Tag Archives: Free Church of Scotland

One Lewis congregation gets even smaller – Lesley Riddoch’s Blog (12 March 2015)

 

 

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Angus and elma

 

By Lesley Riddoch

A month ago I wrote about the sad death of Angus Morrison from Valtos on Uig. I first met tall, softly-spoken Angus Kenneth (to use his Sunday name) and his twinkling wife Elma in 2007, when Maxwell MacLeod and I stayed at their B&B on the lovely, remote west coast of Lewis near the border with Harris. We were recording material for a Radio Scotland programme, On the Bike and later I wrote a book about the experience, Riddoch on the Outer Hebrides. Max and I planned to stay for just one night but eventually stayed for three — such was the warmth, humour and support offered by the Morrisons to their noisy, demanding guests. I went back to stay with the couple several times in the years that followed – hauling initially doubtful family members to share the delights of long walks and swims on nearby Uig beach, the Gala Day and a ceilidh at the local hall. Most of all I loved the Morrisons’ insatiable appetite for stories. No matter what time of day and night, Angus and Elma lit up at the prospect of hearing well-told yarns about the day past and had a fount of stories about their own long lives on the Western Isles. Angus died suddenly in Raigmore Hospital on February 1st after complications following surgery. He was 70. That was shocking enough for Elma and their children Christina, Angus , Donald Calum and Cathie Margaret who were all with Angus during the final days at Raigmore. But more unexpected difficulties lay ahead.

Once home, Elma contacted an elder at her church – the Free Presbyterian Church at Miavaig, Uig — to arrange the funeral. Elma had been an adherent for 47 years (attending church but not taking communion) – Angus for 70. The Church currently has no minister – there are only two Ministers covering four Free Presbyterian congregations on Lewis. So Elma asked if Angus’ cousin and retired Church of Scotland Minister, Rev Willie Macleod from Barvas could conduct the funeral. The couple had agreed that if Rev Macleod was alive when either of them passed on, Willie would be the man to officiate. He had known four generations of Angus’ family. Indeed, Willie remembered meeting Angus’ great grandmother when he was just a lad of five. Anyway, the elder said the Rev Macleod would be made welcome and Elma relaxed. But later that evening Reverend Allan MacColl from Ness called – Uig’s interim moderator. His message was abrupt. He was sorry but couldn’t allow the family to use a Church of Scotland minister to preach. Elma explained the family connection and the agreement between the couple and said the Rev MacLeod was “a gracious, godly man” Allan would doubtless enjoy meeting. The Minister replied that the Free Presbyterian church couldn’t allow a Church of Scotland Minister to preach on their premises because of the Kirk’s support for gays and lesbians. Elma pointed out the funeral was a private family affair and that the church was – after all — only bricks and mortar. The Rev MacColl held firm. He asked if Elma would still come to hear him preach. Elma replied; “You’ll never see me again inside a Free Presbyterian Church” to which the Reverend said, “You will come and listen.” She hung up.
Elma’s next call was to the local Church of Scotland who told her she was welcome to use their church. So Angus’ funeral was finally held in Uigean Church of Scotland, Miavaig on February 6th with the church full to overflowing. Elma reckons there were almost 300 people present including the twelve-strong congregation of the Free Presbyterian Church. The turnout wasn’t surprising since Angus was well known in fishing circles across the islands as part-owner and skipper of the “Sovereign.” It was by all accounts a marvellous, knowing and intimate service led by Rev Willie Macleod. The night before, another long-standing family friend and Free Church Minister — Rev Kenny I. Macleod from Stornoway – led prayers at the wake. It was also held in the Miavaig Kirk. None of the Ministers or elders from the Free Presbyterian Church has since been in touch — in stark contrast to Elma’s neighbours, friends, family – and new congregation members at the Church of Scotland.

I knew nothing about all this until I went up to visit Elma in Uig last week. You’d think a grieving widow might want to avoid any further friction – instead Elma wants other islanders to know how the Free Presbyterian Church handled the worst hours of her life. She told me; “I went to church twice on Sundays and once on Wednesdays — health permitting. I looked after the building for the past 12 years. I did the hoovering, dusting and cleaning – and that was all fine. But this – is just a slap in the face. No Christian names are used at a Free Presbyterian funeral. Angus would have been called ‘the deceased’ throughout — and I’d be ‘the widow.’ There’s no warmth, no compassion in their services.”

It seems Free Presbyterian numbers on Lewis have been dwindling since the former Lord Advocate, Lord Mackay of Clashfern was suspended as an elder for attending the Roman Catholic funeral masses of fellow judges. But Elma has been torn between competing loyalties even more harshly. She has lost a wonderful husband and life partner. Did Elma have to lose her church too?

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Free Church and Same-Sex Marriage

imageTelegraph.co.uk
By Simon Johnson, Scottish Political Editor 15 Aug 2013

The Free Church of Scotland said a conscience clause, similar to that included for medical staff when abortion was legalised, would also shield teachers who do not want to include gay marriage in lessons.
Despite repeated assurances from SNP ministers, the Free Church said legislation being considered at Holyrood gives “little protection” to clergy who believe marriage is between a man and a woman.
A conscientious objector clause would remove any doubt about a celebrant’s right to refuse to conduct a gay ceremony without resorting to court action, it said.
The church called for the change in a submission to Holyrood’s equal opportunities committee, which is conducting an inquiry into the Scottish Government’s Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill.
SNP ministers have claimed the legislation already contains “unequivocal protection” for those clergy who do not want to conduct gay ceremonies, but this has been rejected by the Faculty of Advocates.
Neither are parents and teachers safe if they refuse to allow children to learn about same – sex marriage, the faculty said, as the legislation creates a public duty to “promote” the practice in the classroom.
UK ministers offered similar assurances when same-sex marriage was legalised south of the Border but a gay couple has already announced they are planning to sue the Church of England over its refusal to allow a ceremony in an Anglican church building.
The Free Church referred to the Abortion Act 1967, which contains a conscience clause allowing medical staff opposed to the procedure to refuse to play any part unless it is a life-and-death emergency.
“The legislation has worked well for abortion, another deeply contentious moral issue, and it would make sense to have similar provision for same-sex marriage,” a spokesman for the church said.
“Given what has already happened in England – where a court case is being brought against the Church of England with the ink barely dry on the Royal Assent – there is no doubt that we will see similar instances north of the Border.”
The church said it was “unacceptable” that parents will have no legal right to remove their children from all lessons where gay marriage is mentioned and not just sex education classes.
Although Scottish ministers have said choirmasters and organists in marriage ceremonies will receive similar protections to clergy, the church said it was “inconsistent” not to extend this to teachers, registrars and other public sector staff.

 

But the Equality Network, a charity that promotes homosexual rights, said the Free Church’s plan amounts to a “free pass for discrimination”.
Tom French, the organisation’s policy coordinator, said: “We wouldn’t want to create a situation where your local registrar, GP or teacher could pick-and-choose whether to serve you on the basis of your race, religion, or sexual orientation.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are striving to create a Scotland that is fairer and more tolerant, and that is why we believe that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.
“At the same time, we also want to protect freedom of speech and religion, and that’s what the Bill does.”

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The Kirk and Gay Clergy (article from “The Scotsman” newspaper)

General Assembly

 

Church of Scotland faces breakaway over gay clergy

The General Assembly decided to allow gay clergy. Picture: Getty
The General Assembly decided to allow gay clergy. Picture: Getty

By ALISTAIR MUNRO and CRAIG BROWN
Published on 31/05/2013 03:14

THE Church of Scotland is facing a fresh crisis over the controversial issue of allowing gay clergy after two churches threatened to break away from the Kirk.

Congregations at the two churches, both in the Western Isles, are to vote on whether to quit the Kirk over the issue.

The congregation at Kinloch and elders of Stornoway High, on the Isle of Lewis, are the first to react to the Kirk’s decision to allow gay clergy, which was passed last week by the General Assembly. Sources suggested at least ten more congregations could be considering similar votes this summer and warned the Church of Scotland “could be facing extinction in the Western Isles”.

The ordaining of ministers in same-sex relationships has divided the Kirk since traditionalist members attempted to block the appointment of Scott Rennie, who is gay, in 2009.

So far, two congregations have left the Kirk over the issue – St George’s Tron Church in Glasgow and Gilcomston South Church in Aberdeen – both 
before the Church of Scotland took the historic step last week of voting in favour of allowing openly gay men and women to become ministers.

The two churches now considering breaking away are from the evangelical wing of the Kirk, which believes in the “gospel truth” and follow the written word of the Bible.

The evangelical wing is strong in many parts of the Highlands and Islands, and is at odds with Church’s more liberal sections and their position on the ordination of gay ministers.

One source from within the evangelicals said: “On current form, it is perfectly conceivable that in two years time the Church of Scotland will have nobody left in places like Lewis. Many congregations across Scotland are deeply unhappy with what the General Assembly decided.

“Now that Kinloch have announced their intention to leave, it could have a domino effect across the Highlands and Islands, with many more planning to leave – easily running into double figures. If rumours are correct, come May 2015 the national church could be facing extinction in the Western Isles.”

The minister and members of Kinloch Church of Scotland have made a unanimous decision to consider their position, saying they are unhappy with the way in which the Kirk has handled the issue of gay ministers.

Kinloch minister, the Rev Iain Murdo Campbell, said the General Assembly should not have even tackled the matter.

He added that it was not so much the decision by the General Assembly that had caused them to consider a breakaway from the Kirk, but the fact the issue was being discussed at all. “They have been investigating and talking about this for at least four years,” he said.

“As far as we can see this is a question of what authority God’s word has within the denomination within the Church.

“If the word of God had the authority, which it should have, the question and debate would never have been in the General Assembly in the first place.

“God has spoken quite clearly and it only takes a few seconds to read what God has to say on this issue.”

Meanwhile, elders at Stornoway High Church held a meeting on Wednesday night and also decided to vote on whether to leave the Kirk. The congregation narrowly voted to remain part of the Kirk in 2011 when it became clear that the Church of Scotland was moving in the direction of allowing gay people to become ministers.

At the General Assembly earlier this month an attempt was made to find a compromise to satisfy all within the Kirk, but it has not gone down well with the evangelical wing.

The General Assembly maintained the Church’s traditional stance on the doctrine of human sexuality, but allowed congregations to decide themselves on whether to allow a minister in a same-sex relationship.

A Church of Scotland spokesman said: “We have not been informed of any congregation wishing to leave the Church of Scotland following last week’s General Assembly and the debate on the proposals put forward by the Theological Commission, and we would be saddened if this were the case at such an early stage.”

A summit is to take place for evangelical ministers next month to hold “crisis talks”.

It has been organised by Rev Kenny Borthwick, now leader of Holy Trinity Church in Edinburgh, urging traditionalists to gather and “repent, pray and work for reformation that is so badly needed”.

A Free Church of Scotland spokesman said: “By voting for political correctness over faithfulness to the Bible, it can be no surprise the Church of Scotland has jeopardised its own future.”

Just prior to the General Assembly, the Free Church’s moderator Rev Dr Iain D Campbell said the underlying principal of the 1843 Disruption – which caused the split in the Church 170 years ago – was the key issue, ultimately freedom for the Church to be governed by the “Word of God” alone.

Over the past few years a number of ministers have left the Church of Scotland over the issue of gay clergy.

The Reverend Paul Gibson resigned his charge of Tain Parish Church after just eight months into the post. The Reverend Ivor MacDonald left Kilmuir and Stenscholl on Skye and the Reverend John Murdo MacDonald resigned from Lochalsh.

The Church of Scotland is facing a fresh crisis over the controversial issue of allowing gay clergy after two churches threatened to break away from the Kirk.

Congregations at the two churches, both in the Western Isles, are to vote on whether to quit the Kirk over the issue.

The congregation at Kinloch and elders of Stornoway High, on the Isle of Lewis, are the first to react to the Kirk’s decision to allow gay clergy, which was passed last week by the General Assembly. Sources suggested at least ten more congregations could be considering similar votes this summer and warned the Church of Scotland “could be facing extinction in the Western Isles”.

The ordaining of ministers in same-sex relationships has divided the Kirk since traditionalist members attempted to block the appointment of Scott Rennie, who is gay, in 2009.

So far, two congregations have left the Kirk over the issue – St George’s Tron Church in Glasgow and Gilcomston South Church in Aberdeen – both 
before the Church of Scotland took the historic step last week of voting in favour of allowing openly gay men and women to become ministers.

The two churches now considering breaking away are from the evangelical wing of the Kirk, which believes in the “gospel truth” and follow the written word of the Bible.

The evangelical wing is strong in many parts of the Highlands and Islands, and is at odds with Church’s more liberal sections and their position on the ordination of gay ministers.

One source from within the evangelicals said: “On current form, it is perfectly conceivable that in two years time the Church of Scotland will have nobody left in places like Lewis. Many congregations across Scotland are deeply unhappy with what the General Assembly decided.

“Now that Kinloch have announced their intention to leave, it could have a domino effect across the Highlands and Islands, with many more planning to leave – easily running into double figures. If rumours are correct, come May 2015 the national church could be facing extinction in the Western Isles.”

The minister and members of Kinloch Church of Scotland have made a unanimous decision to consider their position, saying they are unhappy with the way in which the Kirk has handled the issue of gay ministers.

Kinloch minister, the Rev Iain Murdo Campbell, said the General Assembly should not have even tackled the matter.

He added that it was not so much the decision by the General Assembly that had caused them to consider a breakaway from the Kirk, but the fact the issue was being discussed at all. “They have been investigating and talking about this for at least four years,” he said.

“As far as we can see this is a question of what authority God’s word has within the denomination within the Church.

“If the word of God had the authority, which it should have, the question and debate would never have been in the General Assembly in the first place.

“God has spoken quite clearly and it only takes a few seconds to read what God has to say on this issue.”

Meanwhile, elders at Stornoway High Church held a meeting on Wednesday night and also decided to vote on whether to leave the Kirk. The congregation narrowly voted to remain part of the Kirk in 2011 when it became clear that the Church of Scotland was moving in the direction of allowing gay people to become ministers.

At the General Assembly earlier this month an attempt was made to find a compromise to satisfy all within the Kirk, but it has not gone down well with the evangelical wing.

The General Assembly maintained the Church’s traditional stance on the doctrine of human sexuality, but allowed congregations to decide themselves on whether to allow a minister in a same-sex relationship.

A Church of Scotland spokesman said: “We have not been informed of any congregation wishing to leave the Church of Scotland following last week’s General Assembly and the debate on the proposals put forward by the Theological Commission, and we would be saddened if this were the case at such an early stage.”

A summit is to take place for evangelical ministers next month to hold “crisis talks”.

It has been organised by Rev Kenny Borthwick, now leader of Holy Trinity Church in Edinburgh, urging traditionalists to gather and “repent, pray and work for reformation that is so badly needed”.

A Free Church of Scotland spokesman said: “By voting for political correctness over faithfulness to the Bible, it can be no surprise the Church of Scotland has jeopardised its own future.”

Just prior to the General Assembly, the Free Church’s moderator Rev Dr Iain D Campbell said the underlying principal of the 1843 Disruption – which caused the split in the Church 170 years ago – was the key issue, ultimately freedom for the Church to be governed by the “Word of God” alone.

Over the past few years a number of ministers have left the Church of Scotland over the issue of gay clergy.

The Reverend Paul Gibson resigned his charge of Tain Parish Church after just eight months into the post. The Reverend Ivor MacDonald left Kilmuir and Stenscholl on Skye and the Reverend John Murdo MacDonald resigned from Lochalsh.

SEE ALSO

• Analysis: Secessionists likely to be trickle not flood

• Aberdeen church breaks away over gay ministers row

• Church of Scotland faces exodus over gay clergy

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a tour of heaven

A man died and went to the hereafter.

Saint Peter met him at the pearly gates and gave  him a tour of heaven.
“In this room you can see all your loved ones who passed away before you.” stated Saint Peter.
” This room is the Lords library.” said Peter “In here you will find every great novel ever written by all the greatest authors.”
“This is the kitchen, in here you can feast on everything your heart desires.” he remarked.
“The next room is our gym. Here you can excel in any sport you wish to play.” Saint Peter said.
Then quietly sneaking by the next room Peter whispers, “Be very quiet when you pass by this room.”
“Why’s that?” asked the new arrival, “Are the angels sleeping in there?”
“No.” replied Saint Peter, “In this room are the Wee Frees, and they think they are the only ones here.”
–ooOOoo–
I heard this originally as this:
A man dies and goes to heaven. At the gates, St. Peter offers him a tour on his way to his quarters. St. Peter takes the man down a beautiful road paved with gold bricks.
They pass a beautiful, tall, Cathedral-like building. It’s huge, with stained glass windows and angels carved into the stonework. People are quietly filing into the front door as music from a beautiful pipe organ emanates from within.”Wow!” exclaims the man. “What a beautiful building! Who are those people?””Them? Those are all the Catholics. They’re getting ready to have high mass.” St. Peter replies.

“Oh.” says the man, as they continue walking down the street.

Next they approach a large grassy area with a modest red brick building that has a tall white steeple at the top. There are huge tables all over the lawn covered with dishes of  salad, fried chicken wings, and every casserole imaginable. People are eating to their heart’s content and laughing, talking and socializing as their children run around playing in the grass.

“St. Peter, who are all those people?” the man asks.

“Oh those people? Those are the Methodists. They’re having another one of their picnics or something.” The man nods in understanding.

They then hear unaccompanied psalm singing coming from a plain-looking, no frills building

“Ah, the Wee Frees,” says the man and Peter nods his head in agreement.

A school next – no children but the raucous noise of drums, guitars and keyboards and cries of “Hallujah! Praise the Lord! Amen!”

Peter explains that this is an Pentecostal group who hire this building for worship.

They then look through the door of an ordinary looking church building with pealing paint, crumbling stonework, a leaking roof, no heating and half a dozen old ladies (some of whom have dozed off) – yes, The Church of Scotland!

Soon St. Peter and the man start walking into and area with lots of trees. It looks like their nearing the woods. As they walk deeper into the trees, the man notices a clearing into the distance. There’s a small village of stone buildings, streams of white smoke puffing from the chimney tops, and beautiful flower and vegetable gardens around the homes. People are quietly milling around and talking.

“St. Peter, who are those people?” the man asks.

“Shhh!” shushes St. Peter with his finger to his mouth. “Those are the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They think they’re the only ones up here.”

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Thomas Chalmers

Thomas Chalmers
St Patrick’s Day (March 17) 1780 saw the birth of Rev Thomas Chalmers in Anstruther.  He was a Parish Minister, eloquent preacher, academic – “Scotland’s greatest nineteenth century churchman”
Chalmers was the leader of the dissenting ministers in the Great Disruption of 1843. In all, 470 ministers walked out of the General Assembly over the matter of who had the right to pick a minister for a parish. Chalmers then became the first Moderator of the new Free Church of Scotland, expending much energy on ensuring the new church had a solid base on which to build.

Once, when walking with a minister friend, visiting homes in the parish and speaking to people on the road, Chalmers remarked: ‘This is what I call preaching the gospel to every creature; that cannot be done by setting yourself up in a pulpit, as a centre of attraction, but by going forth and making aggressive movements upon the community, and by preaching from house to house.’

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