In the Church of Scotland we have a parish system which means that we are available for anyone and everyone in our parish. We are also encouraged to be involved in the whole life of our parish, not just the religious element. Obviously, it is not a hard boundary line that we cannot cross, and we work closely with other churches in the area.
Phoenix Parish Grouping
We are part of the Phoenix Parish Grouping, which is made up of five churches within the Blantyre and Hamilton area, including Blantyre: St Andrew’s, Blantyre: Livingstone Memorial, Hamilton: Hillhouse and Hamilton: Trinity. Alongside that group of churches we work in a Chaplaincy Team with Blantyre Congregational Church and High Blantyre Baptist Church. Although we don’t work directly with the Blantyre Roman Catholic Churches, we do have a good relationship with them.
Calderside Chaplaincy Team
The Calderside Chaplaincy team are also part of the Cosy Café which runs every Tuesday lunchtime at Calderside Academy, serving the young people hot chocolate with lashings of whipped cream and marshmallows while they have some breathing space to chat and eat their lunch. This gives the young people the opportunity to talk to us and our volunteers from each of the churches on rotation. It is great to get to know the young people and enjoy good banter together.
Hamilton and District Foodbank
The Blantyre Churches are all represented as trustees with the Hamilton and District Foodbank. Blantyre Old continue to support the Foodbank through food collected on a weekly basis as well as special collections during peak seasons of the year including Christmas and Harvest. Rev Sarah Ross has just finished as a Trustee and one of our elders Susan Henderson is now a Trustee.
The Church Development Team work hard to provide events which bring the church and the community together. Some events are to raise funds for the Church which is a charity, others are to raise funds for external charities. This includes the Christmas Café and our main event which is the Summer Fete, held in June. The team also co-ordinated the Hamilton Advertiser Toy Appeal which was generously supported by the church and community, helping families who might otherwise struggle to provide for their children at Christmas. And we have organised a McMillan Cancer Care Coffee Morning as well as Christian Aid lunches.
Community for the Church stretches overseas as well. The Malawi Mission Team organise a Jar of Grace for the pennies and small coins collected, as well as knitted garments, medical supplies including walking sticks and zimmer frames, stationery items for Marys Meals and so much more. Whenever we put out an appeal to the community, they always bring us donations to hand on to the Malawi charities we work with. We also collect used stamps on behalf of World Mission, and despite the drop in mail these days, we still get a lot of stamps.