Church in the news

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

Monday 13 March, 2017

Moderator calls for African missionaries for Scotland

Rt Rev Dr Russell Barr spoke whilst visiting a church in Kikuyu, Nairobi. He said "You do not need missionaries anymore. We do."

"Your faith has found its African heart and soul and its African voice. You need to teach us again how to find our Scottish heart, and soul and voice because your Church is growing and, sadly, our church is not."

Premier and Christian Daily covered the story.

Minister speaks of 'overwhelming' support following church vandalism

The minister of a vandalised church in Perthshire has told of the “overwhelming” support she has received from across the country.

Minister Rev Mairi Perkins, in her first charge for the Kirk, said: “It is said that God moves in mysterious ways and these last five weeks have certainly been a mystery to us in the way in which it has produced some of the most amazing opportunities to witness to God in places, ways and in people we could never have imagined.

“The love, help and support from Blackford, Ardoch, the wider ecumenical church, police and so many others has been overwhelming. Church without walls and missional church has certainly taken on a new reality for us.

“This delay in returning to the church [following findings of asbestos in the organ] is just another challenge of which there are many as we go through uncertain but exciting and positive times in our faith journey together with the words of Isiah 40:31 ringing in our ears:

"But those who wait on the Lord for help will find their strength renewed."

The update was published in The Courier.

Church receives major grant

St Mary’s Church in Kirkintilloch has been awarded £208,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Environment Scotland. The grant will go towards repairing the roof structure of the Grade B listed building.

The story was covered by the Kirkintilloch Herald and the Milngavie & Bearsden Herald.

SNP MP calls for secularisation of schools

MP Tommy Shephard was revealed to have spoken at a Humanist Society Scotland Fringe event about the need for a secular school system in Scotland. Although he was particularly referring to Catholic schools, he spoke of his support of the Humanist Society's 'Enlighten Up' campaign which seeks to alter the 1973 Local Government (Scotland) Act "which requires each local authority education committee to appoint three religious members - one Church of Scotland, one Catholic and one other".

The Times,The Scotsman and the Edinburgh Evening News covered the story.

Minister who was imprisoned for refusing to allow her abusive husband access to their children calls for change in the law

Rev Tracy Hart will call for changes to parental access laws in the Scottish Parliament this week.

Ms Hart has spoken out about her treatment following a ruling by a sheriff which saw her spend eight days in prison after she refused to allow her estranged husband to see their children at a contact centre.

Her husband had previously been convicted of murder which Ms Hart found out had been a violent action and not the accident that she had previously believed.

Despite her children suffering from "distress" at the idea of having to meet their father and being "physically sick" at the thought Ms Hart was jailed for contempt of court. ;

She said “Women are urged to leave violent partners to safeguard children, but the system contradicts this by routinely ignoring their wishes.”

The story was published in The Sunday Post.

Stunning wedding dress exhibition at St Michael's, Linlithgow

The Herald covered an exhibition of 100 brides' dresses at St Michael's Parish Churh in Linlithgow.

The dresses dated from the 1950s to the present day and featured many brides from the same families over several generations.

Number of vacant charges in Dundee raises concerns

Dundee's Presbytery Clerk Rev James Wilson and minister at The Steeple church Rev Robert Calvert have spoken to The Courier about what the church is doing to address a shortage of ministers in the city. The paper reported "More than a third of the Dundee's churches are without a minister, as a nationwide Church of Scotland staff shortage spreads to the city". Mr Calvert told the paper about the new initiatives he is engaged in at The Steeple, saying "The Presbytery and the Church of Scotland are supportive to the changing needs. They have given us the freedom on how each church can support itself".

Dundee locum calls for focusing away from church buildings

A Dundee locum believes the Church of Scotland’s ability to help people in need is being diminished by too much focus being directed on keeping churches open.

Locum Gordon Sharp, of Dundee West Church, said too much emphasis has been made on material structures while the message of Jesus diminishes in society.

The story was covered by the Courier.

Monday 6 March, 2017

Church in the news highlights Tuesday 28 February - Monday 6 March

New Principal Clerk Designate

The Church of Scotland announced the selection of the Principal Clerk Designate following a recruitment process which was completed last week.

The successful candidate is Rev Dr George Whyte, who is the current clerk to the Presbytery of Edinburgh. Dr Whyte has also been assisting as Depute to the current Principal Clerk since 2011.

The new appointment was covered in The Herald and the Edinburgh Evening News


Former actress takes up new role

Rev Rhona Cathcart has taken her first charge at Inverurie West Church where she plans to bring “creativity, energy and a listening ear” to the 633 member strong congregation and surrounding community.

The Canada-born mother of two said she had been inspired to take up the post after being made to feel “exceedingly welcome” during a visit.

The Press & Journal published an article about the appointment.Minister speaks out about funeral poverty

Rev Andrew Philip of Crieff Parish Church spoke on BBC Radio Scotland saying ministers do not charge to conduct funerals so no fee should be paid to funeral directors for the celebrant.

Minister speaks out after car theft fee

Rev Martin Fair of St Andrew's Arbroath was upset when his Vauxhall Corsa was stolen from outside his house but thanks to a tracking device installed in the car he was soon able to trace its whereabouts

However, despite being able to track its exact location enabling him to assist the police, Mr Fair was eventually billed for £150 to cover the cost of temporary storage at a garage. He described this as "a nasty surprise" and expressed dismay that such an unpleasant experience ended in this way.

The story has had wide coverage today and yesterday including in The Sunday Post, The Sun and The Courier.

Local news coverage of the week

A childrens' pancake race organised by Duns Parish Church made the front cover of the Berwickshire News. The photos accompanying the article are particularly engaging and it's a great example of a church building strong ties with its local press. ;

Rev Hanneke Marshall, until last week Assistant minister in Duns and now Minister at St Machar’s Ranfurly Church, said that an open and active Facebook page was also helping them to promote church events to a wider audience.

Monday 27 February, 2017

Forfar dementia cafe going from strength to strength

Six years ago the congregation of Forfar East and Old Church of Scotland decided to do something to support people with dementia and their families. Now trainee healthcare workers visit the Church to see first-hand why it has gained a reputation for best practice in dementia support.

Every Monday afternoon the congregation of Forfar East and Old hosts a music cafe that brings around 40-50 people together to sing.

“It gives people with dementia a very caring environment where they can feel safe,” says Rev Barbara Ann Sweetin, who started the music café six years ago when she began her ministry at Forfar East and Old.

Mrs Sweetin had heard of ‘Singing for the Brain’ and wondered if the church could do something like that. She consulted with church elder Pat Brodlie, a dementia expert who works for Alzheimers Scotland, and they created a partnership that, she says, has been “crucial to getting it right”.

The cafe received some great coverage in:

The Courier
Dundee Evening Telegraph
Forfar Dispatch
The Scotsman


Online heroine vote

Two missionaries are in the running to become the first woman to be celebrated at a major landmark museum.

Jane Haining or Mary Slessor could soon be immortalised as a figurehead in the Hall of Heroes at the National Wallace Monument near Stirling.

They are among a shortlist of 14 “remarkable” women who have shaped and made a difference to Scotland's story through art, culture, sport, medicine, science and public life.

You can still vote for them online.

The story has been around for a few weeks, however it has most recently been covered in:

Buteman
Stornoway Gazette

BBC online


Kirk in need of radical reform says leading academic

In a series of lectures held at St Giles’ Cathedral Edinburgh, Rev Dr Doug Gay called for reform to the presbytery and central structures of the Church of Scotland.

His thoughts on the subject made the front page, page 3 and also a separate editorial in The Herald.

Under Dr Gay’s suggestion, the number of presbyteries would be reduced from the present 43 in Scotland to 12. The new, larger bodies would be given ‘substantial devolved financial responsibility for deploying and resourcing ministry within their bounds’ including the creation of new ‘congregational support posts’.

In the centre, the Ministries, Mission and Discipleship, Church and Society and World Mission Councils would be combined into one Church of Scotland Mission Agency. The number of people working for the central councils and bodies would be reduced ‘by up to a third’.

He said: “It seems to me we are long overdue a moment of refocusing, of streamlining, of simplifying. There is a kind of Victorian gothic quality to our institutional architecture. It’s time to knock some solid walls down, take out some pews, put up some new glass partitions, and create some cleaner, clearer, fit for purpose spaces.”

Transcripts of the Chalmers Lectures are available on the Church of Scotland website.


Minister launches fundraising bid to climb Machu Picchu

Rev Monika Redman announced plans to trek to Machu Picchu in Peru to raise money for charity.

Her fundraising effort was launched with the help of some alpacas based on BobCats Alpaca farm in Bonaly.

Mrs Redman, of St Leonard's Church, Dunfermline, is fulfilling a childhood dream to raise more than £3,100 for Blythswood Care. The charity runs a Christmas Shoebox Appeal to support vulnerable people across Europe, Africa and Asia.

See pictures on our website.

The story was covered by:

The Courier
The National
The Herald

Church Gender Imbalance

BBC Radio Scotland spoke to Rev Iain Sutherland, Mission Faciltator, Barclay Viewforth Church, on an event being held next weekend which looks to address why women attend church more than men.

The event on Saturday 4 March will feature a hog roast lunch, rubber dart guns and fast paced talks on topics including social media evangelism, sports chaplaincy and online gambling.

For more information please read our article about the event.

And a little extra...

Media talks

The Comms team recently gave two talks to The Guild looking at how members can promote their work on a local level. The presentations covered how to get media coverage, use social media and the importance of good images.

If your department or council would be interested in a similar presentation from us please get in contact!

Social media

Over the last few weeks we have experimented with removing our usual opening Facebook post line of 'Please consider liking and sharing' as we were concerned that some Facebook users might find this off-putting. However, we have have found that this reduced our audience overall so it has now been put back in place.

Monday 13 February, 2017

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:

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:

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.