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Monday, 27 May, 2002, 14:36 GMT 15:36 UK
'Negative' Kirk book under fire
General assembly of Church of Scotland
The Kirk's general assembly is meeting in Edinburgh
A new book on the future of the Church of Scotland has come under fire on the third day of the Kirk's General Assembly.

Outside Verdict, by former newspaper editor Harry Reid, has generated "a climate of prejudice and negativity" within the organisation, Rev John Page told the assembly in Edinburgh.

In the book, commissioned by last year's Moderator Dr Andrew McLellan, Mr Reid recommends that the Kirk could save money by selling off its manses and pulling out of exotic outposts like Bermuda and the Costa del Sol.

Rev. Page, 65, whose ministry is based at St Andrew's Church in Gibraltar, said the book had undermined the role of European ministries of the Kirk.


The ruling elites clearly aren't listening to the people and so the church in Europe has a more important role than ever to play as a listener

Rev. John Page

He said: "I find it personally hurtful that this book is so dismissive. We've a lot to celebrate but once again we've gone and shot ourselves in the foot."

He rejected any suggestion that European ministries were a financial burden on the Church.

"We are not a charge on the coffers of the church, we have our own bequests, our own aid," Rev. Page said.

Rev. Page, who is officiating chaplain to 2,000 members of the British Army based on Gibraltar, later called for an apology.

He added that the Kirk's work at 12 ministries across Europe was especially important following the Continent's lurch to the political right.

Ruling elites

He said: "It's no accident that the rise of fascism in Europe has followed the introduction of the euro.

"This rising tide of xenophobia in Europe comes from a feeling of fear and lack of identity.

"The ruling elites clearly aren't listening to the people and so the Church in Europe has a more important role than ever to play as a listener."

Mr Reid's book also recommends a switch in the Christian focus of the Kirk from Christmas to Easter.

The book also calls for the sale of the kirk headquarters at 121 George Street, with a possible relocation to Stirling or Perth and for the reform of the General Assembly itself.

Mr Reid was unapologetic and denied that the book was negative.

The former editor of the Herald said: "I would say that, on the whole, the book is very positive. But the church is facing a crisis in Scotland and its priority now must be focused on Scotland. I certainly have no intention of apologising."

See also:

26 May 02 | Scotland
25 May 02 | Scotland
25 May 02 | Scotland
09 Apr 02 | Scotland
19 May 01 | Scotland
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