THE PRINCIPAL of Glasgow’s International Christian College visited Shetland last month to lead this year’s Bible Week meetings.
Dr Tony Sargent drew on his recent experiences in Africa and, more recently, India to highlight the responsibility Christians have to people in other parts of the world.
Reading from the book of Jonah, Dr Sargent expanded on the Old Testament story of the man who disobeyed God’s command to go to Nineveh, before applying it to modern day thinking.
“I was drawing on the book of Jonah and contextualising it from the point of view of evangelism and demonstrating the responsibility of the church to those around it.
“We looked at Jonah’s reluctance to go to Nineveh, and its similarity with large cities in places like India where there are slums and great social problems.”
A minister for over 30 years, Dr Sargent was the senior minister of Worthing Tabernacle on the south coast of England.
Although this was his first trip to the isles, Dr Sargent has had links with Shetlanders in the past.
As part of his teaching role at the Christian college, he previously lectured Lerwick Baptist minister Iain Morrison when he was doing his training.
Hospital visits, funeral undertakings and leading services are some of the tasks undertaken recently by college student Antony Skelding.
The scholar has been visiting the isles as part of his studies at the Mattersey Hall Christian College in Doncaster.
He has undertaken a placement with the Methodist Church in Shetland, as part of his BA (Hons) degree in Biblical Studies and Theology.
Working alongside ministers Jeremy Dare and Nigel Barton, Antony has gained a wealth of experience of the tasks undertaken by church leaders in rural places such as Shetland.
He said he welcomed the chance to do the work he had been involved in.
“I have found it a privilege to have been given this opportunity to serve with and alongside some truly servant-hearted ministers.
“I have been warmly welcomed and helped along the way and benefited from – as much as given to – those who I have visited and tried to serve.
“This experience has been both insightful and confirmed in me what I have long suspected – that I feel called to pastoral church leadership ministry.”
A two-week visit to Singapore proved worth its while for Methodist Minister Jeremy Dare.
The Shetland district chairman was invited to represent the British Methodist Church at the Asia Pacific Methodist conference.
He had been asked to preach on two different occasions during his stay there.
His first sermon was delivered at the Aldersgate Methodist Church, which takes its name from the place Methodist founder John Wesley had a moving experience with God at in 1738.
His message was translated, but a second day of preaching at the Paya Lebar Chinese Methodist Church was delivered in plain English.
He also had to find time to speak at the conference itself.
But he was able to visit schools and colleges and various welfare projects.
With Christianity clearly growing in the area, church services in Singapore are also increasing greatly in number.
Mr Dare said each of the churches he spoke at had six services on Sunday, to accommodate the 300 plus people who turned up for them.
He also visited a Methodist school, which today has no fewer than 700 pupils, despite only opening its doors for the first time three years ago.
Methodist nursing homes are also springing up, and Mr Dare was able to visit one which provides much needed care to a great number of people.
Perhaps most poignant was a theology training college, set up by survivors from a Japanese prisoner of war camp.
“Its whole ethos is harmony and togetherness,” he said. “It was so interesting for me to meet people with a totally different take on how to run a church.”
She has played an integral part in the Baptist church in Lerwick, but now Sharon Pickering is off to pastures new.
Quarry manager Sharon, a much-loved character in the church for the last six years, has taken the opportunity of a new job in Oxford. Within the church she has played a number of key roles – leading the youth fellowship group, exercising her singing voice in the praise group and playing her part in Lightkeepers, a Christian-based group for primary children.
To mark her leaving, the church held a celebration in Quarff Hall last Friday night, which was attended by over 80 people.
She will be sadly missed by the church, which wishes her well for the future.
Good News Festival
When organisers of August’s Good News Festival in Tingwall first set about putting together their plans, they had no idea how successful the venture would be.
But so big was the turnout, and so positive was the feedback, that a follow-up event has been scheduled for next year.
Hundreds of visitors from far and wide turned up at the Tingwall Hall, where musical entertainment was on offer, along with food and drink, and information on a host of local Christian organisations.
Bourbon Dolphin remembered
A Norwegian minister who came to the isles after the Bourbon Dolphin tragedy in 2007 made a return visit last week.
Eight people died in April last year when the tug, owned by Bourbon Offshore, capsised as it was pulling an anchor chain from the drilling rig Transocean Rather, 88 miles west of Eshaness.
Norwegian minister Justin Handal visited the isles in the aftermath of the tragedy to help friends and relatives of those who were lost deal with their bereavement.
He made a follow-up visit this year to mark the first anniversary of the fatal incident.
He has now returned again. On Sunday he spoke to the congregation of Lerwick Methodist Church on his work as a pastor in Norway. He was also on hand to speak about his experiences working with the bereaved.
Compiled by Ryan Taylor