GA 2011 – Saturday and Sunday

Blog and photos by Alistair Vannet – Youth rep, Angus Presbytery.

What can I say really? This is my first general assembly and I arrived with great anticipation of what was to follow, I have not been let down.*

*The first day of the assembly was never known as strictly business. I completely enjoyed the day. Both the former moderator, John Christie, and current moderator, David Arnott, impressed me greatly. Their style of speaking was very appealing to me and both men had a great sense of humour and down-to-earthiness’ which is perhaps sometimes missing within the church. I did feel that John Christie’s words were very potent as he swore in the new moderator. Reminding us that we all have seeds to sow and everywhere we go we sow, then handing the new moderator a pack of sunflower seeds!

David Arnott at Roll Away the Stone

Business then proceeded as we delved into reports. As a first time youth rep I have to confess I found the reports hard to follow to begin with, but as the day went on I steadily got to grips with it. However, I have not been brave enough to ask a question yet! The highlight of the reports section to me was the Mission and Discipleship council’s report. I felt their attitude to what we should be doing now was fantastic. They talked about how only 10% of Scotland’s population go to church, but on the other hand, many more people than 10% in this country have a spiritual connection or a church connect. The councils view is how we can engage with the 90% who do not come to church and in my opinion, the council’s attitude is fantastic. For to long we have been within the walls of a church, now we have to step outside the walls of the church. As Convener Mark Johnston put it, “We have to save Jesus from the church.”. The report was fantastically presented by Mark Johnston. His analogy of the broken-down fridge in his kitchen and the out of date M&S products relating to how the church should change was fantastic, and made it very easy to understand. It does not matter how good something once was, if it is out of date we have to change. Change affects everyone and we should never be scared of change.

At night we gathered in the story-telling centre for a social event for the Mission and Discipleship council. There was plenty of food and good people about. Personally, I when up to the assembly hall for an hour. I wanted to hear the address by John Christie to the assembly about his year as moderator. I found it very enlightening and especially when he talked about countries all over the world that do not have the basic things that we do, it really made me thing and remember how lucky we really are.

Overall I also remember how lucky I am to be at this assembly, and I hope I can represent the people who have sent me here well.

*Sunday was a more social day for the assembly. The first matter of the day was Morning worship. Personally, I went to the assembly service in St Giles Cathedral. It held a kind of double interest for me being a history student. I was interested going to the place where 400 years ago a stool was thrown at the pulpit in anger and started the beginnings of the signing of the National Covenant which led to civil war. The service however contained no such drama. The music was fantastic, from both the organ and the choir. The moderator again preached to us the significance of the King James Bible and how we as a church and nation should look after those in the margins of society. I have to say I enjoyed the service, parts of the music sent shivers down my spine and touched a chord.

After the service we then relaxed until the roll the stone event began. To break up the time I had what I must class as the best hot chocolate I have ever had out of a shop just around from St Giles!

Roll Away the Stone

Roll away the stone was a new event for this year which acted upon what the Mission and Discipleship council reported on yesterday, trying to bring the church to the 90% who do not go to church or engage with the church. Princess street gardens was the venue and there were a huge number of stalls from the Boy’s brigade to The Guild. St Cuthbert’s Parish church was also used to great effect with various meeting rooms used for different events and the main sanctuary being used for a fantastic organ recital and school choir concert. The day was then concluded with a mass open worship, which must have had over 1500 people (Early gates estimate that 4,500 people came through the gates). This brought the day to a fantastic end and hopefully engaged many more people.

Then came the youth reps preparation for the debates the next day. (Youth reps prepare for the debates from 8-9.30 every evening). Tomorrow is a particularly challenging day as the special commission delivers their report into same-sex relationships in the ministry. The eyes of the press will be firmly on the Kirk in what will be a defining moment.


~ by iainmclarty on May 23, 2011.

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