This was a long but really encouraging day – I started about 7am and did not finish until after 10 before having a relaxing drink with friends. Again I won’t go into all the details as I am about to head in for another 12 hour session! But the following highlights stand out.
1) The dignified and emotional way that David Miller accepted that his work in Cobham is now finished. David is a gentle and gracious person and I hope and pray that he and Meg are soon settled into a new work.
2) The joy of welcoming new churches – Newmilns from Ayrshire and hearing Dr Neil Galbraith from Stornoway High speaking so warmly and wisely. What intrigues me about the C of S people who come into the Free Church is that they almost unanimously speak of the sense of relief and freedom they experience.
3) The fact that the Home Missions report took all afternoon and into the evening – so many people were wanting to speak. Talking about mission, not trivialities, is what Assembly should be about.
4) The increasing variety within the Free Church – exemplified by a former English Anglican vicar now working in St Andrews commending the work of church planting, to a Welsh minister in Kilmallie commending the Church in South Uist. Love it!
5) The delegates from South Africa, EPCI and especially good to have Fred Drummond of the EA speaking. However if I had my way I would make Elaine Duncan a permanent feature of the Assembly. Her passion and personality shine through for Jesus.
6) Beauly Free Church manse being returned from the continuing.
7) A full time Missions Director post being set up – to lead both National and international missions.
8) Iver Martin being appointed full time Principal of Edinburgh Theological Seminary. A loss for Stornoway but a gain for the wider church. The Stornoway elders speech was wonderful – gracious and godly.
What I have noticed about this Assembly is how much the Free Church has changed. We still have difficult issues to face but we are facing them – and we are united. There is a warmth and love for the Lord which pervades the church just now. I had one older couple tell me that they have never been so encouraged in all their life. May this only be the beginning.
Back to work….