Advent videos viewed more than 60000 times

Tomorrows Calling
The Rev Sheena Orr, chaplain HM Prison, Edinburgh.

More than 60,000 views of the online Advent calendar featuring videos of Church ministers has concluded a successful start for the 'Tomorrow's Calling' initiative launched at the General Assembly in May.

All 24 videos are now available to view on the Church of Scotland YouTube channel, Ministries Council secretary, Rev Dr Martin Scott looks back at 2015 and why 'Tomorrows Calling' is so important to the future of the Church.

This has been the year of Tomorrow's Calling.

With an anticipated 80% of Church of Scotland ministers due to retire in the next 15 years, the General Assembly tasked the Church with the high priority of encouraging the recruitment of more ministers. Work on the 'Tomorrow's Calling' initiative began in earnest in January.

A few short months later, it launched at the Heart & Soul event in Princes Street Gardens at the General Assembly.

A short video showing the work of five younger ministers was enthusiastically received by both church members and the media.

To date, it has attracted more than 200,000 views on Facebook and other social media, well beyond any initial expectations we had of the interest it would generate.

This has been followed by a series of videos focusing on the different kinds of work undertaken by ministers, including Rev Tommy McNeil of Martin's Memorial in Stornoway and Rev Dr Sheena Orr, who is Prison Chaplain at Saughton in Edinburgh. More videos will be coming early in the New Year, starting with Rev David McNeish in Orkney.

Leading up to Christmas, the online Advent Calendar has continued the drive to promote the vocational calling to ministry.;

The ministers who have contributed a short video reflection each day have served up a rich and eclectic series of personal impressions on the meaning and spirituality of Christmas.

Among the 24 videos, there are some wonderful short films and each one demonstrates the contribution of parish ministers to their congregations and surrounding communities.

If you have not watched them yet, I would urge you to dip into the Advent series. I am sure you will find much to enjoy and reflect upon.

Almost 4,000 people signed up for Advent calendar, and many of those have requested ongoing contact from the Vocations team. Applications to attend the next Vocations Conference in February are already coming in.

All the information about the Church's vocational training programme, including informative videos and application forms, is now available at the new Tomorrow's Calling website launched at the end of November.

In the first few weeks, it's been already been visited by almost 1500 people seeking more information on the call to ministry.

Although it is early days for the campaign, the signs are encouraging.

In 2015, the number of full-time candidates for ministry has grown to 21 from a five-year average of 14.

In addition, 10 OLM candidates and one Deacon in training mean that some 32 new people are entering training.

Numbers at the Vocations Conferences are increasing, and we had to hold an additional Conference in 2015 to cope with demand. We are optimistic Tomorrow's Calling is beginning to bear fruit.

In our other work, both the WEvolution and the Place for Hope teams have moved to become independent charities, still strongly supported by the Ministries Council.

WEvolution promotes self-reliant groups, in which small business loans are given to women setting up enterprises aimed at building community and providing local services.

These have included a laundrette based in Church premises. Place for Hope works in the area of conflict resolution and relationship building and provides a vital and independent resource in situations where help is needed.

The team also provides training, including to Ministries candidates, to enable better approaches to managing change and resolving conflict in positive ways.

We look forward to building on these initiatives, and welcoming new challenges in 2016.