The Power of Story

We all like a good yarn, don't we? Perhaps it’s the summer blockbuster story of a bunch of toys going on yet another adventure – Buzz, are your batteries not dead yet? Stories can be powerful. The stories we believe about ourselves, skewed or otherwise. Other people's stories. God’s story. This year I have been reading my way through the Old Testament, albeit very slowly! I have been struck by the power of story. The forming of a nation, God's chosen people, and their adventures over the centuries - in and out of captivity; in times of war and peace; their hearts turned towards God and just as quickly turned away again. It's the story of God's faithfulness to his people again and again, ultimately pointing us all towards Jesus. I know that all of our churches across Scotland also have many stories to tell. Stories about new opportunities, ministries and of faithfully reaching out into the local community. Stories about people turning their lives around and coming to know Jesus. Perhaps stories about the faithfulness of God when times are tough and things are not going so well. Over the year, it has been great to hear the stories of our churches coming together at the Regional Gatherings during our 150th anniversary year, and the way the Prayer Baton has brought our churches together as it travels around the country. It's been great to share some of these stories in Connect. While we get to hear many stories from our churches through social media and visits from National Team members, we certainly don't get hear all the stories. So I am looking for your help! We want to hear more stories from our churches so that we can share them. We are not churches in isolation, but a family of churches and like all families we will have plenty of stories to share! So what's your church’s news and what stories can you share? We won't be able to include all of the stories in E-Connect, but knowing the stories is a start! If your church has a story to share with us please email me using: news@scottishbaptist.org.uk We'd love to hear from you!   Jenny Wilson Connect Editor

Celebrations in the Central Belt!

Churches from the Central Belt of Scotland gathered on 23 June to celebrate ‘150 Years of Union’ at the Albert Halls in Stirling. Several hundred worshippers gathered together to express our thankfulness to God for the effectiveness of baptistic witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Scotland, particularly since establishing the Baptist Union of Scotland 150 years ago. Our MC for the night was Rev. Brian Gooding from Callander. Worship was facilitated by the Falkirk Baptist worship group.  Alloa’s Rev. Jimmy King introduced Rev. Dr. Brian Talbot of Broughty Ferry, who shared insight into the historic record of evangelism and discipleship by Baptist churches, both before and after union.  Rev. David Fraser from Alva interviewed Julie Love, regarding how her life was transformed recently, since responding to Christ’s call to faith.  Julie shared about witness: at work, in the public square, through personal relationships, discipleship in a fellowship locally, and the in steps she has personally taken to bear witness to the work of Christ internationally, in Ethiopia.  Rev. Dr. Jim Purves, our Mission and Ministry Advisor to the Union offered perspectives on the work of the Holy Spirit expressed through our Declarations of Principle. Rev. Dr. Alasdair Black presided over the evening’s collection; and on behalf of SBC, provided a copy of the Booklet “Made New: What Baptists Believe”, by Professor David Bebbington of the University of Stirling.  The evening was closed in prayer by Rev Alistair Cuthbert from Falkirk. We were united in our faith and declaration that God is good!

Scottish Baptist Lay Preachers’ welcome the Scottish Baptist Baton!

Lay preachers’ from Dumfries to Aberdeen, and from Hawick to Campbeltown, gathered on Saturday 1st June for their annual conference at Newton Mearns Baptist Church. Early on in the day, time was given over to welcoming the BUS Baton. Douglas Inglis, former President of the Scottish Baptist Lay Preachers’ Association, led us, as we were invited to do, in praying for our nation. Our desire as lay preachers’ is that we might bear well the torch of the good news. Rev. Dr. Stuart Blythe, Associate Professor of Preaching & Worship at Acadia Divinity College, and no stranger to Scottish Baptists, was our guest speaker. Stuart unpacked the hugely relevant theme of ‘Preaching with Passion’ and is pictured with the baton, as is Andrea Mill (President) and Glen Cartwright (Secretary). Against the backdrop of a politically fractured, socially fragmented and religiously pluralistic Scotland, preaching with passion really matters and the Scottish Baptist Lay Preachers’ Association is committed to preaching biblically, boldly and prophetically to help change the culture in our nation!

Giveaday Ayrshire – facilitated by Southside Christian Fellowship, Ayr

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Giveaday Ayrshire is an amazing opportunity to serve our community to deliver projects that are to benefit community whether individually or collectively. Volunteers have come from all directions and walks of life, with faith or without.  The concept began in Carlisle in 2014 following the damaging effects of the Cumbrian floods.  The ethos was to encourage individuals, communities and businesses to take what they could do with their hands and give it away, for a day, for the benefit of somebody else.  The tremendous response of Carlisle residents and businesses was heart-warming and moving in what they achieved.  In 2017 Giveaday was rolled out to Ayrshire.  Facilitated by Southside Christian Fellowship we have partnered with various individuals and charities to deliver a wide range of projects. We have transformed gardens, helped get a social enterprise restaurant off the ground, redecorated a lounge for a victim of domestic abuse to name a few.  Volunteers keep coming and giving.  Giveaday Christmas saw the church cell groups engage with projects involving gifts to the emergency services, running a Christmas party for a local nursing home and hosting Help-Portrait. The latter is a global movement where professional photographers provide a portrait for families who may be going through a tough time.  South Ayrshire Carers Centre provided grateful families to receive this gift.  We have actively sought to incorporate businesses many of which have social responsibility aims and through them materials have been gifted.  Volunteers will all have different personal reasons and motivation for getting involved in projects.  As we seek to encourage fierce generosity we believe we are calling out the character of Imago Dei (“image of God”) in everyone.  Building relationships between volunteers, connecting with the community whilst trying to promote the business community’s social responsibility speaks of justice, faith-in-action, grace and ultimately of the love God has shown to us in Jesus.  We hope and pray that through Giveaday Ayrshire people come to meet Jesus and discover the fierce generosity that He has shown to each of us. By Peter O’Brien, Giveaday Ayrshire[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image="9741" img_size="full" alignment="center"][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Ninian Moments!

1,622 years after St Ninian built Scotland's first church at Whithorn in 397AD, churches in Wigtownshire are holding short daily acts of Christian worship in what is known as Scotland's Cradle of Christianity. "Ninian Moments" are 10-minute gatherings comprising only a Bible reading and a prayer chosen and led by a volunteer from the local churches, including Wigtown Baptist Church, as well as occasional returning holidaymakers. The Wigtown Step Out teams also always led the Moments during their missions! We realised six years ago that people who visit the area today could enjoy scenery, see ruins, visit museums and have lovely refreshments, but, unless they came on a Sunday, there was no opportunity to participate in worship with others at Whithorn, the very essence of what makes Whithorn unique, and the reason why pilgrims (including every Scottish Monarch) have come here through 16 centuries. And so the Ninian Moment in Whithorn was born! Most days there are a few people present, although prayers and readings are still said even if it's only the reader who is there. The Moments begin on Easter Monday and take place every weekday until September 30. After the first season of summer Moments ended, we decided to have an all-year-round Ninian Moment in Wigtown, 11 miles away, every Monday. This signifies that although it all began in Whithorn, the gospel message didn't just stay there but spread throughout the country! The Wigtown Moments usually have 15-20 people present, and there is now also a "Cuthbert Moment" in Kirkcudbright ("Kirk Cuthbert") and occasionally people say they will start Moments in their home town! I think these Moments could be one simple way of ensuring a continuing opportunity to worship (in a village hall?) in communities where the church has closed down. Ninian Moments don't need a minister, and we have seen many nervous people grow in confidence as they bravely stand up and read and pray, and be amazed that their reading was "exactly what someone needed to hear today!" Also, if a preacher is unavailable, three people doing a "Ninian Moment" each (plus a few hymns) gives a lovely service on a Sunday! So, we pray that something which started at Whithorn may once again bless and transform the nation! (Search for "Ninian Moment" on Facebook for more information!)  Rev Stephen McGarva Wigtown Baptist Church