On 26 March a special service was held in Leith Free Church with the central theme being: “We’ll praise him for all that is past and trust him for all that’s to come.”
Why so special? To answer that, we need to look to the past. The Kirk Session has spent much time discussing the future of the congregation, given that more than half of the members are over seventy and only a small minority live in or near Leith. Also, several families and individuals have had to leave Edinburgh for work or housing reasons. Different options were considered, but finally both the Session and the congregation agreed sadly but unanimously that services should be ended from the end of March.
It was agreed to hold a final Thanksgiving Service, together with former members and friends. This proved to be a very joyful occasion, ably led by Rev David Court, when a congregation of about 150 filled the place with stirring praise to God and eager listening to God’s Word being preached. Rev James Beaton, who was brought up in the congregation evoked memories of Sunday School outings where a double-decker bus with windows open and streamers flying made its way to the chosen location. Rev Colin L Macleod, minister from 2006 -2011 sent greetings, reminiscing about the Free Light Lunch at Leith Free Church when large numbers of homeless, addicted or lonely people would come along, some of them being drawn to personal faith. Rev Murdo Macleod, minister in Nairn, spoke of his years as member and elder in Leith, giving thanks for the warmth of the welcome they received as a family. Excellent preaching, close fellowship and vision for outreach were hallmarks of their years in Leith. Rev Colin F Macleod, the most recent minister, recounted by video from Back some of the improvements to the building which made it the well-maintained and welcoming place that it now is. He also told of a memorable baptism when a teenage girl publicly professed her faith in Christ. And believe it or not, every one of the guest speakers kept to their limit of three minutes!
The guest preacher was Rev Alasdair I Macleod, minister from 1997 – 2003. His focus was on the Good Shepherd, who had led and blessed his flock in Leith for so long and will continue to answer the prayers of previous generations of Leith believers. He emphasised that the Good Shepherd who cares for his flock is the one who challenges his people to remember that “I have other sheep who are not of this fold. I must bring them also.”
But the past and the present lead on to the future. Gospel witness in densely populated Leith will continue, specifically when Rev Derek Lamont will early in 2024 take up responsibility for a new church plant in the area. As Derek closed the service with prayer, there was a profound sense of thankfulness that ending services does not mean that Christ is no longer building his church in Leith. Far from it! Join us in prayer and in glad expectation as we look for his blessing in days to come.