Our Church: Halfway to Heaven - Flemington Hallside Church
Published on 3 April, 2017
By Rev Neil Glover
The sign on front of our Church says "Halfway to Heaven".
It's because our largest community is Halfway - a mining then steel community, which ended up as home to hundreds of workers from the local Hoover factory.
Since its peak in the 70s the factory kept getting smaller and smaller until it closed a few years ago.
At the same time, thousands of houses were being built on farm land across the road in Drumsagard and even more are being built across the railway line in Newton.
So Halfway got its name because it was halfway between Glasgow and Hamilton but it's also now Halfway between the cultures of old and new Scotland - the old industries and the new economy.
And we'd also like to think that our Church is at its best as a sign of another connection - the connection between earth and heaven.
A family atmosphere
So we're a mix of folks, but with a strong family atmosphere.
We've a range of ages - not least because Go For It has enabled us to appoint a youth worker.
Many people speak on Sunday mornings, including a recent initiative called "Stand Up For Sunday" where the whole service is planned and lead by our young people.
They don't preach long sermons but share their thoughts in three slots called Bite-Sized Bible. And we have family in the other Churches around, not least Cambuslang Parish Church down the road.
Like all families we have our misunderstandings, but we keep coming back to each other.
And we're a family whose bonds stretch outside the Church community. Our recent Christmas Market made a record total and people want to know what we're up to -even if they don't always come.
Thanks to a recent donation we were able to replace our BB minibus and this is a resource made available to our whole community.
Recently, our minister tripped whilst out walking and tumbled down a bank into the Clyde, many folk knew within days, even if the details had been exaggerated in the process.
Lots of folk still come for baptism.
Scotland is changing quickly, and we don't know if this will keep happening, but they seem to enjoy it when they come.
They comment that the worship is lively and the words connect with their lives. Our Powerpoint has never been accused of being too slick, nor our pews of being too comfy - but for a while they stay.
Even when we've had 24 hour, week-long prayer rooms, they haven't been freaked out.
They stay for a few years, but then something happens and we don't seem them so often.
Sometimes it's because Children are getting older, sometimes it's because they miss a few weeks and are embarassed to go back, sometimes it because they sense that though people are friendly and warm, if they didn't turn up, who would notice?
We've thought a lot about this and wondered if the early Church might have a few things to teach us.
They seemed to share a lot in common - their meal tables, their possessions, their time, their worship.
Even when the culture was screaming at them to be a little more segregated - because they were Gentiles and Jews, slaves and free, men and women, Romans and Barbarians - they refused.
They held things together. Somehow they were to be One as God is One.
We've thought a lot about that - for more than two years we've been doing our thinking. And now, inspired by a few Baptists from Edinburgh and a number of other Churches of Scotland, we're hoping to birth a number of missional communities in the congregation. Groups of people who'll commit to pray together, listen for God together, share more of their lives together.
And we don't want this to be a minority pursuit for a few fanatics - we'd love this to spread through the whole congregation.
And though we've said "missional communities" - this doesn't require hipmarketing. Our Guild has undergone something of a mini-revival by embodying the same principles.
By being closer to God, to each other, to our Community, we pray that our Church might continue to offer a foretaste of Heaven. Maybe even sometimes getting closer than Halfway.