Called…

Well… the last couple of weeks have passed in a blur. Closing a church building is much easier than dealing with the ‘fallout’. As I said to one person last week – “I am just making it up as I go along”.

Now, as you would expect, some of the fallout has been good and some of it simply dreadful. But I prefer to focus on the good, particularly on our wonderful neighbours in St Peter in Chains church, who as soon as they heard about our predicament offered their hall for our Advent services (at some inconvenience to themselves). The first service was held there this morning and all went well. We will be meeting in St Peter’s hall for all the Sundays in Advent and hopefully by the time we come to 18 December we will have more permanent arrangements in place for worship.

Also of note amid the chaos was the ordination and induction of my friend Morag Garrett to Kilwinning Mansfield Trinity last Wednesday night. There was an amazing turnout for the service, the place was packed and extra chairs had to be brought into the worship space. It was fantastic to forget about building problems, presbytery planning issues and all the other stuff which has been cluttering up my mind over the past few weeks and to enjoy this wonderful service of celebration with Morag and the congregation in Kilwinning. It was also great to see so many familiar faces from churches where Morag and I both did placements.

I was preaching and giving the charges which was a challenge – both in preparation and in the preaching of words which, although written for Morag and for the occasion, were words I needed to hear again for myself.

Here is the quotation which inspired the sermon… from Albert Schweitzer’s book ‘The Quest For The Historical Jesus’:

“He comes to us as one unknown, without a name, as of old, by the lakeside, he came to those men who did not know who he was. He says the same words, “Follow me!”, and set us to those tasks which he must fulfil in our time. He commands. And to those who harken to him, whether wise or unwise, he will reveal himself in the peace, the labours, the conflicts and the suffering that they may experience in his fellowship, and as an ineffable mystery they will learn who he is.”

I may post the sermon sometime… when I need reminded again that I am called… called to follow Christ and to fulfil the tasks he has for me … in my time.

(Picture is ‘The Beginning’ )

… an ending

I came back from my holiday three weeks ago today… and it has been pretty full on. Despite all my good intentions the blog has been totally sidelined by ‘events’.

So here is a quick up date for those of you who have been following my journey through training into ministry. If you are a regular reader you will know that I was ordained to “Church by the Sea” in January 2009, and immediately was embroiled in various property issues. This came to a head with a devastating quinnquenial property survey in June 2009 which showed the full extent of the building problems. We then started jumping through the various Presbytery hoops to get the release of feasibility study funding ear marked by the General Trustees.

We were still jumping though these hoops in February 2010 when plaster started to fall from the ceiling in the Sanctuary and we had to move into the church hall for worship. By the end of 2010, I concluded we could not meet the criteria set by Presbytery for the release of the feasibility study funding and that the congregation was running out of time.

The tale of 2011 – is one I cannot share – but suffice to say I am angry and disappointed at the path we were forced to take. It was a mess from start to finish and the end result is that I find myself in exactly the position I predicted (back in November 2010) I would be – having to make the decision to close the building.

It was with a very heavy heart, that I submitted a report to my Kirk Session (we are Unitary) last Wednesday 9 November recommending that we close the building on the grounds of health and safety.

Although devastated, the Kirk Session supported me and together we made the decision to close the building. All week day activities and events stop today and Sunday the 20th is likely to be our last Sunday worshipping in our hall. This week will be spent negotiating some alternative options for the short and medium term until the future of our building is decided.

I will write more later… but for the moment your prayers for me and my congregation are much appreciated. You can read the flyer that was issued to the congregation (after our Remembrance Sunday service) on the  church website.