Reformation Tour

Last week was our Reformation Tour, courtesy of Jimmy and Helen Fisher.  I loved every second of our time traveling around Scotland.  God blessed us with unusually pleasant weather and safe travels.  Jimmy and Helen took us around to many churches, graveyards, castles, and even some battle sites that were relevant to the Reformation in Scotland.  A lot of the stories that Jimmy told us as we went around were familiar—we had just finished reading “The Scottish Covenanters” by Johannes G. Vos the week before.  But while the four of us girls may have had a basic understanding of the timeline of the Reformation as well as the key figures that drove the changes in the church, it wasn’t until we were standing by the graves of the two Margarets or William Adam that we really came to realize the price to be paid by being faithful to Christ.

During the week, I began to notice a pattern in why so many people were being martyred for being Covenanters.  In so many cases, like William Adam’s, it was simply for being seen reading a Bible.  Or like John Brown, who was murdered in front of his wife and children because he owned a Bible and was telling Bible stories to children.  I think that the Covenanters had grasped an all-important concept that Christians today forget all too often—the Bible is the living Word of God.  The Word of God has the power to change people.  It is the ultimate written source of Truth in our lives.  And for those who are opposed to God, this is an aroma of death.  It is why so many who are opposed to Christ wish to put barriers between His people and His Word.

After this week, I have come to a new appreciation for God’s Word and what it is.  We have the very words that God breathed out at the very tips of our fingers—should we not be taking full advantage of this means of grace every day?  So many have died for the act of owning or reading the Bible, and it should convict us of the life-giving importance of knowing God through His Word.  I have come to appreciate my heritage in the Reformed Presbyterian tradition even more than I already have—what a rich history of being faithful to God’s Word and keeping Christ as the only Head of the church.

Bethany Cerbus

St Andrews Cathedral

St Andrews Cathedral

At St. Andrews Castle

At St. Andrews Castle

Grave of William Adam

Grave of William Adam

Site of the Wigtown martyrdom

Site of the Wigtown martyrdom

One Month

This is the start of our 4th week in Scotland, it’s crazy to think it has already been a month.  Looking back over this short time I realize how busy we have been.  Each week we have been blessed with opportunities to connect with the church, as well as grow deeper in our faith and understanding of the God we love.  Each day we are given time to study, meditate, and memorize the Word of God.  This is followed by our classes that revolve around the subjects of disciplines of the faith and examples of faithful works.  Not only do we see faithful examples from the past, as we visit Covenanter sights, but we see it weekly from members of the Airdrie church.  The church here is so invested in their members, youth, and surrounding community.  We have had the privilege of joining the church’s METs (Mutual Encourages Times) where we meet with a group from the church and have a Bible study.  Right now we are reading over Judges.  The church also hosts a Kids Club on Friday evenings which we have had a great time running for the past few weeks.  Here kids from the church and the community come together to play and learn about our great God.  Once Kids Club is over CY (Covenanter Youth) begins.  This is my favorite outreach the church does.  Here the young adults of the church meet up with the teens to enjoy fellowship and learning more about the Word. I think it’s great that these teens have mentors and examples of faithful people to look up to and who they trust.  Through these times we have been able to connect to all ages of the church.  It is truly a blessing to be able to connect with these people and continue to connect with them as the semester continues.

Our weekly field trips with Jimmy and Helen led us first to Cairnpapple.  This site is from before the building of the pyramids! Over 4,000yrs old.  Although no one is completely sure why it’s there, or who it was for, we do know it is a grave site.  The odd thing about this grave site is that it is in the middle of farm land, on a peak of a hill, overlooking the beautiful view of the coast, highlands, and cities of Scotland.  From there we drove to the city of Linlithgow.  Here we saw the remnants of the palace of Queen Margaret.  This was the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots.  On the palace property is the church where Mary was baptised.  The church today is still open and operating as a church.  Inside we saw the tall ceilings and stained glass windows.  You can see the carver’s symbols in the stone of the pillars.  The history and beauty within these buildings here are breathtaking.  After a quick tour of the church, we walked over to the palace.  This building was different than the places we had visited before.  Previously the castles and churches we have seen have been restored, this palace was not.  It has been well kept and preserved, but it lacked a ceiling, windows, and doors.  We were allowed to wander around this endless maze of hallways and rooms and see the great halls, spiral stone staircases, and tall towers.  As we got lost in the palace we could only imagine how this place would have looked in historical times.  The fact that this palace had been in the state it was made it more breath taking with huge stone window frames to look out to the lake adjacent to the palace and a stone fountain in the midst of the courtyard.  The history here was just amazing to walk through. These opportunities we have to travel are amazing to see the times of these buildings. Many of them are older than our nation as a whole. It just puts life in a different perspective, seeing the bigger timeline than just our country. We are all excited to begin our week long tour with Jimmy and Helen to see the memorials of faithful Covenanters who died for their faith. Pray that God would use these opportunities to have us reorient our lives to stay focused on Him.

Castine Allmond

Cairnpapple Hill

Cairnpapple Hill

Girls at Cairnpapple

Linlithgow Palace

Linlithgow Palace

Courtyard at the palace

Courtyard at the palace

The courtyard from above.

The courtyard from above.

Girls at Linlithgow Palace

Stirling & Kids Club

As we enter into our third week here in Scotland, I have to admit this is the longest I have ever been away from home! As the homesickness begins to dampen my time here, I am swept away by the loving kindness of the congregation! The amazing history and sight seeing helps a bit too!

This week Helen and Jimmy Fisher took us out on our first “field trip” to Stirling Castle! What an amazing thing to see, and to understanding what happened there years and years ago make it all the more fascinating as we see history come alive! The running joke of the trip so far has been “that’s older than the United States!” and we have seen that so presently! Right down the hill from the Castle is a church called “Church of the Holy Rude” which was established in 1129 and has pews older than America! In this beautiful, still functioning church, was a mark on the ground where the infant son of Mary Queen of Scots was crowned King James VI. Such incredible history and we were standing in it!

Girls in Great Hall

As breathtaking as the historical tours have been, another aspect of our time here in Airdrie that has been very enjoyable for me is helping out with Kids Club. In light of Beth’s trip to the States, the four of us American students and three or four church members have been left in charge of 10 or so children under the age of 11. This week’s lesson was about the first commandment “You shall have no other gods before Me” Exodus 20:3. The children participated in Commandment Bowling and craft time that included making bracelets that read “Put God First”.

It is such an amazing opportunity to see God work in the lives of these children and see their excitement to hear His Word! I am truly blessed to be here and worship with the people of this congregation and have a small part in the amazing things they are doing for the Lord and for the Community of Airdrie.

Jessica McCarrier

Weekend in Northern Ireland

YAWAs you may already know, we just returned from an amazing experience at a Young Adult’s Weekend in Northern Ireland. It was such a fun and encouraging time for all of us. I was really blessed through meeting many other young adults who love God and strive to serve Him in all they do. The messages were very thought provoking and convicting for me as Mark Loughridge spoke on drinking from the fountain of Grace given us in the preaching of God’s Word, Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and the
Benediction. The young people there were very welcoming towards us, and I was  encouraged by their kindness towards us.

All these aspects really ministered to me, but I was especially struck by the beauty of the landscapes and scenery that surrounded us.  The retreat was held in a small town called Annalong, at the foot of the Mourne Mountains and adjacent to the sea. When driving to the manor where the retreat was held, the views were spectacular with the mist concealing the mountain tops on one side and the sea extending until it touches the sky on the other.

Saturday afternoon, we walked up into the Mourne Mountains through pastures of sheep. As I viewed the surrounding hills purple with heather and dotted with sheep, I was reminded of Psalm 50:10-11 which says, “For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills, I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine.” I was struck by the majesty of God displayed in His
creation and His care for all living things.

During our Psalm sing, I was again filled with wonder at God’s creation. We were sitting surrounded by trees with birds and fields of cows and sheep. As we sang, all creation lifted up their voices and praised God.

“Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!
Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds!
Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted;
his majesty is above earth and heaven.”
Psalm 148: 9-10, 13

Juliana Miller

Mourne mountains


Arrival2Upon first arriving in Scotland, our group immediately faced difficulties in the form of detainment. While the border police officers were sorting things out with Beth and Pastor Quigley, the four of us were handed sheets of paper informing us that we were being detained for such and such a reason according to articles of a law that I was not familiar with.  It was very easy for me to imagine the worst: what if I got sent home? what if I had to figure out on the spot how to get back home? what if I had to go back to Geneva and register for classes? would I ever get to participate in the Semester in Scotland program?

But then, I stopped.  I had to practice trust and faith. Trust that Beth and Pastor Quigley knew the law well enough to explain to the officers that it was legal for us to be there and study.  Trust that even if I had to be sent home, I would be able to navigate airports and get home safely.  Most importantly, I had to trust that God would work “for the good of those who love him” (Rom 8:28 NIV).  So I silently prayed for protection and provision, and quieted my anxieties.

Thankfully everything was worked out and after 45 minutes we were allowed to pick up our bags and exit the airport. (Editor’s note – the situation to which Bethany refers to here arose because the particular immigration officer who detained the girls was unfamiliar with Geneva College and their Semester in Scotland programme and how that fit into the laws governing short term students.  When it was pointed out to them the category that the programme fell under in UK immigration law, they readily admitted that everything was in good order, and the girls were immediately allowed in with assurances that this situation would not arise again.)  

We girls were exhausted after being awake so long and could hardly wait to eat and sleep. Unfortunately for us we had arrived in the morning, so we had all day to wait for our long rest. We pulled through and settled in our flats.

This past weekend has been a whirlwind of getting various things we need to be prepared for the rest of our time in Airdrie.  We needed groceries, toiletries, train passes, and various other things that would make our stay in Scotland more comfortable (and practical).  But one thing that I truly missed was the comfort of family and friends back home.  There have been various times in my life where I have felt isolated, and in each of those times God has granted me grace in the form of prayer and His people.  Sunday was definitely a time of grace that God gave me to feel refreshed.  I was reminded that my heavenly Father is easily accessible in prayer and meditation upon His Word.  Not only that, but God’s people wherever they may be found are truly a blessing.  God’s people in Airdrie are proof of that, and I have made several acquaintances that have encouraged me.

This time in Scotland is going to be difficult for me because of my love for home and the people that are there.  But God is good, and He has already allowed me to see the ways in which I can be at home wherever His people are gathered in His name.  For my true citizenship is in heaven, and I can always experience a sense of “home” with God’s people here on earth no matter where I am placed.

Bethany Cerbus

Meet Juliana Miller

JulianaI live in Beaver, Pennsylvania which is near Pittsburgh. I spent most of my life in Quebec, Canada since my Dad was a pastor there for 13 years or so. We moved back to the States two years ago. I am going into my senior year at Geneva and am studying biology. I am not sure what I want to do after I am done at Geneva, but I am thinking about doing nursing. I attend College Hill RP church and have been helping out with Sunday school there with the 3-4 year olds and other activities including Vacation Bible School, and childcare during events. I love to babysit since I love young children and babies. I am really looking forward to coming to Scotland!

Meet Castine Allmond

castineI am currently a member at the Elkins Park RP church in Pennsylvania under pastor John Edgar.  I grew up only 10 minutes from there in a town called Glenside.  While out at college I attend the Eastvale church, where Micah Ramsey is the pastor.  Starting this fall, this year will be my junior year with the major of Missions aviation, with a business minor.  I’m very excited to be continuing my education in Scotland, and I’m praying God will use this experience for His glory in my life.

Meet Bethany Cerbus

BethanyI am originally from central Indiana where my home congregation is Southside RPC in Indianapolis.  I am currently a junior English Literature major at Geneva, where I attend the Tusca Area RP church.  After college I hope to continue my studies and obtain my Master’s degree so that I might be a professor or pursue being an editor.  Scotland is such a wonderful opportunity for me to study more in-depth about God’s kingdom as well as getting to experience the places where all of my favorite literature takes place!

Autumn Semester Fast Approaching

There are four students coming on the Semester in Scotland programme this autumn: Bethany Cerbus, Juliana Miller, Castine Allmond, and Jessica McCarrier.  The girls arrive the 27th August to begin their studies on the 31st August.  The semester runs until the 11th December.

Daily Schedule
– 9.15 am – worship
– assigned reading
– seminars led by Teachers
Wednesday Afternoons
– cultural trips

Rev. Andrew Quigley will teach –  Life and Work of Paul & Church Ministry
Dr. Tim Donachie will teach – Humanities in England and Scotland
Rev. Kenneth Stewart will teach – Systematic Theology
Mr. Stephen McCollum will teach – Evangelism
Mr. Jimmy Fisher will teach –  Scottish Christian History: 1st and 2nd Scottish Reformations
Miss Beth Bogue will teach – Women’s Ministry to Women

You can read more about the programme here:


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