Church of Scotland partners with Fresh Expressions

(Photo: John Young)

The Church of Scotland has announced the start of a new partnership with the Fresh Expressions initiative.

Fresh Expressions was launched in 2004 by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York together with the Methodist Council and has since grown to include The Salvation Army, the United Reformed Church, Church Army and 24/7 Prayer.

The springboard for the initiative was the Church of England's 'Mission-shaped Church' report, which first coined the term 'fresh expressions of church'.

The movement has given rise to the pioneering of hundreds of new congregations to complement more traditional forms of church.

As a part of the Fresh Expressions movement, the Church of Scotland will be supported in its efforts to develop fresh expressions of church.

Welcoming news of the partnership and appointment, Bishop Graham Cray, leader of the Fresh Expressions team, commented: "We have been working informally, and very fruitfully, with the Church of Scotland for some time now so I am delighted to see our partnership formalised. I look forward to many years of creative and effective mission through the planting of fresh expressions of church."

The new partnership has been in formation for the last five years through the Church of Scotland's Mission and Discipleship Council and the Ministries Council.

A new Joint Emerging Church Group (JECG) was created last year and its vision-setting report discussed at this year's General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

The report spoke of the need to address the "many years of decline across the life of the Church" and invited every parish to explore the possibility of establishing a new expression of church appropriate to the local context by 2020.

The partnership with Fresh Expressions ties into this new impetus within the Kirk and will serve to help congregations by sharing experience.

The Reverend Colin Sinclair, Convener of the Mission and Discipleship Council, said: "There is a need for fresh thinking and trying things that are different because over 90% of folks in Scotland are just not connecting with the church.

"Not all are hostile to the church and some have had a church background but they need fresh ways to reimagine what they think the church is to be, what the Christian faith is all about, and how it could link to their own lives and context."

Rev David Cameron, former Convener of the Joint Emerging Church Group, added: "One of the great things about being part of a Christian church is that we have much to learn from our brothers and sisters in many different denominations across the world.

"One of the things we've been impressed with over the years is the support that we've had from Fresh Expressions as we've begun to dip our toe in the water and attempt to turn the tide here in Scotland.

"We've been grateful for the experience thus far in journeying alongside Fresh Expressions, for the support and encouragement they've given us. It's our hope that in entering into that partnership we'll be able to glean from them, and learn from them, the lessons that will help us in this context as we move forward."

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