Friday, 21 May 2010

World Mission Council

The convenor of the Council Mr. Colin Renwick started his address by highlighting the plight of Christians living in Muslim countries. He stressed his firm desire for better understanding and friendship and solidarity between the two faiths. The General Assembly then saw a short clip detailing the growth of Christianity in Nepal. Until 1950 Christianity was prohibited in Nepal, however now the country is home to 500,000 Christians. Their first and biggest challenge is to find ways of living the Christian Gospel within a local cultural idiom and language, expressing their Christianity in a way that is acceptable to non-Christians in their midst. The second challenge is that of access to Christian education. Most Christian communities in Nepal have no ministers and the need for training is acute.

The convenor, then reported on the closure of St Colms College, also known as International House due to financial difficulties. Mr Renwick stated his personal sadness at having reached such a decision but reassured the General Assembly that the ethos of St Colms is now carried out by new organisations working in cooperation with World Mission Council such as the ICC for the training if missionaries, or the work of diverse retreat houses throughout Scotland such as The Bield in Perthshire.

The convenor then presented an update on the work carried out by the Scots Hotel in Israel and stated his delight at the increased standing that the hotel has recently received by reviewers. The management of the hotel is currently under review in order that it might maintain its high standing, but continue to serve in hospitality to ecumenical pilgrims. New members of staff were presented to the General Assembly in particular, Ms. Jenny Williamson.

The convenor then reported the Council withdrew from the Scottish Churches China Group and is now an active member of CTBI’s China Forum” He then reported on the plan of St Andrew’s Nassau and Lucaya Kirk, in Freeport to form the Presbyterian Church of the Bahamas. The churches propose to affiliate in an interim form with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of the USA. Mr. Renwick stated the council’s best wishes towards this development of a Presbyterian Church in The Bahamas and confirmed that contacts with a view to future cooperation will be maintained.
The convenor ended his address by encouraging the commissioners to reflect on the fact that Christians in Scotland need the input from the Christians around the world. “Twinning mechanisms with other Christian parishes around the world brings liberation to the poor as well as the rich” he concluded.

Discussion concentrated on the plight of Christians who experience discrimination because of their faith overseas. Suggestions towards undertaking official lobbying with diverse international organisations, like the EU was suggested. The convenor mentioned that this is contemplated possibly in cooperation with Church and Society council.

Members of different churches overseas and distinguished guests raised the work of the Council notably, representatives from Ghana, Nassau, Palestine/Israel, Malawi and the Czech Republic and Zimbabwe. In many cases informal updates reports from these countries were submitted.

The discussion then focussed on the importance of being aware of our carbon footprint, particularly when flying overseas. Flying for the work of the Lord should be considered carefully, weighing it against flaying purely for pleasure. The plight of countries suffering the consequences of climate change where the Church of Scotland has partnership agreements was highlighted.

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