ON CHILDREN'S MINISTRY FEATURE
Changes and challenges
Depending on God
An inspiring life
Whatâ€™s happening in our Independent Schools?
Vicki Shaver reflects on children's ministry
Update on our family finances
Find out more about...
Scripture Union Scotland At Scripture Union Scotland our vision is to see children and young people exploring the Bible and responding to the significance of Jesus. As a Christian charity we are part of the worldwide family of Scripture Union movements that began more than a century ago and now operate in over 130 countries across the world. In Scotland, around 2,000 volunteers are supported by over 100 staff and associate workers. We work in partnership with local churches wherever we can, training, equipping, and working with children and young people. Wherever you find children and young people – in schools, on holiday, in local communities or online – you’ll find us providing opportunities to explore the Bible and respond to the significance of Jesus whilst making friends and having fun. SU Scotland t. 0141 332 1162 70 Milton Street f. 0141 352 7600 Glasgow e. email@example.com G4 0HR w. www.suscotland.org.uk www.facebook.com/SUScotland www.twitter.com/SUScotland www.youtube.com/SUScotland www.flickr.com/photos/SUScotland
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
Andy's column Are there idols in SU Scotland? Wherever I turn at present I seem to be confronted with idols. At our Management Team meetings we are reading through the book of Isaiah where chapter after chapter inveighs against idol worship, poking fun at the idea of using half a piece of wood to carve an idol, the other half to cook your dinner (Isaiah 44:15)! Put that together with a Scotland-wide day of prayer I attended where the challenge came to ask: what are the idols in our lives, churches and organisations? Following on from that, at our own Day of Prayer in January, several people felt a strong challenge
Even when what we think we need is something physical (like finances) what we really need is more of Jesus. from the Lord that, as someone put it, ‘even when what we think we need is something physical (like finances) what we really need is more of Jesus’. Idolatry is, after all, anything that diverts our mind, heart and dependence away from God to other means of support, strength and salvation. This calls for serious examination. Are there ‘idols’ in SU Scotland; things that cause us to trust in something other than God? Perhaps it’s our reputation. There was a recent post on Facebook which went: ‘The Church of England: serving Jesus with a slight air of superiority since 1534’! It’s unfair to that church but it rings warning bells against subtly shifting our focus from dependence on God to dependence on our heritage. That kind of shift quickly breeds complacency, a patronising mindset and an approach designed to achieve (only) what we currently achieve. Openness to the voice of the Spirit is what is needed, especially when financial strictures mean that we must seek the Lord for the things he is asking us to do with the resources he gives us. You can read more about this on page 7. Don’t get me wrong. I constantly give thanks for the foundation on which we build – the godly ministry of many remarkable people gone before us, of which Graham Wilson (page 14) is a great example.. Their legacy lives on but so does their vision, which was always fixed on Jesus. Are there prophetic insights from someone reading this that we need to hear?
Editor: Hilary Phillips, www.cygnus-extra.co.uk Designed by: Innovivid, www.innovivid.co.uk Printed by: Verve, www.vervegrp.co.uk Published by: Scripture Union Scotland © Scripture Union Scotland, 2013 ISSN 1357 - 7171 Scottish Charity SC011222
A large print edition is available on request. 2
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Andy Bathgate Chief Executive firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you heard? It's our best kept secret, but not for long! The Serve Your Local School website is now live at www.syls.org.uk. Don't keep it to yourself; pass it on!
A day of prayer One of the values we seek to live by at SU Scotland is dependence on God. That means we bring all our needs to him, acknowledging him as the source of every good gift. So, with that in mind, staff, volunteers and supporters met together to pray across Scotland on 16 January 2013. It's not that we don't normally pray, but this was a special time of focus on prayer; a time to seek God together and express our dependence on him. Prayer gatherings took place at our offices, our centres and in people’s homes. Others prayed wherever they were. Across Scotland our focus was to ask God for the people and the funds that will enable us to help even more children and young people explore the Bible and respond to Jesus. Where did people pray? Alltnacriche, Ayrshire, Borders, Castle Douglas, Dumfries, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Lendrick Muir, Ross-shire, West Lothian and many other places too. We will continue to look for ways to make prayer an important focus for us as an organisation. Thank you for being part of praying for SU Scotland. If you use our quarterly Prayer Diary and want more updated monthly prayer points, please email email@example.com.
We have been collecting stories and ideas from all over Scotland about what people are actually doing; and it's far more than end of term assemblies! Some ideas are creative and ambitious, such as running a 'school of rock,' or running a day or week long event for the school. Others are really simple, such as volunteering to help drive the school minibus, or help the teacher cut up shapes for lessons or put up displays. There's also a section for people who've never done anything in schools before to help get new initiatives started. In addition, there are loads of helpful resources and pointers to some great material that can be used in schools. I think EVERY church in Scotland can have a positive involvement in their local school, regardless of how big, wealthy or resourced they are. There are ideas for churches who have got no connections to their school, and ideas for those already active in their school communities. Can you bake? Then you can serve! Can you listen? Then you can serve! Do you care about seeing children and young people flourish? Then you can serve! I could go ON with many more ideas... but you should probably just go and have a look at the website instead! Kathryn Campbell, Serve Your Local School Coordinator
First to Basecamp February might sound early in the year to be preparing for the holiday season, but a group of young people got together at Basecamp in Pitlochry then to think about mission and service in Scotland, making the most of the time to learn from the team, from each other, and from the Bible. Part of the COmMISSION programme, the weekend training event was a great opportunity to discover just what is involved in becoming a trainee leader at SU Holidays & Missions. The majority of delegates had taken part in SU Scotland events as young people, but were now at the point of considering a volunteer role. So how did the weekend help? Michael Yeoman is currently in S5, studying for Highers. “I was inspired by friends to go to Basecamp because I want to help younger people find out what it means to love Jesus. It was an incredible experience and really helped me to understand more about what’s involved.” Rosie Bowker, Team Leader for the event, comments, “This is always such an encouraging weekend. We hear how the ministry of SU Scotland has had an impact on these young lives and then spend time encouraging and equipping them to serve others.” Further leadership training events are held in June. Find out more at www.suscotland.org.uk/commission. Basecamp at Pitlochry in February, a COmMISSION training event. @su SPRING 2013
Changes and challenges
in childrenâ€™s ministry Vicki Shaver came to Scotland from the USA (via England and Eire) in 1985 to work with SU Scotland as a training and children's ministry adviser. In 2000 she joined ICC in Glasgow where she led the BA (Hons) in Theology with Children's Ministry Specialism. Having recently retired from a full-time role there, Vicki is continuing to lecture and advise. She also works with children's workers in Uganda, Ethiopia and Rwanda and is involved with ministries such as Big House in Northern Ireland, who help children at risk or who have additional learning and support needs. We invited Vicki to reflect on how and why children's ministry has changed over the time that she has been involved, and what our priorities should be for the future.
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By contrast, in 2013 children learn about spirituality through Curriculum for Excellence, with Christianity being presented alongside a variety of other world religions. Television is viewed individually on their mobile phone or iPad, with meals being eaten wherever they may be, but not usually all together as family units. Home is often in more than one place, with children spending time in each parental home or with a grandparent or other caregiver. For over 16,000 young Scots, home is with foster carers or in residential care. Young people usually belong to at least one social network online, with communication immediate and worldwide – safe or unsafe as that may be. Scotland is now multi-cultural with various world religions to be found in towns, villages and schools.
What has changed? Over the last few decades, culture and society in Scotland have seen a massive shift. Shopping malls promote consumerism and are better attended than Christian church services on a Sunday morning. Media seems to be a main shaper of world views, attitudes and perspectives and is more accessible than much of our ministry with young people. For children with additional learning and support needs, we have changed the labels, but much work remains to be done in real inclusion and in communication and support for these young people and their families. While child protection legislation is welcomed to make life safer for children, legislation does not bring goodness, thus many young people are still living in un-noticed dangerous environments which need more than laws to bring real safety. Drink, drugs, bullying, poverty and violence remain part of the context of many children’s lives in Scotland.
What are the implications for Christian ministry with children? Firstly, remember what our ministry is! It is to share with children what we know of the Lord Jesus. Personal stories of our experiences of knowing and walking with – or sadly sometimes away from – God help young people in becoming followers of Christ Jesus. See Psalm 78 and Hebrews 11 for examples of frail, imperfect people who did just this. We should guard against the programme, the communication method or the discipleship process becoming all-important – instead the focus should be on people becoming followers of Jesus. Secondly, we need to remember that children’s ministry should always involve the use of the scriptures which reveal God’s love in Jesus, show how evil is overcome and demonstrate what it means to be a follower of Jesus in a rapidly changing world. By becoming more familiar with the Bible, young people will be more able to spot the difference between Christian truth
and the approaches of various world religions. At the same time, we can hopefully model how to be kind to one another in those differences. Additionally, as young people see and understand the various family systems in the Bible, including the family of God, they will likely want a family that reflects what God intended. By encountering selfless love in their leaders, in scripture and in Christ, they will be better equipped to live in what sociologist Sue Gerhardt termed ‘The Selfish Society’, where laws and authority are questioned with ‘self–opinion’ being the criterion for judgement. This post-modern and individualistic thinking means the Bible does not have the same authority in the minds and behaviour of young people as perhaps it might have done twenty years ago.
Christian scripture seems to be perceived as one ‘equal’ option among religious texts rather than as the revelation of the loving Saviour of the world. It’s key that we understand and overcome this shift in children’s ministry, in both the present and future.
hen I came to Scotland in 1985, children had Religious Education (mainly Christianity) in their schooling and were often part of Sunday morning Sunday School or a Christian mid-week club. In their homes, families would gather for a meal round the television as their worlds were enlarged by Blue Peter and Top of the Pops. Frequently, one or both parents would attend a local church service. Ethnically, the children in schools and churches were mainly Caucasian. Overhead projectors and videos were the contemporary Christian worker’s communication equipment.
Thirdly, children’s ministry will need to pay more attention to helping parents and local churches nurture Christian faith in children. We will need to act intentionally and intergenerationally, not only in corporate worship but also in learning, in times of play, pain, prayer, evangelism and celebration. Working together with parents in the Christian spiritual formation of children is now urgently needed. Existing ministries will not necessarily need to stop entirely but do need reviewing and revising to make certain parents are consulted and included. No doubt working with parents will also help parents themselves in realising their own faith! With its vast and relevant experience in working in schools and residential activities, SU Scotland could be an important source of encouragement and help for churches in linking parents and schools to nurture faith in children. A creative way of doing this is found in Guidance from Those Who Teach and Nurture by Catherine Stonehouse and Scottie May. Such a partnership could strengthen the work of local workers with churches and schools. For SU Scotland, a priority must be continuing to develop appropriate content and ways of using technology and social networking for communicating with young people about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. This will likely
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include helping young people to evaluate and choose relationships, including being part of the church. Additionally, I hope that SU and churches will work more with young people with additional learning and support needs in order to discover other languages of communication and gain first-hand insight with them into the harder questions about what it means to be made in God’s image. Doing so may also give us clues as to how we work with parents of all our young people as we engage in Christian discipleship.
The future? Starting in the world of children, let us listen to them more and learn from them, use relational methods, share past and present Christian experiences with them, trust and use the Bible, partner and work with other agencies and local churches, use social networking and technology wisely and pray constantly. Then remember: God loves children – unconditionally. God loves children more than we do, so will help us if we honestly ask for his insight. Vicki Shaver
Vicki's suggestions for some further reading: Real Kids, Faith, Practices for Nurturing Children’s Spiritual Lives by Karen Marie Yust, 2004. This pastor, teacher and mum has put together practical ways to nurture children in Christian faith based on good research and experience. Published by Jossey-Bass. Formational Children’s Ministry, Shaping Children Using Story, Ritual and Relationship by Dr Ivy Beckwith, 2010. Ivy is an experienced children and family pastor. Wish she lived in Scotland to help us along! Published by Baker Books. These first two books should be required reading for pastors, parents and children’s workers – but then I am biased… The following resources are good places to go for more about seeing and listening to children: Listening to Children on the Spiritual Journey, Guidance for those who Teach and Nurture by Catherine Stonehouse and Scottie May, 2010. Real conversations and moments of communication give insight into the discipling of children. The Child in the Bible, edited by Marcia Bunge, Terence E Fretheim and Beverly Roberts Gaventa, 2008. Every SU worker and pastor will see children in biblical texts and contexts from fresh perspectives – and that includes from a variety of family patterns. In the same series, The Child in Christian Thought gives various theological understandings concerning children. Published by Eerdmans. Children’s Spirituality, What It Is and Why It Matters, by Rebecca Nye, 2009. If you work with Curriculum for Excellence, then this book might help you find ways to help children value and express their spirituality. Published by Church House.
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For the serious biblical thinker and practitioner: This Abled Body: Rethinking Disabilities in Biblical Studies edited by Hector Avalos, Sarah J Melcher and Jeremy Schipper, 2007. This work sees biblical studies engage with the wider field of disability and sociological studies. Challenging, to say the least. Wish it had been available years ago. Published by Society of Biblical Literature.
I depend on God alone; I put my hope in him. Psalm 62:5
Update on our family finances In the course of preparing our budget for the coming financial year, it became clear that we are facing a significant challenge as a movement. We wanted to help you, our supporters, understand the situation and what is being done to address the issue. What is the extent of the financial challenge? In simple terms, for a number of years now, our regular annual costs of frontline ministry and supporting operations – things like salaries, travel expenses and office costs – have grown to the point where they exceed our ‘normal’ income from donations and grants by around 10%. This has been possible and appropriate until very recently, mainly because of two things: 1) regional team support funds which were built up prior to posts being filled and 2) large legacies and other exceptional gifts. How did we arrive at this point? As you would expect, there are a number of complex factors which have come into play. However, a fall in the two major factors just mentioned – team support balances available and legacies received – are the main reasons. What have we already done? The first thing we did was to review all our income and make plans for how we could encourage further growth. Next, we’ve identified significant savings in non-staff expenditure – things like office costs, IT and communications. Then we looked at savings in staff costs which didn’t involve redundancy – reviewing all current recruitment and cutting back on plans in that area. Unfortunately, even after that we were still left with the need to make difficult staff cutbacks. As a result, the SU Scotland staff team were alerted in early February to the fact that a small number of posts are likely to be affected by reduction or redundancy. Where do we go from here? Throughout the month of March, we have been in a phase of seeking offers of voluntary redundancy or reduced hours from staff. By mid-April we will be in a position to assess whether there is a need for compulsory redundancy for a small number of posts. We will soon feel the effects of tough choices already made to reduce costs, including the loss of our regional ministries suboffice in Glasgow. Also, we will be switching to sending out three general mailings to all supporters each year, rather than four.
How can I help? Firstly, please do pray for the staff team. This is not an easy time for anyone and we would ask you to pray that the staff and their families will know God’s peace at this time of natural anxiety, as well as for unity – that the devil will not be allowed any foothold and that God will give wisdom and sensitivity to his voice. Secondly, we would greatly value your continued, enhanced or new financial support. We are prayerfully seeking God for an increase of 10-20% in total giving received to help close the gap and reduce staff cutbacks. You might want to take advantage of the response slip enclosed with this magazine or visit www.suscotland.org.uk to give online. Thirdly, if it would suit you to receive general mailings (including @SU) electronically, rather than by post, please complete the form on the cover sheet that came with this magazine or email your name, post code and preference to firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to know more? Detailed answers to these and other questions can be found at – www.suscotland.org.uk/financial-insight. We are constantly grateful for the number of people who, like you, are committed to helping fulfil our shared vision to see the children and young people of Scotland exploring the Bible and responding to the significance of Jesus. Your prayers, encouragement, donations and time are fundamental to this ministry that continues to have remarkable open doors for work with children and young people right across Scotland.
Andy Bathgate, Chief Exec
Dr Alasdair Morrison, Chair
This article was first published as a special e-News bulletin sent to supporters on 28 February. If you did not receive this, please sign up for our monthly @SU e-News to ensure we can keep you right up to date. Just drop a note of your name and post code to email@example.com or call 0141 352 7634.
W h o's g n i r e e t n u l vo n ow ? Michael Cook, Centre Director at Lendrick Muir, talks about volunteering…
Retirement freedom! I worked as a chemistry teacher for 38 years and have also been our church secretary for over 30 years. I’ve always enjoyed DIY, gardening and nature and when I retired, as a relatively active individual, I wanted something positive to do with my new freedom. I’ve been working at Lendrick Muir, a few days most weeks, for almost five years now! It actually began before retirement. Although uncertain about my ability, I volunteered to act as an assistant cook for Forth Valley weekends around eight years ago, and came to love the beauty and peace of the surrounding grounds at Lendrick Muir. My daughter worked at Lendrick Muir for a time and, as retirement approached, I mentioned to her that I would be willing to offer some of my time. Before my last summer holiday was over I was asked to come up to talk about how I could help. I started off working in the grounds, tidying up garden areas and then was asked to carry out some minor repairs and painting when the winter weather set in. I was offered training in archery and a health and hygiene course. The former allows me to run a few archery sessions when staffing was short while the latter mean I can help the catering team during the busy school terms. I love the variety and the way you’re trusted to get on with things. I’ve met lots of lovely people and made many new friends over the years and it’s great being accepted as part of the larger team. Bill McGrouther
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There are so many ways in which volunteers are vital to what we do. First, they have a huge level of commitment to what Lendrick Muir and SU Scotland are all about. Second, they often bring specialist skills and experience which isn’t always practical for us to have in-house. Third, we face a huge range of seasons as a centre and the volunteers help us respond to this in a way that wouldn’t be practical with staff alone. Finally, they are evidence that we are running a ministry and not just a business – volunteers help inspire me and my team to give our best. Volunteers bring a huge level of experience, commitment and flexibility which is invaluable to us as a centre. Bill is an example to the staff team here at LM. He volunteers a huge amount of time (normally three days a week) and is willing to do a range of work – from working in the kitchen to helping around the grounds. Most recently he has been painting rooms in the centre. We are all very grateful for all that Bill has done. Another great example for me is Bryce Moore who has brought some very specialist skills and experience to our biomass project which is only possible because of his extensive background in Building Services. It isn’t an overstatement to say that Bryce has been a God-send to the biomass project. Find out more about Bryce’s volunteer role in the next edition of @SU.
There is no end of different ways in which you can volunteer with SU Scotland. Volunteering has been at the heart of the organisation since it started, and still is. Roles such as group leaders and cooks at our holidays are perhaps well known, but what about some of the other ways that you can get involved?
Whatever you are good at, however you want to serve, find out about ways to get involved here:
Call the Volunteers Unit on 0141 352 7610 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
URGENT GAP: Free for a week this Easter? At the time we go to print we are still looking for male group leaders to join teams at SU Holidays this Easter. It’s short notice, but please consider if you can help.
We’ve just mentioned a few different ways that you can get involved, but there are lots more. If you are interested in getting more involved at SU Scotland or you are looking for just the right role for you, please contact us. We’ll be happy to chat on the phone or provide more information by email.
Get involved at school We are always looking for people who can help in school in different ways. Visit www.syls.org.uk for some new ideas. Summer: a season of mission Join a team for a week this summer and make a difference. Whatever your gifts and skills there are ways that you can help. Happy in the kitchen? Many of our holidays need people to help cook and serve up delicious food to hungry children and teenagers. You don’t need to be an expert, but experience and enthusiasm will both help. Elementary Food Hygiene Course: Saturday 18th May, 10am5pm, Chryston Church Hall, G69 9LA. Cost £12 for SU Scotland volunteers. Contact email@example.com by Wed 17th April to book a place. Travel leaders Could you spare a Saturday or two in summer to supervise young people on a coach or minibus as they travel to camp? It’s an important role that often involves meeting parents as they drop off their children. Drive with us We are also on the look-out for people who can join a holiday or weekend as a minibus driver. You’ll need to have the D1 category on your driving licence. You should be at least 25 and under 70. COmMission Join up with other young people in SU Scotland and get training that will release the potential in you, then go on placement with some of our teams and live out the COmMISSION adventure. Other ways to get involved People who pray and people who give are also vital to making the work of SU Scotland successful. We value those roles so much too. Every event is a partnership, with lots of different people serving in different ways. @su SPRING 2013
Independently minded? SU Scotland seeks to work across all the schools in Scotland, so that young people everywhere can explore the Bible and respond to Jesus. Independent Schools are part of the mix, so keep in touch with what’s happening in this sector and meet Regional Workers, Adrienne and Katy, who between them are developing links with many of our Independent Schools across the country.
What’s the point? At St Columba’s School in Kilmacolm, Ian Gillies and I have recently launched a SU Group. The new group is for first and second years and is called ‘The Point’. Through weekly meetings on Monday lunchtimes we’re aiming to provide support and talk about just what ‘the point’ is in our everyday lives when it comes to being a Christian. I joined St Columba’s School this year for my final year, as my previous school was not offering the sixth year choices I needed. I met Ian at an induction event in early June 2012 and when we got talking over the summer holidays we began to realise that there might be an opportunity to start something. Ian has been keen to set up a group in the school for many years and I was able to discuss the idea with my leader at the Basecamp review weekend. In October 2012 Adrienne Cartwright got in touch with us and we met to discuss our ideas at the SU Scotland office. After much prayer and preparation we held our first lunchtime session in early December 2012 and since then we’ve seen the group grow and develop in their beliefs through short talks which involve interactive games and readings from
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the Bible. Numbers have been fantastic and very encouraging with over 10 young people turning up most weeks. Recent topics for discussion have included faith and the layout of the Bible which Ian has prepared and delivered, and all have been received very positively. We’re both aware of the work God is clearly doing in the school – it will be exciting to see just how much it grows over the remaining time this academic year and into the future. Stephen Hedges, 6th Year Student
Your School St Columba’s is just one of many schools with SU Groups, led by pupils. Other groups are led by teachers, parents, school chaplains or other volunteers. Some are groups that have been running for many years, others are brand new. All are places where pupils can meet to share and discuss Christian faith together. If you want to know more about SU Scotland in Independent Schools contact: firstname.lastname@example.org (West and Central), email@example.com (Edinburgh and East) or contact your local Regional Worker www.suscotland. org.uk/regional
Katy Miller has recently joined es-team as the worker for Independent Schools in Edinburgh and the East. Her appointment was made possible thanks to generous giving.
Adrienne Cartwright is Independent Schools Worker for West and Central Scotland.
My journey to SU Scotland has taken many twists and turns! I grew up in Guernsey, where I came to know the Lord Jesus while still a little girl. My walk by faith took me to Cambridge, where I studied Natural Sciences and afterwards a PGCE; then to a boarding school in West Sussex where I taught biology. I then retrained in medicine with a view to working in overseas medical missions. Following my clinical training in Oxford and Bath, God led me to Uganda with Mildmay International as HIV/AIDS Clinical Lecturer where all my skills were subsequently used to the full, both in medicine and mission. In 2004, I arrived in Scotland and married my husband James later that year. We have two lovely children, Edward and Anni, and are members of St Stephen’s Comely Bank Church in Edinburgh. Throughout my life God has led, provided and directed me in his path and equipped me for whatever he has laid before me. Whilst practising as a GP in Edinburgh and the Lothians following my return from Uganda, the desire to be fully involved in mission and discipleship grew. I am absolutely thrilled to have this fantastic opportunity to work directly with children, young people, volunteers and teachers in Edinburgh’s Independent Schools! Just now, I am getting to know all the different schools and situations. If you are involved in an Independent School in Edinburgh or the Lothians, as a pupil, teacher or parent, please do get in touch. I’d love to meet you and hear more about what’s happening in your school. Maybe I can be of help? Just drop me a line and I'll get back in touch.
On my travels through West and Central Scotland much of my time is spent speaking at assemblies and chapel services in the Independent Schools, whilst visiting and supporting SU Groups and looking for opportunities to start new groups. It has been exciting over the last six years to forge links with so many of the 35 Independent Schools in the area that I cover and to make new contacts. I now have active links with 80% of the schools and look forward to seeing that number grow further. I’m amazed and greatly encouraged by the way that doors have opened into so many schools as a result of people praying. New SU Groups have started recently at Kilgraston and Strathallan and there are other schools where plans for a group are developing. I was delighted to hear about Ian and Stephen’s idea to start an SU Group at St Columba’s and it is really encouraging to hear how it is developing. With Ian and Stephen both in sixth year, we pray there will be enough momentum for the group to continue when they finish school. With Katy now working in the schools around Edinburgh (and other IS schools being covered by their local Regional Workers), it’s great to know that young people in independent schools across Scotland are hearing about Jesus. My own life has been changed because of meeting God through the work of SU Scotland, first through a primary school group and then through SU Holidays where I became a Christian. In recent years it has been so rewarding to see young people follow a similar journey, coming to faith through school groups and holiday activities and then getting involved in serving roles themselves.
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Anyone who has attended or taught in an Independent School will know that time is a rare and precious commodity – this is certainly the case at Fettes College. When I was approached by a friend and colleague about helping out with a Youth Alpha group in the College, I honestly felt that I would not have the time and I also wondered if any young people would make the time to come to a non-compulsory organisation. I was wrong. With the help of John White (Youth Worker at St Paul's and St George's Church in Edinburgh) and our new Chaplain, Tony Clark, we set up a Youth Alpha group, meeting initially on a Tuesday evening from the beginning of September. Altogether we had just under 30 young people coming along, both regularly and sporadically, which was a huge encouragement. Getting these young people to commit to coming every week, what with play rehearsals, sports fixtures, departmental events and debates to contend with, proved to be the most challenging part. We put the popularity of Youth Alpha down to two things: 1. Pizza and 2. Jesus! We had young people coming along that we were told would never have attended in a million years had it not been for the aroma of melted cheese and pepperoni which seemed to seep into every crevice of the ancient corridors, luring young people to come and find out more. Our Youth Alpha sessions started with ridiculous games and were followed by talks and small groups based around the Youth Alpha materials provided on the website. Every week without fail, there were great discussions in small groups and plenty of questions which we made attempts to answer. Tuesdays became the day in the week I most looked forward to. Getting to know these young people has been a real highlight of my academic year, as teaching in the Prep School I rarely encounter College students. It has been an absolute joy to share
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Alpha goes to school
my faith with them and see some of them grow in faith and boldness and start to ask big questions. We have had 'prayer warriors' springing up everywhere, praying together in the library, in their boarding houses, reading the Bible together at break times. We have young people in our group with big, bold, fabulous vision for our school and how we can put Jesus at the centre and make him known.
We have young people in our group with big, bold, fabulous vision for our school and how we can put Jesus at the centre and make him known.
This term we have finished the Youth Alpha materials and have been delving into the Bible to discover more about Jesus and what knowing him really means for our lives. As a team, we feel it is important to get more of the young people involved with these sessions, leading games, giving talks, leading Bible studies, to give them ownership of the group. This also means that when we come to run a Youth Alpha course again in September, we will all be prepared to get involved. This year has also seen the establishing of a staff prayer meeting and a Bible study brunch for students at the Chaplain's house on a Sunday morning. We are very excited to have Katy Miller as our new Independent Schools Worker; it is great to have her support and we look forward to forming links with SU groups in other schools in our local area. God is doing amazing things at Fettes and we have so much to be thankful for. I cannot wait to see what he has in store for us in the year to come. Helen Russell, teacher at Fettes College Prep School, Edinburgh
What was so encouraging was that, in the midst of our rich diversity, there was so much unity around our vision, our passion and our mission.
International News Living HOPE
Tajikistan: Building fellowship
Over 250 leaders from 108 SU national movements met in Kuala Lumpur for the Scripture Union Phase 2 Living Hope gathering in November 2012. Andy Bathgate, Gordon Brown and Esther Bailey were there from Scotland. The gathering was an opportunity to reflect on hope and hopelessness as expressed in God’s word. It was also a time to seek God’s guidance for the future of Scripture Union across the globe.
On the last Saturday in September, Robin MacLellan, Andrew Philip and I began the long journey to visit Mahbuba and Dima Bazarov who are the SU team in Tajikistan. We finally arrived in Dushanbe (the capital city) very early on a Monday, just before sunrise. We were warmly welcomed into the Bazarov home by their two beautiful children, Amalia (7) and Samuel (4). After a delicious breakfast and sleep we were straight into seven days packed full of fascinating and enriching experiences in this lovely country.
Chair of SU International, Colin Sinclair had a key role at the conference. He said, “Sometimes gatherings take a while to “warm-up”. This one didn’t! From the moment of arrival till the buses left there was a sense of a great SU family reunion. There were so many stories to share, people to meet, and laughter and tears both had their place. United in worship and purpose those who came worked hard, listened carefully and enjoyed being together. What was so encouraging was that, in the midst of our rich diversity, there was so much unity around our vision, our passion and our mission. It was a wonderful week in the middle of the Living Hope process. Now we have to take that energy and use it, by God’s grace, to shape our global SU movement at local levels so that we are 'fit for purpose' as we approach our 150th birthday in 2017.” Andy Bathgate has been thinking about how Living Hope relates to the current themes for SU Scotland, “I found the event to be a reaffirmation of our strategy priorities here in Scotland – the family context, the disadvantaged, developing leaders, the need to get international focus back firmly on our agenda. The conference underlined the significance of all of these which was both reassuring but also a further push to ensure that they do not remain as grand statements but actually do determine how we allocate resources and set out to do ministry.”
Here are a few of my highlights: meeting many of the supportive SU volunteers; taking an English class in the school where Dima teaches one morning each week; enjoying delicious food and extravagant hospitality in very simple homes in remote mountain villages; visiting the camp site that SU Holidays in Scotland raised funds for; praying with a 19-year-old girl, whose name means Hope, who “received Jesus” and is experiencing strong opposition from her mother and relatives; taking part in the worship at the Russian Baptist Church service on Sunday morning (it lasted nearly 3 hours) – that was awesome. Since our return we have had the joy and pleasure of welcoming Mahbuba to Scotland which has served to strengthen and deepen the bonds of fellowship, friendship and support between SU Scotland and SU in Tajikistan. Phyllis Caldwell Chair of SU Scotland’s International Committee.
Colin will continue to work with a group of young leaders, the International Team and executive to frame a document which will be sent to national movements for their comments, with the hope of reaching a final form by the autumn of this year.
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wondered why he should have taken a young man like me under his wing. He encouraged me and believed in me. The result was that I got opportunities to do things and to learn from doing. Lessons learned from these critical years have shaped my entire life and ministry. Little did Graham realise the impact he would have by simply offering friendship and encouragement.”
Graham Wilson We were sad to hear of the death of our friend Graham Wilson at the end of 2012 and join with family and friends to celebrate a life that was lived to the full in every possible sense, one that has touched and benefitted so many others for good. Here, some of his friends and colleagues remember the impact Graham had on those around him. Graham left a job as a BBC engineer in London in 1977 to become Boys’ Camps Organiser with SU Scotland, moving with his wife Frances and three young sons, Brian, Keith and Ian, to live in Bishopbriggs. He then worked with SU Scotland for the next 24 years, becoming Camps Director, and latterly Communications Manager. Christine Murison, his colleague in the Camps Department for many years writes, “I join with countless others in gratitude for Graham and thankfulness to God for the example he set of concern for the lost, of commitment to Him, of faithfulness to the daily reading of scripture, of enthusiasm for what he had been called to do, and so much more. It would be hard to exaggerate his influence on many people.” Kenny McKie, who started work with SU in the same year as Graham, regards Graham as one of those amazing people who went out of his way to support young people and volunteers: "Graham has been a life-long colleague who loved SU camp ministry and who gave himself to the leading of SU groups in Bishopbriggs. When he started with SU he said he was in it for life, and he lived out this calling in Scotland and in Tanzania. Graham has been an inspiration to me and to many others." Neil Dougall, now a minister and formerly Chair of SU Scotland, expanded on this, “I got to know Graham best between 1987 and 1989. We worked together, prayed together and enjoyed each other’s company. I often
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With Jesus' eyes, Graham saw them, and in Christian love did something about it, sometimes literally lifting them out of the gutter.
Morag Stenhouse remembers, “In 1985 Graham and I were two of the SU Scotland delegates privileged to attend the SU International conference in Harare which was the start of the Tanzanian connection. Graham soon learned the names of all 300 delegates, camera at the ready to record every significant moment. Justin Oforo of SU Tanzania was there, hoping to meet someone who would help him develop a piece of land they had just been given at Imbaseni in the north of Tanzania…he met Graham, and for the next 10 years in SU Scotland we were supporting the building of the Imbaseni Centre, which today is a self-supporting camp, conference and rural development centre.”
When Graham left SU Scotland in 2001 he had already established a small trust to take forward this work in Tanzania. He had thought he might become a volunteer for SU in Tanzania but instead, most unexpectedly, he was offered a job as communications software manager at the university of Dar es Salaam computing centre, providing him with a strategic job he loved, through which he could really help to make a difference to people’s lives. It also gave him the opportunity to support the Imbaseni Trust projects which were so dear to his heart. Dr Elizabeth Swain, Imbaseni Trust Convenor, writes, “To say that Tanzania was on Graham’s heart would be an understatement. Having visited the projects there on a number of occasions and seen Graham in action, I realised that he was in his element. He trusted people, he encouraged them and above all he loved them and they reciprocated.” For several years in Tanzania, Graham and Frances weren’t able to get together with family to celebrate Christmas, so instead they decided to throw a party for a group of disabled people. From this small beginning grew the Nuru Centre for Disabled Adults. The Simpson family from Crieff went to spend two years living and working there, inspired by Graham. They write, “Graham’s was the first face we saw as we emerged from Dar es Salaam airport. It had been his infectious enthusiasm that had taken us there in the first place; his outrageous generosity that touched our lives and the lives of many whose words we’ll never hear; those who were the forgotten, begging in the dust. With Jesus’ eyes, Graham saw them, and in Christian love did something about it, sometimes literally lifting them out of the gutter.” So we say thank you to God for Graham: for his life, his faith, his generosity and his enthusiasm, which influenced so many people here in Scotland, in Tanzania and elsewhere across the globe.
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