|Written by Peter Johnston|
|Saturday, 29 October 2011 22:05|
Many months of planning led to today's "What kind of church?" conference in Edinburgh, organised by OneKirk, a network I've been involved with since its inception some five years ago. The day was a tremendous blessing for, I pray, all of us who attended and participated. Certainly the buzz of conversation at lunch time, and the discussions in the eleven different groups were testament to the way that everyone wanted to use this time to talk through some of the issues raised by today's speakers.
The day began and ended with worship, the image above taken just as we set up the communion elements on the Communion Table, with one of the discussion groups in mid-conversation in the background.
Most encouraging were the comments received at the end of the day from people who had deeply appreciated being able to set aside some time and space (safe space, in that people could say what they liked, albeit with a sense of grace and sensitivity to each other) to talk passionately and coherently about the big issues that face the Kirk, from what kind of community are we (in a radically different and more secular culture than would have been the case even 50 years ago), to how we read the Bible, make sense of it, and let it shape the lives we live. [There's more...]
Those of us who planned the conference are indebted to our speakers, Rev Peter Macdonald, Rev David McLachlan (who shared with us some of the personal tragedy that struck his family last week; my prayers go with him and his family), and Rev Fiona Bennett.
It was particularly good to speak with some of my colleagues who are coming from a more conservative position with the Kirk about the need to keep this kind of safe space for dialogue available, even when we find it challenging to know how best we can keep that tension of living together in our diversity.
Alas we had a bit of a technical miscommunication and the talks that we had planned to record were not! However, I'll try to get a written copy of the talks onto the OneKirk website as soon as possible along with a copy of the handbook that we used today.
A good day, and a job well done by the OneKirk team. Particular thanks to the folks at Broughton St Mary's for their hospitality and catering! The spicy pumpkin soup was superb.
Fiona Bennett ended her talk with a 50 word poem that encapsulates the Bible story... it is too good not to share.