Scottish Presbytery Report 2016

Scottish Presbytery Report 2016
The year began under the chairmanship of the new Moderator, Rev Donald Macaskill.  There has been much to challenge us but also encourage us as we go forward as a Presbytery.  As the years go by we are grateful to the Lord for all who have given of their time and talents to the work of the APC.  Some over long years of service.  At the beginning of the year that was highlighted to us when two of our ministers intimated their intention to retire by the end of May 2016; the Rev Donald Macaskill and Rev Archie McPhail.  We have been blessed as a denomination with decades of gospel ministry from these men alone and the congregations for whom they served so faithfully will   no doubt be sad to see them go.  We wish them the Lord’s blessing as they move forward to new spheres of influence and ministry.  At that time we were also made aware of the Rev Gordon Murray’s departure and we are thankful for the contribution that he made whilst he was in our midst.
Change is inevitable in the Church and the APC is certainly no exception.  We are a small denomination with congregations spread out over a vast geographical area and serving some of the remotest parts of Scotland.  Such complexities are compounded when man power and resources are stretched and it is felt acutely by our ministers.  Presbytery meetings in such times as these are not just a gathering together to do the business of the church but are an encouragement to us as we meet with one another.  It was also good for us to come together last autumn when the Presbytery organized a retreat for its members in Aviemore. This proved to be a useful time of gathering to think, pray, discuss and enjoy fellowship with each other.
Change can present difficulties but it can also come with the Lord’s blessing.  The gospel continues to be preached in our pulpits.  We rejoice that we have a new minister in Dundee.  The Rev John Davidson and his family are well established now and we trust that he will build on the previous ministry.  We also are pleased to have Mr Carl Peet working in Lairg, Kinlochbervie and Rogart as resident supply.  The folk there have been encouraged and appreciate his ministry amongst them.  In addition we have had preachers serving our vacant pulpits from different places and denominations some who have come and led our services while enjoying a holiday time in the manse.  And we are blessed to have so many who come to us to do pulpit supply and we are thankful to the Lord for so many who are committed to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The annual APC Youth Camp is always such a highlight for the young people in our congregations and also for some who come from other churches.  There is a lot of organisation in running the camp and there are so many involved and we are grateful for the dedicated team.  These times have been blessed to many young lives and we hope and pray that the 2016 camp will be no different.
The committees of the Presbytery continue to serve the Lord’s people in our congregations and to work for the interests of the Church along with all our office bearers and treasurers.  We are indebted to our conveners and to the members of the committees who give of their time in such a way.  Particular mention needs to be made of Mr Laurence MacKenzie who does so much for us in the Business Committee and as General Treasurer.  We are thankful for his input and for the time that he invests at both a local and Presbytery level.  Laurence has forecast a deficit for this coming year and has encouraged us to think about our giving to the Church as we go forward with faith in Christ who is Lord of all.
There has also been the work of the ‘Church Relations Committee’.  They have over the years encouraged talks with other denominations and through the Committee’s initiative of the Scottish Reformed Churches Forum.  As a consequence of the Forum we have had discussion with the Free Church more recently about the possibility of union and these are ongoing.  There is a biblical mandate for such discussions whatever comes from them.  We must continue to work for the advancement of the gospel and to take the role that the Lord has given us in Scotland seriously.  There are still large areas of Scotland without gospel ministry.
The APC News and Website Committee is responsible for the publications of the denomination and for the APC News which has been going since 1989.  There have been various editors over the years who have all brought their own gifts and focus to the magazine.  Our most recent editor is Catherine MacKenzie who has taken on the role since the beginning of the 2016.  The publication has a new title and it is now called ‘The Door’. We are thankful that Catherine has agreed to do this work and hope that she will know the Lord’s blessing as she does it.
There are changes and challenges as we go forward but we do so looking to the Lord who has been most faithful ~ The Lord of us hath mindful been and he will bless us still (Psalm 115:12).
 Rev J. R. Ross Macaskill – Presbytery Clerk – May 2016