The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland will once again be held online later this year amid “uncertainty” over continuing coronavirus restrictions.
On Thursday the Kirk announced the decision “with commissioners and other attendees joining together remotely from across Scotland and around the world”.
Usually, around 800 commissioners and visitors would descend on Edinburgh to debate Church matters but the event was cancelled – for the first time in 330 years – in 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Rev Dr George Whyte, principal clerk for the Church of Scotland, said: “We regret that we cannot join together in person as usual given the uncertainty about the Covid restrictions that may still be necessary this spring.
“However we intend to make our online experience as good as it possibly can be.”
The Right Reverend Dr Martin Fair was installed as Moderator of the General Assembly in a small, socially-distanced ceremony on May 16.
Online events were then held remotely on October 2 and 3, having also been due to take place in May originally.
While this year’s event will open on Saturday May 22, a statement from the Kirk said: “Details of the 2021 General Assembly are still being finalised and more information will be released in the coming months.”
The pandemic also had an impact on Church business with the General Assembly approving a “lean and fit for growth” plan in October amid fears of an estimated £20 million drop in annual income.
Later that month it was also announced former deputy first minister Lord Wallace would be the next Moderator of the General Assembly.
The 66-year-old life peer – an elder and member of St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, Orkney – will succeed Dr Fair in the role in May.
Lord Wallace will take up the 12-month position representing the Kirk at home and abroad and move to the non-affiliated benches of the House of Lords during this time.