Letter to the Congregation

Tuesday, 04 January 2022

Changes affecting the Church of Scotland nationally and locally.

Dear members and friends,

Wishing you God’s blessing for the forthcoming year.  I’ve been taking the opportunity to keep everyone up to date with the ongoing changes affecting the Church of Scotland nationally, and specifically in the Church of Scotland congregations around Irvine, Dreghorn and Springside and this letter will appear on both the Dreghorn and Springside webpages and the Mure Relief Facebook page (where I’m interim Moderator).

The outcome of local conversations regarding the Presbytery Mission Plan is that we are moving towards becoming one Charge, with one Kirk Session and multiple places of mission and worship.  These multiple places will be served by members of our congregations sharing gifts in every-member ministry, a team of Readers and Worship Leaders and two full time ministers.

We will also continue to develop Crossing Together and the Irvine Sport’s Ministry supported by our two part time Mission Pioneers, and we are hopeful that the progress made in local conversations will open the door to a part time pastoral worker too. 

The focus is now turning to buildings, which is a difficult subject as many of our buildings are important to us and our community.  However, there is every good reason to expect some rationalisation of the Irvine, Dreghorn and Springside building requirements and to explore this further, members of each congregations’ Kirk Sessions are meeting together in February to discuss this.

I consider that the story of David being chosen as the future King of Israel in 1st Samuel 16: 1-13 is helpful for us getting perspective on our buildings.  In the story we read that David’s brothers were all paraded in front of the Priest Samuel, and I imagine that they were all good looking lads, whereas David in comparison was nothing to look at.  David was a small shepherd boy, good looking certainly with a ruddy complexion, but he was not mighty compared to his big brothers. 

But God looked at all of David’s brothers and one after the other said – ‘he’s not got the right heart’ and rejected them.  Eventually after a dramatic pause David was brought before Samuel and God saw in him the right heart.  God chose David and said to Samuel ‘The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.’ (1 Samuel 16:7)

From this I want to encourage you to see that it is what is inside of you and our buildings that is most important to God.  When God looks at us, he is not really interested in the way we dress, how old or young we are, or our bricks and mortar for that matter – but he is he is incredibly interested in our faith, servant hearts, our witness, and relationship with him. 

When we consider our buildings, what we must celebrate and hold on to is the heart, that is the authentic expression of faith that our buildings have enabled; the faith that has worshipped God and encouraged disciples to go out into the world in loving witness and serve.  

Presbytery is also looking at the heart, exploring the heart that each congregation has for mission and asking whether we have the properly equipped spaces in the right places for this mission to happen.  We pray on for God’s guidance for our Kirk Session representatives and Presbytery as these important decisions are reached, and for the hearts of our congregations throughout and beyond this process.

Yours in Christ Jesus,

Jamie Milliken.