Monday at the General Assembly

The minister writes-
Monday at the General Assembly traditionally begins with Holy Communion.
The main business of the day is the report of the Ministries Council.
They report that the numbers entering parish ministry is at its lowest in a generation. 80% of current ministers are aged over 50, and only 2 younger than 30. Church of Scotland will be short of over 200 parish ministers by the early 2020s. Among other responses to these challenges are new initiatives to encourage members to consider calls to ministry.
More on the 2014, including the daily timetable, here

Daily report on the General Assembly

The minister writes-
Every evening during the Kirk’s General Assembly there are excellent daily summaries of the day’s businnes posted to the Church of Scotland website at This is a great way to hear about what’s happening each day. You can either read or listen to Douglas Aitken’s reports.
Tomorrow, it’s General Assembly service at St Giles’ High Kirk in the morning, and Heart and Soul will showcase the Kirk and it’s activities in the afternoon. I’ll be helping out at the Church and Society stall!

Day 1 at the 2014 General Assembly

The minister writes:
It’s day one of the General Assembly here in Edinburgh.
We’ll start with the usual ceremonial, including the installation of a Moderator, Rev John Chalmers, who was nominated later than usual when the original nominee had to pull out due to ill health.
A controversial subjects this week will include the latest attempt to legislate to allow those Kirk Sessions who wish to appoint a minister who is in a same-sex civil partnership.
Inverness Presbytery has objected already two items in the report of the Church and Society Council, of which I’m a member.
The first is a proposal to change the name of school assemblies to ‘Time for Reflection’.
The second is an objection to some of the theology in a report about violence against women.
There’s also a surprise late addition to the programme- an informal debate, led by guest speakers, on Scottish independence. The Kirk is taking no formal stance om independence, and the debate- on Tuesday- will make no binding decisions.
I’m here with another commissioner from Old High St Stephen’s, our presbytery elder, Christine Mackenzie.
You can keep up with the assembly live, and read daily reports, on the Church of Scotland website.

Lent Study 2014: Parables and Possessions

Lent courseOur minister will lead a Lent Bible Study this year on the vexed issue of money.

We will be meeting on Wednesdays during Lent, at 7.30pm at St Stephen’s, on the following dates: 12 March, 19 March, 26 March, 2 April, 9 April.

These studies are open to anyone from any church or none.

The Bible says a lot about money. We will be looking at some of the parables of Jesus to consider how we can be in a right relationship to money, and how that can help us be in a right relationship to God.

We will be following the ecumenical Lent Course of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, entitled Parables and Possessions: on economics and a right relationship with money.

The course is inspired by the Special Commission on the Purposes of Economic Activity which reported to the Church of Scotland General Assembly in 2012. There is a link to the full report, and other information, on the Poverty and Economics page of the Church of Scotland website.

Topics include:

  • Temptation (wealth, possessions, consumerism)
  • Betrayal (where do our true values lie?)
  • Forgiveness (Church of Scotland version of the Lord’s Prayer talks about forgiving debts, not sins or trespasses)
  • Ridicule (trauma, prophetic voice, being disregarded)
  • Sacrifice (what do others give up for us, what do we give up for others?)
  • Transformation (Christ’s love active in the world, not only for ourselves but for all humankind).

Here’s an extract from the introduction to the course materials:

The Bible says more about money, economics and making a living than any other subject. It is clear, therefore, that God wants us to be in a right relationship with money and this will aid us in our quest to be in a right relationship with God.

In our daily lives we have to make lots of decisions. Many if not most of these have some dimension of money attached to them, whether the decisions we have to make are to do with our family, our community or our nation. It is vital that we make decisions which will impact for the best on those around us (including ourselves). Experience tells us that we have not always been very good at this.

In recent years, we seem to have turned our backs on some traditional ways of managing our finances in favour of others that are not always in the best interests of ourselves, our families, our communities, our nation, and even our planet. Many of us have not hesitated to get into serious debt in order to satisfy our desire for a ‘better’ life. Questions have also been asked about government expenditure decisions.

Living under the kind of financial pressures to which we have subjected ourselves can have very serious effects on our mental health as well as our economic health. A right relationship with money is necessary for healthy personal relationships to prosper.

The season of Lent has sometimes been associated with sacrifice, of giving up a luxury or taking up a new responsibility for a period. In this course you are invited to lay aside any indolence (by which we mean apathy and world-weariness) around the subject of personal economics which is sometimes the result of a sense of helplessness. You are encouraged to be more discerning about those in whom you place your trust.
You are challenged to identify the best interests of your neighbours, especially the weak and marginalised.

The course focuses on a different parable in each session. Each parable is preceded by a Lent reflection.

Each week includes a mixture of materials for reflection, commentary on one of Jesus’ parables, the occasional quote to spark a reaction, some questions and a prayer. There is also a suggestion of something to do as follow-up, a practical action expressing Christian discipleship in the world.

More information from the Minister (01463 250 802; peternimmo[a]

The Rev Peter W Nimmo is a member of the Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council, and is currently involved with writing a report on wealth and taxation which will come to the 2015 General Assembly.

A politician’s dilemma: sermon for the Kirking of the Council 2013

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 8 September 2013: The Kirking of the Council


Texts: John 18.28-19.16a (NRSV)

A politician’s dilemma

In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

You might think that today’s readings are more appropriate for Good Friday than for the Kirking of the Council. But whenever I read or hear the sequence of stories in the Gospels about the last days of Christ’s life, I’m always struck by how public the events are. Today we’ve read of the encounter of Jesus with the most powerful government on earth at the time. Continue reading

Hope in a Fragile World- sermon by Martin Johnstone at the Old High Church, Inverness 11th August 2013

Martin Johnstone is Secretary of the Priority Areas committee of the Church of Scotland, working with the poorest parishes in Scotland. This was his sermon at a summer evening service at the Old High on 11 August 2013

Texts- Micah 6:6 – 8 and Acts 2:43 – 47.

If you were to have a look on the website of the Poverty Truth Commission you would find the story of Isha, a remarkable young Muslim girl who lives in Govanhill, Scotland’s most diverse community and also one of the most fragile. Isha talks about the struggle of growing up in poverty and of how things will change when she is Prime Minister. Continue reading

Rev Martin Johnstone, Priority Areas Secretary of the Kirk, to speak at the Old High Church, Sunday 11 August 2013 7.30pm

Martin-Johnstone Rev Martin Johnstone, Priority Areas Secretary of the Church of Scotland and Chief Executive of Faith in Community Scotland will be our guest speaker at a summer evening service on 11 August 2013 at the Old High Church.

People have said of Martin Johnstone that if he had chosen to work in the private sector he would have become a very rich man. Martin isn’t so sure and reckons that he would more likely have ended up broke. Whatever the truth, he has chosen to use his skills and creativity over the last 20 years to work with faith communities tackling poverty across Scotland. In Bellshill, where he was a Church of Scotland minister for ten years in the 90s, the local congregation developed a community centre catering for over 2,000 visitors a week. Since then, he has coordinated the Church of Scotland’s work in its poorest neighbourhoods across Scotland, a role he combines with being Chief Executive of Faith in Community Scotland – an anti-poverty organisation working with faith communities across the country. Each of these areas of work are now effective businesses which, in turn, have generated many more groups and organisations tackling poverty the length and breadth of Scotland. Martin says of himself: “I don’t know that I am very good at many things. However, the one thing I know I can do is to believe in other people’s dreams and to help them to turn those dreams into reality.”

The Priority Areas Committee of the Church of Scotland is responsible for the support, development and coordination of the Church’s work within its poorest 56 communities. Their mandate includes-

  • Developing new models of church life;
  • Engaging the wider church and society on issues of poverty;
  • Developing new models of community. Faith in Community Scotland is an interfaith anti-poverty organisation giving training, resources, advice and support to faith groups (churches, mosques, gurdwaras, synagogues etc), developing their potential to make a difference in Scotland’s poorest communities.

Old High-1 Old High St Stephen’s Parish Church have been hosting guest speakers at evening services on summer Sunday evenings at the Old High, the oldest church in Inverness, for more than a decade. We host these speakers as a gift to the whole Christian Community of Inverness, fulfilling the Old High’s role as the ‘town church’ of the City of Inverness.

Each event begins with worship at 7.30pm, and includes refreshments and a question and answer session, and ends around 9pm.

Please leave a comment if you would like more information.

Why worship God anyway? A sermon for Trinity Sunday 2013

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 26 May 2013 : Year C, Trinity Sunday

Texts: Psalm 8
John 16:12-15

Why worship God anyway?

In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

‘Know your place!’ is a terrible thing to say to someone. Because it’s always that the person who’s saying it assumes that their place is somewhere higher and better than the person they are speaking to. Even if it isn’t said, still we wince when people imply that we ought to know our place.  Continue reading

General Assembly 2013- how to keep up

The Church of Scotland website has lots of ways to keep up with the General Assembly.

Once more there are excellent twice-daily summaries you can listen to or read by Douglas Aitken. There are a terrific digest of the assembly proceedings.

When the Assembly is sitting you can follow live on the webcast. The debate on same-sex relationships and the ministry is on Monday morning.

Assembly reports and papers are also available.