Stornoway Gazette Letters 18.6.15

Church of Scotland General Assembly

The Kirk Session of Stornoway St Columba’s Church of Scotland is greatly saddened by decisions that have been made at the recent General Assembly to allow those in same-sex civil partnerships to be eligible to serve as Ministers and Deacons within the Church of Scotland and declares that we utterly disagree with and dissociate ourselves from these developments.

Session believes that these decisions are clear departures from the teaching of the Bible, and declares that we firmly adhere to the belief that Scripture is the inspired, infallible, authoritative, and powerful Word of God and as such is the only basis for life and faith.

We therefore go forward as a congregation in prayer that our national Church will repent, be reformed, and be renewed for God’s glory.

Our God is Sovereign and remains in control in spite of appearances. May He grant us, sinful people as we are, the grace to remain faithful and strength and stamina to stand firm for Him and His Word in these difficult and trying times.

Graham Morrison,

Clerk to the Session,

Stornoway St Columba’s,


Water baptism

It’s hard for me to go along with Rev. Iain D’s view on water baptism as per his “Martin Luther Revisited” column in Gazette of June 11th.

Over the years I have tried to make sense of the Christian take on water baptism and have largely failed. The fact that denominations are polarised over this matter doesn’t help, for there is dispute over what the mode should be, who the rightful recipients are, and what benefit accrues to those who submit to baptism as adults, or indeed are exposed to baptism as babes-in-arms.

Rev. Iain’s piece doesn’t provide much joy either. For instance he tells us that water baptism seals God’s promise to us, that it rests on us from earliest days, that it’s the only sure thing to which we may turn. He tells us moreover that “baptism means I am a Christian, and therefore the devil cannot have me”.

I think that’s quite an odd thing to say, for we could be sprinkled-on as babes-in-arms or be immersed in water as adults yet remain unchanged, be not one bit the closer to Christ, and there would be instances of that too numerous to quantify in the history of the Christian church.

It seems to me what’s required is a personal and life-changing encounter with the living Christ, a will surrendered to Christ’s lord-ship, a life turned around and a spiritual re-birth.

Water baptism howsoever administered, by whom or to whom, is incapable of delivering that. Christ is come, and Christ baptises with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

Keith Fernie



Built in lack

of conviction

There have been 27 different official versions of Church in Scotland since Reformation all made due to interpretive differences.

This would seem to indicate a de facto viability of different interpretative insistence, making all further rendition of claim to single interpretation, defunct.

This is also illustrated by Bible, which indicates for example, different speaking styles depending on audience, with disciples being told one thing and everyone else listening to parables.

Where there are currently nine recognised churches, it seems quite obvious that they all think the other has the non-biblical, ‘fine-sounding’ argument that considers Tradition for a strong enough justification to develop inclination to fragment rather than considering Bible.

It also, seems to illustrate built-in lack of conviction towards maintaining leadership that joins community, perhaps it is actually easiest to walk away and get into more church-owned debt for buildings no one is using.

Therefore, the only question worth considering is, what are the rules concerning responsibility to regulate individual response and act jointly within the serving covenant?

H Mansfield



Winners and Losers

I too read the Rev. Angus Morrison’s reflections, like the Rev. K. Macdonald did (letters 11.6.15) on the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, in particular the bit about ministers in same sex relationships.

The Rev D.R. Morrison mentioned grace and restraint following votes on the issue from both sides, where there was an absence of there being winners and losers.

Not taking his word on this, the Rev. Macdonald says, how can grace be spoken of on such a matter?

I believe the report simply says that grace was over the people, with the absence of disorder, but Rev. Macdonald has his own interpretation on this, but it’s not in grace.

I notice Rev. Morrison didn’t specify the nature of such grace, as there’s common grace and sovereign grace, a level Christian believers are to live and stand on.

The effect of common grace is the restraint of evilness and lawlessness of sin, where God gives man a chance to repent.

What is the grace in which the Christian is to stand in, one would expect the Rev. Macdonald to be well aware of this, it should address the concerns in his letter.

Grace is favour that is unmerited, it is not earned or deserved, withheld because of sin otherwise it would not be true grace etc.

The sovereign God safely allows man liberty necessary for responsibility and Christian believers are not to receive the grace of God in vain, but plainly some do, though they have the capacity to love the scripture and are not those who do not.

It’s a matter of obedience to the word of God in certain areas of their lives with which at some point they will be confronted by God sooner or later.

Donald Murray


Maid of the Loch thanks

Your recent article asking your readers if anyone had served, or knew of anyone who had served, on the Loch Lomond paddle steamer Maid of the Loch prompted a Harris resident, Mr Angus MacLeod, to get in touch with me.

He was a member of her crew in 1965/66 and had some interesting stories to tell about her Caledonian Steam Packet Company days, long before Caledonian MacBrayne took over.

We hope to include his reminiscences in a feature on board the Maid so visitors can read about what it was like when she was still doing pleasure cruises.

We are still keen to hear from anyone who can give us stories or photos from the days she sailed on the loch. Our charity wants to give visitors to the ship an idea of life on board.

One day, of course, we hope to get the Maid sailing again, so even small details are of interest. I will respond to any contact personally, so thank you in advance.

John M Beveridge

Director, LLSC

21 Alpin Drive,

Dunblane FK15 0FQ

Contact: 01786 821812