APC General Assembly Statement on Same Sex Marriage

The General Assembly of the Associated Churches of Scotland and Canada, convened this 26th day of May 2015 at Inverness, Scotland, hereby utterly deplores the place being given in the nation to the legalisation of marriage between same-sex couples.

Not only have the Scots and Westminster civil governments passed legislation in its favour but now, and with possibly even more serious consequences for the nation, the National Church has on Saturday, the 16th May 2015, and in terms of Barrier Act procedures, opened the door for congregations to call ministers in homosexual marriages to hold pastoral charge in congregations of the Church.

The Seventh Commandment –“Thou shalt not commit adultery” – is an integral part of the Moral Law as written by the finger of God on tables of stone and given to Moses in the wilderness.  Rightly it has been observed that this law is a transcript of the nature of God Himself, declaring His eternal and unchanging purity.

A main argument has been the claim of equality. It is true that we have all sinned and we are equal in that regard. The Gospel of Jesus Christ shows, however, a way whereby  man may be forgiven; but only if we both believe and repent. Therefore, we wish for all people to accept Jesus Christ. He is a gracious saviour.

A response of faith and repentance, such that we find in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, is what we need for ourselves individually and corporately in church and government:

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”

Presbytery Report – March 2015

The last Presbytery met on Tuesday the 24th of March in Inverness. Among the business taking place was the General Treasurer’s financial report. Laurence has been keen to get us to review our giving. He highlighted a likely deficit in the coming year which, with slightly better contributions and efficiency with gift aid claims, could be avoided. Please think about this situation prayerfully.

There were a few items relating to the Stornoway congregation. The first of these was the resignation of Rev John van Eyk as Interim Moderator. John has served the congregation and Kirk Session for some time now and we are grateful to him for that. His resignation was accepted by the Presbytery and Rev Ross Macaskill was nominated and accepted the position of Interim Moderator. There was also the need for another assessor elder and Rev George Macaskill has agreed to take up this position in the interim. Please pray for the Kirk Session at this time and that these changes would be blessed in the ministry at Keith Street.

Besides these matters of the Stornoway Kirk Session there was also the acceptance of Stornoway’s Mr John Davidson as a student minister by the Presbytery. John got on well in an interview where he answered questions from the floor of Presbytery. He now comes under the care of the Training Committee who will prepare John for his trials for licence. Please pray for John and his family (Dawn, Daniel, 5 and Darlene, 4) at this time; as he completes his studies and as he goes forward.

With May soon upon us the Presbytery also spoke about the General Assembly. We discussed its role and any changes that should be made to it. The past years Assemblies have been poorly attended and there will be some changes made to the proceedings this year. Come along and find out what!

The reports from congregations came from Dundee and Skye/Harris. Rev Don Macaskill gave an encouraging report of his work in Dundee. It is of course not without struggles but there is much to be thankful for. Don has exercised a faithful ministry there but has intimated his intension to retire in the near future. The Kirk Session are exploring the possibility of having an assistant as a colleague and successor.

Rev Gordon Murray gave the report on Skye and Harris. We were also pleased to have Mr Alasdair Paterson at the Presbytery who gave an encouraging update. The services have been cut to one in Dunvegan and one in Portree. With the two groups now coming together this has brought mutual encouragement and a more united sense of fellowship. Supply has also been forthcoming and the congregation were helped to furnish the manse to cater for visiting preachers. Gordon looks forward to joining the folk in Harris at the time of their communion. He will also be holding a congregational meeting to think about the best way forward for the congregation.

Please pray for our congregations in these difficult times and particularly those who are without a pastor.

Scottish Presbytery Highlights – January 2015

At January’s Presbytery we welcomed some visitors from a couple of our congregations. David James from Oban and Stewart Wilson from the Stornoway congregation were welcomed to the Presbytery meeting along with the Stornoway locum minister Rev Michael Butterfield. We are increasingly aware of our limited resources and man power in these days and so it was good to have them with us and to receive their contributions to the various discussions.

The General Treasurer’s financial report highlighted the possibility of a deficit in the coming year and encouraged us all to think about our giving to the Lord’s work. This is necessary if we are to meet our obligations and if we are to provide effective ministry to our congregations.

Rev Wayne Pearce has left our Skye and Harris congregation as minister, along with Donald MacCuish who has resigned from the roll of assessor elder after serving the congregation over a long period. We are indebted to these men for their service in the Lord’s work and wish them well. This is a difficult time for any congregation to be without a minister and we must do everything that we can in such situations. At the last Presbytery the Rev Gordon Murray was appointed to work as Interim Moderator for the congregation and he is now joined by Rev Ross McFarlane. Together they team up with Alasdair Patterson on the Kirk Session. Please remember these men and the congregation of Skye and Harris at this time in prayer.

Other congregations are also greatly affected by a lack of man power and resources. We received a report of the work in Assynt from the Free Church Interim Moderator, Rev John Forbes. We have enjoyed a relationship with the Free Church in our Assynt congregations for long years now but even in this joint situation things are a struggle. It is increasingly hard to get pulpit supply to far flung areas and there is only one service now on the Lord’s Day at 3pm in Lochinver. Please pray for the Interim Moderators, Rev John Forbes and Rev John van Eyk, the folk there, and that the gospel would flourish there.

With Wayne’s departure there was also a vacancy on the Training Committee. The Rev Ross Macaskill agreed to become a member of this group along with Mr John Lister, Inverness. There was some discussion over the APC Conference which comes under the remit of this committee. The last conference was for various reasons very poorly attended. It looks like there will be no conference this year. The committee will look at the best way forward for the future. Various suggestions were made, such as: combining it with the General Assembly; having it at the end of the APC Youth Camp; whether to have a 3-day or just a 1-day conference; appealing to a broad group or keeping it more APC focussed. Perhaps you have some ideas that you would like to share about future conferences? If you do email the committee clerk: jcaferguson@hotmail.com.

Stephen Sutherland reviews ‘Singing the Songs of Jesus’ by Michael Lefebvre

Are you looking for a book on the Psalms?
Here is a good and helpful review of Michael Lefebvre’s Singing the Songs of Jesus from Stephen Sutherland at reformingthefamily.com
“If I had to choose only one book to assist me in mining the Psalter’s riches and in passing it on, this is it.  And it would be my first recommendation to both the mature and young in the faith, Bible student or lay reader, parent or teen, regardless of denominational affiliation.”