Constitutional Review- new Action Teams being formed

Following Future Focus, one of the big issues we decided to address was a streamlining of our decision-making structures.

We’ve abolished our Congregational Board (introducing a Unitary Constitution).

We are now introducing a small Leadership Team, which will report to the Kirk Session.

We’re also inviting congregation members to join the Action Teams- please get in touch if you would like to help.

Here is the full report which went to the Session.

A shorter version of this document will be in the September church magazine.

Comments are, as always, very welcome!

Faith, renewal and service: a sermon for the Fourth Sunday of Easter

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 21 April 2013: Year C, The Fourth Sunday of Easter

SERMON
Texts: John 10:22-30
Acts 9:36-43

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

On this joyous Sunday, we’re celebrating eight people who have chosen to associate themselves with the work of the church, and to follow Jesus wherever that might lead them. Ian, Martin, Alana, Alexandra, Ashleigh, Louise, Kirsty and John have been meeting together with a number of other enquirers and members of the congregation in our Christian Basics course over the last few months. This year I tried to freshen up my new member’s course, adding new material and activities to it. But what really made a difference was the participation of existing members of the congregation. Continue reading

Future Focus 3: Our Community- a report on the day.

The third Future Focus session took place on 23 February.

The Minister gave a presentation on ‘Our Parish in Numbers’ which you can view here.

This was based on Scottish Governments which you can look at here.

In groups, people thought about what they themselves did in the community. We also identified issues in the community and thought about how the congregation could best respond to these issues. You have view a summary of what we did here, together with photos of the ‘post’ notes people produced.

The sermon the next day was about how we interact with our community.

The next Future Focus event is the ‘Vision Day’. This will be on Saturday 9 March at Trinity Church, Huntly Street, from 10am to 3pm. Bring a packed lunch and we’ll provide the drinks!

Note: all Future Focus documents are available here.

Sing hey! for the Pharisees!: a sermon for the Second Sunday in Lent, 24 February 2013

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 24 February 2013: Year C, Second Sunday in Lent

SERMON for St Stephen’s
Texts: Philippians 3:17-4:4
Luke 13:31-35

Sing hey! for the Pharisees!
In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Come with me, come wander, come welcome the world
where strangers might smile or where stones may be hurled;
come leave what you cling to, lay down what you clutch
and find, with hands empty, that hearts can hold much.

 

Sing hey for the carpenter leaving his tools!
Sing hey for the pharisees leaving their rules!
Sing hey for the fishermen leaving their nets!
Sing hey for the people who leave their regrets!

The Pharisees, generally speaking, get a bad name in the New Testament. Again and again, we hear of Jesus in conflict with the Pharisees. Perhaps it was because that in some ways, they were quite alike. Continue reading

Future Focus 3: Our community in numbers

At the Future Focus workshop on ‘Our Community’ on Saturday 23 February, we will be sharing some statistics about the diverse community within our parish.

We’ll look at Scottish Government statistics for 3 areas which roughly fit parts of our parish: the City Centre, the area near St Stephen’s and the area around Lochardil School. By comparison, there is also the statistics for the area around Inshes Church.

You can now read each of these documents online (pdf format). In addition, there is a Powerpoint which highlights some of the differences between parts of our parish, especially between the city centre and the suburbs.

Click here to view all these documents.

The information comes from Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics.

Future Focus: Our Community will be at St Stephen’s on Saturday 23 February, 10am to 12 noon. All welcome!

Please feel free to add any comments below!

Doubts and Temptations: a sermon for the First Sunday in Lent

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 17 December 2013: Year C, The First Sunday in Lent

SERMON
Texts: Romans 10:9-13
Luke 4:1-13

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

There’s horse meat in our food where there’s meant to be beef. A very traditionalist Pope defies tradition and resigns. And a meteor falls from the sky and injures hundreds of people. The news recently has been a bit unbelievable. And they say the Bible is full of strange stories?

Last Sunday, the last before Lent begins, we heard the strange story about Jesus turning shiny and meeting long-dead prophets. Today we are faced with the equally strange story of his temptation by the devil Continue reading

Future Focus Session 2: Our Congregation

We met at Trinity Church on Saturday 26 January for the Future Focus event about ‘Our Congregation’.

Groups of people created responses, which our facilitator Ian Hall has collated into documents which bring the results together. All of these summaries are now available online.

We looked back at our congregation’s history by creating a timeline of recent history of the congregation. Events were placed above or below the line according to whether they were ‘struggles’ or ‘celebrations’. This helped people see our current situation in historical perspective. For example, one person commented that they understood better how the ‘flight to the suburbs’ of the 60s and 70 had created problems for the Old High. Someone else commmented, ‘We can see that we have had some difficult times- but we’ve been very resilient’.

Another exercise asked us to describe our thoughts about our congregation and our community (or communities). Asked to think of a vehicle to describe the congregation, we had responses such as a CalMac ferry (Braving storms, sometimes turning back, sometimes stranded). Our buildings are valued for their history and their sense that they are places of worship. Our community is ‘Of Christian origin but alienated from the church’ and increasingly diverse. The best thing about the church is, ‘the people – friendly & dependable… the sermons… the acceptance of difference… it’s home to me for prayer’. But missing are young people, families and instrumental music.

Finally, we did a congregational health check. This looked at different areas of the congregation’s life: worship, fellowship, discipleship and service. The most positive score was for worship; and we thought we were strong in fellowship (looking after one another) as well. But discipleship- learning and deepening faith- was weaker, and we did not think we were so good at sharing our faith.

This has given us lots of food for thought! The next Future Focus sessions will take things deeper. Session 3 will look at our community in more detail. Many of us are involved in the community, but the community seems not to be engaged with the life of our congregation, and if we are to strengthen our congregation we need to enage more with the community. The our Vision Day will try to produce a vision for the future of the congregation, and specific plans for the future.

The next Future Focus days will be:

Our Community: Saturday 23 February 2013, 10am to 12 noon at St Stephen’s

Vision Day: Saturday 9 March 2013, 10 to 3pm (lunch privided) at Trinity Church, Huntly Street

Make sure you come along to help shape the future of our congregation!

Keep up with Future Focus under the category ‘Future Focus’ on our website:

http://oldhighststephens.com/category/news/future-focus-news/

Documents about Future Focus will be available here.

 

Best of all! A sermon on 1 Corinthians 13 for 3 February 2013

Click here for information about weddings at Old High St Stephen’s

Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 3 February 2013: Year C, The Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany

SERMON
Text: 1 Corinthians 12.31-13.13

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

Today I want to talk about ‘love’, which is a word we use quite a lot in Church. And it’s a word we use quite a lot outside of Church as well. And the confusions comes because it’s a word which has a lot of different meanings. Hearing the words ‘love’ sung in a hymn in Church probably won’t cause any offence. But the word ‘love’ in the words of a pop song is quite often just a euphemism for sexual intercourse. If we talk about love, we need to know what kind of love we are talking about. Continue reading