Christian News from Scotland

News stories from Scotland and beyond

Thursday, May 31, 2007

New Youth Officer for SBS

The Scottish Bible Society has appointed a new Youth Development Manager – Fiona Baker – or Fi to you and me !

From teenagers to university students and young professionals, Fi’s role is to help young people in
Scotland engage with the Bible, and develop programmes and resources geared towards youth and young adults.

Fi is available to visit youth and young adult meetings or events - to speak about the Bible and the work of SBS and she is keen to see young people involved in the vital ministry of the Scottish Bible Society.

Fi has a message for
all RME teachers! (That’s Religious and Moral Education Teachers for those of us who are not in the know !) - that she can deliver an interactive lesson on the Bible in keeping with the Christianity strand of the secondary RME curriculum, particularly for older students.

If you’d like to meet or speak with Fiona Baker, she will be at two major Christian youth events in
Scotland this summer:
Frenzy on 9 June at Ingleston and
Crossover from 15 - 17 June at the Broomlee Centre in
West Linton.
If you’re at either of these events, Fi encourages you to stop by the Scottish Bible Society table and say hello!"

Or you can contact Fi at the Scottish Bible Society – her direct line is 0131 347 9821 or email

Web Links

Cardinal delivers warning to politicians

Scotland's most senior Roman Catholic has warned Roman Catholic politicians who defend abortion that they should not expect to be permitted to remain in full communion with the church.

In a sermon delivered at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh to mark 40 years since the Abortion Act, Cardinal Keith O'Brien said pro-abortion MPs should consider their stance on receiving Communion - and he urged voters to reject candidates who defend a "social evil".

The Cardinal's sermon attacks the 1967 Abortion act, and the Cardinal points out that "... the equivalent of a classroom of children every day are being aborted in their mothers' womb - basically murdered in their mothers' womb."

Although abortion is a reserved issue, legislated over by politicians at Westminster, some Scottish politicians have responded with anger.

Jeremy Purvis, a Liberal Democrat MSP, has accused the cardinal of using "inflammatory" language.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Kirking of the Parliament

The ‘Kirking of the Parliament’ will take place in St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh, today Tuesday 8th May, the eve of the Third Session of the Scottish Parliament.

His Royal Highness The Prince Charles Duke of Rothesay will be joined by newly elected MSPs, representatives of Scotland’s faiths and other guests from across Scotland.

The Very Reverend Gilleasbuig Macmillan, who led the Kirking ceremonies in 1999 and 2003, will lead the evening service.

This will be followed tomorrow, Wednesday, by the official swearing in ceremony for MSPs.

The Third Session of the Parliament is to be opened on 30 June, and will be attended by the Queen. It will again feature a "riding" down the Royal Mile, which will involve around 1,200 people selected to highlight achievements across every constituency and region of Scotland.


Local authorities in Asmara, capital city of the East African nation of Eritrea, arrested 80 members of the Mehrete Yesus Evangelical Presbyterian Church at the close of a worship service on Sunday 29th April.

A US couple, as well as several teachers from India working in Eritrea, were among those detained. The US citizens were released on Thursday 3rd May and allowed to return to their home in Asmara.

Rev. Zecharias Abraham, the Presbyterian church’s pastor, and a church elder named Mikias Mekonnen continue to be held.

This latest raid against Eritrea’s Protestant community came only five days after the government announced that the Eritrean Orthodox Church had elected a new patriarch, Bishop Dioskoros of Mendefera.

An April 23rd posting on an opposition website (<) noted,
“The Eritrean people should be aware that the rights and beliefs of the 2-million strong [Orthodox] church have been flagrantly violated once again, and the hijacking of the church by the government that has been under way for quite some time is now complete.”
More than 40 percent of Eritrea’s citizens consider themselves Coptic Orthodox by birth with at least half of the population of ethnic Muslim background.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Christian Friends of Israel - Glasgow Conference

Christian Friends of Israel Conference

at Victory Christian Centre, Govan, Glasgow

on Friday 18th & Saturday 19th May

Speaker - Chuck Cohen from Jerusalem

subject - “Modern Israel and the Ancient Word”

For further details contact David Andrew on 01698 841155

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Church Vacancy Notice

Church of Scotland

Muirkirk linked with Sorn
(Unrestricted Call)

Muirkirk and Sorn are two Award Winning Villages nestling in the heart of the East Ayrshire Countryside

The two Congregations have bonded well since linking and are seeking a new Minister who will lead and encourage us in developing outreach in our growing villages who is committed to pastoral care and strengthening community relationships.

The Manse for the linked Charge is situated in Muirkirk.

A Parish Profile is available from the Clerk to the Nominating Committee:-

Mr JP Currie
"Dunayre" 116/118 Main Street, Muirkirk, East Ayrshire KA18 3QY
Tel. 01290-661324, Fax 01290-660042, e-mail

Informal enquiries to Interim Moderator

Rev. Robert McCrum,
The Manse, 1 Prestwick Road, Ayr KA8 8LD.
Tel. 01292 262420 e-mail

Web Links

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Church hotel recognised as one of the best in Israel

General Assembly 2007:
Church hotel recognised as one of the best in Israel
(Church of Scotland Press Release)

The Church of Scotland Trust will present its annual report to the General Assembly 2007. The Trust, which was established in 1932, will report on its function of holding overseas church property and acting as a trustee in a number of third party trusts.

The Trust continues to be consulted by the World Mission Council regarding developments with its property in Israel, in particular St Andrew’s Guesthouse in Jerusalem and the Scots Hotel in Tiberias. Despite difficulties in the region the Scots Hotel has seen a huge increase in visitors at both national and international level, partly as a result of a sustained and targeted marketing project. The hotel has recently received an award from the Israeli hotel industry which recognises it as one of the best hotels in the region.

The St Andrew’s Guesthouse has a long history of being a place open to all, regardless of ethnic or religious background. This continuing policy is very much aided and supported by the local staff, most of whom are from the Arab Christian community.

The Assembly will hear that little progress has been made in the transfer of the Church’s heritable properties in Pakistan in the Diocese of Sialkot to the Sialkot Diocesan Trust Association. It is hoped that a visit by the associate secretary and the secretary of the Trust will result in new initiatives for progress.

The Trust continues its involvement in a number of court cases involving its property interests in Pakistan. It is envisaged that due to the nature of the Pakistan legal system these cases will be ongoing for a number of years.

The conclusion of the report deals with the rotational retrial of two of the Trusts’ members and the recording of the appreciation of thanks to Robert Bow who tendered his resignation after 15 years service to the Trust.



Thursday 12 April 2007

Note to news desk
For further information please contact Jennifer Hamilton, secretary and clerk of the Church of Scotland Trust, on 0131 240 2222. A full copy of the report is available on our General Assembly pages online here.

Kirk group seeks international ambassadors

General Assembly 2007:
Kirk group seeks international ambassadors
(Church of Scotland Press Release)

Albert Bogle, the convener of the Kirk’s Church without Walls (CWW) Planning Group, is set to lay out a positive vision of the future of the church at May’s General Assembly.

The Assembly will hear how, since the birth of the idea of Church without Walls in 2001, the vision has gone from strength to strength. The words Church Without Walls have become a byname for renewal and for outreach into the wider community – be that community local, national or international. At May’s Assembly the Planning Group will emphasise ‘that CWW is not a movement that congregations join. It is a mindset that…every effective church leader already owns.’ (Page 1, Para. 2)

The CWW Planning Group continues to ask that we conceive of the church not as a building or buildings, but as a community of individuals carrying the love of Christ out into the world through every aspect of their lives. ‘The purpose of Church Without walls for the Church of Scotland is to focus the church on Jesus Christ and not primarily on buildings.’ (Page 1, Para. 4)

Last year’s General Assembly heard the inspiring tale of the 2005 National Day of Celebration, the all-day event held in Edinburgh’s International Conference Centre which attracted and energised over 3,500 people – representatives of just under half of the Kirk’s congregations.

The Planning Group will inform this year’s Assembly that they do not intend to rest on their laurels. Another CWW National Event will take place during 2008, and it will be aiming to break all previous records in terms of its sheer size. The Planning Group are set to tell commissioners that: ‘Finding a venue for a large gathering during the late spring and early summer of 2008 has proved to be challenging. However, we hope to be in a position to give a date and venue at the General Assembly’. (Page 3, Para. 6) Possible titles for 2008’s CWW event include “Gathering” or “Travelling Light”.

In another potentially ground-breaking move, the Planning Group has begun preliminary discussion with the Rev Air Vice Marshall Peter Mills, Chaplain-in-Chief to the Royal Air Force, with a view to facilitating a CWW event for the armed services.

The CWW Planning Group is always looking to the future, and are already involved in creating a vision of how their work could link in with the Scottish Executive-designated ‘Year of Homecoming’ in 2009 as well as the Centenary celebrations for the Edinburgh World Missionary Conference on 1910.

This latter event will be a once in a lifetime opportunity for Scottish congregations to build local-to-local links with fellow Christians in the developing world. ‘We propose that we work in partnership with other agencies to develop the idea of “The Sending”. This would involve congregation being given the opportunity of sending one or two of their members to visit an overseas project to enable them to become ambassadors for the poor. Already one major Scottish Overseas Development Trust involved in sending volunteers overseas is interested in partnering us with this idea.’ (Page 4, Para. 2)



Wednesday 18 April 2007

Note to news desk

For further details, please contact the Convener of the CWW Planning Group, the Rev Albert Bogle, tel 01506 822195 or email albertbogle@mac.comA full copy of the report is available on our General Assembly pages online here.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

From the Protestant Church of Smyrna

By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST Ministries

SMYRNA, TURKEY - Smyrna is an ancient city today known as Izmir in Turkey that was founded at a very early period at a central and strategic point on the Aegean coast of Anatolia.

It was the second city to receive a letter from the apostle John in the book of Revelation. Acts 19:10 suggests that the church there was founded during Paul’s third missionary journey. Due to the fact that the port city of Izmir houses the second largest population in Turkey today, the site of ancient Smyrna has been little excavated. Excepting the agora, theater, and sections of the Roman aqueduct, little remains of the ancient city.

But there is a protestant church in there that calls itself “The Protestant Church of Smyrna” and it has issued the following letter to the Global Church which was sent to ANS....

Dear friends,

This past week has been filled with much sorrow. Many of you have heard by now of our devastating loss here in an event that took place in Malatya, a Turkish province 300 miles northeast of Antioch, the city where believers were first called Christians (Acts 11:26).

On Wednesday morning, April 18, 2007, 46 year old German missionary and father of three Tilman Geske prepared to go to his office, kissing his wife goodbye taking a moment to hug his son and give him the priceless memory, “Goodbye, son. I love you.”

Tilman rented an office space from Zirve Publishing where he was preparing notes for the new Turkish Study Bible. Zirve was also the location of the Malatya Evangelist Church office. A ministry of the church, Zirve prints and distributes Christian literature to Malatya and nearby cities in Eastern Turkey. In another area of town, 35 year old Pastor Necati Aydin, father of two, said goodbye to his wife, leaving for the office as well. They had a morning Bible Study and prayer meeting that some other believers in town would also be attending. Ugur Yuksel likewise made his way to the Bible study.

None of these three men knew that what awaited them at the Bible study was the ultimate testing and application of their faith, which would conclude with their entrance into glory to receive their crown of righteousness from Christ and honor from all the saints awaiting them in the Lord’s presence.

On the other side of town, ten young men all under 20 years old put into place final arrangements for their ultimate act of faith, living out their love for Allah and hatred of infidels who they felt undermined Islam.

On Resurrection Sunday, five of these men had been to a by-invitation-only evangelistic service that Pastor Necati and his men had arranged at a hotel conference room in the city. The men were known to the believers as “seekers.” No one knows what happened in the hearts of those men as they listened to the gospel. Were they touched by the Holy Spirit? Were they convicted of sin? Did they hear the gospel in their heart of hearts? Today we only have the beginning of their story.

These young men, one of whom is the son of a mayor in the Province of Malatya, are part of a tarikat, or a group of “faithful believers” in Islam. Tarikat membership is highly respected here; it’s like a fraternity membership. In fact, it is said that no one can get into public office without membership in a tarikat. These young men all lived in the same dorm, all preparing for university entrance exams.

The young men got guns, bread knives, ropes and towels ready for their final act of service to Allah. They knew there would be a lot of blood. They arrived in time for the Bible Study, around 10 o’clock.

They arrived, and apparently the Bible Study began. Reportedly, after Necati read a chapter from the Bible the assault began. The boys tied Ugur, Necati, and Tilman’s hands and feet to chairs and as they videoed their work on their cellphones, they tortured our brothers for almost three hours*

[Details of the torture–[the DHM omits these, but if you wish to read them click on the link above]
Neighbors in workplaces near the print house said later they had heard yelling, but assumed the owners were having a domestic argument so they did not respond.

Meanwhile, another believer Gokhan and his wife had a leisurely morning. He slept in till 10, ate a long breakfast and finally around 12:30 he and his wife arrived at the office. The door was locked from the inside, and his key would not work. He phoned and though it had connection on his end he did not hear the phone ringing inside. He called cell phones of his brothers and finally Ugur answered his phone. “We are not at the office. Go to the hotel meeting. We are there. We will come there,” he said cryptically. As Ugur spoke Gokhan heard in the telephone’s background weeping and a strange snarling sound.

He phoned the police, and the nearest officer arrived in about five minutes. He pounded on the door, “Police, open up!” Initially the officer thought it was a domestic disturbance. At that point they heard another snarl and a gurgling moan. The police understood that sound as human suffering, prepared the clip in his gun and tried over and over again to burst through the door. One of the frightened assailants unlocked the door for the policeman, who entered to find a grisly scene.

Tilman and Necati [were dead. Ugur’s was barely alive.]

Three assailants in front of the policeman dropped their weapons.

Meanwhile Gokhan heard a sound of yelling in the street. Someone had fallen from their third story office. Running down, he found a man on the ground, whom he later recognized, named Emre Gunaydin. He had massive head trauma and, strangely, was snarling. He had tried to climb down the drainpipe to escape, and losing his balance had plummeted to the ground. It seems that he was the main leader of the attackers. Another assailant was found hiding on a lower balcony.

To untangle the web we need to back up six years. In April 2001, the National Security Council of Turkey (Milli Guvenlik Kurulu) began to consider evangelical Christians as a threat to national security, on equal footing as Al Quaida and PKK terrorism. Statements made in the press by political leaders, columnists and commentators have fueled a hatred against missionaries who they claim bribe young people to change their religion.

After that decision in 2001, attacks and threats on churches, pastors and Christians began. Bombings, physical attacks, verbal and written abuse are only some of the ways Christians are being targeted. Most significant is the use of media propaganda.

From December 2005, after having a long meeting regarding the Christian threat, the wife of Former Prime Minister Ecevit, historian Ilber Ortayli, Professor Hasan Unsal, Politician Ahmet Tan and writer/propogandist Aytunc Altindal, each in their own profession began a campaign to bring the public’s attention to the looming threat of Christians who sought to “buy their children’s souls”. Hidden cameras in churches have taken church service footage and used it sensationally to promote fear and antagonism toward Christianity.

In an official televised response from Ankara, the Interior Minister of Turkey smirked as he spoke of the attacks on our brothers. Amid public outrage and protests against the event and in favor of freedom of religion and freedom of thought, media and official comments ring with the same message, “We hope you have learned your lesson. We do not want Christians here.”

It appears that this was an organized attack initiated by an unknown adult tarikat leader. As in the Hrant Dink murder in January 2007, and a Catholic priest Andrea Santoro in February 2006, minors are being used to commit religious murders because public sympathy for youth is strong and they face lower penalties than an adult convicted of the same crime. Even the parents of these children are in favor of the acts. The mother of the 16 year old boy who killed the Catholic priest Andrea Santoro looked at the cameras as her son was going to prison and said, “He will serve time for Allah.”

The young men involved in the killing are currently in custody. Today news reported that they would be tried as terrorists, so their age would not affect the strict penalty. Assailant Emre Gunaydin is still in intensive care. The investigation centers around him and his contacts and they say will fall apart if he does not recover.

The Church in Turkey responded in a way that honored God as hundreds of believers and dozens of pastors flew in as fast as they could to stand by the small church of Malatya and encourage the believers, take care of legal issues, and represent Christians to the media.

When Susanne Tilman expressed her wish to bury her husband in Malatya, the Governor tried to stop it, and when he realized he could not stop it, a rumor was spread that “it is a sin to dig a grave for a Christian.” In the end, in an undertaking that should be remembered in Christian history forever, the men from the church in Adana (near Tarsus), grabbed shovels and dug a grave for their slain brother in an un-tended hundred year old Armenian graveyard.

Ugur was buried by his family in an Alevi Muslim ceremony in his hometown of Elazig, his believing fiancé watching from the shadows as his family and friends refused to accept in death the faith Ugur had so long professed and died for.

Necati’s funeral took place in his hometown of Izmir, the city where he came to faith. The darkness does not understand the light. Though the churches expressed their forgiveness for the event, Christians were not to be trusted. Before they would load the coffin onto the plane from Malatya, it went through two separate xray exams to make sure it was not loaded with explosives. This is not a usual procedure for Muslim coffins.

Necati’s funeral was a beautiful event. Like a glimpse of heaven, thousands of Turkish Christians and missionaries came to show their love for Christ, and their honor for this man chosen to die for Christ. Necati’s wife Shemsa told the world, “His death was full of meaning, because he died for Christ and he lived for Christ… Necati was a gift from God. I feel honored that he was in my life, I feel crowned with honor. I want to be worthy of that honor.”

Boldly the believers took their stand at Necati’s funeral, facing the risks of being seen publicly and likewise becoming targets. As expected, the anti-terror police attended and videotaped everyone attending the funeral for their future use. The service took place outside at Buca Baptist church, and he was buried in a small Christian graveyard in the outskirts of Izmir.

Two assistant Governors of Izmir were there solemnly watching the event from the front row. Dozens of news agencies were there documenting the events with live news and photographs. Who knows the impact the funeral had on those watching? This is the beginning of their story as well. Pray for them.

In an act that hit front pages in the largest newspapers in Turkey, Susanne Tilman in a television interview expressed her forgiveness. She did not want revenge, she told reporters. “Oh God, forgive them for they know not what they do,” she said, wholeheartedly agreeing with the words of Christ on Calvary (Luke 23:34).

In a country where blood-for-blood revenge is as normal as breathing, many many reports have come to the attention of the church of how this comment of Susanne Tilman has changed lives. One columnist wrote of her comment, “She said in one sentence what 1000 missionaries in 1000 years could never do.”

The missionaries in Malatya will most likely move out, as their families and children have become publicly identified as targets to the hostile city. The remaining 10 believers are in hiding. What will happen to this church, this light in the darkness? Most likely it will go underground. Pray for wisdom, that Turkish brothers from other cities will go to lead the leaderless church. Should we not be concerned for that great city of Malatya, a city that does not know what it is doing? (Jonah 4:11)

When our Pastor Fikret Bocek went with a brother to give a statement to the Security Directorate on Monday they were ushered into the Anti-Terror Department. On the wall was a huge chart covering the whole wall listing all the terrorist cells in Izmir, categorized. In one prominent column were listed all the evangelical churches in Izmir. The darkness does not understand the light. “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also.” (Acts 17:6)

Please pray for the Church in Turkey. “Don’t pray against persecution, pray for perseverance,” urges Pastor Fikret Bocek.

The Church is better having lost our brothers; the fruit in our lives, the renewed faith, the burning desire to spread the gospel to quench more darkness in Malatya …all these are not to be regretted. Pray that we stand strong against external opposition and especially pray that we stand strong against internal struggles with sin, our true debilitating weakness.

This we know. Christ Jesus was there when our brothers were giving their lives for Him. He was there, like He was when Stephen was being stoned in the sight of Saul of Tarsus.

Someday the video of the deaths of our brothers may reveal more to us about the strength that we know Christ gave them to endure their last cross, about the peace the Spirit of God endowed them with to suffer for their beloved Savior. But we know He did not leave their side. We know their minds were full of Scripture strengthening them to endure, as darkness tried to subdue the un-subduable Light of the Gospel. We know, in whatever way they were able, with a look or a word, they encouraged one another to stand strong. We know they knew they would soon be with Christ.

We don’t know the details. We don’t know the kind of justice that will or will not be served on this earth.

But we pray– and urge you to pray– that someday at least one of those five boys will come to faith because of the testimony in death of Tilman Geske, who gave his life as a missionary to his beloved Turks, and the testimonies in death of Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel, the first martyrs for Christ out of the Turkish Church.

Reported by Darlene N. Bocek (24 April 2007)

Note from the church: Please pass this on to as many praying Christians as you can, in as many countries as you can. Please always keep the heading as “From the Protestant Church of Smyrna” with this contact information:

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