New church heralds bright future for Castlemilk
Published on 4 January, 2017
The opening of the new Castlemilk Church in Glasgow was one of the most joyful occasions of the last year. Here, Rev Sarah Brown looks back at one of the most eventful periods of her ministry and ahead into the new year.
As 2017 approaches, I look back on the things I have encountered in 2016. I always enjoy this doorway into the new year to look back on what has been and to look forward to what might be. At the turn of 2016 in Castlemilk we were in the midst of the building project for our new church home in the centre of Castlemilk. We were watching our new church grow with anticipation of what we were to encounter when we moved.
Castlemilk Parish Church has been through a long transition from two congregations into one, from two buildings into a third brand new one, a new ministry team after a transition team. We also saw three Ministry Development Staff move on to new things and welcomed a new Community Development Worker, as well as appointing a new deacon to begin this January. Change has become something that is constant. It has been in turns painful, a release, reviving, fun and inspiring. And it is necessary for us to change within, in order to grow and serve God well.
For me personally, 2016 held so many rites of passage for the congregation. That included closing a much loved building, saying goodbye to beloved members who passed away, farewells to team members and then an arrival in a new church home. It also brought new friendships with our “Together For A Change” partner church in Cuba, and a new lease of life more closely connected with our parish as they fell in love with our new home.
Perhaps the things that have filled us with most pride and inspiration are the pieces of furniture created in our woodwork project, the Castlemilk Carpenter’s Workshop. The cross and the communion table made from wood from the pews of Castlemilk East (cedar) and Castlemilk West (Scots pine), and with a new oak to symbolise the strength of our union, have moved many to tears and instilled a pride, confidence and belonging in our local volunteers who were part of their creation.
Project Co-ordinator, John Elder, designed the pieces, and did so from the inspiration of the people that worshipped in the churches and their vision for a new purpose and place. He has an incredible ability to draw people in to be involved in the manufacture of the furniture, and create end products which now hold any visitor’s attention. I love the Celtic cross which is the centre piece on our wall and the communion table, which has hints of boat lines in the legs, that make it a table not for decoration, but for using and touching and gathering around.
2016 has been a time for us gathering around. To celebrate, to mourn, to explore, to dance - to be held in a mysterious and magical way, which at times has felt like walking on water. As we journeyed through advent towards Christmas and what will be born in us this year, we added a new elder to our Kirk Session - the first since our union. Her ordination brought us a sense of hope and renewal of our own commitment to one another. We are growing in strength and changing with a grace which astounds us at times.
2017 will hold for us the beginning of a long term project to get to know our parish even better. “Treasure Hunters” will look at one street per month and take over seven and a half years to cover the whole community. We hope that we will uncover the treasure from within, the gifts that God has placed in our care and that we might learn to offer light to those in darkness and to receive from those who have something to offer.
We look forward to our community meals, launched as we arrived in our new building, blossoming into a space where all are welcome, no matter their circumstances. That it might be a place to be held and to hold others, that all may be nourished in body, soul and mind.
But ultimately for us, 2016 has been a year where many miracles have unfolded. These have strengthened our faith for today and for tomorrow. We know that whatever lies ahead, we go into it loved by God and known as precious children of God.
Rev Sarah Brown
Castlemilk Parish Church