Ministers June 2021 Message
As we move into the summer, we will be thinking about how we continue to open up our church and invite people who have had hard time over the last eighteen months to find hope and belonging in the Christian family. It is good to see some folk already coming back to worship in person on Sundays. We have also, at long last, been able to have a wedding and baptism in the church. Things are moving forward.
At the same time it is too soon to relax. It is clear that social distancing and face masks will be part of our lives for some time to come. A mixed pattern of combined online and public worship has become the norm in the past eighteen months and we plan to continue this over the summer months. It seems that some form of communal singing with masks still in place will be allowed in level 1 and 0 and this will be introduced into our public worship as restrictions allow. How we move forward in and through the summer months will depend on a variety of factors, but what matters most is the support and friendship that has been so wonderfully offered by so many members of our congregation still continues.
During the summer months we will also be waiting for word from Easter Renfrewshire Council about our planning application shown in the leaflet that accompanies this month’s Good Neighbour. It has taken us about six years to get to this stage – a long journey that has only been possible because of those who have not held back when asked to serve and who have been willing and loyal to the task of trying to ensure a sustainable future for our church. Greenbank owes them a great debt of gratitude for the work that they have done. It is work that seems all the more essential after the decisions made by Church of Scotland’s General Assembly last month.
The General Assembly acknowledged that there is no easy or painless way forward for the Church of Scotland today. The Assembly was told that every Kirk was now facing the stark choice of the short sharp pain of surgery to bring about real prospects of recovery or the long debilitating pain of chronic decline with no hope of things getting better. The convener of the Faith Nurture Forum, Rev Rosemary Frew, stated in her report that the resources of both the local and national church were being drained of people; morale and finances; just to keep a broken system going and that without a radical treatment plan it is unlikely that the Church of Scotland will survive. There is no escaping the seriousness of the decisions the Kirk is now facing both nationally and locally.
A major reorganisation is now being planned for, with fewer ministers and a reduced number of presbyteries after the General Assembly accepted a proposal to cap the number of ministers in each part of the country. These proposals will see the number of posts slashed from 133 to 84 in Glasgow.
The Very Rev Dr John Chalmers, convener of the Assembly Trustees, told the General Assembly there would be a “very different kind of church” in the future. He said: “Building on the remarkable imagination and adaptability shown during the pandemic, each of us must concentrate now our energies on reshaping every aspect of our church life.”
In his opening address to the Assembly, the New Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Lord Wallace, a former leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, suggested that while many of the challenges the Kirk was facing had been evident for some time the COVID the pandemic had brought them into starker relief. Addressing the Assembly Lord Wallace said “I believe we should have confidence in God’s loving power and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to look forward in faith” and he closed by quoting words written by the Very Rev John Miller, who served as Moderator in 2001-2002. “The task ahead of us is never as great as the power behind us.”
As we move into the summer and beyond, whatever we do, wherever we go, whatever happens, perhaps we might take inspiration and comfort from Very Rev John Miller’s words, “The task ahead of us is never as great as the power behind us.”
May it be so, Amen.
September 10, 2021
August 01, 2021
May 04, 2021
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