Minister's Letter

June and Juy 2018

The Lord be with you.

 

Believe it or not, as I sit writing this, the sun is shining. We may be heading towards the end of May but I feel that spring has finally got a grip on our land. One bit of evidence that confirms for us that spring is most definitely here are the changes that we see in our gardens and the surrounding countryside – new life is evident, and it’s at times like this that we conclude that not all change is bad.  

 

As we move through this month of May I am aware that the meeting of the General Assembly looms (19-25) and I still have a fair bit of reading that I must do as a commissioner, and I am also aware that a lot of what we have to consider this year will be challenging for many.

 

This week, in preparation for the Assembly I received a copy of the “Strategic Plan” for the church for the next 10 years; it states, “whatever we do, we do prayerfully, with humility and seeking to be in tune with the Spirit of God at work in the world”.

Why do I share this with you?   Well I think that as a people, as a church, we need to be aware of what should inform our prayers.

 

As we look at our national church there are challenges that we all need to be aware of and these are set out for us in the plan: shrinking membership numbers, fewer ministers, too many buildings, falling income and ineffective structures.  (The numbers of vacancies continue to rise – currently 200 plus); the length of vacancies continues to grow; almost one in four congregations do not have a minister at all).  But the plan also highlights our strengths: committed people, a base in every community in Scotland, ecumenical breadth and outlook, and a proven track record of engagement in social reform, social care delivery and working with people at the margins of society.

 

As well as prayer, the plan highlights three other principles underlying the whole strategy: ‘the activities which we undertake must be sustainable’, ‘flexibility of delivery and choice appropriate to context’ and local, regional and national levels of church ‘working in an integrated and co-operative way’.

 

What does this mean for us here in Pitlochry?  First of all I think we have to recognise that as a denomination which has been in existence for centuries it has been very difficult to grapple with all the new and challenging things which are happening in our communities and society at large.  However, we are being asked to examine ourselves carefully in the light of the teaching in the Bible, to be honest about the state of our health, the quality of our love and faith, and the effectiveness of our mission.   And at the same time we are being given permission to become the church we are meant to be, in the place that we are.

 

One of the main principles of the reformed church is found in the motto Ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda – a reformed church, always reforming.   We have the enormous privilege and responsibility of ensuring that we have a faith, a church, to pass onto the next generation.  Every generation has had this responsibility it’s true, but the age we live in has seen so many changes in a relatively short time – Historians, sociologists and journalists tell us that today’s world is changing at an accelerated rate, unlike anything past generations witnessed.   But the LORD is always leading us forward, as His people and on His mission to share the good news of Jesus Christ with those in the wider community; we just have to see where God is at work, and join in. It’s all that simple, and all that hard.

 

Until the next time – The Lord, bless you and keep you.

 

Your minister... Mary Haddow   

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