Contributed by Ros Davies
Electricity on and off, internet down and up, ferries in-service or cancelled … Street Pastors in Stornoway will run on another power source.
Stornoway, the largest town in the Western Isles, is taking a step towards forming a Street Pastors team today. The island, nearly 3 hours by ferry from mainland Scotland, will be the most northerly location for a Street Pastors team.
With the support of five church denominations in the town, the idea for Street Pastors has grown from seeds planted by the youth committee of the Free Church of Scotland several years ago. Isabel Macleod, who is coordinating the scheme through the start-up phase, says that street pastors will be available to people enjoying the town’s nightlife in a practical and a spiritual way. “There is a strong culture of church-going on the Isle of Lewis – people go to church as a way of life – so they know plenty about Christianity but have a lot of questions about how it might be real to them.
“I find that they often have a mental checklist of things they must get right before they can get to know God. Through our actions and our willingness to answer their questions street pastors will be able to demonstrate that God is with them, right where they are, just as they are.”
At a launch held in the town hall tonight, the Chief Inspector of Police, representatives from the local authority and church leaders will hear how plans for Street Pastors are developing. The committee will give out invitation packs to anyone interested in training to become part of the new team.
Weather permitting, Sandy Scrimgeour, chair of Ascension Trust Scotland, the governing body that takes responsibility for Street Pastors’ teams in Scotland, will also be part of the launch. Stornoway has been battered by the recent storms which saw a plane blown off the island’s runway and shop windows smashed.
Stornoway Street Pastors aim to train their volunteers in preparation for the first patrol later in the year. Better weather will no doubt make a night out in Stornoway less eventful for all, but in a town where the sale of generators is a big business, street pastors will go out with the strength and power of God.
Ros Davies is a freelance writer and communications consultant