Cruden Parish Church

 ‘Frederick Douglas v The Free Church of Scotland'
7.00pm, Sunday 21st June 2020



Whilst the church building is closed and all our communal activities have ceased due to the lockdown caused by Covid19, Cruden Parish Church has moved online. Wherever you are from, local or far away, you are welcome here!

Please join in the responses printed in bold and italic. During the service we would also appreciate if you keep all background noise and conversation to an absolute minimum


Grace and peace to you from God our Father, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing
that comes from heaven: (Eph 1)

who knew you and chose you before the world began; (I Pet 1, Eph 1)

who loves you so much that he calls you his own children; (I Jn 3)

who has brought you from darkness into light and filled you with his glorious power; (Col 1)

who has prepared an inheritance for you that will never spoil or fade; (I Pet 1)

who encourages and strengthens you in every good deed and word; (2 Thess 2)

who comforts you in your troubles so that you can comfort others. (2 Cor 1)

This is our God, the ultimate source of all things, and the One for whom we live. (I Cor 8)

Let’s worship God together!

Lighting of Candle & Prayer of Solidarity

We live in challenging times. In truth, the challenge of these times is one that continues. However, the nature of that challenge has changed.

In this present moment, we reflect on where we are now and this allows us to begin to try to understand the past months. Equally, we have the opportunity to anticipate what is to come.
In the Letter to the Romans (6: 1-11), the Apostle Paul reflects on the foundation of the Christian life which is our sharing in the life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

As a consequence, the life we live now is one shaped by the present reality of sharing in the life of Christ.

As we journey together in the gradual exit from Lockdown, we do so in the sure knowledge that we share in the life of the Risen Christ.

(Rt. Rev. Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly, Church of Scotland)

We pray
Faithful God, we thank you
That you are present with us now
As we share in the life of the Risen Christ.
Continue to be present with us we ask.
Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

God who inspires faith, we thank you
That you have been with us
In times of anxiety and uncertainty.
Keep watch over our memories of the past.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Faithful God, we thank you
That you will be with us
In the days that are to come.
Journey with us in the days that lie before us.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

God who inspires faith, we thank you
For the life of your Son
Who for our sakes embraced human form.
May his life shape our lives in these present times.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Faithful God, we thank you
For the reassurance that you are merciful and gracious
And that your love abounds.
In your compassion, remember us and those whom we love.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

God who inspires faith, we thank you
For the knowledge that you will be with us
In all that we now face.
Go before us and provide for us we ask.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.  Amen

Question: Have you ever been treated unfairly?


John 13:31-35  ‘A New Commandment’

When he (Judas) had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once.
Little children, yet a little while I am with you.
You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Galatians 3: 23-29

Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.
So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.
But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.

Colossians 3: 1-11 & 22-25 Living as those made alive in Christ

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.
You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.
But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.
Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
There is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favour, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.


‘Frederick Douglass v The Free Church of Scotland!’

This evening I would like to share the story of an extraordinary individual called Frederick Douglass. He was born in America in1817 of mixed race parentage and spent the first years of his life as a slave. Initially he had a good and secure upbringing. Living in a city, rather than a plantation he was taken under the wing of his masters, wife, who taught him to read and write. Things soon changed when his owner thought slavery and education were mutually incompatible, so he continued to educated himself in secret. During his childhood he also came to faith and developed a deep Christian faith.

At the age of 13 he was sent to work for a poor farmer called Edward Covey. Covey had a well-earned reputation as a slave breaker. Frederick Douglass was beaten so frequently, that his wounds did not have time to heal. He later noted how the continual whippings broken his mind, body and spirit and described himself as a man turned into a brute. On September 3, 1838, Douglass successfully escaped by boarding a northbound train of the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad. Disguised in a sailor’s uniform and carry papers he had obtained from a black freeman he arrived in Philadelphia, an anti-slavery stronghold and eventually ended up in New York City staying in a safe house.

Now living as a free man, he was married and settled in the town of New Bedford in Massachusetts., joined a black church and became an active member of the abolitionist movement. He also became licensed preacher. As a preacher he honed his skills as a public speaker. In 1841 at the age of 23, Frederick Douglass gave his first anti-slavery speech. With great eloquence he spoke of his life as a slave and the suffering he had endured. Two years later he joined a six month long speaking tour, travelling throughout the eastern and mid-western United States.  In 1845, he published his first autobiography called , Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, in which he described in great detail life  under slavery and how he had escaped to slavery. It was an instant best seller.

As his story began to attract a great deal of publicity, there was a fear that his former owner might try and get his slave back, so he headed off to the UK and Ireland on a speaking tour. On his arrival in Liverpool, he was amazed by the feeling of freedom from American Racial Discrimination. Over the next two years, he travelled all over the UK, attracting large crowds to his talks and lectures. On his return to America he became a leading light in the campaign to abolish slavery and published his own abolitionist newspaper called the North Star.
By the time of the American civil war, Frederick Douglass had become the most famous black man in the country and continued to have a high profile in the anti-slavery campaign, calling for the end of slavery. In the years following the war he continued to be an advocate for equal rights and social justice. He was even the first black American nominated for high political office, which he declined. In 1877, Douglass visited Thomas Auld, his former owner, who was by then on his deathbed, and the two men were reconciled.

Right up till his death on February 20, 1895, he continued to campaigning against racism in all of it forms. By this point he was a national figure, and according to one writer, ‘The most influential African American of the nineteenth century, who made a career of agitating the American conscience.’ There is a story told how, less than a month before his death, when a young black man starting out in the world, came to him looking for advice. Without hesitation, Douglass replied: "Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!

There are two particular points of interest here. First was Frederick Douglass view of Christians who kept slaves. He did not mince his words. He accused slave holders of wickedness and a lack of morality. He also saw a distinction between the Christianity of Christ and the "Christianity of America." In other words, there was true religion which shaped people lives and informed their ethics and values, and there was religion which merely reflected the options of the day, such as supporting slavery. He reserved the strongest criticism for religious slaveholders and clergymen who defended slaver. He called them the most brutal, sinful, and cynical of all who represented "wolves in sheep's clothing", In his view to claim to be a Christians and at the same time support slavery, was an abomination in the sight of God.” His strong views about religion and slavery came into focus during a visit to Scotland.

Scotland like most countries was heavily involved in the slave trade. Following the Act if Union in 1706 many merchants took full of advantage of the opportunity to make money from slaves. It was legal to own a slave right up until 1778. Up to that point it was the height of fashion for wealthy families to keep a young slave boy or girl to wait on them. During that period, it was the norm for newspapers to carry adverts offering slaves for sale or a reward for the capture of an escaped slave. In Jamaica, in the early 1800’s, it was noted that people with Scottish surnames owned or managed about one third of the plantations worked by slaves. The scandal over the ownership and profits derived from slavery, ignited a significant church controversy that included Frederick Douglass.

In 1843, there was an event known as the disruption, when one third of the Church of Scotland walked out of the General Assembly to form the Free Church of Scotland. The new free church sought to establish spiritual freedom and the ability for each congregation to choose and call their own minister. Rather than the local laird choosing and appointing the minister, the congregations wanted that to make that choice themselves.

To begin with the new Free Church was a fast growing and dynamic organisation. Memories of the highland clearances, where lairds cleared the land for sheep to make the estates more profitable, were still fresh in people memories. But the Free Church needed money and so they sent so called ‘missionaries’ to the United States where they found some slave-owners particularly supportive. However, the church having accepted £3,000 in donations from this source, they were later denounced as unchristian by abolitionists. When Frederick Douglass arrived in Scotland he became a vocal proponent of the "Send back the money" campaign which urged the Free Church to return the £3,000 donation.[15] In his autobiography "My Bondage and My Freedom" Douglass (p. 386) writes: "The Free Church held on to the blood-stained money, and continued to justify itself in its position — and of course to apologize for slavery — and does so till this day. She lost a glorious opportunity for giving her voice, her vote, and her example to the cause of humanity; and to-day she is staggering under the curse of the enslaved, whose blood is in her skirts."

In a public letter to a friends, he also commented: ‘Scotland is a blaze of anti-slavery agitation – the Free Church and Slavery are the all-engrossing topics…The Free Church is in a terrible stew. Its leaders thought to get the slaveholders’ money and bring it home, and escape censure. They had no idea that they would be followed and exposed. Its members are leaving it, like rats escaping from a sinking ship. There is a strong determination to have the slave money sent back, and the Union broken up. In this feeling all religious denominations participate. Let slavery be hemmed in on every side by the moral and religious sentiments of mankind, and its death is certain.’
Frederick Douglass, letter to William Lloyd Garrison, April 16 1846

In conclusion, there are a number of things to be learned from the remarkable life of Frederick Douglass. We are reminded of the call of the people of God to be agitators of conscience – to shape, flavour and renew the world around us. We are reminded of the need for integrity of life and faith. Whilst we will never be perfect, from the actions of the Free Church of Scotland and many others over the issue of slavery we see the need for faith to be authentic. As Frederick Douglass pointed out there is the ‘Christianity of Christ’ and the Christianity of America.’

Re Sean Swindells,
Cruden Parish Church


Repenting and Lamenting in Times Like These

You are the God who hears: hear our prayer today for all who lament or repent.

For those who face discrimination every day because of their skin colour, we lament.

For those with white skin who benefit from racist systems sometimes even without realising it, we repent.

For those who have struggled and waited so long for the Promised Land of freedom and equality, we lament.

For those who have unthinkingly acted in racist ways and have hurt people of colour we repent.

For those protesting against injustice, in places where they face police brutality and a justice system rigged against them, we lament.

For those who think racism is someone else’s problem, and not a problem for all of humanity, we repent.

God of hope, show us how to work for justice together, standing up for what is right,
stepping in when something's wrong, shouldering each other’s burdens,
holding each other accountable, righting the wrongs, we’ve done, speaking truth to power.

We pray for change, lasting change, for protection for protesters, for a de-escalation of violence
and for government leaders who listen.

Deliver us from evil, within and without, in Jesus' name we pray,


This Sunday is Father’s Day. Let us remember the difference our fathers have made to our lives.

God took the strength of a mountain,
The majesty of a tree,
The warmth of a summer sun,
The calm of a quiet sea,
The generous soul of nature,
The comforting arm of night,
The wisdom of the ages,
The power of the eagle's flight,
The joy of a morning in spring,
The faith of a mustard seed,
The patience of eternity,
The depth of a family need,
Then God combined these qualities,
When there was nothing more to add,
He knew His masterpiece was complete,
And so, He called it ... Dad

Author Unknown

Prayer for Fathers

Heavenly Father,
Today we ask You to bless our earthly fathers
for the many times they reflected the love, strength,
generosity, wisdom and mercy
that You exemplify in Your relationship with us, Your children.

We honour our fathers
for putting our needs above their own convenience and comfort;
for teaching us to show courage and determination in the face of adversity;
for challenging us to move beyond self-limiting boundaries;
for modelling the qualities that would turn us
into responsible, principled, caring adults.

Not all our fathers lived up to these ideals.
Give them the grace to acknowledge and learn from their mistakes.
Give us the grace to extend to them
the same forgiveness that you offer us all.
Help us to resist the urge to stay stuck in past bitterness,
instead, moving forward with humility and peace of heart.

We ask your blessing on those men who served as father figures in our lives
when our biological fathers weren't able to do so.
May the love and selflessness they showed us
be returned to them in all their relationships,
and help them to know that their influence
has changed us for the better.

Give new and future fathers the guidance they need
to raise happy and holy children,
grounded in a love for God and other people -
and remind these fathers that treating their wives
with dignity, compassion and respect is
one of the greatest gifts they can give their children.

We pray that our fathers who have passed into the next life
have been welcomed into Your loving embrace,
and that our family will one be day be reunited
in your heavenly kingdom.

In a time of quiet let us remember:

  • Those effected by Covid-19
  • Those who mourn and grieve
  • And let us bring before God the unspoken prayers of our hearts.

Lift us up to the heights, Holy One, so we may again catch a glimpse
of the vast possibilities of your Shalom even as we pray for it here on earth. Amen

The Lord’s prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
you will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power
and the glory are yours
now and forever.



Go on your way
for you and we
are God's children.

Get yourself out of this sacred place,
pushed by the Spirit who blows when and where he will,
making all places sacred.

Go also to do some sleeping and resting,
anticipating tomorrow,
which will be another day
of God's wonderful surprises
and God's true successes.

And may God give you the strength and freedom of an eagle.
May Christ be the bread that nourishes and renews you.
And may the Holy Spirit be the rising wind beneath your wings.
We go in peace to love and serve the Lord,
In the name of Christ.

Church Notices

Although there are signs that the conditions of the lockdown are being eased, the church building continues to remain closed for services and gatherings. Once we move to stage 3 of easing the lockdown, we may be in a position to hold open air services or within the church building subject to social distancing etc. In the meantime, all our activities are currently on-line:

Study and Discussion Group @ Tuesday evening at 7.00 pm. This week we begin a new study looking at Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians. No previous knowledge is expected or required. Everyone welcome.

Coffee Morning @ Thursday morning at 11.00 am

Evening Service @ Sunday evening at 7.00 pm.

Please contact Sean for the appropriate link to these meetings – no special apps or software required – at

Pastoral Care- please advise Sean of any pastoral matters. (tel. 07791 755976)