22nd. March, 2021 

I expect that you will hear quite a bit from time to time about the four churches which occupy most of my time. Molly has prepared this picture so that you, dear reader, can see them all. Fogo is my Church. I am the congregation's non stipendiary minister and I have worked with them since 2016. Later this year I will complete five years as their minister. Gordon, Greenlaw and Legerwood are three churches whose minister retired last Easter and, really as there was no-one else, I became their Interim Moderator.

My task is to help all four of these congregations prepare for life beyond paid parish ministry. I suppose that folk have different ideas about this. Some accept it with regret feeling that the ideal is to have a parish minister but realise that the number of ministers both now and in the future will so small that this is not a possible or realistic ideal. Others refuse to accept it and believe that if there is no stipendiary ministry then all of the churches will die out. Still others, of which I am one, believe that a future without parish ministry is the direction in which the Holy Spirit is leading us and will result in a much stronger, vibrant church life.

Our presbytery has embraced this concept and is about to advertise for a minister who will work one day a week with Greenlaw Parish Church and four days a week with congregations without a stipendiary minister with the particular responsibility of helping congregations develop the ability to conduct their own worship. This is, of course, just a start but it is a big and important first step.

I hope that by the time this appointment is made there will have been several steps forward and that these congregations will have become adept at leading services themselves. There is a lot more to say about this and I will add more in the coming days. But today's task was to introduce you to the different church buildings -- four small rural congregations with thousands of years of worship between them. (Yes, that is literally correct!)

Now what about today? Rachel and I walked the dogs and then I set about preparing two services for next Sunday, Palm Sunday. Two services because one is for our online worship and one is for use in Fogo Church next Sunday now that we are permitted to reopen our churches.

The phone rang and rang but after lunch I really got down to it and by the end of the day I have two scripts and tomorrow the video service will be recorded and I can start to look at Holy Week services.

The big national news today is that an independent review cleared our First Minister of breaking the ministerial code with regard to an investigation into the behaviour of her predecessor who was accused of harassing female civil servants. He was cleared in a criminal court but things have rumbled on. It has all been very nasty but given that the review was independent and conducted by a very senior Queen's Counsel one would hope that there will now be closure.

And to cap it all we are to have a national election in about six week's time -- so politics will dominate our Scottish news for quite a while yet.


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