First let me introduce myself. I am the interim-moderator for Ayr and Kilwinning Free Church and minister at Govanhill Free Church, Glasgow.
No doubt the departure of Rev. Rory Stott and his wife Kirsteen and baby Faith for Fortrose Free Church came as a disappointment to the congregation. Truly Fortrose's gain is Ayr and Kilwinning's loss. Things are not made any easier given that the vacancy coincided with the lock-down ordered by the government in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. However, it has been of great encouragement to me to see so many folks from Ayr and Kilwinning joining with online services and prayer meetings hosted online by Govanhill Free Church. I am also aware many of you are able to tune into worship services hosted by other churches and how well the Thursday afternoon prayer meeting hosted by your own elders has been going.
The current situation is one hardly any of us could have imagined less than 6 months ago. How quickly our world can change, both on the personal level and corporately. Many of you will have faced up to great personal challenges in life and no doubt at a family level too. But the scale of this challenge to whole communities is something few in our country today have ever faced.
On the other hand, so many of us must be truly thankful for the scale of provision our God has made. The neighbour or relative making sure we have our shopping, the medical services we so easily take for granted, good homes to shelter in and, for some, even the outdoor refreshment of a garden.
But finally I want to come back to the issue of the church. Many have spoken positively of the church's response to lock-down and how in some ways the effect has been beneficial. For example, being forced to loosen dependence on a building for our sense of identity and what it means to be 'the church'. And yet, we must be honest and see that the inability to meet together (face to face, person to person, as the people of God) means that at present 'the church' is far less than it was called to be. 'Being one in Christ' can only best be appreciated when we are truly together.
For yourselves, as part of the body of Christ in Ayr and Kilwinning. I hope you are truly longing for the return of the day when being physically present together before the Lord is possible. In anticipation of this I strongly encourage you to make use of the online Thursday prayer meeting and the one month experiment the elders are setting up for an online Sunday morning service delivered by Ayr and Kilwinning Free Church. More details will be available soon, but if you have any views on when the best time for broadcasting that service would be, don't hesitate to get in touch with me or any of the other elders.
Yours in Christ
Interim-moderator, Ayr and Kilwinning Free Church