Church in the news

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

Thursday 24 December, 2015

A report from a joint study group of the Church of Scotland and the Church of England that includes a new statement on the relationship between the Churches was reported on BBC news channels and on the front pages of The Herald and The Telegraph.

The Columba Declaration sets out the ways the Churches are working together and suggests a framework for future work with one another and with other churches. The report will go to the General Assembly and the General Synod for approval this year.

Rev Dr John McPake co-author of the report spoke about it on

BBC Radio Scotland (2:19:42) Listen here.

BBC Online

The Telegraph

The Herald

Church of Scotland's story:

The Press and Journal have published the Moderator's Christmas message, "Season for us uniting as one". (print p17)

The Scotsman also publishes the Moderator's Christmas Message headlined, "While trouble resonates around the world, Christmas reminds us there is always hope for peace." (print p19)

The Daily Mail published a story about the Teabag Angel on display in Dunblane Cathedral. (Print p9)

The Scotsman covers the memorial service in Glasgow Cathedral for the six people who died in the Queen Street tragedy last Christmas season.

The Breitbart website reports on a discussion between military chaplains and the UK government over conducting same sex weddings in military chapels.

The Courier reports on a married couple who are to be ordained as Church of Scotland ministers on the same day.

Project Syndicatewebsite mentions the Church of Scotland's Tabeetha school in an articlwe about promoting religious tolerance.

The Falkirk Herald mention counselling arranged through the Church of Scotland in an article about how the Falkirk community has helped a widow who lost several family members in the bombing of the Christian church in Peshawar in Sept. 2013"

Wednesday 23 December, 2015

The majority of Scottish daily newspapers published prominent reports (many on the front pages) about a memorial service held at Glasgow Cathedral – a Church of Scotland congregation – to mark the first anniversary of a tragic accident in the city's Queen Street/George Square which left six people dead. The event, which was organised by ecumenical group Glasgow Churches Together, was attended by about 700 people and the service was streamed live online by the BBC and STV. All news channels carried the story in bulletins throughout the day and night.

The cathedral's minister the Rev Dr Laurence Whitley is extensively quoted in newspapers including the Daily Record and the Times.

Coverage includes



The Sun

The Daily Record;

The Express

The Press and Journal has published an article about a married couple who are being ordained as Church of Scotland ministers on the same day at the same service. The article reads - The Highlands will get two new ministers next month – when a married couple are both ordained on the same day.

Susan Cord and James Bissett said it was "pretty cool" that they will be welcomed into the Presbytery of Ross during a service at Knockbain Church in Munlochy on January 23.

Ms Cord will lead the linked charge of Killearnan and Knockbain churches as a minister of word and sacrament, while her husband will become an ordained local minister who will work directly for the presbytery on a part-time, voluntary basis while continuing to study at Highland Theological College in Dingwall.

The Courier has also published an extensive version of the story

The Edinburgh Evening News has published a full page articleabout the Rev Dr Martin Scott who has been appointed Secretary to the Council of Assembly of the Church of Scotland. He will take up the position next May, succeeding Pauline Weibye.

Christian Today has published an article about pressure being put on military chapels to recognise same-sex marriage.

The Merritt Herald, a local newspaper in Canada, has carried a story about a historic church that is holding a Christmas Eve service for the first time in 60 years. The piece says the Church has connections to the Rev George Murray who was sent by the Church of Scotland to cover a wide area in the region. He died around a 100 years ago.

Tuesday 22 December, 2015

BBC and STV both plan to live-stream the memorial service for victims of the Queen Street traged, which will be attended by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the Lord Provost of Glasgow among others. Rev Dr Laurence Whitley of Glasgow Cathedral is due to speak on BBC Radio Scotland at 11:20am. Father David Wallace of Glasgow All Churches Together will be on Sky at 11am.

The Times reports that the General Assembly of 2016 will vote on whether to allow congregations to call ministers in same-sex marriages. Presbyteries have voted by a narrow margin to accept the overture. (print p28)

A Scotsman article by secularist Garry Otton links censorship and extreme state punishments to religious belief. Otton equates the flogging of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi and the Charlie Hebdo attacks to events in the Scotland of 1697, saying "20-year-old Edinburgh student Thomas Aikenhead was hanged in Leith at the Kirk's behest for criticising Christ."

The Western Daily Press reports on negotiations between the Department of Defense and Military Chaplains over same-sex marriage.

"Defence minister Penny Mordaunt has written to military chaplains to ask how "Parliament's sanction" will be enforced, after the churches using the chapels refused to allow the ceremonies.

"The move comes 18 months after regulations were passed to allow same-sex marriages in the 190 military chapels in England and Wales, in the teeth of opposition from some Conservative MPs.

"No such marriages have taken place - and no chapels have been registered for the marriages - because of the opposition of the Churches.

"However, when the regulations were passed, ministers made clear the Churches would not be given a "veto", in the way that same-sex marriages were blocked in "civilian places of worship"…

"The sending churches - which provide chaplains - include the Church of England, the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, United Reformed and Congregational churches."

The Herald reports on the St Mungo Festival, which will take place 6-14 Jan, 2016.

In The Scotsman, Michael McGrath, director of the Scottish Catholic Education Service, defends religious schooling, after a UK report criticised religious education.

Monday 21 December, 2015

The BBC reported on the Tabeetha Church of Scotland school in Israel.

"The last remaining Church of Scotland school in the world is in Israel. What makes it even more unusual is that it teaches Christian, Muslim and Jewish children together in an attempt to create an environment of tolerance, despite the tension."

The story was broadcast on BBC television news and on

BBC Radio Scotland: with a 30 minute documentary starting at 1 hour 30 mins55 secs into this link.

and BBC online:

Christian Today.

Saturday's Daily Mail carried a two-page spread featuring the Moderator's Christmas message. (Print p16-17)

The Sunday Express also carried a Christmas message from the Moderator headlined, Make Peace at a time of War. (print p28)

"The problems of the world might seem too big for us to solve. But by opening our hearts to God's grace and love we can act to make peace and to care for those whose lives touch ours.

"So this Christmas, let's put God's love to work in our own lives.

"Why not reach out to an elderly neighbour and brighten their day through being with them, just as God is with us. Practice forgiveness. Be thankful for everything good.

"By living in God's love revealed in Jesus, we will inevitably be transformed. Then we will see in our world the coming of the King-dom of the Prince of Peace. To all of you, I wish a happy and peace-filled Christmas."

STV Edinburgh's Fountainbridge show asked Rev Michael Mair from St David's Broomhouse, who's a regular guest on their show, to record a Christmas message which will play on the STV Local channel over the festive period. You can see the short film they made with Michael here.

The Daily Express reports on the service to be held at Glasgow Cathedral Tuesday 22 December to commemorate the anniversary of last year's Queen Street tragedy.

"The event, Glasgow Remembers The Queen St Tragedy, has been organised by ecumenical body Glasgow Churches Together and will take place at Glasgow Cathedral at noon – a year to the day since the horror unfolded to leave six people dead.

"Then, an out-of-control 26-ton bin lorry careered along Queen Street, mowing down Christmas shoppers, finally coming to rest in George Square."

The memorial service is also covered in:

The Scottish Daily Mail. (print p21)

The Evening Times.

The Daily Telegraphreports on calls to reconsider whether the Stone of Scone should be sent to England when the next British monarch is crowned.

"Its origin is shrouded in legend and its history fraught with tensions between Scotland and England.

But almost 20 years after the Stone of Destiny was returned to Edinburgh from London, the man who masterminded its theft in 1950 has questioned whether it should be loaned to England for the coronation of Britain's next monarch.

Ian Hamilton, 90, said: "A new sovereign must decide if he is to be crowned on the coronation stone. Which of the two governments will he consult? Let us hope it is decided with calm reason.

"We must show an example. The English crowns are loaded with the spoils of empire, the Koh-i-Noor and Cullinan diamonds are the least of them."

He said the Queen was not the head of the Church of Scotland and "has no right to order [the stone's] disposal in and from Scotland". (print p9)

The Sunday Times also reports on the story.

"The Stone of Scone— also known as the coronation stone — has been used as a seat for the crowning of new monarchs for hundreds of years. It rests at EdinburghCastle but Ian Hamilton, 90, who was one of four young Scottish nationalists who stole the stone from Westminster Abbey in 1950, has questioned if it should be loaned to England for the coronation of Britain's next monarch.

"Writing in the latest edition of The Westminster Abbey Chorister, Hamilton argues that should the Queen's successor — either Prince Charles or his eldest son, William — wish to be crowned on the stone, it should not be assumed that the relic will automatically be made available for the ceremony, which would be in Westminster Abbey."

The Heraldreported on Rev Andrew Frater's decision to treat the nativity story not as a factual account of Jesus' birth but as a symbolic account.

"While Church of Scotland minister Reverend Andrew Frater is a believer, he has a similar objection to hanging onto ancient but tenacious stories and ideas. The church, he says, should recognise that the fanciful elements of the nativity story are off-putting to people who find them simply unbelievable."

The Paisley Daily Express reports on the uniting of two parishes.

"After decades of informal union, two historic churches have finally officially united.

"Kilbarchan East and Kilbarchan West are now one congregation, known as Kilbarchan Parish Church.

The new congregation will be based in the East hall.The two churches have been for decades in what is known as "deferred union", meaning they functioned as one church, and held joint services in one of the venues on alternate Sundays."

The Courier reports that a card delivery service in Montrose has raised £3,200 for Old and St Andrews Church. (print p4)

The Tayside and Fife Courier reports on grants of £1.45 million that will help restore eight places of worship including four Church of Scotland churches in its story, 'Perth cathedral hits the lottery jackpot.'

The National covers figures from the Trussell Trust that say this Christmas will see record numbers of Scots using food banks.

"FOOD banks are bracing themselves for the busiest month in their history as an increasing number of desperate people turn to them to feed themselves and their families.

"Figures released yesterday by the Trussell Trust, one of the main providers of emergency food supplies, said demand for its services in Scotland was at a record high in December last year, but it expected the number of people being referred for help would break that record this month…

"Martin Johnstone, secretary of the Church of Scotland's Church and Society Council and chairman of the independent Food Poverty Working Group, which will be reporting to the Scottish Government early next year, said: "The suggestion from the Trussell Trust that this Christmas more people will be using their food banks than ever before is shocking."

He added: "In Scotland, we do not have a food shortage. What we have are more and more people without enough money to live on."

And finally, the story about artist and parish development worker Iain Campbell's 'Our Last Supper' painting of homeless men for StGeorge's Tron church in Glasgow has continued to capture the media's imagination around the world. The story was picked up by UK online news site Mashable UK, where it generated 770 shares on social media and 512 retweets. One of the farthest flung mentions of the story has been in the Huffington Post Hawaii. It's a remarkable testament to the power of a simple story well told.