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Work Needs To Focus Outside Churches Says Moderator

Rt Rev Colin Sinclair and Lindsey Fraser

                                                                                                                          Monday October 14 2019

THE MODERATOR of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has said the work of congregations needs to be firmly focussed outside its buildings and extended outside the Church.

Delivering the annual Marion Fraser Lecture earlier this month at his own church in Edinburgh: Palmerston Place earlier this month, the Rt Rev Colin Sinclair said the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Parish earlier this year had attracted an outpouring of emotion and dominated global headlines for days, clearly demonstrating that ‘buildings are tied to faith through emotion as well as functionality’.

He explained: “We need to respect this, not least when buildings have sadly outlived their usefulness and need to be closed. We need to understand this when changes are being proposed to buildings, so that the reason for their being is enhanced, not sacrificed. Those who use such buildings must clearly demonstrate that they are in sympathy with its purpose. Churches are a place to glorify God in worship, to gather the faithful in fellowship, to give identity to the surrounding community and to be a light to bear witness to Christ’s love in service and mission”

He added: “When news of the fire at Notre Dame went global, it was clear that some who were writing about it had no understanding of what it stood for or what it meant. For them it was just a building, a piece of art, a popular tourist centre in Paris but that was all. Is that what our churches are seen as today if they are seen at all and not airbrushed out of people’s consciousness?”

The Moderator said in the past the church had been considered the hub of the local community with influence beyond its walls.

“It was ...  the religious hub, the political hub, the economic hub and even the social hub of the community. The Church was known by the impact Christians were making as a community, in their respective communities. The question we might ask is ‘If your church burnt down this week, would anyone notice?’ Would the poor notice? Would the schools notice? Would the hospital notice? Would politicians notice? Would your neighbours notice? Have we lost our influence or have we lost our focus?”

He added: “Our influence as the Church and as Christians must continue to be focused and extended outside of the Church. Jesus says we are the light of the world. He does not say we are the light of the Church. We need to shine in this world and within our communities, which must go beyond just a building. If we continue to focus on being the light of the Church, our Church may essentially just be looked at as simply a historical building in our community. If , however, we are focused on being the light of the world - we can forever change the community, and many lives beyond our walls.”

The Marion Fraser lecture is organised by Scotland’s Churches Trust and named in honour of Lady Marion Fraser, a former Lord High Commission to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. Scotland’s Churches Trust was formed in 2012 following a merger of Scotland’s Churches Architectural Heritage Trust and Scotland’s Churches Scheme and supports working churches of all or no denominations and has over 1200 places of worship on its books.

The Moderator, the Rt Rev Colin Sinclair, is pictured with Lindsey Fraser, daughter of the late Lady Marion Fraser.


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