© St Ninians Episcopal Church, Glasgow which is a charity registered under no.SC010966
Rector writes I am lately returned from the Diocesan Clergy Conference which took place in Stranraer. The guest speaker was the Rev John Bell from the Iona Community. John is a very gifted person with an easy and accessible style which belies a very deep faith and intellect. In the style of Jesus, he illustrated his themes by just telling stories from his life and experiences. I say “just” as though I were damning him with faint praise, but the true gift of story-telling is a rich blessing indeed and it enabled him to get complex issues over to us – in the way that Jesus intuitively understood in the way he used stories to get his point across. One of the sessions John Bell delivered was entitled “signs of life in the Church today”. The core of his message was that people who come to church need to talk to each other about the important things that matter in their life and in their relationship with God. Intellect has its place indeed, but the academic approach is not the whole story. Reflecting on our life as it actually is becomes a vital part of our spiritual journey – we have stories of lament as well as joy. As John put it – “the Bible is the family album of our ancestors”. For him, one of the signs of a successful congregation is that they feel able to have meaningful conversations that lead to change. John urged us to contemplate what, as he memorably put it, the “rumour” about our church might be. In other words, the congregation must have a notion of what its vision might be, i.e., its internal “rumour”. Of equal importance is the issue of what the rumour of St Ninian’s might be to the outside world. This raises a whole lot of pertinent questions – do we really communicate with each other? Do we have a vision of what we want St Ninian’s to be? What “rumour” do we want the community to have of us? Is what we think we are up to reflected by what people really do think of us? I could go on but hopefully you get the point. To take but just one instance – put yourself in the place of a first-time visitor to St Ninian’s. What was your first impression of how you were received and is too much taken for granted when we put into your hands at least four pieces of information (the service booklet, the pewsheet, the hymn-book and a copy of the musical setting of the Eucharist)? On that very last point, the vestry discussed if we could usefully tweak the pewsheet to make the information more accessible to first-timers. You will be receiving the first of the new tweaked versions with this magazine. If anything else occurs to you, please do let us know. I appreciate that it can be difficult to step outside of ourselves and try to think of how we are perceived when we may be a very long- standing member of the congregation and familiarity may have bred an element of contempt, so to speak. We must remember that we have the most wonderful privilege of holding St Ninian’s in trust for future generations. We do not hold it as our own private club with strange rules and rituals only known to the favoured few. I encourage you over the coming weeks to speak to each other about our “rumour” and if we don’t like what we see and hear what shall we do about it?    The Rector
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