A Church of Scotland minister is offering online memorial services in place of public funerals due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
They will be recorded by Rev Dr Marjory MacLean, alone in a church, after consultation with bereaved families and then posted on the same day as the committal service.
It would enable people who would ordinarily attend services to pay their respects to watch the service in the safety of their own homes as the UK lockdown continues.
Dr MacLean, minister of Abernyte linked with Inchture & Kinnaird and Longforgan, decided to act after restrictions on traditional funerals were put in place by the Kirk.
She said: “Often a funeral in our tradition consists of what is essentially a memorial service and a separate very short committal service, often attended only by the family.
“While committal services are very constrained at the moment, this idea allows the memorial service to be attended by anyone.”
The Church of Scotland has decreed that no funeral service can take place in church buildings which have been closed for all activities.
Attendance at services held elsewhere must be limited to immediate close family – parents or the spouse and the couple’s adult children but not their partners.
So-called “social distancing” guidelines for those who are not of the same household must be adhered to, to stop the spread of the killer virus.
Dr MacLean, convener of the Chaplains to Her Majesty’s Forces Committee, said plans are in hand for the first pre-recorded online memorial service.
She said: “If we can do Sunday services using social media platforms, then why not memorial services in place of traditional funerals?
“From the family’s point of view, the usual conversation takes place with the minister by phone or video conference to plan the service and given directions about the tribute and so on.”
Rev Dr George Whyte, principal clerk of the General Assembly, is supportive of the move where possible.
He said: “The very restricted attendance now allowed at funeral services means that even people who are very close to the deceased will not be able to be present.
“This is a chance to be reminded of the good memories of shared life and the appreciation of their friend or loved ones’ gifts.
“I’m sure that for many of them to be able to hear a tribute on the day the funeral takes place would be a great comfort in their loss.”