Cluster of Murrayfield – Palmerston Place – St Stephen’s Comely Bank – Stockbridge
You will recall that Presbytery instructed that congregations should collaborate in clusters amidst a realisation across the Church of Scotland of a lack of ministers for the available posts and a lack of funds generally. We are encouraged by the fellowship and common purpose shared in this Cluster and are looking to the future (both challenges and celebrations) in how we can support and bless each other.
The shared Holy Week services worked well and was a good start for working together as a cluster.
The Presbytery Strategy Team noted that there have not been any innovative and radical suggestions coming from Cluster Groups across Presbytery; certainly, no congregation has volunteered to disband in order to save money! In this Cluster, each church serves a distinct community and the congregations should be maintained, even the number of ministers reduces following retirement etc. Congregations should be aware that one or more buildings may be closed by Presbytery, acknowledging that merging congregations has not statistically resulted in 1+1=2; more like =1.6. Edinburgh and Glasgow Presbyteries have many of the most successful (spiritual growth, missional activity, numbers and finances) congregations and – as the Church of England found 30 years ago – you do not grow the Kingdom by cutting churches that are active in promoting the Gospel whilst saving those that are not!
The Property Toolkit is being used by each Congregation, as required by Presbytery and the National Office, to assess Churches, Halls and Manses whether they should be marked for retention or disposal. (SSCB is in a good position and this is being enhanced by the Vision 2020 Refurbishment work, so we continue to pray for funds for the Phase 2 Works.)
The Dean Fund is being assessed as a potential source of funds for the mission work that all the churches in the Cluster seek to carry out and grow, and we are liaising with Blackhall St Columba which also ‘inherited’ some of the former Dean Parish.
Getting to know each other better will be progressed in both Kirk Sessions and congregations, looking at pen portraits for newsletters, visits to other churches, small team meetings and social gatherings when permitted.
Name and Logo for the Cluster will be looked at. Any suggestions would be welcome.
Four main areas for initial collaboration were identified, namely Pastoral; Outreach; Youth Work; and Technology.
Prayer is vital and we will gather a couple of prayer points each month from each congregation to produce a monthly prayer list.
A Pulpit Exchange is being considered for one worship service, to continue the introductions process – the Ministers would each move round one place and preach in another church in the Cluster.