The Moderator’s visit to Dunfermline Presbytery concluded Sunday with a special Songs of Praise service in Dunfermline Abbey.
The 10-day visit had taken Rt Rev Dr Angus Morrison to more than 20 different events across the Presbytery. As well as visiting ministers and congregations, the Moderator went to workplaces and celebrations, a foodbank and even to watch the Blue Brazils’ football game.
“It was a very good visit, I enjoyed it very much,” he said.
This week, Dr Morrison will be attending meetings and the installation of Rev David Fergusson as Chaplain to the Queen, before heading to Stornoway where he will conduct Remembrance Day services at the High Church of Stornoway and at the Stornoway War Memorial.
At the Dunfermline Abbey service, Dr Morrison shared his thoughts about the visit. You can see photos of the visit on the Church’s Facebook page. Here are his remarks in full:
Thank you very much indeed for your kind welcome. It’s a delight to be here with you in this wonderful historic Abbey for the special Songs of Praise service which until now I’ve been greatly enjoying. And of course as ever it’s a pleasure to bring to you all the warm greetings, the love and prayers, of the General Assembly.
If there is one slightly poignant note for me – for us –tonight, it is that this service marks the end of a visit to Dunfermline Presbytery which we have immensely enjoyed from first to last, and for which we sincerely give God thanks.
We have had a visit of great diversity and contrast, and where we have seen the local church acting thoughtfully and imaginatively to meet new challenges.
We have seen the challenge of the modern business model as we toured the vast Amazon complex and engaged with them there about the value of workplace chaplaincy.
We also saw the profitable model of social enterprise in the Scottish Woods sawmill in Oakley. Both these experiences, and much more, fed into the excellent round table discussion we had at the Carnegie Trust on Friday. The subject of good and fair work also informed the wonderful debate we witnessed at Dunfermline High School on Wednesday morning.
The young people there were caring and engaged, and we left with a wonderful sense of optimism. And then that evening, with my national hat on, I was being asked to comment on the stabbing of teenager Bailey Gwynne at Cults Academy. An awful event, unpredictable and shocking, and our hearts go out to all those involved. I can thank God that we had witnessed on the same day that in fact our schools are places of hope, not despair.
We saw and heard how one young man, Liam Forrest, had found a new engagement with hope through his singing. He sang for us during the superb Heart and Soul Swing Band concert last Saturday evening.
We enjoyed more wonderful entertainment in Cowdenbeath last night. We also enjoyed the music of the 1st Tullialan Boys Brigade Band as they accompanied the hymn singing in the wonderful 75th anniversary service at Tullialan last Sunday, before we were pelted to within an inch of our lives in an enthusiastic game of dodgeball.
In all places the worship has been Christ-centred and uplifting, not least at the moving and joyful monthly service for people with disabilities at St Ninian’s Church this afternoon.
A pleasure too was our trip to watch Cowdenbeath v Dunfermline. I noted that some of the tunes the fans sung were hymn tunes which were familiar to me, even if the words were not. I’ll need to be careful what I say here in Dunfermline, but Cowdenbeath acquitted themselves so well and gained a point against such strong opposition, that the Moderator was given an open invitation to return any time at all. I might be able to do the same for Dunfermline, of course.
It is still true that more people attend church on a Sunday in Scotland than football on a Saturday, and we could wish that they did so with as much passion and enthusiasm. Such qualities were not lacking in the service at Dunfermline East New Charge Development this morning, teaming with young families and children, as well as those of greater age.
We did see enthusiasm from the children of Culross Primary School as they welcomed us into Culross Abbey when we joined their reconstruction of a medieval pilgrimage, a day of great fun and learning in what was thankfully the only torrential rain we saw on our visit. It somehow made the reconstruction all the more authentic.
The weather held fair for us as we were awestruck by the construction projects in Rosyth, in the dockyard and at the new Forth Crossing. And then we also had a chance to see the beautiful newly restored and revitalised sanctuary at Rosyth Parish Church.
That day in Rosyth also gave us an opportunity to make an unscheduled but moving stop at the beautiful Douglas Bank war graves cemetery at Pattiesmuir. It was a quiet and reflective visit in the bustle of the visit.
Another quiet and precious moment was the opportunity to meet and pray with your brother in Christ, Frank Moyes, at the hospice ward of the wonderful Queen Margaret Hospital.
Even in this busy innovative exciting corner of Fife, where so much that is new and interesting is going on, God surprises us with what the Celtic mystics called the thin places, where heaven and earth are very close.
And we are moved to wonder at the working of God, where the smallest church we visited at North Queensferry has such an exciting link with HoHoe in Ghana; and again where what basically started as a husband and wife going to adopt a child in China has now raised over a million pounds to help educate unwanted orphan girls.
Again, how a Christian inspired care and concern for the hungry – an injunction which runs back through the teaching of Jesus into the prophetic preaching of the Old Testament – has resulted in the remarkable work of the Dunfermline Foodbank, to whom on your behalf I was able to deliver a substantial cheque. How I enjoyed doing that!
This part of the story you have been telling us this week, and not by any means all of it, including a marvellous and enlightening visit to Tullialan Police College.
You have been showing us the huge range of backgrounds: diverse, shifting, challenging, and at times bewildering, against which you seek to proclaim and incarnate in this place the eternal truth of the gospel of God’s amazing grace in Jesus our Lord.
Throughout the week we have stayed at the Garvock Hotel which has been a wonderful base and where the manager and staff showed us every possible attention . During the week also we have the delight of being driven to engagements by the Cooperative Funeral Care. We were mainly talken around in the vehicles in which you sit upright though sometimes at the end of the day the other sort might sometimes have been welcome. Sincere thanks to them for all their care and for the friendship of Kenny, Bob, Craig, Jim and Graham our superb drivers. How on earth do you re-adjust to a Ford Focus after such a week?
And what can I say about our constant companion, supporter and so much else to us throughout the week, Rev Alec Shuttleworth? The ‘shuttle’ bit of his name has acquired a new significance. Alec, despite the fact that your joke are corny, and that your tweeting has got me into all sorts of difficulties, you have been simply marvellous to be with and Marion and I want publicly to thank you for all that you have done to make this for us such a memorable experience. I hope you will be given a few days off now to recover.
Moderator, our warm thanks to you, to all on committee who organized this visit and to all throughout the Presbytery who welcomed us so warmly and showed us so much of the kindness of our Lord. We shall long remember a very happy experience and may God continue to bless you all as a Presbytery.