Church pews to start conversation about faith

Church of Scotland: Take A Pew - Kelpies.Church of Scotland: Take A Pew - Kelpies.
Church of Scotland: Take A Pew - Kelpies.
From the Cairngorms to Ayrshire and Glasgow Green to Glencoe, two church pews are touring the country to kick-start a conversation about the place of faith in contemporary Scotland.

The Church of Scotland is launching its ‘Take a Pew’ campaign this weekend, with the first of a series of online video conversations about faith posted online and on social media.

The first ‘Take a Pew’ film features guests including the STV news anchor and author John MacKay on the pews at the Kelpies sculptures near Falkirk. Future guests will include Ruth Davidson MSP.

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They follow the success of a series of online videos about the work of the Kirk’s ministers, which have been viewed more than 500,000 times over the last year.

Commenting, Rev Neil Glover, the Glasgow minister fronting the first video, said: “We have been astonished by the success of our videos about parish ministry. It’s encouraged us to more ambitious in reaching out to people online and inviting them into discussions which we expect will be both fascinating and challenging.

“Through ‘Take a Pew’, we will hear well known faces like Ruth Davidson MSP, as well as ministers and ordinary people talking about how faith relates to the big issues of the day and our changing society. By putting the pews in unusual settings we want to remind people the church is still here, and often where you least expect it.”

In the first ‘Take A Pew’ video, STV news presenter and author John MacKay joins the Church’s Youth Moderator, Hannah Mary Goodlad, and Alastair Blackstock, who chairs one of the country’s busiest foodbanks in Falkirk.

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Mr MacKay, who describes himself as agnostic, says the dramatic horse sculptures could point the way forward for the church. He says: “I think the challenge for the church is pretty much exemplified by the Kelpies here. They are very modern though they are based on something very traditional, and the church has to be able to do that too… But the language being used has been the same since I was a kid and I don’t think it connects with people who don’t believe.”

The discussion ranges from how young and older people express their faith, to how churches connect with their communities and the pressure on the church to move with the times.

Rev Neil Glover, who is convener of the Church of Scotland’s Ministries Council, describes the video as a bold step which it is hoped will stimulate discussion. He commented: “As a church, we cannot afford to become comfortable. We must be ready to challenge ourselves. ‘Take a Pew’ is a great way to focus this debate, and the idea has really caught on. People who’ve signed up to our newsletter have already submitted hundreds of ideas for places to take the pews and topics they want to see discussed. Congregations are telling us they’ll be using the idea at their local events.”

‘Take a Pew’ supports the successful ‘Tomorrow’s Calling’ recruitment initiative, which the Church of Scotland launched last year to promote training for parish ministry. Videos produced for the ‘Tomorrow’s Calling’ campaign have been viewed online over 530,000 times and have helped stimulate a renewed interest in parish ministry. The number of trainees for parish ministry recently accepted by the Church is at its highest for nine years.

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The ‘Take a Pew’ campaign will feature as part of the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly, with filming on the pews taking place during the Heart and Soul festival in Edinburgh’s Princes St Gardens next weekend.