The last weekend in November 2016 will go down as a highlight in the history of EMMS International. It was a time to look back with gratitude on 175 years of bringing health and hope to people living in the poorest and most remote parts of the world. It was a time to re-dedicate ourselves to be their voice and to work hard to empower their communities.
Our anniversary weekend kicked off in style with the Big Birthday Ball at the Roxburghe Hotel. A lone piper on Charlotte Square heralded the arrival of guests drawn from a wide cross section of EMMS friends and supporters all gathering to honour the vision of EMMS founding fathers, celebrate the present work and imagine a better future for those we work with in Nepal, India and Malawi.
It was a lively party as friendships were renewed, connections were made and a caricaturist poked gentle fun at the glamourous crowd. A talented duo of pianist and violinist played at the drinks reception, allowing people to chat with friends or browse the Silent Auction and “Buy a Bike, Save a Baby” tables. Over dinner we heard from the CEO James Wells;
“Right from the beginning, we have been responding to the changing health needs of the world. We have trained healthcare workers, encouraged support from within the Church, shared information and learning from our work and developed health services that meet the holistic needs of individuals and communities, all based on the core principles of our Christian faith.”
Birthday toasts followed given by Ian Campbell, former Chair of EMMS International and Kirsten Weir a former Student Elective. Bill Wishart volunteered his services as MC, Minister of magic (intriguing guests with card tricks) and Auctioneer. The Live and Loud Auction finished on a heart stirring high as many gave large sums of money to buy beds for patients and others contributed to funding the building of a maternity unit in Nepal.
Videos gave voice to our overseas healthcare partners and no one could forget the warmth of Mphatso from Malawi,
"How I wish I was right there to give all of you a very big hug and to say a very big “Thank you” for all the support that you have given us.”
To round off a brilliant night, the Brogues ceilidh band struck up and soon had people on their feet, partying in true birthday style.
Sincere thanks to everyone who contributed generously of their creativity, their time, prizes and their money which all helped to raise over £30,000.
The setting for the 175th Anniversary service was no accident. The choice of Greyfriars Kirk for our 150th Anniversary service in 1991 was held to be appropriate “for this is now the University Church, and the scene of significant events in the history of Scotland. The Society has been closely associated with the University in its training of medical missionaries, and has made one of the most significant contributions of the Scottish nation to the cause of Christian missions” (The Healing Hand. Autumn 1991/Spring 1992.
The sense of history and occasion was palpable on Sunday 27th November 2016 as people arrived at Greyfriars Kirk this time to give thanks for 175 years of God’s faithful provision and guidance. It was a joyful service led by the Rev Dr Richard Frazer, minister of Greyfriars Kirk. James Wells, CEO of EMMS International set the scene in his talk “Past, present, future” and video followed by prayers from the Director of the Nazareth Trust, Randa Elias and other well-known friends. Robin Arnott, former CEO of EMMS and Elaine Motion, Chair of EMMS International read the bible readings, passages from Joshua 4 and Philippians 3. Prayers for the present and future work were led by three staff members, James Petticrew, Cat Rawlinson-Watkins and Tony Gaston.
It was a privilege to welcome Jonathan Lamb, Minister at large from Keswick Ministries as our preacher for this special day. His talk inspired us, as we contemplated images of cairns, to take heart from the past remembering all that God has already done and to trust him as we move forward seeking to honour him through our work. It was a fitting reminder to acknowledge the needs of those we serve, as we not only provide vital medical care but also hold out the hope and compassion of Christ.
The Grassmarket Choir drew the service to a wonderful close as their African melodies and counter chants soared through the building, leaving us all with thankful hearts.
Tea and coffee served at the back of the church provided a welcome opportunity to catch up with many well-known friends of both EMMS International, the Emmanuel Hospital Association, International Nepal Fellowship and the Nazareth Trust.
Watch our faith video from the Service.