Christian News from Scotland

News stories from Scotland and beyond

Friday, March 31, 2006

Sunday Sailing Angers Churches

MV Loch Portain
Churchmen and councillors on Scotland's Western Isles have denounced the decision by Caledonian MacBrayne to begin a Sunday ferry service to Harris, an area which has traditionally observed the Sabbath.

There have been calls for the directors and managers of the publicly owned company not to proceed with a service which objectors claim would assault the dearly held values of Harris and Lewis. But the signs are that CalMac's ferry Loch Portain will soon cross the Sound of Harris on a Sunday with speculation that April 9 could be the launch date.

The launch of such a service face of opposition from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (The Western Isles Council). Harris councillor Morag Munro said the company must take account of the strength of local feeling as reflected in the 711- name petition from Harris and Berneray/North Uist, the communities most affected, who opposed the service. She won support for the council to "...convey to the board of Caledonian Mac-Brayne the dismay at the utter contempt and disregard that they have shown both to the democratic wishes of the community and the decision making procedures of the council".

The council will also invoke the freedom of information act, so that Caledonian MacBrayne makes available its evaluation of the viability of the Sunday service.

There was outrage from presbyterian manses as well. The Rev David Murray of the Stornoway Free Church Continuing said: "This is yet another example of the money grabbing, culture destroying commercialisation imposed on the islands of Lewis and Harris against the will of God, and most of our people."

But opinion is divided. North Uist/Berneray councillor Archie Campbell, who has campaigned for the Sunday service along with four of the other five Uist councillors, said the predominantly presbyterian island of North Uist had a Sunday ferry service since 1989, but there was still traditional Sabbath observance.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Scotland's Oldest Church Bells

Efforts to save the bells of St Andrew's and St George's Church in central Edinburgh, reputed to be Scotland's oldest peal of church bells, have been successful.

The bells were installed in St Andrew's and St George's Church in the late 18th Century but, over the intervening years, their condition deteriorated.

Enough money has now been raised to refurbish the eight bells and the tower in which they hang.

The last three bells are in the process of being removed so they can be taken to a foundry in London for re-tuning.

Web Links

St Andrews and St Georges Church of Scotland

Friday, March 17, 2006


Christian Aid recently launched an emergency appeal for East Africa where the United Nations reports that 11 million people are at risk of starvation in Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Djibouti.

"This is a crisis on the verge of becoming a catastrophe," said Dominic Nutt, Christian Aid's emergencies specialist in the region. "There are dead cattle everywhere and people have sold everything they have to buy food. These are the last few weeks that many people are going to be able to survive without help."

Norwegian Church Aid along with four other members of Action by Churches Together (ACT) is also responding to the situation in Kenya and issued an appeal to its members worldwide. Church World Service, one of the members of the global alliance ACT, joined the effort to provide immediate food and water needs in the most affected communities.

Tearfund report that in some parts of East Africa it's a grim story. More than 6.5 million people in north Kenya, south Ethiopia and Somalia need food aid urgently.

In 2005 the rains which normally fall from October until December failed. This followed two previous years of inadequate rainfall. Tearfund is funding partners to carry out food distributions.

Areas affected by this drought are mainly pastoral and farmers rely on their cows and goats for income. Due to the lack of rainfall, grazing land has been exhausted, animals are dying and those that remain are often so weak they cannot be sold. Some people keep camels, and even these ‘ships of the desert’ are struggling from lack of water.

To cope with the drought pastoral communities have been forced to sell their livestock. The price they can get is decreasing because of the state of the animals and also because so many people are trying to sell at one time. Consequently, they cannot earn enough money to buy food.

Some people have resorted to moving to urban areas in search of pasture and also to sell their livestock. There are reports that the lack of resources is leading to conflict, as people fight over grazing land.

Spring rains normally last from March until May. Thankfully, rain is falling in some parts of Kenya. However, even if this rainy season is a good one, it will take a long time for farmers to fully restock their herds. The damage has already been done. Early indications suggest that the spring rains in Ethiopia will once again be poor.

And the crisis is spreading. Highland areas of Ethiopia have so far escaped drought. But farmers in this area have not been able to begin planting his season because of poor spring rains.

World Vision reports that failure of rains has compounded a very fragile situation across the Horn of Africa. Much is dependant on the rainfall expected in April. Some improvement will happen if the rainfall is adequate, otherwise the numbers of people affected will escalate beyond what has already been identified.

General Food Distribution and non-food interventions will be targeted across the five countries affected - Somalia (2.1 million people affected), Ethiopia (2.6 million), Kenya (3.5 million), Tanzania (3.7 million) and Burundi (2.3 million).

World Vision, working with the World Food Program, will distribute food rations and supplementary nutritious food to vulnerable groups such as children and pregnant and breast feeding mothers.

World Vision is also: installing water points for communities and animals, providing seeds for the next planting season, installing latrines and improved sanitation facilities and providing shelter materials and household utensils for communities that have been displaced.

In the long term World Vision's focus is on Life Saving Initiatives and Disaster Mitigation.

Life Saving Initiatives will focus on the immediate need to save lives through the provision of: food, clean water, shelter materials and health.

Disaster Mitigation is a medium to longer-term approach and means assisting communities to detect, prepare for and respond to crisis themselves. World Vision works with communities to identify what hazards are facing them, limit the negative impact through appropriate activities (for example planting trees and creating terracing on slopes to hold in the soil and reduce mudslides).

Disaster Mitigation also means detecting crises early on to prepare accordingly. World Vision also works with communities to advise what to do in the early, mid and late stages of a crisis and to know where to get the right type of help from.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Evidence of Human Origins

“Recent genetic and archeological findings show that human beings did not evolve from ape-like creatures,” contends internationally respected biochemist Dr. Fazale “Fuz” Rana.

“With the discovery of what scientists have aptly named Y-chromosomal Adam and Mitochondrial Eve, new genetic and DNA evidence with the fossil record show very clearly that modern humans are not related to previously existing hominids as once believed.

“There is astonishing new evidence to support the position that Homo sapiens exploded onto the scene less than 100,000 years ago from a single man and a single woman. Even more astounding is that scientists now know that human origins had their beginning in a particular geographical area - the same area identified by most biblical scholars as the physical location of the Garden of Eden. Belief in a literal and historical Adam and Eve as recounted in the Bible has greater scientific credibility today than at any other time in human history.”

Rana adds that the Darwinian theory of biological evolution is no longer valid in light of today’s fast-changing technology. “But many in the scientific community refuse to accept a paradigm shift because until now there has not been another model with superior explanatory power and predictive success to replace the evolutionary model.”

Since 1986 Rana has led Reasons to Believe, an institute founded to research and proclaim new reasons from the frontiers of science for trust in God’s Word and faith in Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Anger at Jerry Springer Opera

AROUND 300 Christian campaigners turned out in force to protest at the opening night of Jerry Springer - The Opera in Glasgow.

They packed the entrance to the King's Theatre and lined the pavement opposite the venue, many brandishing banners and singing hymns.

The protest was led by the Christian Voice organisation. Stephen Green, the group's national director, joined protesters in Glasgow last night.

He said: "It's really encouraging to see so many local Christians here."

The satirical opera has courted controversy since it was screened by BBC2 in January 2005.

The BBC received 55,000 complaints ahead of its broadcast.

Frances Coburn, from Pollok, who was among the protesters, described the stage performance as "evil".

However, Chris Denton, from the west end, who was going to watch the show, hit out at the campaigners. He said: "I don't like our freedom of speech being at threat by extremists."

A spokesman for the show said organisers were delighted to have opened in Glasgow last night.

He added: "We are aware there was a minor protest before the show started. However, this did not affect the performance."

Police officers monitored the protest. A spokeswoman said: "It was a peaceful demonstration and there were no arrests."