The Church in Absentia

Membership in the Church of Scotland has dropped 22 percent—is that enough?
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Membership in the Church of Scotland plunged 22 percent between 1994 and 2002, but Daniel Hawthorn, pastor of Belhelvie Church in Aberdeenshire, says it's time to drop a few more names off the rolls. In a letter to his 600 church members—only a third of whom regularly attend services—he suggests that those unwilling to attend, give, read the Bible, and evangelize should "reflect upon member vows" and decide "whether or nor they wish to remain members." The church, Hawthorn said, would "rather have a smaller roll of people who take their membership and Christian faith seriously than a larger one made up of those who do not." While his approach is supported by the church's Westminster Confession of Faith, which says saints "are bound to maintain an holy fellowship and communion in the worship of God, and in performing such other spiritual services," the minister's efforts were met with great media attention and some parishioners' derision. "Surely this goes against everything the church stands for," said one.

Related Elsewhere:

Other coverage of Hawthorn's letter includes:

Church members told to get serious or get out | A Scottish minister has told his congregation they need to pray and pay more—or face the boot. (Ekklesia, UK)
Church divided after minister tells flock to pay more into collections | A church community has been left divided after its minister sparked a row by urging his flock to pray and pay more. (The Press and Journal, UK)
You must do better, minister tells flock | A minister concerned about the condition of his church and the faith of his flock has written to his congregation asking them to give more money and pray more often. (The Daily Telegraph, London)
Minister asks congregation to pay'n'pray | Anger over ...
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