News

Visit from Suresh & Roja of Indian Village Ministries 2nd June 2019

We were blessed to have Suresh and Roja of India Village Ministries with us once again. They have inspired and challenged us once again, and we give thanks to God for the work of IVM. Here Roja is being presented with some letters from some of the Sunday school. The Sunday school sponsor a young girl called Meghana, and we were glad that they were able to learn of how she and her friends live in the IVM orphanage . The Sunday school each wrote short letters to Meghana that Suresh & Roja will bring back with them.

Stated Annual Meeting Wednesday 27th February 7.30pm in the Macrae Centre

The Stated Annual Meeting of the congregation will be held on Wednesday 27th February at 7.30pm in the MacRae Centre. This is an opportunity for us to give thanks for God’s provision for us in the past year, and to acknowledge and give thanks for the hard work and devoted giving of many in the congregation over the past year.

At this meeting the accounts for 2018 will be presented by the Congregation’s Trustees for approval. In addition there will also be two or three other reports given of the work undertaken in various aspects of church life.

A cordial invitation is given to all members and adherents to attend this meeting

Youth Club Ice Skating

Our Youth Club enjoyed an ice skating trip to the Scaladale on Friday 1st February. The Centres indoor ice rink is great fun and a good time was had by all. Thanks to Kate at the Centre for her help and to Joan and Alex for accompanying our young folk. Youth Club meets on Fridays in the Macrae Centre (Church hall) from 7pm – 9.30pm for fun, activities and a time to meet up in a relaxed atmosphere. All teenagers are very welcome to come along. (Please note that there will be no Youth Club this coming weekend (8th) due to the school holidays, we will meet next on Friday 15th February) The Manse

Tarbert 

30th December 2018

Dear friends , 

Bliadhna Mhath Ùr dhuibh uile  nuair a thig i !  A happy New year to you all when it comes. I take  this opportunity to write my customary  New Year’s Day letter going out on the last Sunday of the old year, simply to wish you all God’s richest blessings for the New Year.  I hope and pray that everyone had a happy and blessed Christmas time, and that it might be in faith and confidence in God that we look forward to 2019.

I admit that New Year is not my favourite time of the year. Admittedly there is opportunity for reflection and correction, and there is time for resolutions, but there is also the uncertainty of what the future holds. It is a time when many struggle, with loneliness, isolation, addiction and past regrets, and so I feel it is very important, more important than ever, that we look out for each other, and realise how much we need each other in such strange and uncertain times.

The coming year will certainly bring many challenges to us as a community as well as a nation, and so I believe it is imperative that we keep our perspective on God in all the coming storms and  uncertainties of 2019. Brexit looms large in 2019 , as we as a nation meander chaotically towards leaving the European union on 29th March . However I take encouragement from the fact that God is  still in control.

The year that has past has brought great change to our congregation and community, and it is only right that we acknowledge this. Several of you reading this letter  have sad memories of bereavement and loss in your families over this year. My prayer for each and all of you is that God the Holy Spirit will bring great consolation  to assuage the grief and fill the empty place in heart and home, and that 2019 will be a year of great comfort and blessing to you all.

In our islands at least, the end of this year has been dominated in many ways by thoughts of the centenary of the loss of HMY Iolaire on 1st January 1919. As we know 201 lives were lost on that dark night in our island’s history. It would be superfluous for me to add too much more to what has been  said by many others in the past year. Numerous poignant and imaginative commemorations and tributes have been composed in music, song, sculpture, film and literature this year and have given expression to the often unspoken grief that emotionally paralysed the islands for decades.

Sheoil an Iolaire memorial on South Beach Stornoway

And so it is with solemn remembrance we will meet at the war memorial on Main Street at 1.45 am on New Year’s Day to  pay tribute to those from Harris and other places who perished  on that terrible night. A warm invitation is given to all who can to attend this service, which will include the tolling of the church bell, and local pipers playing laments as well as the laying of wreaths .

Our customary new Year’s day service will also reflect upon the tragic loss of the Iolaire. One of the psalms we will sing on New Year’s day contains  words from Psalm 77

“Do cheuman tha san doimhneachd mhòir, do shlighe tha sa chuan: Ach luirg do chas chan aithnich sinn, tha siud am falach uainn.” – Your way was in the sea, Your path in the great waters, And Your footsteps were not known. “  ( Psalm 77:19) 

These words are engraved on the Iolaire memorial at Holm, and seem to capture well the helplessness  of humanity in the face of the hostile  elements, but also the immutable, sovereignty of the God for whom the raging seas holds no fear.  Psalm 77 is a psalm of consolation , and a testimony to the redemption of the God who walks on the waters( John 6:16).

Despite the harrowing years that followed, with many other challenges and disasters, our islands have survived, and through it all I believe that we should see the unseen hand of God in providence caring for our island in good times and in bad. It is only when we look back upon the times that have past that we can really see how God has been ‘ our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble” ( psalm 46:1).  It is my prayer that we should all look to the future in faith, walking by faith and not by sight and trusting in the Lord with all our hearts and not leaning upon our own understanding.

With every good wish for the New Year, and the blessings of Christ to you all,

Ian Murdo Macdonald

Christmas Praise Night

Sunday school Christmas Family Service 

Our Christmas family service is to be held tomorrow Sunday 16th December at 11 AM, and a warm  welcome is extended to  you all to join us. The Sunday school will be taking part in the service this morning with the playing and singing of music as well as the reading of Bible stories. Our theme through  the season of Advent is ‘Glimpses of Glory’, and this morning  we will be looking at three places in the Old Testament where God gives His people wonderful prophetic glimpses of the coming Saviour.

Hope of the Coming King. 

Our first talk looks at the heralding of the coming King in the words of Malachi 
“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts..”  Malachi 3:1 
The wonderful words of Malachi practically at the end of the Old Testament, give notice that the coming of the Christ will be heralded by a messenger preparing the way for him, and in doing so reaffirming what Isaiah the prophet had announced many years before; ‘ A voice cries: make straight in the desert a highway for our God. “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;  Isaiah 40:3
A voice cries: make straight in the desert a highway for our God. “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; Isaiah 40:3
These words were initially fulfilled in the powerful ministry of  John the Baptist the forerunner of the Lord Jesus. Malachi’s words were to be ultimately fulfilled  when least expected when  Jesus was presented at the temple by His parents. After a lifetime of watching and waiting  old Simeon finally saw the fulfilment of God’s promise to him;
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” Luke 2:29-32

Hope in the city

Our second Talk is based on the familiar verse from Micah 5:2 that foretells that the coming King will come from Bethlehem. 
” But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. “ Micah 5:2
Bethlehem will always be inextricably linked with the Saviour’s birth. The familiar words of the traditional Carol “ O little town of Bethlehem’, are an annual reminder to us whenever we sing these words of the fulfilment of Micah’s words.

O little town of Bethlehem How still we see thee lie Above thy deep and dreamless sleep The silent stars go by Yet in thy dark streets shineth The everlasting Light The hopes and fears of all the years Are met in thee tonight

A place that could only be thought to be small, insignificant and of only passing interest had been given a wonderful accolade. From Bethlehem would come the great ruler who would rule God’s people , “ whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. “ .  The staggering fact is that Jesus the Eternal Word , came to this earth and was born as the prophets had foretold in the Little town of Bethlehem.

Hope of the Nations 

Our third talk is called Hope of the Nations 
Our final talk asks the question, what or who is the hope of the nations of this world.  History itself bears eloquent testimony to the fact that  nation states, rulers, potentates, presidents, prime ministers  and the powerful have come , gone and singularly failed to give hope and direction to the world. Similarly many others who are looked up to, admired or even worshipped in the worlds of entertainment, media, politics and sport have similarly failed  to live up to the expectation that so many have of them.   700 years before Jesus was born, the words of Isaiah chapter 9 gave God’s people much encouragement, and hope that the promised Messiah was coming. These words still encourage and inspire today, reminding us  that those who walk in darkness have seen a great light. The culmination of this hope is found only in a person, in a child.   ” .. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; ”
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:2/ 6-7
Glimpses of Glory Advent Series 

In the church culture of the islands  we are sometimes unfamiliar with much of what is known as the church year , and for many of us there may be confusion as to what exactly is meant by Advent. The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, which is a translation of the Greek word parousia.  In English this could be understood as arrival or coming

The season of Advent is a good way for the church to  focus on and anticipate the  birth of Jesus Christ in the season leading up to Christmas.  This year we are going to focus for the next three Sundays on the theme of “ Glimpses of Glory “, looking at some of the wonderful glimpses of God’s  coming glory seen in the Old Testament .

On Sunday 9th December  We look at two very different passages and people in Scripture, In the morning we focus on Balaam the pagan soothsayer who was hired to curse Israel by Balak the king of Moab. Balaam discovered  that he could not curse those God has not cursed ( Num 23:8)

How can I curse those whom God has not cursed? How can I denounce those whom the Lord has not denounced? Numbers 23:8 NIV

Balaam is forced to acknowledge that God will bless His people Israel, and no cursing or incantation of his would prevent this happening. The fourth and most dramatic of Balaam’s messages gives even this pagan “ medium” or  “ channeler”  pause for thought as he is compelled to utter this wonderful prophecy of the coming king of Israel.

“I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a sceptre will rise out of Israel. (Numbers 24:17 (NIV)

In the  evening we look at a great passage from  the book of the prophet Isaiah , that  seems to encapsulate the hope, rejoicing and thanksgiving that will characterise the coming of the Messiah.  The whole passage is one of  one of restoration, renewal and peace .   God is going to restore the fortunes of  His people so that they will know deliverance and release from their captivity .

During Advent,  the church looks back with thanksgiving to the Lord’s Jesus Christ’s coming into this world,  whilst at the same time looking forward in eager anticipation to the coming of Christ’s kingdom when He returns.

  How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7 ( NIV) 

Community Fellowship

Hope for the Suffering Church Praise Night

Lest we Forget

iolaire Poppy.jpeg

ARMISTICE DAY SERVICE

The Harris Community Armistice day service will be held at the Church on Saturday 10th November at 10.40 am. The Congregation are asked to please try and be seated in the church by 10.30 am. In this act of remembrance the community of Harris remember with solemn pride and gratitude those who fell in the service of King and Country in the two world wars.  The war memorial on Main Street Tarbert lists the almost 200 names of those men from Harris who fell in these terrible conflicts, which scarred our community for most of the twentieth century.  This year there is an added solemn poignancy to the occasion as we mark not only the centenary of the end of hostilities in Europe with the signing of the armistice on 11th November 1918, but also the tragic sinking of HMY Iolaire within sight of Stornoway harbour on New Year’s Day 1919. As a community we know that after remembrance has been forgotten for another year in other places, Lewis and Harris will still remember the sad tragedy that befell the island  and claimed the lives of over 200 men on that darkest dawn of New Year’s Day 1919, 7 of whom were from Harris. IMG_1248.jpeg At 11am on Saturday we will observe two minutes silence in the church to commemorate the end of hostilities. Additionally, with this year being the centenary of the end of World War 1, the Church bells will peal for a further two minutes. This is in line with a nationwide government request for church bells to be rung in remembrance of the Armistice. After the service  we will process to the War Memorial on main street  for the wreath laying by many community, service, school and youth organisations from Harris. On Sunday 11th November at 6am a short commemoration service will be held at the War Memorial on Main Street to mark the signing of the armistice at 06.00 hrs on 11th November 1918. A warm invitation is extended to all early birds to join us for this solemn act of remembrance. On Tuesday 1st January 2019  at 01.45 hrs A short commemorative service will be held at the Harris War Memorial  for those lost in HMY Iolaire 1st January 1919.

Praise Night Poster Oct 2018

Funeral Notice Mairi MacLeod-1

September Communions Services

SKM_C284e18090716200_0001

Visit of Korean Christians

We were blessed at our midweek prayer meeting to have Pastor Sangin Lee and seven young adults from the new church in Seoul South Korea sharing in worship and prayer with us.
The short clip  above shows a small part of the time of prayer , led by Sangin and his translator Paul . Isaiah 56:7 (NIV) “7 these I will bring to my holy mountain
 and give them joy in my house of prayer.
 Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
 will be accepted on my altar;
 for my house will be called
 a house of prayer for all nations. ” Our Prayer meeting this week was different in many ways. We met this evening on a Thursday night for the visit of our friends from Korea. They cooked delicious hot noodles for some of the young people and some of the rest of us too!  Later on in the evening  the meeting began with a time of worship in which the band led us in a short medley of songs  “ The Lords my Shepherd“ ( Stuart Townend)  “ Amazing Grace”   “ My heart is filled with thankfulness “  “ In Christ alone “  Psalm 40 “ I waited for the Lord my God.  The final song we sang together was  this  traditional Scottish psalm  which was very appropriate for the evening  as  we came together to wait upon the Lord. Sangin shared from his heart about the work of the Holy Spirit and encouraging us to keep on praying for our church, our community, our nation and each other.  He spoke movingly about the work of God not only in Korea, but also how God has blessed his ministry through the Holy Spirit through some real times of testing and trial. The short clip  above shows a small part of the time of prayer , led by Sangin and his translator Paul . Although Sangin has good degree level English learned in Scotland, he spoke largely in Korean,  ( which Paul translated for our benefit) as the service was being filmed and being streamed live to the church in Seoul, where others were watching and praying. The prayer time was conducted Korean style with all our friends from Seoul shouting out to the Lord simultaneously  in spontaneous  exuberant prayer.  We are very thankful to God for those who have come from so far away and from so very different a culture and language to minister to us here in Harris.  We were richly blessed by the presence of God so powerfully throughout the meeting , as well as the infectious joy and enthusiasm that the Koreans bring to their worship and prayer. They left us with many happy memories to journey on to Aberdeen.  We are gateful to God for them all, and epsecially for coming so far to bless us here in Scotland. We are also most grateful to all those who who helped out with the hospitality , the praise and worship, the screens and the electronics and rearranging of the premises for the meeting. God bless you all.

Hitherto Hath the Lord helped us..

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”1 Samuel 7:12 (NIV)

Today is the last Sunday that Wilf and Pat Urquhart are going to be with us. As a congregation we have been blessed by their ministry in many different ways over the past few weeks, and they leave us with many good memories.  During the summer months the congregation  has been well served by the pulpit ministry and  faithful pastoral endeavours of two exemplary ministry couples, the Rev Donald Angus and Mrs Rachel Maclennan and Mr Wilf and Mrs Pat Urquhart. We thank them warmly for all that they have done whilst with us here in Tarbert, and  we pray that being in Harris during the summer will have been a blessing to themselves as well. Over the course of the last year, I am sure that I am not the only one who has seen the Sovereign hand of God in so much of what has happened in the Congregation. When I was first made aware of the fact that I would require major surgery at the end of last year, one of the most pressing challenges faced by the Kirk Session was how pulpit and pastoral cover would be undertaken. One of the concerns that  both the Session and I had was to seek to avoid piecemeal and ad hoc preaching ministry during my absence, and so we took the decision early on for the good of the congregation, that locum cover would be much preferable to having different pulpit supply at each service. We felt that there was no substitute for having consistent pulpit supply and pastoral cover during these weeks, and so we were delighted to have been able to obtain the services of three excellent locum preachers during this lengthy absence. The term locum actually means “ holding the place”, and so I should like to also personally thank John Murdo, Donald Angus and Wilf who have so admirably taken my place during my times in hospital and  recovery. In 1 Samuel 7, Samuel raised an Ebenezer or Stone of Help, as a constant reminder to the children of Israel of the goodness of God towards them by way of provision and protection amongst other things.  And certainly we have seen along the course of the past year several Ebenezer’s or significant markers that have shown that hitherto the Lord has helped us. Truly we as a congregation can do the same, and we give our thanks to the God who has provided for us all so wonderfully over the past year.  In the first instance God undertook for us last autumn in providing the Rev John Murdo Nicolson as locum in the congregation over the winter  months.  When John Murdo’s commitment here came to an end at the beginning of March,  I was partly recovered from the first operation, and able to undertake a phased return. By the time the second procedure came on the horizon, in God’s wonderful timing both Mr Maclennan and Mr Urquhart were free to undertake cover over the last seven weeks of the summer.   The Congregation have not only appreciated, but also  greatly benefitted from having consistent preaching and ministry from both these highly experienced  and popular men of God. I should also like to record my own gratitude to you as a congregation for your practical resolve to keep things as normal as possible during this time. To that end I should like to thank all those who sought to ensure that as far as possible the work and witness of the congregation  continued as before. I should like to thank especially the Rev Donald John who has once again borne the burden and heat of the day as Session Clerk in making the administrative arrangements for the locums to come and liaising with the central and local church agencies in this regard. In addition I should like to thank all the elders and Management Committee  for keeping the congregation running smoothly. I’d like to thank Campbell for running the prayer course over the Summer months, and we pray that this will bear fruit in the lives of those who came along. We continue to be indebted to all who work so hard at making the praise nights such a wonderful blessing to all who come.   We are  as a congregation particularly indebted to Pam and David for giving their home “ An Caladh” for the use of the locums during the summer., For this we are truly thankful to God, and pray that  Pam and David would be richly blessed for their sacrificial generosity to the congregation. I continue to be  humbled by your prayers and good wishes, but also humbled by the sheer grace of the God who does all things well. My time in hospital and recovery from surgery has shown me the wonderful asset we have in this nation in the NHS, and I am so thankful to God for all that has been done for me in both Inverness and Stornoway.  As I said at the beginning of this journey I was going into the unknown in a way, as I had never been sick or in hospital in my life before. I didn’t even feel sick the day I walked into Raigmore hospital last November! However I have hopefully come out of hospital with a new awareness and appreciation of hospitals and the vital work they do.  This year has also  made me aware of the reality of being in hospital and hope that this experience will help me be more empathetic towards the sick whether in hospital or at home. Occupying a hospital bed  for the first time was an insightful experience, and gives one a clearer picture than anything that could be taught in college or through pastoral experience of what it means to be sick or suffering. During the last few months I have thought much about the time ahead, and so in God’s will, purpose and timing I hope to come back into the work with hopefully a new impetus and appetite for the ministry and also with an  awareness of the urgency for the word of God to be preached and lived not only here in Tarbert but throughout the nation. Ian Murdo Macdonald

Praise Night Poster August 2018

Our young folk ahead of them taking the lead in our Summer Family Service.Kids Family Service June 2018

Year of Young People and Sunday School Summer Family ServiceDSCN1993This year has been designated by both the Scottish Government and the Church of Scotland as The Year of Young People. To celebrate this we are delighted that many of our young people will be involved in leading and participating in this morning’s service.

The Year of Young People gives the church an opportunity to give thanks to God for the gifts, talents and presence of young people in all our services. We are very happy to see  some of our young people lead and take part in all aspects of our worship at Sunday morning’s service 24th June. The service starts at 11 am, and there will be a time of prayer before the service in the Macrae centre ( Church hall), for those who can come. Today marks the end of the Sunday school session, and so we thank everyone involved in the Sunday school for their hard work and commitment over the course of the year. Summer Sunday school will start next Sunday morning 1st July , and will run during the morning services. This year the children will be watching DVDs about heroes of the faith like Eric Liddell and Corrie ten Boom. All school age young people are very welcome) IMG_0714 thumbnail_20171215_155212

Praise Night 17th June 2018

Rev DA MacRae Archive Launch

We at Tarbert Church of Scotland are delighted to announce the online launch of the Rev Donald A Macrae archive. An archive of sermons of our esteemed former minister who served Harris faithfully for 32 years. We sincerely hope and pray that these sermons will be a delight and blessing to all who listen to them, as they assuredly were to all who heard them preached by Mr MacRae from the pulpit all these years ago. The archive can be found on this site by clicking on the tab “Rev Donald A MacRae” or following this link Rev Donald A MacRae Archive

Praise Night 20th May 2018

Rend Collective Trip

A great time was had by all this week as the Youth Club travelled to Inverness to hear Christian Folk band Rend Collective. It was an early (4am) start on Thursday morning for us as we made our way to Stornoway to catch the first ferry to Ullapool.  It was a beautiful day as we made our way across the Minch and we arrived in Inverness just in time for an afternoon of shopping. The doors opened in the Ironworks venue at 6:30pm and we got ourselves a great spot right up at the front near the stage. The band were supported by Guvna B, an urban contemporary gospel rap artist who got the crowd on their feet. The Rend Collective then took to the stage and certainly did not disappoint singing songs from their new album “Good News” as well as many of their earlier hits. The Band put in a great performance with lots of energy, light, dry ice and even a bubble machine. It was lovely to see some familiar faces from other churches across the Highlands & Islands too. After the event we made our way to our accommodation at the Inverness Youth Hostel for some snacks and then bed. It was another early start on Friday morning and after a quick costa coffee run we were on our way back to Ullapool. A few snoozes were had on the ferry after a full CalMac breakfast and we made it back to Tarbert safe and sound at around 2:30pm. Thanks to all who made this trip possible for our youth club, the congregations, the ACTS Group the Kirk Session, CalMac Ferries, The Scalpay Minibus Committee and the leaders who went along on the trip. Below are a few pictures from our trip.

Rend Collective Concert  Inverness

On Thursday evening 17th May the Youth Club will be going to see and hear the well known Christian band Rend Collective at the Ironworks Inverness as part of the Collective’s nationwide ” Good news”  tour. DcvwGlKXUAECRxu.jpg-large The youth club and the leaders have been looking forward to this for some time, and  we hope and pray that it will be a great night, and will be enjoyed by all.  Our timetable is roughly as follows;
  • Thursday 17th May minibus will leave the TI car park at 5am for 7.30am ferry from Stornoway
  • Thursday night will be spent at the Youth Hostel in Inverness and the young people will be accompanied to the Rend Collective concert in the Ironworks .
  • Friday 18th May Return via Stornoway on the lunchtime ferry and young people should be collected from TI carpark at approximately 2pm
Rend-collective-rend-collective-experiment-band-39007499-961-247.jpgRend Collective originate from Bangor Northern Ireland, and specialise in a blend of Christian folk rock music. Their song ‘ My Lighthouse’  is one of the enduringly popular songs at our praise nights.

Praise Night 22nd April 18

A REFLECTION FOR EASTER

 I have long admired the writing style of Bill Lawson, the Northton based genealogist. Bill along with his late wife Chrissie have done much valuable genealogical research for island families, but also produced several detailed croft, village and island  histories from the Seallam! visitor centre in Northton. One of the traits of Bill’s style in some of his writing is to imaginatively bestow certain human qualities to inanimate objects such as historical sites and buildings. Thus ancient historical sites are given ‘life, personality’ and ‘senses’ in order to  bear witness to the unfolding events of sometimes turbulent passing centuries.  Ancient places like the  Carloway broch, and island churches  such as those at Rodel and Aiginis are given a life of their own and are able to see and perceive the sometimes mundane, sometimes momentous, sometimes tragic life of these islands.  These old stones witnessed the  rise and fall of various clans and families, times of wars and rumours of wars, reformation, emigration, famine and terrible disease. If these old stones could speak what stories they would have to tell. The same would surely be true of our own church here in Tarbert. What stories these stones could tell  of glorious past days, of generations of the people of Harris  coming from all points of the compass  to worship and praise God together as one united people. To tell of the anointed preaching of Christ with fervency and power. To tell of days of revival, of  days of the Holy Spirit falling upon large gatherings here in Tarbert and other parts of Harris. If stones could speak what stories they would have to tell? What if still older stones could speak to tell of the events  that unfolded at Passover in Jerusalem over two thousand years ago? What stories the ancient stones of the Kidron Valley and the Mount of Olives could tell?  What stories the garden of Gethsemane could tell?  That ancient rock known as the Rock of Agony  where Jesus the Son of God knelt in prayer saying; “ My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”( Mathew 26:39). What stories the ancient stone pavement  in the old city known in Aramaic as Gabbatha (John 19:13) would have to tell of when the Governor Pontius Pilate sat down to pronounce judgement on a prisoner called Jesus of Nazareth brought before him. These old walls would have witnessed all that happened there that morning, and echoed to Pilate finally say the words for which he is remembered still today “ ECCE HOMO”  “ Behold the Man “ ( John 19:5). What stories the winding streets of the old city would have to tell of how  this man Jesus “ went out , bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha” (John 19:17 ESV). These buildings witnessed the solemn procession from Pilate’s residence the Praetorium to the place of a Skull – Calvary. Whenever I read or sing the great words of Stuart Townend and Keith Getty’s hymn the Power of the Cross, I try to imagine what it would have been like to have been there and to witness “ Christ on the road to Calvary”. To witness what is surely for the Christian the key moment of all  human history, when Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews carried His Cross to Calvary, to die in the place of you and me. The hymn paints for us the picture of what was happening not only physically but spiritually as Jesus went to the Cross, and died for us there. The gospels spare us much of the detail, and give really only a very edited censored picture of what happened that day, all the gospel writer’s say is “ And they crucified Him”. The apostle Paul describes that moment in this way “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” 2 Corinthians 5:19 (NKJV)  In the same passage Paul goes on to say “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.“ 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV) What story would the stone that sealed the Tomb have to say? That unique stone that was witness to the power of God over death and the grave. In Wesley’s words that we’ll sing on Easter morning;  “Vain the stone, the watch, the seal; Christ has burst the gates of hell. Death in vain forbids His rise; Christ has opened Paradise”  The Angel acted as herald to those disciples who came on that Easter morning to declare “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay”. Matthew 28:5-6 Years before Jesus had prophesied that the great stones of the temple in Jerusalem would be thrown down (Mark 13:2). It is believed that Herod’s great temple had only been finally complete for four or five years when it was torn down by the Romans, stone by stone in AD 70. All that is left now is the crumbling foundation, known as the Western wall the holiest place in Judaism. It is only stone, it cannot speak, it cannot hear, it cannot save. A greater than the temple had come. Jesus Himself had prophetically spoken of this greater temple before “ Jesus answered them, “ Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” … he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. ( John 2:19-22 ESV) If these stones could tell us their stories, what stories they would have to tell? But the fact is stones cannot speak ! Only people can tell of the great works of God.  And if we don’t then Jesus warns what will happen  “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” (Luke 19:40) If we would keep quiet the very creation will “ sing the praise of him who died, of him who died upon the cross”. Buildings, despite their associations and history and the esteem and affection in which they are held, are just buildings. They are not going to last forever. They are buildings in which people have worshipped the One who no building could every contain.  They cannot speak or see, they cannot save. So on this Easter morning we come instead to Jesus, the risen and exalted Saviour, who lives in the power of an endless life, and who alone can save. We come to  the one the apostle Peter describes as “the Chief corner stone” ; 4 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” 7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,” 8 and “A stone of stumbling And a rock of offence.” (1 Peter 2:4-8) A happy and blessed Easter to you all Ian Murdo Macdonald

March 2018 Communion Services

Stated Annual Meeting

Letter issued to the Congregation on Sunday 4th March 2018

Dear friends As I write this, much of the rest of the country is shivering and struggling to cope with ‘the Beast from the East’ as the polar vortex weather system which has hit the country hard this week has been called. Although it hasn’t been exactly warm here either, we have been spared the worst of this artic weather. At this time of year the trees may still be dormant and without leaf, but already there are signs of spring all around us, signs of the days getting longer, if not warmer and bulbs and daffodils appearing in the gardens. Spring brings signs of new life stirring. There continues to be signs of new life stirring in this congregation, and this week’s Stated Annual Meeting was an opportunity for us to take stock not only of the financial health of the congregation but to hopefully appreciate how much work is going on at many levels within the congregation. The Stated Annual Meeting saw the trustees of the Congregation present the accounts for 2017 to the congregation last Wednesday 28th February. Despite the challenging bitterly cold night, it was heartening as always to see a good number coming along to the S.A.M, and heartening too to see how well the congregation’s finances are. Despite the challenges and pressures that everyone is facing, and despite the reality of a depressed island economy, the giving of the congregation is more than commendable. As Angus Macsween our treasurer ably took us through last year’s accounts it surely became obvious how much we have to be thankful for as a Congregation. Our income for the year 2017 of £83,606 is very pleasing to the trustees, and compares favourably with that of many congregations of a similar (or even larger) size and circumstances. Despite the fact that we had a deficit of £14,537, with an expenditure of £98,143 for the year, as Angus explained that was largely due to the extensive works being undertaken in the past year on necessary projects such as the roof repairs and rendering of the church. I should like to take this opportunity on behalf of us all as a congregation to thank Angus most sincerely for his hard work and professionalism in looking after our finances so well throughout the year. This year the treasurer’s address was followed by three more addresses with regard to different aspects of the congregation’s work. Campbell Macrae on behalf of the Management Committee gave an overview of the extensive work that was being done by the Management committee with a special focus on the Fabric sub committee. The Fabric group have had a busy and productive year, with much work being undertaken both inside and outside the church. Campbell explained how with the advice and help of the General Trustees (who ultimately own the buildings) several other projects will be progressed over the next two years. The trustees who visited Tarbert, Roger Dodd and Brian Waller were both very impressed with the condition of the fabric of the church and manse and gave us valuable advice and support. The Trustees have offered us retrospective and future financial assistance for these works, and have given valuable advice on necessary work to do with Health and Safety such as installing a gallery rail, other projects such as renewing the heating system and painting the exterior of the church, manse and precincts with high quality weather proof paint. Bobby Macleod spoke on behalf of the Worship Group to keep us up to speed on the progress with the band project. Much of the finances for the worship band project are now in place, and many thanks are due to all who contributed and have supported this venture. Much of the equipment has been purchased, and will hopefully enhance the worship of the church in various ways in the time ahead. Part of the project’s intentions is to improve the sound quality in the church, and in this respect new microphones , sound system and sound desk will be installed in the church in the next while. Karen Macrae then took us through an overview of the congregational website , highlighting how well used it has been , and the possibilities there are for the future development of the site. The proposals for further development may include, a history page outlining the history of not only the church but those associated with it, a giving page, where on-line visitors can give to the work of the congregation and a special project seeking to digitise and put on-line the sermons our late minister the Rev DA Macrae. It would not be possible for me, to mention individually the great contributions that so many have made to the life and work of the congregation over the past year. Last year, as always a great deal of dedicated hard work has been carried out by office-bearers, members and adherents of the congregation. Many of you have selflessly given of your time, talents and resources to the work of this congregation, and I wish to take this opportunity to thank you all most sincerely for all you have and continue to do. The remarkable thing is that this is done exclusively on a voluntary basis and so I think it is incumbent on myself and indeed all of us to really consider this and give due appreciation and thanks for all that continues to be done by so many in the congregation. It is amazing to see how much has been achieved over the past few years and it brings to mind the words of Nehemiah regarding the enthusiastic and dedicated Israelites re-building the wall of Jerusalem. ‘So we built the wall. And all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.’ Nehemiah 4:6) My recovery from major surgery has gone very well, and all the glory must go to God for this. I have constantly said that I could see God’s hand and purposes in this, and I certainly do. So I should like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support of us as a family and for your expressions of good wishes and offers of practical help, which have been a source of great comfort and strength to us. We are also very grateful for your prayers for me and for us as a family during this time. I am currently on a phased return to duties, but will have to go back to hospital some time in the future for a routine procedure. As previously, the Kirk Session and I will endeavour to ensure that there will be as little disruption as possible to to the life of the congregation, during this time. All this shows us how thankful we should be in everything. We thank God for His wonderful provision for us in the Rev John Murdo Nicolson, who gave outstanding service as locum minister in my absence, over these past few months. We continue to pray that John Murdo, Debbie and Sam will be truly blessed in their new ministry in the Presbytery of Lewis and in Martin’s memorial . I should also like to thank our interim moderator, the Rev Murdo Smith a faithful friend of the congregation who made long journeys from Shader to Tarbert to chair various meetings with customary efficiency and grace. We also thank as always the Rev Donald John and members of the Kirk Session for giving leadership and guidance during this time. A week today we will be meeting together at the Lord’s table, during our Communion services. As this is the last opportunity I will have before then, I would like to exhort anyone who is thinking of professing faith for the first time to do so. You will be warmly welcomed by all of us in the Kirk Session, and we will be delighted to see new faces sitting with us at the table. I have spoken about the service rendered by so many over the past year, but we have to remember that the greatest service we can render is to profess Jesus as our Lord and saviour . The words of the psalmist in psalm 116 which are traditionally sung at Communion sum up this service very well. What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me? 13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord, 14 I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. With grateful thanks and every good wish to you all In Christ Ian Murdo Macdonald

Farewell to John Murdo

It was with a real mixture of emotions that we gathered as a congregation in the Macrae centre after the Sunday morning service today, to express our thanks to John Murdo for his great service to us as a congregation over the past four months. John Murdo started working here with us at the beginning of November last year, and truly we can say that from the beginning of this time, we have seen God’s hand in everything that has taken place. When it became clear to us as a Session in October that I was going to be hospitalised, it was agreed that in the interim it would be preferable for a locum minister be appointed. The first person I thought of was John Murdo.  I met with John Murdo on the 6th October, and put this proposal to him. To our delight he agreed to come. John Murdo very quickly endeared himself to everyone here, as a preacher and as a man, and we will miss his cheerful, personable style of ministry very much. I have known John Murdo for over twenty years. We both trained at Aberdeen university in the nineties with John Murdo just coming to the end of his course as I was starting. As I alluded to this morning, many of the island boys seemed to cause no end of confusion in the university and the presbytery due to our very similar island names, with   two John Murdos, two Ian (Iain) Murdos and three other plain Murdos.  So we were known by the Students convenor of the Presbytery of Aberdeen simply as “the Murdos”!  I was also very fortunate to spend a summer with John Murdo in the busy congregation of Strath and Sleat in South Skye twenty years ago this year, and I still recall that time with real fondness.  It was a real privilege and blessing to renew that fellowship now, not only with John Murdo, but also with Debbie and Samuel. Over the course of the last few months John Murdo has faithfully ministered God’s word in this parish and has bravely negotiated the Clisham road from Stornoway every week in the depths of a Harris winter. However having just got back from Lethbridge Alberta, I suppose that Western Isles winter weather is a piece of cake in comparison. We are greatly indebted to John Murdo for answering the Macedonian call to “come over to Harris and help us” , and can truly say that the past few months have been a joy and blessing to us all. The large number who somehow managed to cram into the Macrae centre for the presentation, bears testimony to the love and regard that so many have here for John Murdo’s most acceptable ministry as locum in Tarbert, and he leaves us with many happy memories and our sincere best wishes for the future. We can give thanks to God also for John Murdo’s good news today, with the announcement of his appointment as both Missions adviser to the Presbytery of Lewis, and assistant minister at Martin’s memorial church. We look forward to hearing how things are going for John Murdo, Debbie and Sam in this new and exciting season of ministry just beginning, and assure them of the on-going prayers of the people of Tarbert Church of Scotland.  “A‑nis gun tugadh Tighearna na sìthe e fhèin sìth dhuibhse a‑ghnàth air gach aon chor. Gu robh an Tighearna maille ribh uile.” 2 Tesalònianaich 3:16  (“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16 NLT) Ian Murdo Macdonald – 25th February 2018

Christmas Gift for Sneha in India

The Sunday School children continue to sponsor a young girl in India, through India Village Ministries. Sneha is 9 years old and we were delighted to have a video recording of her wishing everyone a Happy Christmas, at our recent Christmas Carol service. We also sent a small Christmas gift to Sneha, along with one of our handmade cards. Pastor Suresh very kindly sent the photos below, one showing Sneha receiving her wrapped Christmas gift and the other wearing her new top.

New Year Letter from the Minister 2017

New Year Letter to the Congregation 2017

Christmas Gifts Bag Special Delivery

After school yesterday the children from our Sunday school delivered Christmas gift bags to members of our congregation who perhaps don’t get out often or see many people. The cards in the bags were made by the children themselves and were very gratefully received by all. Thanks to Karen MacDonald for her help with these.
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Christmas Carol Service 2017

Christmas Carol 17-1

Christmas Meals 2017

The menus for our Ladies and Men’s Christmas meals this year, organised by the A.C.T.S group, are now available. The Ladies’ meal will take place on Thursday the 7th December and the Men’s meal on Tuesday 12th December. We would encourage as many as can to come along. Please feel free to invite friends, neighbours and workmates to come. The meals will be at the Harris Hotel and the cost will be £29. Menus should be returned to the church or to Alison by Sunday 26th November. If you need help with transport, please speak to Karen Macrae or indicate this on your menu when you return it. The menu can downloaded by clicking in this following link. Christmas Menu 2017

Christmas Dinner Menu A4 -1

Praise Night 12th November 17

Praise Night Poster 1

Pam’s Farewell

At our Prayer Meeting last night we took the opportunity to wish our dear friend Pam Sinclair well as she leaves us later this week to marry her fiancé David in Inverness. Pam is a much loved member of our Church family and a faithful attendee. Both her and her late Husband the Rev Tom Sinclair contributed greatly to the congregation over the years. Pam has promised to keep in touch and come back to visit us now and again and we wish both herself and David God’s richest blessing for the future.

Korean Visit

We were so blessed to host a group of Korean Christians who dropped in to see us last night in Tarbert. IMG_4646 The photo  above shows the group of eight who had travelled up from Glasgow yesterday as well as those from the congregation who were there to welcome and feed them. Many thanks indeed to the ladies of the A.C.T.S group for the delicious  soup and baking which was much appreciated by our visitors.  The group is led by Dr Sang In Lee who pastors  a church with a vision for mission and outreach in Seoul South Korea.   Sang In studied at Aberdeen University at the same time as our minister, where he was awarded a doctorate in New Testament studies. IMG_4643 We thank God for our brothers and sisters from Korea who like many Korean Christians carry a huge burden for the land of Scotland  and the work of God in this place. It is humbling  to know that in love and obedience to God’s command they have come so far to pray for the work of not only the congregation but the work of God throughout the nation. For more photos from the minister’s own blog please click here. 29th August 2017 IMG_4645

Praise Group Practice Cancelled

In view of the visit this evening of a group of Christians from Korea , the Praise group practice due to be held this evening has now been cancelled. We look forward to meeting our friends from Korea and having fellowship with them. The management Committee meeting will go ahead as planned at 7 PM. 29th August 2017

The Week Ahead

The beginning of this week looks busy for us here in Tarbert.

Tomorrow the Sacrament of Baptism will be administered at our morning service as Febin and Maggie Christopher take  solemn vows on behalf of their little daughter  Evelyn Lucy. The Congregation rejoice with Febin, Maggie and  Evelyn’s grandparents Alasdair and Katie MacLeod Meavaig (South) and Febin’s parents Joseph and Lucy in Kerala India, and assure them of our prayerful support at all times. The sacrament of Baptism is always a special occasion not only for the families and friends involved but for all the congregation.  We will  all stand for the vows and the sacrament as there is responsibility upon all of God’s people to pray for and support all parents and their children as they take their vows.   Additionally the Sunday school will come back into the church at the end of the service in order to see Evelyn being baptised. Tomorrow morning we will be looking in Genesis 22 at Abraham as  a wonderful example of a praying parent. Abraham prayed fervently for his son Isaac, and God answered his prayer on behalf of his son and himself. Abraham is a vital person to us  in our understanding of Baptism as  a sign of God’s on-going relationship with His people. God  made a promise of lasting covenant relationship with Abraham in Genesis 15 and confirmed  this later in Genesis 17 with the sign of circumcision. In the Presbyterian tradition we  believe that the sacrament of baptism is a sign and a seal of that continuing covenant relationship  between God and His people. Tomorrow morning the crèche is once again available  in the vestry for pre-schoolers. If anyone has suitable toys or books for the crèche please speak to Fiona Macleod or if anyone is able to help out on the rota please speak to Agnes Morrison. IMG_4625 In tomorrow evening’s service we will look at the story of Isaac and Rebecca and especially the searching question  in Genesis 24:58 (NKJV)
  “Will you go with this man?” And she said, “I will go.”
On Tuesday evening  29th August there are three meetings in the church. The Praise and Worship group will meet in the vestry between 7  and 9 , and The First Fruits Fellowship meet in the Macrae Meeting room at 7.30 PM.  The Management Committee will meet in the Macrae centre on Tuesday evening at  the slightly earlier time of 7 PM. The main reason for this is that a group of Korean Christians will briefly visit the church shortly after arriving on the evening ferry .  They are coming specifically to pray for the work of God in this congregation, and will be journeying to Stornoway to similarly pray for the congregation of Martin’s Memorial.  The group are led by Dr Sang In Lee from South Korea who  studied with our minister at Aberdeen University where he received a doctorate in New Testament studies. Sang In was an assistant in one of the largest churches in Seol, and he now pastors a church  in Seol with a vision for mission and outreach. The prayer meeting  will be held in the Macrae centre on Wednesday evening  at 7.30 PM as usual . 26th August 2017

ACTS Group Castle

The ACTS Group are running a café in the Tarbert Community Centre today from 10 AM to  4 PM, as a fund raiser for the worship band project. Soups, bacon rolls toasties, sandwiches and lovely home baking …hope to see you there. 4th August 2017

ACTS Group and Fabric Committee Update June 2017

As there are a number of sub groups working within the church it is important that everyone is kept up to date with the progress of various projects and so below is an update from the Church’s ACTS Group and Fabric Committee. ACTS report June 2017 Fabric committee June 2017

Worship Band Project

We have recently embarked on a new project in the Church. The aim of our “Worship” project is to facilitate the development of our worship experience by providing the means for everyone to participate, enhance and enjoy all forms of worship in our church. Our objectives are to
  •  Form and develop a Worship Band
  •  Develop our Praise Nights and make them more regular
  •  Offer musical tuition as an option for the youth club
  •  Improve the quality of the audio output in Church
  •  Develop our website by having our worship events available online
  •  Use worship as a means to reach out and proclaim God’s Word in Harris
The project has been costed at £6000 and after a generous donation last week our total now stands at £2200 which is approx. 36% of our total. Fundraising efforts will continue throughout the summer months and we will keep you up to date with our progress.

ACTS Group Meeting Change of Date

As everyone knows this is a very busy time of the year, both in the church and in the school and community. We have therefore decided to move the date of the next ACTS meeting to a week tomorrow Thursday 15th June at 7.30 PM in the Macrae Centre.

Summer Family Service

On Sunday morning  we meet together with the Sunday school to mark the end of this year’s Sunday school session with a special family service.  The  theme for the service will be ‘GREATER’ in which we will look  in three short all-age talks at how the Bible teaches that Jesus is simply Greater in every respect than anything or anyone else. Talk 1 GREATER IN POWER Talk 2 GREATER IN LOVE Talk 3 GREATER THAN THE WORLD A warm invitation is given to everyone to join us  at 11 am for this celebration of the work of the Sunday school. Please remember that during the Summer holidays we will be running a Summer Sunday club during the morning service for primary age young people. This year we will be using Scripture Union’s  PYRAMID ROCK material,  which is based on the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis. After the young people’s talk each Sunday morning, the Summer Sunday club will meet in the Macrae centre to watch a DVD clip of the Joseph story and fill in the work book for the week. All young people including visitors very welcome each week. Gaidhlig Service  Please note that as has been intimated over the past two weeks we will be going back into the church on Sunday evening 25th June  for the Gaidhlig service at 6PM. It is in a way a good problem that the church hall is not big enough for the Gaidhlig service, especially when so many other areas  are experiencing  very small numbers at Gaidhlig services. Everyone is encouraged to try and sit together in the front centre section of the church sanctuary. Other areas downstairs of the church will be roped off during the evening Gaidhlig service from now on. Praise Night We will meet after the evening Gaidhlig service tomorrow night Sunday 25th June for a short and informal time of praise and worship in the Macrae centre at about 7.30 pm.  Everyone is welcome to join us for some music and singing of praise songs old and new, traditional and contemporary.

PowerPoint  Operators and Summer Sunday Club Meetings tonight.

Just a reminder to the PowerPoint operators that there is a meeting at 6 PM tonight in the church for the new PowerPoint operators to see how our system and screens work and to get a run down of the HymnQuest  and SongProsoftware. Meeting is at 6 PM and will be led by Karen. At 8 PM there is a meeting in the Macrae Centre to discuss  this year’s Summer Sunday club. This year we hope to run a Summer Sunday club during the morning service, we will basing this around Scripture Union’s Pyramid Rock material.  We hope to make up a rota for the summer months  tonight, so if you can’t make it please let Alison know. additionally if you would like to help out at Summer Sunday club, then please just speak to Alison .

Prayer for Barra

Last night’s prayer meeting was different in many ways. Most times at the midweek prayer meeting, there is a short Bible study/ exposition as well as three or four public audible prayers.  Last night it was more important  for people to pray both publically and privately for the  many situations confronting us at this present time. There were five public prayers last night in both Gaelic and English, praying earnestly and with passion about the General Assembly and especially the theological forum debate later today, the forthcoming Faith Mission tent mission in North Harris, as well as the elderly and the sick in the Congregation. However the main focus of our prayer meeting last night was the terrible tragedy at Manchester Arena and especially the dreadful impact this has had on our own island community with the news now confirmed that Eilidh Macleod from Barra was among the dead and her friend Laura Macintyre seriously injured. We hear of tragedies and they often seem so far away, too often we think we are remote from them here in the Western Isles. However when it comes close to home then it really does affect us. Several years ago now I found myself at the funeral in Ness of a man I had never met. His name was Gavin Cushny and he was working in the World Trade centre with Cantor Fitzgerald as a computer consultant on September 11th 2001 when the planes struck . His parents Rev Donald and Sybil Eales-White  lived in South Dell Ness. Gavin was one of almost 3000 people killed by terrorists on 9/11, and attending his funeral on Habost machair Ness certainly brought home the awful reality of this notorious day in American history. In the same way the events of Monday night 22nd May will live on in the hearts and minds of the people of Manchester  and Barra forever. In their heartache and pain  we offer our deep condolences and heartfelt prayers to the parents of Laura Macintyre and Eilidh Macleod and all those others devastated by this iniquitous attack on innocent young people. We feel this pain in Harris and throughout the islands too as we know that it could so easily be our young people who were at that concert. We will continue to pray for our neighbours  and friends in Barra and further afield that the God of all comfort may bring healing and blessing to hearts minds and families so cruelly torn apart . Nuair a shiùbhlas tu tro na h‑uisgeachan bidh mise maille riut; agus tro na h‑aibhnichean cha tig iad tharad; nuair a dh’imicheas tu tron teine, cha loisgear thu, agus cha dèan an lasair greim ort. Oir is mise an Tighearna do Dhia, Tì naomh Israeil, d’fhear-saoraidh: thug mi an Eiphit ann ad èirig; Etiopia agus Sèba air do shon. ( Isaiah 43: 2-3)

Lucky2BeHere Defibrillator training night

At our Spring Communion services, a retiring collection was taken in aid of the Scottish Charity  Lucky2BeHere. The main activity of Lucky2BHere is to place defibrillators and deliver emergency life support training to communities throughout Scotland.  More information on Lucky2BeHere can be found here.   Following our collection for Lucky2BeHere earlier in the year we are going to receive a defibrillator shortly to be mounted on the exterior of the church building. Before the equipment is put in place we will be holding a training session tonight Thursday 25th May in the MacRae Centre from 7pm to which all are encouraged to com

Notes on the General Assembly

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland began this morning Saturday 20th May. Earlier in the week I brought a report to the prayer meeting to seek to explain what is happening and what is discussed at this year’s Assembly. The following notes are heavily edited from what was shared at the prayer meeting but the purpose behind this post remains broadly the same. My reason I suppose is threefold; To try and explain what happens at the General Assembly each year What will be happening and when this year And most importantly who and what to pray for in the week ahead In writing this I am conscious like many other people in the congregation and also throughout the Gaidhealtachd the first inkling people will have about what is happening or has been decided at the General Assembly will be through the headlines on Radio nan Gaidheal as well as in newspapers. Like many of us, I am fed up of hearing unceasing propaganda and negative headlines regarding the church, headlines which often do not tell the whole story of the matter. I thought I would produce these notes so that we can at least be informed as to what is coming up at Assembly, and when these things are being considered and more importantly than anything how and who to pray for in the week ahead. General Assembly The Church of Scotland like all other Presbyterian Churches is organised as a series of church courts, with the General Assembly being the most senior court of the church, below which are Presbyteries and Kirk Sessions. The General Assembly is composed of Commissioners drawn from the 46 or so Presbyteries of the church , and meet each year to consider reports, cases and appeals and decide law and policy as brought to them by the various councils of the church. Much of what takes place is dry and turgid procedure, which never makes the headlines, but without which the church would cease to function. For example I doubt if any news media will cover the report of the General Trustees or the Housing and Loan fund on Friday morning of Assembly, yet they are very important parts of the week’s business. The media’s attention is always drawn to the controversial and salacious aspects of business. I am conscious that this post does not give much detail with regards to the various Councils and their reports, so I have highlighted the most important councils and the main talking points in what follows, More information can be found here on the week at the assembly . Saturday The Assembly opened this morning with the usual pomp and pageantry, with the installing of the new moderator, and the arrival of the Lord High Commissioner. It is worth noting at this point that the Lord High Commissioner is ‘commissioned ‘ by the Queen to act on her behalf for the week of the General Assembly. This Commission is read to the Assembly and recorded in the Assembly’s minutes for the opening day. This year the Lord High Commissioner is Princess Anne, and for that reason there will be more security for all those going along to the Assembly. After the formal pomp and ceremony business commences with some aspects of housekeeping, reports on the hearing of appeals, overtures, cases etc, and the presentation of a Bible to the Moderator by the Scottish Bible society. The meaty reports being presented today are from the Legal Questions Committee re a disciplinary code for ministers etc , and the Council of Assembly (the most powerful council of the church) and others . Sunday On Sunday the General Assembly service takes place in St Giles’ Cathedral where by custom the new Moderator preaches the sermon. After the morning service, the moderator by custom attends the Assembly Gaelic service in Greyfriars Tollbooth and Highland Kirk. On Sunday afternoon there is a large gathering in Princes Street Gardens called “Heart and Soul 2017”. This is more like a big party to ‘celebrate the life of the church’. Monday Monday morning starts with Communion. This is for many a high point in the week and is noted for the powerful unaccompanied rendition of Psalm 24:7-10 ” Ye Gates lift up your heads..” to the stirring tune St George’s Edinburgh. After communion and the usual housekeeping the World Mission Council present their report. Also reporting today are The Social Care Council. The social care council are traditionally one of the more conservative councils of the church, and do a great deal of good work throughout the country through ‘Cross-reach’ . The Panel on Review and Reform also report today. As the name suggests this panel seeks to explore ways in which both the church and ministry can change to adapt to changing times. Tuesday The report of The Church and Society Council dominates most of Tuesday. Church and Society are an influential council and have a huge report this year focusing on such things as Brexit, Asylum seekers, gender justice, climate change , and equality. Wednesday The largest report of Wednesday will be The Ministries Council. As the name suggests The Ministries Council is charged with providing ministers and ministries throughout the country. As can be imagined this is a very challenging role and this year the Ministries Council report will discuss the Tomorrow’s Calling recruitment drive, ‘Hub’ style ministries, the 20/20 vision for ministries etc. Thursday On Thursday morning the Chaplains to her Majesty’s forces report and all the Kirk’s military Chaplains present themselves to be received by the Assembly. After which the last of the major councils the report of The Mission and Discipleship Council is heard. In the afternoon the National Youth Assembly report to Assembly. Tucked away at the very end of the day is the most controversial report of the whole week the report of the Theological Forum. In a very opaque report the theological forum will be bringing amongst other things a deliverance to begin the process to allow ministers to officiate at same-sex marriage ceremonies, and to issue a formal apology to homosexual people to individually and corporately apologise for historic discrimination, and ’to seek to do better’. This is without question the most controversial report of the whole week and will be the focus of the media on Thursday night. Friday The General Trustees housing and loan fund and other non- controversial committees such as the Church hymnary trustees, and the Chalmer’s lectureship trust report on Friday morning and the Assembly closes with a speech from Princess Anne the Lord High Commissioner. Please pray that God’s will would be done at the Assembly and that his name and His word may be given the pre-eminence in everything that is said and decided. Please remember the Commissioners from the islands , the Gaidhealtachd and others who will stand for the truth. It can be difficult, lonely and very discouraging to be a commissioner and so they do need our ongoing prayer support Please pray that those who speak will be given the words to speak, please also pray that those who shouldn’t speak don’t ! ( That is just as important ) . The first deliverance of the Council of Assembly report on the opening day is really worth noting. We can only pray that this may be acted upon and that this may happen in our dear land once again . “Issue a call to the Church of Scotland to pray that God will do a fresh work amongst us as God’s people and instruct presbyteries and Kirk sessions to consider how best to respond to this call’.  Council of Assembly deliverance 2 20th May 2017. Ian Murdo Macdonald 20th May 2017

Covenant Fellowship Scotland General Assembly 2017

Covenant Fellowship Scotland have published as a resource to the church a range of material relating to the forthcoming General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, which begins next week.  This includes a response to the report of the Theological Forum which is due to be discussed at the Assembly on Thursday 25th May. You can find the Covenant Fellowship General Assembly 2017 page here , including an executive summary of the response to the Theological Forum.  Covenant Fellowship’s  full response to the report of the Theological Forum can be found here . Covenant Fellowship Scotland are a group of ministers, elders, members and adherents of the Church of Scotland committed to the reformation and renewal of the Church of Scotland.