We have received our routine Presbytery review report, which the Kirk Session now want to pass widely around the congregation.
Local Church Review
Granton Visit – Summary Report
5th November 2015
Granton is a community on the edge. Physically it is on the northern edge of the city; economically the community has changed so that now it is a community on the edge of poverty and deprivation, with many people on benefits. The Church wants to tell the people of Granton that they count and looks to bring something of the grace of God to a community that is often fickle and to people whose lifestyles are often chaotic. This is echoed in their values: Equality is based on who you are not on what you have; everyone is valued and everyone has gifts that can be offered to God; true community brings with it respect across the generations and cultures; everything we do is rooted in Jesus Christ.
There is a strong sense of intentionality about the work that the minister and Kirk Session are doing. Much has changed about worship, for example. The style is informal; Norman makes use of a question-and-answer style of engagement; it makes use of multi-media technology in an image-based culture; it is interactive and thought-provoking. Some of these changes were piloted in the summer, and were introduced to make the worship more relevant to the people who attend. These changes and others are not random, nor are changes for their own sake, but are made to enable the church to engage with its community in a way that people find relaxed and energizing.
The relationship between the church and the community of Granton is central to much of the congregation’s activity. There is a long-standing, weekly lunch club that meets and feeds people whilst also building relationships with people who feel alienated and lonely. Accompanied play for families, a coffee morning, and a community film night are among the other examples of projects that have been developed in response to research carried out by the Kirk Session into the needs of the people of Granton. How to make people outside think of the congregation as “their church” is part of the Session’s aim.
Resources are a key factor in all of this. Norman is about to be nominated to the General Assembly as the next convenor of its Mission and Discipleship Council, a job that will demand much of his time outside the parish. Kirsty Harper, their MDS is about to leave in December. There is an anxiety in some members of the Kirk Session that they will be left on their own a lot if Norman is not there. The MDS post remains with Granton as part of the Presbytery Plan; we hope that the right appointment can be made swiftly. Norman will be given some support for his parish when he becomes convenor: if Kirsty is not quickly replaced, maybe that needs to be given to some kind of pastoral support.
The building is a key resource for the congregation’s ministry. There is a frustration that Bethany’s Care Shelter is not coming to Granton this year because of fire regulations that the building does not meet. There is a mission-centred plan to upgrade the buildings so that they can be back on the Bethany rota next winter, but also so that they can develop new avenues of mission within the community.
The people themselves are the biggest resource available to the church. This is an ambitious Session, inspired by their minister to keep looking to the future. They are all involved in more than one thing, but see that crossover between groups as a hugely positive influence. They intentionally involve new people in the work of the congregation, allowing people to gravitate towards the areas where they feel most comfortable. The conversation between the team and the Kirk Session was lively and vibrant; their energy and ambition is clear to see; their concern for mission is at the heart of all they do.
We wish them well.
Kate Anderson, James S. Dewar, Maggie Lane