Having begun life as a church plant (part of the New Charge Development programme) in a converted garage 20 years ago, Dunfermline East Church is now a thriving congregation.  The parish consists of a large housing development of around 14000 people and is predominantly home to young adults and families; in 2018, over 1000 of those in our parish were aged 0-4 years.  A core focus in the story of the congregation has therefore been mission amongst children and families.

What we have engaged in hasn’t been particularly innovative or new, it’s simply been about building community over time, recognising that as a new housing development area, many people are arriving new into the city and are seeking connections.  Built in 2012, our purpose-built church building with its halls, café area and soft play, sits in the centre of the parish and has become a hub for many community groups alongside the congregation.

The parish has seen rapid growth over the years as more and more new house have been built.  This has no doubt helped the steady growth of the congregation with people transferring from other congregations as they have moved into the area.  We have also seen organic growth with people coming to faith, for example through Alpha courses, or watching services online until they felt comfortable to join us in person.  There are now around 170 people attending worship with around 75 children and young people engaged in our Sunday morning activities.  We are so grateful for how God has blessed us in terms of numbers, but it has provided the constant challenge of not having enough space in the building for everyone.

Not long after we moved into the building we found there wasn’t space for all of the children’s groups on a Sunday morning meaning one group had to walk to the local school to meet.  We therefore set about building an annex which was opened at the start of the pandemic lockdown in March 2020.  Since then, we have continued to grow and found that the building is again too small, so our teenage group now has to meet elsewhere, and our café area has to be used as an extension of the sanctuary.  We’ve had standing room only on some occasions for Sunday worship – an amazing problem to have!

Over the years we have tried to focus more on people than on programmes, welcoming people and responding to their expressed needs – our ministry with children and young people with additional needs and their families has been birthed from requests from parents in the community looking for somewhere safe and supportive to go.  Of course, as you welcome more people into the life of the congregation it constantly changes things which brings particular challenges to those who have been around for longer who perhaps want things to stay as they are.  So too, with larger numbers it is easier for people to be spectators in a crowd rather than participants in a family, so our home groups have become vitally important, offering deeper connections with a small group of people and a place to openly explore faith.

As we celebrate an amazing story of God working in Dunfermline East over the last 20 years, we look to the future mindful that we can’t rest on our laurels, but need to continually discern where God is calling us, reaching out to more people in the community with the love of Jesus.

What has been your biggest learning?

It’s all about relationships – our relationship with God, with each other and with the community.

Tell us about your biggest mistake or failure

Perhaps getting too comfortable with how successful things look on the outside.

What resource has been most useful to you?

Our people.  Our prayer WhatsApp group.

What has been the most helpful advice anyone has given you?

The reminder to not fear for God is with us always.

Please tell us your most memorable experience as a missional community.

There are so many!  Some of our young people being baptised by full immersion and sharing their faith stories with the congregation.  Seeing families with children with additional needs feel comfortable in the building and with the community.  Enabling children to participate in prayer and hearing their stories of answered prayers.  Being able to worship together in person again once all the pandemic restrictions were lifted.

By Suzi Farrant