See below for latest news:


Jim Murphy: Newton Mearns 'most active Christian community in Scotland'

Left to Right: Kirsten Oswald (SNP), Jim Murphy (Labour), Rev Brian More, Graham Cowie (Liberal Democrat), David Montgomery (Conservative) and Robert Marlyn (UKIP)

Left to Right: Kirsten Oswald (SNP), Jim Murphy (Labour), Rev Brian More, Graeme Cowie (Liberal Democrat), David Montgomery (Conservative) and Robert Marlyn (UKIP)

Scottish Labour Party leader Jim Murphy has called Newton Mearns Baptist Church the ‘most active Christian community in Scotland.’

The incumbent candidate for the seat of East Renfrewshire made these comments at the close of an election café run by the church on Friday night. 

He said: “This is the best and most enjoyable so far, out of all the hustings I’ve been to. 

East Renfrewshire is a thriving and flourishing area, with a vibrant multi-faith community. 

“We have strong Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities, who are all growing. 

“This Christian community is the most active and vibrant in the constituency, if not the whole of Scotland.”

200 people filled out the main hall, and were entertained by live jazz music and served with light refreshments. 

Murphy was in attendance alongside Kirsten Oswald (SNP), Graeme Cowie (Liberal Democrat), David Montgomerie (Conservative) and Robert Marlyn (UKIP).

In a break from an often rowdy hustings format, it was a more relaxed atmosphere where candidates shared with one another and the audience their personal convictions and motivation for being in politics and wanting to shape society.



Chairing was Lead Pastor, Reverend Brian More, and he drew from a pool of 30 questions taken from the community in the last two weeks.

Topics ranged from, whether morality and politics should mix, personal responsibility and the role of the state, to the treatment of immigrants. 

Four young people from the local high schools also had an opportunity to make their voice heard, although unlike the independence referendum they don’t have a vote this time round. 

In response to a question from one of them on the voting system, Murphy made a surprise suggestion that ‘Britain should be run from Glasgow’. 

This was immediately met with cheers from the audience. 

However, he was quick to stress that this was ‘a personal, rather than a manifesto commitment. 

Among the crowd was Russell Macmillan, head of East Renfrewshire Good Causes. 

Many of the points raised struck a chord with him.

He said: “It was a very good format, where all the candidates got to voice their opinions and convictions uninterrupted. 

“I was pleased to hear they agreed that immigrants should be treated as human beings and the criticism given toward the groundswell of negative attitudes towards them. 

We should love everyone whether they’re from another country, race or background. 

He added: “We need the community to come together, because there are so many gaps and so many people who fall through the net. 

“We as a charity have to take over for when the state stops, the best of which only provide just above the level the state provides. 

“In this era of austerity there are so many people who are struggling. 

“One of the fundamentals of the Christian faith is to love your neighbour. 

“There are a whole raft of people, coming to my door on extremely low incomes, who aren’t eligible for emergency food aid, but what we’ve found is that by giving a small gift of 30 food items, it’s helped single parent families and whole households where there’s nobody working to save the money they’re getting on benefits and allow them to buy a new pair of shoes. 

He added: “It’s a sad reflection on society.” 

“Society is judged by how it treats the least well off. During this time, we need politicians to remember those who fall through the net. 

“I’m not so sure as a wealthy country, we’re particularly good at that. 

“I hope that the person whoever gets elected realises that there’s a greater need to come together to love your neighbour and those at the bottom of the society.

The evening was sponsored and organised in conjunction with the Evangelical Alliance Scotland, whose National Director Fred Drummond said: “This is the perfect example of when Evangelical Christians are passionate about politics that works for the good of all of society, and when it comes to voting they’re not going to be backing the party which just benefits themselves the most. 

“The high level of engagement contrasts with a high degree of distrust in politicians and their promises. 


“It’s time for politicians to rebuild trust with all voters, but in the next few weeks evangelical voters are likely to be wary of grand promises made by any of the political parties.”

Details of hustings in your area can be found here



Bristo Baptist Church: a quarter of a millenium of ministry in Scotland's Capital

A transcript from an article in The Scots Magazine, Volume XXVII, Page 614, reads “On Monday, Nov.25. (1765) [year date inserted by Rev Garry A Ketchen], an Antipaedobaptist administered the ordinance of baptism to two adults, in the water of Leith, hard by Canonmills, near Edinburgh, in the following manner. The two persons being first stripped, were clothed with long black gowns, and then went into the water, along with their minister; who, after repeating some words in their ordinary form, took them by the nape of the neck, plunged them down over head and ears, and kept them for a little time wholly under the water.”


The minister who performed this ordinance was Robert Carmichael, a former pastor of the Glasite church in Glasgow who, after corresponding with another minister, Archibald McLean, had become convinced of believer’s baptism by immersion and was himself baptised on 9th October, 1765, in the Barbican Meeting House in London.


The two who were baptised at Canonmills near Edinburgh on 25th November 1765 were soon joined by five others. They were Dr and Mrs Robert Walker, Joseph Strachan, Elizabeth Brown, Margaret Harley, Joseph Wainwright and J. Harlaw. These seven, along with their pastor, Robert Carmichael, constituted the first Baptist Church in Edinburgh. This church is still in existence today; it is Bristo Baptist Church, Edinburgh.


Second Oldest Baptist Church in Baptist Union (after Keiss in Caithness)

Over its 250 year history the church has worshipped and met in, and ministered from, a number of different locations in Edinburgh such as the Magdalene Chapel,  Richmond Court, St Cecilia’s Hall, the Old High School in Infirmary Street, the Pleasance Baptist Chapel, Bristo Place and of course our present building which is located on Queensferry Road in Edinburgh.


As you can imagine this is a very exciting and significant year for us as a church as we look to celebrate our 250th anniversary in November 2015. Various events are in the process of being planned which we will publicise later in the year, though you may want to note that there is a Scottish Baptist History Project day conference at Bristo on Saturday 21st November 2015. We are also delighted that our General Director, Rev Alan Donaldson, will be preaching at our morning service on Sunday 29th November which, coincidentally, happens to be my 1st anniversary as pastor of Bristo.


As a church we would love to hear from anyone who has been part of Bristo Baptist Church over the years especially if you would like to share some inspiring memories of your time at Bristo. If you have any artefacts, books or old photos of Bristo that you would like to share with us then please contact us either through the main church number, 0131 332 3682, our church e-mail address,, or through our website at


Also, if anyone has had any experience of producing short DVDs for mission distribution purposes then could you please contact me as I’m considering making one that will both mark our anniversary and also be used as a mission tool in our local area. 


Please remember us in prayer in this important year and please let us know if you can attend any of the events or services that we will be publicising. Please remember also our sister church, Granton Baptist Church, who celebrate their 75th anniversary in May this year. We have been seeking to work closer together and have had very successful joint Christmas Eve and Good Friday services. The leadership teams from both churches have met on a few occasions and have been discussing how we may support, encourage and resource one another in ministry and mission. For example, on a practical level, each church will be providing a cleaning team to serve at the other church’s main anniversary event in order that the church members/adherents can fully enjoy their own church’s anniversary without having to be concerned about who is doing the tidying up. We are also exploring a joint prayer ministry outreach and have also arranged a joint church conference in September this year, inviting outside speakers to help us reflect on how we might work better together spreading the Good News of the Gospel.


A busy time ahead but, I pray, a very fruitful one.


Rev Garry A Ketchen






Part-Time Lecturer/Communications person, Scottish Baptist College

Are you passionate about teaching and training the next generation of ministry workers, while having experience of communications? See the details here

Ministry Development Coordinator Appointment

Rev Martin HodsonAt our Council meeting on 19 March 2015, the Council unanimously appointed the Rev Martin Hodson as our new Ministry Development Coordinator, commencing late Summer 2015.

Martin is currently Senior Minister at St Peter’s Baptist Church, Worcester, where he has been in post since 1996 and leads a staff team of four full-time pastors, four managers and various ancillary staff in a vibrant church community of about 500.

He said: “"After 19 fruitful years in my present church I believe the Lord is now leading me to focus on equipping and facilitating the development of others in ministry.

"The twenty-four years I have been a Baptist minister have been an adventure of faith and personal growth in Christ.

"I have discovered the extraordinary privilege of being used by God, not least when I have felt weakest, to make disciples and serve a church community.

"I have always recognised the importance of the partnership and encouragement of others in ministry and have grown increasingly involved in mentoring and nurturing ministers and emerging leaders.

Prior to his current role, Martin worked in Cumbria, in a church plant situation; and from 1991-1995, he was Assistant Minister in Bridge of Don Baptist Church with both Douglas Hutcheon and John Greenshields (the outgoing Mission Development Coordinator).

He committed his life to Christ as a teenager, largely through the influence of the youth group at a Baptist Church in Heywood, Lancashire, and was baptised there at the age of 14 before becoming a church member.

He gained this theological education from Oxford University, gaining an MA in Theology in 1986 followed by an MTh in Applied Theology in 2001.

The former BMS World Mission president has also served in a wide range of roles including the Heart of England Association, the Baptist Union of Great Britain Assembly planning group and as a trustee for BMS, representing them in the UK and India.

In his time he acted as a moderator for a number of churches in periods of vacancy and shared in the process of appointing new ministers.

Following his MTh, he continued to read widely and kept an interest in aspects of academic theology.

Through the ministry at St Peter’s he has demonstrated an ability to combine a strategic, visionary dimension with a thoughtful and pastorally sensitive approach.

He is an excellent communicator and gifted preacher, able to convey biblical truths in a clear, engaging and yet gentle way. He's a firm leader, but works in team & encourages those on that team to grow in faith & responsibility.

Married to Becky, they have three sons, two currently studying in London and one who hopes to go to university later this year.

They plan to move to Scotland mid August, to allow some overlap with John Greenshields.

He added: “I have a passionate commitment, which I believe has been given by God, to see His church flourish and to release and nurture others to be Godly, exemplary and enduring leaders among God’s people.

"Having been nurtured myself within the Baptist Union of Scotland during the formative early years of my ministry, it would be a privilege to serve this Union again in the role of Ministry Development Coordinator.”

General Director of the Baptist Union of Scotland, Alan Donaldson, said: "We're delighted to welcome the appointment of Martin. Our prayer is that the Lord will continue to bless his service amongst us."

Connect March

I'm really pleased to deliver you the latest issue of Connect. In it you'll find content aimed at encouraging you to think you can live fruitful, intentionally missional lives on the frontlines of the workplace. Most, if not all of you, will be or have spent a considerable amount of time working in a job, trade, or profession. So hearing from a range of folk like Rev Jack Quinn (a Chaplain to Brahead Shopping Centre), a sexual health nurse serving her patients, an IT worker who helps fight global poverty, and a nursery nurse, I hope will be edifying to you. Please download the attachment below or click here to view it online.


Rory Martin