Church in the news

The latest news on The Church of Scotland's work, events and activities from external media outlets.

Tuesday 16 May, 2017

News highlights Tuesday 9 May - Tuesday 16 May

Scotland's oldest man honoured

The Kirk has honoured the UK’s oldest man with a prestigious lifetime of service award.

109-year-old Alfred Smith, from the village of St Madoes in Perthshire, has been a member of the Church of Scotland since 1945 and an Elder since 1967.

Moderator of the General Assembly Rt Rev Russell Barr visited Mr Smith at home in the Carse of Gowrie to present the unique award on behalf of Scotland’s national church. While it is a regular occurrence to present a 'certificate of long service' to members of the Church, it is extremely rare a Moderator of the General Assembly makes a personal visit to present it.

The event was picked up across the UK media including:

i, The Telegraph, Sunday Times, The Courier, The Scotsman, The Herald, Daily Record, The National, The Daily Mail and around 130 local and regional newspapers

The story was also picked up by BBC Radio Scotland , TalkSport, Heart Scotland and Central FM.

Syrian minister denied General Assembly visa

A controversial decision to deny a trailblazing Syrian minister a visa to visit Scotland during the General Assembly has been branded “disturbing and mystifying”.

Very Rev Dr John Chalmers, Principal Clerk to the General Assembly, said he was “desperately disappointed” that Rev Rola Sleiman was being prevented from attending the annual gathering which starts in Edinburgh on Saturday.

The 42-year-old is the first female pastor in the Arab Christian world.

The story has been picked up in The Herald , The Times, The Scotsman and BBC Online.

Rev Ian Alexander spoke on BBC Radio Scotland about the issue.

Rev Ian May's community bank still attracting attention

Rev Ian May appeared on STV speaking about how he went from a high-flying banking career to becoming a minister. He speaks about how a community bank he has set up has been taking on payday loans.

Premier also wrote an article on Mr May.

Church supports anti-smacking ban

New proposals to give children equal protection from assault are not about criminalising parents, a Church of Scotland minister has said.

Rev Dr Richard Frazer, convener of the Church and Society Council, said the legislation does not seek to undermine discipline and is purely aimed at promoting non-violent forms of parenting.

The Kirk's stance has been widely publicised in The Herald, The Sunday Post, The Scotsman, Press & Journal,The National, AOL, The Courier, Daily Mail, Daily Record, The Herald and around 30 local newspapers.

Rev Dr Richard spoke about the issue on BBC Radio Scotland.

Monday 8 May, 2017

St Bride's Church chancel and the battle of Arras

The Chancel at St Brides's Church in Sanquhar, Dumfriesshire symbolises the miraculous return of Captain Hamish Weir Samson MC (Military Cross) who was missing, feared dead for nearly three months following the battle of Arras.

Captain Samson, who was known to his Army mates as “Sammy”, had been captured and was being held in a Prisoner of War Hospital in Karlsruhe in south-west Germany.

To celebrate his son’s astonishing survival, John Samson made a large donation to the church to extend the building, which dates back to 1824.

Read the full article online.

The story was picked up by The Herald, BBC Online, Daily Record and two local newspapers. It also was mentioned on ITV borders and on BBC Radio Scotland.

Minister takes on pay day lenders

Minister of South Leith Parish Church Rev Ian May is known in his parish as the man who took on the payday lenders.

Using his expertise from a former life as a banker, Mr May helped establish what he describes as a “social justice mission” that provides the community with an affordable alternative to the payday lenders, the Castle Community Bank.

Read our interview with Rev Ian May

His story has been picked up by The Times and New Statesman

Duke of Edinburgh thanked for ‘unstinting’ public service

Following the announcement of the retirement of the Duke of Edinburgh, the Right Rev Russell Barr paid tribute to his lengthy public service: “Long past the normal age of retirement the Duke has continued to lead a full and active public life and, as well as offering him the Church of Scotland’s warmest thanks, let me assure him of our prayers for continuing health and strength in his well-deserved retirement.”

The Dean of the Chapel Royal in Scotland, Very Rev Prof Iain Torrance, thanked the Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip for his “unstinting” promotion of organisations across the country.

Many newspapers picked up the Church's statement including:

The Guardian, Daily Star,Daily Express and also Third Force News

Stars Wars day tweet

A Church of Scotland tweet which referenced 'Star Wars Day' made it on to the BBC website's top tweets on May 4. The tweet showed a daily meme that is produced by the Mission & Discipleship Council. Put out on twitter and facebook every day at 8am, these are always extremely popular and often tie in to particular themes or key dates.

Free Church of Scotland minister calls for co-operation

Former Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland the Rev David Robertson has called on the need for closer ties with the Church of Scotland in an article in The Courier

In response Very Rev Prof Iain Torrance said: “Today, all across Europe, in what is called the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE), we recognise each other as being limbs of the One Church on the basis of our common belief in the Gospel of justification.

“There are plenty of differences among us, but in the light of our common confession of the Gospel, we recognise each other as all being members of the One Church.

"On that basis, I’d reply to my friend and brother minister David Robertson that the Church of Scotland and the Free Church are already one.

“The diversity of our confessional traditions should be seen as an enrichment not an impairment.“Signs of being one church are that we welcome each other to our pulpits and to the Lord’s Table.

“And yes, he’s right, we should do more of that.”

New minister Rev Graeme Glover interviewed on Radio Jersey

Rev Graeme Glover, who was ordained and inducted in St Columba's, Jersey last week, spoke on BBC Radio Jersey about how he came to decide to become a minister and the 'joy' the role has for him.

Mr Glover was previously an aiid worker in Bosnia, Tajikistan, Armenia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Nepal.

Monday 1 May, 2017

Queen appoints minister as new chaplain

Rev George Cowie of South Holburn Church, Aberdeen has joined her Majesty’s Household as a Chaplain-in-Ordinary.

The prestigious role dates back to the 15th century and is today largely a ceremonial honour with chaplains taking part in formal state occasions and conducting services at significant national events.

Mr Cowie, who has been a parish minister for 26 years, said: “I felt surprised, humbled and honoured to be offered this appointment as a Chaplain to the Queen in Scotland.”

The story was published in the Press & Journal, The Aberdeen Evening Express, The Scotsman, Premier, The Daily Record, and The Courier.

First wedding held at new Glasgow church

George Hay and Linda Robertson tied the knot at Castlemilk Parish Church in front of friends and family.

It was particularly fitting that they were the first couple to get married in the building because it was officially opened by the new Mrs Hay's son, Kevin, at a special ceremony last September.

The 12-year-old cut the ribbon in a move that heralded the beginning of a new journey for the merged congregations of Castlemilk East and West churches.

The Glasgow Evening Times covered the story and you can read about it on our own website.

Sunday Times article

A recentSunday Times article looked at the finances of the Church of Scotland, with a particular focus on the deficit of CrossReach. The article also took into account Church of Scotland pension funds.

However, although CrossReach is selling three care homes due to a deficit, the article acknowledges a warning from a public spending watchdog, the Accounts Commission, which states "current approaches to providing care are not sustainable," and therefore CrossReach should be considered in the wider context of an industry which is struggling to meet the costs of care in the UK.

On the subject of pensions a Church spokesman said of the situation: "we feel it is a positive one and the trustees have assessed the covenant of the church as 'strong' which is the second highest of a six-point rating scale. Taken together, the totality of the six church pension schemes show a deficit... However, agreements have been reached between employer and pension trustees for additional funding to reduce this deficit to zero."

The Courier has also written a much shorter article on the subject.

Ordination and induction in Jersey

Rev Graham Glover will be both ordained and inducted into his first chargethis week at St Columba's church in St Helier, Jersey. Mr Glover has previously worked as a humanitarian aid worker in Iraq and Afghanistan. The church in Jersey has been a vacant charge since early 2016.

BBC Radio Jersey covered the story.

Monday 24 April, 2017

Church in the news highlights Wednesday 19 - Monday 24 April

Kirk Heroine chosen for the Hall of Heroes at the Wallace Monument

Presbyterian missionary Mary Slessor is to be celebrated at a major landmark museum in an historic move to recognise the deeds of famous women.

The Dundee mill worker, who transformed lives in Calabar, Nigeria, was chosen by public vote to be immortalised in the Hall of Heroes at the National Wallace Monument near Stirling.

There has been extensive coverage of this including:

The Herald, The Scotsman , Courier, The National, around 30 local news outlets, and the Edinburgh Evening News.

Continued reaction to the paper of the theological forum

More newspapers have now covered the Theological Forum's report on human sexuality, which has generally had a positive response in the media aside from a few letters that have been published. There has been coverage in The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Daily Mail, i, Daily Express, The Sun , Metro, The Herald, The Scotsman, Daily Record, Press & Journal, The Courier, Scottish Daily Star, BBC Online, around 25 local newspapers, BBC 1 Scotland, STV, Kingdom FM, BBC Radio Scotland, Christian Today, and Pink News.

Anniversary of the Balfour Declaration

The General Assembly is being presented with a report which marks the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration which led to the creation of a Jewish homeland.

Last year, the Church of Scotland was asked to consider how it would mark the Balfour Declaration, which was a letter by Arthur J Balfour which outlined the British Government’s support for "a national home of the Jewish people".

The report, produced by the Church and Society Council and World Mission Council, explores the significance of this letter as an important moment for those living in Palestine under the British Mandate, the Jewish people and British colonial history. Lord Balfour was a member of the Church of Scotland whose views on the Holy Land were shaped by his Christian outlook.

The report has received a mixed reaction from the Jewish community, with many outlets expressing concern. The Jewish News quotes the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, stating “We have considerable reservations, in particular the proposed Deliverance (resolution) which condemns Israeli settlements, but not Palestinian terrorism or Hamas’s institutionalised anti-Semitism,” However, the article goes on to say "Jewish representatives said they were pleased that the Church had consulted Scottish Jews before its publication, and that revisions had given a more balanced reading".

Additional coverage appears in the ;Jewish Telegraph, The Herald and The Jewish Chronicle.

A interfaith confernc

Life & Work to be offered to digital subscribers

The magazine is now available for the first time to digital subscribers, bringing the church’s magazine to a new global online audience.

The digital title, compatible across all devices, has been trialled since January with ministers and parish magazine editors, who previously received print copies, now receiving an online digital copy edition to read instead.

Following positive feedback, the title has now been launched for sale to consumers around the world via the magazine’s website and distributed via online magazine store Pocketmags.

The Herald and Stornoway Gazette wrote articles covering the development.

Moderator Designate reveals he was banished from Sunday School ;

The Herald picked up on the May edition of Life & Work which features an interview with Rev Dr Derek Browning, who next month will takeover as Moderator to the General Assembly.

In the article Dr Browning states he was taken out of Sunday School aged seven for being "a disruptive influence" and "asking too many questions".

He goes on to say that "the sense of wanting to ask questions is important to both my ministry and parish work and at the General Assembly. Questions are always in order."

Dr Browning will make hospitality and inclusion significant themes in his year as Moderator.

Interfaith conference mentioned on BBC Radio Scotland

Dr Amanullah De Sondy, who was one of the key speakers at the recent Honest Conversations interfaith conference, mentioned the event on BBC Radio Scotland as part of the Thought For the Day section on Good Morning Scotland. He cites the event as an important chance to discuss the tension between mission, belief and interfaith work.