A GOUROCK minister's online services are reaching more than 1,400 people worldwide.

Reverend David Burt, of Old Gourock & Ashton Church, says live streaming has captured an audience as far afield as America, Canada and Barbados.

The minister says it is one of the few plus points to come out of the pandemic.

Although members are missing traditional Sunday morning worship, David says the public health restrictions have increased the use of technology in the church and he believes this will stand it in good stead for the future.

But he admits he fears it could be after the summer before he gets the chance to welcome his congregation back in person once again.

Rev Burt said: "We are doing our online services on a Sunday morning and in one we had 1,400 interactions.

"It is a positive thing to come out of it.

"It's been a learning curve.

"Before, we talked about live streaming but now we have to do it and we will keep that going even when we we go back to normal."

David says that members of the congregation are enjoying the online sermons in the absence of the real thing.

He said: "Even if we were back in the church, we'd only be allowed 50 people socially distanced and there would be no singing, which is obviously a big part of a traditional Church of Scotland service.

"Our virtual service is just me and the organist and the two technical guys and we ask people to sing along at home.

"We put the words of the hymns up and tell them they can sing as loudly as they want because they will only annoy their family or neighbours.

"One woman told me she does her ironing while listening to the service, which I think is brilliant."

The downside is losing personal contact, but elders have been calling round people in the community to make sure they are keeping well.

David is not hopeful about re-opening until after the summer and says he has already made contingency plans for Easter.

He said: "During the first lockdown I was quite optimistic but it's not gone as quickly as I thought it would.

"I would like to think we will be back hopefully sooner rather than later, given the numbers in the vaccination programme, but certainly not before Easter.

"I think it will be post-summer now."