You might be familiar with the phrase ‘cluster’ mostly in relation to mathematics, astronomy, linguistics, or chemistry, but churches? We want to share with you some information about clusters in relation to churches, in particular to our congregation and church family.

What is a Cluster in relation to churches? It is a local gathering of churches sharing in ministry, mission, vision and resources in order to mutually encourage and strengthen each other and primarily to build God’s Kingdom. It is like logs on the fire, feeding and fuelling each other to burn brighter and give out more light, heat and energy. Move a log away, and it will begin to lose its flame, heat and finally its spark and grow cold.

You will be aware that a couple of years ago the General Assembly put forward a Radical Plan to re-imagine and restructure the Kirk to make it effective in building God’s Kingdom in our present age and the future with diminishing resources.

The restructuring affects not only the central offices at 121 George Street, or the Presbyteries, but also the individual congregations. This means a restructuring and reforming of our Presbytery, by joining some neighbouring Presbyteries, and also developing a new Presbytery Plan for the ministry of our congregations.

Often such plans were drawn up by a committee with little or no input from local congregations until a draft version was presented for discussion, causing much distress and upset locally.

This time the Strategic Planning Committee proposed a different approach involving representatives of the local congregations. They proposed Cluster Groups for geographically close congregations around the city to begin exploring together how they could make the mission and ministry of the church more affective. What things they share, like circumstances, resources, vision, etc. This part of the process is a bit like a jigsaw puzzle, trying to find the matching or closely matching pieces to create the big picture. After a bit of jigging it seems to our Kirk Session we found our match, or we are part of the big picture we are happy to develop. Our cluster consists of four Church of Scotland congregations: Murrayfield Parish Church; Palmerston Place Church, Stockbridge Church, and St Stephen’s Comely Bank. Already our cluster congregations shared services during Holy Week, which were a real blessing!

We are at the very beginning of exploring the opportunities to share in ministry, mission, fellowship, vision and resources, while keeping our particular identities and cultures as individual congregations. We are asking God what His vision is for this area where our congregations live, work and witness. We are assessing our own resources, gifts and mission, considering the things we can contribute to God’s vision and plan! We are also exploring how we can continue ministering together with our brothers and sisters from other denominations with whom we have already been sharing in the past.

It is an exciting time. It is a radical time. But we need to remember that radical change in our church will not come from rearranging the present structure! Change will come by the power of God’s Holy Spirit, if we restructure our focus on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith! After all the builders labour in vain if the Lord does not build the house (Psalm 127:1)!

Please pray for our Kirk Sessions, all four (!), that we will seek God’s guidance, we will listen to Him and each other, and will be obedient to God’s leading.

“‘In that day each of you will invite your neighbour to sit under your vine and fig tree,’ declares the Lord Almighty.” (Zechariah 3:10)

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