From The Manse

Dear Friends,

I hope this letter finds you well. We continue to live through an unsettling time but I am very hopeful that with the successful vaccination rollout, we will soon return to a more familiar and stable environment.

With this in mind, I would like to encourage you, if you have not already done so, to think about returning to worship in the sanctuary on a Sunday morning. You may not wish to do so immediately, but it could be something to aim for in late summer or early autumn. I believe the Church building to be as safe a place as any, but it would be a better and happier place with you in it!

When Stirling goes to level 1 restrictions, we will be permitted to sing once again. Though we will still require to wear a face covering, this will be a positive move and I know that many will join me in welcoming it. I am also happy to say that the pew cushions will be returned to their rightful place next week!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, once again, for your ongoing support for the Church. This has enabled us to maintain our Christian witness, meet all our commitments and carry out essential work on our buildings. For this, and so much more, I extend my gratitude, and that of the Kirk Session, to you.

As we begin to emerge from the pandemic, my thoughts and that of many within the Church, are turning to the future. The recent General Assembly of the Church of Scotland received reports which contained stark warnings about the current state of the Church and the urgent need for reform. The Convener of the Faith Nurture Forum, the Rev Rosie Frew, went as far as to state ‘We are draining the resources of the Church – people, morale, finance – just to keep this broken system going. Without a radical treatment plan the Church of Scotland will not survive.’

These are without doubt challenging times for the Church and every congregation will be affected by decisions made by the General Assembly. Indeed, our own Kirk Session has, along with the other Kirk Sessions within the Presbytery of Stirling, been invited to consider ways in which we might work more closely with neighbouring congregations to promote the life and mission of the Church. While we strongly believe that St Ninians Old Parish Church has a vital role to play within our own large and diverse parish, we also believe that working in partnership with other congregations and sharing resources is the way forward. What shape or degree of cooperation will take place has yet to be established, but I ask for your prayers as we seek to discern God’s will.

While some may be disheartened by the situation the Church of Scotland finds itself in, I would urge you to look to the future with hope. It will not be easy accepting some of the changes that will take place nationally and locally, but I sincerely believe the Church has an exciting future, and that being confident in Christ, its witness, far from being diminished, will be strengthened as we rise to the challenges ahead. The Very Rev Dr Martin Fair said in his closing address as Moderator of the General assembly, ‘There is work for the Church to do.’ Now is the time to focus afresh on that work and to explore together how we might do it? And let’s not forget, as we seek to do the work we are called to do, we do not do it alone. The Holy Spirit is ever present with us, and will equip and empower us in ways beyond our imagining!

The Kirk Session has agreed that the annual open air service at Kirk O’ Muir will take place on Sunday, 1st August at 12 noon. The service in St Ninians Old on that day will be held at the earlier time of 10am.

Over the summer, I look forward to spending less time at my desk and more time out and about in the parish. I hope to see a good number of you. Please also know that you can contact me at the Manse if you think I can help you in any way. 

I send you my warmest good wishes and assure you of my prayers.

Every blessing,

Your Friend and Minister,

Gary J McIntyre