2014 has brought, amongst other things, the proofing of a book I was working on during the back end of last year : Reflections on Eldership: insights from practising elders. Initiatially using a questionnaire, but increasingly via face to face and phone interviews, I spent many hours encouraging elders to articulate their thoughts about, and experiences of, the multi-faceted role of elder in the Church of Scotland. A little to my surprise, the resulting book has evolved into quite a personal, ‘human’ document. Women and men, many of them older in years but some in their twenties, spoke with honesty, pride, frustration, wisdom, and occasionally diffidence – but always with a sense of great commitment. And the result is a kind of conversation between people who, for the most part, have never met each other.
As I write in the introduction:
“By and large, elders tend not to talk at length about their role. They will discuss matters at hand – the business of the kirk session, perhaps, or the life of the congregation in general – but talking about themselves is a different matter…
Yet, might it not be helpful, for a short while, to step back and ask elders the question: Why did you accept the invitation to become an elder and what does it mean to you to carry on in this role? Might it be helpful to them, as well to others (including potential elders), to articulate their understanding of the role and to compare and contrast their experiences of it?”
Due for publication in April by Saint Andrew Press, hopefully the book will be helpful. We’ll see.