Press Releases

South Skye & Lochalsh Candidates Debate

A coalition of churches in South Skye and Lochalsh today announced their plan to host a hustings-style event in the Lochalsh Hotel, Kyle on Monday 19th April at 7:30pm.   The event, South Skye and Lochalsh Candidates Debate, was envisaged several months ago, as a way for local churches to provide a venue for their own members, but also the wider community, where the candidates will face ordinary voters with real questions.

“Very often the church is seen lamenting lost influence in public life,” said Gordon Matheson, minister at Sleat & Strath Free Church.   “There are a few ways we, as Christians, can respond to this: – we can either withdraw into ever more exclusive groups and isolate ourselves from public life; others might set up ‘Christian’ parties to reassert what we see as lost influence; or we can take every effort possible to engage in the political process, and through that make a contribution for the good of our communities.   This event was planned to give our own members that chance – to put their issues to the candidates.

“As we discussed an event like this, we realised our community at large doesn’t get that opportunity to interact with all the candidates together.   We saw this as one area where we could do something beneficial to serve our community, and so we decided from the outset that this should be a public event.   Of course we remain concerned about moral issues in public life, and society; but Christians are concerned, to varying degrees, about taxation, the deficit, the size of the state, military spending, Trident missiles, or social justice.   So it would be unfair to for candidates to expect to be faced exclusively with questions on moral issues.”

The event doors will open at 7:30pm, aiming to begin the debate at 8:00pm.   This will give time to set up primed questions, make sure questioners are seated near mics, etc.   The candidates will each have 2 or 3 minutes to make a pitch to the audience, and this will be followed by a “Question time” style discussion.

At the time of this release we have confirmed commitments to attend from: Charles Kennedy (Lib Dem); Alasdair Stephen (SNP); Donald Cameron (Conservative) and Philip Anderson (UKIP).   The event will be chaired by Duncan Ferguson, Head Teacher at Plockton High School.   Invitations have also been extended to UKIP and the Greens.   John McKendrick (Labour) will not be attending due to professional commitments elsewhere.

The event will be recorded, and Cullins FM plan to broadcast it in full the next day.

People attending are encouraged to contact Gordon Matheson on 01471 833 281, or by email at gordonmatheson@hotmail.com if they want to ask a specific question.   Comments are allowed on this post (below).

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Press Releases

Free Church Press Release Re. Opinion of Lord Uist

The Free Church Denomination has issued the following press release in connection to recent case regarding the Broadford church and manse properties.   Sleat & Strath Free Church have no further comment to add to this at present, other than to underline that we continue to seek opportunities to serve God in the area, and are actively seeking to resume services regularly in Broadford, and that we see ruling is a big step towards this goal.

Free Church of Scotland successful in Broadford local property case

Lord Uist has found in favour of the Free Church of Scotland in the Court of Session case concerning congregational property in Broadford on the Isle of Skye.

The breakaway Free Church Continuing (FCC) formed in 2000 had been occupying the church and manse. On the retirement of the Rev. Allan Maciver, who had joined the FCC and been suspended from the ministry of the Free Church, the Free Church of Scotland took legal action to regain the property. The case was heard before Lord Uist in the Court of Session from 12th to 15th May.

Lord Uist totally dismissed the claims of the FCC and adjudged the property to belong to the local congregation of the Free Church of Scotland (FC).

Lord Uist’s Opinion is clear and decisive concerning the identity of the true Free Church of Scotland: “The FC which existed before January 2000 is the same FC which has continued to exist since then.  On the other hand, the FCC is a new body which was set up after January 2000”, and he found that the Free Church Continuing themselves “do not dispute that the FCC is a new body set up after January 2000 and that it has a separate and distinct organisation and structure from the FC.”  He also made reference to the fact that “the two bodies are distinct registered charities.”

In addition, he noted that the FCC did not claim that the Free Church had departed from fundamental principles (the only basis on which the FCC could have a legal claim to property).

Lord Uist concluded that: “The FCC are not, either in name or composition, the FC, they have entirely separated themselves from the FC and have no right under the trust to the use and occupation of property intended for the benefit of the FC.  In other words, the FCC are a breakaway group who have taken themselves outwith the institutional framework of the FC and set up their own, new framework.”

He also agreed with the Free Church’s contention that if the FCC were successful in their claim, “the result would be astonishing and lead to chaos” where any breakaway group from a voluntary organisation could claim property.

The Free Church are delighted with the clear decision and hope that this will pave the way for settling other local property issues without recourse to law.

The full text of Lord Uist’s Opinion can be found at:

http://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/opinions/2009CSOH113.html