Church in the news

The latest news on The Church of Scotland's work, events and activities from external media outlets.

Thursday 1 January, 1970

Church in the news highlights Tuesday 7 February - Monday 13 February

Church leaders criticise UK government over child refugee ban

Rev Dr Richard Frazer, convener of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland and Honor Hania, chair, Commission for Justice and Peace, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland released a statement urging the UK government to continue accepting child refugees.

“We were shocked and disappointed to learn that the UK Government intends to terminate the implementation of Section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 – the “Dubs amendment” to resettle unaccompanied asylum seeking children from Europe. To have stopped this programme at fewer than 12% of the original commitment of 3,000 children is reprehensible.

The statement has had considerable interest from the press including:

The Herald The Scotsman
Daily Record
Press and Journal The National
Around 70 local titles

Closure of Glasgow Job Centres

Controversial proposals to shut down half of all job centres in Glasgow have been branded a “disgrace”.

Rev Dr Martin Johnstone, Secretary to the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland, said the UK Government plans were “unjust, ill conceived” and an “attack” on some of the most vulnerable people in society.

He gave evidence to the UK Parliament’s Scottish Affairs Committee during a session to scrutinise the potential impact of closing eight Job Centre Plus facilities in the city.

This was covered by both the Glasgow Evening Times and the Daily Record.

The Glasgow Evening Times wrote several articles this week criticising the proposed closures and noted the Church of Scotland's concern.

Former General Assembly Steward leaves £3 million to charity

Raymond Scott, who died last year, left three million pounds to charitable causes.

He was very much involved in the life of the Church of Scotland and had helped at the Stewards' Room at the General Assembly for over twenty-five years.

Rt Rev Russell Barr described Mr Scott at a reception held in his memory as a “much loved Assembly stewarding stalwart”.

Two Scout groups, the Royal Botanic Gardens and a fund at George Heriot's School for children with only one parent are the main beneficiaries.

The story was covered in:

Scottish Daily Mail
Daily Express
The Herald
Edinburgh Evening News

Blackford Parish Church vandalism

Rev Mary Perkins, minister of Blackford Parish Church, in Perthshire spoke about the recent attack by vandals on her charge on Wave 102. She spoke about the extensive damage that occurred, but also praised the "wonderful support" from "colleagues and friends around Scotland".

Richard Burdge has also written about Blackford Parish Church and comments that "the meagre rewards for the thieves make the crime all the more senseless". Burdge notes that "the people of Blackford were shocked by a mindless attack which targeted the hub of their village, the parish church" and considers the long-term impact it will have on the community.

Thursday 1 January, 1970

Church in the news highlights Tuesday 31 January - Monday 6 February

Moderator "horrified" at Trump travel ban

Right Rev Dr Russell Barr released a statement on President Donald Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration.

Dr Barr said: “As Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, I am horrified that President Trump has signed an executive order suspending admission of refugees to the United States for 120 days, and banning travellers from seven countries from entering the US for the next three months.

The statement has received widespread attention from the press, including: The Herald, Daily Mail, Courier, The Edinburgh Reporter, Edinburgh Evening News, The National, across around 80 local Scottish news publications.

Read the full statement.

A former Moderator has officially become the Church of Scotland’s first ever digital minister

Very Rev Albert Bogle will use his ground breaking new role to create an online Kirk congregation, made up of people who may never set foot in a “real world” church.

He hopes to vastly increase the number of congregations that use social media and other online apps because at the moment only around 20 out of more than 1,300 congregations stream their services online.

The Sunday Herald published a half-page article on the subject.

It also appeared in:

The Scotsman, i, The National, and Premier

New parish nurse to provide healthcare and spiritual support

A Parish Nurse has been recruited to provide holistic healthcare and spiritual support to people in Dumfries.

Catriona Logan is the first practitioner of this kind in the south of Scotland and will be based in St Mary’s Greyfriars’ Church of Scotland.

Mrs Logan, who was a senior charge nurse at Royal Dundee Liff Hospital until she retired, will spend most of her time in the community, providing assistance to people, particularly those who feel isolated, two days a week.

The story was picked up by: The Daily Record, Daily Mail, The Herald, Dumfries & Galloway Standard, MSN UK
BBC Radio Cumbria

Ministers urged to raise child benefit by £5

The Scottish Government is being urged to use new powers to chart a different course from the rest of the UK and help lift 30,000 children out of poverty.

The Church of Scotland is encouraging MSPs to consider a £5 a week increase in Child Benefit as part of the Scottish Budget.

i newspaper, Fraserburgh Herald, Hawick Today, Cumbernauld Today, Rev Richard Frazer was also interviewed on the subject on BBC Radio Scotland.

Church vandalised in Perth

The Courier has a front page lead and page 6 article on Blackford Parish Church, near Gleneagles which was extensively vandalised at the weekend. It is not clear how long the church will have to close for but the damage was extensive, with the pulpit toppled, and the christening font broken.

National child abuse inquiry

The Church of Scotland is assisting the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry which is examining incidents that allegedly took place at three residential care establishments run by the Church.

They are Ballikinrain School, Geilsland Residential School, and the Lord and Lady Polwarth Home for Children in Edinburgh.

A spokesperson for the Social Care Council of the Church of Scotland said: “As a provider of residential care for children over the past 100 years, The Church of Scotland understand the remit of the Inquiry and are co-operating fully with any requests for information.

“We have not, at this time, applied for Core Participant Status but the position has been, and will remain, under active consideration.”

Thursday 1 January, 1970

Church in the news highlights Tuesday 24 - Monday 30 January

Richmond's Hope branches out to Glasgow

After £100,000 of fundraising, a new centre for bereavement charity Richmond's Hope has been officially opened in Glasgow. Based out of Ibrox Parish Church, the new centre will provide support for around 200 children over three years. The charity was co-founded fourteen years ago in Edinburgh & West Lothian by Rev Liz Henderson.

The story was covered in the following:

STV website, Glasgow Evening Times, Clyde 1, Edinburgh Evening News, BBC website

Pupils bring Jane Haining's story to life

A performance by drama students at Braes High School in Polmont highlighted the heartbreaking moment when Jane Haining was arrested by the Gestapo and taken away to her eventual death.

The event took place in honour of Holocaust Memorial Day and was also attended by World Mission Secretary Ian Alexander.

The story was covered in the following:

Daily Record, The National and The Herald

Concern raised at Polmont Young Offenders Institution deaths

Rev Graham Blount spoke on STV's News at Six in the wake of two suicides in two weeks at Polmont Young Offenders Institution. Mr Blount spoke of the pressure that young men bring with them to prison and the toll that this can take on their mental health.

New Banchory Minister puts faith in youth

An Aberdeenshire church ordained a new minister last night who will solely be responsible for nurturing young people.

Amy Pierce said she was very much looking forward to her new role as Associate Minister at Banchory East and West congregations, which both have a thriving youth membership.

The story was covered in the Press & Journal and the Aberdeen Evening News.

Kirk Condemns anti-catholic attack

The Church of Scotland has condemned an episode where the priest and congregation of St John and St Columba's Catholic Church in Rosyth were showered with eggs. Ecumenical officer Rev Dr John McPake stressed the importance of freedom expression of faith. The story was published in the Courier and in local news.

Rev Aquila Singh

Rev Aquila Singh was interviewed yesterday morning about becoming the first Asian female Kirk minister on BBC Radio Scotland.

Bride who asked for food bank donations instead of gifts continues to pick up press

Finally, The Daily Record published a full page article about Emma Thompson, who recently got married in St Machar's Cathedral, and requested donations to a food bank instead of wedding presents. The story was also published in the Press & Journal and Aberdeen Evening Express.

Thursday 1 January, 1970

Church in the News highlights Tuesday 17 - Monday 23 January

Moderator in fresh plea to end homelessness

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has issued a fresh challenge to end the “continuing scandal” of homelessness.

Right Rev Dr Russell Barr said he believed the country’s leaders knew how to tackle the problem but questioned whether they had the will and heart to do it.

Speaking at Dunkeld Cathedral on what is Homelessness Sunday, he said Scotland was at best managing homelessness and had “long lost the ambition” to eradicate it.

The story was picked up by The Herald, The Scotsman, and The Courier,

Brand new Church of Scotland campus minister role

Rev Dr Liam Fraser was ordained and inducted into the "exciting, groundbreaking" new role at the University of Edinburgh during a service at St Giles Cathedral in the capital.

The 30-year-old said he was really looking forward to challenging widespread skepticism and indifference toward the Christian faith among the 50,000 people strong university community.

Dr Fraser plans to engage with students in pubs, cafes, libraries, the chaplaincy centre and in the corridors of the university.

Edinburgh Evening News
The Herald

'Face to Face' interview with Rev Aquila Singh

A large feature on Rev Aquila Singh as part of their 'Face to Face' series provides further positive coverage from the The Herald . In this sympathetic piece, Ms Sigh discusses her career change and the journey that lead her to become the first Asian female minister in the Church of Scotland.

A former supermarket checkout worker has become the third female minster to be inducted in churches within Lanark Presbytery in less than a year

Louise Mackay, 27, was ordained into St Nicholas Church in Lanark as her mentor Moderator of the General Assembly, Right Rev Dr Russell Barr, proudly looked on.

Rev Elspeth MacLean, 61, a former small animal Vet, took up her post at Forth St Paul's Parish Church in September last year.

And Rev Maudeen MacDougall started work as the minister for the parishes of Carstairs and Carnwath, in March 2016.

The story received coverage in Edinburgh Evening News, Carluke Gazette and Border Telegraph.

Couple ask for foodbank donations instead of gifts

Emma and Richard Thompson, who got married at St Machar’s Cathedral in Aberdeen, decided they wanted to give something back to their local community to mark their happy day.

They were inspired to act after listening to a sermon by their minister, Rev Barry Dunsmore, who told the Bible story of the Rich Man and Lazarus from the Gospel of Luke.

Mr Dunsmore, who married the couple at St Machar’s Cathedral earlier this month, described their selfless actions as “a wonderful gesture” which he hoped would inspire others.

The story was published in the Ellon Times and the Aberdeen Evening Express.

Thursday 1 January, 1970

Church in the News highlights Tuesday 10 - Monday 16 January

First Female Asian Minister

A former computing teacher has been ordained as the Church of Scotland’s first Asian female minister.

Aquila Singh, who was brought up in the Christian faith from birth, was ordained and inducted into Fernhill and Cathkin Parish Church in Rutherglen.

She said she was “delighted” that she had been called to her first charge and excited at the prospect of leading the congregation and working with the local community.

A Facebook post about Ms Singh's new role has done incredibly well and has been shared over 600 times, liked 4,000 times, and reached a record 184,000 people.

The story was also widely picked up in the press including:

BBC news online
Daily Mail
The Herald
BBC News online
The Scotsman
Daily Record
Press & Journal
The Sun

+ 10 local newspapers

Ms Singh Was also on BBC Radio Scotland.

Antiques Roadshow sheds more light on Jane Haining's story

Intriguing new details about a long lost ring that belonged to Jane Haining were revealed on the Antiques Roadshow yesterday.

Her ring was analysed by expert John Benjamin for a special episode of the BBC One programme to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

He shared with her two nieces, Deirdre McDowell and Jane McIvor, his professional opinion that casts fresh light on the origins of the gold and red garnet stone ring.

It was recently returned to the Kirk offices in Edinburgh by a relative of one of Miss Haining's former work colleagues in Paisley.

Watch an excerpt from Antiques Roadshow.

Elsewhere the story of the ring was covered in:

The Daily ExpressEdinburgh Evening News
The Scotsman
The Herald
The Times
Daily Mail
Press & Journal
Daily Record
Philippine Times
The Sun
Around 35 local titles across the UK

BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio Scotland

New appointment for St Nicholas Church, Lanark

A former supermarket checkout worker has become the third women minster to be ordained in churches within Lanark Presbytery in less than a year.

Louise Mackay, 27, was ordained and inducted into St Nicholas Church in Lanark as her mentor Moderator of the General Assembly, Right Rev Dr Russell Barr, proudly looked on.

Rev Elspeth MacLean, 61, a former small animal Vet, took up her post at Forth St Paul's Parish Church in September last year.

And Rev Maudeen MacDougall started work as the minister for the parishes of Carstairs and Carnwath, in March 2016.

The story was reported in The Scotsman, The Herald, The Edinburgh Reporter

Royal surprise at Ballater flood-fund fundraising night

The Duke and Duchess of Rothesay were the surprise guests of honour at a special concert to raise money for people affected by severe flooding on Royal Deeside.

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla surprised hundreds of people gathered in Glenmuick Kirk in Ballater on Friday for the launch of a charity CD featuring choral renditions of works by celebrated poet, Robert Burns.

The story was reported in the Aberdeen Evening Express, The Press & Journal, and BBC online.

Thursday 1 January, 1970

Church in the News - Bumper January Edition!

Rt Rev Dr Russell Barr wrote a piece for the 'Sunday Essay' section of the Daily Mail in which he drew parallels between the story of Mary and Joseph as marginalised members of society and present day homelessness. Dr Barr calls for a "housing first" solution, similar to the model used in Finland and expressed concern that "at best in Scotland what we are doing is managing the situation and have long lost any desire to end it."

Moderator's Christmas Message

Rt Rev Russell Barr's Christmas message looked at the issue of homelessness, and highlighted the contrast of what can be an incredibly difficult time for those without a permanent place to stay.

The Christmas message was published in the Edinburgh Evening News, The Edinburgh Reporter and mentioned on the BBC Website.

Read the full message.


Our Advent campaign registered more than a quarter of a million views across Facebook and YouTube, and a very large number of positive comments from Church people as well as many from people outside our denomination. This doesn't include those who watched in church services which screened them. Thanks to everyone who took part in making the videos, or liked and shared them online.

Funding for Jane Haining Heritage Centre

Jane Haining's extraordinary story of heroism, bravery and personal sacrifice which resulted in her dying in Auschwitz in 1944 will be celebrated by a new heritage centre within Dunscore Church near Dumfries, which is expected to open later this year.

An existing room near the front of the A-listed building will be extended and modified and will feature a large glass door, folding exhibition panels and a TV monitor to show relevant films

It will feature photographs, letters, documents and other personal effects relating to the brave Kirk missionary, who was born at Lochanhead Farm near the village in 1897 and attended the Craig Church in Dunscore with her family.

The story was covered in The Times, The Scotsman , The Daily Record , The Herald, Press & Journal, Courier and the BBC website.

Christmas wish for widow performed

A new Christmas carol written by a retired widow from Largs was performed for the first time at Paisley Abbey just before Christmas.

Catherine Murray, an 82 year old from Largs and her daughter Fiona White were at the historic Paisley Abbey to hear her new carol performed by the Paisley Abbey Choristers in front of hundreds of people at a Christmas carol service for the ACCORD Hospice.

The surprise performance came after Mrs Murray wrote to the Church of Scotland with a Christmas wish. Tucked inside the envelope, along with her letter, were the words and music for Christmas Morning;, a new carol she had written herself.

The story was covered by:

BBC Radio Scotland
The Herald
Glasgow Evening Times
Paisley Daily Express
Glasgow Evening Times

Home Office Changes Its mind

The Church of Scotland has welcomed a decision to overturn the refusal of travel visas to two Pakistani Christians.

The Home Office ruling means that Faroq Maseh and Waris Emmanuel are now able to join a delegation visiting Glasgow next month.

Despite reassurances being provided, immigration officials refused the applicants visas on the basis they could not prove they were wealthy enough to be allowed into the UK.

The Presbytery of Glasgow, which will fully fund the visit, said the two men had been left “personally depressed and shocked” by the situation.

The case was taken up by Kirsten Oswald, MP for East Renfrewshire, who raised it with Prime Minister Theresa May who ordered a review of the decision.

The Herald
Scotland on Sunday

Around 30 local newspapers across Scotland also carried the story.

Boxer-Rebellion Document Uncovered

A fragile handwritten public proclamation has cast fresh light on the impact of a bloody rebellion on Scottish Presbyterians in China over 100 years ago.

The striking document, which is about two feet long and written in calligraphy, was issued by the Court of Emperor Kuang Hsu after the Boxer Uprising ended in 1901.

It appeals for peace between religious believers and civilians and authorises the resumption of Christian evangelism.

The priceless artefact states that all churches in the north-east of the country, then known as Manchuria, should be re-opened.

The proclamation, which is as delicate as tissue paper, effectively ordered the Liaoyang Government to protect Christian activities.

More than 300 Protestant Christians and thousands of Chinese Christians were killed by a secret organisation called the Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fists, who were opposed to the spread of Western and Japanese influence, during the 1899-1901 rebellion.

The story received some great coverage and was published across national papers, Scottish regional and local newpapers, English regional papers and abroad (over 260 news outlets in total).

Here's a link to The Scotsman's take on the story.

Let us bray! Animals help recreate nativity scene

A Church of Scotland minister channeled her inner Vicar of Dibley and held a special Christmas service starring a cast of live farm animals.

Rev Elspeth McKay, 49, arranged for a Highland Cow and her calf, Jason the Donkey, sheep and a pony to attend the annual Christingle service at Midmar Church in Aberdeenshire on Christmas Eve.

The minister, who is a big fan of the BBC television programme and admits people often liken her to the central character Geraldine played by actress Dawn French, said the four legged cast members would add a “touch of realism to the Nativity story.

Mrs McKay, who has led Echt and Midmar Churches Together for two and a half years, added that she hoped the service with a difference would remind people that there is more to Christmas than Santa and presents.

Unsurprisingly the story was widely picked up by the media including:

The Daily Express
Press & Journal
The Herald
Regional news

Scottish Sun

Church-goers in Storm hit areas urged to go online

Amid a flurry of articles about the storm which hit Scotland just before Christmas, the Kirk was extensively quoted recommending that those in the worst affected areas should consider watching online services rather than risking their own safety in order to attend church at Christmas.

Many large newspapers quoted the Kirk's comments about the storm, including:

The Daily Telegraph
The Daily Mail
The Herald

The Daily Star
Christian Today

BBC1 News also featured an interview with Rev Robert Allan from Falkirk Trinity Church on the subject.

On the subject of digital engagement an Observer Article looked at how churches across the UK are modernising for the digital era, and noted the Kirk's online advent calendar.

Church Congregation make unique video to attract new minister

The upbeat and energetic 90 second film stars members of Keith: St Rufus, Botriphnie and Grange Church.

Vacancy committee secretary Esther Green said: We may not have the budget for a television ad, but we've produced our own film to put our congregation and community in the spotlight.

We wanted to show a membership that has get-up and go, enjoys fun, isn't afraid to roll its sleeves up and work hard and that is prepared to do something a little bit different to make its mark.

"We hope that by producing this film it shows that we've got a lot to offer and that our area is a great part of the world in which to live and work.

You can watch the final result on the Church of Scotland website . The story was also covered in the Banffshire Herald and the Northern Scot.

Let Us Play - Kirk Reaches out to men

The Church of Scotland has teamed up with a Christian charity to hold a unique fun packed conference aimed at attracting more men to the pews.

The event, aimed at tackling a gender imbalance, will feature a hog roast lunch, rubber dart guns and fast paced talks on topics including social media evangelism, sports chaplaincy and online gambling.

Organised by Christian Vision for Men in conjunction with Dr Murdo Macdonald of the Church's Society, Religion and Technology Project, it is a response to the fact women now significantly outnumber men in congregations.

The story attracted mixed reactions from:

The Times
The Sun
The Daily Mail

The Courier

On social media it has proven to be quite controversial with some people concerned that the event relies heavily on stereotyping. However, there has also been a lot of positive feedback and we always welcome respectful debate on our channels.

Rev Stuart Love Interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland

The Kirk's current youngest minister spoke about what attracted him to ministry. You can listen to Mr Love's interview online.

Sailors' Society Appoints New Chaplain

A Church of Scotland deacon has been appointed to the role of chaplain to seafarers. Pauline Robson will be based in ports along the Forth Estuary including Leith, Grangemouth, Rosyth, Braefoot and Hound Point

The role has been increased from part-time to full-time.

The story was reported on in the Edinburgh Evening News and The Falkirk Herald.

Thursday 1 January, 1970

Church in the News Highlights Tuesday 13 - Monday 19 December

Moderator's Christmas Message

The Edinburgh Evening News gave a preview of this year's Christmas message from the Moderator, Rt Rev Dr Russell Barr. In his message, Dr Barr highlights the "enormous contrasts" of Christmas, where for some "there are the sights and sounds of the Christmas markets" but for others "there are the sights and sounds of people sleeping rough in shop doorways."  

Matchbox Nativities

Rev David Pitkeathly spoke on BBC Radio Cumbria about miniature nativity scenes in matchboxes which The Border Kirk in Carlisle are giving out for free to members of the public. Mr Pitkeathly hopes that these nativities, which are made in Peru by a fairtrade group, will help people to "remember the core of Christmas".

Three Parent Babies

The Church of Scotland is urging the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to think very carefully before licensing any clinical use of the new “three parent babies” techniques it has approved.

Dr Murdo Macdonald, Policy Officer for the Church's Society, Religion and Technology Project which has been considering this issue for a number of years said "This is the first instance of regulatory approval for genetic modification of a human baby. A strong and long-standing international consensus asserts that we should not cross this ethical ‘bright line’, since to do so will very likely lead to a future of genetically modified, ‘enhanced’ and ‘designer’ babies".

His comments were published in The Times, The Herald, The Scotsman,

Moderator Rededicates Church after £1.5 makeover

More than 300 people attended a special service on Friday to rededicate an historic church in Aberdeen which has had a £1.5million refurbishment.

The special guest at Mannofield Church was Moderator of the General Assembly Right Rev Dr Russell Barr, who was accompanied by his wife Margaret.

Dr Barr unveiled a commemorative plaque to mark the occasion.

The Moderator said a huge amount of money and effort had gone into renovating and restoring the historic building to ensure it is fit for purpose in the 21st century.

Minister Keith Blackwood said the eight-year project had been a labour of love for the congregation and described the church as a welcoming "hub of care and support for the local community".

The story was covered in the: Press & Journal,
Aberdeen Evening Express
Original FM

Mary Logie's Killer Charged

A heroin addict has today been found guilty of the murder of a “kind hearted” Church of Scotland member in Fife.

Sandra Weir killed pensioner Mary (Rae) Logie in her home in Green Gates, Leven in January.

The Daily Record, The Scotsman, The Courier and the Edinburgh Evening News all carried the story.

Church of Scotland volunteers help the homeless

The Howard Centre in Kilmarnock, which was set up as a Christian Outreach centre, are providing presents for the homeless and for people trying to overcome drug addition this Christmas. The story featured on West Sound Radio.

Find out more about the Howard Centre.

Hard-work of Minister recognised

Congratulations to Rev Scott Burton who has been included in the Courier Impact 100 list for 2016.

The recognition is awarded to people in the newspaper's circulation area "who inspire us, challenge and change our world".

Mr Burton, a former plasterer, oversaw the £875,000 refurbishment of St Matthew's Parish Church in Perth - and even carried out some of the work himself, along with other congregation members.

...Otherwise Merry Christmas from everyone in the Communications Department!

This will be the last Church in the News until the new year, when we will do a bumper edition to cover the Christmas period.