A Church of Scotland minster is offering online memorial services in place of public funerals due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Rev Dr Marjory MacLean will record each service alone in a church and they will be posted online on the same day as the burial.

Dr MacLean, minister for Abernyte, Inchture, Kinnaird and Longforgan in Perth and Kinross, said the service offered the opportunity for more than just close family to pay their respects.

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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 Scottish Government has restricted funerals to immediate family only and instructed churches to close.

The Church of Scotland said its services, held elsewhere, must be limited to immediate close family – parents or the spouse and the couple’s adult children, but not their partners.

Dr MacLean 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 like YouTube, 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 give directions about the tribute and so on.

“A period of time, perhaps a few hours, is agreed upon as the time the service will be publicly available on our YouTube channel.”

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Rev Dr George Whyte, principal clerk of the Church’s General Assembly, said he was supportive of the move where possible.

He said the online memorials would be a chance for mourners to be “reminded of the good memories of shared life and the appreciation of their friend or loved one’s gifts”.

He added: “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.”