A Journey of Reconciliation and Unity – Story from Printed Newsletter January 2014
I ’ve been in Scotland as a minister for just over a year. I came to a small congregation on the West Coast that had been struggling one way and another for a number of years. Membership was quite low, finances were under pressure and the folk that were there faithfully holding things together were battle weary.
Looking at the history of the church, there have been 19 ministers in 116 years, 10 of whom had served for less than 5 years. The church was birthed in a Masonic Hall where it functioned for the first 7 years of its life.
Anecdotal evidence pointed to times of encouragement which seemed to take them to the point of real breakthrough only somehow to be held back. In more recent times people had left the church in considerable numbers for a variety of reasons. There were open suppurating wounds within and without the church.
I had (foolishly!) been preparing for retirement from pastoral charge and had been reducing my hours after 21
years in one church. When I got the phone call from the Scottish church – with which I had some contact over the past 10 years – to see if I could come and help for two or three years on a part time basis (!) I was in a position to say “Yes”.
I had worked with churches before where there had been difficulties around control, breakdown of communications, conflicting worship preferences and unhealthy histories. It didn’t take long to diagnose some of the issues within the church, many of which went back into its very formation. Others were centred around clashes of personality and the lack of capacity to walk in unity. After a few months I began to meet with some of those who were once part of the church. We began to teach on the theme of Healing Wounded History*. We held a special service of repentance and renewal. Many of those who had been estranged came to that service where there were tears and hugs and a lot of tea and cake was consumed.
We are still on a journey. The congregation is growing, including those who have returned. We are looking for bigger premises. The finances are healthy. Relationships are being restored and wounds are slowly healing.
If this rings any bells for anyone, I am very happy to have a conversation and share any insights that might help.
I can be reached through revimm(at)me.com
* See Russ Parker’s book Healing Wounded History,
London DLT 2001