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Home  >  News  >  Thousands Join Heart and Soul Online


Image: heartandsoul2020_cropped.png

Thousands Join Heart and Soul Online


                                                                                                                           Sunday May 17 2020

Thousands of people logged on to join the first online Heart and Soul celebration of the Church of Scotland today.

The gathering generally takes place in the Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh during the General Assembly but was cancelled this year in the wake of the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic which also resulted in the cancellation of the Assembly for the first time in over 300 years.

A special socially-distanced ceremony to install the new Moderator, the Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair, minister at Arbroath: St Andrew’s, took place at the Assembly Hall in Edinburgh yesterday and was watched by thousands of people online.

Extracts from the service kicked off the first part of today’s online event which was hosted by Seonaid Knox, an elder at Gourock: St John’s, the Rev Justin Taylor, minister at Kirkcaldy: Abbotshall and the Rev Ken Froude, minister at Kirkcaldy: St Bryce.

BBC health editor Hugh Pym, an elder at London: St Columba’s led a conversation involving Professor Jason Leitch, National Clinical Director in the Health and Social Care Directorate of the Scottish Government and Viv Dickenson, chief executive of CrossReach, the Social Care Council of the Church of Scotland.

Professor Leitch described how the NHS in Scotland had essentially reinvented itself in a short space of time. 

He said that moving out of the pandemic lockdown phase where much work was suspended would be harder.

“I think coming out is harder than going in and it is going to be really difficult, particularly when the continuing threat of infection is layered on top of that to get that right.”

Ms Dickenson said CrossReach had essentially had to reinvent every part of its service in a “tiny period of time” to ensure the vulnerable were not left without support

She added: “Staff have been absolutely fantastic.”

Both spoke movingly of the impact of faith on their critical roles during the ongoing pandemic.

Professor Leitch said faith was ‘crucial’ for people in these times, adding: “It has helped me as it always does.”

Fischy Music and opera singer Frances McCafferty were among those providing musical contributions throughout the webcast.

There were also fascinating insights into the work of chaplaincy, particularly in hospitals and prisons.  

Later in the event, the newly installed Moderator, the Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair talked about mental health and said he believed the global pandemic Coronavirus Covid-19 had emerged as the Church was at a crossroads in its life and brought change to ‘the front door and knocking loudly’ but also presented an opportunity for the Church.

He said: “There are not many more chances to rediscover our calling and to discover what it means to be Church.”

The online event also included a conversation about climate justice featuring the Very Rev Dr Susan Brown, Green MSP Ross Greer and Tara Shannon a member of Church of Scotland Youth (COSY).

In an individual contribution the Rev Dr Doug Gay, lecturer in practical theology at Trinity College in Glasgow said: “Today in 2020 our Church is being called to renew its vision. We need to move from maintenance to mission in our churches.”

He added: “We need to move from our obsession with profit to compassion for people. Jesus is the new Makar…. our call is to follow Him.”

A webcast of the event is available at 


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