Connecting the global and the local took me over the past few days to four towns in West Lothian, a district that lies just to the west of Edinburgh. When the Church of Scotland makes an international (mission partner) appointment it ensures that a strong connection is made with some local areas in Scotland – for mutual support and encouragement. It was a moving experience for me to be embraced by the West Lothian Presbytery and to sense their interest and prayerful commitment as I look to taking up my Africa-based role.
Winchburgh is a town that was built on shale-mining and has had to face challenging times following the closure of the mines a generation ago. Gradually it has regrouped and is now set for significant expansion with new housing being developed. The church and its beautiful grounds have an inviting presence and I found a lively café in the multi-purpose sanctuary when I visited.
At Fauldhouse and Blackridge I found congregations that are realistic about contemporary challenges yet marked by courage and vitality in their worship and witness. The weekend concluded with a gathering of the Bathgate churches to mark the beginning of Christian Aid week in Boghall Parish Church. It is distinguished by the impressive work it does among people with mental health issues. A memorable sermon focussed on the benefit that Scotland derived from its involvement with slavery in the 17thand 18thcenturies and what this means for our understanding of repentance and forgiveness. I left feeling challenged and renewed in my own faith.