Posts Tagged “God, Faith & Church”

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has decided to:

Saturday 23 May

The General Assembly has voted to refuse the dissent and complaint of Aitken and others against the Presbytery of Aberdeen.

The following motion is agreed by the Assembly:

a) refuse the dissent and complaint of Aitken and others and sustain the decision of the Presbytery of Aberdeen on the basis that the Presbytery followed the vacancy procedure correctly in Act VIII 2003.

b) affirm for the avoidance of doubt that this decision does not alter the Church’s standards of ministerial conduct.

The Overture from the Presbytery of Lochcarron-Skye is remaindered until Monday.

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This morning the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland heard the report of the Church and Society Committee.

First up was the ‘Growing Up in Scotland‘ report.  I was on the group which wrote the report so I was glad to see some good deliverences (motions) coming from the report.  I’ll pick out the highlights for me…

Child Friendly Churches

3. Instruct the Church and Society Council to work with other Councils to introduce a Child Friendly Church initiative based on the United Reform Church’s model.

This was amended to welcome the work the Mission and Discipleship council has already done on preparing a Child Friendly Church initiative, based on the United Reformed Church model.

Hearing Children

4. Urge Scottish and UK Governments to evidence as a matter of course how young people’s voices are heard in the development of legislation and policy.
5. Instruct the Church and Society Council, together with Presbyteries and other Councils of the Church, to bring to the General Assembly of 2010 a report on the ways in which each is enabling the voices of young people to be heard in their decision-making processes.

Great to see an emphasis on listening to children in decision making.  I wonder how congregations and the Assembly will make that happen?

8. Instruct the Church and Society Council to work with representatives of the National Youth Assembly to develop awareness of models of support in congregations on the issues involved in mental illness among young people.

This issue is one that has become ever more important to me.  My wife is a soon to qualify mental health nurse and her training has confirmed my belief that the church can and should play a role in supporting people with mental ill-health.  Like the other deliverence, the question will be how?

10. Urge Scottish and UK Governments to strengthen their commitment to end child poverty by 2020 and ensure that policies and adequate resources are in place to achieve that aim.
11. Urge the Scottish Government to ensure that resources, including partnerships with Churches and others, are in place to deliver the ambitions of the Early Years Framework.
12. Demand that HM Government uphold, respect and protect the rights of children who are asylum seekers or who are trafficked into our country.

For me these show that the church is where it should be, campaigning on behalf of the poor and those who’s rights are overlooked.

Engaging with Technology, Science and the Environment
Climate Change

16. Instruct Presbyteries, in association with the Church and Society Council, to produce a plan for each congregation in their bounds, setting out how they will measure energy consumption in their church
buildings, ascertain their carbon footprint and achieve a year-on-year reduction of 5% of their carbon
footprint using the Eco-Congregation Scotland carbon footprint module; and instruct the Church and Society Council, in consultation with the General Trustees, to report to the General Assembly of 2010 on the implementation of this instruction.
17. Welcome the proposed incorporation of Eco-Congregation Scotland as a Charitable Company and continue to support the work of eco-congregations.
18. Affirm the current commitment of the Church and Society Council to the ‘Responding to Climate Change Project’ and instruct the Church and Society Council, in partnership with other Councils, to complete the review of this project with a view to its development.

The climate change debate threw up some interesting discussion around how ambitious the church should be about targets, with 5% perhaps not being nearly enough of a reduction.

This raised the question again about the suitability of buildings for me.  Is the reduction of carbon footprints the catalyst needed to get rid of unsuitable buildings once and for all?  Can the church really claim to be good stewards while pouring money into drafty and expensive to heat buildings?  And the church’s central offices in Edinburgh won’t escape the carbon audit…

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The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland began this morning and a couple of things have jumped out at me already.

The first is the presence of ‘The Queen’.  She’s not there in person this year but when she can’t make it she sends someone in her place, a Lord High Commissioner.  The Queen or Lord High Commissioner sit outside the Assembly, technically.  They sit on a throne in the gallery behind the moderator.

The State being outside the Assembly is important.  The General Assembly is separate from the state and yet this morning found itself discussing whether or not business could be done at Assembly on Saturday afternoon because it clashed with the Garden Party at the palace.

Now, I’ve been to the Garden Party, so I speak from experience… (I have an invite for this Saturday but I’m not going) when I say that the cosy relationship between the church and state seems to be one the Church of Scotland should be wary of.  The Church of Scotland has for almost all of its history believed its own press that when Scotland had no parliament that the General Assembly was the next best thing.  Well it wasn’t and isn’t.  There must be a role for the church in holding the state to account.  I sometimes wonder if the cosy relationship helps or hinders that.

The second thing to note from a procedural debate this morning is that it seems to be an Assembly with some sense of what is being asked to do this week and the importance of the decisions it will make.

There was much discussion about the order of the Overture from Lochcarron and Skye and the case being brough against the Presbytery of Aberdeen for upholding the call of Scott Rennie, an openly gay minister to Queen’s Cross Church.  Common sense won I think and the case will be heard first.

It seems nonsensical to legislate in hindsight and then hold people to that new rule for something that happened before its introduction.  I’m glad the case will be discussed in full rather than being potentially curtailed by a previous decision.

You can watch the General Assembly online with live streaming, follow generalassembly on twitter and watch the conversation using twitter search #GA2009.

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Last week’s sermon focused on John 15: 9-17 and used some material from the excellent OneKirk worship material and from the equally excellent Lawrence Moore’s blog, Disclosing New Worlds.  As always, youth thoughts and comments are wel,comed.

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Tomorrow afternoon I’ve been invited to be part of a panel at International Christian College to discuss what the Emerging Church is, what can be learned from it (by the evangelical church I guess) and what the downsides of emerging church are.

Along with me there will be people on the panel who know actual stuff, so any help, ideas, thoughts or general prayers or good last minute excuses would be welcome so I don’t look like a complete idiot (again).

Thanks. (off to look up what hermeneutics are/is/were/taste like!)

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You’ve got me thinking, you and your comments and blog posts and yesterday’s lectionary readings about vines and pruning!  Over at Abbotsford Roddy has, as usual, been mixing insightfull questions with fabulous liturgy.  All of this led to a sermon yesterday that was a bit of a half formed thought.  So I’m going to ty to finish the thought here…

Roddy’s question was simple, yet our answers to it reveal something fundemental about what we already know about church and how it should be.  He asked:

‘If I were to start a new church it would…’.

Think about that question for a moment.  How would you answer it?  I we were to wipe the slate clean and start afresh what would church look like?  How would it be?  What principles would it be founded on?  What would we miss out?

What struck me yesterday as I was preaching my sermon was that we already know what church should be.

Our answers to that simple question reveal that.  So I’d like to ask another question:

Why do we allow church to be all the things we know it shouldn’t be?

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Do you ever get those days where you just don’t know where to begin? I’m having one of those days. I’m sitting with a blank piece of paper and a pen. Well a number of pens actually. Coloured sharpies. But that’s not important.

What is important is the topic I’m trying to think of some ideas for. What would make Children’s or Youth work better in the United Reformed Church here in Scotland?

You would think that after 15 years of doing this kind of job that wouldn’t be a question I would still be asking.. But I am. I like to think that shows that I’m still learning, still open to new ideas and possibilities. But today it means I’m stuck.

I have an empty page and it would seem my head is just as empty.

So maybe you can help? What would make a difference in your church? What could someone come and help you with or provide to make your work with children and young people better?

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