The Very Rev Dr Russell Barr shares his thoughts on the reopening of Cramond Kirk

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With Cramond Kirk standing on a site which has been a place of Christian worship since the 6th Century AD, and with the oldest part of the present building dating from the 15th century, it was painful beyond words to have it closed during the lockdown.


So when the opportunity presented itself to re-open the sanctuary for private prayer, and then for worship with limited numbers attending, there was considerable enthusiasm to do so among the members of the Kirk Session and congregation.


We created a small team of people with the necessary skills to attend to the paper work, check the buildings, complete the risk analysis, mark out one-way systems, close of pews, remove Bibles and hymn books, arrange for hand sanitizer and face masks to be available, create a booking system for track and trace purposes and write up appropriate protocols for re-opening the church.


These were circulated and agreed by the steering group and then the wider Kirk Session


Details were also circulated to members of the congregation and wider community so they knew appropriate measures were being put in place to re-open safely.


The BBC also heard about the plans we were making and came to interview me on two occasions for Good Morning Scotland and Reporting Scotland


We decided to open for prayer for two hours on a Wednesday evening and also on a Sunday morning and a duty team of elders was recruited to welcome people back to church.


Thankfully everything went well, people felt safe when they came to the church, and the news spread on the local grapevine that Cramond Kirk was open again.


So, when permission was given to open for worship services, we realised that we would need to have two services on a Sunday to accommodate the number of people who wanted to attend.


We have now been open for worship services on three Sundays - with 50 people attending either service - and although with social distancing, face masks and no hymns or choir it does not feel as though we are back to normal, it has been wonderful to be able to meet again for public worship


Meanwhile the online daily devotions, Sunday service and Children's Church which were initiated soon after lockdown was imposed continue to be broadcast on facebook and on the Kirk's website.


Over the months these on-line services have attracted a large and international audience, far more people than would normally attend worship on a Sunday, and I imagine we will continue with some kind of online worship presence for the foreseeable future.


Our understanding of ministry, mission, worship and what it means to be the church has been challenged as never before in recent years and it will be fascinating to see the shape of the church which emerges.


Of this much, I am quite sure, however, whatever the opportunities and challenges which the coming months will bring,  God's presence, promise and purpose will continue to be revealed

Update on the re-opening of churches in Edinburgh

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After months of having to close their doors to worshippers, churches in the Presbytery of Edinburgh are cautiously starting to re-open in the coming weeks, thanks to a huge effort from both individual church representatives and the Presbytery Covid-19 Group assigned to oversee the safe re-opening of church buildings.


It has been a huge responsibility placed on all involved to work through the implications of reopening and the national guidance, now into its fifth iteration, along with the support of the national church Covid-19 Group, help ensure that any church that wishes to re-open has been through a rigorous process to keep the risk of transmission to a minimum.


We are very grateful for all the hard work that has been carried out and are pleased to report that, so far, 12 of the 70 churches have been approved to re-open for worship with a further 15 applications underway. 17 churches in the Presbytery of Edinburgh have also been approved to open for prayer. A number are opening or about to open cafes, and some registered groups caring for children are also opening up within church premises as schools return. Most church groups and external groups are bound by the numbers of households that can meet at any one time so their reopening will be sometime into the future.


The churches that have been approved to allow worshippers in will be adhering to new guidelines to ensure the safety of all and to minimise the chances of any spread of infection. These guidelines include a maximum capacity of 50, the provision of sanitising stations and adequate social distancing measures being put in place. Singing will not be allowed and offerings will be accepted electronically or safely at the end of the services with no plates being passed around. Masks are also to be worn and track and trace measures are in place. Marriages and funerals continue with a maximum number of 20 but this number now excludes the minister.


These are obviously big changes for congregations to get used to, but we have been very pleased with the positive feedback received from churches and hope that by adhering to these changes to our regular worship, worshippers can return in confidence and enjoy being together again.


If you have any questions about the safe re-opening of the church buildings, please refer to the latest guidelines or contact the Presbytery office at

A lockdown story from Colinton

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We received this wonderful story of an initiative run by Colinton Church during lockdown:

At Colinton Parish Church we have been particularly aware of the local residents at our sheltered housing complexes and nursing homes. For them, the lockdown measures have been more severe than for the majority of people and from our conversations with them on the phone we heard about their longing for community and personal contact.

To address this, Moira Shirreff our Pastoral Care Development Worker, in consultation with the management of Colinton Cottages, organised a “Sing-a-Lockdown” on the afternoon of Thursday 11 June. This is how Moira told the congregation about the event: 

“The sun came out from the moment we began setting up the sound equipment and continued to shine throughout and disappeared when we finished. Some residents came and joined us on the grass opposite and around the courtyard while others stood at doors or listened through open windows. It was lovely to see everyone and we were able to greet each other from a distance before we began the afternoon’s programme.

The musicians were our minister Rev. Rolf Billes on mandolin and vocals, George Hazel on vocals and guitar, Fiona Hazel on vocals and myself on vocals and guitar. We all enjoyed singing a variety of songs, most of which were requested by the residents, including Scottish songs, songs from the shows and others. A number of the songs involved taking part in actions and this gave the opportunity for some gentle arm exercise. The afternoon finished with singing “How Great Thou Art” and saying The Lord’s Prayer together, before Rolf pronounced a Blessing. A wonderful, uplifting and fun filled afternoon was had by all.”

We are exploring ways of extending this to other residential homes and sheltered housing complexes and look forward to sharing in the joy of singing together as we gradually move out of lockdown.

Easter Message from The Moderator

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Read the message from Rev Richard Frazer for Easter 2020.

Royal Maunday Service recipients 2020

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Invitation to the 90th Anniversary Event on 8th October 2019

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On 8th October 2019 it will be 90 years to the day since the newly united Presbytery of Edinburgh met and was constituted in prayer in St Andrew’s Church, George Street, before processing to the Presbytery Hall in 121 George Street for the transaction of business. 

Their meeting was held in the afternoon and we similarly offer an afternoon event to mark this anniversary.

The event commences at 2pm in Room 1, Church Offices, 121 George Street, Edinburgh where there will be an introduction by Rev Angus Mathieson, Moderator, and a talk on the 1929 reunion by the Very Rev Prof David Fergusson.


We will then walk along to St Andrew’s & St George’s West Church for a Service of Communion at 3pm led by Rev Angus Mathieson and the Rev Prof Susan Hardman Moore.


Refreshments will be served after the service.


If you would like to attend this event please register using the link below.

Heart & Soul 2019

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Plans are well underway for Heart and Soul on Sunday 19 May. And your congregation can be a part of the event!

  •  The Heart and Soul Board are asking church choirs, community choirs, and individuals to join the new Massed Choir.

  • If you have a band or an individual who might play well in the middle of an event for 4,500 people, then the Project Board would love them to get in touch

  • As always there is an opportunity for congregations like yours to showcase some of the work in which they are engaged within the community. Register your interest in exhibiting on the Heart & Soul website.

ECT Service of prayer and worship for Christian Unity

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Everyone is welcome at this service of prayer and worship for Christian Unity on Monday 21st January at 7:30 in Palmerston Place Church. There will be a reception after the service. We hope to see you all there.

St Nicholas Day Celebrations

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Now, an annual community event, this year, St Nicholas Church, Sighthill, held their St Nicholas Day Celebration on 2 December. As the attached pictures show, they were graced with the presence, of around 200 children (aged between 5 and 12) and their families. Most of these children live, play or study in the parish. They joined the young people (Navigators and JAM Teens) in the church, the congregation, Rev Marjory McPherson (the Clerk for the Presbytery of Edinburgh) and several other guests to celebrate St Nicholas day at St Nicholas Church, Sighthill.

Ecumenical Evening Service of Prayer and Worship with Edinburgh Churches Together

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Get the full information on this event here

Edinburgh's Christmas Nativity Concert

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The annual nativity carol concert is being held, as part of Edinburgh's Christmas at St Andrews Square Gardens on Sunday 2nd December at 3pm

24 Doors of Advent, Edinburgh

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Discover an exciting new place each day of advent, as this real-life advent calendar takes you through a different door, throughout December as Edinburgh opens its doors to showcase the unique buildings in the city. 

Some venues are still to be confirmed.

Please note that some places do require booking in advance.

Remembrance Performance at Morningside

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On Saturday,10th November, Morningside United Church will host a Remembrance performance of Fauré Requiem to raise funds for the Scottish Association for Mental Health and Poppy Scotland. Our own youth choir will be taking part. The concert begins at 7:30pm.

Moderator asks for support for 'Sleep Out in the Park 2018'

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Dear All,

This is an advance warning – I’m looking for some support and help!


Last year, the Moderator “Slept Out” in Princes Street Gardens on the coldest night of the year to support the work of Social Bite and to highlight the plight of the homeless.  Many ministers and church folk joined him and together they raised both awareness and funds.


This year, as someone who likes a good sleep and the comfort of her bed, I’m being asked to do likewise – aaargh!  Which is why I need your support and help ... please remember me in your prayers.


But please would you consider joining me?  There's warmth in numbers!


This year there are to be four places to sleep out and there is also going to be a “Wee Sleep Oot” for younger people (details to be released soon).  Could you involve your youth organisations?  Local schools?  As well as enthuse lots of grown-ups to join in?


The date is Saturday 8 December.  I wonder if, at a time of year when we will be remembering a young, homeless couple having their firstborn welcomed into the world in an outhouse, you might consider making this your Christmas project?


The aim is to set Scotland off down the road to ending homelessness through a route that has been tried and tested in other parts of the world.  It is ambitious and aims to bring together all sorts of groups working in this area.  It will also be a long-term commitment – but for the sake of the all too many on our streets, we need to go down it.

While I might be worrying about being left out in the cold, alone for one night, there are far too many for whom that happens every night of the year.  Let's not live with that.  Let’s be radical and help things to change.


Date:  Saturday 8 December 2018

Where:  Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen

Why:  to end homelessness


Who:  all ages through the Big and Wee Sleep Outs


Thank you for taking the time to read this – and please do consider what you might be able to do where you are. 


Wishing you every blessing,

Visit to Edinburgh from delegates from The Presbytery of Egoli

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During their visit to Edinburgh, representatives of The Presbytery of Egoli were taken to see many initiatives from churches in Edinburgh as well as worshiping together at various services around the city.  The visit helped them to understand the structure, strengths and challenges of The Presbytery of Edinburgh and discussions were held on how we can support each other.  It was a positive and fruitful visit, including a presentation at the June Presbytery meeting, where Alistair Kiel and James Dewar received honourary 'warrior status' while Presbytery Clerk, Marjory McPherson was given a traditional headdress.  Further talks will be held on the prospect of the twinning of the presbyteries.

Applications invited for summer internship scheme

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The Resourcing Mission Committee invites applications from congregations and mission initiatives within the presbytery for support for an intern in the summer of 2018.

The aim is to encourage and involve people by offering experience in Christian service through supporting our congregations in their summer outreach. The Presbytery Resourcing Mission Committee are offering 5 grants of up to £1000 to congregations who take on an intern/interns during July/August. 

The Resourcing Mission Committee invites applications for these grants immediately. 

For full criteria and grant details, please click here.

For application form, click here.

Crown Court Church of Scotland in London celebrates tricentenary

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The Presbytery of Edinburgh received a letter from The Crown Court Church of Scotland, who will be celebrating their three-hundredth anniversary next year - and welcome any visitors to London in search of Presbyterian-style worship to their premises in London's Covent Garden.  More information can be found here .

The Place of Space in the mission of the Church event

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A free event organised by Resourcing Mission Committee aims to look at ways the church can best use buildings to help people encounter God.

It is a free event, but you should book your space - click here for tickets and info.

Edinburgh Easter Play video released

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The Princes Street Easter play takes place in Edinburgh this Easter weekend. 

Admission is free. Ahead of the launch weekend, they have released a video about the production.  You can watch it here.

Guntrip Trust Lecture 2018

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Data Protection Training Event - 26th April 2018

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We are holding a training event on 26th April 7 - 8:30pm at Davidsons Mains Parish Church.  The purpose of the evening for representatives of congregations to learn about the new data protection regulations coming into force in May this year.  For details and to register, visit the event page.

Homelessness Action Group's recommendation's accepted in principle by Scottish Government

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A new step towards the eradication of rough sleeping in Scotland has been brought about as the Scottish Government has accepted in principle the recommendations of its' Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group.


The recommendations build on the group’s earlier advice to tackle rough sleeping over the winter period.


The measures include a national system of rapid rehousing, involving integrated support from frontline outreach services and local authorities. This will include moving to a ‘Housing First’ model for those with most complex needs – where people move straight into a permanent, settled home rather than temporary accommodation.


The Scottish Government will now provide a further £150,000 to continue to provide some services to the summer, while the latest recommendations are taken forward.


Member of the group, the Very Rev Dr Russell Barr, says 

“Although it only represents the tip of the homelessness iceberg, the sight of people sleeping rough in shop doorways and park benches is awful beyond words.


“As everyone who took part in Social Bite's 'Big Sleep Out', last December in Edinburgh's Princes Street Gardens, one night spent in the freezing cold was bad enough.


“It is impossible to imagine what it must be like to spend night after night, especially when the 'beast from the east' bard its teeth”


I am delighted that Housing Minister, Kevin Stewart, has accepted our proposals and provided funding to ensure the recommendations are put into action.


“This is an important first step on what I hope and pray will be a series of co-ordinated efforts to end the blight of homelessness in 21st century Scotland

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said:


“As we come out of a particularly bad winter period, the action group’s work so far has been vital in ensuring front-line staff are supported and that people are helped to move into safe and warm places to stay. Additional funding will allow the work that has taken place in our main cities to continue while we take the group’s hard work forward.     


“I was extremely impressed by the fast and effective work of organisations supporting those sleeping rough during last week’s unprecedented and extreme winter weather and want to thank everyone involved for the work and commitment they have shown. It is now important that we build on this good work and these latest recommendations provide a blueprint to do that and reach our national priority to eradicate rough sleeping for good.


“The group’s recommendations focus on improving advice and support for those sleeping rough, and ensuring that housing, funding and services are directed at those who need them most.


“They will play a vital role in meeting our commitment to end homelessness and transform temporary accommodation, backed by our £50 million fund – which is why we have accepted them all in principle, and will now work closely with partners to implement.”


Action group chair and chief executive of Crisis UK, Jon Sparkes said:


“Nobody in Scotland should have to endure the danger and indignity of sleeping rough, and these recommendations show what is needed to prevent people from being forced to live on the streets.


These include providing immediate access to permanent housing for people who are sleeping rough or at risk of homelessness, such as people leaving a state institution, such as care or prison, and giving frontline staff the power to make informed decisions based on the needs of each individual.


“The members of the action group have gone above and beyond to dedicate themselves to bringing forward the right recommendations that will have the biggest impact on the way people sleeping rough can access and receive services. The group members have engaged colleagues across the sector, reviewed international evidence on what works, and listened to people from across the country who have experience of homelessness.


“We can end rough sleeping in Scotland. Other countries and cities around the world have done it, so we know it’s possible. With the right political will and momentum, we can make this a reality in Scotland too.”

Induction of new minister at Fairmilehead

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On 15th February, The Presbytery Clerk, the presbytery moderator and the Very Rev Dr Russell Barr were present at the induction of Rev Cheryl McKellar-Young to Fairmilehead Parish Church.  The church was packed with members, visitors, family and friends, sharing the occasion and welcoming Cheryl as their minister.

Weston anniversary grants of up to £150,000 available to community facilities

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For 60 years the Trustees of the Garfield Weston Foundation have supported local charities across the UK.


To celebrate the Foundation’s anniversary and the vital role of volunteers and community charities, they have launched an additional grants scheme that will be open to applications from 5th January to 30th June 2018 exclusively – the Weston Anniversary Fund.


Weston Anniversary Fund will award grants up to £150,000 to provide new or improve existing community facilities.


The Anniversary Fund will consider funding the entirety of a project or help to complete fundraising, with grants ranging from £30,000 to £150,000.


They have created an online quiz that can help you find out if your project will qualify for a grant.


Please read the Weston Anniversary Fund Application Guidelines carefully to see if you are eligible to apply and how to do so. Please also read FAQs carefully to answer any additional questions you may have.

Weston Anniversary Fund Snapshot

  • One-off grants scheme in 2018 to support Capital projects that will benefit local communities across the UK

  • Open to UK registered charities, CIOs, places of worship and state schools only with a total income under £3million

  • Grants range from £30,000 – £150,000

  • Total project costs not to exceed £300,000

  • Applications to be submitted online

  • Applications open on 5th January and close on 30th June 2018

  • Decisions will not be made until October 2018

  • You can apply to the Fund even if your organisation is currently in receipt of a grant from, or has been rejected by the Garfield Weston Foundation within the past 12 months

  • Planning permission (where relevant) will need to be in place prior to submitting your application by the 30th June

  • Grants will need to be spent and projects fully completed by the end of 2020.

Freezing temperatures at Edinburgh sleep out braved by kirk members

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Despite sub-zero temperatures, around 1,500 people connected to the Church of Scotland took part in the world’s biggest sleepout in Edinburgh's Princes Street gardens to raise awareness of homelessness.

The moderator of The Church of Scotland, Right Rev Dr Derek Browning, Moderator of the General Assembly, joined Scottish Government ministers including Deputy First Minister John Swinney, under the stars.

Dr Browning said it was unlikely the event would eradicate homelessness in itself but thousands more people are now more aware of what some people face night after night all year round.

“Homelessness is not simply the lack of a roof over your head,” he added.

“It is a symptom which has many root causes.

“Domestic abuse, relationship breakdown, unemployment, poverty, substance and alcohol addiction and poor mental health.

“If we are going to address homelessness we also need to address these and other issues in our communities, in our country and in our churches.”

Musicians Liam Gallagher, Deacon Blue, Amy Macdonald and Frightened Rabbit performed stripped-back sets.

Actor John Cleese told a bedtime story and comedian Rob Brydon, retired cyclist Sir Chris Hoy and campaigner Sir Bob Geldolf spoke to the crowd.

Participants had to raise at least £100 to take part and donations topped £3.6million at the start of the event, organised by social enterprise sandwich business Social Bite.

Homeless Action Group's recommendations to be implemented immediately

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The expert Homeless and Rough Sleeping Action Group, set up by the Scottish Government has presented its' first paper, outlining steps to address the homeless problem in Scotland this winter.

The steps will be implemented immediately by the Government, with First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon stating “I want to thank the Action Group for the serious and urgent work they have done. These actions, which the government accepts in full and will roll out immediately, will provide more support for those who find themselves homeless and more safe and warm places to stay this winter.”

She added: “While we take these immediate steps to help those who find themselves at risk of rough sleeping this winter, the group’s work now continues as we strive to end rough sleeping for good.”

The measures include increasing temporary and emergency accommodation in Edinburgh by expanding winter shelter capacity from 60 to 75 places, with an addition 12 “rapid access beds”, which organisations working with the homeless can use.

The Very Reverend Dr Russell Barr, former moderator of the Church of Scotland and member of the expert group said "During my year as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland I highlighted the continuing scandal of homelessness in Scotland. And living at the official residence night after night I was painfully aware of people sleeping rough in the shop doorways, side alleys and cemeteries of Edinburgh's city centre. 

I am hoping today's announcement will be the first in a series of steps that will help us resolve not just rough sleeping but the blight of homelessness in 21st century Scotland"

You can read the full report and recommendations from the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group here.

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In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Fresh Start are appealing for donations to help them provide people with cookers - enabling them to cook and eat together with their families.  You can find out more about the appeal here

Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group update

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The recently-formed Action Group have been tasked with forming recommendations to bring to The Scottish Government to help end homelessness and rough sleeping in Scotland.  They will also use their joint experience and influence to ensure these recommendations are successfully implemented.  Their first and most pressing task is to come up with urgent recomendations to minimise rough sleeping this winter. 

Who are they?

The Action Group is a team of experts from a range of industries and backgrounds, chosen for their expertise and experience.  They are:

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive, Crisis (Chair)

Russell Barr, Former Moderator, Church of Scotland

Maggie Brunjes, Glasgow Homeless Network

Mike Dailly, Govan Law Centre

David Duke, Street Soccer

Suzanne Fitzpatrick, Heriot Watt University

Josh Littlejohn, Social Bite

Lorraine McGrath, Simon Community/Street Wise

Susanne Miller, Glasgow City Council

John Mills, Fife Council & ALACHO

Shona Stephen, Queens Cross Housing Association

Alison Watson, Shelter Scotland

What will they do?

The Action Group will form practical recommendations to take to the Scottish Government, shaped around the following four questions:

- What can be done to reduce rough sleeping this winter (with or without additional resource?)

- How can we end rough sleeping?

- How can we transform the use of temporary acommodation?

- What needs to be done to end homelessness?

Recommendations for the first of these questions will be set out this month, with the rest by Spring 2018.

The Action Group will work, through events and workshops, with members of the homeless community in Scotland and people who work closely with them to form their recommendations.  Once these have been delivered, they will continue to use their expertise and influence to ensure the successful implementation of practical solutions. 

There will be a £50m Ending Homelessness Together Fund available in April 2018 to help fund implementation of any initiatives brought forward from the group.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said:

“The Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group will be recommending immediate steps we can take to minimise rough sleeping, both this winter and for good, as well as ways to transform temporary accommodation.

“The members bring a wide range of expertise, experience and enthusiasm and I know they will provide invaluable advice. The group will be engaging with all partners who deal with homelessness, including in local authorties and the third sector, so we can harness  the wealth of knowledge available.

“We are committeed to ending rough sleeping, preventing homelessness, and transforming outcomes for those who experience it. The action group and the new £50 million fund are important steps in achieving this.”

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis and chair of the new action group, said:

“I am delighted to be working with such a dedicated and knowledgeable group of people who have the common goal of ending homelessness in Scotland. Today, our focus is on action that can be taken this winter to support as many rough sleepers as possible so that fewer people have to face the coldest months of the year without a roof over their heads.

“The Scottish Government has set us an ambitious goal but I am confident that with the invaluable experience of this group, combined with the views of people who have experience of homelessness, we can and will make all forms of homelessness a thing of the past.”

We will continue to bring you updates from the Action Group.  You can read the latest blog post fro John Sparkes here.

Churches call on UK Government to help ‘stateless’ people

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A new initiative calling for improved rights and better support for ‘stateless’ people has been backed by the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.


Right Rev Dr Derek Browning has joined 110 religious and faith leaders in signing a statement which urges the UK Government to do more to welcome those who have no country to call their home.


The move comes during Interfaith Week (12-19 November) which seeks to build on the good relationships and partnerships between people of very diverse faiths and beliefs. The faith leaders share a commitment to protecting human rights and promoting human dignity.


The statement is calling for action on part of the UK Government to review its policies towards stateless people as many end up in prolonged and pointless detention while the Home Office tries to remove them from the UK.


The Home Office has recognised only around 40 people as eligible for statelessness leave since introducing a statelessness determination procedure in 2013.


Research by the European Network on Statelessness in 2016 showed that over 800 people were waiting on a decision on their status. Many of them had been in limbo or detention for more than two years.


‘Stateless’ people without legal status cannot leave the UK because no country will accept them. But without status, they don’t have permission to work in the UK and remain vulnerable to destitution, exploitation and detention.


Worldwide there are around 10 million ‘stateless’ people.


Signatories are calling for alternatives to detention and better support for access to rights and advice and help with integration.


The move is part of the #LockedInLimbo campaign which is led by the European Network on Statelessness and seeks to end the detention of people who end up locked in limbo simply because they have no country that they can return to.


Rt Rev Dr Derek Browning, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said:

 “I am pleased to support this statement as a sign of my support for global efforts to contribute to ending statelessness. 


“Churches have a vital and significant role in offering a message of hope and peace to the world.  It is good to see so many people wanting to engage with the issues and take action. 


“The role of the World Council of Churches  in  advocating for the rights of stateless people has been particularly important in helping to focus attention on this issue.”


David Bradwell, Co-ordinator of Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees added:


“When it comes to matters of human dignity and human rights, there should be no acceptance of a situation which leaves people in unfair and unequal situations. 


“This is so obviously a question of morality and ethics, and how human societies interact with one another, that it is important that faith and religious leaders, along with all people of good will, speak up and make the case for policy-makers to prioritise the welfare of people who face marginalisation and exclusion.  


“The multi-faith collaboration on this statement is a remarkable demonstration that there is a strong shared commitment to the common good.”


The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said:


“This is a significant statement, showing inter faith support for global efforts to contribute to ending statelessness and the arbitrary detention associated with it. Faith groups have an important role in calling for policy-makers to prioritise the welfare of people who face marginalisation and exclusion.”


Other signatories include: Bharti Tailor, Vice-President of Religions for Peace UK, the Rev Lorraine Mellor, President of the Methodist Conference, Rabbi Aaron Goldstein, Chair of the Liberal Judaism Rabbinic Conference, and Rabbi Hershel Gluck OBE, chairman of the Arab-Jewish Forum and chairman of the Muslim-Jewish Forum. 


Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim representatives have supported the statement, a full list of which can be found (from Wednesday) at:


The statement will be open for other faith or religious leaders who wish to add their support. 


People designated as stateless, according to the 1954 Statelessness Convention, are “not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its law”.


Citizenship has often been described as the ‘right to have rights’.


Statelessness, in turn, is a corrosive condition that impacts almost every aspect of daily life.


The use of immigration detention and the criminalisation of irregular migration is increasing across many parts of Europe.



Earlier this month the United Nations High Commission for Refugees launched a new report This is Our Home – stateless minorities and their search for citizenship.

Grassmarket Community Project named Social Enterprise of the Year

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The Grassmarket Community Project, which was created by Greyfriars Kirk and the Grassmarket Mission in 2010, helps vulnerable people break out of cycles of homelessness and unemployment by offering work experience, education, training and support in a nurturing environment.

Rev Dr Richard Frazer, minister at Greyfriars Kirk and Convener of the Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council, said:

“I am so proud of the wonderful team at the Grassmarket Community Project who have won this marvellous award. GCP is a key part of our mission and outreach at Greyfriars.

“Long ago we recognised that people who have experienced poverty and hardship in their lives also have untapped capacity and often deep wisdom about the things that truly matter in life.

“It is the members of the project who make it the success that it is, and the energy, hard work and entrepreneurial flair of this marvellous community deserve all the credit for this great achievement.

“Seeing lives transformed and people who’ve been rejected turned into the building blocks of a vibrant community of purpose and achievement feels very theological.

Reception of candiates and readers to Presbytery

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At the Presbytery meeting on 7th November in St Catherine's of Argyle, Rev Fiona Mathieson, convener of the Ministries Committee, presented Readers, Candidates for the Ministry of Word and Sacrement and candidates for Ordained Local Ministry under the supervision of the Presbytery.  8 readers and 14 candidates were presented by Rev Mathieson and welcomed by Rev Colin Sinclair and the Presbytery.

Fresh Start shopping list for Harvest Thanksgiving

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As we are coming into the Harvest Thanksgiving season with services in churches and schools please find attached a Fresh Start shopping list.


If you were able to encourage your congregation or school communities to support Fresh Start by collecting some of these items and taking them to their depot at 22/24 Ferry Road Drive EH4 4BR then the Fresh Start volunteers will add them to the Starter Packs which help people who have been homeless make a new home for themselves

Presbytery welcomes new Clerk

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Last week the meeting of Presbytery saw the official installation of Rev Marjory McPeherson as Presbytery Clerk.  

Presbytery moderator, Rev Colin Sinclair welcomed Marjory with a speech outlining her career in The Church of Scotland and higlighting the legal expertise she will bring to the role. 

We are delighted to have Marjory join the presbytery team as Clerk, and wish her every blessing as she begins her new role.

Moderator blesses new Queensferry Crossing

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Hundreds of lucky spectators took part in the opening ceremony of the new Queensferry Crossing this morning.

Her Majesty The Queen was accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh when she officially opened the impressive new bridge, praising the feat of engineering and reflecting back to 53 years ago when she opened the Forth Road Bridge.

Moderator of the Church of Scotland General Assembly, Rt Rev Dr Derek Browning undertook the official blessing of the bridge, hailing a 'Gloriously dynamic' structure.

Call for input into All Nations Service, December

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Please see below for information about an All Nations Service being held at Greenside Parish Church on 3rd December.



Grace and Peace to you in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!


For the last thirteen years, at Advent, we have held an ‘All Nations’ service in which a number of the international community churches from Edinburgh and the surrounding area have taken part.


By general acclaim these services have been greatly appreciated by those who attended, with a shared spirit of joy and blessing as we celebrated our common faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Many people have commented that these services have been a highlight in their preparation for Christmas!


We are planning a similar service this year, again to be held at Greenside Church, Royal Terrace, Edinburgh. As usual, it is the first Sunday in Advent, 3rd December, at the 6.00 pm.  The service typically lasts around an hour and there will be refreshments afterwards for those who can stay.


The purpose of this letter is to invite you and your church to attend and, for those who wish to, take part in leading a song or other form of worship. It would be very helpful to know at this stage:


  • If you are willing to take part (please put the date in your diary and communicate the date and time widely with your congregations)

  • what role your congregation would like to have in the service.  A very important role is being present and sharing worship with us, so don’t feel any obligation to lead part of the worship.  If you do wish to share a song, reading or prayer, then please let me know and I will start to shape the order of service.  As you will remember, we like to make this a shared session of worship with a variety of groups leading us, so we ask you to limit your contribution to 5-7 mins please.


We would like to start planning earlier this year, so if I could please have your views in principle and what you may be able to contribute, copying in Isabel (, by Wednesday, 23rd August that will really help.  I will contact you again in early October to confirm the overall order of service.


Though our Christian groups, congregations and fellowships have origins in different parts of the world, sharing worship in this way demonstrates to our city that, while we are diverse in language and background, we are one in Christ Jesus. And it gives us an opportunity to encourage one another and to offer praise to the God who calls his church from every people and nation.


All best wishes,



OSCR releases useful factsheet on charity reserves

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OSCR (Scottish Charity Regulator) have released a fact-sheet; aimed at Charity Trustees of small to medium sized Charities, to help them produce or update their reserve policy.

The fact-sheet looks at:

  • What reserves are

  • Why you should have a reserves policy

  • How Trustees should set a reserve level

  • And much more!

You can view or download the fact-sheet by clicking here.

Nominations invited for the 2018 Moderator Designate

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The committee elected to nominate the Moderator is now inviting recommendations for Moderator of the General Assembly 2018-2019.

Honorary degree for pioneer of women's rights in the kirk

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Rev Dr Margaret Rae McDonald Forrester (76) has been awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Divinity for being part of a group of women who, in 1967, petitioned the General Assembly to allow women to be ministers of Word and Sacrament.

The move, which was met with fierce resistance and anger at the time, led to the landmark ruling by the Assembly in favour of the proposal the following year. It was the culmination of an issue which arose in 1963 when Mary Levison, then an assistant chaplain at the University of Edinburgh, asked the General Assembly to ordain the position but was met with deaf ears.

“This is really an honour for everyone who was involved in that struggle and I accept it on their behalf too,” DrForrester said. “I worked with five other great women to ensure the proposal was debated in the Assembly because, remember, at that time, women couldn’t even debate in the hall.My thanks also go to the great men who supported our cause and debated so well that day.”

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