Linklines 30.10.09

Churches trust report

The Shetland Council of Churches Trust (SCCT) recently held their annual general meeting at which, in the absence of chairwoman Val Turner, her report for the last year was offered. The report provided a very useful insight into the activities of the trust and is summarised below.

The SCCT regrets the departure of Father Paul Bonnici from St Margaret’s Church in Lerwick, whose contributions at meetings tended to enliven debate, but are pleased to welcome new parish priest Father Colin Davies.

Grant applications from churches over the past year have been slow in forthcoming. Nonetheless, by the end of the year income was fully committed to building works and the trust has been pleased to assist some island communities including Papa Stour and Whalsay.

Three grants have been issued for youth travel along with two related to studies. The trust has also assisted the Salvation Army’s Town Pastors Scheme, a worthy and much needed initiative. Disappointment was expressed at the discontinuation of the annual Pentecost event at Clickimin but encouragement was drawn from the formation of the Good News Festival.

Thanks were due to Ryan Taylor who, until recently, compiled this column under guidance of the Linklines committee.

The performance indicators for the SCCT have been under review this past year and are now as follows: appropriate management of trust affairs; maintenance and enhancement of and provision of access to church buildings and to the activities taking place therein for those who have disabilities or other physical impairments; providing the opportunity for people in Shetland to gain a knowledge and understanding of Scripture; bringing congregations of differing denominations together and providing opportunities for all people in Shetland to join with the whole church in its worship; encouraging members of congregations to be trained to carry out their functions, despite the high cost of travel to mainland training, and providing Christian representation on secular organisations.

In an increasingly secular world it is encouraging to know that there are organisations such as the SCCT whose members give up their time to ensure that much-needed funding is administered to congregations throughout Shetland.

Thanks are due to Val and the committee for their valuable contribution to the welfare of the Christian Church in Shetland.

Esme Duncan’s visit

Former National Convener of the Church of Scotland Guild, Esme Duncan, recently spent just over a week in Shetland.

Esme is no stranger to Shetland and regards the isles as a home from home. She recalls in the 1940s watching her two aunts, Harriet and Constance Duncan, departing from Aberdeen to entertain women at guilds here and how distant Shetland seemed to her then.

It was in the 1960s that she came first with a group of youth fellowship members to assist in the conversion of a building in Scalloway, which was to become a youth centre. As a schools staff member with Scripture Union, Esme returned again in the 1980s, visiting schools throughout the isles.

On receiving the invitation from Ann Thomson last November Esme required no further persuasion. Mary Donald, convener of the Shetland Presbytery Council, organised a “Shetland safari”, giving Esme the opportunity to meet folk from nearly every community.

Excitement and apprehension attended her as she ventured north this time and on disembarkation at Lerwick – as it in the 1980s – she was taken to the home of Mavis Robertson.

Working from there as a base Esme attended an impressive itinerary of events. The opening of the harvest sale in Whalsay, visiting the community garden at Weisdale and speaking at the Presbyterial Council rally in Lerwick were slotted in before heading up to Unst for a special guild meeting, which included ladies from south and north Yell.

A previously unscheduled gathering at Brae explored the possibility of restarting a guild there and then it was off to Sandwick to meet with the south-end guilds. Esme also found time for a trip to Skerries to meet yet more guild ladies and even “gatecrashed the Presbytery Conference at Whiteness and felt at home, having already met several of those present”.

Esme no doubt felt very encouraged by her visit and found “the Guild in Shetland alive and well”.

She continued: “It offers fellowship as members gather regularly. It is marked by willing workers within their churches, putting the ideas of office bearers into action. It is outward-looking, raising awareness, upholding in prayer and gathering money to support six new projects chosen to reflect our new strategy: ‘Called to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God’.”

As Esme’s visit drew to a close she realised how much she felt at home, and how much she wanted to return again. She suggests that a summer visit next year may be a possibility, providing pulpit cover for vacationing ministers.

New management at bookshop

Since the building in Market Street was gifted to Movement for Victory Evangelism in the 1950s the Christian Bookshop has served the church and community from Fair Isle to Unst for half a century.

Until the formation of the Tanglewood Trust in 1997, Jean Ward and Margaret Smith faithfully managed the shop until their respective retirements. The shop then came under the auspices of the Tanglewood Trust with member Mary Smith taking over as manager for the next 12 years.

There have been considerable changes over the years as the premises and operational procedures were modernised. With the help of funding from the SCCT the building was given disabled access. A complete refurbishment was carried out three years ago with one of the Tanglewood Trustees responsible for much of the work. The stock and sales system has been brought up to date through computerisation.

Over time two library vans have been purchased from the SIC and with sponsorship from local people have been taken to some of the agricultural shows throughout Shetland. The bookshop also regularly attends various events and meetings with bookstalls and latterly two book signings have taken place – Homecoming by Christobel Johnson and The Shetland Bible by Rev Charles Greig.

Used bibles and books by Christian authors are also collected at the bookshop and boxes not exceeding 20kg are posted to a Book Aid depot in England to be sent on, mainly to African countries.

Mary Smith is now stepping down as manager, to be succeeded by Mairi Graham and Hazel Adamson, who will take over next month. The two have exciting new ideas and will keep the public informed through newsletter, word of mouth and via the website – Christian bookshops across the country have perhaps been struggling financially, but the Tanglewood Trust is thankful to God and everyone in Shetland for their continuing support.

North Isles news

October is proving to be a very busy time with church activities in the North Isles.

This began with harvest thanksgiving services in East Yell and Haroldswick on the first Sunday of the month. The Rev Jeremy Dare gave a very apt message the following evening at the harvest social, again in the East Yell Chapel. The varied programme included some fine singing by members of the “Sing Shetland” group as well as local items. Church of Scotland and St Coleman’s congregations have also held harvest celebrations.

“Thanksgiving” was again the theme when the ever-popular praise evenings were re-launched in the Ulsta Hall. It was good to see so many folk coming together after a break of four months following the closure of the West Yell Church. It is hoped to continue holding the praise evenings every two months.

More praise resounded at Ulsta when the Faith Mission held an Irish night, featuring great gospel hymns plus the story of St Patrick. This was led by Noel McClintock with able assistance from his two helpers, John McCartney and Ben Mason. John and Noel sang two pieces set to well-known Irish tunes and John also brought out the importance of the Good News of Jesus in St Patrick’s life.

To round off the month there was a special meeting for the North Isles in the Haroldswick Methodist Church when the Rev John Howard, chairman of the Wolverhampton District, gave an illustrated talk on Rwanda.

FEBA Radio

“We aim to be a voice of peace in a troubled region” was how Alex Stout described the work of FEBA Radio.

Alex is the development director for FEBA in the Middle East, working with local people to broadcast to an area which has had Christian minority populations for hundreds of years. The programmes provide encouragement, as well as news and general information.

Alex, originally from White-ness, is based with his wife and family in Cyprus. This month he has spoken to churches from the North Isles to Dunrossness, bringing supporters up to date on the challenges of his work.

These include responding to requests from listeners, and sensitivity in some situations, but also the decisions about appropriate technology with which to reach different social groups. In light of the global recession, FEBA is looking for creative ways of reducing costs, which presents yet more challenges to Alex and the workforce as a whole.

In Alex’s home church, Lerwick Baptist Church, the women’s fellowship run an annual coffee evening to raise funds for FEBA. Having Alex present in person this year was a bonus, and people from different places and churches filled the hall, raising a welcome total of over £750.

The Shetland Bible

The Rev Charles Greig’s The Shetland Bible has been proving extremely popular among local readers. The Christian Bookshop have ordered a further 50 copies and many of these have already been spoken for.

A special launch night was held in the Shetland Library earlier this month, there were readings from the new book, interspersed with fiddle music and songs both by individuals and two different groups of children plus two choirs.

After the formal part of the evening was completed, those present shared an array of home-bakes and other treats with many staying on to chat for quite some time. Library and information services manager Silvija Crook described it as a “fantastic evening” and is confident that The Shetland Bible will be very popular.

Lunches at Walls

Over the last couple of winters the folk at the Walls Methodist Chapel have been serving up lunches on Fridays from around 11am to 2pm.

They intend to resume the service from next Friday and all will be made most welcome.

Sierra Leone

The Rev Malcolm McCall and his wife Janet should be much remembered in prayer at this time as they are facing what Malcolm describes as their biggest challenge yet.

On 1st November they will be flying from Heathrow to Freetown, Sierra Leone, to be part of a seven-strong mission team.

Other members of the team are the Rev David and Sylvia Griffiths, the Rev Ken Todd from the Irish Methodist Conference and – no strangers to Shetland – the Rev Gilbert and Silvia Hall, who will be the team leaders.

The team are responding to a request by Cliff College International Learning Centre for further consultation on their vision for Sierra Leone and have all previously worked as missionaries there in the 1960s. It will be an emotional and challenging time for the team as the country has since endured years of civil war and violence, not to mention extreme poverty.

On Tuesday the team will be visiting Kenema to be met by ex-Methodist secondary school Kailahun students. Preaching, teaching and training will follow before heading to Kailahun itself for the weekend.

It is hoped that a training day next Saturday can be organised to encourage more effective evangelism before returning to Kenema for the second week of their visit for the National Methodist Ministers’ Consultation, where around two thirds of all Sierra Leone’s Methodist ministers are expected to attend. Malcolm and Janet will be leading sessions on mission and evangelism.

Travelling within Sierra Leone will no doubt be uncomfortable and perhaps risky, but the couple are eager to encourage Christians there, express to others how much the Lord has done for them and humbly request the prayers of friends and acquaintances in Shetland.

Compiled by Trevor Jamieson


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