Changes and Clusters
St Columba Church has been worshiping in Blawarthill since the closure of the St Vincent Street Church. The Kirk Session of Blawarthill has been unfailingly helpful and supportive, and that support includes the services of our organist week by week, our fabric convener who sees to practical things like heating and locking up, and of course yours truly, the Minister of Blawarthill who just happens to be St Columba's Interim Moderator.
Like all congregations, St Columba is now required to engage in finding its place in the new Presbytery Plan, an ambitious and far-reaching project that takes into account reductions in the size of most of our congregations, as well as the declining number of those employed in the various forms of the Church's Ministry.
To its great credit, Glasgow Presbytery wants the planning process to be determined as far as possible at grass-roots level. For that reason churches were asked to group themselves together in Clusters of two or more. The Kirk Session opted to join Glasgow NW Cluster, comprising Broomhill Hyndland, Jordanhill, St. John's-Renfield, Blawarthill and St Columba Gaelic Churches. Each church has appointed Cluster committees, who have already met together several times, to do the necessary work in the very short timescale allocated to us.
St Columba and Blawarthill, being two independent churches, are entitled to two Cluster committees. St Columba has sent different people to the various meetings as they were available, however because the congregation is small, and because the two churches are already working closely together in various ways, our Cluster group is, effectively, a joint one, comprising Duncan Mitchell, John Thomson, Lesleyanne Deans, Liz Glen, Nancy Smith, and the Minister / Int Moderator. I am confident that the Blawarthill elders will seek the best outcome for St Columba's just as they will for Blawarthill.
We are currently working on a mission plan based on the strengths of both congregations, to feed into a joint Mission Plan for the Cluster. This will be an important element in determining the Ministry allocation to the Cluster. We have already done a Cluster financial audit. We expect to complete the Mission phase by June 2022, by which time we should have buildings ratings from the General Trustees, based on the recent AMBA audits, for our churches and halls. The old church was not audited, as its fate had already been decided. However the Blawarthill building was. Whilst we are reasonably confident the building will get a positive rating, we need certainty on its future before making any further decision that would affect the future of either congregation. After discussion with our Cluster partners, we have agreed to “press the pause button” on the request from St. Columba Kirk Session to link with Blawarthill, so as to maintain maximum flexibility for the Cluster negotiations and for all our decision-making. The Cluster will in turn take into full account the wishes of both the St Columba and the Blawarthill elders as the wider plans are formalised.
We should be under no illusion - the Church of Scotland is undergoing a period of seismic change. Many churches will lose their own minister, or their building, or both. The most positive thing to be grasped in this time of great uncertainty is that we have an opportunity to regroup and to plan for mission to our communities in new and imaginative ways. We need to have the imagination and the flexibility and the faith to step up to the mark.
Please remember that we meet every Sunday for worship. Your presence is encouraged, and valued. It is vital that we keep the cause alive, for our ministry to the Highland and Gaelic speaking community is unique in the Glasgow area, and if we fail, the whole ministry fails. While the Presbytery has high hopes of a Presbytery-wide Gaelic Initiative centered on fresh expressions of doing Church, it is still the people in congregations who, under God, are effectively the key to progress and success.