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Letter from Interim Moderator Regarding New Minister​

To the Members of Crail and St Ayle

The philosopher Epictetus is probably most famous for his remark that ‘We cannot step into the same river twice’.

A comment that is surely relevant to our current situation.  He also might have been speaking of the Covid 19 crisis when he wrote:

‘We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how to respond to them’.

Over the last 12 weeks or so I have watched as the Presbytery Clerk as many congregations I know have dramatically shifted their life, witness and worship from in- person, to on line and on paper. Some have resisted change, while others have embraced it and found even more creative ways to connect.

Faith leaders cannot control much of what is happening in our world right now. We can, however, choose to break down silos, bind together and find new ways to be church together.  As we adjust to the ‘new normal’ of our daily life, we can also begin to find the ‘new normal of church’. This can be a moment of innovation, not isolation. It may even be the watershed moment many church leaders have been longing for, granting us permission to let the old ways die and inspiring us to follow the Spirit’s leading into new life.

We know that this crisis may create lasting change that leads us through the Covid 19 crisis and beyond.

In July, thanks the huge efforts of members of the Kirk Sessions and members of both congregations, the manse will be ready. On the 10th of July the new minister will be inducted to the charge in a virtual service on Zoom.  It will not be as it would have been before, and while I have regrets that it is not possible to have all the elements including the singing of hymns and a full worship experience at that service, I am delighted that the induction can go ahead.

Both congregations have had a period of long and challenging vacancy and there is a sense of anticipation and joy in the fact that a new minister will be in place soon. It is, however, also to be noted that he will not be living in the manse until some time later in the summer, once a removal from his current home in Skye is possible and he and his wife can settle here in the East Neuk.

In the parish before the physical services of the church can be started again in the buildings that are so loved and treasured, Mr Murray will offer the written material in the same manner as that which has been so much appreciated since the lockdown began. Great thanks are due to the Revd Peter Neilson for his faithful and imaginative work offered with such regularity and inspiration in this period.

There will also be the opportunity of Zoom services on a Sunday using computer technology and Mr Murray will bring the experience he has had of this means of communication in Skye to your parish. These will be opportunities for worship, not exactly together, but offering a sense of community and engagement with the new minister.

I hope that it will be possible for many to be members of the Zoom ‘congregation’ at the Induction Service on the 10th of July at 7 pm and the in the Zoom services thereafter.

The future is unknown to us all and unpredictable.   The Church to which we return eventually will not be that which we left on the 22nd of March, 2020. We can, however, be confident that we have been given a superb opportunity for innovation and creativity, under the guidance of God, to choose how to respond to the circumstances we are facing.

With the Presbytery of St Andrews, I am looking forward with hope and anticipation to the new life and witness of the congregations which will emerge in future.

May God guide and bless your lives and those whom you care for in the coming days, as in the past.

With kind regards,

Nigel J Robb ( Revd)

Interim Moderator of Crail linked with St Ayle

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