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Prayer for 20 May

Presbytery Prayer Point

You are invited to pray with fellow Presbyters at 12 noon on Wednesday 20th May 2020

Lord, keep us under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress. Sustain and support the anxious and fearful, and lift up all who are brought low; that we may rejoice in your comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love.

Lord God, as the current situation continues many of us are becoming more tired and wearisome of it all; we crave for an end to all that is happening and we know that if we lay our burdens at your feet you will provide us with relief and we do that now. We pause for a moment of silence and enjoy the calm around us … pause … 

Lord, in that moment of peace and serenity, you were there, your soothing balm upon our brows as thoughts and worries and concerns race through our minds. With this calm frame of mind, we present our prayer to you at this time. 

We pray for all those who are working to defeat the devastating effects of the virus. We especially remember those whose daily work places them at direct risk and we thank them for all that they do on our behalf and we pray your protection upon all of them as they sacrificially do all that they can to comfort and care for those afflicted and who desperately need their help at this time. Lord, we hear daily of those on the frontline of caring who have succumbed from the disease themselves and we weep for their families and friends that they have left behind. We give grateful thanks for their sacrifice and for their willingness to face the challenge of the virus directly on our behalf. Lord, whilst we want the effects of the virus to come to an end and be forgotten, we must never forget the ultimate price paid by brave nurses, doctors, and other healthcare workers during this time. We pause to remember those faces that come to mind or of anyone we know personally, who has died on the frontline …. Pause… We pray your richest blessing on all those we have remembered.

At this time when the General Assembly should be meeting, we bring our church to you in all its forms. We pray for the Right Reverend Dr Martin Fair, the new Moderator who faces a unique challenge in holding the church and nation together at such a crucial moment in the life of the church in Scotland. We know that you will imbue him with a sense of grace and wisdom to discern a path through the coming months so that he might serve the church in a way that ensures its continued presence in the new world that stands ahead of us. We pray too for all those responsible for maintaining the church in its current and future form. We pray for the Principal Clerk, The Right Reverend Dr George Whyte and his team, working tirelessly in the background to sustain some semblance of normality and we pray for the many unseen people performing tasks on a daily basis to ensure that future. We earnestly pray that they are able to maintain a zeal and a focus for the difficult tasks in hand and that when they have those tired and wearying moments, that you sustain and uphold them.

Lord, we bring to you the church here in Argyll in all its forms. We bring to mind the people who make that church what it is and whose company and presence we miss on a Sunday morning and on other occasions. We pray your comfort and protection on all those we bring to mind in a moment of calm … pause… Lord, lift the spirits of those who are weary and tired and sustain them to run the race to the end so that one day, we will meet to worship and glorify your name in the pews and other places across Argyll. Until that day comes, sustain us on the road, lift those burdens and worries and embolden us with a belief that there is a tomorrow and one day that tomorrow will be a day when we return to the life that we recognise and love.

We are not people of fear: we are people of courage.
We are not people who protect our own safety: we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety.
We are not people of greed: we are people of generosity.
We are your people God, giving and loving, wherever we are, whatever it costs
For as long as it takes wherever you call us. Amen.

Heart and soul 2020

We’re delighted to announce, as part of the ‘Big Weekend’ for the Church of Scotland, a special ‘Heart and Soul 2020’ event will take place (online) on 17th May 2020. The current crisis has meant that the original event, scheduled to have taken place in Princes Street Gardens on that day, has had to be cancelled.

However, a number of features from the event in Princes Street Gardens can be transferred into an online format, and we’re going to screen an abridged ‘Heart and Soul’ at 2.00pm on 17th May – when the original event would have taken place. The programme will run until about 4.20pm.
A recording of the event will be available soon afterwards. You will be able to watch the event live on the Church of Scotland website (www.churchofscotland.org.uk) and live on the Facebook page (fb.me/churchofscotland).

Hosted by our usual presenters, Rev Ken Froude, Seonaid Knox and Rev Justin Taylor, the event begins with a replay of the service of installation for the new Moderator, Rev Martin Fair. Without giving too much away, the event features a mix of worship, music, stories and some exciting ‘In Conversation’ guests.

Heart and Soul regulars ‘Fischy Music’ will lead a special segment for all ages, and we hope that you’ll join in all the actions from home!
Spread throughout the afternoon will be some very special conversations:
Hugh Pym will be in conversation with Prof Jason Leitch and Viv Dickenson from CrossReach, discussing how they have all been tackling Coronavirus and also how their own faith has helped them.
Very Rev Susan Brown will be in conversation with Ross Greer MSP and Tara Shannon from COSY discussing climate justice.
Prison Chaplain Anne Stewart will be in conversation with Hospital Chaplain Mark Evans talking about chaplaincy as a career and the impact of Coronavirus in their places of work.

No Heart and Soul would be complete without some hearty singing, and we’ve chosen some highlights from the archive over the last ten years of Heart and Soul, the Guild Big Sing and the General Assembly to round things off.

Presbytery prayer 13 may

Presbytery Prayer Point

You are invited to pray with fellow Presbyters at 12 noon on Wednesday 13th May 2020

Lord, keep us under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful, and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love.

Lord, we continue to pray for all those affected in any way by the pandemic and today we especially pray for all the missed moments that have occurred during this time. We bring to mind the birthdays when children have had to party with only their families to play the games and eat the cake. We remember elderly residents, especially those in residential care, who have had to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries with only dedicated staff as guests and in some cases, with families on the lawn outside.

We also recall all the missed moments between grandparents and grandchildren. Those moments when a hug cures a sore knee, when Grandmother’s special soup makes you feel better or when a walk with grandparents along the beach solves all the things that bother us. We pray for grandparents and other family members who cannot get to visit new-born babies and for new parents who miss that reassurance and love that extended families offer in these happy circumstances. 

Lord, we pray too for the people whose weddings have been postponed. After all the preparations and anticipation of starting married life together and the worry of potentially losing money they will be feeling especially disappointed. 

We bring to mind all the children who are missing moments being absent from school and nursery. We pray that their resilience and enthusiasm will carry them through these confusing and bewildering times. And we pray too for their parents who are challenged to sustain a time of normality and learning for their children.

Holy God, as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc and the daily death toll continues unabated, we bring to our thoughts those who have to say goodbye from a distance. Lord, lost moments mean that family and friends are denied the opportunity for any meaningful farewells or any close physical contact other than from immediate family.

Lord we gather all these lost moments and those known personally to us, and we offer them to you, and as we do so, we know that they will be smothered in your grace and love so that those who have experienced lost moments will become aware of your comfort and protection. Lord in extending your care in these times of lost moments you remind us all of the eternal hope that lies in tomorrow and that in time these lost moments will be regained tenfold. As we move forward in time and the virus loses its grip, we await with patience for the opportunity to regain lost moments and to never take them for granted again.

We are not people of fear: we are people of courage.
We are not people who protect our own safety: we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety.
We are not people of greed: we are people of generosity.
We are your people God, giving and loving, wherever we are, whatever it costs
For as long as it takes wherever you call us. Amen.

Presbytery Prayer 6 May

You are invited to pray with fellow Presbyters at 12 noon on Wednesday 6th May 2020

Lord, keep us under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful, and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love.

Lord at this time, our communities across Argyll are gradually adjusting to changes in life previously unheard of. And as this happens stories of fortitude, compassion and courage have emerged. Lord, as we visualise this beautiful part of the world, we bring to mind the communities we have visited and lived in. We see in our mind’s eye the larger towns like Oban, Inverary and Dunoon; the smaller communities such as Tighnabruaich, Strachur and Kilmartin; the islands including Gigha, Barra and Lismore and we recall the people who live and work there. We bring to mind the essential workers who make the community what it is and who have risen above and beyond the call of duty to sustain these communities in their time of crisis.
Lord we especially bring to mind those who have paid the ultimate price in this endeavour and today we give thanks for the life of Robert Black, a paramedic from Campbeltown who died in the line of duty protecting his local community. We pray your blessing on his family and friends as they come to terms with the price that Robert has paid for his diligence and devotion to his profession. We remember too, others who we do not know who have died on the frontline against an unseen and cruel enemy and we pray your blessing upon them at this difficult time.

Lord, we pray for all the residential care homes across our Presbytery, many of whom were cared for pastorally by local congregations who can now no longer provide visitors or support to residents. We pray for the safety of residents and staff alike at these difficult and challenging times and we especially pray for the mental well being of all those who find themselves in a vulnerable situation at this time. Some residents, as a result of their lack of understanding, will find these times especially difficult when normal routines are disturbed, and regular visitors and contact are suddenly no longer there. Lord help those who feel bewildered by all that is happening and help them seek and attain that peace of mind they crave in their later years. Lord, we pray for staff working in immensely challenging situations especially in those circumstances where residents are almost akin to family members. Lord, keep staff safe so that they can continue their caring of the most vulnerable in our community.

Lord God, we hold in our prayers the children in our communities at this time as they come to terms with new routines and situations and we especially bring to mind those children with special needs. We acknowledge the additional challenges that these circumstances bring to children who have to deal with learning difficulties and who are now separated from the usual community facilities available to them during times of normality. Uphold and sustain their parents and other carers who now need to make do with less than ideal facilities to manage the challenges these children face in their everyday lives.

Lord God, encourage and keep safe the community-based volunteers who have emerged during this time of adversity as they go about the daily tasks of life that we take for granted. We give thanks for their willingness to support their community and undertake the care of their neighbour in their time of need. We pray your blessings upon them and that they keep safe whilst undertaking their duties.

Lord as the pandemic progresses and days turn to weeks help us not to become complacent and undo all the good work to date. Remind us of the sacrifice that many have made including their own lives, to ensure our safety and health. Grant us patience that we may emerge in due course to take our places in our community and in our church pews but only when it is safe and sensible to do so.

We are not people of fear: we are people of courage.
We are not people who protect our own safety: we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety.
We are not people of greed: we are people of generosity.
We are your people God, giving and loving, wherever we are, whatever it costs
For as long as it takes wherever you call us.
Amen.

Newsletter 1 MAy

April 2020 we will remember as our first month of isolation, lock down, social distancing, however we describe it.   We move into May knowing that there is a long way to go, that our actions have been effective to a high degree, our health services are holding out, and that workers in all services are keeping going through difficulties and distress.  None the less, we are daily saddened for the families and friends of all those who have succumbed to the virus, whose lives have been shortened by this illness which still threatens us.  

However, we have our faith, we have a relationship with the God who is over all things, We have a trust in our Saviour, Jesus Christ, and we have the comfort and assurance of the Holy Spirit in us – breathed into us as the gift from Jesus to His followers.   So we are not abandoned or forgotten, and we can lift our prayers to God our Father for all those who we know – in distress, in sorrow, in exhaustion as they work to care for others, and we can give thanks for our comfort and safety as we live within this locked down world.

The psalm this week is Psalm 23, a Psalm well known and often sung in times of sombre reflection.   As with many things, it can be so familiar that we skim over and miss the depth of comfort and meaning which is in these well known words.

In the hymn book there is an arrangement of this Psalm by the French priest, Joseph Gelineau, and I give this here to read through with fresh eyes and heart, to appreciate once more the peace, comfort, protectionand goodness from God which this psalm celebrates:

The Lord is my shepherd;
There is nothing I shall want.
Fresh and green are the pastures
Where He gives me repose.

Near restful waters He leads me,
To revive my drooping spirit.
He guides me along the right path;
He is true to his name.

If I should walk in the valley of darkness
No evil would I fear.
You are there with your crook and staff,
With those who give me comfort.

You have prepared a banquet for me
In the sight of my foes.
My head you have anointed with oil;
My cup is over flowing.

Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me
All the days of my life.
In the Lord’s house shall I dwell
For ever and ever.

To the Father and Son give glory,
Give glory to the Spirit
To God who is, who was, and who will be
For ever and ever. 

Joseph Gelineau , 31 October 1920 – 8 August 2008) was a French Catholic Jesuit priest and composer, mainly of modern Christian liturgical music.   Heavily influenced by Gregorian chant, he developed his Gelineau psalmody which is used worldwide. Later he composed numerous chants for the ecumenical French Taizé Community.[3] (Wikipedia)

Gelineau’s translation and musical settings of the psalms have achieved nearly universal usage in the Christian church of the Western world. These psalms faithfully recapture the Hebrew poetic structure and images. (Joseph Gelineau Biography,GIA Publications,) 

Here is a message about work with young people which is going on across Argyll Presbytery:

If you have parents or grandparents of young people of secondary age that you are able to contact then please encourage them to get their children to log onto the eXp Facebook page for more information about the plethora of activities that Susan and her team have arranged. (Susan Whyte, Presbytery Youth Worker)

From: Susan Whyte [mailto:susan.whyte@expyouthwork.org.uk
Sent: 29 April 2020 10:08

Good morning everyone, 

Week 6 of lock down…. most of the worlds focus is on the problem – covid19 and what it is doing to individuals, families, communities, countries, our world and our economy.  Everyday I am challenged – do I join the world and focus on the problems of life?  This would be an easy thing to do as I am hearing about it in every news report,I am reminded of it every time I talk to a loved one on a flat screen or when I hear the voice of one of our young people or a leader who is struggling with the impact of social isolation. What other choice to I have?  The answer….Instead of focusing on the problem, focus on the Problems Solver!  The minute you read that, you will know who I mean – yep, Father God.  Every day life problems can serve to keep our eyes of the ‘author and finisher’ of our faith.  It is a challenge, but our focus should be on God.  At times like this we have to admit that our faith perhaps doesn’t measure up to what we would like it to be.  Let’s not measure our faith but measure our God!  How big is the God you serve?  My God?  Well, He is a great big God!

Susan Whyte

Argyll Presbytery Youth Worker & Team Lead | eXp Youth Work
m: 07470 593935
e: susan.whyte@expyouthwork.org.uk

130 John Street, Dunoon Argyll, PA23 7BN
expyouthwork.org.uk

Presbytery prayer 29 April

You are invited to pray with fellow Presbyters at 12 noon on Wednesday 29th April 2020

Lord, keep us under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful, and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love.

Lord God during these unprecedented and unsettling times we pray for the church as it tries to adjust to circumstances that run counter to the existence of communal worship and fellowship. As we reflect on times past when we have been able to meet in familiar and sacred spaces with friends and acquaintances who shared our love of the Christian faith, we find ourselves yearning for those precious times again which we often took for granted. Now that those spaces and experiences are denied to us, we painfully realise what we no longer have but our faith is not just for the past and the present but also for the future. 

For the present we give grateful thanks for the innovative ways in which the church has adopted to different ways of worship and fellowship and to different ways of offering care and compassion albeit at a distance. We offer thanks for the technology that has allowed Ministers and Worship Leaders across Argyll to continue to offer opportunities for worship and to reach new audiences who have found online worship reassuring and comforting during challenging times. We especially pray for those people whose dormant or non-existent faith has been re-ignited during these times and we pray that this will produce a re-awakening of their spiritual life in the longer term. We pray for all Ministers and Worship Leaders that their message remains fresh and relevant for these challenging times.

Lord, we pray too for congregational office bearers who are concerned with fabric and finance. As church buildings remain empty, we pray that they remain in a safe and good condition and we are thankful to those who keep a watchful eye on our buildings at this time. We also bring to mind congregational treasurers as they try to balance the accounts against a falling income when bills continue to need to be paid. We pray that in time, our finances will return to a healthier situation without adversely affecting the work and outreach of the local church in the future. Lord we give thanks for all the unsung heroes found in local congregations who lend support to those in need in a variety of capacities. We pray that in the course of all that they do, they are properly protected and stay safe and well.

We pray for the work of Presbytery which continues quietly in the background albeit in a different way from before. We give thanks for the diligence of our Presbytery Clerk, Stewart Shaw, who has to adapt to working in a different way, whilst still ensuring that the business of Presbytery continues. We give thanks for all of the Convenors who are ensuring that their committees continue to function online so that vital and important matters are still dealt with in a timely and appropriate manner. We pray that the meeting of the Business Committee due to convene in the next week or so will proceed smoothly as plans are determined for the continued functioning of Presbytery within ongoing policy guidelines for social distancing and safe practices.

Lord, we pray for our Presbytery staff who have been furloughed at this difficult time. We give thanks for the important work that they have been involved with in the past and we pray that circumstances will permit their quick return to continue with this in the future. We remember too our vacant congregations who without a Minister now have the additional burden of dealing with the pandemic. We give thanks for the work undertaken by Interim Moderators who are now compelled to undertake their work from a safe distance.

Lord our past and present are important but so too is our future and as we progress through these times and see glimpses of the future beginning to emerge we also need to begin to think about our future as a church and as witnesses to that glorious vision. You remind us that you are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow and so we look forwards to tomorrow with a soaring hope in our heart and a determined view that once the pandemic is brought under control and normality returns we will take up our places again in those sacred spaces and determine never to take them for granted again.

We are not people of fear: we are people of courage.
We are not people who protect our own safety: we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety.
We are not people of greed: we are people of generosity.
We are your people God, giving and loving, wherever we are, whatever it costs
For as long as it takes wherever you call us.

Amen

Presbytery prayer 22 april

Presbytery Prayer Point

You are invited to pray with fellow Presbyters at 12 noon on Wednesday 22ndApril 2020

Lord, keep us under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful, and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love.

Lord we pray for those people who are the hidden faces in the midst of the turmoil and upheaval that surrounds us at the moment. We hear much about those working on the frontline keeping us safe and healthy and it is right and proper that we do so and we pray your protection on all of those people but we also need to bring to mind those not in the headlines – the hidden faces of society.

We pray for those who depend on a connection to a group or a place of safety to see them through their own personal difficulties and whose circumstances may worsen as a result of isolation. We bring to mind vulnerable children of families, troubled teenagers, and victims of domestic abuse. Lord, we know these people are at an increased risk at this time and our hearts break for the situations they now find themselves in with little or no relief. We seek your protection for them and that you will inspire those who work in such circumstances to find alternative ways of offering support and care in the face of a loss of personal and direct contact.

We pray too for all those who find themselves stranded in a place far from home and separated from loved ones. We think of migrant and seasonal workers who travelled to their place of work often in a different country prior to the outbreak and who now find themselves without work and pay. We remember too the crews of cruise ships who have been repatriated to their own country and those still stranded on board and now unable to earn as contracts are curtailed. Lord we pray that these groups find strengthin their numbers, that in keeping together they can sustain and support one another through these lean times. We also bring to mind those care workers who have opted to stay apart from their family to keep them safe. Carers living in camper vans parked in car parks and those who opt to live in with residents to ensure the safety of the residents and of the carers’ families. We visualise the parents working on the frontline who can only communicate with their children via a computer screen as they seek to keep us and them safe at this time. Lord sustain all those who have voluntarily separated themselves from their nearest in a selfless act of love and care for us all.

Lord as the fight to defeat the virus continues, we bring to mind the hidden faces working in laboratories seeking to find a solution that will eradicate the threat. These folks working tirelessly behind the scenes in difficult circumstances and sometime at risk from the virus itself deserve our utmost thanks and blessings and our earnest wish that they stay safe and a solution is found. We pray too for air crews who volunteer to undertake flights to other parts of the world so that vital supplies necessary for frontline staff can be delivered safely and expeditiously. And we think too of ferry crews delivering essential supplies to the islands scattered across our Presbyteryincluding the mail, food supplies, and vital medicines.

Lord as we witness unprecedented arrangements being put in place to deal with the effects of the virus, we bring to mind the hospital and hospice chaplains being recalled to service, especially those known to us here in Presbytery, whose selfless devotion to duty will be crucial in the days ahead. With your encouragement and presence, they will bring succour and comfort to those who need it, especially in the absence of family members who can only stand from afar and watch. We pray your strength and blessing on all of them that they may be sustained in this crucial work in your nameand that they will remain safe.

In these days we are reminded once again of the quiet and measured approach taken by funeral directors and crematoria staff as they deal with an increased workload. We pray that in these difficult circumstances final goodbyes can remain dignified and heartfelt albeit at a distance and that those who mourn will still feel your comforting presence at these times. 

Lord God, we bring to mind those hidden faces mentioned here and those that we are aware who quietly and resolutely get on with what needs to be done and seek no glory or thanks for doing so.

We are not people of fear: we are people of courage.
We are not people who protect our own safety: we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety.
We are not people of greed: we are people of generosity.
We are your people God, giving and loving, wherever we are, whatever it costs
For as long as it takes wherever you call us.

We ask all this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

National prayer

Sunday marks four consecutive weeks of joint calls by Scottish churches to pray at the same time in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Thousands of people across Scotland have been answering the call to join in prayer during this time of sacrifice, difficulty and bereavement.

Rt Rev Colin Sinclair, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said:

“Prayer has become increasingly a valued time for Christians as they pause to pray, conscious that many others will be sharing the same prayer at the same time.

“It helps create a sense of community when we are isolated through lockdown.”

Churches Together in England will also be praying each Sunday at 7pm and will be using the hashtag #prayersofhope to share the message on social media.

The churches have issued a letter with this week’s prayer that reads:

“As we find ourselves living through a renewed phase of lockdown, we see in the Gospel of John (20: 19-23) that, in part, the experience of the disciples, even on the day of Resurrection, was one in which they found themselves locked in and behind closed doors.

“Their experience of lockdown was interrupted by the presence of Jesus as he came and stood among them.

“He speaks into the depths of their fears and anxieties: ‘Peace be with you.’

“We hear these words and know that they speak to us.

“We listen again for what he will say and discover that Jesus simply repeats himself: ‘Peace be with you.’

“As we still ourselves, we hear those words of peace spoken and sense that they are spoken to us and to all who long to hear a word that heals and reassures: ‘Peace be with you’.”

Let us pray:

Living God, speak into the depths of our experience,

Speak the word that stills our fears

And calms our anxieties:

‘Peace be with you.’

Speak your word to the lonely and to the broken,

To the bereaved and to those whose world has crumbled:

‘Peace be with you.’

Faithful God, speak to us behind locked doors

As we remember others, who risk their own safety,

In order to serve others:

Peace be with them.

Carers and nurses, doctors and ambulance drivers,

Delivery drivers and shop assistants:

Peace be with them.

God who inspires Hope, speak to us in the present

And speak to us of the future,

For though the doors are locked, in time they shall be open:

Peace shall be renewed.

For those who lead the life of our Nation: Our Queen Elizabeth,

First Minister and Prime Minister, and all who shape our common life,

For us all: Peace shall be renewed.

God whose name is love and whose gift is love,

Open our hearts to know you and to love you,

To love you and to love our neighbour

And as we do, to hear again: ‘Peace be with you.’

May we find our strength in you,

And hear again:

‘Peace be with you.’

The statement and prayer is signed by:

Rt. Rev. Colin Sinclair, Moderator of the General Assembly, Church of ScotlandMost Rev. Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, Roman Catholic ChurchMost Rev. Mark Strange, Primus, on behalf of the College of Bishops, Scottish Episcopal ChurchRev. John Fulton, Moderator, United Free Church of ScotlandRev. Dr David Pickering, Moderator, United Reformed Church (Scotland)Rev. Martin Hodson, General Director, Baptist Union of ScotlandRev. Mark Slaney, District Chair, Methodist Church (Scotland)Rev. May-Kane Logan, Chair, Congregational Federation in ScotlandLt. Col. Carol Bailey, Secretary for Scotland, Salvation ArmyAdwoa Bittle, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)Rev. Jim Ritchie, District Superintendent, British Isles North District, Church of the NazarenePastor Chris Gbenle, Provincial Pastor, Province of Scotland, Redeemed Christian Church of GodBishop Francis Alao, Church of God (Scotland)/Minority Ethnic Churches Together in Scotland (MECTIS)

Digital church conFerence

On Monday David and I took part in the digital church conference. There were about 65 participants and it was also very interesting with time for breakout rooms to chat in small groups.

The speakers were Rev. Albert Bogle, a former Moderator of the General Assembly, Dr. Peter Phillips, professor of Digital Theology at Durham University, Neil MacLennan a tech person, and Laura Digan, a very charismatic and bubbly trainee minister.

Dr Peter Phillips explained that the church has always mediated religion with e.g. icons, religious paintings. Now we are mediating religion digitally.

Church is a community expression of our faith – online or offline – or should we just call it “church”?

Dr. Phillips then went on to explain the three uses of technology in church:

1. To enable offline church – like having a website to engage with members and invite non members to attend traditional church – “come to our building”. The focus is “bums on seats”

2. To extend offline church into online activities – first week of lockdown some churches broadcast a service from an empty church. We the congregation were spectators rather than participants.

3. Disrupting offline church through online church – second week of lockdown – interactive service broadcast eg leaving a space for silent prayer so the spectators can feel connected and participate. Using zoom or Facebook live the spectators can truly participate. Not only is God present in each physical location He is also present “online”.

Sanctuary First is an expression of online church. (They even have on online cafe running 10-12 every weekday. Go on their website and have a look).

We then had break out groups where we talked about what we were already doing.

The main issues were:

digital availability ie poor internet connections in rural places

no Internet access for majority of elderly members.

God is in the digital space as well as the physical locations

God can and does make things Holy on line.

After lunch we reconvened with Neil MacLennan speaking about the technical issues.

He talked about zoom being a very useful platform for meetings and that the congregations should keep going with their functional meetings. He referred to property committees and finance committees etc but we don’t do so much of that. He did say that on line kirk session meetings are fully legal.

Doing large tech is a team game where one person looks after the tech side of the meeting while others run the talking side. 

He suggested three different ways of doing online church:

One to many ie live streaming a service, like watching tv.

Some to some ie a few people meeting together as church on the zoom platform.

Some to many ie the leaders using zoom and live-streaming that to many. After the livestream everyone can have their own coffee and chat on zoom.

For all this to work he says it is necessary to get help and pay money!

He had some tips on what to do which were helpful:

Take it easy

Get young people to help

Pick the low hanging fruit

Practice

If all you do is phone 2 people a day that is good.

Next speaker was Rev Albert Bogle on Rebooting the church

“A new kind of networked congregation may well emerge, one no longer defined by location”

Our immediate challenge is:

Grieving for what has been lost

Pastoral burden of ministry

Reluctantly embracing technology

The financial challenge

Reconnecting to our core calling.

He said if all we do is try to keep the institution afloat we have missed the point. John ch4v23 “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” This is what Jesus said when the woman at the well wanted to know where the correct place to worship is. The physical location is not important!

There have been discussions on the legality of communion taken on line. Alberts view is that actual physical communion – is it even authentic – communion is only a foretaste.

He said “How many buildings are going to survive the virus?

We need to think about networking with other churches and non church organisations. Think about how the early church worked. The network has to be bigger – worldwide.

We then had another breakout group where we were to discuss the question:

How then would thinking like a “Networking Church” begin to change the way we approach mission and the gifting of the churches at the moment as well as looking to the future?

This was a difficult question for the ministers in the group to answer as all they seemed to be thinking about was how to keep their own congregation gathered. They didn’t quite grasp the networking idea.

I’ve got loads of ideas running around my head but I won’t explain them just now!

The last speaker was Laura Digan who was filled with enthusiasm and talked about how the Holy Spirit was just as active online as anywhere else.

We were absolutely exhausted after the conference just because it was online for 4 hours including a lunch break. Apparently it gets easier the more you do.