PENDING the publication of the Report of Synod we give some items of news from the meetings of Synod which took place in Glasgow from 19th May.
The retiring Moderator, the Rev. Donald M. Boyd, Inverness, preached from 2 Timothy 2:2. The new Moderator is the Rev. Donald A. Ross, Laide.
The Rev. Hugh M. Cartwright, M.A., former Professor of Church History and Church Principles in the Free Church of Scotland College and Assistant Clerk of the General Assembly of the Free Church, was admitted to the ministry of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland.
The Synod adopted two resolutions for submission to the Government. The first was on the Human Rights Bill, which is passing through Parliament and is intended to incorporate the European Convention on Human Rights into British domestic law. The Bill, instead of regarding Churches as autonomous bodies, as the European Court does, defines them as public bodies. They would therefore in unacceptable ways become subject to the authority of the civil courts for certain purposes. The Synod called upon the Government to support any amendment which opposes the inclusion of the Churches under the umbrella of “public authority”.
The second resolution condemned a possible change in the 1967 Abortion Act. The Synod registered its disagreement with the suggestion by the Secretary of State for Health that the Abortion Act be amended to require the sanction of only one doctor, rather than two, for an abortion to be carried out. This would relax the Act and make termination of pregnancies easier to obtain. The Synod therefore urged the Government to reject any proposal to amend the Act in this way.
None of the ministers from Zimbabwe was able to be present on this occasion, but their reports were presented by various members of the Foreign Missions Committee. Mr H. van Vliet, Secretary of Mbuma Zending, the Dutch Society which so generously supports the Church’s work in Africa, and Mr D. van der Sluis, the Treasurer, were welcomed by the Moderator to the meeting. Mr van Vliet addressed the Synod and conveyed the greetings and prayerful good wishes of Mbuma Zending to the Synod.
The Rev. John Goldby’s resignation from being Missionary in Sengera, Kenya, was accepted by the Synod. The Synod regretfully decided that the Church withdraw from its mission work in Kenya, not only because the Mission no longer has a resident minister of the gospel, but also on account of Mission security problems arising from the recent armed robbery by a gang of about twenty men. There are also considerable financial difficulties with regard to the day to day running of the Mission, plus a very substantial projected deficit for the coming year.
The Synod appointed that “Wednesday, 9th December, 1998, be kept as a day of humiliation and prayer throughout the Church, to acknowledge with grief the alarming increase of our personal, social, ecclesiastical and national guilt, and to plead for the Lord’s merciful intervention by the outpouring of His blessed Holy Spirit for the sake of Christ”.
The Synod noted with sadness that certain of its members passed away since the last meeting. Tributes to the late Mr E. M. Sutherland of Inverness, Mr Murdoch Nicolson of Inverness and formerly of Edinburgh, Mr Donald Murray of Ness, and Mr John Nicolson of North Harris, were read and recorded.