People have said of Martin Johnstone that if he had chosen to work in the private sector he would have become a very rich man. Martin isn’t so sure and reckons that he would more likely have ended up broke. Whatever the truth, he has chosen to use his skills and creativity over the last 20 years to work with faith communities tackling poverty across Scotland. In Bellshill, where he was a Church of Scotland minister for ten years in the 90s, the local congregation developed a community centre catering for over 2,000 visitors a week. Since then, he has coordinated the Church of Scotland’s work in its poorest neighbourhoods across Scotland, a role he combines with being Chief Executive of Faith in Community Scotland – an anti-poverty organisation working with faith communities across the country. Each of these areas of work are now effective businesses which, in turn, have generated many more groups and organisations tackling poverty the length and breadth of Scotland. Martin says of himself: “I don’t know that I am very good at many things. However, the one thing I know I can do is to believe in other people’s dreams and to help them to turn those dreams into reality.”
The Priority Areas Committee of the Church of Scotland is responsible for the support, development and coordination of the Church’s work within its poorest 56 communities. Their mandate includes-
- Developing new models of church life;
- Engaging the wider church and society on issues of poverty;
- Developing new models of community. Faith in Community Scotland is an interfaith anti-poverty organisation giving training, resources, advice and support to faith groups (churches, mosques, gurdwaras, synagogues etc), developing their potential to make a difference in Scotland’s poorest communities.
Old High St Stephen’s Parish Church have been hosting guest speakers at evening services on summer Sunday evenings at the Old High, the oldest church in Inverness, for more than a decade. We host these speakers as a gift to the whole Christian Community of Inverness, fulfilling the Old High’s role as the ‘town church’ of the City of Inverness.
Each event begins with worship at 7.30pm, and includes refreshments and a question and answer session, and ends around 9pm.
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