Parishioners made their way back to places of worship across Tayside and Fife on Sunday after a court ruling allowed churches to re-open.
The Court of Session deemed the closure of places of worship – including churches, mosques, synagogues and temples – “unlawful” following a challenge by 27 church leaders.
The ruling said the Scottish Government acted beyond its emergency powers in enforcing the closures and gave the green light for places of worship to reopen immediately.
This landmark was widely welcomed by church leaders, including Kinnoull Parish Church minister Rev Graham Crawford says safety measures were still in place as worshipers made their way back on Sunday.
He said: “We’re delighted. There are still government regulations for services indoors, so we can have up to 50 people from 29 family units. Those could be single people or families of four.
“Everybody enters through the same door and get ticked off the list by the session clerk. They wash their hands and are escorted to their seats. The service has been shortened to 40 minutes too.
“We can only do this after we’ve done the risk assessment and buildings checks specified by the presbytery.”
Kinnoull had offered a virtual service before the first 2020 lockdown, delivering DVDs of services to housebound congregation members and care homes across Perth.
This service was converted into a live stream early last year, and reached audiences across the Atlantic.
The reopening of the Dundee Road church won’t put an end to this though, as Graham insists just because it’s been legally deemed safe to return for services, people still have some worries.
Graham added: “There’s still a lot of anxiety and people who don’t want to come out because of fear.
“We’re not allowed to still not allowed to sing either, and a lot of people would rather worship online and be able to sing at home.
“We’ll still have three hymns and an organist and people will be able to just read the words on the screen.
“It’s going to be interesting, but I’m delighted we can open again. We have 18 families signed up the last time I checked.”
At St John’s Kirk in the city centre, Rev John Murdoch said the Palm Sunday service felt like “a festival.”
He said: “To be able to get back into the building physically was great. It required teamwork but it flowed smoothly.
“We still had masks and no singing, but I felt it didn’t make the congregation any less glad to be there. Some may have been humming under their masks to the music.
“It was the same at the later service at St Leonard’s In The Fields. There were familiar faces who I think, if they hadn’t had their vaccines, might have not come.
“Last time we came out of lockdown, it was an unknown venture. Now, there is increased excitement and hope as we can see the vaccine working.”