18th June, Weekly Update

18th June, Weekly Update

  1. Sunday

We worship in the building at 9 am and 10.30 am.  I’ve just checked and there are spaces available at both services. If you’d like to be part of a service get your ticket at

Beginning this Sunday (20 June) the live-streamed service on YouTube will be the 10.30 service. It will be in the usual place but it won’t be available until 10.30 am each week.  The link is

2. Mission Plan – Nationally

I mentioned a few weeks ago that the General Assembly agreed some drastic measures which will change the shape of the church in every part of Scotland. The scale of the changes is, quite naturally, what most people are focusing on. Change is going to happen and loss is an inevitable part of change. Congregations are going to have to let go of their buildings and join with others. A period of pain has begun. It is important to recognise that and acknowledge how difficult this process is going to be.

In the midst of this it’s easy to lose sight of the quite remarkable thing the General Assembly did. It explicitly put mission at the heart of the change we are about to undergo.  Mission is no longer simply desired, encouraged or even expected. It is required and even demanded. The question we are to ask is how can we use the buildings and ministry resources that we have to take forward God’s mission?

I’m excited at the prospect. During July in our Sunday Services we will dig into this and discover more of what it means to share in God’s mission.

3. Mission Plan – Locally

Lothian Presbytery has begun talking with Kirk Sessions about what this means in each area. For example, yesterday I held a meeting with the Ministers and Session Clerks in the Haddington Cluster.

The proposal for the North Berwick cluster from the Presbytery reads as follows:

North Berwick & Dirleton, Aberlady & Gullane:

Local discussions need held to determine whether there should be a union in North Berwick or whether Abbey should enter into Guardianship of Presbytery with a Lay Pastor or Ordained local Minister.  It is envisaged that Gullane and Aberlady would also enter into the Guardianship of presbytery with a Lay Pastor or Ordained local Minister, and the development of a parish grouping in the area needs explored.

If a union in North Berwick is agreed an alternative option would be to appoint a part-time minister (0.5FTE) in the grouping to work alongside a full time parish minister.

Ministry                                                                                                                                                                                       A full time parish minister in North Berwick and either two OLM/Lay Pastors in paid roles or a part-time ministry position (0.5 FTE.)

Buildings                                                                                                                                                                                    St Andrew Blackadder buildings to be retained.  Abbey retained if decision is made to continue with two churches in North Berwick.  Aberlady hall and stables, Gullane Church & hall to be retained.  Dirleton church but not hall to be retained.  Manse of Abbey to be sold or both Gullane and Abbey manses sold if not required.

Timing of changes                                                                                                                                                                  The ministers at St Andrews Blackadder and Abbey are both on unrestricted tenure so changes cannot be made without their agreement or until they leave.  It is hoped that discussions about this might be started and moves made towards this while they remain in post. Gullane and Aberlady are vacant.

You will have picked up from this that it is proposed that

– there is only going to be one full time minister in North Berwick in the future

– St Andrew Blackadder church building will be retained

– the process of change is likely to begin when there is a vacancy in either Abbey or StAB.

Church as we have known it in North Berwick since 1989 is going to change.  There will be loss for all of us.  I recognise and acknowledge, however, that the sense of impending loss is much greater for our friends in Abbey. They face the prospect of losing the church building where they have gathered for decades to worship God, the building where so many of the key events in their lives have taken place, the place where they have found comfort, guidance and meaning in times of crisis, the place where have encountered Jesus and the Holy Spirit has brought the Bible to life for them.

We stand with our brothers and sisters in Christ in their time of sadness and ask God to comfort and guide them.  We ask that they may know the presence of ’the Father of all compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfortably those in any kind of trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God’ (2 Corinthians 1:3,4)

Under these proposals St Andrew Blackadder Church building will remain. That doesn’t mean that life for our congregation will go on as before.  There will be profound changes for all of us.  We too will find it difficult as things that we love and have always known change. We need to ask God for the courage and grace we will need so that we can navigate these changes wisely and well.

Since change is difficult and painful it is easy to lose sight of what matters. Our instinct will be to try and preserve as much of what we have always known for as long as possible.  We must resist this and remember why we are here. Our calling and the reason the church exists is to participate in God’s mission to the world. That’s why as we begin the process of reshaping the church in this area the question at the front of our minds needs to be,  how can we use the buildings we have and the minister(s) we are allocated to take forward God’s mission in our community.

3. Christian Aid

The Christian Aid Photo Competition has a deadline of midnight on Sunday 20 June. There are two categories: Adults and Under 16s. (Please have a go at this – your photos ARE good enough to win!) The theme is “Life after Lockdown”, and you can enter five digital photos for a fee of £5 (Adults) or £1 (Under 16s). For full details and T’s&C’s, please visit:

The Christian Aid Quiz for June has the theme of Detectives. To download the quiz, please visit:, hover on “Groups & Activities”, click on “Christian Aid Quizzes”, and find “June” at the foot of the left-hand column. If you can afford it, please donate £1 to Christian Aid via their website. Please email your completed quiz to and you could win a £5 prize.

Donations to Christian Aid can be made via our JustGiving page:

If you would like to give by cheque or cash, please write a cheque to “Christian Aid” or put notes in an envelope, and send it to the Church Office. If you would rather give by bank transfer, please contact Barbara Clark. Please note that Barbara will be sending all our fundraising and donation money to Christian Aid at the beginning of July.

Rev Dr Neil Dougall

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