From the Moderator

Dear friends,

Having enjoyed a quieter than usual Christmas and New Year season, my first official duty of 2017 was to be the guest preacher at Edinburgh’s Morningside Parish Church, the church of the man nominated to be my successor, the Rev Dr
Derek Browning. The highlight of the service was the opportunity to present 21 long service certificates to members of the Morningside Kirk Session and choir, including one to Gordon Hendry who was ordained as an elder 66 years ago.

I wonder if Gordon is the longest serving Church of Scotland elder?

Along with other Scottish Church leaders, I met with the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and in light of the difficulties experienced by the Presbytery of Glasgow in obtaining visas for two Pakistani Christians, the topics of conversation included Home Office immigration restrictions and their impact on relationships with partner churches overseas, social care for an ageing population, and community cohesion.

The second of our Presbytery visits began mid-January when we spent ten days visiting congregations, schools and farms in the Presbytery of Dunkeld and Meigle. As you can imagine, agriculture and fruit farming are the backbone of the local economy and, with the implications of Brexit still to be clarified, many people are very anxious about what the future holds for their business and their family.

On the last Sunday of January, Margaret and I had the pleasure of returning to the ‘tail o’ the bank’ and what had been my former church in Greenock, St Luke’s, now Westburn Parish Church. It was lovely to meet up with some old friends and catch up on their news.

Later that afternoon we drove to Glasgow to visit the Lodging House Mission, one of Glasgow’s long established homeless projects. As well as meeting staff and clients, and learning about the remarkable work being done, I had
the pleasure of preaching at their Sunday evening service.

With its great vision of a school as well as a parish in every community, a commitment to education was a central
component of the Scottish Reformation. With that in mind, I was pleased to accept invitations to visit Glasgow, St
Andrew’s and Aberdeen Universities during February where, as well as meeting with staff and students, I was the
guest preacher at various university services.

As well as these preaching commitments, on Sunday 5th February I was the guest preacher at Carstairs and Carnwath Parish Church where a contemporary from student days at New College, Maudeen MacDougall, is the

Two weekends later, Sunday 19th February, I had the pleasure of being the guest preacher at Kinlochleven and Nether Lochaber where we met up with one of Cramond’s former probationers, Malcolm Kinnear. As well as bringing the congregations the greetings of the General Assembly, I was able to convey the love and good wishes of everyone at Cramond Kirk to Malcolm.

And by the time you are reading this article, Margaret and I will be in Kenya as guests of the Presbyterian Church
of East Africa (PCEA). The PCEA is a long-standing partner of the Church of Scotland and three years ago I visited
Nairobi to attend their General Assembly. The Assembly was held in St Andrew’s Church in Nairobi, a church with strong Scottish connections where the late David Steel, one of the former Moderators, was once minister. Although I have visited various African countries over the years, it will be Margaret’s first visit to the African continent and she is looking forward to it very much indeed.

So as you can see, life as Mr and Mrs Moderator continues to be full of variety and full of interest as we continue to represent the Church of Scotland at home and abroad. The programme might be full but it is also very enjoyable.

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers – and be assured you are in ours.

With best wishes


November 2016
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Webpage icon From the Sunday Club
Webpage icon From the Kirkyard
Webpage icon A Warm Welcome to Simon
Webpage icon Tomatoes for Christian Aid
Webpage icon Scottish National Sea Scout Regatta 2016
Webpage icon Randomly Chosen Religious Reads - No 8