Sunday, 30 November 2014

First Sunday in Advent - Hope

Many thought that John the Baptist would fulfil Israels hope of a Messiah.  Expectations for a better future were high when they saw and heard him. He seemed to fit the image well of the kind of person people would follow.  Hundreds came to see and hear him and he was asked frequently by religious leaders if he was indeed the expected one who would bring new hope to a hopeless world

However, he was quick to tell them that he was not the Messiah but one sent to prepare for his imminent arrival, adding that everyone was to get themselves sorted out for his coming.  He called people to repent and used baptism as a symbol of that repentance. This would have come as an initial shock to a Jew, as this was the means by which a Gentile was converted to Judaism.  Nevertheless many people from varied backgrounds responded to the Baptists simple but clear call 

When Jesus, the true Messiah arrived, John pointed to him, declaring that here was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  It is worth noting that of all the descriptions that could be given to the Messiah, John speaks of the Lamb of God

As we journey through Advent we can listen well to the Messiah Lord as our Teacher, follow closely as our Example, offer allegiance as our King and serve him well as our Master, but never let us lose sight of him as the willing Sacrifice who is the Saviour for a hopeless world a message we need to know and share in whatever way we can this Christmas

 Read John 1:29-34

Friday, 28 November 2014

Mary, Did You Know?

A song to start us thinking about Advent and what Christmas really means.

What are your favourite Christmas hymns or songs?

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Whole Life Discipleship

For the majority of Christians most of their time is spent away from church or from church activities and the big challenge for them is how they live out their Christian lifestyle in a non-christian environment.   An even more relevant challenge is the issue of what their church is doing to help their members be faithful stewards and effective missionaries away from church environs.

For the past year in West Scotland Division of The Salvation Army, efforts have been made to work with around ten corps to address this very issue and the results, in the main, have been truly encouraging.  Small group work has provided opportunity for participants to see the potential for intentional learning and intentional practice in the matter of Christian discipleship


The objectives of the training are clearly defined:

Train Christians in Whole Life Discipleship

Challenge Christians to influence others in Whole Life Discipleship

Provide Christians with on-going discipleship support

Equip Christians for meaningful ministry

Work towards creating Whole Life Discipleship congregations

Whole Life Discipleship does not offer a quick-fix solution but it does offer a focus, and explores the implications of that focus for individual Christians and for our churches

Delivery of Study

The material used to date has been sourced from the LICC, The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, and the sessions have been designed to help participants to discover their frontline and to be fruitful there for the Kingdom.  Participants are able to take serious steps to make small degree shifts in their personal spiritual developments as well as grasping opportunities to speak to non-Christians on their frontline.  An additional benefit is that of encouraging accountability in the group and this helps people to hold to their discipleship intentions. 

Story Telling

At the start of each monthly meeting there is opportunity to share stories of the spiritual journey individuals have been on.  These fellowships have proved powerful with many participants speaking of finding a new confidence in speaking to others about their faith.  A couple of corps are now implementing the TTT (This Time Tomorrow) slot in meetings where members speak on Sunday morning of what they will be doing on Monday morning.  This not only allows people to share their story as it affects their working life but allows others to pray for specific matters that the speaker highlights for prayer. 

Study Setting

The regular meetings tend to be on a weeknight every two weeks or once a month. However there are a variety of different settings according to the local programme.  These have included a Sunday afternoon or evening in place of a normal meeting or on a weekday afternoon with retired members or others not at work on that day.  Other alternatives include Quarterly Saturday or Sunday Seminars or Retreats. 

Measured Outcomes

It is envisaged that corps undertaking this process will continue to hold Discipleship Accountability Groups on a monthly or fortnightly basis following the initial teaching and so work towards being a Whole Life Discipleship Church.  In addition to the material provided by the LICC there is good teaching material  available from alternative sources which will allow groups to keep up the momentum of this kind of support.  It is hoped that the leadership of such groups will be local people who could well develop into spiritual directors for their fellowship. 


Being part of a sending church

Being equipped for ministry

Being accountable as a Christian

Being a catalyst for change

For details on available material from DHQ contact Major David Burns at West Scotland Division,

For advice and/or delivery of teaching contact Bob McIntyre,

Bob McIntyre
Divisional Support Officer

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Employability in Ayrshire through George Steven Centre, Kilbirnie

This year has seen an exciting twist in our already established programme.  We have begun to widen our sights, hopes and dreams within the Training and Employability field to promote further partnership working with our local community and to offer a new innovative range of learning opportunities for our service users.
Over the past year, we have gone from strength to strength in our already established training placements.  We currently have 9 service users and 2 volunteers training in our purpose build community café which is attached to the George Steven Centre.  The café known as The Blend In Café gives real life training experiences to adults with learning disabilities.  The service users work through their person centred care plans to achieve their chosen outcomes. The dedicated staff are on hand to provide guidance, build bespoke training plans and offer support where required.  The café is a busy place with both a sit-in and take-away service.  Trainees therefore are able to immerse themselves within a busy lifelong learning environment which will equip them with every skill necessary to work in a café.
We also continue to work in partnership with The Salvation Army charity shops in Irvine, Kilwinning and Largs.  We have three service users training within this type of work.  This is a successful venture which also encourages independent travel to the locations in question.  Service users are learning the skills associated with the retail industry.  
We have a Domestic skills training programme running also.  Service Users are able to gather valuable transferable skills in which to use within their daily lives and own tenancies.
Through various funding streams, we have been blessed with some much needed cash which will aid us to expand our Training and Employability opportunities for Adults with Learning Disabilities.  From summer 2014, we are aiming to work with other charities and social enterprises in our local community and to create realistic, meaningful and fun training/work placements for the people in which we serve.
Watch this space!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Waiting with anticipation...

With All Scotland Youth Councils just a few days away, I cannot help but look back at my own experiences of various Youth Councils.

For many, Youth Councils and Summer School, hold a special place in our hearts for many reasons. Each event holding a particular memory which we will always treasure. I, myself, am such a person who has had great experiences, of fun and fellowship but also a transforming experience of God in my life through these events. I have so far been to four Youth Councils and two Summer Schools.

When I was a young teen growing up in a corps where I was the only young person, weekends such as these were an anchor in my fragile, young faith. My first two experiences exposed me to the wider 'army' of young people and was a great way of being able to connect with others my age, and see that I wasn't alone after all. It was reassuring to know there were others searching for their belief not just me.
Personally, East Scotland Divisional Youth Councils in 2011, was the greatest weekend of my life. I was only a couple months into my university life, in a new city, very much looking to experience all that life could offer for me. I received an invitation to attend the councils and I couldn't refuse for some reason (believe me, I thought I had better things I could be doing) so I decided I would go.
I thank God I decided to go, it was a weekend full of fun and fellowship but it was more than that, it was a weekend that transformed my life! Through fellowship with other young people, through worship and the word, God opened my eyes to the meaning of the weekend’s theme - "Worship 24/7". That weekend I properly accepted Jesus as my Saviour and I was able to accept him as Lord. I understood that following him is more than just a Sunday thing but a daily life of walking with him.

I thank God that since then I have been able to walk with him daily, through the difficult days but also the great days, where I have walked closer and closer with him.
And so as I look forward to what I know will be another fantastic weekend,  I simply "wait upon the Lord".

It is my prayer that all who gather, from the East, West and North will have a weekend they won't forget. I look forward to the creative costumes on the Saturday night party. I look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones. I look forward to the fun and laughter which will be had in bucket loads!

But most importantly, I look forward to another encounter with God, I do enjoy daily fellowship with God but these weekends always offer up something special. It is my prayer that all who attend will feel the presence of God throughout the weekend. I pray for our leaders and the word that is being prepared.

I pray that I would be refreshed, challenged and inspired by God. But my deepest desire, which I bring before God, is that for those who don't know him yet. I pray that, like mine was, young people's lives would be transformed with the knowledge of God. And for us who walk with him already, may we be renewed in our relationship with him.

So let us wait in great anticipation...

"...but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31)

 Andrew Howe

Monday, 17 November 2014

Introducing ...

Major Brian Slinn and Major Liv Raegivik-Slinn, Divisional Leaders of North Scotalnd

Having been a corps officer for 33 out of my 37 years, only interrupted by an appointment at William Booth College for 4 years, taking responsibility for a Division and North Scotland Division particularly, present quite a change in ministry and ministry besides a completely different work life pattern. From a congregation of 300+ people in Bromley, who lived within a very few miles of each other, our constituency now consists of something over double that number scattered over 56% of Scotland’s land mass and including three islands. That involves a lot of travelling and also means we are out of the office and frequently staying overnight in those places distanced from our base in Aberdeen.

North Scotland Division presents with predominantly small corps and the majority of officers relatively new to ministry supported by Territorial Envoys. Having served on the Training College it is good to see the ‘finished product’ and how well our Lieutenants engage with the challenges of ministry and mission today, equally having helped train TE’s it is good to see how effective they are in their leadership. It is also remarkable to see the impact the Army makes in the local community far beyond the numerical strength of each corps or centre. It seems a cliché I know, but it becomes obvious that with more officers and more resources the possibilities are there to do so much more. The static view from previous corps leadership gave no real insight to all this but has come with this appointment and the opportunity to see and participate in the lives of the officers and corps as they engage with mission where they are.

For us there is something of a return to our earlier days in ministry when leading worship did not have the support of musical sections or local officers. We have been spoiled for many years in having resources which have enhanced worship for us. Now Major Liv and I sometimes have to be the North Scotland Staff Songsters and Liv’s guitar proves to be invaluable. Communication becomes different. Preaching in the grand style has to adapt to the conversational or invite more participation. Not everywhere of course, but in many places. Leadership itself becomes different. Encouraging and helping the corps leaders in their leadership replaces the hands on leadership of being the corps officer, and allowing them to make their decisions and work things out is important. I confess to a little paternalism and wanting things to be easier and better for them when I see the obstacles that sometimes come their way. It is not always the best thing to ‘make it better,’ leaders have to be grown and part of that is the learning which comes from experience. It is not always easy to allow that process. Equally for the corps and centres, transitioning ministry and mission into a Post Modern and Post Christian world is not always easy and the very concepts are not always understood, water from the old wells always seems sweeter.

For us, the comfortable and familiar have given way to new challenges and our skills have to be applied in different ways. There are frustrations. The mechanics of the job are not always easily understood and information not always easily available. It has been hard to find a Sabbath and distance from family limits our contact, especially since I do not fly – not in this life at least. We are sorry about that.

Transition and change always bring their challenges. The constant is of course an unchanging God. This part of the journey in North Scotland is part of a rich experience in ministry thus far. We embrace it all in a spirit of privilege and opportunity.

Friday, 14 November 2014

There Is A Hope

I thought I would share with you this weekend my favourite hymn - There is a Hope. As someone who has moved house several times and moved away from where I grew up and family, I never really feel I 'belong' to any particular geographical place. Life is a journey which we are all travelling on, sometimes the road is easier than at other times, at times we can be plunged into a pit and this hymn reminds us of the one who is with us, the one who whispers 'courage' in our ears. He travels this road with us until the day when we can know that we are truly home.  That last line speaks very strongly to me - I hope you like the hymn.

What is your favourite hymn?

Monday, 10 November 2014

New Futures

In July a New Futures Project was launched. This is run by Falkirk Corps,  and provides a variety of services, including a soup kitchen, community cafe and furniture shop. The biggest help it is providing is to those who are trying to find work or needing some assistance to improve their chances of finding a job.

The project is currently operating from a unit in The Howgate Centre, Falkirk, opposite the food court, but hopes to move to the first floor of the former Co-op building on the High Street, opposite Callendar Square soon.

Louise McKnight, project manager, who runs the initiative with the help of six staff and several volunteers, said "Our aim is to help people move forward and give them a goal in life, whether it is helping them prepare a CV, advice on interview skills or taking part in a course that will make them more employable. At the moment, we are seeing around 25 people a day come through the door. Hopefully, in our new premises we will have even more space to expand what we offer."

Those using the service have free access to computers, as well as the support of the team running the project.

Courses, open to 10 people at a time, are running two and three times a week, and include elementary food hygiene, health and safety, risk assessment and safe manual handling awareness.

Louise added "If we can give someone help that gives them a better chance of getting a job that's a positive outcome". We also provide support and are working in partnership with other organisations to help with issues such as homelessness and drug and alcohol counselling."

Friday, 7 November 2014

Remembrance Poem

Remember Me
(The voice of the dead)

Remember me
Duty called and I went to war
Though I'd never fired a gun before
I paid the price for your new day
As all my dreams were blown away

Remember me
We all stood true as whistles blew
And faced the shell and stench of Hell
Now battle's done, there is no sound
Our bones decay beneath the ground
We cannot see, or smell, or hear
There is no death, or hope or fear
Remember me
Once we, like you, would laugh and talk
And run and walk and do the things that you all do
But now we lie in rows so neat
Beneath the soil, beneath your feet

Remember me
In mud and gore and the blood of war
We fought and fell and move no more
Remember me, I am not dead
I'm just a voice within your head

Harry Riley

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Commonwealth Games and Anti-Human Trafficking

During the summer there was a lot of publicity, excitement and support around the Commonwealth Games and they were good to watch and enjoy. It was also great to see how the Salvation Army brought together volunteers from various parts of Scotland to form Glasgow 2014 Mission teams who were actively involved with numerous community programmes.

I was a volunteer taking part in an activity which is one that a lot of people find either abhorrent or uncomfortable to hear or speak about. It is the Anti-Human Trafficking campaign. There were over 150 volunteers from all the Christian denominations in Scotland supporting the More than Gold campaign to raise awareness of human trafficking. We did this through the UN Gift Boxes which were strategically placed in Glasgow city centre.


The large, walk-in boxes were intended to symbolise trafficking with each one providing information and first-hand accounts and pictures from victims inside. Each box highlighted a specific aspect of human trafficking - domestic servitude (green), forced street crime (pink), begging and forced labour (blue), sexual exploitation (red). The boxes looked very attractive and inviting which is the whole essence of the human trafficking scenario. The victims are enticed, sold, forced into a situation which in some cases appears to be the answer to their dreams and problems; only to find they are trapped and become victims of human slavery.

It is a modern day horrific crime where millions of lives are being destroyed or are at risk. These victims have no voice and More than Gold together with the many other Christian supporters used the opportunity of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow to gather signatories to petition against human trafficking. Over 16,000 signatures were obtained from members of the public and the boxes significantly raised their awareness of this crime against humanity. The petition will be presented to the Scottish Government to ensure that a Scottish Human Trafficking Bill addresses the vital issue of trafficking within business supply chains.

Since July 2011 The Salvation Army and its partners have supported over 800 victims of trafficking thanks to a £2million fund from the Ministry of Justice. The Salvation Army has committed to raise around £200,000 a year to run the Anti-Human Trafficking Support Programme. This vital programme works together with local authorities, other agencies engaged in anti-human trafficking, the police and other faith organisations. Further information about this work is available online:

A Human Trafficking leaflet is also available that helps someone ‘read the signs’ and gives clear guidance as to what they should do. This is available to download:

Please continue to pray about this global issue and let us be the voice for those who have no voice.
"Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth:Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me - you did it to me'". Matt 25:40 The Message
Major Kathy Betteridge