Church of Scotland

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One Year On

Friday, 12 March 2021

Dear members and friends of Dreghorn and Springside Church

12th March 2021

Dear members and friends of Dreghorn and Springside Church,

ONE YEAR ON

What a year it’s been!  This time last year I was inducted as your minister.  We had a great service; the church was packed and so was the hall for the social.  We were talking back then about the Corona virus, there was even a joke made about it during the induction, but no one would have guessed that one year on, we would still be in the throes of it.

I had one Sunday preaching live, a day when the intimations seemed longer than the sermon, plans for lockdown were being made, phone numbers gathered in, and contact forms being sent to all our congregation.

It all seems so long ago now, and it’s been a tough year but looking back I’m really pleased to have been called and be able to ministry alongside you through the challenges the last year has brought.  I would have been so frustrated to have stayed in the Navy and missed this opportunity.  We’ve stuck it out through some difficult times, God’s been good, we’ve faithful persevered and shown resilience, and despite being apart we remain today a living, active church. 

These have been difficult days though; we have lost loved ones and friends on the way and have been unable to mourn their passing and support the grieving, in the ways we would want to.  We have been separated and throughout this period we have remained a dispersed community.  But we have also been kept together by prayer, telephone, doorstep visits, email, social media and Zoom.  But most importantly we are kept together by God, who is as much with you right now as he is with me - it is true that in God we are never separate, from one another and from the saints in glory.  We remain united in the community of Father, Son, Holy Spirit and Church.

And while the COVID picture is changing for the better at the moment, its looking like it’s going to be a while yet before we can return to our sanctuary for worship.  Dreghorn and Springside Church building is a great wee place to preach because everyone is so close, but that’s our downfall, the shape of the church and the ongoing closure of the balcony, means that with current physical distancing restrictions, we can still only fit fourteen plus me and Martin our organist.  And with those numbers we would be turning too many people away.

In the meantime, we will keep producing our weekly service and Young Church by video.  The Kirk Session are also meeting in the next week to discuss some of the implications of what will happen when we can meet again.  In particular we are going to consider options to support those of you who, for a variety of reasons, will not be so readily able or inclined to come back out to worship and meet when restrictions further ease. 

The last year was longer than usual because 2020 was a leap year, but in some ways, we have jumped an entire century, going for some of our 19th century practices and straight into the 21st Century.  Who would have believed that we would be drinking coffee and making decisions, reading our Bibles, and praying and having our Christmas Eve service all live on the internet?!  

Who would have believed that videos of our services and Young Church would be accessible in millions of homes across the world?  We have taking considerable steps in this last year, we have almost completed updating our constitution, we are just waiting for the final stamp of approval from Edinburgh, we are making our church more accessible for all by creating wheelchair spaces, the church buildings and paths has had a real facelift thanks to our dedicated property team, and we have engaged the community in ways that we haven’t done before.  Think Remembrance Sunday poppies and painted stones, Stars of Hope prayers on the church gates, hampers to needy families in the community struggling with the multiple effects of COVID, all this on top of our usual Mary’s Meals and Show Box appeal.  Thank you for your generosity.

And after lots and lots of talking we are now ready to go with Messy Church.  We’ve gathered together some great resources and currently have eight people going through their food hygiene training. 

On top of all this we are even planning a new church, partnering with our neighbours in the soon to be United congregation of Mure Relief.  The new Church is called ‘Crossing Together’ and will serve the south Irvine area.  It will be intergenerational, which means that we will intentionally bring all generations together to share activities, experiences and worship.  It differs from our more recognisable established way of being church because it is more experiential; experiencing God and community through the senses of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch; intergenerational also emphasises that everyone learns differently, it regards everyone as equal and recognises that we have much to learn from one another.  I tell you, with all this going on, what a year this has been, well done, Dreghorn and Springside Church.

Personally, I’m going to continue my studies.  As you’ll know there have four of us participating in the Forge Pioneer Course, and in June, I’ll begin further part time for a Doctor of Ministry qualification.  Over the next two and a half years this will involve short burst of intense study at both Edinburgh University and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in the United States.  The course is rooted in the local expression of parish ministry and so it will benefit us all.   

Looking ahead for the congregation, the next year is challenging, we are going to continue to face challenges in keeping our worshipping community connected, and also in continuing to reconnect with the communities of our parish, and also, our surrounding parishes through the Crossing Together partnership. 

There are challenges ahead with ministry numbers being cut and reduced national budgets, the next year is likely to bring profound changes nationally to the church, that will of course impact us locally here. 

And that means that this is definitely not the time to circle our wagons and go into defensive mode, far from it, this is a time to rise up and embrace the expeditionary spirit of God that has shaped our last year and step out in faith as a creative, visionary and hope filled community. 

Yes, we will be challenged, but we will grow through this challenge, we will further deepen in faith as we are witnesses to God at work before us. 

Thank you and God bless you. 

 

 

Jamie Milliken

12th March 2021