Service starts at 11:15am in Riverside, streamed to St Andrews & on YouTube.
Call to worship
Christ has entered heaven itself, to appear now before God on our behalf.Hebrews 9: 24
Hymn 200 Christ is made the sure foundation
You aren’t a God who reigns far away in glory
who looks down on us from a great height
You care about us so much
that you came to our world in Jesus
shared our life and experiences
shared suffering and death
showed us how we should live
gave us new life –
richer, fuller, deeper, unending
But our love for you
our love for others
is so weak and poor
our commitment to following in the way of Jesus
following his example and teaching
is so poor
Fill us anew with love for you
and love for others
Strengthen us to follow his example and teaching
through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen
The Church of Scotland
The Church of Scotland has a history going back many centuries to figures like Ninian and Columba, but it seeks to serve God in Scotland today, and strives to ensure that people will continue to do that in the future.
The Church of Scotland believes it has a responsibility towards all the people of Scotland, from Southend in Kintyre to Unst in Shetland, from the Western Isles to the Berwickshire coast. All across Scotland there are congregations with parish areas around them. The congregations seek to engage with the people in their communities, sharing the Good News of Jesus, and sharing his loving care in practical ways.
Some congregations (and buildings) are quite large, some are quite small. Some buildings are very old, some are fairly new.
The history of the Church of Scotland has been turbulent at times, but it now has good relations with Christians of many different traditions. It belongs to the Reformed family of churches.
Let us pray for the Church of Scotland and its work
We pray for the Church of Scotland.
Help it to be faithful to you,
sharing your love and Good News
living out your values.
When it makes mistakes or takes the wrong turn,
lead it back to the right way.
When it is uncertain about what to do,
make known your will.
When it is divided, help it to strive for unity in you.
When it is doing or saying the right thing,
give it the confidence to face up to all challenges
Through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen
Hymn 204 I am the church
Bible reading Acts 16: 9-15
What is the General Assembly?
For nearly a century and a half after the Scottish Reformation there were bitter arguments and fights over the way in which the Church of Scotland should be organised, but since 1690 it has adopted a Presbyterian structure:
national level General Assembly meets annually and is the highest decision-making body
regional level Presbytery oversees a number of congregations
local level Kirk Session is the decision-making body for the congregation
The General Assembly meets annually in Edinburgh, usually in May. Currently it has about 700 members, but there are plans to shrink it to about 550. Like Presbytery there is supposed to be equal numbers of ministers and elders. Congregations are represented once every 3-5 years. A number of Committees, supported by staff, carry out programmes agreed by the General Assembly. These are based in the church offices at 121 George Street Edinburgh. Other denominations in Scotland, and churches overseas with whom the Church of Scotland has links, send corresponding members.
Because of the historic links between the Church of Scotland and the state, the Queen appoints a High Commissioner to attend the General Assembly and report back, though he/she is not part of the Assembly.
Bible reading John 14: 23-29
Hymn 608 Spirit of truth and grace
What is happening at this year’s General Assembly?
- On Monday it will be asked to welcome a Declaration of Friendship with the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland that has already been accepted by their Bishops’ Conference, acknowledging that what we have in common is more than what divides us
- A majority of Presbyteries agreed that ministers should be able to apply to conduct same-sex marriages, accepting that it will not be compulsory for every minister to do so. An Act will be presented to the Assembly for approval
- In response to the consultation on the role of the Westminster Confession in the life of the Church of Scotland, it is proposed that a Book of Confessions will be prepared, outlining the range of Reformed thought; ministers would be given more guidance and teaching on the Church’s confessional position; and vows for ministers and elders would be adapted. The aim is not to dilute the Church’s beliefs, but to acknowledge that no one Confession can adequately express everything it holds as important
- The Assembly Business Committee is working through a long list of recommendations from Presbyteries on when, how and where the Assembly should meet, and will bring a list of recommendations to next year’s meeting
- There is a proposal that in future, when a Basis of Union is prepared, it will be possible to specify how many elders from each uniting church become part of the united Kirk Session (and how representation will be worked out)
- There are currently 42 full time ministers of Word and Sacrament in training, and there were 26 probationers at the beginning of Summer 2021
Let us pray for the General Assembly:
your Son promised his disciples
that he would be with them always.
Hear the prayer we offer for your servants
now met in General Assembly.
May your Holy Spirit rest on them:
a spirit of wisdom and understanding,
a spirit of counsel and power,
a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord.
Grant them vision and courage;
unite them in love and peace;
teach them to be trustworthy stewards of your truth.
And so guide them in all their doings
that your kingdom may be advanced,
your people confirmed in their most holy faith,
and your unfailing love
declared to all the world;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Hymn 739 The church’s one foundation
Prayers for others
You are a God who cares
You are a God who strives for truth, for justice, for peace
and so we bring our prayers for those in need
those who are ill, those who worry about them,
those who care for them
those waiting for or receiving treatment
and those for whom there is no treatment
those who are feeling lonely, down
or grieving a friend or loved one
those who don’t have enough to eat
don’t have somewhere to call home
those who are worried about family, friends, work, home,
those who long to live in peace and safety
we pray for the Queen, the Government
all in positions of leadership in this and every land
we pray for your church
the worldwide church, the wider church in Dumbarton
our own congregation
We bring to you our prayers for people and situations of special concern to us
We bring our gifts of money, we bring ourselves
take and use them, take and use us
for your glory
And we sum up our prayers in the words of the prayer Jesus gave us, in whichever version we know best
Hymn 511 Your hand O God has guided
Blessing (3-fold Amen)
The grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ,
the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with you all, now and for evermore.