Church in the news

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

Thursday 31 March, 2016

Borders news media reported that Melrose church elder John Henderson was chosen to take part in a Royal Easter tradition at Windsor Castle.

"John Henderson, of Wembley Terrace, was one of 18 men an women from Scotland who received Maundy Thursday Purses from the Queen in recognition of their 'service to church and community'. The presentation was the first to be held at Windsor Castle since the 1950s"

The story which tells more about Mr Henderson was reported in:

The Southern Reporter.

Selkirk Today.

Berwickshire News.

Hawick News.

Banchory West minister Tony Stephen continues to get attention for inviting his church members to text him during the service. He was interviewed twice on BBC Radio including on Tuesday's newsdrive show:


The idea drew controversy on Premier Christian news.

The Dunoon Observer reported on work underway at Dunoon Grammar School that involved pupils in Holy Week events. (print p19)

The Herald published an obituary for auxiliary minister Archie Ferguson.

The Sun published a column by Bill Leckie that takes aim at churches and all religious groups, charging faith groups with responsibility for all the ills of the world. (print page 13) He says:

"If you're reading this and you're a regular churchgoer, do you ever see a faith-driven atrocity and think: "You know what? Maybe there's something wrong in all of this..."?

"Yes, church leaders condemn terrorism. But all they're really doing is distancing themselves from it, painting those who claim "their" God told them to do bad things as the exception proving the rule that faith is positive and life-affirming"

Mr Leckie doesn't seem to be aware of all the good work being done by church members across Scotland and in the world. Nor apparently does he recognise the steep work of peace building -- quite different from peacekeeping-- that Church members are leading throughout the world.

World Mission Convener Iain Cunningham and Asia Secretary are in Pakistan where they are supporting Bishop Sammy Azariah as he ministers to those grieving after the Easter Sunday terror attack.

You can listen to the WM Convener speaking onBBC Radio Scotland's newsdrive about the attack and its impact on Pakistan's Christians: (1:39:08 )

Tuesday 29 March, 2016

Banchory West Church was interviewed for The One Show and the segment was expected to appear Monday evening but has been rescheduled. (We will keep you posted if we are informed when it does appear.) Nevertheless our report about minister Rev Tony Stephen's new approach to communicating with church members through texts was picked up by print media including:

The Scotsman, which published an article saying, Rev Tony Stephen of Banchory West Church in Aberdeenshire encourages people to use their mobile phones in church to send him text messages, reacting to his sermons.

Mr Stephen was interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland just before 11am today and his story is expected to be broadcast again of the station's Newsdrive programme at around 5.40pm.

The unusual story was also published by The Daily Mail (print p7) The Herald and the Aberdeen Evening Express.

Steve Aisthorpe's new book The Invisible Church was discussed in print and on the radio, extensively last week getting mentions in newspapers across Scotland, including:

The Newsletter (print p22)

The Herald:

The Independent.

Church Times.

Steve was interviewed by Good Morning Scotland last Thursday and will also speak on BBC Radio Scotland's Sunday Morning program next Sunday. Very Rev Albert Bogle spoke about the research on BBC Radio 4 also last Thursday.

The announcement that the Church will appoint a new farming minister continues to get attention in the Farming Press. Scottish Farmer reported the news in its article Divine Intervention (print p6) and The Farmers Guardian also reported the news. (print p7)

The Sunday Herald mentioned Steve's research in Val Burns column about happiness, concluding that the decline in Church attendance has created a space for new initiatives. Church members will think of fresh Expressions and the pioneer ministries initiatives now underway. (print)

Glasgow shopkeeper, Asad Shah a Muslim, who had posted to his social media accounts wishing his 'beloved Christian community' a Happy Easter holiday was murdered in what is thought to be a religiously motivated attack.

The Daily Mail quoted the local minister saying:

"The Rev Val Duff, minister of Shawlands linked with South Shawlands Parish Church, said: "Like many people I am deeply saddened to hear of Asad Shah's death. He was obviously a deeply loved man in our community."

Media reported on the service for Very Rev Dr Sandy McDonald, which took place on Saturday.

The Sun's story said: "Around 600 friends and family paid last respects to former Kirk moderator The Very Reverend Dr Sandy McDonald. He was was laid to rest in private at Woodside Crematorium in his home town of Paisley before a memorial service; at the town's Renfrew North Parish Church.

It was led by The Very Rev Dr Lorna Hood, who said later: 'There were laughter andp tears. He was such a popular and well-loved man.'" (print p7)

The Independentcarried an obituary for Dr McDonald by Tam Dalyell

The Sunday Times business section reported on the Church's partnership with the Islamic Finance Council on ethical finance, writing:

"The Kirk chose Holy Week to reveal it is working with Islamic finance experts to create an "ethical financial solution" that will help the poor and adhere to the principles of both faiths. Islam forbids the charging of interest on loans, and Islamic-compliant finance products eschew investments in alcohol, tobacco and gambling, an antipathy shared by the Kirk.

"Chatting to me at last autumn's Islamic Finance conference in Edinburgh, Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II, the former central bank governor of Nigeria credited with cleaning up the country's banking sector, surprised me by waxing lyrical about Church of Scotland minister Henry Duncan, who established the first trustee savings bank in Ruthwell in the 19th century.

"Duncan established ethical banking to help the poor and thrifty, to use finance in a way that benefited the community around him. That same principle governs Islamic finance," he said." (print)

The story was reported as far afield as Pakistan, where it appeared in the Pakistan Observer.

Also in The Sunday Times columnist Jenny Hjul writes on being a lapsed Church member and missing Church at Easter. (print p7)

The Edinburgh Reporter mentioned next Monday's Speak Out Politics event in its Five Things You Need to Know section.

In Pakistan more than 70 people were killed in a terror attack targeting the Christian community. Asia Secretary Sandy Sneddon and World Mission Convener Iain Cunningham are in Lahore, Pakistan this week and may be called upon to speak on radio about the situation for Christians in the country.

Wednesday 23 March, 2016

As news broke about the horrific Brussels attack, the Church contributed a prayer – written by Church and Society Council Secretary Martin Johnstone-- offering words of comfort for all affected by the violence and praying for peace. The prayer met a pressing need and has been viewed on Facebook by more than 33,000 people, liked more than 600 times, and shared by 240 people.

The Moderator was attending a previously scheduled press conference to announce a partnership with the Islamic Finance Council created to look at ethical financial services. After the event, Rt Rev Angus Morrison spoke out in a video condemning the attacks and urging communities to build bridges with one another so that atrocities like that in Brussels would become things of the past. He spoke alongside Omar Shaikh of the Islamic Finance Council.

Both the new partnership and the Church's response to the attacks were covered by the media:

The Herald's report on the Brussels tragedy quoted Rev Dr Andrew Gardner, minister at St Andrew's Church of Scotland in Brussels, speaking about the impact on the city. (print p5)

The Press and Journal reported that the Moderator was shocked and saddened.

The Courier.

The Daily Record.

The Press Association story was published by a dozen or so local papers across the country from the Buchan Observer to the Stornoway Gazette.

The ethical finance partnership was covered in:

The Herald's business section.

The Scotsman.

BBC online

Scottish Financial News.

The Times has published an extensive obituary of Very Rev Dr Sandy McDonald (23 March print p56)

"The path of a Church of Scotland minister is a mixed and varied one. In Sandy McDonald's case, it took him from the timber yard to moderator of the Church of Scotland's general assembly; and from helping to officiate at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, to the set of Doctor Who, where his son David Tennant played the Time Lord."

Obituaries for Dr McDonald were also published in:

The Evening News (print p24)

The Greenock Telegraph (print p19)

Hollywood Life.  

The World Council of Churches website has published a report on Scottish Churches work with refugees quoting David Bradwell:

"I have witnessed action taking place at a local level across Scotland, where communities are offering a warm welcome to Syrians arriving under the Home Office Vulnerable Persons Resettlement scheme."

He noted that in Glasgow, Scotland's biggest city, church and interfaith projects have worked for many years with registered agencies and charitable groups to offer services to asylum seekers and to live and work alongside them.

"Partly as a result of the war in Syria, the numbers fleeing poverty and violence around the world is catastrophic, but whether in Calais, Greece, Italy or the Middle East, faith groups are responding to human need and protecting human dignity. Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees is here to support this effort across Scotland," said Bradwell.

The Highland News reports on the discussion about church education representatives saying:

"THE clergy should be stripped of its rights to vote on education to stop parents having to guess about who is making decisions about their children, it has been said.

"Highland councillors have backed a campaign to remove three religious figures from the council's education, children and adult services committee, as they are unelected.The campaign was launched by the Humanist Society Scotland (HSS) which called their presence "anti-democratic" and "out of step" with modern Scotland.

"But the Church of Scotland has argued religious figures put what is best for children first, regardless of party politics." (print p18)

Monday 21 March, 2016

The story about a 103-year-old Church of Scotland member from Cumnock who was presented with a long service award for dedicating 100 years of her life to her congregation by the Moderator the Right Rev Dr Angus Morrison has been published by around FIFTY national/regional and local press across the UK and Ireland. Titles include the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Herald, The Sun, Belfast Telegraph, Scotsman, Press and Journal, Courier, Daily Express, Yahoo News, Irish Independent and News Letter. Lizzie Hamilton's story, conveyed through words, pictures and video, has reached many more thousands of people via the Kirk's social media channels and website.

A recap - An inspirational pensioner has been presented with a special long service award for dedicating 100 years of her life to the Church of Scotland. Lizzie Hamilton first attended a Sunday school when she was just three-years-old in 1916 and has been closely associated with the same church family in Ayrshire ever since.

Affectionately nicknamed "Mrs Kirk" by her late husband Tommy, the remarkable 103-year-old said she was "thrilled to bits" when Moderator of the General Assembly the Right Rev Dr Angus Morrison recently presented her with a certificate during a service to mark the 150th anniversary of Old Cumnock Old Church where she is a member.

He said it was a "absolute delight" to meet Mrs Hamilton who was yesterday introduced to the youngest member of the congregation Beth Cowan who is a century younger than her.

The Scotsman

Belfast Telegraph

Falkirk Herald

The Herald

Jersey Evening Post

Irish Independent

The Big News Network and Edinburgh Evening News have published articles on former Moderator the Very Rev Dr Sandy McDonald who died last week.

The Scotsman published an obituary for the Rev. W John R Hay. He is a former Moderator of the Presbyteries of Kirkcaldy and Stirling and served on the General Assembly's Panel on Doctrine and its then Boards of Home Mission, and of Social Responsibly.

Lothian Business Newshas published an article about a financial announcement to help a charity supported by the Church of Scotland. The article reads: "A charity that helps to develop and support entrepreneurs in some of Scotland's poorest communities will be expanded into four new local authority areas thanks to a £225,000 funding boost. WEvolution currently works with 26 groups in Glasgow, Paisley, Inverclyde, Edinburgh and Dundee bringing people together to develop enterprising ideas and learn new skills.

The story has also been published by Strathclyde Business News

The News Letter (Belfast) has published an article which reads: "The Church of Scotland is to appoint its first ever dedicated "farming minister" to help support people in the hard-pressed agricultural industry.

BBC Radio in Northern Ireland recently broadcast an interview about the farming industry pioneering ministry post in Ayrshire featuring Kirk elder and farmer Isabell Montgomerie.