Church of Scotland launches partnership with Fresh Expressions

Tuesday, 1 October, 2013

A partnership between the Church of Scotland and Fresh Expressions, which encourages and supports the development of fresh expressions of church, is officially launched today.

The Fresh Expressions initiative, started in 2004, has seen hundreds of new congregations being formed alongside more traditional churches across the UK and internationally. As an ecumenical movement, its partners include the Church of England, Methodist Church of Great Britain, The Salvation Army and the United Reformed Church.

Plans for the Church of Scotland's partnership with Fresh Expressions had been jointly formulated by the church's Mission and Discipleship Council, and the Ministries Council. They have been working together on this issue since 2008 and the Joint Emerging Church Group (JECG) was formed last year.

Colin Sinclair, Convener of the Mission and Discipleship Council, said,

There is a need for fresh thinking and trying things that are different because over 90% of folks in Scotland are just not connecting with the church. Not all are hostile to the church and some have had a church background but they need fresh ways to reimagine what they think the church is to be, what the Christian faith is all about and how it could link to their own lives and context.

The report from JECG, discussed at this year's General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, highlighted a vision to address the 'many years of decline across the life of the Church.' It included an invitation to every parish to explore the possibilities of establishing a new expression of church - appropriate to the local context - by 2020.

The formal partnership with Fresh Expressions is seen as one of the ways to help congregations 'fully benefit from the movement's experience in training for, and support of, new expressions of church life.'

Welcoming news of the partnership and appointment, Bishop Graham Cray, leader of the Fresh Expressions team, commented,

We have been working informally, and very fruitfully, with the Church of Scotland for some time now so I am delighted to see our partnership formalised. I look forward to many years of creative and effective mission through the planting of fresh expressions of church.

David Cameron, former Convener of the Joint Emerging Church Group, added,

One of the great things about being part of a Christian church is that we have much to learn from our brothers and sisters in many different denominations across the world. One of the things we've been impressed with over the years is the support that we've had from Fresh Expressions as we've begun to dip our toe in the water and attempt to turn the tide here in Scotland.

We've been grateful for the experience thus far in journeying alongside Fresh Expressions, for the support and encouragement they've given us. It's our hope that in entering into that partnership we'll be able to glean from them, and learn from them, the lessons that will help us in this context as we move forward.

A Fresh Expressions vision day will take place at St Andrew's and St George's West Church, 13 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2PA, on Saturday, November 2, from 10am to 4pm.

The ecumenical exploration and celebration of fresh expressions of church will include creative worship and prayer; stories of fresh expressions in Scotland and beyond; and input from Scottish church leaders plus Bishop Graham Cray and Andrew Roberts from Fresh Expressions, John Drane and Olive Fleming-Drane.

There will also be a commissioning service from 4.30pm to 5.15pm for the soon-to-be-announced Church of Scotland Fresh Expressions Development Worker.

Tickets are £12 including refreshments and lunch. To book places, please visit


I am nearing the end of my attendance at the the Cape Town course of Fresh Expressions. We participators have had a stimulating time learning about Fresh Expressions and grappling together about our particular situations.
I believe that FE is the best thing that has happened to the church in many decades as it allows the general populace access to that mystery called church.
I wish you well, Scotland, and bless you in your praying and preparing to launch - and may the Lord add daily to yor numbers as you seek to grow His Kingdom on earth.
May you, one and all, LOSE FOREVER, your sense of "us" and "them" and may you welcome in the unbeliever with love that is genuine.
The time is short and the need urgent for ALL on earth to be saved.

Prayers from Cape Town South Africa.

Colleen Thomas

Well said Colleen and I confirm all that you have said about the church, it is the going out to reach, love and include the world lost and waiting. Alpha has been a great course to draw in many who were not invited to church before, and Rooted in Jesus has provided for the 'keeping' in the pyramid. Groups are now finishing Book 1 and are loving the fellowship, the study and the support and prayer.

The next outreach is the young marrieds with children. They are having fun with their children and learning the relevance of the Word of God in their lives. The support and fellowship also is a big factor.

Fresh Expressions has brought a new purpose to the church, one in which we have not ventured out in case we fail.

Blessings and thank you for a wonderful course.

Just to mention that we are coming to the end of the Fresh Expressions Course in George and many have been stimulated and have acted on what they have learnt. Great initiative.
Pam Berning

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