November 2017

This month the focus of the church is on the vote for or against the union. On the third Sunday in November (19th) the congregations of Chapelton & Rankin, and at the same time the congregations of East & Glassford, will decide if we/they should enter into a four way union.

This will result in us becoming one congregation with three places of worship - which means one set of office bearers and administration. There is much that is positive in uniting, but the major downside will be the loss of the East Church building for worship. There will also be a change on Sundays with the minister not able to be in all three buildings each week.

The Presbytery of Hamilton, like all Presbyteries, is in the process of reducing the number of churches within each geographical area. There is a shortage of ministers which means that in a few years one in three of all churches will be vacant, i.e. with no minister. We have known for some time that the Strathaven area will only be allocated two ministers, and so the retiral of the Rev Bill Stewart in April of next year has precipitated discussions by the Kirk Sessions about union. These have been very positive and have progressed well. Now the congregations are being asked to make a decision as to whether the union should proceed or not.

It is for each individual to decide how they should vote… what I would encourage though is that as many as possible wait behind at the conclusion of the services on the 19th November and vote. The greater the numbers voting, the greater the impact it will have on Presbytery by reflecting the strength of our churches.

It is easy to look back to the 'good old days'. When I was called as your minister, there were four ministers covering the Strathaven area… now there are to be two. Looking further back there used to be a minister in Rankin and two in Chapelton, then in 1930 Chapelton reduced to one minister, and thirty years later Chapelton linked with Rankin. As has been said many times in the past the linkage has been good for both congregations and credit has to go to the office bearers and ministers over the years who have worked to make it a success. Just as the church in our area has adapted over the years we are now faced with a new challenge. I have been asked to take on this added responsibility and the congregations are being asked to decide if this latest merger is the way forward. Change brings challenges, but as we look to the future we must focus on the potential, on the positives, and ensure that the decisions we take are for the benefit of the church in our area as we seek to present the Gospel to future generations.

With every good wish,
Shaw J Paterson

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