At a meeting this evening with representatives from Larkhall, Hamilton and Blantyre, after many months of talking about the growing needs (particularly with the changes to the benefits system that will take effect next year) that many people sadly have in our communities, it was decided by the group that we had talked enough about it and it was time to do something. A steering group will shortly be formed to begin the process of forming a foodbank that will serve these three communities (with the possibility of growing beyond this if and when other churches from other towns want to come on board).
It was decided to use the expertise offered by the charity The Trussell Trust and to seek partnership with them to do this. You can watch a video about the Salisbury Foodbank, a well-established group, to get a sense of what is being aimed at. Needless to say, this will start small and will no doubt grow within our own area over time, but the sense of wanting to do something positive and with compassion to help individuals and families who are genuinely in need was clear tonight. [There's more...]
This morning was the Official Opening Ceremony for the new Auchinraith Primary School building. It was a good morning with pupils participating and fabulous performances by the school choir. A large number of guests were present from various official bodies, with the address and ribbon-cutting for the plaque by ex-pupil of Auchinraith Primary, Councillor Hugh Dunsmuir.
There was joking reference made in the presentation by the pupils that they had thought they had been forgotten about, and one cannot help sympathise as the pupils moved into the new school nearly two years ago now! I remember thinking it was crazy that it took a year for the council to mark the official opening of the new Calderside Academy building, but this was even more bizarre. However, it allowed the pupils and staff a chance to give thanks again for a fabulous new environment in which to learn and study. As we were reminded this morning: to light the flame of learning, catch it and share it.
We guests were given a guided tour of the school by a swathe of sash-bedecked guides who did so with obvious pride in their school - which was encouraging to see even two years down the line.
Tonight was the Ordination and Induction service for Rev Jonathan Fleming to Erskine Parish Church, pictured in the social following the service being robed and looking quite the part. It was a lovely service and an emotional moment to see Jonathan move on now to his own charge with a wee babe in arms, Hollie. I couldn't help but be brought back in my memories to first coming to Blantyre when Katherine arrived only a month after my own Ordination & Induction.
I don't think anyone will forget Alan Sorensen's illustrative instruction to Jonathan that he should not be a tube, instead he should be a tub! There was more to it than that, but...
Karen Harbison did a grand job in speaking at the social about Jonathan and his final placement at Hamilton Trinity and I loved the look on Jonathan's face when Calum Harbison and I got up to sing a song that Karen had penned (with apologies to Fischy Music) about Jonathan - it was priceless!
Our very best wishes to Jonathan, Karyn, Rachel and Hollie for the years ahead. It is an exciting journey. I will certainly miss having Jonathan around, as I know will both Karen and David Burt within the chaplaincy team - we have greatly benefitted and enjoyed having Jonathan as part of the team for the last year and a half. We won't be working together any longer (well, never say never), but our friendship and support remains.
Thanks to all those who trekked over in the Blantyre Volunteer Group bus with much song and laughter despite the late hour of our return! The Johnston clan will be over again to Erskine on Sunday when I will be 'preaching in' Jonathan to his new charge, and I will leave everyone in St Andrew's in the capable hands of Steven Preston on Sunday.
The next issue of Spill the Beans is now available for download. This is the festive edition that sees us through advent, christmas, epiphany and all the way to the transfiguration, or from December through to 10 February, if that makes more sense to you! As an additional bonus there are also ideas and resources for a Blue Christmas service of remembrance for those who have lost someone special in their lives during the year.
Inside you will find worship ideas and resources, including Bible notes, stories, prayers, reflections, music suggestions, and more, and for age groups you will find suggestions for activities, crafts, games and teen discussion resources.
If you have already used Spill the Beans, you will know what a great resource this is, created by folks here in Scotland. If you haven't, but are intrigued, have a look at this sample.
If you'd like to download a full copy of Issue 6 for use in your church or
personally, then click the button below. It is a positive steal at
You can make a secure payment via PayPal and then the file should wing
its way to you.
Please follow the instructions carefully. The Adobe
pdf file is approximately 6.5 MB.
You can also get involved in feedback and discussion on the Spill the Beans blog, where we try to put up weekly PowerPoint backgrounds too.
you would like a print copy of Spill the Beans, Issue 6, then this can
be arranged. The cost is £20+P&P and these can be arranged directly
with the office at Lanark Greyfriars Church. Each issue is in full
colour and comb bound for ease of use. We have had to raise the costs of
the print copy from our initial issues as we have found the original
costs were not covering the costs of producing the copies.
This afternoon and evening was spent in Peebles where David Burt and I represented Hamilton Presbytery at a Presbytery Conference hosted by the Ministries Council of the Church of Scotland gathering folks from across the country to think about the future of ministry within the Church of Scotland beyond the year 2020. It was an eye-opening day picking up on a number of things I have read elsewhere but bringing them together in part to help understand what is going on in the Kirk, and particularly within ministry at the moment.
Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you will be aware that the numbers of people entering ministry has dropped considerably over the last decades, but this is particularly the case amongst the latter generations that are usually labelled the Gen X (approx. 30-48 years old) and Gen Y (under 30s) where there has been a collapse in people entering the ministry.
I took a snap of one of the charts we studied, shown above. This charts the number of ministers in the Church of Scotland according to their age. As you can clearly see for the over 50s upwards there is a relatively consistent number (around 40 ministers serving in each year group) showing some variation but it is pretty even. Go younger and at 48 years old you see the line collapse down and then sink throughout Gen X until you get to the Gen Y generation where there is an average of 1 minister per year serving. In the past this chart would have looked much more balanced with many, many more ministers doing what both David and I did and going pretty much straight into ministry. That is no longer the case and what it means is something that must cause us to stop, reflect and think about the shape of the church we envisage for the future. [There's more...]
We created an earth respendent with "flocks and the herdsand all the wild animals,the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea,and everything that swims the ocean currents" (Psalm 8:7-8) this morning in our harvest thanksgiving service. The creatures added for which we gave thanks included electric eels, lots of giraffes and even a couple of mermaids! There was a lot of paint which is drying at this very moment. Hope we can put this up somewhere, perhaps even with a lamp inside it!
A thank you to everyone who donated food this morning for the Hamilton Churches Drop-In Centre. This will be delivered during the week.
A very good day today spent accompanying the Rights Respecting Steering Group from Auchinraith Primary School on a trip to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh as the guests of our local MSP James Kelly. The children gave a presentation about the work they have been doing over the last few years as part of UNICEF's Rights Respecing School Award. They did a truly commendable job both with the presentation but also in their questions to Mr Kelly about the role of rights and responsibilities in the work of the Scottish Parliament.
I must admit this was my first visit to the new parliament building and it really is an amazing place. You can certainly see where all that money went! There are some amazing art installations of which the image above is but a wee snippet though I thought it was wonderful. It is called "Travelling the Distance" by Shauna McMullan and comprises three walls filled with porcelain representations of the words (in the actual handwriting) of 100 Scottish women celebrating the role of women in Scotland's history. This was particularly meaningful when we watched the First Minister's Questions and found that this was being led predominantly by three women MSPs, Nicola Sturgeon (as deputy First Minister while Mr Salmond enjoys the Ryder Cup!), Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont and Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson. [There's more...]
My mind has been rather blown by the above image released by NASA/Hubble yesterday. It is a compilation of imagery taken by the Hubble Space Telescope looking deep into our universe's history. This one composite image reveals thousands of galaxies, some relatively close, others some 13 billion light years away.
We're using Psalm 8 as our Scripture passage for this Sunday's Harvest Thanksgiving service and it seems rather appropriate:
When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers— the moon and the stars you set in place— what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?
This image is called the eXtreme Deep Field (XDF) and is the result of an intense stare with a collosal combined exposure time by the sensors aboard the Hubble Space Telescope of just a tiny fraction of the night sky. [There's More...]
Today I joined the Kirk Session of Ayr St Columba's Parish Church in the Malin Court Hotel in Maidens on the coast overlooking Arran with Ailsa Craig not far off, and Turnberry Golf Course right alongside us. Before heading back up the road I made a wee detour down to a viewing site right on the edge of the golf course and you can see from the panoramic photo above what a wonderful day it was to be down by the sea. Click on the photo and you should be able to move around the image as if you were there!
The purpose of the trip was to lead a session of the Elder's Conference under the title of "What is the future of the Church of Scotland: where is it going?" Yikes, what a topic! Where do you start? [There's more...]
I joined parents at Auchinraith Primary this morning for a presentation about the peer mediation that the Primary 6 pupils are involved with. If you have passed the playground of Auchinraith when the kids are out and about you may have noticed some of the children wearing bright yellow caps. Along with the badge (above) these mark out those pupils who have undergone training in mediation over a two day period. We heard from the trainers this morning and from some of the pupils and staff on how this mediation is working in the school.
It was very impressive and an initiative that I would think there was much scope to see expanded across other schools, both primary and secondary. [There's more...]
The Calderside Chaplaincy Team ended another week with the S1 pupils at Calderside Academy on Friday. This was our third year of delivering the R.E.S.P.E.C.T. week as part of their Rights Respecting School programme. It was another excellent week, helping us to explore some of the rights and responsibilities with the S1 pupils that are foundational to good community living.
As in previous years the week consisted of workshops run by members of the chaplaincy team with numerous volunteers and visitors to assist, including sixth year pupils and then a final assembly on Friday morning in which presentations were made of what had happened in each of the workshops, including a song written by the pupils and the revealing of the huge banner that now adorns the street within the school - l;ooking fabulous as usual. [There's more...]
The animation above complementing part of a talk by Dan Ariely called "Free Beer: The Truth about Dishonesty" is fabulous and the kind of thing you want to watch a few times to catch all the references and fully appreciate the message. I loved the wee Father Ted refence that creeps in at one point! The full talk by Ariely given to the RSA is available here.
It is a fascinating subject: how easily we slip into small forms of dishonesty while rationalising them away to ourselves and anyone else who cares to listen. Perhaps even more so at a time when I keep seeing and reading about 'post-truth' politics. This is being used particularly in the run up to the US elections in November to describe the campaigns. Mitt Romney's campaign especially has been described repeatedly as operating as a post-truth campaign. Obama's campaign is not without its moments too where the truth is stretched or where quotes are taken without due respect for their context, but it is on nothing like the coordinated scale of the Romney campaign. Indeed, one of Romney's own advisers said without irony, it would seem, "we are not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers"! Ouch, for anyone who hopes for at least a marginal connection to reality from their potential leaders! [There's more...]
One of the joys as a minister of having flexible seating in the sanctuary is that you can organise worship in very different ways with the simplest changes to the layout of the church. On Sunday we had our all-age communion service which over the past couple of years we have had "in the round" with the seating around the central Communion Table. This time, however, we tried a different style that also has its roots in much older churches. The worship space had a long communion table running the length of the sanctuary with the seating arranged on either side.
I was hoping this this layout would lend itself to creating a sense of gathering together at the communion table without any barrier. It also provided a great opportunity to use that space for some creativity. People were invited up to leave their prayers of thanks, concern and confession on the tablecloths before we laid the elements along the table. [There's more...]
We kept Jonathan Fleming in our thoughts at St Andrew's on Sunday morning just at the same time as he was preaching as sole nominee for Erskine Parish Church. It was a delight to hear that Jonathan was duly elected by the congregation and is now the Minister-elect of that congregation with a date later in the year for his ordination and induction into that charge. I'll keep you in touch with details as soon as these are finalised.
This marks a very exciting time for the Fleming family, and we keep Jonathan, Karyn and Rachel in our prayers. Not least with a new addition to the family due any week now! All change, for sure.
It has been great to have witnessed Jonathan growing into this role and ministry over the past years, and I know we will all wish him very well for the future. As a fully integrated member of the Calderside Chaplaincy Team through his final placement at Trinity Parish Church, however, Jonathan is not being let off the hook yet! Jonathan will be leading one of the workshops in this year's R.E.S.P.E.C.T. programme with first year pupils at Calderside Academy, and will be leading the worship at the first of our local church joint praise services, Sanctus, which is being held in St Andrew's on Sunday 9 September, 6:30 p.m.