Moderator urges people to join him on wonderful Advent journey

Russell Barr Queen Street
Dr Barr checks the train timetable at Glasgow Queen Street rail station

People are being encouraged to join the Moderator of the General Assembly on a “wonderful Advent journey”

Right Rev Dr Russell Barr extended the invitation in the first specially created video produced for the Church of Scotland which has been released online today.

Each of the thought provoking, often hard-hitting, films feature ministers, trainee ministers, probationers, a deacon and youth workers from across the country who reflect on a word that symbolises the true meaning of Christmas.

The tone of the 25 films ranges from the joyful to the spiritual and are aimed at helping people seeking to find the true festive spirit amid the "rampant commercialism" which now dominates the weeks of Advent.

Journey of discovery

The first video featuring Dr Barr, which was recorded in Glasgow’s Queen Street train station, focuses on the word “Journey”.

He said: “Two thousand plus years ago a young woman set out on a journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem but there was no train for Mary.

“Did she walk or ride a donkey the 98 miles, the Bible doesn’t say.

“What it does say is Mary was heavily pregnant and when she arrived she gave birth in a stable because there was no room at the inn.

“Advent is about a journey, a journey of discovery, a journey towards birth and new life so come on get your ticket and join me on this wonderful Advent journey.”

Half of the daily messages, which are also inspiring and uplifting, have been recorded by women and follow on from the Church’s successful Advent campaign last year which saw 24 short videos viewed more than 180,000 times.

Nearly 6,000 people signed up to receive the high quality films last year and early indications suggest that this year’s campaign, which is bigger in scope, will prove even more popular.

Dr Barr also features in the last video, recorded at the site of the old Rottenrow maternity Hospital in Glasgow near Strathclyde University where he was born, which is being released on Christmas Day and will reflect on the word “Shelter”.

It is a pertinent theme for the Moderator because he is using his year in office to highlight homelessness and the Tomorrow’s Calling campaign, which encourages people to consider entering the ministry.

Refugees

Louise Purden, who is currently studying for the ministry at New College in Edinburgh, will focus on the word “Goodwill”, British Army chaplain Rev Chris Kellock, who worked in an Ebola field hospital in Sierra Leone in 2014, is reflecting on the word “Separation” and Angela Brydson, Deacon of Annandale and Eskdale is concentrating on the meaning of “Joy”.

Rev Rosie Addis, chaplain to deaf people in the east of Scotland, will focus on the word “Holy” to promote the Albany Church for the Deaf in Edinburgh.

And Rev Shuna Dicks of Aberlour Parish in Moray, who is heavily involved in supporting Syrian families who have moved to Forres, is reflecting on the word “Refugee”.

Rev Valerie Allen, convener of the Church of Scotland's Violence Against Women Task Group, is focusing on the word “Endurance”.

She recently bagged all the country’s 282 Munro mountains to raise more than £4,500 for charities which work to tackle domestic abuse.