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Island Presbyteries Agree Partnership

Thursday December 15

John Cunningham (Clerk to Lewis Presbytery), the Rev Dr David Donaldson (Moderator of Uist Presbytery), the Rev Dr Ben Johnstone (Moderator of Lewis Presbytery), Wilson McKinlay (Clerk to Uist Presytery) at the signing of the Tarbert Declaration.

Two Hebridean Church of Scotland presbyteries have committed to closer working and spiritual fellowship.

Under the ‘Tarbert Declaration’, signed on December 10, the Presbyteries of Lewis and Uist will meet together once a year with a focus on fellowship and spiritual nourishment.

They have also agreed to pool resources and expertise, benefitting the day-to-day business of both presbyteries such as the statutory appraisal of local congregations, Safeguarding provision and Data Protection implementation.

The Declaration, which formalises talks over a closer relationship which had been going on for some time, was signed by the Moderators of both Presbyteries during a special Service in Tarbert Church of Scotland, Harris.

A statement from the two presbyteries said: “The concept of Presbytery was first introduced into the Church of Scotland in 1579 when it was a forum for the spiritual development of its members, through reflection on God’s Word and fellowship, long before it assumed powers of administration and governance. Nowadays, Presbytery is a governing body of Ministers and Elders, responsible for a number of congregations over a particular region. There are 45 Presbyteries in the Church of Scotland including the Presbytery of England and the Presbytery of Europe.

“Recognising the tendency for modern Presbyteries to become purely administrative agencies, the ‘Tarbert Declaration’ seeks to recover the idea of fellowship and spiritual nourishment while providing a mechanism for the Presbyteries of Lewis and Uist to share resources in the discharge of key functions.

“This innovative approach, pioneered in the Western Isles, could serve as a blueprint for the wider Church as the General Assembly encourages Presbyteries across Scotland to cooperate to a greater extent than they have in the past.”


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