Gazette Letters - 05-02-15

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Street Pastors

Keith Fernie (29-01-15) seems to have an uncaring attitude towards Street Pastors that are now in Stornoway, they are naive, he thinks.

“Those the worse for drink should spend a night in the cells, that will teach them not to do it again”.

I’m sure the cops won’t want to go to such extremes, their cells are crowded enough.

If the Government and licencing authorities give the go ahead for pubs to be open to some God-less hour of the morning, Fernie describes, “they must bear the responsibility if ones end up in A & E, billing the drunks wouldn’t be right.

The God-less hour is not an hour that he removes himself from the scene, as long as those voluntary Pastors are around, who care enough for the vulnerable, showing grace, love and care in practical ways, however gullible they may appear.

Judging by Mr Fernie’s comments, it’s not something he would want to do, but I’m glad to hear that other caring volunteers don’t mind at all.

Better I say to have Street Pastors on the streets of Stornoway than none at all, and I wouldn’t agree they have it wrong.

Donald Murray


Don’t be discouraged

I take it that Mr Keith Fernie is the correspondent who fairly regularly writes to the Gazette on Christian issues, and who again corresponds, in the Gazette of 29/1/15, on the matter of Street Pastors.

Words like ‘squad’, ‘cosseting’, ‘perchance’, ‘damsels’, and ‘discomfort’ are in themselves quite neutral.

Yet in the contexts in which Mr Fernie uses them, they take on a sadly condescending hue, particularly from one who, from his Gazette correspondence, appears to be a Christian.

While no one would condone, but rather deeply regret, the many ramifications of excessive alcohol indulgence; and while there is certainly a place for appropriate accountability, in Mr Fernie’s solutions to the problems, there is an appalling absence of Christ’s love and care.

I do hope that the Stornoway ‘squad’ of Street Pastors (and those in Inverness), will not be discouraged from this ministry by Mr Fernie’s discouraging! remarks.

Even it is takes time, Street Pastors, you can be sure that the ‘damsels’ and other ‘vulnerables’ will thank God for the consistency of your love and care in Jesus’ Name.

I seem to remember the Lord Jesus Christ commended the giving of a cup of water. Perhaps ‘blankets’ would come under the same heading!

Rev Dr Ben Johnstone.

Isle of Lewis

Uig history

As well as exhibiting the Lewis Chessmen (SY Gazette January, 29) I hope the Lewis Castle Museum will inform the public that most of the Uig history relating to the Chessmen was lost because all the people of the Ardroil area where the Chessmen were found were evicted during the Clearances.

The dispossessed were replaced by sheep and shepherds from Kintail who had no knowledge of Uig or Lewis history.

Most of the evicted Uigeachs settled in Canada and they took their culture, language and history with them.

Malcolm MacLeod who found the Chessmen was one of those evicted and he was a neighbour of my progenitors.

The description by a Lewisman of life under the tyrannical James Matheson regime should be prominently displayed at the Museum: “The Commandments of the Great Master are only ten in number, and a reward is offered if we keep them; but those of our well-meaning and easy insular tyrants are impossible of being observed; and all we can expect is to live as slaves and die as beggars.”

Donald J. MacLeod

Bridge of Don


Holocaust Memorial Day

Holocaust Memorial Day (January 27th) is now recognised internationally as an Annual Day of Remembrance, this date is set aside for us to remember the atrocities which have been inflicted by mankind upon others and to consider what man is capable of doing to fellow human beings; to reflect where this evil may be bubbling under the surface in our world today, and to connect with like-minded people in a resolve to stand together in an effort to see that such things never happen again to anyone, anywhere, at any time.

This year focussed especially on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and there has certainly been adequate and sympathetic coverage on the television.

However, although perhaps predominantly for Jewish people, Holocaust Memorial Day is also for Slavs, Roma, disabled people, Muslims, Jehovah Witnesses, homosexuals, people with learning difficulties, Trade Unionists, Communists - all kinds of people who have suffered without cause at the hands of others – the list goes on.

It is good to know that Stornoway was chosen as one of the seventy venues where candles were lit simultaneously all over the country, and a video conferencing link had been arranged with Benbecula and Barra for those interested in sharing this stand and marking the occasion in this way.

Next year I would like to see a similar gathering locally on the Uists or Benbecula.

Something solemn, honest and simple. If you are interested in joining me, please put 27 January 2016 in your diary now and watch out for any notices at the beginning of 2016 with details of how to get in touch with me.

Lyn Lowe

Tigh na Mara

Cnoc a Lin

Isle of North Uist