Outspoken Dundee minister named Free Church Moderator – The Herald

ONE of Scotland’s most ­outspoken ministers and Christian commentators, who almost died in hospital three years ago, has been named the next Moderator of the Free Church.

Rev David Robertson, minister of Dundee St Peter’s Free Church and director of the Solas Centre for Public Christianity, will take up the role at next May’s General Assembly.

He has a reputation for not being afraid of controversy, repeatedly trying to engage the likes of “celebrity atheist” Richard Dawkins in debate. At the Faclan Book Festival on Lewis in 2012, he claimed Dawkins had done Christians a favour by writing The God Delusion as he knew people who were converted to the Christian cause by reading it.

Mr Robertson, 52, takes over as moderator at a time when his church is bucking the national trend with increasing support, some of it in the form of those leaving the Church of Scotland over the issue of gay ministers.

There are now 107 congregations, while attendance at Sunday services stands at 12,812, up marginally on 2012/13 from 12,639.

But the new figures do not include recently affiliated Church of Scotland’s groups such as Stornoway High, Kirkmuirhill, New Restalrig and Tarbert.

Mr Robertson said: “It is an honour and a privilege to be able to serve in this way, especially at such an exciting time for both the Free Church and Scotland. We are a growing and developing church, reversing the trend in a society which is becoming increasingly secularised and in a nation which is seeing significant changes.

 

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Rev David Robertson named as next Free Church Moderator – Free Church of Scotland

Free_Church_of_Scotland_LogoOne of Scotland’s leading Christian media commentators, who almost died in hospital back in 2011, has been named as the next Moderator of the Free Church.

Rev David Robertson, minister of Dundee St Peter’s Free Church and director of the Solas Centre for Public Christianity, will take up at the role at next year’s General Assembly in May.

David is widely regarded as one of Scotland’s boldest Christian broadcasters, regularly taking on atheists at media and student union events, as well as an increasingly popular author on persuasive evangelism for Christians.

Speaking after his nomination for Moderator Designate, the 52-year-old said: “I did not really think when I became a Free Church minister in 1986 at the tender age of 24 that I would ever reach this stage.

“It is an honour and a privilege to be able to serve in this way, especially at such an exciting time for both the Free Church and Scotland.

“We are a growing and developing church, reversing the trend in a society which is becoming increasingly secularised and in a nation which is seeing significant changes.

“My hope is that the Free Church will continue to bring the Good News to all the people of Scotland and beyond and that the Lord will use us as salt and light to help his people, of whatever denomination, and to see Scotland return to its Christian foundations.

“There is an old Chinese curse; ‘may you live in interesting times’. We do live in interesting times but as an optimistic Calvinist I regard that as a blessing, nor a curse.  I am looking forward, God willing, to an interesting year!”

At one point such an appointment would have been unthinkable, because Rev David Robertson was given a 50-50 chance of survival by doctors and surgeons in Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital back in 2011.

After collapsing in a pool of blood outside his church following a wedding, the St Peter’s minister spent nine weeks in hospital – five of which were in intensive care – as the nursing team performed surgery firstly on his stomach and then his lungs.

Thousands of Christians across the world prayed that his life would be spared, and David made a near miraculous recovery in the early part of 2012 and is now restored to full health.

David became a believer in his teens, and after graduating with a Masters in History from the University of Edinburgh, went onto study at what is now the Edinburgh Theological Seminary.

As a 24-year-old his first charge was Brora Free Church, Sutherland, in 1986, where David saw considerable fruit, before he accepted a call to Dundee in 1992.

Come the end of October he will have been minister in Dundee St Peter’s for 22 years. When David arrived, the church had eight people. It now attracts over 200 worshippers every Sunday. It also has a thriving sister church plant in St Andrews, and St Peter’s hopes to plant another church in the City of Discovery soon.

Smithton minister and former Moderator Rev David Meredith said: “Warmest congratulations to my friend and colleague David Robertson on his appointment as Moderator Designate to the 2015 General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland. I am delighted that the Church has decided to honour him in this way.

“David represents so many of the qualities which are central to the DNA of the Free Church: commitment to Bible-centred Christianity, obsessively Christ focused, politically radical and outward looking.

“He has been one of the chief architects and visionaries behind the energy and growth which seems to have characterised the Free Church in the last few years.

“David has often been viewed as controversial but his various battles have rarely been over side issues. He has the uncanny knack of speaking about the ‘elephant in the room’ and his recent illness, which brought him to the very gates of death, have made him impatient with cant and bluster. He is a man who realises that life is brief and eternity in endless.

“I have no hesitation in saying that he is one of the most godly people I know.”

Rev David Robertson has always had a desire to resist the intolerance of secularists and atheists and this led to his writing The Dawkins Letters a response to Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion. He also wrote a response to Christopher Hitchens’ God is Not Great entitled Magnificent Obsession.

Prior to that, he authored Awakening – The Life and Ministry of Robert Murray McCheyne as the church building of St Peter’s was the place where McCheyne preached.

David continues to serve as chaplain of the University of Dundee, and his online blog has been nominated for an award by the UK Christian Media.

As well as giving evidence on behalf of the Free Church at the Scottish Parliament on the redefinition of marriage, Rev David Robertson debated Peter Tatchell on the issue live on Revelation TV – and also contributed to programmes on the BBC, STV and Channel 4.

Although he has debated many high profile figures, including MSPs Patrick Harvie and Willie Rennie, one person who has escaped his debating clutches is Richard Dawkins – who declined an invitation for a debate in Stornoway back in 2012 whilst speaking at a local book festival.

David’s efforts to advance the cause of the Gospel in the public square have not gone unnoticed – previously Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser said that the Church of Scotland “desperately needed” a public spokesman like him if the Kirk was to re-engage the nation with Christianity.

David is married to Annabel, a mental health social worker, and they have three grown-up children: Andrew, 27, who works with Chalmers Church in Edinburgh, Becky, 25, who is married to Pete an Anglican Youth Worker in Australia, and Emma-Jane, 16, who is a student.

Cameron wrong to redefine marriage, say councillors – The Christian Institute

the-christian-instituteThe majority of Conservative councillors believe David Cameron was wrong to pursue legalising same-sex marriage, a poll for the BBC has revealed.

Responding to a survey conducted by ComRes, 60 percent of councillors said they disagreed with the Prime Minister’s push for gay marriage.

Nearly two-thirds of councillors said that legalising gay marriage made the Conservative party less electable.

Vote loser

The survey also found that 58 per cent of councillors think redefining marriage will cost the party more votes than it gains at the next election.

The survey was commissioned for BBC Sunday Politics and over 1,000 Conservative councillors were polled.

The results are broadly unchanged from those of a similar survey conducted last year.

Decline

Writing for the Daily Mail Online this week, former Tory frontbencher David Davis picked up on why he thinks the party are likely to lose votes.

He said the party has “abandoned traditional Conservative principles and made ourselves less appealing to those who supported us”.

Davis argued that the party should not have focused on “fringe issues” such as gay marriage because it is rarely in voter’s “top five concerns”.

Read more here

Opt-out system not the answer to organ donor shortage – Free Church of Scotland website

Free_Church_of_Scotland_LogoSpecialist nurses and better education on organ donation in schools could lead to an increase in the number of people opting-in to become organ donors, according to a Free Church of Scotland minister.

Rev Dr Donald MacDonald, a former surgeon, also said that trust in the Scottish organ donation system would be increased if there was no assumption that organs from a deceased person can be removed when nearest relatives have no actual knowledge of their wishes.

The comments were made in response to Labour MSP Anne McTaggart’s proposed private member’s bill at the Scottish Parliament on organ donation and human tissue.

Dr MacDonald dismissed calls for a blanket opt-out system, meaning that the State would effectively have “ownership” of everyone’s bodies after death unless organ donation was specifically rejected whilst the person was alive.

Instead, he wants to see organ donors given the freedom to list the body parts they wish to donate, as well as the introduction of specially trained nurses in hospitals and better education on the subject in schools.

Dr MacDonald said: “We support organ donation and transplantation, but we believe the donation should always be on the basis of a deliberate, well-informed, voluntary decision.

“‘Presumed consent’ in an opt-out system is based on the unfounded assumption that every single person who has not opted out was aware of the opt-out provision and has consciously taken a decision not to opt out.

“This is no consent at all and a donation on this basis is not a donation but something akin to a tax imposed by the State. It means that the State claims to have ownership of our bodies after death unless we consciously reject this while alive.

“Following the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital scandal, the public is suspicious about removal of organs post mortem and this type of law might only increase that suspicion and could be counterproductive.”

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A Press Statement from the Presbytery of Lewis

church-of-scotland-emblemMinisters and Deacons in Civil Partnerships Overture 2014

The Presbytery of Lewis voted on Tuesday 30th September 2014 against the Ministers and Deacons in Civil Partnerships Overture 2014.

It did this in order:

  1. to ensure that the traditional, reformed, historical position of the Church of Scotland continues without change; and
  2. that the ‘broad’ theological spectrum of the Church of Scotland does not become ‘so narrowed’ that it excludes the traditional and distinct reformed Christian spirituality and culture of the Church of Scotland particularly, in relation to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland from within it; and
  3. that the historic covenant signed between the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church of Scotland is not closed; and
  4. to maintain the unity of the bond of the spirit of God in loving peace within the Church of Scotland through the avoidance of further schism and confusion resulting from the approval of this Overture’s proposed ‘mixed economy’ theological model.

 

 

 

Queen in referendum plea – Herald Scotland

THE Queen has said she hopes Scots will “think very carefully” about the referendum in a highly unusual contribution to the debate as the two sides prepare to enter the final 72 hours of the campaign neck and neck.

She made the comment as she greeted well-wishers outside Crathie Kirk, near Balmoral Castle.

It followed pleas by senior MPs for her to speak out in favour of the Union, though Buckingham Palace insisted she remained neutral in the debate.

In other developments as the curtain came down on the biggest weekend of political campaigning Scotland has ever seen:

l More than 1,000 Yes supporters demonstrated outside BBC Scotland’s Glasgow HQ in protest at allegedly biased coverage of the referendum;

l Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown revealed MPs will debate further powers for Holyrood on October 16, in the event of a No vote;

l A flurry of polls suggested the No campaign was narrowly in the lead, with the latest poll of polls, averaging out the most recent surveys, putting the lead at 51 per cent to 49 per cent;

l Alex Salmond told supporters Thursday’s vote could be their last chance for a generation to secure independence;

l John Reid, the former defence secretary, accused Mr Salmond of using anti-English sentiment to win backing for independence.

Tens of thousands of activists took to the streets over the weekend to galvanise support and try to win over wavering voters.

Today Prime Minister David Cameron will campaign in Scotland for the last time before polls open, while Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will lead an effort to persuade pensioners, the age group least likely to support independence, to vote Yes.

The Queen’s comment came as she greeted well-wishers outside Crathie Kirk, where she is staying with other members of the Royal Family.

She spoke to a group of three or four Scots and a handful of English visitors in the crowd.

Responding to a comment from a well-wisher, she was reported to have said: “You have an important vote on Thursday.

“I hope everybody thinks very carefully about the referendum this week”.

Unusually for an ordinary Sunday service, photographers were invited to capture the Royal party leaving the kirk, and witnessed the exchange.

Buckingham Palace declined to comment on a private conversation and neither side in the campaign tried to capitalise on the remarks.

It came after the Queen had talks with Prime Minister David Cameron at Balmoral last weekend.

There were also separate calls from senior Conservative and Labour MPs for her to speak out in support of the Union, as she did in 1977 amid growing clamour for devolution of power to Scotland and Wales.

She used a Silver Jubilee speech to say: “I cannot forget that I was crowned Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and of Northern Ireland.

“Perhaps this Jubilee is a time to remind ourselves of the benefits which union has conferred, at home and in our international dealings, on the inhabitants of all parts of the United Kingdom.”

Royal aides have stressed the Queen’s neutrality in the debate, believing independence is a matter for the Scottish people.

The Queen, who remains above the political fray as a constitutional monarch, observed the proprieties of not endorsing either side in the referendum.

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: “We never comment on private exchanges or conversations. We just reiterate what the Queen has always said: she maintains her constitutional impartiality. As the Queen has always said, this is a matter for the people of Scotland.”

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We’re back

Good morning, dear readers. The human being who updates this site with Christian news and information has returned, refreshed and reinvigorated, from a brief sojourn in other places.

News that is of interest to followers of Forward Together and/or readers of this website will now start appearing here, once again. Thank you to those of who who have wondered if all is well. All is indeed well and, from the perspective of the Kingdom of our Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ, all will continue to be well whatever the outcome of the Independence Referendum taking place in Scotland this coming Thursday, for:

He [Jesus] will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end (Luke 1.33)

Be encouraged in His infinite love and grace today.