The Free Church of Scotland today formally welcomed two new congregations at its General Assembly in Edinburgh.
The arrival of Broughty Ferry Presbyterian Church (below) and the West Church Inverness was heartily applauded by commissioners (above, representatives are welcomed by Moderator Rev Dr John Nicholls).
With the Mission Board developing a church planter training programme, coupled with the recent formation of the Esk Valley Church in Midlothian, it continues an encouraging period.
Broughty Ferry Presbyterian Church minister Rev Alberto de Paula said: “We share the same beliefs and the same passion to reach out to the people of Scotland and beyond, with the Good News of Jesus Christ.
“Being part of the Free Church seems to us to be the best way of helping us achieving our aims.”
The Brazilian added: “Since we started Broughty Ferry Presbyterian Church, we've been greatly encouraged by a good number of others from a variety of backgrounds who have joined with us.
“On Sunday mornings it can be a bit of a squeeze getting everyone in!”
Rev Andrew McMillan of West Church Inverness said: “The Free Church has striven hard over the years to exemplify the biblical description of Christ’s church as a “pillar and ground of truth,” being ever militant in its defence and proclamation of the truth of God – indeed standing for truth ever boldly against the black background of error.
“I’m also greatly encouraged that the denomination is ever stronger and ever zealous for missions, counting the world as its field.
“There is a real twofold burden being observed throughout the denomination, firstly, to bring the gospel to the unsaved and secondly, to build up its members in the faith.”
Above: Rev Alberto de Paula and Rev Andrew McMillan
Broughty Ferry Presbyterian Church came in to being in August 2014 – formed mainly by a group of former members of the Church of Scotland and their minister, Rev Alberto de Paula, who had left the denomination over a disagreement about the authority of the Bible.
From its beginning, the new congregation always intended to join with other like-minded congregations, seeking to be accountable, and to give and receive mutual help, support and encouragement. After much discussion and prayerful consideration, the congregation decided to apply to join the Free Church of Scotland.
West Church Inverness met for the first time in Eden Court in March 2015, and since then has been blessed with a faithful and committed regular congregation.
Their minister Rev Andrew McMillan had already joined the Free Church at the March 2015 Commission of Assembly.
Free Church Moderator Rev Dr John Nicholls said: “It’s a great joy to welcome new congregations in the Free Church – congregations that share our commitment to the Bible as God’s Word and to Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.
“We pray for their ministers and members and assure them of our prayers and our eagerness to help and encourage them in their work and witness.”
Above: Rev Billy Graham
In other Mission Board business, the congregation of Gairloch, Kinlochewe and Torridon will be able to call on a five-year renewable basis, with another three-year local arrangement for Sleat and Strath on the Isle of Skye. A union between Portree and Bracadale was also approved.
East Kilbride will continue on local arrangements for a further year, with proposals coming to next year’s General Assembly.
The linkage between Glasgow City and Campbeltown was disjoined, with the latter now hoping to call a minister on a three-year arrangement.
Assistant minister applications for Back, Glasgow City and Smithton were all approved.
Above: Rev Calum Iain Macleod from Back Free Church
In ecumenical relations, greetings were sent to the Presbyterian Church of England and Wales, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Ireland, the Presbyterian Church of Ireland, the Presbyterian Church in America, the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, the Presbyterian Church of Australia, the Presbyterian Church in Singapore, the United Free Church, the International Presbyterian Church (IPC), Associated Presbyterian Churches of Scotland (APC) and the Baptist Union of Scotland.
Mission director Rev David Meredith led a discussion on church revitalisation, which had to be curtailed because of time constraints.
At the end of the afternoon, the Assembly heard from Rev Dr Iain Wright from the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC), Rev Dr Samuel Logan from the World Reformed Fellowship, Rev Dr Arnold Huijgen from the Christian Reformed Church Netherlands, Stephen Johnstone from the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in England and Wales and Rev Donald Macaskill (below) from the APC.
Rev Peter Kania and Rev Edwin Kibatti from the Presbyterian Church of East Africa, Rev Alan Ritchie from the United Free Church, and Rev Bob Thomas from the Presbyterian Church of Australia, were all presented to Moderator Rev Dr John Nicholls.
Above: Rev David Meredith and Rev Dr John Nicholls with Rev Peter Kania and Rev Edwin Kibatti
Tonight commissioners will consider the report from the Seminary Board. The evening session begins at 6.30pm.