Saturday 27th. February, 2021 

So I've arrived at Saturday! Every day (except Sunday) seems the same nowadays -- although I am much less likely to have a Zoom meeting on a Saturday and there is often some good sporting events to accompany me as I do whatever it is I have to do. However, England's cricket match against India lasted only two days, so no cricket (it would have been on during the day as it was a day/night game). And Scotland were due to play rugby but that's been cancelled because their French opponents are suffering from Covid.

So this morning after walking the dogs, I sorted out my accounts for the end of the month, had lunch (lunch! One roll with cheese and smoked salmon -- Rachel has me on a diet). This afternoon I started to tackle the Bothy (which is why its picture is at the head of this entry). After Mum's death lots of things got moved into the Bothy and it had gradually become a store room with, among other things, two huge televisions bound for other congregations nearby.

I've done well, but the picture is quite selective. I stopped at 5 to have a shower (it was wonderful) and I'll complete the task tomorrow. So maybe a wider angle picture then!

I'm conscious that I'm still trying to catch up after such a long time away from this blog. The big thing which has changed since 2019 is that I am now involved with several different congregations. Of course, Fogo remains my congregation. I am their non-stipendiary minister and hope to be their minister for some time to come. But back last Easter the minister of Gordon, Greenlaw, Legerwood and Westruther retired and, as there was no-one else, I became Interim Moderator of these congregations. For the sake of completeness I should also tell you that I became Moderator of the Presbytery a position which is normally held for a year but just recently I have been re-appointed for a second year.

The congregations of Gordon, Greenlaw, Legerwood and Westruther were told that they would not get a minister again and the upshot was that Westruther (which had declined to a single figure congregation) decided to close. The other three have accepted the challenge and I have the task of helping to equip them to manage at least their worship on their own (with, of course, ongoing support). Initially it was important to win their confidence and I recruited two retired ministers from nearby (Ken and Veronica) and John from East Lothian to help me (as we sometimes have four services all going at the same time). John's father was minister at Fogo in the middle of the last century and John was born in the manse there.

The plan was that we would conduct the services and gradually introduce worship which the congregations could lead themselves. We might use scripts, or have preparatory meetings to help folk prepare -- in fact we drew up a list of around half-a-dozen ways of introducing folk to leading worship and we had drawn up a programme which would start with the local congregations leading one service in four and ending (a year later)with them leading three out of four. However then we went back into lockdown! And it was back to me producing online worship! However, in the meantime, presbytery has agreed to a minister being appointed one day a week to Greenlaw and four days a week supporting congregations in leading their own worship. A new pattern is emerging and it is incredibly exciting! I should say that I enjoy being involved with Gordon, Greenlaw and Legerwood very much indeed. I also enjoy sharing with Ken, Veronica and John. As you will have gathered I have spent quite a bit of this week engaged with all of our congregations responding to the presbytery questionnaire which has been sent to us. The deadline for completion is Monday and I think that our four congregations have returned the questionnaires in time.

I must just share another piece of excitement for me today. Back in 2012 Rachel and I went to South Africa as the guests of St. Columba's Church in Johannesburg to deliver their annual St. Columba's lecture. We spent a wonderful three weeks in South Africa exploring Johannesburg, visiting Capetown and the apple-growing area around Elgin and spending a few days in the Kruger National Park. Their centenary is coming up and they have invited me to prepare a short video presentation sharing a word of encouragement. They were so kind to us and I loved being part of their congregation even for just such a short time. It will be a real privilege and a joy to attempt to do this justice!


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