Pastoral letter from Nick

Dear friends

As I write at the beginning of February, it seems just a moment ago it was Christmas and then in this plan we will travel through Ash Wednesday, Lent, Holy week and Easter and Pentecost at which point summer will be just around the corner!  Time is a curious thing – it slips by even what you’re not looking, and all the while there is the stuff that needs to be taken care of in our lives, at home, in our families, at work, in church.

In the telling of the creation story of creation, we know that God blesses time (Genesis 2:1-3).  Time, like life is a blessing of God and in the beginning, we are being reminded to simply spend time with God.  The story of Jesus being tested in the wilderness is time apart with God and Lent encourages us to embrace and do likewise.  To allow ourselves simply to be in the presence of God without a list, agenda or anything else.  In Mark’s account of the gospel after learning of the death of John the Baptist and before responding to the crowds (feeding of the five thousand) Jesus says to the disciples:

“Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.” Mark 6.31

 There is need to pause amongst the everyday of life and take a breath and the authorised version captures it well – a time to come ‘apart’ in the presence of God.  As Jesus notes elsewhere there will always be demands on our time but hardwired into us, in the act of creation, is the need for us simply to take time to be in the presence of God.

The blessing of God rest upon you, with love, Nick

Faith Lunch

Following on from our decision to share fellowship over a meal on a regular basis – we plan to have a faith lunch after worship on Sunday 1st December.  As previously, everyone is invited to bring something along for sharing and a sheet is available on the table to indicate whether you are able to bring a sweet or savoury dish.  We do ask that – in view of various allergies and food intolerances – you label the ingredients of what you bring please.  Many thanks.

The Church Stewards

Election Special! (But don’t stop reading…)

Not wanting to be part of a larger union, disputes about trade and independence were hugely significant issues in the forthcoming election.  There was considerable division in the country as to how to respond. Some wanted to be conciliatory, others favoured a more aggressive stance.

The year was 1774 and the cause of the controversy was anger in the colonies of America about the relationship with Great Britain – war was looming.  John Wesley was in Bristol where the divisions were keenly felt because of the trade relationships with the new world.  An election was called late in the year and voting began on 7thOctober – closing 23 days later in November!

The day before voting started John Wesley records in his journal (October 6, 1774):

“I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them
1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy
2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against, and
3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.”

This is sound advice as we prepare to vote in 2019.  It is also worth noting only some Methodists could vote – today we all can, and it is our solemn duty to do so.  When the result was announced one of the MPs elected was a man named Edmund Burke. This is what he said in his speech:

“Authoritative instructions, mandates issued, which the member is bound blindly and implicitly to obey, to vote and argue for, though contrary to the clearest conviction of his judgement and conscience – these are things utterly unknown to the laws of this land, and which arise from a fundamental mistake of the whole order and tenor of our constitution. Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests … but a deliberate assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole …You choose a member indeed; but when you have chosen him, he is not member of Bristol, he is a member of Parliament.” The Works of Edmund Burke – Speech to the Electors of Bristol 3rdNovember 1774

The point Burke made is important – MPs have a responsibility to represent the interests of all of us – they are not delegates for a chosen few. In the Christmas season ‘for all’ is born in the manager.  In Christ, God becomes human taking on the responsibility not just to be one person but representative of all humanity.  It is not surprising therefore that Jesus goes on to prioritise those who are vulnerable, those who have been excluded and marginalised and in so doing asks questions about the society in which he lives.  As the followers of Jesus it is incumbent upon us to ask those same questions in our words and actions recognising our shared humanity. We should also be aware that ‘for all’ is more than just humanity.  In Christ the whole created order is being redeemed – humanity cannot exist apart from creation.   Humanity is part of the gift of creation and again we need to ask questions about this in our words and deeds.  These questions form the basis of our judgement about who we consider to be “most worthy” when we vote.  And when we have voted and the choice has been made, we offer our support and, hold to account, those who have been chosen.  And if we are tempted to tune out the election or the news, or get frustrated thinking does my vote make a difference, remember the difference the birth of a single child 2000 years ago has made in your life and give thanks.

May the peace of Christ abide in your hearts now and in the days to come.

With love


Pastoral Committee meeting

The Pastoral Committee will meet on Wednesday at 1pm.  Business will include the annual Reading of Lists and agreement of the return for the Connexional Schedule; also a general review of our system of pastoral care.

Pastoral letter August 2019

Dear Friends

We begin the Connexional Year welcoming our new Chair of District, Revd Mark Slaney.  The District welcome service is Saturday 31stAugust, 14:30 at Perth Methodist Church and refreshments will be served afterwards. Please pray for Mark and the District as he and we prepare for this new leadership in the District.

Itinerancy in Methodism can bring challenges as people loosen existing ties and seek to discover new friendships and relationships. One of the joys in this is that we can share new stories and old stories anew!  Across the District we have been engaging in conversations about our mission and our resources – sharing something of our story.  At the Methodist Conference this year the theme chosen for the year by the President and Vice President is “So what’s the story..?”.  This combines neatly with the Year of Testimony for 2019/20 – something that the Youth conference strongly encouraged us to commit to this year.

How can our stories build each other up, help us grow in faith and deepen our discipleship?  How can they challenge and enrich us?  How do our stories connect with the stories of Jesus?  How do the stories in our communities help us connect with others?

Over the summer I was fortunate to visit the town of Wittenburg in Germany – the place where Martin Luther lived and taught. The protestant reformation born out of a desire to share the gospel, the same Spirit in John Wesley, seeking to share the gospel story, in a way that was accessible for all.

These two followers of Jesus strived and struggled. As they cleared the debris of their lives and built trust in God they discovered the gift of God’s grace already dwelling within – and then just could not stop sharing this good news of amazing love.  The story of God’s great love in our lives and the difference it makes is something that can flow out of us.  So listen out for the stories in church, in communities (local, national & international) and ask what is my story?

With love


Pastoral Letter from Nick Baker – Colossians

Dear Friends

“To the saints and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.”  So writes Paul at the beginning of his letter to the Christian community in Colossae.    Paul’s reference to “in Christ” points us toward the relationship we have with/in Christ and is an important theme in the letter.

As we enter into Bible Month (remember Jonah last year), there is an opportunity for us to reflect across the circuit and as part of the wider church on a particular “book” of the Bible.

With all the conversations we are having about our resources and our relationships it is good to take some time to reflect together on scripture.  As we have these conversations across church, circuit, District, Connexion, ecumenically what does it mean to be “in Christ”?  As we move through the letter to the Colossians, we will explore this including what we might regard today as some of Paul’s more controversial words. For example, whilst I might want to point to the phrase “children, obey your parents in everything”, I suspect my children may have a different perspective!

Towards the end of the letter Paul does encourage the community to “devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving”.  As a means of remaining in Christ I think this is wise advice and words I shall endeavour to take to heart as I ready myself for conference and continue to engage in all sorts of conversations we are having across the circuit. Please give thanks and pray for the preachers as they lead us through Bible month and don’t forget this summer to give thanks for the beautiful world around us by enjoying a walk, a break, a breath of fresh air, a visit, a friend, a neighbour, or sharing in the circuit barbeque (17thAugust, Arbroath)

“Grace be with you”


Pastoral letter from Nick

As we travel into Lent, we are mindful of the challenges on the way ahead.  All of our churches in the Circuit and the District have been thinking about their calling as part of the conversation about being Methodist in our Christian life. These are not easy conversations and on our Lenten journey we are reminded of the cost of discipleship. Beyond Good Friday we witness disciples on the road to Emmaus who are clearly downcast – not only have they experienced the loss of a friend but also the loss of hope, the loss of a future and maybe even felt betrayed or let down by Jesus.  Why did he let things get that far?  But then something changes in them.  Jesus doesn’t come back to life as such, rather he is raised to new life in a way the disciples don’t initially grasp.  It is in sharing a meal with a stranger that they suddenly encounter this new life of Christ.

Church is changing and ways of being church are dying even as new forms of church emerge and it can feel like we are in an alien land. For example, how many of us are confident in our use of social media like Facebook, twitter and Instagram or the confusion around Brexit, or the shocking growth in Foodbanks and our own clothing projects,  and the changing nature of belief…

That is both painful and hopeful for us and a challenge comes in not simply continuing our discipleship but actively pursuing and allowing that to grow.  The theme taken by the President and Vice-President of Conference, Revd Michaela Youngson and Bala Gnanapragasam is that of Radical Grace and Transforming Hope. Remembering, embodying the grace offered to us and to all, invites us to respond with love to the needs of our neighbours.  As the prophet Jeremiah (29.7) advises “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”  At such times it is good to sing our songs (we are Methodists after all) and explore together.  One such opportunity presents itself when the President and Vice-President will be visiting the District, hosted by this Circuit.  On Sunday 31st March all are invited to share in the Big Sing at Perth including a tea and addresses by the President and Vice-President.

With love




Advent – pause and pray

Dear Friends

Waiting on God can be a frustrating experience – especially in the mad rush towards Christmas.  The Season of advent is a gift inviting us to pause and pray.

Across the Circuit and District all Methodist Churches are joining in the conversation about ‘being Methodist in our Christian life in Scotland today’.  At the Circuit meeting in March we will receive reports from each church as to how we are responding to the questions and challenges and the plans we are putting in place.  This is not an easy time and we know there are no easy answers and yet, as the paper reminds us, we are called to be faithful disciples following the will of God even when that comes at great cost.

The paper also reminds us that God has not given up on us and we are strongly encouraged to pray.  As the hymn ‘What a friend we have in Jesus’ reminds us ‘take it to the Lord in prayer’. Waiting on, listening for, the Word of God can be a frustrating experience but can also be liberating. In the uncertainty admitting we don’t know can be a beginning, opening a door to encounter the living God simply saying here we are God.

I encourage all the churches to take the opportunity afforded by advent to pause and pray about the next steps.  Listening for what God might be saying through the scriptures, listening to the voices of those in our communities as we engage in action, listening for that small voice.  The insistent cry of new birth breaking into our world demanding all our focus and attention, announcing I am with you – what are you going to do about it!

With love


All are Welcome in this place

We sing this from time to time, but I have been challenged to take it more seriously.  I was very impressed with the arrangements at Methodist Conference to make the Conference accessible in all sorts of ways including a ramp up to an adjustable podium.

This came after learning that someone was not able to attend worship at our church because they turned up in a wheelchair.  This is a matter of regret and something we have the ability to do something about.  In addition, I recognise some of our own members struggle with the stairs.  Whilst we are working on plans for a lift as part of the refurbishment, this will take quite some time.  At the worship consultation we discussed meeting downstairs for worship on a Sunday.  Whilst there are some practical issues, these can be resolved and we are small enough in number to fit comfortably downstairs.  I would like us to try this so that we truly are a welcoming place of worship.

Welcoming all can also mean going out of the building to let people know they are welcome.  The first Dundee Pride takes place on Saturday 22nd September.  I have reserved a space in the march for Dundee Methodist Church.  I shall be going along with a few others.  If any of you would like to join us or find out more, please speak to me.