Over the years, Longniddry Parish Church has used its building space in a variety of imaginative ways, whether for hosting exhibitions or running special festivals (Christmas trees, wedding dresses, etc.). More generally, when we re-ordered our space in 2006 we did so with the express intention of providing rooms which the wider community might wish to use for a wide variety of their own purposes.Our engagement with Path of Renewal over the last couple of years has, however, made us think quite deeply about how we should be using our building in terms of outreach to the community. The focus is shifting away from “making our resources available” towards “reaching out in faith”.
The most recent census results revealed to us the extent to which our community is aging, with our part of East Lothian now featuring a great many “old” and “very old” residents. With this trend comes the issue of dementia, with increasing numbers of people in our parish living with Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related neurological issues. Realising that this is one crucial area of needs-based pastoral outreach for our congregation to tackle, we have set up two new activities: a Monday singing group for all people of all ages and abilities; and a Thursday “sporting memories” gathering. These have been well appreciated both by participants and their grateful families.
Meanwhile, Path of Renewal ideas have been filtering through to our kirk session and congregation, with people keen to find imaginative ways of sharing faith in our building which lies at the heart of the community. In December 2017 we staged a Festival of Nativity Sets, which told the story of Jesus’ birth through 85 different exhibits from around the world. This will be developed in 2018, with plans for a retelling of the Luke and Matthew birth narratives using three-dimensional tableaux featuring large knitted figures. In addition, we hope to stage an Easter event focusing on crosses and eggs.