26 July 2010

What would make St Columba happy?

Last week, we were in Edinburgh, Scotland just sight seeing. 

Coming out of the train station, we walked over to the park on Princes Street.  I looked up at the statue of David Livingston and grinning at Phyllis I said, "Dr. Livingston, I presume." 

Silly. But David Livingston is kind of a hero for all missionaries, isn't he?  He went to Africa and in his very 19th Century way took the Gospel to the "Dark Continent."  He forsook all to take Good News to the heart of a continent. Most folks don't remember him - probably not even Scots - by he was led by his convictions to be a world changer.

But I think the most  St Columba's Free Churchfun I had in Edinburgh was a conversation with an older Scottish gent at St Columba's Free Church on Victoria Street in the very heart of Edinburgh.  The building was built in 1845 in the middle of The Great Disruption that saw congregations break away from the Church of Scotland. But the congregation still exists and according to my friend has about 140 people present each Sunday for the worship service.

But here's the inside success story:  most of the congregants are students from all over the world who have come to Edinburgh to study.  Although churches around the corner - older and with a longer history - have closed and are now tourist information centers and pubs, St Columba's continues filled with noisy enthusiastic students mingling with old bright-eyed Scots.  And in the beautiful sanctuary flanking an ornate (and I mean ornate!) carved pulpit, there are video screens for songs and Scripture.

"The problem with having so many students," my friend continued, "Is that we have a new congregation every three years.  But we hope they take something they get from us with them."

My tour-guide friend, who has been attending this church for over 40 years following his move from Lewis Island up North, says they are beginning discussion about planting another congregation in another part of the city.

St Columba would be proud. I'm just saying.

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