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If you feel able to contribute to the running costs of Covenant Fellowship Scotland then please email the Director and we will provide details of how to do so, and, where appropriate, a Gift Aid form.

Thank you.

CFS Trustees

Covenant Fellowship Scotland is registered with OSCR as
Scottish Charity SC043628.

Trustees of the charity are:

Rev Professor Andrew McGowan 
(Chairman)
Rev Richard Buckley
Rev Mike Goss
Rev Ian Murdo Macdonald
Mr Kenneth Mackenzie
Rev Mark Malcolm
Rev Ann McCool
Rev Hector Morrison
Rev Colin Strong

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signing covenant declaration

I believe that the Church of Scotland is moving away from its roots in Scripture and the Westminster Confession of Faith.  I believe that the time has come for the creation of a ‘Covenant Fellowship’ within the Church.  This Covenant Fellowship will draw together those who believe that the Scriptures, in their entirety, are the Word of God and must provide the basis for everything we believe and do.  This vision is nothing less than the reformation and renewal of the Church of Scotland, in accordance with the Word of God and by the empowering of his life-giving Spirit.

Show your support:
If you would like to show your support for the above statement, then please use the form on our Contact page here or print off and sign a copy for posting back to us by going here.

CFS launch andrew mcgowanWe believe that the Church of Scotland is moving away from its roots in Scripture and the Westminster Confession of Faith.  We believe that the time has come for the creation of a ‘Covenant Fellowship’ within the Church.  This Covenant Fellowship will draw together those who believe that the Scriptures, in their entirety, are the Word of God and must provide the basis for everything we believe and do.  Our vision is nothing less than the reformation and renewal of the Church of Scotland, in accordance with the Word of God and by the empowering of his life-giving Spirit.

The Church of Scotland is facing a severe crisis.  A majority of Presbyteries has now adopted an Overture which would permit those in same-sex civil partnerships to serve as ministers and deacons in the Church.  Many people feel that the only way to protest against this unscriptural move is to leave the Church of Scotland.  Many ministers, elders, members and adherents have done so already and more will follow.  While respecting that position, our hearts’ desire is to remain within the Church, in order to seek its reformation from within, although we recognise that not all will feel able to make such an unqualified commitment.

It is important that we remain, however, without compromising our integrity.  We refuse to be complicit in any act of disobedience to the Lord’s Word taken by the Church and we do not accept the trajectory which the Church has chosen, whatever the General Assembly of 2015 decides in respect of the Overture.  We believe that, if the Church continues on the present trajectory, it will have departed from its constitutional basis as defined by Scripture, the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Declaratory Articles.   We believe that it is our prophetic duty to challenge this, to protest and to call the Church to repentance on this matter.

The Covenant Fellowship is not being formed simply to protest on one issue. We long to see our nation won for Christ and commit ourselves with renewed and prayerful zeal to being involved in the outworking of the mission of God in our own day and into the future, by every God-honouring means, however traditional or imaginative and radically innovative.

However, the Overture currently before the Church has brought us to this point of decisive and concerted action.  The departure from the plain teaching of Scripture, of which the Overture is a symptom, gives us cause for concern regarding the whole future direction of the Church. Many members of the Church of Scotland are deeply unhappy about the present trajectory but have had no opportunity to register their dissent or to call for the Church to return to the truth revealed in Scripture.  Expressing your support for the Covenant Fellowship provides this opportunity.  More detailed information about the structure and development of the Covenant Fellowship will be available in early 2015.

If you share our conviction that the Church is in grave danger and want to register your protest on this issue while continuing to be involved in the mission of God to our nation and beyond through the national church, please express your support for the Covenant Fellowship’s stand. There is no charge for doing so.  

The Covenant Fellowship Scotland declaration can be read by clicking here.

You can express your support for the Covenant Fellowship by going to our contact page here.

 

 

Background

cofs emblem web oldWhen we began Covenant Fellowship Scotland, we chose to use the Burning Bush symbol on our website and Facebook page to indicate that we are members and adherents of the Church of Scotland and that our intention is to remain in the Church, despite recent difficulties, in order to seek reformation from within.

Unfortunately, some time ago, both Andrew McGowan and Michael Goss received phone calls from a member of the Legal Questions Committee of the General Assembly, asking us to remove the Burning Bush emblem from our CFS website and Facebook page because there had been (unspecified) 'complaints'.  We pointed out that the National Church Association had used it without difficulty for many years but that cut no ice.  We also pointed out that the Burning Bush symbol has been used by Presbyterians all over the world but were told that the version we were using was lodged with the Lord Lyon's Office as a 'Coat of Arms' and could only be used with permission of the Church, which permission was clearly not forthcoming!  The secretary also received calls from the Principal Clerk of the General Assembly, with the same message.

 

New Logo

CFS new logo Professor McGowan contacted a friend, Professor Laurence Kirkpatrick, who is Professor of Church History in the Union Theological College, Belfast (the college of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland), knowing that he had written on the history of the burning bush and asked if there was a version we could use without copyright issues.  We are delighted with the one he recommended, for several reasons:

First, it is clearly recognisable as the Burning Bush.  Second, it has an open Bible as part of the emblem, which the Church of Scotland version does not.  It seems that some of the earlier versions of the design had the open Bible but later versions have removed it.  As an organisation which aims to see the reformation of the Church according to Scripture, this was most appropriate.  Third, instead of the Latin words, nec tamen consumebatur (‘nevertheless it was not consumed’), which is the wording on the Church of Scotland version, the Irish version has the motto ardens sed virens, which means 'burning yet flourishing'.  It seems possible that it was first used by the Huegenots, to indicate that despite severe persecution (burning) they and the Gospel were 'flourishing'.  This might be considered a very appropriate motto for us.  We are not being persecuted in the same way the Huegenots were, to be sure, but the opposition is strong.  In the midst of it, the Gospel is flourishing as we bear witness to Christ.

 

Design

The version Professor Kirkpatrick sent was from a stained glass window in Union College.  We are grateful to Alice Louise Watson, a graduate of the Glasgow School of Art, whose studio is in Glasgow, for taking the photograph of the stained glass window and creating our new logo.  The version on the stained glass window had two shamrocks at the top.  We asked Alice to leave one of these, to highlight its origins but to replace the other with a thistle!

The Church has forced us to change our logo but in fact the change is for the better and will identify more clearly who we are and what we believe.

Covenant Fellowship Scotland was launched on Thursday 18th December 2014 in Glasgow.  That same day the following article was published in their ‘Agenda’ slot by The Herald newspaper:

herald newspaper logo

Disruption or Reformation?

Today in Glasgow, members of the Church of Scotland will launch a ‘Covenant Fellowship’ in protest against the current direction of the Church.  

The Church of Scotland is in the midst of a severe crisis.  The General Assembly of 2014 approved a piece of legislation (called an Overture) which will permit the appointment of ministers and Deacons who are in civil partnerships.  Given that this is a serious departure from the doctrine and practice of the Church, it had to be approved by a majority of the Presbyteries.  That has now been achieved and the Overture will return for final approval to the Assembly of 2015.  The Overture stands contrary to the plain teaching of Scripture, contrary to the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Church’s doctrinal standard and contrary to the Declaratory Articles, the legal constitution of the Church.

If approved, this Overture will extend even further the disruption of the Church of Scotland.  Many well-known congregations in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Stornoway and elsewhere have already left the Church, or been split in two.  In addition, many individual members, elders and ministers have left.  This disruption has been most damaging to churches in the Highlands and Islands.  A further significant number have indicated that if this Overture passes, they will follow.  

Unfortunately, the one message that members of the Church of Scotland are hearing is that the only way to protest against the trajectory being chosen by the Church is to leave.

This is not the only way!  Why should those of us who are orthodox in our beliefs leave the Church of Scotland, when we are the ones who stand firmly on the historic truths upon which the Church was built?  Why should we walk away and hand the Church over to a ‘prevailing party’ which is leading it away from the paths of God?  As loyal members of the Church of Scotland, it is both our right and our duty to call the Church to repentance and to protest from within, even as a minority.  

It has been said that, if we remain in the Church of Scotland, we are tainted by the decisions of the General Assembly.  We do not accept this.  We refuse to be complicit in any act of disobedience to God’s Word and will not accept the trajectory which the Church has chosen, whatever the General Assembly of 2015 decides in respect of the Overture.  The Church might well choose to follow the consensus of opinion in our liberal, western society but we remain convinced that we are not entitled to play fast and loose with God’s Word.  

Today, members and adherents of the Church of Scotland are being asked to express support for a Covenant Fellowship.  It is intended that the Covenant Fellowship will draw together those who believe that the Scriptures, in their entirety, are the Word of God and must provide the basis for everything we believe and do.  We invite everyone in the Church who feels the same way to stand with us.

This is not a single issue protest.  The Overture is merely a symptom of a Church which has lost direction and is desperately in need of reformation.  The Covenant Fellowship will work and pray for the reformation and renewal of the Church of Scotland, in accordance with the Word of God and by the empowering of his life-giving Spirit.  The hope is that the Covenant Fellowship, which begins today as a protest against recent events, will grow to become an effective campaign group within the Church on behalf of those who believe in Christian orthodoxy.  Such groups have been effective in other mainstream denominations, such as the Reformed Alliance in the Netherlands.

Instead of further disruption, we call people to stand with us on the foundation of God’s word and to work for the future reformation of the Church of Scotland.


The Rev Professor A.T.B. McGowan

(Professor McGowan is Minister of Inverness East Church of Scotland)

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