The Church of Scotland
Bearsden Cross Church
There is a green hill far away, Outside a city wall, Where the dear Lord was crucified, Who died to save us all.
WORD FROM THE CROSS April 2017 Bearsden Cross Church – Scottish Charity No: SC009082 – Congregation No: 1811 1
Contacts Minister: Rev. Graeme R. Wilson email@example.com 61 Drymen Road, Bearsden, G61 2SU | 942 0507 Associate Minister: Rev Dr. Alexander Forsyth firstname.lastname@example.org Ministerâ€™s Secretary: Anne Reid (Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri: 9.30am-12.30pm) Office: 942 0507 | email@example.com Session Clerk: Keith Wright Editor: Peter Grant firstname.lastname@example.org Cover Art by Gillian Stewart
Any content for the May edition of the magazine should be forwarded to the editor by Thursday 20 April.
Website version of the magazine www.bearsdencross.org
Parish Letter Dear Friends, I spent part of last Saturday in the beautiful surrounds of Dalguise, Perthshire as part of my role as Chaplain to the 1st Bearsden Boys’ Brigade who were there for a weekend at the PGL outdoor centre. The Dalguise weekend away is a long-standing part of the BB activities, and it offers an opportunity for the boys to try their hand at Abseiling, Climbing, Canoeing and Raft building. They even get a chance to go on a zip wire and a slingshot, catapult type thing! Not for the faint hearted … or the Chaplain! Apart from the activities, the weekend offers the boys the opportunity to learn something about teamwork and getting along with others, as well as some supervised time away from family – perhaps for the first ever time for some. I know from some of the parents that the usual routine on the boys return on the Sunday evening is to hand over a black bin bag full of filthy clothes, have a bath, and fall asleep instantly! The Boys’ Brigade has been offering generation after generation of young boys and teenagers the chance to learn 3
something about themselves and about God and Jesus too, and the Object of The Boys’ Brigade remains: “The advancement of Christ’s kingdom among Boys and the promotion of habits of Obedience, Reverence, Discipline, Self-respect and all that tends towards a true Christian manliness.” As part of their weekly programme the other Chaplains and myself go in on rotation every Friday night to lead a short Bible study, and through this the boys get a thoughtful programme of learning. It is perhaps no surprise that many Ministers over the years throughout the UK can trace their faith roots to the Boys’ Brigade, and indeed the Girls’ Brigade. In these increasingly secular times it is important that we find ways to communicate the timeless gospel message of God’s love for the world in Jesus Christ to our young folk. In Bearsden Cross church we do that through Funday Sunday (Sunday School), Bible Class and Messy Church and our links to the BB and GB, and we are blessed to have such committed leadership in all of these activities. Jesus said, “Let the children come to me; do not try to stop them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you: whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” (Luke 18: 16-17) There’s a lesson there for all of us, myself included, that we need to retain something of that child-like trust and acceptance of 4
God’s love for each and every one of us. When I headed off to London aged just 21, one of the hymns on my last Sunday morning in the Old Parish church in East Kilbride was, ‘Just as I am, thine own to be’ and the words of the last verse struck a chord with me then, and remain with me today. Just as I am, young, strong and free, To be the best that I can be For truth, and righteousness, and Thee, Lord of my life, I come. No matter what age we are, young or old, or how long we have had our faith – these words offer us a timeless way of living. Shalom,
Twinning with Poitiers We have been in discussions with the Eglise Réformée de Poitiers
congregations. By visiting our respective congregations and communities we would hope to learn more about one another, our shared Reformed heritage, and to form friendships based on a mutual faith in, and love of, Jesus Christ. We plan to invite Poitiers folk to come to Bearsden in mid-May (around 17/18th - 22nd May). This would enable them to see Bearsden and Glasgow, perhaps visit a local school, and be present at worship on Sunday 21st May to meet members of the congregation. We also plan to take them through to Edinburgh at some point – either to see the opening Session of the General Assembly on Sat 20th, or to go to the 'Heart and Soul' festival on the afternoon of Sun 21st. More details of the plans for visit, and more importantly who is visiting, will follow in due course. 6
It is also planned to visit Poitiers ourselves and it is likely that this will either be early May (around 3rd/5th May to 8th May) or mid-June 2017 (around 17th/19th to 22nd June), although there may
timings. It is hoped that these initial visits would pave the way for larger group visits in due course, and in particular we both wish to explore the possibilities of exchange visits between our young folk to develop friendships and a deeper understanding of our cultures and our shared faith.
A request, and an opportunity! How good is your French?! Would you be interested in coming out to Poitiers in May or June? (Flights would be paid for by the Church of Scotland). Would you be
interested in spending time with our visitors when they come over in mid May? I am looking for one or two folks to join me as I travel over to Poitiers to meet the folks there and to explore the possibilities of establishing a Twinning relationship with them. My French is fairly rudimentary and while I would hope to polish this up in the coming months and years it would be good to have someone from the congregation who has decent French to help establish the twinning and to show our commitment to the folks in Poitiers. If you think you might be interested, then please contact me on 0141 942 0507 or at email@example.com to have a chat. This could be your chance to do something of lasting benefit for the folks of our congregation, and for your own faith life! Graeme
The Church of Scotland
BEARSDEN CROSS CHURCH If you are free, why don’t you join us for
“FOOD FOR THOUGHT” On
Thursday 6th April and Maundy Thursday 13th April 2017 at 12.30 p.m. Short Services of quiet reflection for Lent followed by Lenten Lunch and a time for fellowship A warm welcome awaits you There will be a celebration of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper at the service on 13 April Charity No. SC009082 9
ASSOCIATION OF BEARSDEN CHURCHES
HOLY WEEK SERVICES MONDAY 10th TO FRIDAY 14th APRIL Monday 10th
Saint Andrews Roman Catholic Church
TUESDAY TO FRIDAY IN BEARSDEN CROSS CHURCH Service conducted by Tuesday 11th
Baljaffray Parish Church
Wednesday 12th New Kilpatrick Parish Church Thursday 13th
Bearsden Cross Parish Church â€“ communion
Bearsden Baptist Church
All services will be at 7.30 PM The Association of Bearsden Churches (ABC) exists to promote church unity in the Bearsden area. Alisdair Meldrum 10
Visit of the Moderator of the General Assembly, Right Rev Dr Russell Barr, to Dumbarton Presbytery. 25th March - 2nd April 2017 The last official Moderatorial visit to this Presbytery was in 2006. Everyone is invited to attend the following events. Large congregations are wanted at all services!
Sunday 26th March: The Moderator preaches at a service for churches in Bearsden and Milngavie in St Paul's Church Milngavie at 7pm followed by a reception to meet the Moderator. Monday 27th March: TMC at 6.45pm in Massimo's. The Moderator and his wife arrive to receive a cheque for FreshStart charity and Mrs Barr remains to enjoy food and fellowship with TMC ladies. Tuesday 28th March: Dumbarton: Riverside Church, 7 for 7.30pm, for those interested in knowing more about training to lead worship in their own churches. Attendance at this meeting does not commit folk in any way. The Moderator will speak and others who do this work will also answer questions. Sunday 2 April: Songs of Praise and Thanksgiving service in Helensburgh Parish Church at 7pm to which all churches in Presbytery are invited. 11
REFLECTION ON SIX MONTHS AS ASSOCIATE MINISTER It must be the connections, the relationships, in the knowledge that God and a common bond of friendship unite us in the uniqueness of the moment. It was the man asking me to pray for him in a near silent whisper as he lay weak and very ill. It was the lady with dementia who let loose a beaming smile because she had recognised me and remembered my name. It was the warmth of your handshake at the door. Your word of encouragement, the joke you made in conversation over coffee in the hall; the growing feeling of welcome and belonging. Or maybe it was moments of deeper spiritual reflection. The draft of light suddenly illuminating the sanctuary during the morning service; the breath of silence in the prayer; the inspiration of the words of scripture read with resounding eloquence; the harmony of the choir. Looking out from the pulpit and sensing that God was near. The taste of the bread and wine, eyes closed in prayer, as we shared the elements amongst the small group at the evening communion. Perhaps it was any one of these, or them all, that capture these months. That tell of the grace of God. That are reminders of the privilege and responsibility of ministry. Faith, hope and love – these three remain– but the greatest of these is love. They are in prayer, Scripture and thought. But also in dialogue, relationships, a deep listening and a community open to God’s presence. With a willingness and expectation that He will act and prevail. A desire to seek and serve; to care and trust; to build up and to let go. 12
The church as sign, foretaste and instrument of the Kingdom. Where worship and witness meld. Where peace and justice meet. Where we acknowledge brokenness, seek forgiveness, and embrace redemption. God bless us all as we walk humbly onward in His footsteps. And thank you. Sandy
Funday Sunday We've had a busy month in Funday Sunday. We made stained glass windows when we talked about the Transfiguration. We talked about “Loving our Enemies” and ate “Love Hearts“ all week to remind us to love people, and on Communion Sunday we filled 10 bags for Glasgow City Mission, with Hats, socks and gloves.... and another box with lots of extras! We're looking forward to studying the Easter story over the next few weeks and of course having an Easter holiday (and maybe an Easter egg or two.....) There will be no Funday Sunday classes on Sunday 2nd, 9th and 16th April, back to normal on Sunday 23rd.
Elizabeth Thomson, Secretary 13
The Guild The last meeting of this session will be on Monday 27th March at 2.15pm when we will hold our AGM followed by a quiz and afternoon tea. All are welcome to this meeting. Further details from Irene McLachlan or the Church Office. Guild Projects Two years ago, all Guilds were given six new projects to run from 2015 to 2018. The totals raised to date are 1. Ascension Trust £60,246 Street Pastors, Scotland 2. Care for the Family £44,945 Helping those in difficulties with new babies 3. Christian Aid £36,471 Caring for Mother Earth in Bolivia 4. Feed the Minds £62,129 Female genital mutilation in Kenya 5. Mission International £38,683 A missionary project in Haiti 6. Prospects £35,110 Welcoming people with learning difficulties in the Church _______ Total £277,586 We in the Cross Church supported Street Pastors for two years. More information can be found on the Guild notice Board. Project Partner – Margaret Elder 14
From the Knitting & Sewing Circle: We will hold our biennial Coffee Morning on Saturday 22nd April from 10 till 12 tickets priced £2.50 are available from committee members or at the door. Items made by our band of knitters will be on display showing how versatile they are. This is our main fund raising event and provides us with money to buy wool and also support several charities. Please come along if you are able. For further details contact Vilma Johnston or the Church Office. ____________________________
Photograph by Peter H grant
When they reached a place called Gethsemane, he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray’. 15
Stewardship Giving For Growth I hope you all received a thank you/reminder slip from the Stewardship Committee with your invitation to communion in March. It has been most encouraging how many responses have been and indeed are still being made. The recent Annual Stated Meeting saw the presentation of the congregationâ€™s report and accounts for 2016 and the budget for 2017. Amongst all the detail, these documents set out the financial facts about our place in the community and the work that is being done locally, nationally and indeed internationally by the congregation as a whole. In its broadest sense we are a strong mission congregation and all our givings in financial, talent and time terms are important in maintaining this work. It will be many months before we see the full fruits of our Giving for Growth effort but our hope must be that our engagement and commitment as individuals making up this congregation will set us on course to continue all the work we already do and contribute to and indeed â€˜Give for Growthâ€™ for the years ahead. Giving for Growth responses can still be made and will be most welcome. Spare sets of papers are available on the shelf outside the vestry
Anniversary Celebrations GIVE TEN FOR TEN Once again we have been overwhelmed with your donations, this time of unused toiletries. Nearly 200 individual items have been handed in and these are being sent to Glasgow City Mission and East Dunbartonshire Women’s Aid (EDWA). You can read about Funday Sunday’s “sock appeal” in their section of the newsletter. Easter Egg donations for EDWA can be left in the Assembly Area until Sunday 9th April. Our final appeal of our “Give Ten for Ten” year launches on 9th April. On that day you will find Christian Aid “Penny boxes” in the pews. You are asked to take one of these and save your 10 pence pieces in them for the 10 weeks until Sunday 18 June. If you are unable to pick one up then, or fill it before the 10 weeks are up, you can collect another one from the Assembly Area. Any full boxes can be given to a duty elder on Sundays or handed in to the church office. Many thanks for your unstinting support.
Keith Wright Session Clerk 17
Bearsden Cross Church Walking Club PROGRAMME - APRIL 2017. Saturdays 1st April 22nd April
Kelly Cut. Aberfoyle to Cobleland.
Walkers leave from Bearsden Station Car Park at 9am (weather permitting). Friends and occasional walkers welcome. For further information contact Sheila Stevenson, Margaret Mackinlay or the Church Office. The Walking Club also meets every Wednesday at the Allander Leisure Centre car park at 9.30am, weather permitting. There is no set programme of walks. More information can be had from Amanda Mackenzie or the Church Office.
All walkers participate at their own risk.
Too Many Candles (TMC) We will meet as usual at Massimo at 7:00pm on the last Monday of the month (24 April) for friendship, fellowship and chat. Planning is under way for the summer outing on Friday 16th June. Further detail on venue and format will follow. Lesley Shaw 18
When I survey the wondrous cross… ‘God forbid that I should boast of anything but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world is crucified to me and I to the world!’ Letter of Paul to Galatians Ch.6 v.14 Isaac Watts, who wrote the hymn ‘When I Survey the Wondrous Cross’, is generally credited as the ‘Father of English Hymnody’. Until Watts began writing hymns, paraphrases of scripture, mostly the psalms, constituted the sole source of congregational praise in the Church of England, a practice continued much longer in the Church of Scotland. Watt did not object to this practice but felt that the psalms ought to be translated so that they would seem as though they were written as ‘David would have composed them if he had lived in our day’. However, to many of his contemporaries the connection between his hymns and their source in scripture was not obvious - ‘Jesus shall reign where’er the Sun’ surely could not be Psalm 72 nor ‘O God Our Help in Ages Past’ Psalm 90, could they? The significant difference in Watts’s ‘translations’ is most obvious in perhaps his greatest hymn, ‘When I Survey the Wondrous Cross’, which draws its material from Galatians 6.14. In it the image of Christ’s Crucifixion is linked to a powerfully emotional response from the believer. In doing so, Watts takes all the wisdom, beauty and comfort of scripture and sets a response before the faithful with great power. Why? Because as a young man he despaired of the lack of enthusiasm he perceived in congregations as they sang the metrical psalms of his day:-‘To see the dull indifference, the negligent and thoughtless air that sits upon the faces of a whole assembly, 19
while the psalm is upon their lips, might even tempt a charitable observer to suspect the fervency of their inward religion.’ - Hmm…! Nairn Young When I Survey the Wondrous Cross When I survey the wondrous cross On which the Prince of glory died, My richest gain I count but loss, And pour contempt on all my pride. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, Save in the death of Christ my God! All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood. See from His head, His hands, His feet, Sorrow and love flow mingled down! Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, Or thorns compose so rich a crown? Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were a present far too small; Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all. Isaac Watts 1674 - 1748 This is the first of an occasional series of articles by Nairn in which he will explore the story behind some of our best known hymns. 20
If you would like to contribute to the DEC East Africa Crisis Appeal, you will find Emergency Appeal envelopes in the pews and the Vestibule and Assembly Areas. The UK Government has promised to match the first £5 million raised. “Made-up” Penny Boxes are also available in the pews for you to “Give Ten for Ten” to Christian Aid to celebrate our tenth anniversary.
Erskine Bridge Cross
Saturday 6th May 2 – 5 pm
As this year Christian Aid celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Erskine Bridge Cross Walk, they plan to have a party! There will be inflatable fun for the youngsters along with games, face painting and cake and of course wonderful views over the River Clyde on the walk itself. To mark this landmark year all funds raised will go to projects in India working on health, education, land and rights. Last year as a congregation we raised £1680. Do please join us again this year. You can walk and/or sponsor our Ministers, who will be taking part. Sponsorship forms, information guides and check-in cards for walkers are available on the Christian Aid notice-board next to the kitchen in the Assembly Area. Please take copies and also complete the Registration Form on the notice-board. Remember to ask if your sponsors are tax payers and will agree to Gift Aid. If they agree, then fill in their house number and post code on the sponsor form. This will enable Christian Aid to get 25p extra for every pound you collect. 21
If you are not walking – please sponsor someone who is. If you don’t know who is walking, have a look at the Registration Form on the notice-board. The Ministers’ sponsor forms will be in the Vestibule and Assembly Areas.
Christian Aid Week Sunday 14th – Saturday 20th May The plight of refugees around the world is the focus for this year’s Christian Aid Week which runs from Sunday, 14th May, to Saturday, 20th May.
As you may know, unlike most other charities Christian Aid continues to organise a nationwide door-to-door collection, and Christian Aid Week is the single biggest act of Christian witness in Britain, when we join with 20,000 other churches across the United Kingdom and Ireland in helping the world’s poorest communities. In Scotland alone, £1,370,000 was raised last year during Christian Aid Week and more than half of this amount was from door-to-door collections. Please consider volunteering as a collector this year. Jim Stewart will be delighted to hear from you and can explain what is involved. 22
If you want more information about what the money is used for, take a look at the Christian Aid website at www.christianaid.org.uk. We need approximately 60 collectors to cover our allocation of the streets in Bearsden. Please sign up on the volunteer sheet on the Christian Aid notice-board in the Assembly Area. We usually have a very good response when we collect, and if you can mention Gift Aid and ask tax payers to fill in their name, house number and post code, then Christian Aid can get 25p extra for every pound collected.
BEARSDEN JOINT CHURCHES COFFEE MORNING – SATURDAY 20th MAY 10.00 – 12.00 NOON IN NEW KILPATRICK CHURCH NEW HALLS Tickets for tea/coffee and pancakes - £3.00 for adults/50p for children – will be available at the door on the day. There will be a Food Hamper Raffle, a Home Baking Stall, a Plant Stall, a Craft Stall, a Fair Trade Stall and a Tombola. As in past years, Bearsden Cross Church is responsible for stocking and running the Plant Stall. Could you plant up or donate some labelled plants? House or garden, decorative or edible – all sorts of plants are most welcome! These can be brought to the New Kilpatrick Church New Halls on Friday 19th May between 6.00pm and 7.30pm. Helpers are also required to staff the stall – though very useful, no horticultural knowledge is required – and also to count the money. Please sign up on the volunteer sheet on the Christian Aid notice23
board in the Assembly Area or contact me. Whether or not you are a gardener, do please come and support the coffee morning and buy from our stall. Lyndsay Ross
TRAIDCRAFT Our next sale wll be on Sunday April 23rd. Come and stock up on dried fruit ready for the baking stall at Christian Aid coffee morning. We have a good supply of all occasion cards ready for birthdays, good luck in your exams, and moving house. The shop from Balmore Coach house has now relocated to Gavin's Mill in Milngavie. Here there is a very wide variety of fair traded goods set out in this more spacious environment. The cafe is also much larger and serves fair traded tea and coffee plus superb cakes. Do go and try this new outlet.
Jo and Keith Moody
“Mind that Song” “Mind that song” is a service provided by Alzheimer Scotland, in conjunction with Bearsden Cross Church, which uses singing to bring people together in a friendly and stimulating social environment. Our Forthcoming events will be: 14th April, 12th May, 9th June FROM: 2 – 3.30pm Tea and coffee provided
WHERE: Church of Scotland 61 Drymen Road Bearsden G61 2SU CONTACT: Angi Inch AInch@Alzscot.org
Alzheimer Scotland- Action of Dementia is a company limited by guarantee, registered in Scotland 149069. Registered Office: 22Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh EH3 7RN. It is recognised as a charity by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator, no. SC022315.
Coffee concert BEARSDEN CROSS CHURCH SATURDAY 20th may 2017 11.30 a.m.
TAMAS FEJES - VIOLIN BARTOK SONATA – TEMPO DI CIACCONA MVT. YSAYE VIOLIN SONATA NO. 4 BACH PARTITA NO. 2 IN D MIN - BWV 1004
ADMISSION £10.00 (CHILDREN ACCOMPANIED BY AN ADULT FREE) COFFEE, SERVED FROM 10.45 A.M., INCLUDED. TICKETS FROM PURPLE EDGE, THE CHURCH OFFICE, OR AT THE DOOR. Charity No. SC009082
Flowers March Flowers 2017 "Happiness radiates like the fragrance from a flower and draws all good things towards you." Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Thank you to the following members of the congregation for providing or arranging flowers in March.
5th. 12th. 19th. 26th.
Mrs. M. Sleight. Mrs. L. Bruce. Mrs. F. Dunlop. Ms. I. Mackinnon.
Mrs. K. Edmond Mrs. G. Stokes Mrs. M. Land Mrs. A. Minty
We will be decorating the Church for Easter on Friday 14th April, beginning at 10:00am. This is a good opportunity to help and/or find out more about the Flower Group. Just contact Aileen Minty or Christine if you would like to come along.
Christine Taggart 27
Church Register Funerals 28.02.17 03.03.17 03.03.17 22.03.17
Mr Kenneth Phillips Mrs Marion Annan Mrs Mattie Hamilton Mr Robert Stewart
Certificate of Transfer issued Miss Vicky Christodoulou Congratulations To members who celebrated birthdays with a lot of candles in March Dr Margaret (Madge) Harper (92), Mrs Jean Honeker (90), Mrs Jeanette Sturgeon (90), Mr James Roxburgh (92) 85 â€Ś Mr Peter Taylor, Mr Bill Mackinlay, Dr Basil Shearer and Mrs Isabella Brewster 80...Mrs Carla Henry, Mr Cameron Rennie, Mrs Lilias Wilson and Mrs Pat Lambie, And to May & Eric Drummond who celebrated their 71st Wedding Anniversary on 16th March. 28
Dates for your Diary March 26
27 28 30 April 2 4 6 9
Bible Class 10.00 a.m. Morning Service 10.30 a.m. Funday Sunday & Crèche 10.30 a.m. Traidcraft goods on sale 11.30 a.m. Guild (AGM) 2.00 p.m. Lenten Study (The Mystery of Everything)7.30 p.m. Choir 7.30 p.m. Morning Family Service 10.30 a.m. Crèche 10.30 a.m. Lenten Study (The Mystery of Everything)7.30 p.m. Lenten Lunch 12.30 p.m. Choir 7.30 p.m. Palm Sunday Family Service Crèche
10.30 a.m. 10.30 a.m.
10th - 14th March: Holy Week services see page 10 13 14
Lenten Lunch (with Communion) 12.30 p.m. “Mind That Song” Alzheimer Scotland 2.00 p.m.
Easter Morning “Dawn” service with Communion 8.00 a.m. Easter Breakfast Easter Morning Family Celebration 10.30 a.m. Crèche 10.30 a.m. Choir 7.30 p.m.
Knitting & Sewing Circle Coffee morning 10.00 a.m. Saturday Night Club 7.30 p.m.
Bible Class Morning Service Funday Sunday & CrĂ¨che Traidcraft goods on sale Daffodil Tea Choir
10.00 a.m. 10.30 a.m. 10.30 a.m. 11.30 a.m. 2.00 p.m. 7.30 p.m.
Morning Service Children & Young People's activities CrĂ¨che Congregational Board Messy Church Christian Aid Erskine Bridge crossing
10.30 a.m. 10.30 a.m. 10.30 a.m. 7.30 p.m. 3.30 p.m. 10.00 a.m.
24 27 May 1 3 5 6
Any content for the May edition of the magazine should be forwarded to the editor by Thursday 20 April. Contributions, photographs too, reflecting all aspects of the life of the Church and congregation are welcome!
Bearsden Cross Parish Church Scottish Charity No. SC009082
During the week 22nd â€“ 29th January 2017 six members of our congregation served for a night at the Glasgow Winter Night Shelter, run by Glasgow City Mission. How did they get on? Read on!
Glasgow City Mission Scottish Charity No. SC001499
How it all began... 2010-1, you may recall, was a very cold winter! Glasgow City Mission, concerned at the plight of Glasgow’s rough sleepers in bitter sub-zero temperatures, managed to set up a night shelter for them in its old scouthut premises, then awaiting demolition. Local churches donated sleeping bags; volunteers served hot drinks. That was it. Basic facilities, yes, but at least the place was warm, dry and safe, and several lives were definitely saved because of that. It has run every winter since, though, after the hut disappeared, it was relocated; this year, it’s in the Lodging House Mission, E. Campbell Street. Thanks to fundraising by many people, especially through the sponsored sleep-outs at Ibrox (in which several of our members took part – many thanks!), it now runs December – March, with a core team of trained and paid leaders supported by unpaid volunteers from churches. Bearsden Cross Church gets involved... This year, along with volunteers from Baljaffray Church, six of our members - Maureen, Margaret, Lesley, Eleanor, Peter and Katie – each served one night at the Night Shelter. It was a moving, sometimes shattering, experience after which several of us wrote down our impressions. A questionnaire was circulated which everybody answered – but some wrote much more!
The Questionnaire: Questions and Answers... Question 1 What prompted you to volunteer for a night at the Night Shelter? Some Answers: Some had professional skills e.g. in nursing, and other experience that they felt could be useful at the Night Shelter. Some already volunteered or had other links with Glasgow City Mission and thought it would help to know more about this side of its work. All felt that supporting the homeless at a distance was not enough; they wanted a more “hands on” commitment, and a couple felt almost guilty not to have volunteered before.
Question 2 How do you feel now that you’ve done your night’s stint? Was it what you expected or not – and, if not, how was it different? Some Answers: As we had got some advice from previous volunteers, we were all more or less prepared for what we found. The existing Glasgow City Mission volunteers all agreed that the level of deprivation and suffering they saw was definitely worse than they were used to seeing at the Mission drop-in. If we were afraid beforehand, the fear has been replaced by admiration for the dedication, professionalism and kindliness of the leaders/senior volunteers, and a deep pity for the homeless people surviving with all their problems.
Question 3 What practical problems, if any, did you have during your night of service, and how do you think they could be solved? Some Answers: Everybody felt safe and well prepared with briefings beforehand. There was a secure room for staff and volunteers to have a snack and a rest, and the security checks at the main door were more than adequate. The main problem was sleepiness and since between about 12.30 and 6 a.m. there really wasn’t much to do, it was suggested that perhaps a two shift system for the volunteers could have been operated. (A half-shift system does operate apparently for people with jobs, if asked for.) However, on one night there was a major power cut which took a while to sort and affected the staff’s CCTV cameras and some alarms; in such one-off situations, or where staff numbers are lower than normal, the volunteers really are needed all night. At a lower level, it would help to have some notes in the kitchen on where extra supplies of sugar, coffee, paper cups etc. are kept! One of our team, in view of our sleepiness the morning after, suggested appealing next year for chauffeur church volunteers to bring us in at 9.30 p.m. and collect and drive us home at 8 a.m.
Question 4 What was your main impression of the people who were using the Night Shelter? Did you feel surprised, encouraged, depressed (or any other reaction) at what you saw and heard of them? Some Answers: We weren’t scared, we all agreed, though we might have been if we had seen the same folk outside, before they had been through the security check; we did see an occasional touch of aggressive behaviour in both the men and the women which the staff calmly dealt with. The physical ailments of many were more visible when they took off outer garments and some were clearly in pain. About 70% were on heroin, we were told, and mental health problems were also an issue. Most took regular supervised trips outside, whatever the weather, for a smoke and some arrived drunk. At least a third, a mixture of Eastern Europeans and other non-British people, some from Africa, didn’t know much English, though most of them could and did say “thank you” and smiled. A fair number of the sober ones tended to be non-British which suggests that they were there because they were not eligible for housing and the Night Shelter is free. Some guests had had hostel accommodation but been ejected for antisocial behaviour and we could often see why. A few were scared, especially one or two women, who might have been better in a Women’s Aid hostel, to avoid maybe meeting at the Shelter the very men they were fleeing from. It was pitiful to see how little luggage they all had - all their possessions in a single plastic bag. If anybody turned up too late (3 a.m.) to be admitted, or when the Shelter was full, they were always given a hot drink, a listening ear and help to find alternative accommodation if possible. Many seemed to have just about reached the bottom of the pit of hopelessness and told stories of growing up in institutions, being fostered and then being in and out of prison, but at the Shelter they were treated with kindness and respect which they obviously valued. It did help them just to be able to talk to the volunteers as people who cared about them, and as they “thawed” we had glimpses of the pleasant ordinary folk they could have been and might still become if helped. One of our team even had a proposal of marriage, admittedly under the influence of alcohol!
"OK, boss, what next?" Volunteers at the Night Shelter.
Question 5 How far did you feel part of a team of church volunteers with a common Christian purpose? Some Answers: We all felt welcome and part of the team, though we were the apprentices needing lots of guidance! We were generally working most closely with the other church volunteers in the kitchen but during the wee small hours it was possible to chat to the senior staff and regular volunteers, ask questions and get to know them and the way the Shelter worked. The night began and ended with a Bible reading and a prayer and a Christian atmosphere was evident throughout the team. Volunteers from different churches had different perspectives, not always the same as Glasgow City Missionâ€™s own, but all branches of the Church were equally and warmly accepted, united in Christian love and a desire to make Glasgow a little less awful for folk when, as one of our group put it, your jeely piece lands jammy side down.
Question 6 What are your thoughts on homelessness in Glasgow? Some Answers: There is not enough social housing and no immediate prospect of more, despite Government promises. Also, the form-filling to achieve official recognition as “homeless” is complex and the process slow, which means that some rough sleepers never get on the list. However, the biggest problem is probably that the guests we saw were seldom just homeless: they have chaotic lifestyles, addictions and various health problems, especially mental illness, and many had previously been expelled from accommodation for difficult behaviour, a situation, we felt, that wasn’t going to change any time soon! They need help from a range of professionals which is difficult and expensive to manage, but the Shelter did have somebody from Glasgow City Council in each night who took down details of each guest, and sometimes the staff could arrange other more permanent accommodation for them through the Hamish Allan Centre. That’s something at least! We all agreed it’s no use saying the homeless brought their problems on themselves and need to solve them themselves. They can’t – they’ve been knocked back so often that many have just lost heart and given up, and we couldn’t blame them. We felt the Shelter was a big help to those who used it (not all rough sleepers do, however, which is a bit worrying.) but it’s not a permanent answer to the problem of homelessness. Like food banks, it’s only treating the symptoms, not curing the illness.
Question 7 How far do you think all those who volunteered from Bearsden churches could do something positive to change this situation in Glasgow – and to persuade more of the community to join in? Some Answers: Given the volunteers for the Night Shelter from New Kilpatrick, Baljaffray and ourselves, plus the volunteers in Bearsden Baptist Church for Street Pastors, (and these are only the ones we know of), there is a solid core of concern in Bearsden churches already and that could increase. As a community with a considerable proportion of professionals and leaders,
Bearsden churches can add some confidence and experience as well as time and finance to the combined efforts of local government and charities to work towards a viable solution. The Association of Bearsden Churches could have an important role in keeping the issue in the public’s attention. At a more local level, Bearsden churches are already involved with E. Dunbartonshire Women’s Aid and, more recently, with the problem of how our churches can help in the settlement of refugees. Progress seems to depend on working together – congregations and community, Glasgow City Mission and other charities, local government, City Council, Health Services – and we can be a part of this. Meanwhile, we can continue to make donations, to volunteer where we can best help and, most importantly of all, to pray.
Question 8 Would you volunteer again next year and encourage other members of our church to do so? Unanimous Answers: Yes, and yes! (though we realise it’s not for everyone.) It was suggested that some organised visits to see round Glasgow City Mission Project Centre could be a good way of generating support. That can be arranged - just ask!!
Familiar faces? The Moderator, Dr. Russell Barr, with Scottish Churches Housing Action CEO, Alastair Cameron, and Convener, Rev. Graeme Wilson, together with Green MSP Ross Greer and SNP MSP Christina McKelvie, at the Scottish Parliament.
Lesley’s email, written to a group of her friends three days after her night of service, gives the best picture of how we all felt. Hi there, folks. Well, on Tuesday night I did a volunteer shift at the Winter Night Shelter – was picked up at 8.30 pm by the other two church volunteers (from Baljaffray Church) and home again at 8.30 am. – and I am not sure I have words to describe the souls we had in that night. I can honestly say nothing had prepared me for such a desperately sorry lot. Even helping with the evening drop-in at the City Mission where 100+ folk are fed each night was nothing to this. We had a full house of 40 folk. Someone else arrived about 2 in the morning but had to be turned away. Thankfully after a hot cup of tea and a brief chat, when they told him how he could access support at the Mission the following day, they eventually persuaded him to try an alternative address with family and put him in a taxi. As you can imagine, it is really distressing to turn anyone out on a cold, wet winter’s night but there is only space, staff and funding for 40 persons per evening; if that rule is abused, it could endanger those who are staying at the Shelter. Most of the clients were heroin addicts, the majority still high when they arrived. There were two old men I worried wouldn’t survive the night – no exaggeration. One man, maybe early 30s, had a quarter of the front of his head missing... with massive scars running everywhere. I have no idea how he is still alive let alone functioning. He said it was an army injury but nobody was quite sure. There were eight young women in, one quite ill and the rest fairly agitated and, at times, extremely aggressive. From what we gathered, the women were by far the bigger problem at the door that night. The language from all was colourful to say the least but not generally targeted at us so it was just a case of ignoring it. It was quite difficult to make out what some of them were saying, actually, as they slurred their words badly. Most had scars and were painfully thin. The security was very, very good, though, and at no time was I worried about my situation. The leaders were fully trained and paid and were supported by regular volunteers as well as by us three church volunteers. Our job was just to provide tea or coffee and toast from 10 pm till the clients settled down and
the lights were put off some time after midnight. The paid staff all wore CCTV vest cameras and headsets and were in constant contact with each other. We all wore bright yellow “flak” jackets with silver stripes to show we were staff. Each client was logged in and thoroughly searched and their belongings sealed in clear plastic bags which were then locked away. Someone still managed to smuggle in a bag of needles but it was found and removed during the night, no harm done. Once in, they were allocated a mattress on the floor with bedding. I chatted to one or two that sat at the tables with their coffee but most chose to settle into their sleeping bags immediately. This is the only time in a 24 hour day when most of them are relatively safe, and they looked exhausted, so sleep is what they want. However, one young woman was particularly aggressive: she wanted a particular mattress which had been taken already by someone else. She was dealt with very calmly by the staff but it took some time to quieten her down and she was warned that if she did not calm down she would be asked to leave.
"Night, night, everyone!" Guests settling down for sleep.
Once the lights were out, we three volunteers went through to the “staff” area, a small locked room (coded key pad entry) with toilet, one couch and chairs where we sat from 1.30 till 6.30 am. We weren’t needed for that time could ideally have gone home - but, in an emergency, e.g. a fire, we were part of the evacuation team so had to stay all night. As a short nap each on the
couch would probably have left us feeling worse than just staying awake, we chatted and clock-watched. We could have gone instead into the big hall where the clients were sleeping but it was too dark for reading and talking might have woken the sleepers. We did venture through it for a coffee about 3.30 and I have to say the smell was quite something. These guys don’t get much chance to wash so you can imagine the collective smell from 40 warm bodies in the warm hall – and it had been raining as they arrived so a lot of them came in damp. A couple of them had been sick and there was at least one wet mattress to add to the mix so the staff base, we felt, was definitely preferable. Our team leader, Alfie, has occasionally led my Urban group at the Mission and so I knew him. He is a former heroin addict and had tried to commit suicide but decided he needed vodka to give him the courage. While he sat on the ground waiting for Tesco to open, an elderly lady asked if he was all right and insisted on taking him for a cuppa at what turned out to be a church meeting. That was the start of turning his life around, though it took him several years of struggle and 18 months of rehab. to get there, and today he dedicates his life to doing for others what that church did for him. Truly inspirational! Well, we were still awake, if a little woozy by 6.30 am when it was time to fire up the toaster and get tea and coffee ready. Lights went on at 7 and all 40 guests had to be fed (just toast – I reckon I made at least 100 slices in 25 minutes) and watered by 7.30 when the chef arrived to start cooking the official Lodging House Mission breakfast. Then after a final clear-up, the three of us were in a car heading for home and bed. I was surprised at how long it’s taken me to adjust to missing a full night’s sleep – still not fully normal by Thursday afternoon! It was quite surreal looking back, totally outside my comfort zone – but I would do it again in a heartbeat as these folk have absolutely nowhere else to go (most have been banned from every hostel in the city) and absolutely nobody to care about them. Not really a life at all! The Shelter is only open December – March and last year it snowed in April. They really value the power of prayer so feel free to pass this request for prayer to all your like-minded friends. They really, really need it! Thanks for reading this. Lesley.
Some thoughts to mull over... 1. First of all, the what, the why and the how! See Matthew 25: 35-40 and Matthew 21: 22. 2. Although there seems to be quite a lot of rough sleepers who don’t use the Night Shelter (which is disappointing), the actual number of rough sleepers has gone down a little this year. 3. There is a programme called Housing First, piloted in North America, that tried giving homeless people a house first and then the wrap-around support they need, not the other way round, and in some cities, it has seen homelessness wiped out. This is being tried by Turning Point Scotland and Grant Campbell, CEO of Glasgow City Mission, believes it could work in Glasgow. The City Council is interested.... 4. City Ambition Network is a new network in Glasgow that shares data and works in partnership across health, social services, and the third sector, to support homeless people in keeping their tenancies, remaining engaged in their own efforts to recover and learning to hope again. 5. If you pass a rough sleeper on the pavement and would like to help, Glasgow City Mission’s “Connect” magazine for Spring 2017 suggests you talk to the person, give them a card to its evening drop-in for a warm welcome and a free hot meal, donate to and/or volunteer at the Mission AND consider how your church (that’s us!) can do more to reach out to those in need to prevent them from spiralling down into homelessness in the first place. 6. The Scottish Government, in response to Scottish Churches Housing Action (Convener, the Revd. Graeme Wilson) and other organisations dealing with homelessness, (see photograph on p.7) has promised to deliver at least 50,000 affordable homes by 2021 but that’s no comfort to people who are homeless right now – and nobody knows what promises the Scottish Government will be able to deliver in 2021......
7. Almost all the above information and much more can be found on the Glasgow City Mission website www.glasgowcitymission.com and the most recent edition of its magazine “Connect” which is also available online. Read it (especially the news section) and be encouraged!
And finally..... .....to all the members of Bearsden Cross Church who have helped Glasgow City Mission and especially the Glasgow Winter Night Shelter in any way – by donations of money, food, clothing, toiletries, time, 10 for 10, sponsored events, encouragement, support, volunteering and prayer -
THANK YOU ALL VERY MUCH!
Published on Mar 20, 2017