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Life and Work magazine – May 2007 issue review

Features on incoming Moderator Rev Sheilagh Kesting and the May elections, plus a plea from editor Lynne McNeil for churches to consider holding open days.

A natural diplomat

The Church of Scotland’s Moderator Designate for the 2007 General Assembly, the Rev Sheilagh Kesting, the first female parish minister to be nominated for the role, is profiled this month.

She describes how she personally experienced sectarianism within her first parish in Overtown, Lanarkshire more than 20 years ago over an invitation centring around the visit of Pope John Paul II to Scotland in 1982.

Sheilagh, the Church’s ecumenical relations officer, had started to develop and interest in ecumenism whilst in Lanarkshire and consequently received an invitation to an event during the Pope’s visit.

“I told my kirk session that this invitation was going to come, I very much wanted to go but if they felt it would split the congregation then I wouldn’t. There was a long silence and one of the elders said ‘I think you should go. I think you will find any problems are on the periphery of the congregation.’

“So I went. There were some people very upset with me, mostly not regular church attenders, but I was sad about the one or two church members who just couldn’t cope with it.”

Looking forward to the year ahead, she added that she was going to use her time as Moderator to promote ecumenical relations.

Election special

The outgoing Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of the Scotland, the Right Rev Alan McDonald urges readers to exercise their vote in a focus on the May elections in Scotland.

Mr McDonald, one of a number of leading Christian figures to offer their opinion on the forthcoming vote, emphasises the need to vote and suggests that simply voting for a ‘Christian’ party is not necessarily the answer.

He writes: “There are those who try to claim for one party the label of ‘Christian’, but life is not as simple as that.

“There are good and faithful Christians in almost all parties, seeking in their own way to make their faith count in the world of politics and for the good of the people – and we thank God for them.”

Open day plea

Editor Lynne McNeil calls on the Kirk to consider an open day or open week to throw open their doors and welcome in those who have no idea of church life or of the life behind the church doors.

“In this General Assembly month, what better advert could there be for a warm welcoming body of Christian people?” she says.

• Full story at the Church of Scotland.

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