A special celebration of the life of the Church of Scotland in all its richness and fullness will be streamed online this Sunday, 17 May from 2pm until just after 4pm.
The digital version of Heart and Soul promises to be a “beacon of light and hope” during the dark days of the Coronavirus lockdown.
Worship and conversation
The programme, which will run for just over two hours from 2pm via the Church website and Facebook page, features an eclectic mix of worship, music, stories and good conversation with a host of guests.
People accustomed to attending the colourful event in Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh – a key part of the General Assembly, which has been cancelled due to the pandemic – will be able to watch it later at a time of their choosing.
Hosted by Rev Ken Froude, Seonaid Knox and Rev Justin Taylor, the abridged event will begin with a replay of the historic online installation service for the new Moderator, Rev Dr Martin Fair, at the General Assembly Hall the previous day at 11am.
Thousands of people usually attend Heart and Soul in Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh every year.
Rev Bryan Kerr, convener of the Heart and Soul Project Board, said: “At a time of difficulty and concern for a lot of people across society we wanted to send out a clear message that the Church is still open and there to support people.
“It is still a beacon of light and hope in these dark times, and we felt that having a big weekend of celebration when the Moderator is installed in an historic way was a good opportunity to do something different.”
The line-up includes Heart and Soul regulars Fischy Music, who will lead a segment for all ages. There will also be some very special conversations on a range of topics, including how faith guides decision making.
Journalist Hugh Pym, an elder at St Columba’s Church in London, will be speaking to Professor Jason Leitch, the National Clinical Director of the Scottish Government, who has been heavily involved in the response to the pandemic.
The BBC’s health editor will also be chatting to Viv Dickenson, chief officer of CrossReach, the operating name of the Church’s social care council, which runs 70 services for people of all ages across Scotland, including care homes.
Very Rev Dr Susan Brown, convener of the Church’s Faith Impact Forum, will be discussing climate justice with Green MSP Ross Greer, a member of Bearsden Cross Church in East Dunbartonshire and Tara Shannon from Church of Scotland Youth. (COSY)
Rev Anne Stewart, a chaplain at HMP Castle Huntly near Dundee, will be in conversation with Hospital chaplain, Deacon Mark Evans DCS, about chaplaincy as a career and the impact of Coronavirus in their places of work.
Speaking ahead of the event, Mr Evans, head of spiritual care at NHS Fife, said: “Chaplains affirm the unique worth of each individual and Covid-19 has required healthcare staff to find new ways of working.Yet despite the unprecedented challenges, aspects of the chaplains’ role remain the same. In the midst of all the uncertainty and anxiety, they continue to be present in wards and at bedsides 24/7. Creating safe spaces where people feel supported, cared for and loved.
Brave spaces where people can explore their fears and dreams, their concerns and hopes.”
The online event will be rounded off with some highlights from the archive over the last ten years of Heart and Soul, the Guild Big Sing and the General Assembly.