News Archive: September 2015

New Connections Project Posted on 21 Sep 2015  |  Website

At the September Presbytery meeting, Helen Pope spoke about the New Connections Project, which originated in the Priority Areas committee of Hamilton Presbytery.

The intention of the project is to introduce the principles of Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) as a way of enhancing the life of communities here in Lanarkshire.

Helen contrasted Asset Based Community Development with approaches of the past, in which churches often began by identifying the needs of an area and then developing programmes and projects to meet their needs.

New Connections, drawing on the principles of ABCD, begins not by focusing on the needs or deficits of a community, but rather by discovering the assets/strengths and talents that are found in abundance in every community. Having uncovered the richness of talent and experience the New Connections project brings together people from the churches and others from the wider community, to join as equal partners in developing initiatives which will enhance community life.

Over the past year, Helen has introduced this approach to 3 parishes within the Presbytery. In Craigneuk (Wishaw) people from the churches and community have formed a weekly, all age singing group. In Thrashbush, (Airdrie) and Townhead (Coatbridge) new Parent and Toddler groups have been developed and in Townhead a craft group too.

In each of these settings the churches have established new connections with many people, not by “serving them”, but by joining together, building new friendships and giving opportunities for the gifts found in both church and community to be used for the benefit of people living in these places.

Helen indicated that early in 2016 New Connections would like to pilot this approach in a further two parishes and invited expressions of interest from congregations within Hamilton Presbytery.

All change in senior officers at Presbytery Posted on 02 Sep 2015  |  Website

Thursday, 1 September saw changes in the senior officers of the Presbytery of Hamilton. At a meeting held in Motherwell, the Rev. Derek Gunn, Minister at Clarkston Parish Church, Airdrie, was elected as Moderator for session 2015-16 in succession to the Rev. Fiona Nicolson, Minister at New St Andrew’s Parish Church, Coatbridge. Part of Derek’s aims for his year in office is to reach out to congregations so that the connections between congregations and Presbytery are enhanced. In a further change, the Rev. Dr. Gordon McCracken took the oath of office as the new Presbytery Clerk, the first full-time appointment in the Presbytery’s history.

While both are Ministers in the Church of Scotland, each comes to their new role with a different variety of experience. Derek Gunn (65) was born and educated in Edinburgh before working as a Telecommunications Superintendent with (then) Post Office Telecomms between 1969 and 1978. This was followed by almost four years as a Boys’ Brigade Field Officer covering the North of Scotland. Derek’s studies for the Ministry were undertaken at the University of St. Andrew’s between 1981 and 1985 that was followed by a probationary placement at Edinburgh, Corstorphine Craigsbank. Derek was then Ordained as Minister of Bainsford Parish Church, Falkirk on 28 May 1986, leaving in January 1997 to work full-time with Scottish Prison Service and latterly in Prisons Directorate, including a time at the Scottish Executive advising the Justice Minister. Following a senior management re-organisation, Derek took early retirement and returned to parish ministry at Clarkston Parish Church, Airdrie in December 2009. Even before full-time ministry, Derek was active in the Church, including at Richmond Craigmillar Church as teenager when the American, Rev Bill Christmann, was Minister and where he was ordained as an elder in 1971 and served as Presbytery Elder in Edinburgh for a short period and later as a Presbytery Elder later in the Presbytery of Inverness. Derek has been Chaplain to Falkirk Football Club and the UK Paralympic Volleyball Team. Derek is married to Pat and has three children and two grandchildren.

Gordon McCracken (59) was born and educated in Glasgow and initially worked as senior technical engineer in the management of construction services projects. Active as a member and Elder in the Church, he commenced training for the Ministry at the University of Glasgow between 1982 and 1987. Gordon’s first appointment was a Minister at Whitburn South Parish Church between 1988 and 2002 and this was followed by three years as Minister at Kilwinning Abbey. During this time, he undertook further studies at Princeton Theological Seminary in the USA. For the past 10 years, Gordon has served as an Interim Minister at a number of churches across Scotland in Peterhead, Dumfries, Fife, Dennistoun, Lochgelly and Scone. Gordon has served on a number of the national Church’s committees and is currently a member of the Panel on Review and Reform. As Presbytery Clerk, Gordon will be responsible for the administration of the Presbytery, organising meetings, developing its policies and supporting ministers and elders in progressing work in the areas of responsibility for the Presbytery within the Church. Gordon is married to Jess.

The Church of Scotland Presbytery of Hamilton is a charity registered in Scotland No: SC048680.