CA in Scottish Borders
with Tim Hatton
November 2023 Update
The Scottish Borders consists of small towns and villages in an area of outstanding scenery, with picturesque coastlines, open countryside, rolling hills and lots of history connected to the textile industry. The production of tartan and tweed is synonymous with the area, but, in recent decades, textile mills in the area have been closing, leading to a loss of community. While the area may be renowned for its natural beauty, living in such a rural environment can create problems, such as isolation, loneliness and limited employment opportunities, plus access to healthcare and associated services can be difficult. To address some of these issues, Church Army, in partnership with the Diocese of Edinburgh, opened the A7 Centre of Mission. The ambition is to develop a fresh expression of church that lovingly serves the community in a practical way while spreading the Good News of Jesus. Tim Hatton is the Pioneer Evangelist at the A7 Centre of Mission.
God is definitely on the move where we are. So many things are starting to happen, and I can feel his presence in all we do. Hawick (pronounced Hoick) is the town we are working from at the moment, and I am the first minister to have lived on the estate for 20 years. A lot of people who live here never leave the estate. Public transport is limited and running a car is expensive, so living here helps me develop relationships with the people in the community.
A young lady who lives not far from us was walking by with her daughter in a pushchair, and she asked if I was the vicar. I said, “Not exactly, but how can I help?” She explained that she would like to have her daughter christened. We had several talks about it over a few days, and I asked if she had been baptised. I suggested that maybe God was talking to her, perhaps he was prompting her for them both to be baptised. It hadn’t occurred to her that God may be speaking to her, and, after some thought, she was baptised along with her daughter. I think she is growing in her relationship with Jesus.
We have a community of regular worshippers actively engaged with the Centre of Mission. Two of them are so keen to be involved that they have now become members of the Church Army Mission Community, which is wonderful.
We had a recent donation from Asda of £15,000 worth of school uniforms, which they very kindly gave us to distribute to families in the local towns. It has strengthened our relationships with schools and families, which has been a wonderful blessing and will hopefully allow us to collaborate with them in the future.
There is so much for us to do in our community and so much need. It is our vision to open a church in the centre of town. We are in the process of securing premises, which will bring an injection of life to an otherwise unloved high street. ‘Wilf’s Place’ will be a fresh expression of church and a vibrant hub right in the heart of the community, where we will offer a whole manner of much-needed services. We want to help people feel God’s love on a practical and spiritual level.