Christian News from Scotland

News stories from Scotland and beyond

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Indonesian Earthquake

Christians are on the ground in Indonesia, helping people who's lives have been shattered by the sunrise earthquake of Saturday 27th May.


Tearfund’s Christian partners in the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta are appealing for prayer as they frantically help those injured and made homeless by Saturday’s devastating earthquake.

“Churches and youth group members in Yogyakarta are helping people who have not yet received major help,” reports Agustin Samosir, of Indonesian Baptist Aid. “We are helping to evacuate people, prepare public kitchens, deliver meals and distribute plastic tarpaulins for shelter.”

Heavy rain is hampering relief work after the earthquake which measured 6.3 killed at least 5,000 people and injured 20,000. A further 200,000 people are estimated to be homeless. Predictions that the nearby volcano Mount Merapi might explode is adding to people’s fears of further destruction following several earthquake aftershocks.

Agustin Samosir, of Indonesian Baptist Aid, says shelter, medicines and clean water remain the most urgent priorities. “There are doctors from Surabaya and some nurses from Lampung who have arrived since Sunday morning. Further medical help has come from Kediri,” he reports.

Augustin adds: “Basic needs are becoming more expensive in Yogyakarta. Gasoline is very hard to find. Please pray for all the victims and their families and also for the teams responding, that we are well co-ordinated.”

Meanwhile, Tearfund staff in Banda Aceh working on recovery programmes following the South Asian tsunami on Boxing Day 2004, have sent several staff, as well as blankets, tents and antiseptic lotions to the scene of the earthquake.

John Samuel, Programme Director for Tearfund’s Tsunami response programme based in Banda Aceh, says: “People here in Indonesia are worried and fearful. This earthquake struck less than 18 months after the tsunami.”

Operation Blessing International

Homeless earthquake survivors living in rice fields and makeshift shacks begged for food and water under a blazing sun as Indonesia's death toll continues to rise. The death toll is officially over 5,000, but that's expected to rise even higher as bodies are pulled from the debris left by the 6.2 magnitude quake that shook the Island of Java on Saturday.

Christians are responding to the disaster. Operation Blessing International's Mark McClendon is on the ground in Yogyakarta, the hardest hit area. "It just absolutely decimated tens of thousands of homes. Hundreds of thousands have been left homeless, sleeping outdoors for fear of going inside because an after shock or another earthquake could bring whatever's left down on them."

McClendon says hospitals are also affected. "Patients in hospitals are afraid to be inside the hospital. And so you find them strewn around the yard -- even i-vs hanging off tree branches and things like that because they're just afraid to be inside."

Operation Blessing has a national staff in Indonesia, which McClendon says has allowed them to mobilize quickly. "We have, now, seven full-blown medical teams going into all of these regions. They're mobile and they're moving from place to place and bring a lot more help to a lot more people than we would if we were just planted in a particular area."

OBI hope to distribute 20,000 family sized Emergency Relief Kits by Christian volunteers. These people are also working as trauma counseling. McClendon says this is helpful because this is a difficult area. "This is a very Muslim area and an area that has been very resistant to the Gospel. It's just amazing how people's hearts soften when they feel helpless and there's nowhere to turn to and yet that's the moment where we can come and we can demonstrate God's love for them."

Funding is the biggest need right now. OBI is purchasing relief items in Indonesia and trucking the supplies into the devastated areas. Gifts of any amount can help equip OBI to be effective both physically and spiritually. Go to to give safely and securely on-line.

Food for the Hungry

Food for the Hungry is on the ground with two teams in quake-damaged Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Country officials admit they're struggling to cope with the scale of the catastrophe, and declared a three-month state of emergency.

While the death toll tops 4,000, there are over 200,000 homeless, mostly women and children. FH teams are distributing emergency shelter material and other supplies. They're working in cooperation with both international and local agencies as the needs mount.

Just a few days into the effort, the teams are out pacing the resources. That may soon point to a need for more help.

Also facing the teams are not just the immediate shelter needs, but also the upcoming ones of sanitation and clean drinking water.

With hospitals filled to overflowing, and wounded everywhere, there is a concern about deadly outbreaks. Add to that potable water concerns and broken sewage lines, and that concern grows into alarm,

FH teams are already preparing an appropriate response in the water/sanitation sector in the days to come.

Please continue to pray for those impacted by this devastating earthquake. Pray too that the hands of the teams would reflect the love and hope of Christ to the survivors in this difficult time.

World Vision

The second distribution of World Vision relief aid, consisting of family kits and hygiene kits, will reach more than 30,000 survivors of the quake in Yogyakarta's Bantul district and neighbouring Klaten district within the next week.

The relief assistance will total 7,000 packages of family kits and hygiene kits, which will be distributed to more than 30,000 people (7,000 families).

Out of the 7,000 packages, 1,500 arrived in Yogyakarta today (Tuesday May 30). The remaining 5,500 packages have been ordered and will soon be on their way to Yogyakarta from Jakarta and Surabaya, the two largest cities in the country.

Among the items in the kits are pans, dishes, glasses, spoons, buckets, stoves, soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes, flashlights and kerosene lamps.

World Vision will begin distributing the goods on Wednesday (after sorting the goods based on the quantity needed by each site the organisation plans to support).

On Tuesday, besides distributing the remaining tarpaulins and other items, World Vision conducted coordination meetings with the government and prepared the communities where aid distribution will be conducted in the coming days.

Initial World Vision relief aid distributions began on Sunday consisting of hundreds of tarpaulins, blankets, sarongs, stretchers/cots, intravenous solution and gloves.

World Vision's James East in Yogyakarta says, "We expect to be responding for the next six months to a year. These initial distributions are only the first step in a long reconstruction process."

Meanwhile, quakes of a smaller magnitude also jolted Padang area in West Sumatra and Jayawijaya highlands in Papua province at midday on Tuesday. There are no reports of any serious damage.

World Vision has four Area Development Programmes in Jayawijaya districts, with some 7,000 children in programme.


Monday, May 29, 2006

Blitz Finally Closes Church

A Church buidling bombed during the Blitz has finally succumbed to damage it sustained 65 years ago.

The roof of the Clydebank Central Wesleyan Reform Church was damaged in a bombing raid in 1941 and has leaked ever since.

Despite the damage, the church has been used by generations of worshippers during the past six decades.

But now the church has fallen into such a state of disrepair it can no longer be used.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Church Leaders Support Debate on Sectarianism

MSPs praised church leaders who turned out for a Holyrood debate on sectarianism on 24th May

Rev Alan McDonald, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and Cardinal Keith O'Brien, head of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, joined anti-sectarian group Nil By Mouth in the public gallery.

Glasgow Anniesland MSP Bill Butler said:
"Church and faith groups play an important role in our communities.That so many prominent members of our faith community are present to listen to this debate shows their deep-seated commitment to move forward and tackle sectarianism."
Butler said education was also a major factor and backed the twinning of denominational and non-denominational schools. It remains to be seen whether the Roman Catholic Church will be so willing to support the thoughts behind that idea !

Give Neds a Good Flogging

A Roman Cathlic Priest at the centre of a sectarian hate campaign has called for a return of public flogging.

Father Stephen Dunn, commenting after thugs scrawled sick graffiti on the door of his chapel house, is reported to have said
"I would have birching in George Square on alternate Saturdays at 6am. If these thugs thought they were going to be publicly flogged, by God you can bet they wouldn't do it again."
Father Dunn has been targeted by sectarian thugs since taking over at the Sacred Heart RC Church, in Bridgeton, Glasgow, two years ago. He was punched by a bigot last year, his home has been attacked and he is regularly taunted in the street.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

New Kirk Training Provider

The Church of Scotland has awarded the Highlands and Islands higher education institute, UHI, the status of a training provider for ministers.

UHI's Highland Theological College (HTC) joins Glasgow, Edinburgh, St Andrews and Aberdeen universities in training Kirk recruits and is the first approval of a new provider of academic training for the ministry since 1929.

The status was approved by General Assembly of the Church of Scotland on Wednesday.

The Church of Scotland said one of the advantages of HTC was that its training focuses on distance learning, which means recruits do not have to relocate to the college's base in Dingwall, Ross-shire, but can learn from their places of work.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

UK Government Promotes Homosexuality

The United Kingdom Government is planning sweeping gay rights laws which will
  • effectively promote homosexuality over all other belief
  • disallow freedom of thought
  • promote homosexuality in schools and
  • curtail religious liberty
The government has published a consultation on their proposed laws but has issued no text of the act.

The governemnt is also endeavouring to infroduce this law using undemocratic means.
  • Once the Act is published in parliament, no amendments will be permitted
  • both houses of parliament will be permitted to vote only for or against the act.
The new sexual orientation regulations will make 'homophobic' discrimination illegal in many aspects of life. They are set to cover:
  • the provision of goods, facilities and services;
  • the selling or letting of premises;
  • education; and
  • public authorities.
The plans will follow the approach taken with new religious discrimination provisions in the Equality Act 2006 and existing laws covering race and sex. The term 'goods, facilities and services' is very broad, covering, for example, hotel or guesthouse accommodation, retail sales and the services industry.

The new Sexual Orientation Regulations will mean that it will be illegal to treat a homosexual differently when providing a good, facility or service. In most cases, any Christian business would want to sell its products regardless of who the purchaser is. A bookshop would be as happy to sell a Bible to a homosexual as to anyone else. But should the law force Christian B&B owners to give homosexuals a double bed? Should it become illegal for a church to refuse to hire out its hall to gay rights activists? This would be as ridiculous as forcing the Labour Party to hire out its HQ to the Conservatives.

Without an exception the regulations would cover the school curriculum. This could force the equal promotion of homosexuality and heterosexuality in schools, a move which threatens to be just as controversial among the public as the repeal of Section 28. Could these laws be used by gay rights groups to stop Christian Unions in schools, as activist students already try to do in universities?

The sexual orientation regulations create civil, not criminal, laws. This means that they are relatively easy to use - activists could launch legal actions against their opponents with little difficulty. And sadly there are people who oppose Christians strongly enough to do so.

The Government is currently consulting on it's planned regulations. The deadline for the consultation is 5 June. Copies of the consultation paper are available online at or can be obtained from:
DTI Publications Orderline
London SW1W 8YT
Tel: 0845-015 0010
Fax: 0845-015 0020
Minicom: 0845-015 0030
the Christian Institute has prepared a briefing document which is available at
and a summary of the issue can be found at

Monday, May 15, 2006

Trident Petition

Scotland's churches are launching a joint petition urging the UK Government not to replace the Trident nuclear weapons system. The Church of Scotland, the Roman Catholic Church and the Episcopal Church will sign the document in Edinburgh.

The petition will also call for money for Trident's replacement to be diverted towards aid and development.

Four Trident nuclear submarines are based at Faslane on the Clyde as part of Britain's nuclear deterent. The Commons defence committee is examining whether the UK should replace Trident, which is expected to be obsolete by 2020.

Scotland's most senior Roman Catholic, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, is to be the first signatory.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Deteriorating Situation in Sudan

Speaking at St Andrews University, following a trip to Darfur, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Scotland's most senior Roman Catholic, has highlighted the "deteriorating" situation in Sudan

He said "The whole world listens, the whole world watches - and nothing is done".

He urged people to talk about the crisis in Sudan in a bid to create higher awareness of the situation.

In his speech he painted a graphic picture of the problems faced by people in Sudan, saying that
"They had indeed been brutally treated, many women had suffered multiple rape and men had been subjected to various atrocities also.

"Some had had their ears cut off right close to their skulls; others had had their lips cut off; others had had padlocks put through a hole made in their top lip and this was joined up to a hole in their bottom lip."
He asked
"What more can we do at this present time?

"Basically I would simply say talk about the situation such as you have heard from me; talk about the situation to your own members of parliament including members of the Scottish Parliament and draw the attention of those whom you meet to a frightening situation in a troubled country."

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Funding blow to Asylum Project

Avendale Old and Drumclog Church Church of Scotland could lose a £5000 grant to help asylum seekers because it is unable to match the funding.

The Church of Scotland awarded the cash to the Strathaven church to help residents of Dungavel detention centre.

But, if the church is unable to find the money to match it, the cash offer could be withdrawn.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Call for Meeting about Sunday Sailings

The Western Isles Presbytery of the Free Church of Scotland has called on Scottish Transport Minister Tavish Scott to attend a public meeting about Sunday ferry sailings across the Sound of Harris.

The presbytery describe Caledonian MacBrayne's decision to launch the service, against the wishes of the churches the Western isles Council, as a "critical political issue" and is calling on the First Minister to force either Mr Scott or CalMac chairman Dr Harold Mills to meet local objectors.

The Presbytery have previously asked Mr Scott to step into the row over Sunday sailings but was told it was an operational issue. The Presbytery Clerk, the Reverend Malcolm Macleod, said the company ignored opposition from islanders and Western Isles Council and maintained that First Minister Jack McConnell must defend democracy by making sure either the transport minister or Dr Mills attend a planned public meeting to be held on Harris.

Islands MSP, who met a delegation of councillors and members of the Lord's Day Observance Society at the weekend, said he was confident of arranging a meeting between Mr Scott and protesters.