Moderator’s Address 2011
Friday, May 20, 2011
Rev. James Maciver, Moderator of the 2011 Free Church General Assembly, gave his opening address on Tuesday 24th, entitled, ‘The Glory of Christ’. The full text is found here:
The Glory of Christ
You can watch the Moderator’s Address here: stcolumbas.freechurch.org/news/the-glory-of-christ.
2011 Assembly Reports
Thursday, May 05, 2011
The Free Church General Assembly meets from 23rd to 27th May in St. Columba’s Free Church, Edinburgh. The Assembly will hear and debate several reports covering various topics. These are as follows:
Board of Trustees
The Board of Trustees is the body which oversees the Free Church’s legal and financial affairs. The report covers ministers’ working conditions, including salaries and pensions, but focuses mainly on how well the new financial system, set up two years ago, is working throughout the church. It being the Board’s responsibility to ensure that the books balance, concern is expressed about last year’s financial shortfall. The report also covers legal items abroad, including the current action in respect of the Colegio San Andrés in Lima. It will be presented by the Board’s chairman, Mr James Fraser.
Board of Ministry
The central responsibility of the Board is recognising candidates for the ministry, as recommended by their Presbytery. The Board is also responsible for supervising such candidates during their university and College training, as well as monitoring progress during their studies. The Board is further tasked, for the moment implicitly, by the General Assembly to review all applications to the Free Church ministry from ministers of other denominations. This report, given by Dr Fergus Macdonald, will give details of the committee’s actions over the past year.
The role of the College Board is to oversee the operation of our Free Church College in Edinburgh. The college is the theological centre where students for the Free Church ministry, as well as others, receive their academic training. The Board’s report briefly defends the existence of the college, before going on to mark the retirement of Prof. Donald Macleod from the chair of Systematic Theology. The Board reports that they have been unsuccessful in replacing Prof. Macleod; and, whilst he is willing to stay on temporarily, the fact that no one can be found at present to accept this position is a cause for concern. The report will be presented by Dr Iain D. Campbell.
This report covers all aspects of publishing via our magazines: Free, The Record, The Instructor, website, as well as the Free Church Bookshop. The report briefly reports on all these aspects, as well as including three Public Questions papers. These are: Suicide (written by Robert Macleod) , Transhumanism (written by Roddie Rankin) and Sex Education in Schools (written by Murdo Macleod). The report will be presented by Rev. Roddie Rankin.
Ecumenical Relations Report
The Free Church continues to develop and maintain active prayerful interest in the work of the gospel in other denominations, with a particular interest in those churches holding to a Reformed persuasion. Our church is actively involved in the International Conference of Reformed Churches and continues to send delegates to support their ongoing work. This year, the Ecumenical Relations Report will be presented by Rev. Kenneth Ferguson.
Home Missions Report
In many ways, this report is a snapshot of the breadth of our church’s ministry and outlines the huge challenges which we face within Scotland. The report covers church development, planting, extension, youth work, ministry to overseas students and other areas of home mission. The report attempts to address the challenges faced by congregations which are struggling, and the Assembly will hear proposals to establish team ministries in these and other areas in which our church is more scattered and small in size. The report is presented by Rev. Alex MacDonald.
International Missions Report
The Free Church has several mission interests abroad. In Latin America, we have been actively and prayerfully supporting our mission work in Peru and Colombia. In South Africa, our focus is on the Dumisani Theologial Institute, as well as the Free Church in South Africa. The Free Church in Central India has recently enjoyed a period of encouragement and strengthening. The recently established Martyn Project has seen a focus on mission work in Central Asia. These and other areas of interest will be reported by Rev. Iain MacAskill. The report will be given on Thursday, as well as mission speakers, as listed in the Assembly Programme.
Study Panel - Divorce and Remarriage
The study panel, led by Prof. Donald MacDonald, has been attempting to wrestle with the issue of divorce and remarriage, particularly in the light of David Instone Brewer’s recent contribution to the issue. This thought-provoking, comprehensive and detailed report is the result of much discussion into the criteria which justifies divorce and remarriage, and asks whether the circumstances given in the Westminster Confession are too restricted. This is a very challenging subject and will give rise to some interesting discussion.
Although the Plenary Assembly in November 2010 gave liberty to congregations to include some items of praise other than psalms, the Free Church unreservedly continues to be a psalm-singing church. This committee is responsible for encouraging and developing our psalm-singing ethos. The report details the many areas in which God’s word as sung praise can be bettered as an integral part of our worship. The report will be presented by Rev. Finlay Mackenzie.
All of the reports can be accessed (as they are available) here.