Church in the news

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

Wednesday 10 June, 2015

The Edinburgh Evening News reports in its print edition that Augustine United Church in Edinburgh's city centre has won lottery funding to install a display that will tell the congregation's story from its foundation more than200 years ago and highlighting its work today.

The Press & Journal reports in its print edition that a minister from the Northeast has expressed dismay over the visit of Bishop Jack Spong to Milngavie. The article includes a comment from the Church welcoming this open discussion on how to interpret the scriptures.

The Evening Times reports that a former church is being reopened as an Arts Centre: "Brothers Michael and Tony Woods have been transforming one of Glasgow's oldest churches - the former St Luke's and St Andrew's Parish Church in Bain Street. After buying the church three years ago,the pair have injected £1.2 million - which includes funding from Glasgow City Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund - to refurbish it into a new music venue,bar and restaurant…Now the Evening Times can reveal the next step in the regeneration - the opening of the multi-purpose arts and music venue Saint Luke's in Bain Street in August."

The Telegraph reports that the Church of England's newest Bishop Dame Sarah Mullally believes fewer people in church doesn't mean that young people aren't finding a connection with God.

"She emphasised that while church must be concerned about declining numbers it must view it as part of a wider social shift in which organisations of all types are seeing declines in formal membership…. "I think that there are people that encounter the Church and encounter God but maybe don't turn up on a Sunday."

"I think that the Church does need to take seriously the change in the Church's membership and that is important but part of that is also to recognise that there are really good examples where the church engages with individuals that isn't around the pews."

Premier Christian reports that the Church of Scotland is backing other churches and advocacy groups in seeking to end prostitution by making it a criminal offense to purchase sex.

Check out our own website for this guest post about praying at the Jerusalem Wall by third-year minister in training John McCulloch, who is currently doing a six-week summer placement in St Andrew's Scots Memorial Church, Jerusalem.

Tuesday 9 June, 2015

The Church of Scotland's support for anti-sex trafficking legislation amendments to the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Bill is covered in today's Herald. (paywall)

An insightful publication on eldership within the Kirk has become one of the most sought after Christian reads in Scotland.

From zero to €250,000 in four years - that's how the prayers of the Out of Africa... Into Malta mission team were answered. Listen to Stark Talk, BBC Radio Scotland Wednesday, 10th June at 13.30 to hear Rev Doug McRoberts tell Edi Stark how it all came together for him and the congregation of St. Andrew's Scots Church, Malta – and how he believes his whole life led up to his work among Malta's refugees.

Monday 8 June, 2015

The Scotsman carries an obituary for Margery Turnbull, a former secretary of Christian Aid when it was a newly formed Church of Scotland committee.

"Her next appointment was as secretary of the newly founded Ecumenical Institute for Theological Studies in Jerusalem ­(Tantur) and as a member of the Grail team she spent six years in this developing international organisation, where she was ­involved in many projects working for reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. This was a very challenging time for Margery and led her to take a diploma in theology on her return to the UK, which she attained in May 1982."

Pink News reports that the Scottish Episcopal Church will vote next week on proposals to allow clergy to marry same-sex couples.

"Same-sex marriage became legal in Scotland in December last year – but the Church of Scotland, the Catholic Church and the Scottish Episcopal Church all currently remain opposed to equality. However, the Scottish Episcopal Church – which has warned clergy not to defy rules and begin marrying gay couples – will next week take the first step towards allowing all couples to marry.

The Church has asked its theological doctrine committee to examine the grounds for permitting same-sex weddings, and the General Synod will be asked to vote on the proposed change."

Pink News also reports on the Russian Orthodox Church's severing ties with the Church of Scotland over the issue of ministers in same-sex relationships.

Fife Today reports that the congregation of St Ninian's Parish in Glenrothes is inviting the whole community to join in celebrating the church's 50th anniversary. The church is holding a series of events this year.

"The next event takes place on June 25, when members of the congregation will come together in the church for a celebration. There will be a birthday cake and the St Ninian's Charity Shop and Community Cafe committee will be dispersing a total of £10,000 to local community groups and organisations."

The Berwickshire News reports that Duns and District Parishes are trying a novel way to raise funds: they are giving tubes of Smarties to all church members and asking families to fill the tubes with coins and return them.

"The Kirk Elders are distributing the tubes as part of their normal district visiting prior to this week's Holy Communion. Each household will receive the quarterly Newsletter, a tube of Smarties and a Church Membership Review leaflet. Members are invited to enjoy the sweets and then over the few months to use the empty tube to collect coins for the Kirk funds. The tubes can take pound coins but folk might decide to go for 20p instead. Minister, Rev Stephen Blakey, said: "I suppose the worse that can happen is that people just enjoy the Smarties."

The Portadown Times reports on a gay Church of Ireland minister who is calling for the Church of Ireland to split from the Church in the north because of "seismic differences of theological understanding" separating the two regions.

"The Rev Tom Gordon caused considerable controversy in 2011 when he entered into a civil partnership – leading the General Synod to set up a select committee to consider matters of sexuality."

The Herald's front page covers proposed amendments under consideration in Holyrood in its article, Campaigners call for a ban on buying sex.

"The End Prostitution Now campaign aims to put pressure on the Scottish Government to tackle the demand for paid-for sex, described by campaigners as the "root cause" of the country's "commercial sexual exploitation". (paywall)

The Church of Scotland has also welcomed amendments that would criminalise the buying of sex but not selling it, an approach taken in Sweden. The story on our own website says:

"The Bill is intended to increase the chances of successful prosecutions in relation to human trafficking and to ensure better support for survivors of trafficking. However, we believe this legislation would be stronger if it also contained provisions to make it an offence to pay for sexual services. Human trafficking is a global business, it exists to make large profits for the traffickers, and the sale of sexual services by the victims of trafficking is a part of this business."

Good Morning Scotland broadcast a clip of Church and Society convener Sally Foster Fulton talking about the Church's position on the legislation: (@1:30)

The Herald also publishes a letter on the theological discussion sparked by the visit of Bishop Jack Spong to Milngavie.

"I was delighted to see that the Rev Andrew Frater and Bishop Spong had stirred up your readership to such an extent that an exploration of the Easter Gospel took such a predominant place in your Letters Pages (June 5) displacing politics, the NHS and even the death throes of the beautiful game." (paywall)

Friday 5 June, 2015

The Scotsman covers an all-island service organised by Lewis Presbytery and a statement issued afterward writing:"Hundreds of people from congregations across the Isle of Lewis gathered to voice their opposition to the Church of Scotland's support of gay partnerships for ministers. The extraordinary special service was called by the Lewis Presbytery, who had been contacted by worshippers left "shamed, hurt and confused" by the Kirk's decision at the General Assembly.After the meeting at St Columba's (Old Parish) Church in Stornoway, attended by around 300 people, Presbytery Clerk John Cunningham said: "We want to state firmly and categorically, that while as a Presbytery we recognise and remain under the authority of the General Assembly, on this matter, we strongly disagree with and distance ourselves from the decisions that have been made."

BBC Radio Nan Gaidheal carries an interview about the Lewis Presbytery statement. Murray Macleod of West Highland Free Press interviews Rev Ian Murdo.

The National reports on that the Russian Orthodox Church is breaking ties with the Church of Scotland and the United Presbyterian Church of France."A cold blast from Moscow hit the Church of Scotland yesterday when the Russian Orthodox Church decided to sever all ties with the Kirk over the issue of same-sex unions.The news came after a better development for the Kirk, when the Presbytery of Lewis decided not to split from the Church of Scotland after the General Assembly's historic vote to permit those in same-sex civil partnerships to be eligible to serve as ministers and deacons."

Pravmir also reports on the Russian Orthodox Church statement. The United Presbyterian Church of France is now blessing same-sex marriages.

The Herald also reports on the Lewis Presbytery statement: (paywall)

A letter to The Herald says the Christian story of resurrection is not just a metaphor.