The Church of Scotland / Christian Aid Lenten Reflection for 26 February is written by Helen Pope, New Connections worker, Presbytery of Hamilton:
In the late 1970s, our family moved to Ferguslie Park in Paisley and joined the Church of Scotland congregation of St. Ninians. It was a decision that would shape our lives.
Ferguslie Park then, as now, was the poorest community in Scotland. Undeniably it had it’s problems: huge dark tenements were awaiting demolition; the nearby Linwood car factory was about to close its doors. Across Scotland and beyond, Ferguslie Park was known for all the wrong reasons. However, we learned that in the congregation of St Ninians and in the wider community of Ferguslie Park, there was treasure to be found.
Over the last 35 years we have come across this same treasure in other unlikely places. It is found in the everyday, ordinary saints, who quietly use their gifts in often unseen and unassuming ways. Men and women freely give of their time, knitting for new babies, running local football teams, volunteering at community cafes and looking out for neighbours during rough times.
Although in the past there was a tendency to focus on the problems and needs of these communities, in more recent times there has been recognition of their treasure. Ann Morisy, in her book, Journeying Out, calls the church to join together with the wider community in “acts of venturesome love”, in which the gifts of all are valued and utilised.
Across the world, “Asset-based Community Development” now embraces the same approach. But for me this journey began in the community of Ferguslie Park and in the little congregation there, named after St. Ninian.
Other Lenten Reflections can be found on the Church of Scotland website at www.churchofsotland.org.uk