Online baptisms won't happen, says Church of Scotland

The Church said it was exploring what online membership and participation could look likeBMS

The Church of Scotland has dismissed claims it will allow online baptisms.

The claims circulated after the Church's Legal Questions Committee's report referred to the possibility of online membership and possibly allowing access to the sacraments without being physically present.

In a statement the Church dismissed reports of "online baptisms" as "the most extreme interpretation of what may be discussed" at the upcoming General Assembly, which will consider the report.

Rev George Cowie, convenor of the committee said online baptisms would be a "very radical departure from the current church practice".

"It is important to emphasise that the Legal Questions Committee isn't putting forward any such proposals at this time," he said. 

The committee's Blue Book report discussed how to build "greater interaction with the Church through online access and social media" and said "questions arise about online membership and even about access to the sacraments while not being physically present in the congregation".

Cowie was quick to insist that although online engagement offered "fresh opportunities", the Church needed to give "careful consideration, determining the parameters of what can properly be done".

Rev Norman Smith, vice convenor of the mission and discipleship council, said work was being done in the Church to define what online membership might mean.

"What we as a denomination are looking at is defining the nature of someone's relationship with the Church when they do not attend in person.

"We've found an increasing number of our congregations are developing an online component. They are streaming their services and reaching out to growing numbers of people, and these people already feel part of the Church.

"We are now preparing a theological report which will address this question of what it actually means to be part of this online church community."