Our Church: From Kings to Croissants

Rev Norman Smith and Chas Macintosh share their knowledge of Granton Parish Church and tell us how croissants and coffee are helping people open up about their faith.

A photo of the outside of Granton Parish Church in the sunshine.
Granton Parish Church, which was opened in 1937 and funded by the National Church Extension Scheme. The church was built to serve the communities of Royston, Wardieburn, Granton, Granton Harbour, East Pilton, and Boswall.

Granton Parish Church was the fifth building in the Church of Scotland Church Extension Scheme, and was opened by HRH the Duke of York in 1936 before the abdication of his brother when he became King George VI.

It was also used by the Church of Scotland Home Board in 1939 for a promotional film of people going to new housing estates and how the church was playing a role in their lives.

It's actually quite amazing for its day and the film would have been a significant investment for the Church. The family in the film are actors not ordinary church members.

Confident in sharing our faith

A few years ago we realised that although we had a lot of contact with our community we were not really building relationships. Lots of people were attending our church events and going through our buildings every week but we felt the church was not making much of an impact on them.

At one point we ran a family fun day where we gave out over 300 free burgers, but did not have a single conversation about faith. On reflection we realised the problem was we were not confident enough to speak about our faith—even at a church event.

Rather than just keeping on running events and hoping something would happen we decided to be pro-active. We opted for a two-year cycle where the first year would be about events and the second about learning to be confident in sharing faith. That way we would spend as much time preparing ourselves as we would preparing events.

It's easy deciding to do this; the hard part was actually finding a way to do it! After a lot of thought and prayer we realised that amongst the congregation in Granton we liked being in church and we liked gathering round food. So from there we had the idea of creating our Breakfast Course.

At different times of the year but particularly in Advent and Lent we gather at 9am in the church to eat together and to look at questions of faith. The breakfast is a simple continental one of croissant and coffee. Getting people out of bed for a 9am start means the coffee has to be good!

Artwork made by the children at Granton Parish Church
Artwork made by the children at Granton Parish Church

Conversations in Worship

This advent we have been piloting a resource called 'Conversations in Worship' that is being produced by the Mission and Discipleship Council. At other times we have used home grown material.

Our aim is not to turn people into super knowledgeable, super spiritual saints that walk on water, but to help people find a place where they can live with the questions of faith. Many conversations about faith start from someone having a question around some basic facet of life such as difficult circumstances faced by a loved one or challenging life choices.

We want to help people be able to express their faith in such places knowing they don't have any glib answers for tough situations.

Having a chat over coffee and croissants may not seem like much; however it has helped us in Granton find a place where we can grapple with what faith means to people. Since starting the two year cycle and the courses in particular we have noticed more conversations taking place; not only at our church events but also with people wherever we meet them.

Hopefully the next time we have a family fun day we will be more confident in sharing our faith as well as our burgers.

People playing instruments at Granton Parish Church
Our music group has grown recently and now our singers are supplemented by guitars, flutes, electric organ, violin and cello