Below is a short summary of some of the main developments that took place in the Free Church of Scotland during 2015.
Pioneering missionary work in Cambodia and Nepal
The Mission Board is partnering new church planting work in Cambodia and Nepal. Cambodia has a population of 15 million souls, and since the 15th century its national religion has been Buddhism. Muriel Macleod has gone out with OMF to help start a Gospel work in one of the 12,000 villages that do not have a church of any kind. Christians have only been allowed to worship openly in this country since 1993. Suraj Kasula (pictured below), a Christian convert from Hinduism, is soon to go back to Nepal to spearhead church planting in his homeland. He has studied at Edinburgh Theological Seminary for the past five years.
New church plants in Scotland
Two years ago the Free Church returned to Stirling after an absence of well over half-a-century from the city. A core group have been meeting in the city and regular services are now taking place. They hope to soon appoint Rev Iain MacAskill as minister which will help provide leadership for the future direction of the plant. In Edinburgh, Rev Neil MacMillan was recently inducted as full-time minister of Cornerstone. The long-term aim is to become a self-sustaining church plant, which is training, resourcing and sending out new church planters elsewhere. The Mission Board has made part-funding available to both to help with ministry costs.
Sharing the Gospel with the young
Over 300 young people attended the summer camps programme this year. The camps are an evangelistic work providing a wide variety of activities in a holiday week alongside worship and Bible study. Linked to this is the annual Big Free Rally, where hundreds of youngsters renew friendships after camp. The Rally has a guest speaker giving a relevant and topical Christian message, as well as the usual fun, games and worship.
Record numbers of students
Edinburgh Theological Seminary has seen a record number of new full-time students for the second year running. The Seminary has had to renovate part of its building, creating additional modern classrooms to accommodate the higher student numbers. Such is the interest in ETS, BBC Alba broadcast a four-part documentary on Free Church ministry students.
Equipping younger Christians to defend their faith
We give thanks that the annual youth conference, attended by well over 100 people aged 18-30, is fully booked for the third consecutive year. Some of the delegates go onto train at the Mission Board’s leadership bootcamp. Bootcamp equips young men and women with the Biblical teaching and skills to lead well within their local church, and chosen vocation.
Welcoming a new Mission Director and Principal
In the past year Rev David Meredith left the Smithton congregation in Inverness to take up the role of Mission Director. Mr Meredith has a key role in encouraging, directing and stimulating evangelism in Scotland and beyond. Edinburgh Theological Seminary also welcomed Rev Iver Martin as full-time Principal. Mr Martin (pictured above) had been minister to Stornoway Free Church. He is passionate about offering high quality theological education to the next generation of ministers.
In with the new!
Over the past year the Free Church has welcomed a number of new congregations and ministers. The new groups are: Covenant Church Newmilns, Grace Church Leith, Grace Church Montrose, Hope Church Blackwood and Kirkmuirhill, Kilmacolm and West Church Inverness. The new ministers are: Revs Aonghas Ian MacDonald, Malcolm Macleod, John Mann, Andrew McMillan, Jim Patterson, Athole Rennie and Robert Walker. We also give thanks for new ministries that started in Arran, Cornerstone, Cumbernauld, Duirinish, Helmsdale, High Free Church Stornoway, Kiltarlity, North Harris and Poolewe and Aultbea, and new church workers at Burghead, Lennoxtown, Mull and Paisley. We also pray for Rev Dr Iain D Campbell who is the new editor of the monthly magazine, The Record, and Moderator Designate of the 2016 General Assembly Rev Dr John Nicholls.
Defending the faith in the public arena
Please continue to pray for those interacting with the media and politicians on moral issues, especially Rev David Robertson, Moderator of the General Assembly. Over the past year Mr Robertson (above) has presented a clear Christian worldview resulting in extensive TV, radio, newspaper and web coverage. Issues have included abortion, assisted suicide and sex education. May he continue to defend the faith, and expose atheist thinking, with boldness and winsomeness for Christ.
You can download a PDF copy of the Year-in-Brief by clicking here.