We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5
It is times of adversity that reveal the strength of our faith. They can draw us closer to God and increase our dependence on Him, or they can make us more self-centred and less focussed on our great God and Saviour. The last two years have brought unprecedented challenges for each of us individually and for the church, and this is a good time to take stock. Has the impact of Covid-19 led to increased endurance, character, hope and awareness of God’s love, or have our love of the Lord and commitment to Him waned? As elders, we have seen evidence of both among church members, with many encouragements but also disappointments. Through it all, though, God has remained faithful, as always.
Church activities throughout the year have been dependent on the regularly-changing Covid restrictions, with a period early in the year when we weren’t able to meet at all, but then moving back towards normal (apart from face coverings) until Omicron struck. There was much to be thankful for:
- We were able to continue broadcasting services from the church throughout, though at times without a congregation or only very limited numbers.
- The reintroduction of singing made an enormous difference to those meeting at the church.
- Many of our normal activities were able to resume in person, including small groups, the Breaking of Bread, Friday Funzone, Baby & Toddler Group and [email protected] The International Café also started during the year. Some activities have now had to move online again temporarily.
- We have continued to make good use of Zoom, including for weekly prayer calls.
At the same time, we are aware that for some the restrictions are especially difficult, particularly those who are on their own. Some of our members have suffered from also serious illnesses and disabilities, both physical and mental. All of us have a part to play in supporting and encouraging one another.
During the year, much-loved members passed away. Finlay Houston, Robert Leighton and Lavinia Duffy went to be with the Lord in 2021, and Archie Naismith in January 2022. All are greatly missed, but for them it is far better.
We were delighted to welcome 8 new members in the course of 2021. A number moved on, including some finishing their studies in Edinburgh. We have rejoiced in the birth of a good number of babies over the year. We currently have 131 members, with another 95 people (including children) actively associated with the church.
We were delighted to welcome Archie Winnington-Ingram as Pastor in Training and Käete Followwill as Women’s Ministry Leader, while Dani Neira is in her second year as Ministry Trainee. They all contribute enormously to the church. We continue to be grateful to the Ministry Team Leaders and others who lead activities in the church for their sacrificial service.
As we look forward to 2022, we encourage everyone to come to church services when you can, to be part of a small group and to consider one-to-one Bible reading with someone else.