Monthly Archives: July 2013

Big questions

Paul ChapmanIn my activist life working for social justice and reconciliation among divided peoples, I didn’t take much time for theological reflection. But now as I mature I seem to be getting more pensive. And those big questions just do not go away.

I’m not alone. A deep spiritual longing has emerged over the past two or three decades. The social and cultural institutions to which we have traditionally turned for nourishment: governmental, economic, educational institutions, and especially religious institutions are no longer satisfying people’s hunger... read more

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A healing place

martin_johnstoneRecently I was listening to a podcast from the Archbishop of Canterbury in which he said, “We have a culture where it is assumed that if one person is in favour of something they must be bitterly against everything else.”

The church in priority areas is very focused on issues of justice and poverty. That does not mean that we are uninterested in worship or, more broadly, in the growth of faith. Indeed the very opposite is the case. Our experiences of struggle – and of everyday glimmers of grace in the midst of that struggle – mean that ‘worship is at the heart of what we do’... read more

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I don’t want to be that person

john_mannOccasionally someone will say to me, ‘I’m sorry to bother you, I know how busy you must be.’ Rarely do I respond to the assumption of business, but try instead to listen to the content of the concern. At the same time the thought occurs, ‘Oh, if you only knew.’

If you only knew not how busy I am, but how un-busy I am! Yes, I know parish ministry places many demands on the time and energies of a Minister and the parish clergy and workers... read more

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Striving and thriving

martin_johnstoneLike Zoe Williams, I do not agree with the crass distinction between ‘strivers and skivers’ invented by the media and popularised by many politicians from a variety of different parties. I do not agree with it quite simply because I do not recognise it.

Recently I was in Ferguslie Park in Paisley. In the late 1980s ‘Feegie’ was part of New Life for Urban Scotland, a major regeneration initiative designed to transform the area. In the most recently published Scottish Indicators of Multiple Deprivation, Ferguslie Park remains the poorest neighbourhood in Scotland... read more

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A Lochee perspective

Lochee climbing wallLochee is often described as a ‘village’ where ‘abody kens abody, or they certainly ken your granny. It’s a place that folk are proud to have come from but not so proud to belong to.

Lochee has a vibrant colourful past, transformed from a huddle o’ hooses into a hive of industry where most folk were employed directly or indirectly in the jute industry. Now there is no work, shut shops, the school’s had its jotters, folk live in melts. Is that why its new tag is ‘an area of multiple deprivation?’ The Lochee community has low self esteem... read more

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The rise of the Fruit Barra

St Marks Stirling

We’re a priority area church just like any other and yet we have our own unique qualities, resources and problems. We’ve been searching for some time for the treasure hidden out there where we live, in the people of Cornton and Raploch.

FruitIn recent months as part of the `Chance to Thrive’ project we’ve been re-discovering ourselves. Although that sounds like we’ve been lying down on a couch or cuddling a tree – we haven’t. We’ve been using the Discovery Toolkit with the help of our mentors and reflecting on why it is that God has put us here in this space and place... read more

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Faith and worship aren’t only for a Sunday

Chalmers Larkhall community day

In my first week of being a minister I chaired our churches Chance To Thrive steering group. This is a supportive group of church members, local volunteer organisations, parish head teachers and locals who are willing to offer their time, advice and skills to work in partnership with the church’s vision to bring hope in our community.

Bouncy CastleAt this meeting it was agreed to set a date for a community celebration day with the aim of recognising and celebrating the good happening in our parish... read more

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Red Cross store blues

*Foodlines and foodbanks have been a fact of life in the United States of America since at least the Great Depression. According to the Trussell Trust they are also needed here as a practical Christian response to changes in the Welfare system.

They have seen a huge increase in people coming for food help as the number of food banks grows towards their target of at least one food bank in every major town.

At Glasgow Presbytery Margo Uprichard presented some findings from a recent conversation enabled by Child Action on Poverty... read more

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Small acts of kindness

martin_johnstoneThe Church is called to a life of service of God and of the world. I’ve believed this from my earliest days of faith and I still believe it today. But I have to confess, I am sometimes pretty uncomfortable with a one-way theology of servant hood.

I am uncomfortable because, unless we are very careful, we end up with something that is patronising and condescending. We end up, for example, talking about ‘serving the poor’ as if we have all the answers and they need all the help that they can get... read more

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