News from The Church of Scotland

14 Jun 2024

Updated 14 June

Peace March in Jerusalem: Rev. Dr. Stewart Gillan and Rev. Muriel Pearson, who are Mission Partners from the Church of Scotland in Israel, recently took part in a cross-religions solidarity march in Jerusalem against the war in Gaza. They reflected: 'The peace march, with Rabbis for Human Rights taking the organisational lead, bore witness to an inclusive vision of a city in which Israelis and Palestinians are honoured equally.' In February, Muriel Pearson spoke to the Presbytery of Perth of her experiences in Israel/Palestine.

Updated 6 June

Social Care Warning: Kirk members have been called on to lobby MSPs to tackle Scotland's care sector crisis, with the warning that the system is in danger of collapse. The plea came from Rev Thom Riddell, convener of CrossReach, the Church of Scotland's social care arm, after he presented the Social Care Council report to the recent General Assembly of the Kirk in Edinburgh, and revealed that low pay rates were the biggest challenge to recruitment and retention of staff across the care sector.

 

Updated 30 May 

General Assembly on TV: The BBC broadcast a half-hour TV programme last Sunday looking at a few of this year's debates at the General Assembly, some of it on sensitive subjects and very emotional, being based on people's lived experiences. It also documented a sample of the Kirk's work in the community through CrossReach and examples of new forms of church in the community local to us, in Perth and St Madoes. It is available on BBC iplayer: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m001zs90/general-assembly-2024-26052024

Encouragement to vote: A call to the General Assembly encouraging churches to help people exercise their right to vote became unexpectedly topical when a General Election was called in the middle of a session. Very Revd. Martin Fair was in the chair at the time and paused the Assembly for prayer for all at this period of uncertainty. Shortly after, the motion by Rev Tim Norwood encouraging churches and presbyteries to share resources from the Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office ahead of this year's UK General Election was heard by the Assembly. "When I put in to speak, I didn't realise how immediate this would be," Mr. Norwood told commissioners. The Church of Scotland and other denominations have put together a resources pack for congregations in anticipation of a General Election this year and Mr Norward urged churches to make use of the resource both to encourage people to vote and host their own ecumenical hustings in the run up to the election.

Parish Size Updates: The Church of Scotland has calculated the population of current parishes from the newly-released 2022 national census.

Kinross parish had 6098 inhabitants, a 15% increase on the 5307 people living here in 2011. That puts our geographical area of responsibility at about 20th in population of the 135 congregations in the Presbytery of Perth. Some of the larger parishes are newly-amalgamated team ministries such as Dundee North East at 28,000. The parish is also about 30th fastest growing.

The 2022 figures for the other parishes in the Kinross-shire Grouping are: Cleish 761 (+11% increase); Fossoway 1419 (+5%); Orwell & Portmoak: 4351 (+11%).

Updated 17 May

Thanks to Alan Reid at General Assembly: Gordon McFarlane, one of our elders and who is a Commissioner to the General Assembly this year, writes: "Ploughing through the many reports I came across this thanks to our minister in the Report to the General Assembly from the Legal Questions Committee. Who even knew that Alan was involved in this work on top of all the support he gives us here in Kinross-shire?":

"Revd. Alan Reid brought to his year as Vice Convener the experience and wisdom of a former Presbytery Clerk, but also the grace and imagination everyone associates with his wider ministry. No task has been too great or too small for him; he has been equally willing both to represent the Convener in small technical tasks and to lead a Working Group examining the most delicate and sensitive of questions. Alan always ensures the pastoral character of what might otherwise remain simply as dry impersonal rules. The Committee is grateful to him for his counsel and commitment and wishes him well as he takes up new responsibilities in his Presbytery "

Updated 2 May

General Assembly: Hundreds of Church members are preparing for the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Saturday, 18th – Thursday, 23rd May. More than 400 commissioners will attend in person - including Rev. Alan Reid and Gordon McFarlane from our church - while another 100 will tune in online. The event will be streamed live and can be viewed on the Church of Scotland website.

Moderator Designate: The General Assembly's first act will be to officially install the Moderator Designate 2024-25, Revd Dr Shaw Paterson, minister of Strathaven Trinity Parish Church in South Lanarkshire since 1991. He succeeds Rt Revd Sally Foster-Fulton. One of the themes of Dr Paterson's year in office is "building together" – a nod to his former job as a bricklayer and a call for people to come together as the Church continues its reform programme.

Updated 11 April

Olive Oil from the Scottish Grove: An olive oil producer backed by the Church of Scotland and led by a team of Arab and Jewish women has managed to harvest its award-winning olive oil despite thedifficulties of the Israel - Gaza war. Hundreds of volunteers stepped in to pick the olives at the Scottish Grove near Nazareth when most of the professional Palestinian workforce were unable to reach groves in Israel.

Full article:https://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/news-and-events/news/articles/scottish-grove-in-the-holy-land-bears-fruit

The Church of Scotland has a long history in the Middle East and is active in advocating for a just peace. It has churches at Jerusalem and Tiberias (run as one congregation), the Scots Hotel at Tiberias and Tabeetha School in Jaffa.

Updated 4 April 

Easter Message from the Moderator: Rt Revd. Sally Foster-Fulton issued her Easter message in what she called 'unprecedented times for the Church of Scotland and wider society', She said that: 'The story still heralds an audacious hope we need to hear, still has the power to hold us fast and firm to each other...... it begins, but certainly does not end, with you.' The full message is at: https://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/news-and-events/news/articles/an-easter-sunday-message-from-the-moderator

Updated 28 March

Pilgrimage: The Moderator, Rt Revd. Sally Foster Fulton, is travelling to Jamaica on 4 April to take part in an ecumenical pilgrimage to learn about the legacy of slavery. There will be an emphasis on repairing relationships and spiritual reconciliation. She will be joined by the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church,the Moderator of the United Reformed Church, and staff from Christian Aid. She will meet with local churches and the country’s politicians, including the Prime Minister, and will also preach at St Andrew’s Scots Kirk The visit comes following the presentation of a report on the Church of Scotland's material links to slavery at last year's General Assembly.

Updated 21 March 

Voter Registration: The Church of Scotland is backing a campaign to encourage people to sign up to vote in the next General Election. The Voter Registration Champions scheme is also backed by the Baptist Union, Methodist Church, and United Reformed Church. Emma Jackson, convener of the Church of Scotland's 'Public Life and Social Justice Group' has welcomed the initiative, which has been set up by the community organiser group, Citizens UK. The Electoral Commission has warned that 8 million eligible voters might not register in time and 4 million might not have appropriate photo id.

Updated 15 March

General Assembly 2024: This will run from 18th -23rd May, and Revd. Alan Reid and elder Gordon McFarlane from our congregation will be among the Commissioners. This year the Lord High Commissioner (the personal representative of the Sovereign) will be Prince Edward, Duke of Edinburgh. He last took on the role in 2014. The Moderator Designate for 2023-24 is Revd. Dr Shaw James Paterson, minister at Strathaven Trinity Parish Church in Lanarkshire.

 Moderator's Visit: This week the current Moderator, Rt. Revd. Sally Foster-Fulton, has been visiting the new Presbytery of Forth Valley and Clydesdale, an amalgamation of the previous presbyteries of Falkirk, Hamilton, and Lanark. At a special service in Hamilton, she presented Long Service Certificates to 177 elders representing 5,000 years of service. She also visited churches in the Presbytery which run vital mission projects to support people living with dementia, struggling with feeding families, coping with homelessness and battling addictions.

Updated 8 February

Well Wishes for the King: The Moderator, Rt. Revd. Sally Foster-Fulton said this week "We are extremely sad to hear that His Majesty King Charles has been diagnosed with cancer. This is a diagnosis that many face in their lifetime and which is always shocking news to receive. We assure the King of our prayers as he undergoes treatment and wish him well for a speedy recovery. We remember too Her Majesty the Queen and other members of The Royal Family in our prayers during this difficult time."

Racial Justice Sunday: Rt. Revd. Sally Foster-Fulton, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, spoke this week ahead of Racial Justice Sunday on 11 February, which provides churches across the UK the opportunity to lament the reality of racism in society and commit to try and help end it. She said that those who used hostile or dehumanising language towards asylum seekers and refugees "diminished humanity" and we all have a responsibility to "create a world where every person is treated with dignity and respect". Churches Together in Britain and Ireland have put together a resource called Exodus which contains prayers and creative ideas for Racial Justice Sunday.

On-line Courses: New courses aimed at encouraging people to explore their faith as well as supporting local church office holders in their roles have been added to the Church of Scotland Learning platform. The latest modules added to the site explore becoming an elder, becoming a session clerk, growing as a leader, exploring your calling and spiritual gifts, and funeral ministry.

Updated 25 January

New Ecumenical Visit to Women in Custody: The Moderator of the General Assembly and a Catholic Archbishop visited the country's national facility for women in custody last week. Rt Rev Sally Foster-Fulton and Most Rev Leo Cushley, Roman Catholic Archbishop and Metropolitan of St Andrews and Edinburgh, were welcomed to HMP & YOI Stirling. The ecumenical visit also gave the Moderator and the Archbishop the opportunity to see the prison chaplaincy service, which offers spiritual and pastoral support and guidance to those in custody of all faiths and none.

Updated 18 January

New Presbytery: The new presbytery of Clèir Eilean Ì – Gaelic for the Presbytery of the Island of Iona – held its first meeting online last week, bringing together ministers, elders and others across an area covering almost half of Scotland, stretching from the tip of Argyll to John O'Groats and from the Western Isles to Moray. It brings together nine former presbytery areas as part of the broader reorganisation of the Church to create a more sustainable Kirk and lay the foundations for future growth. The larger presbytery allows for full-time support staff for the first time, to help spread the Good News of Jesus. Revd. Doug McRoberts, who was confirmed as Clèir Eilean Ì's first moderator at its inaugural session, believes this will make a big difference to the Kirk across the region.

Updated 11 January

Loony Dook: The Moderator, the Rt Revd. Sally Foster-Fulton, along with Principal Clerk to the General Assembly, the Revd. Fiona Smith, took part in the annual Loony Dook in the Tay at Broughty Ferry on 1st of January to raise funds for Christian Aid’s Christmas Appeal.

Mrs Foster-Fulton said: “The water was freezing but what fun we had – and it was amazing to see so many people taking the plunge on New Year’s Day for different good causes. Fiona and I were keen to raise money for Christian Aid’s Christmas Appeal, which is raising awareness of the challenges facing young women living in extreme poverty in Bangladesh. A huge thank you to everyone who supported us and it’s still not too late to get us above the £4000 mark!” You can donate to the appeal at Justgiving

Updated 4 January 2024

Moderator Reflects on Epiphany: Rt. Revd. Sally Foster-Fulton, reflected on Epiphany season at: https://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/news-and-events/news/articles/light-to-the-world-church-moderator-reflects-on-the-season-of-epiphany.

Here is some of what she said:

‘Strange that when we are in the time of deepest darkness, we begin to celebrate the light. January 6th marks Epiphany, the visit of the Wise Ones who followed the starshine. We hold wisdom and light together, a beautiful synthesis of imagery! Epiphany – the coming of the light into the darkness. Epiphany – the coming of wisdom into our most fear-filled, narrowminded and hard-hearted spaces. And poignant, that as we see around us so much pain, we hold to the promise. As we walk into 2024, let the Prince of Peace lead us.’ 

Updated 7 December

Moderator Launches Season of Advent with a YouTube video. Rt. Revd. Sally Foster-Fulton said the time of waiting has begun until we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. She said nothing is impossible with God and encouraged people to believe and live with that truth.

Updated 30 November

Moderator in Guernsey: The Moderator preached at St. Andrew's in the Grange, Guernsey last Sunday. St. Andrew’s is part of the Church of Scotland's Presbytery of England and the Channel Islands.

London Week: The Moderator Rt Rev. Sally Foster-Fulton has been in London this week, meeting with a wide range of religious, political and charity leaders. The Moderator said, "The Church is committed to fostering unity, be that between faiths, denominations, or political parties, as part of our duty as Christians spreading the message of love." Highlights have included a day spent with the Catholic Bishops of Scotland in recognition of the one-year anniversary of the Saint Margaret Declaration between the two churches. Charity contacts have included with Christian Aid, Scotscare (a charity supporting Scots in London) and a focus on international aid for South Sudan, visited by last year's Moderator, Iain Greenshields.This Sunday the Moderator will be preaching at the Church of Scotland's church in Guernsey.