Home  >  Features  >  Looking Back: Ministers or Monkeys

Looking Back

Image: archives-pic_cropped.jpg

Friday August 25 2017

Looking Back: Ministers or Monkeys?

This intriguing headline from August 1947 is an appeal for ministers to serve in the Church of Scotland's work with soldiers serving in postwar Germany.

“WHAT do you want to go to the Huts for? You can teach a monkey to pour tea.”

Thus a certain elder addressed a young minister who had applied to his presbytery for leave of absence to serve with the Church of Scotland Huts and Canteens.

It is strange and in a sense tragic that so many who ought to know better still have this mistaken idea that it is a matter of serving tea and buns and nothing more. They would speedily revise their ideas if they could come with me to some of our centres in Germany.

I think of one in particular where, with the able assistance of a splendid team of ladies, a young minister who came out to us in April is carrying on one of the finest pieces of evangelism in the Church to-day. His activities include a Padre’s House during the week at which he has an attendance of 150 men, a Bible Class at 10 o’clock on Sunday mornings for the young soldiers of 18 and 19, a Morning Service and an Evening Service, and an Epilogue every night on the canteen premises at which the attendance varies from 10 to 30.

Other activities at the same centre are an informal gathering in “The Manse” every Sunday evening after the canteen is shut, picnics in the neighbouring countryside and excursions on the river, running a football team, ping-pong team and darts team. Perhaps with patience and perseverance the elder quoted at the beginning could indeed train a monkey to pour tea, but it would be “some monkey” who could carry on these various other activities.

The work must go on. The Army authorities have said so. The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has said so. For the present adequate funds are available and also a sufficient number of experienced laymen and ladies to meet the staffing needs in that respect.

What then doth hinder? One thing. We need a steady supply of ministers and probationers to maintain our work at its present level. I am convinced that the men can be found if only their Kirk Sessions and Congregations will be willing to let them go for six months. We have at present serving with us in Germany eight divinity students and four ordained ministers. By October they will all be home again. Who will take their place?


Previous: Ecumenical Event at Butlin's

Looking Back menu