregational Church explained: “At Cumnock Congregational we are thrilled to be able to return to in person Lord’s Day worship at Easter.

“The past year has been most challenging and difficult I think for all churches.

“We’ve been able to have our Sunday Morning Worship Services uploaded onto the Church’s YouTube and Facebook channel so that worshippers can be fed from God’s word, but in reality it’s far from ideal and the element of community is greatly strained by not being able to gather in person. In the past year we’ve only managed to gather on three occasions in November.”

The church assures parishioners that they have implemented a number of protocols to ensure people’s safety. Services will continue to be streamed on Facebook Live for the foreseeable future, too.

Rev McMahan added: “Our first service will be on Easter Sunday at 11am. Because of restrictions we are only able to accommodate a limited number of worshippers.

“We’ll have approx 30-35 in the sanctuary and an additional 10-15 in one of our halls watching by means of a live feed.

“Due to restrictions, those wishing to attend will need to book a space.”

To reserve your seat, call 01290426216, email or message through Facebook messenger.

Cumnock Chronicle: Rev McMahan. Photo taken pre-pandemic.Rev McMahan. Photo taken pre-pandemic.

At St Andrew's United Free Church on Glaisnock Street, the parish are, too, gearing up for a return to the church building, with one member saying it could not have come at a more fitting time.

Member Alison McWhirter explained: "Easter Sunday is always a particularly happy time in Church when we celebrate Jesus’ victory over death. After the awful year we have had, when death has been at the forefront of our news reports, thinking and experience, it couldn’t be more important to be able to go to Church to be reminded of the real hope and new life we have in Jesus.

"The songs we sing at Easter are both thoughtful and uplifting, and even though we won’t be allowed to sing them this year, it will still be very meaningful to listen to recordings of them. When we meet together we encourage each other.

"So many people are talking about feeling weary this time round, and many of our members are really looking forward to getting back out to Church even with the restrictions in place."

Cumnock Chronicle: Photo of Free Church members taken at a celebration of the Church’s 80th anniversary in September 2019.Photo of Free Church members taken at a celebration of the Church’s 80th anniversary in September 2019.

Throughout the pandemic, the Church has utilised its website as a way of keeping connecting with the congregation, with links to songs and hymns which have attracted people from across the globe.

Alison continued: "We had to make alternative arrangements very quickly last year. We don’t have the facilities for streaming services online, so we decided to make good use of our website. The minister uploads a recording of a Bible reading and short talk every Sunday and Wednesday, and we add links every week to songs and hymns.

"We have also been distributing CDs of these talks to members who don’t have access to the internet. We returned to services in the Church building in October and continued until the start of this lockdown."

The Easter Day Service will be at 11am on April 4. Click here for more information.