Island Presbyteries sign up to closer links

Tarbert declaration signing
John Cunningham, Clerk to Lewis Presbytery, Rev Dr David Donaldson Moderator of Uist Presbytery, Rev Dr Ben Johnstone, Moderator of Lewis Presbytery, Wilson McKinlay, Clerk to Uist Presytery.

Two Presbyteries in the Western Isles have come together to sign the ‘Tarbert Declaration’, expressing their commitment to closer fellowship, greater collaboration and sharing resources in areas of common interest.

The Presbytery of Lewis and the Presbytery of Uist, which covers Harris, North Uist and Benbecula, have been discussing a closer association for some time now and the ‘Tarbert Declaration’ formalises their closer cooperation.

A statement released by the Presbyteries says the move marks a return to the original concept of Presbytery as it was originally envisaged back in 1579, when Presbyteries were first introduced into the Church of Scotland. The agreement also is in the spirit of greater collaboration which the General Assembly is encouraging Presbyteries to consider. It continues

"The concept of Presbytery was first introduced as a forum for the spiritual development of its members, through reflection on God’s Word and fellowship, long before it assumed powers of administration and governance. Nowadays, Presbytery is a governing body of Ministers and Elders, responsible for a number of congregations over a particular region. There are 45 Presbyteries in the Church of Scotland including the Presbytery of England and the Presbytery of Europe."

"Recognising the tendency for modern Presbyteries to become purely administrative agencies, the ‘Tarbert Declaration’ seeks to recover the idea of fellowship and spiritual nourishment while providing a mechanism for the Presbyteries of Lewis and Uist to share resources in the discharge of key functions such as the statutory appraisal of local congregations, Safeguarding provision and Data Protection implementation."

"Under the ‘Tarbert Declaration, the two Presbyteries will meet together once per year with a clear focus on fellowship and spiritual nourishment while the day to day business of both Presbyteries will benefit from a pooling of resources and access to a wider range of expertise. This innovative approach, pioneered in the Western Isles, could serve as a blueprint for the wider Church as the General Assembly encourages Presbyteries across Scotland to cooperate to a greater extent than they have in the past."

The Tarbert Declaration was signed by the Moderators of both Presbyteries during a special Service at Tarbert Parish Church in Harris.

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