St Mark's Annual General Meeting on 24 June

Richard Ross reports

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This meeting was held on Sunday 24 June. Neither the warm Summer sun, nor the music of the bagpipes in Princes Street gardens, nor even the World Cup deterred members from providing a quorum.

After the service, Mary McKenna, Convener of the Church Council, formally opened proceedings. She invited our new minister, Peter Fairbrother, to tell us how the initial part of the morning was to be organised. Peter started by re-affirming his commitment to the ministry and well-being of the congregation. He stressed that this was a shared endeavour, a shared responsibility – not just formally but also informally; there was a need to hear and listen to the experiences of our members and friends.

On the way into church before the service, every person had been presented with a different coloured star.

Normally coffee precedes the meeting, but this time our coffee break formed a very important part of our deliberations. Peter explained what we were to do: in the hall there were four tables, each one with a different theme to be discussed:

1. What values do we most connect with in our community?

2. What do we find nurturing?

3. What elements are we uncomfortable with?

4. If asked by a stranger what words best describe our community?

We followed our star to our allotted table and, fortified by excellent coffee/tea and a generous supply of cakes and biscuits, we started our conversations. Each table had a facilitator (1-John Bagust, 2-Richard Ross, 3-Hilary Anderson, 4-Katie Brown) who encouraged the conversations which were wide-ranging and covered a great deal of ground in the short time given for each topic.

We then re-convened in the church and Peter invited each facilitator to report back.

Very briefly:

1. We value the tolerance of diversity, freedom of thought,

friendship and love,

2. We are nurtured by the welcoming atmosphere, support

and togetherness, the approach and focus of our new

minister.

3. We are concerned: by the work-load for certain members;

The feeling that we are not doing enough to present

ourselves as a radical church in Scotland; a desire for more small meetings; the sound system; the offering procedure.

4. We trust one another in this spiritual home; we come together as families, as individuals; our weekly meetings connect but do not divide.

Mary continued with the formal business of the AGM, highlighting the great deal of work that had been done. The greatest challenge had been the absence of a minister since Maud had left us. This had been exhausting for all concerned but thanks to so many willing people we look forward with confidence. A matter for concern is the falling number of members. The minutes of the last AGM and also of the SGM were approved.

Our treasurer, Ali McDonald, presented the financial statement, which on the whole was healthy with our income v. expenditure being stable and also in line with inflation but there was still a gap. The biggest financial challenge would be the financing of the work in the basement. We must ensure that we do not dip into our reserves but leave them available for future generations. He further advised us that he was half way through his spell as treasurer and that there would soon be need for us to identify somebody else to replace him.

The following people were nominated and approved as members of Council : Mary McKenna, Margery MacKay, Ali McDonald, Lesley Hartley, Kirsty Murray, Ann Sinclair, Jane Aaronson, Bláthnaid Quinn. There is one vacancy.

Regarding affiliations of our community to various bodies, there is a need to discuss further, e.g. the impact of our church on the environment.

This had been a very challenging year – for some a very exhausting year - but we had come through it thanks to the efforts of so many people including those sitting in the pews. Peter echoed those sentiments with words of encouragement to continue with our dedication, determination and caring, honouring all opinions whether difficult or challenging. The Chalice Singers sent us off into the sunshine with a glad song of hope.