Pioneering minister says pandemic was a "catalyst for mission"
Published on 25 November 2022 3 minutes read
An Ayrshire minister has described the COVID-19 pandemic as a "catalyst for mission" and revealed that her church is growing from strength to strength.
Rev Lynsey Brennan of Dundonald Parish Church said members innovated and adapted like never before to reach out to the local community and considered the lockdown a real opportunity to spread the Good News, not a barrier.
Speaking in her own words, the minister, who was ordained and inducted into her charge in February, 2019, shares her inspiring testimony which has led to a growth in church membership.
"When my call to serve came, it was quite clearly to be a minister beyond the walls of a church building.
I came to faith at the age of 28 after a friend witnessed the love of Jesus to me through her actions and grace.
This experience is very much tied to my 'call' to serve - to reach out to people where they are, being a living, breathing Bible.
God has equipped me to share my faith in the everyday norms of life.
So how confused was I when the direction of my 'call' was to be a minister of Word and Sacrament in the Church of Scotland.
Surely this would be a conflict because I never felt called to traditional ministry?
But no, there was no conflict.
In human terms, there are many challenges and strains in the national church right now but I believe that God wants us to stop seeing barriers and see, and embrace, opportunities instead.
God is equipping ‘His' ministers, elders and members to be pioneers for ‘His' grace and glory.
To serve their parishes and communities in engaging and creative ways.
Dundonald Parish Church is at the heart of the community and for us the first letters of our name mean:-
D = disciples of Jesus.
P = praising God.
C =caring for its community.
COVID-19 became the catalyst to mission.
God gave us the strength, heart and resources to reach people that were lost, struggling and broken during the pandemic.
We adapted and innovated to keep the family of faith serving together despite the challenges.
From hundreds of 'bags of joy' for those shielding in their homes, woodland chaplaincy and outdoor Sunday School, saying yes to all online faith sharing opportunities.
Local radio, TV, YouTube and Facebook - I recorded a ‘Thought for the Day' twice a week and interviewed a range of people about faith.
During the lockdown, we started to use the railings outside the church for the first time to display artwork produced by pupils at Dundonald Primary School.
We did online school chaplaincy and Sunday club, book club, community Bible experience and had regular competitions to engage people.
We have partnered with our community and pooled resources.
We've researched and made investment in areas of most need in our parish and now have a thriving community cafe/hub and foodbank, men's outreach time in the local pub and a woman's walking group.
And the fruit? - people want to know more about the church and what fuels our hearts to serve.
The answer to that is easy - we love Jesus and Jesus wants us to love our neighbour as ourselves.
Extending extraordinary hospitality is what we aim for in Dundonald and we are thankful to God that he fuels us with His love, grace and compassion to make this possible.
We live in an extra special community and the other week I filmed a nativity at the local school along with a real baby, donkey and sheep. The children were amazing.
This year, 29 people joined Dundonald Parish Church and six are waiting to join in the New Year.
Did we do what we did to grow the church? No.
Did we do what we did because God gave us hearts to share his goodness? Yes.
My heart is for people that do not yet know the love of God and those living in situations that are hard and challenging.
People come to faith in Jesus when we are living out our faith in the everyday.
Going forward as a national church, we need to partner with our biggest resource going - God's powerful Holy Spirit.
Let's all be pioneers together, seeing opportunities instead of barriers.
God is not finished with the Church of Scotland, far from it."