A celebration of the Church in Fife - new presbytery holds first meeting

The Church of Scotland's new Fife Presbytery is holding its inaugural meeting tomorrow.

Described as a "huge celebration" of the Kirk across the Kingdom, Rev Jane Barron, will be officially installed as its first ever Moderator.

Her main role is to chair meetings of the body which is a merger of the presbyteries of St Andrews, Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline.

Anstruther, Fife. Photo by Neil and Zulma Scott on Unsplash.

Three years in the planning to set up, Fife Presbytery is part of a reform programme to ensure that the Church operates more effectively and efficiently.

The meeting starts at 10am and is being held on video conferencing platform, Zoom, due to COVID-19 restrictions, and features a broad programme.

Rev Jane Barron
Rev Jane Barron

Ms Barron, an honorary chaplain at St Andrews University, will be installed by the last three people to hold the posts of Moderator of the legacy presbyteries.

The former English teacher and radio journalist will introduce herself to the audience which will be principally made up of ministers from across Fife and church elders.

Compassionate love

Speaking after her nomination to the role, Ms Barron said: "I'm delighted to be part of a new team commissioned to care, challenge, resource, trust and sustain one another across the three historic areas marked by monarchs, martyrs and economists, and follow Jesus in the 21st century.

"We are working to be freed of outlived ways, put mission at our very heart - and pray Christ's invitation 'Come, follow me', recovers anew its edgy, risky, exciting, compassionate love's call."

Ms Barron is the locum minister at Ceres, Kemback and Springfield churches and has previously served in parishes in Israel, Dundee, Aberdeen and St Andrews.

Rev Dr David Coulter, who was previously Chaplain General of the Army, will also speak about his new role as Clerk to Fife Presbytery.

"I was initially attracted to the Clerk's position in that the job description said the main purpose was to 'provide strategic and organisational leadership to the Presbytery'," he explained.

"Overall, there is a real spirit of renewal, energy and optimism towards building the new Fife Presbytery."

Dr Coulter, who is originally from Northern Ireland, will take up the role at Easter.

Rev Dr David Coulter
Rev Dr David Coulter

The meeting will feature a conference session with break out rooms covering subjects such as the environment, dementia friendly working, the arts, creative writing, pilgrimage and reaching families and children through Messy Church.

The afternoon session will see the appointment of conveners and office bearers to the presbytery and policy for management and Mission will be set.

New and exciting opportunities

Rev Alec Shuttleworth is the convener of the Fife Presbytery Transition Group which has been responsible for getting the presbytery up and running.

He said: "The event is a huge celebration of the Kirk in Fife, the story of its past in the three areas which are coming together, St Andrews, Dunfermline, and Kirkcaldy.

"It is also about the opportunities for its future as a new presbytery, sharing resources, caring for each other, relieving each other of burdens so that we can tell Fife the Good News about Jesus in new and exciting ways.

"We've been working at this for three years and it is so exciting to see people from Crail to Kinghorn to Kincardine reaching out, working together to tell the story of the Kingdom of God in the Kingdom of Fife."

The next meeting of Fife Presbytery is scheduled for June and members hope they might be able to meet in person at St Bryce Kirk in Kirkcaldy if COVID-19 restrictions allow.

St Monans Church
St Monans Church, East Neuk of Fife

Across Scotland, the Church is making good progress in streamlining its presbytery structures to ensure it is lean and fit for growth.

The General Assembly of 2019 approved a plan which will see the number of presbyteries in Scotland reduced from 43 to around 12.

Presbytery reform is a major undertaking for the Church as it requires change on many levels – from congregations and kirk sessions through presbytery committees and often involves people finding new ways to work closely together across large distances.