From The Manse

Autumn 2021

Dear Friends,                                        

I am grateful for the opportunity given through this pastoral letter to be in touch with you once again and to have the opportunity to update you on a number of matters.

We continue to live through unsettling times but I believe we have good reason to hope that the worst of the pandemic is behind us and that better days lie ahead.

The Kirk Session met recently and at what was a well attended and positive meeting, a number of matters were discussed.

Firstly, on behalf of the Kirk Session, I would like to thank the congregation for the outstanding support you have given to the Church throughout the pandemic. As Ed Morton, our Treasurer, stated in his report to the Kirk Session, ‘The charity is in a sound financial state.’ Your generous support has been critical in helping the Church weather the storm that Covid-19 caused.

Secondly, we discussed the issue of people within the Church building having to wear a face covering. There is understandable disquiet about this when you are able to remove your face covering in other settings. I was able to inform the Kirk Session that the Church of Scotland Covid-19 group has raised this matter on a number of occasions with the Scottish Government but to date the requirement remains.

Thirdly, the Kirk Session discussed the recording of the names of attendees at services for the purpose of track and trace. We acknowledge that this can cause delays in people entering the sanctuary, but as well as recording names in the usual manner, we now have QR Codes which people with a smartphone can use to register their attendance. 

Fourthly, we discussed the Sunday Club and what might be best for the children as we go forward. Parents have been contacted seeking their thoughts on what they and their children would like on a Sunday but we would welcome the thoughts of others as well. We hope it will not be long before ventures such as Messy Church begin again but we also want to provide other means through which children and young people can be actively involved in the life of the Church in a way that is meaningful, fun and rewarding for them.

Fifthly, the Kirk Session, having agreed earlier this year that a foodbank operated by Start Up Stirling could operate from the Parish Halls every Wednesday free of charge, also agreed at our recent meeting to encourage people, when shopping in the local supermarkets or in the Thistle Centre, to support Start Up Stirling by putting items in the trolleys or boxes that exist for donations to help those in the community who are in need of our support.

The Kirk Session also touched on two other issues. One concerns future planning by the Presbytery. This is in connection, among other things, with the reduction in the number of Ministers and the need to reduce significantly the building stock that we have within the Church of Scotland. Discussions will take place in the coming months between representatives of Kirk Sessions. It is to be hoped that these will be innovative and that cognisance will be taken of the need for change in order to ensure the Church is better able and equipped to face the challenges of the post pandemic age. 

The other issue we touched on was that of climate change. This, in many ways, is the big issue of our time. COP26 will take place in Glasgow in November and will bring parties together to discuss what action we need to take in order to save the planet and protect the most vulnerable people in the world who are suffering due to the impact of climate change. 

As Christians, we believe that the earth and all that is in it belongs to God. However, it has been entrusted to us and we are called to be wise stewards of it. Sadly, we have not lived up to our responsibility and in our recklessness we have plundered the earth’s resources and failed to care for it as we should have. It must be our prayer that even at this late hour decisions will be made and action taken to reverse the damage that has been done and to give those in the poorest countries of the world the chance of a better future.

A colleague, the Rev Tom Gordon, has written a hymn which encapsulates the situation well. Here are a few verses of it;

‘Forgive us now for every sin and shame.
For we should know we are the ones to blame. Forgive us for the damage we have caused
by taking little heed of nature’s laws.

For earth was given in trust to everyone, to pass to generations yet to come.
So call us once again to work with you, to give this fragile earth the care it’s due.

And sound for us again a wake-up call – That each of us should learn to give our all to care for this, your world, in all we do, and ever give abundant thanks to you.’

Once again we are supporting the Blythswood Care Christmas Shoebox Appeal. Checklists are available at the Church or can be downloaded from the Blythswood Care website. Filled shoeboxes or individual items should be left at the Church by the end of October.

Finally, as I assure you of my prayers and good wishes, I remind you that I am here for you. I would be pleased to visit you at home or alternatively we could meet at the Church. Likewise, I will be pleased to talk to you on the phone if there is a matter you wish to discuss. 

Take good care and every blessing,

Your Friend and Minister,

Gary J McIntyre