Time to rethink Benefit Sanctions

Over time, more than 1 in 5 Jobseekers find themselves sanctioned i.e. left without benefits for a month or more. The Joint Public Issues team of the Methodist Church, the Baptist Union, the United Reformed Church and the Church of Scotland has published this report in conjunction with Church Action on Poverty and the Church in Wales.

 

Churches’ Mutual Credit Union

This recent initiative, including the Methodist Church, the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church of Scotland, is now open for business, and invites savings in the Founder Members’ Bond.

At present, membership is open to the following within the Methodist Church

  • lay and ordained ministers, in training, in active service and in retirement
  • employees of the Methodist Church, at any level from local to connexional
  • trustees of the Methodist Church – this includes all Church Council members
  • members of the household of one of the above

For more details and future plans see the website.

Scottish Churches Housing Action

Scottish Churches Housing Actionscha will be 20 years old on 17 January 2015.

We will mark the event with a service of celebration, challenge and commitment at
St Andrew’s RC Cathedral, Clyde St, Glasgow at 2.30 pm.

Worship will be led by our Associate Convener, Rt Rev Bruce Cameron, and the sermon will be given by Very Rev Dr Andrew McLellan.

ALL WELCOME

Scottish Churches Housing Action supports churches to make practical responses to the challenge of homelessness in Scotland. Read its reponse to the Smith Commission.

Advent letter from Anita Shaw

I arrived in Wishaw mid-August 2014 having served the Methodist Church in Lytham St Annes for the past five years. Since then I have been trying to find my way around the area, the transport system, the streets of Lanarkshire and the various groups associated with the Strathclyde Circuit. I say trying to find my way around, because at some point of each week I have found myself ‘lost’; in unfamiliar streets, in unfamiliar towns, on unfamiliar train stations amongst unfamiliar people. (Don’t even mention how lost I feel trying to decipher the phone conversations!) As always, some people have been very helpful in coming to my aid and as always some have not. One morning, as I made my way to Singer on the train, it was suddenly put out of service. A young women student came my aid and shared her taxi with me so that I could get to my destination, all be it a little late. Her act of grace had enabled me to move from a place of vulnerability to a place of safety. Can I hear you asking, ‘What has this got to do with Christmas’?

Two thousand years ago Jesus left the heavens (I guess a very safe and familiar place to him, and probably a bit further than Lytham St Annes, although the serious theologians amongst us may want to rightly debate that statement) to come and offer grace and mercy to the lost.

All of us can find ourselves lost at Christmas: lost in the commercialism, lost in the financial demands, lost in the traditions of the new in-laws, lost in bereavement and certainly lost in ‘time’ without a Tardis.

As Mary and Joseph were just as human as you and I, then we can deduce that they felt somewhat lost in their situation. They too, lost in the new fan dangled commercial Roman registration (and you can guarantee someone somewhere was making a fast buck), lost in financial demands, lost in an ‘in-law’ tradition as one of the shepherds gate crashed the stable claiming to be Joseph’s cousin’s brother-in-law on his mother’s side (perhaps) and lost in an untimely labour.  But just as I was aided on my train journey by a young woman’s grace, so Mary and Joseph were offered hospitality by the grace of an inn keeper. It’s hard sometimes to find the small acts of grace amongst the tinsel but I pray that you, in your Christmas, will
find the grace of God in the places where you need it most. May you too, amongst the hype, be like the inn keeper and offer God’s grace to those who come your way.

Christmas greetings.
Anita Shaw

Deacon Anita Shaw has pastoral responsibility for Netherton and New Stevenston Methodist Churches.

Edinburgh churches use computers to understand their buildings

Churches and Computer Hackers Join Forces to Fight the Cold!

As autumn chill descends upon Edinburgh, two churches have joined forces with scientists, engineers and computer programmers in order to bring warmth to cold buildings across the city.

HeatHack is a computing and electronics club formed by the City of Edinburgh Methodist Church and Christ Church Morningside (Scottish Episcopal Church). The club will set up temperature and humidity monitoring in buildings, time lapse photography (for gas meters and boilers), public displays and phone apps that help communities understand their buildings – plus some special engineering challenges like how to find out whether a pump is operating correctly and where the heat actually goes.

Many community buildings in Edinburgh are old and expensive to heat – and costly to the environment – but this new ‘hacker-space’ is being formed to understand how to make the best use of the energy that is put in.

As well as special events, HeatHack will meet regularly on Tuesday evenings starting in October. They welcome anyone with an interest in electronics, computer programming, or an interest in how these old buildings are maintained and kept at their best for their use by the community.

Jean Carletta, a researcher at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics, is the originator of the ‘heat hack’ concept and has been actively involved in improving comfort and reducing energy use at Christ Church Morningside. She says, “Victorian buildings are fascinating, but complicated. The internet makes it possible to monitor heating systems and check their performance remotely. HeatHack will speed up improvements by bringing together property owners, users, students, and volunteers to share data and understand their heating problems.”

Lou Davis, pioneer minister at City of Edinburgh Methodist Church, “I’m very excited about the possibilities for HeatHack. Not only will we be finding solutions to people’s problems, but we’ll also be learning lots and having a great deal of fun along the way. I’m really keen to get a soldering iron in my hands and make something!”

HeatHack launched officially on Sunday 28 September at 12.30pm at the City of Edinburgh Methodist Church at 25 Nicolson Square, with an opportunity to see the technology in action.

Email: info@heathack.org

Scotland Today – The Context for Methodism

The Learning and Development Forum are hosting this event to continue our focus and thinking together on current issues in the life of our nation and church.

The facilitating Speakers will be Professor Lindsay Patterson, Professor of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh, and Alastair Cameron, Chief Executive, Scottish Churches Housing Action.

All interested are invited – please register via the District Office by Friday 17th October if possible: fiona@methodistchurch.plus.com; 01786 820295. Notice of particular needs (eg diet) would be useful – thanks!

Date:        Wednesday 29th October

Time:        4.30pm to 7.30pm (at the latest!)

Venue:     Creative Scotland, Old Town Jail, St John Street, Stirling FK8 1FA

 

Scottish Parliament Motion supports church initiative

The City of Edinburgh Methodist Church has been officially informed that Sarah Boyack MSP has lodged a motion at the Scottish Parliament to commend the church on its recent partnership with Capital Credit Union, to facilitate the provision of credit union financial services to staff, members and the wider community in Edinburgh, Lothians and Borders. Ms Boyack had not been able to attend the church’s launch event for the partnership but wants to support the initiative.
The motion has attracted strong cross-party support.
MSPs have not been able to sent out their regular newsletters in the lead up to the Scottish referendum on independence, but Sarah plans to send out a newsletter immediately after the vote, which will include information about credit unions generally and about our initiative specifically.
The motion reads:
 Motion S4M-10847: Sarah Boyack, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 20/08/2014
Access to Credit Union Services
“That the Parliament congratulates the City of Edinburgh Methodist Church and the Capital Credit Union on their new joint credit union scheme, which aims to offer affordable loans and mortgages as an alternative to payday borrowing; welcomes the commitment by the church staff and trained volunteers to offer weekly workshops that aim to provide access to credit union services to churchgoers and across the wider community, and further welcomes the plans by the Methodist Church in Scotland to work with the Church of Scotland and the Church of England to launch the Churches’ Mutual Credit Union on 1 October 2014.”
So far, the motion has been supported by: David Stewart, Anne McTaggart, Margaret McCulloch, Hanzala Malik, Annabelle Ewing, Jayne Baxter, Richard Lyle, Patricia Ferguson, Mark McDonald, Neil Findlay, Mike MacKenzie, Elaine Murray, Stuart McMillan, David Torrance, Jackie Baillie, Dave Thompson, Cara Hilton, Nigel Don.

Call to prayer for Iraq and Syria on 31 August

The President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Ken Howcroft and Ms Gill Dascombe, are asking Methodists to ensure that they spend some special time in prayer for persecuted minorities during worship on 31 August, and consider donating to Christian Aid’s Iraq appeal.

Text of letter

They have written a prayer for Syria and Iraq for use by churches and groups:

“The situation in Iraq and Syria can only be described as a living nightmare,” said Mr Howcroft and Ms Dascombe, adding, “as Methodists we stand in solidarity alongside all those who are persecuted. As followers of Jesus who was crucified we stand with all those who find their religion twisted by others out of all recognition in order to justify horrific acts of violence. We stand in prayer, crying out together to a God of justice, peace and mercy. May God have mercy on us all.”