Church in the News: 12 December, 2016

Church in the news highlights Tuesday 6 - Monday 12 December


This year's Advent campaign has had an incredibly positive reaction via our social media channels and we've also seen a large increase in sign-ups and viewing figures compared to last year.

Local newspapers in particular have given some great press around the calendar.

Here's some of the newspaper coverage:

Fife Today

Kirk criticises proposed closure of half of Glasgow's job centres

The Department of Work and Pensions is proposing to shut eight centres in some of the city's most deprived areas as part of a review that aims to reduce the UK wide number by 20%.

Pauline Edmiston, vice convener of the Church and Society Council, said: ‘The Church would want to strongly resist these proposals.

“For many people getting to their local job centre is already very challenging.

“To make that even more difficult would be fundamentally wrong and unjust.”

Ms Edmiston's comments appeared in  Glasgow Evening Times and The Herald.

Martin Johnstone, Church and Society Secretary also wrote an article for Third Force News on the subject.

Home office reviewing visa refusal

The Home Office is to review a controversial decision to refuse visas to two Pakistani Christians who want to visit Glasgow.

Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill confirmed the case would be examined by officials after Glasgow Presbytery raised concerns that bureaucracy was “frustrating our efforts to build a partnership” with people of faith in the country.

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 Pakistan Christians had been left “personally depressed and shocked” by the situation.

This story has been covered in:

The Herald 
Asian Image
Christian Today
Glasgow Evening Times


Alison Elliot wins lifetime achievement award

Dr Alison Elliot OBE has become third person ever to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Scottish Public Service Awards.

The Church elder and academic was the first woman to serve as Moderator and chaired the Scottish Government’s Land Reform Group.

The rare and prestigious award was presented to Dr Elliot in a ceremony held Monday evening in the Scottish Parliament.

Created in 2014 through a partnership of the Parliament, the Scottish Government and Holyrood magazine, the awards recognise excellence in our public life.

The Story featured in the Holyrood Magazine and the Edinburgh Evening News.

Death of MSP Alex Johnstone

Alex Johnstone, who belonged to Glenbervie Church in Aberdeenshire, passed away peacefully after being diagnosed with cancer. He was 55.

Rev Douglas Lamb, who has provided locum cover at the church, said the Conservative politician’s death following a short illness was a “big loss” to the local community and wider north-east region he represented.

The retired minister said he knew Mr Johnstone, who is survived by his wife Linda, two children and six grandchildren, for many years and had a very high regard for him.

Newspapers across Scotland published obituaries including in:

The Telegraph
Daily Express
The Scotsman

Baby Jesus Stolen...and returned

A life-size baby Jesus was stolen from

The story was covered in the Daily Record and the BBC website

Time for Reflection

The Rev Dr Richard Frazer wrote an opinion piece for The Times in which he praised Time for Reflection in schools as a way to "promote tolerance and understanding in a pluralist and multicultural society". The piece was written in response to a Scottish Government consultation on whether there is a place for religion in schools.  

Benefit Sanctions

A letter was published in The Guardian criticising benefit sanctions. The letter was produced by Rev Dr Richard Frazer, Convener of the Church & Society Council, alongside representatives from the Baptist church, the United Reformed Church, the Methodist Church and also the Church of England.

Family jump from second floor window to escape hotel fire

A man and his terrified family narrowly escaped death after they were forced to jump out of the second floor window of a hotel that was on fire.

Naveed Khurram, his wife Dr Fouzia Chugtai and their young son and daughter were staying at the Regent Plaza hotel in the Pakistani city of Karachi when the blaze broke out and killed 12 people, injuring 80.

It was an horrendous end to what should have been a joyful family reunion because Mr Khurram had just returned  from a three month stay in Edinburgh, sponsored by the Church of Scotland, that day.

The 38-year-old, who is currently doing a MSc in Global Health and was studying at Queen Margaret University, was woken up at 4am on Monday by a loud banging noise outside his room.

The story was covered in the Edinburgh Evening News.