• Pre-Accredited Ministers
    Last month all 34 of our pre-accredited ministers gathered in a snowy Pitlochry. Every January we hold a three-day conference as part of our commitment to give a high level of support to these men and women in the first years of ministry. A number of things struck me about these 34: their enthusiasm, their commitment, their considerable gifts, skills and abilities, their growth year-on-year and their deep desire to be faithful servants of Jesus. I also noticed their age. One third of the group are in their twenties and one third are in their thirties. It’s good news that a high percentage of our newest pastors bring the can-do attitude, the energy and the high expectations of younger adults into the leadership of our churches.  Moreover, at a time when we are recognising as a family of churches God’s call to invest in young adults, it’s significant that we have so many pre-accredited leaders who are part of the generation that is on our hearts. We often remember Paul’s words to Timothy: ‘Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.’ Our pre-accredited ministers are setting us a great example. This is a time for celebrating what they bring to our churches and keeping our eyes (and hearts) open for the other young adults God is raising up to lead and serve in these days. Rev Martin Hodson Ministry Development Coordinator Baptist Union of Scotland
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  • Behold, I make all things new! (Revelation 21.5)
    A New Year brings new opportunity! Disintegration and dissolution is the experience of many a nation throughout its history. It often punctuates periods of political and economic crisis or decline. It is what many feel we are witnessing within our own country, in this present period of transition. Transitioning into what? We are unsure and uncertain. Which is why this, for us, is a period of great opportunity. We can bring the blessing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of Scotland, in a renewed and profound way. Because of Jesus Christ, there is an opportunity to minister wholeness, healing and certainty. How do we do this? First, we can each seek to maintain a vibrant and deep relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus is alive and the Holy Spirit is a powerful presence. When each of us carries this in our hearts, and manifests it in our lives - a vital connection to God - it will make a difference. We are portals to the Kingdom of God, in all its beauty and redeeming power. Secondly, we can convey grace in conversation. God does not change. The Bible does not change. God’s truth does not change. As disciples of Jesus, we know we have been freed from sin into liberty: liberty to pursue the pleasure and purpose of our heavenly Father. Yes, people are confused. Clarity comes when we testify to God’s love, expressed through the Cross. Each of us can speak of the love and purpose of God towards everyone. Thirdly, we can model community. Church has to be far more than a Sunday drive-through. Healthy community. Righteous relationships, expressing forgiveness and reconciliation. Compassion and care shown in the way we relate together, and towards others. We need to keep working at this, to make it true of our local church. Christian witness, in times of confusion, brings hope to people. Let us go on into 2018 with a commitment to bearing hope; and to sharing the good news of God’s love and care, ministered through our participation in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Rev Dr Jim Purves Mission and Ministry Advisor Baptist Union of Scotland
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  • The sound of silence
    reflection on Luke 1: 5-20 Silence can be both deafening and disturbing for those who are waiting to hear, for people longing to know. Silence as the doctor reads through the notes and test results. Silence and hopelessness as we wait longingly to hear about someone we love, who hasn’t spoken to us for weeks, months or years. Silence that follows a blazing argument, as we reflect on what we have just said and the consequences of our actions. The silence of God as we seek guidance for the future. There are times when silence can be incredibly uncomfortable or deeply frustrating; and yet it can be unmistakably powerful. It is truly amazing how silence adds volume to the voice. Of course, this leads to a further challenge: how to break the silence. How will I speak? What are the correct words to say? How do I prepare the listener to hear what needs to be said? We have developed phrases to help us break the silence: “There’s something I need to tell you”, “Are you sitting down?”, “I don’t know how to tell you this!” We break the silence with something that prepares the listener to hear our significant message. Years of silence ticked by for Zechariah and Elizabeth, hoping for a blessing, the lifting of their shame and their longing for a future. Their experience reflecting the long term years of silence for a nation, hoping for a blessing, the lifting of their shame and their longing for a future. God’s silence is broken on both the issue of childlessness and the future of Israel with the words, “Do not be afraid…for your prayer has been heard” Luke1:13. These deeply personal words are also words to Zechariah, as the representative of the people of God on that day. Luke records for us the breaking of God’s silence after 400 years, with a transitional story deeply linked to moments in Israel’s past but also pointing to God’s future global plan of salvation. The outstanding question is, ‘will the listeners have ears to hear an ready to respond to his voice?’ In this season of anticipation, may you have patience in your waiting, persistence in your praying, time and space for listening with faith, to respond to the silence and to God’s voice. Rev Alan Donaldson General Director Baptist Union of Scotland
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