It has been a privilege to serve St Columba's as Interim Moderator during the past year. The term Interim Moderator when applied to a congregation in the Guardianship of a Presbytery is a clear misnomer. Whilst I have the powers, and largely the duties of an Interim Moderator in a vacancy situation, there is nothing interim about this post. In exactly the same way there is nothing temporary about the position of our Pastor Graham Morrison, on whose skills and dedication I have greatly relied for another year to make my job much less demanding than it would otherwise have been, even though his misleading title, “Locum” would imply something short term or stopgap. It has been nothing of the kind, and I record my gratitude to him here.
During the year it has proved difficult to find ministers to conduct Communion services, particularly in Gaelic, and this situation is not likely to improve in the foreseeable future. I am particularly concerned about this lack of provision, as the Sacraments are central to our faith, and I will continue to press for a long-term solution.
I am also particularly indebted to our two Clerks of Session and Board for the continuous demands their positions place upon them, as well as to numerous others who shoulder responsibilities, and in some cases have taken on new ones, that keep the church running from week to week.
In some ways 2017 was a year of waiting. The major fabric report that was expected during the year was delayed for reasons outwith our control, however it is now to hand and progress can be made. The question of determining whether our church building, which saw us through the 20th century, will be able to see us through the 21st, remains formidable and unresolved.
The way forward depends on the availability of funding, however the mission of the Church in a changing world, and how it uses its buildings, its human resources, and its income to drive ministry and mission is a challenge for the whole Church. Nobody knows exactly what the Church of Scotland will look like in another fifty years, except that it will be very different to how it looks today. In that sense our issues in St Columba’s are symptomatic of the challenges facing the Church on a much bigger scale, although the Gaelic context is making them more immediate and pressing.
As we face choices and challenges in the year ahead, we as individuals simply do what we can, relying on God’s guidance and support. However as the only remaining church offering weekly Gaelic worship in the west of Scotland we are in a position of both responsibility and privilege. As our new Moderator of the General Assembly Susan Brown has said, “Which paths do we choose to walk? It’s not counting steps but making your steps count.”
May God bless our shared ministry and witness in St Columba Gaelic Church.
Rev. G. Melvyn Wood
(Not really Interim!) Moderator. June 2018.