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Can anything good come from this pandemic?


St. Columba Parish Church

I find hope in how people in the world work for good and healing in the midst of the crisis. There is an example in history where great good came after a plague more than four hundred years ago.

After I received my Masters in Divinity from Union Theological Seminary NYC in 1955 and was Ordained, I went to Scotland for two years where I became assistant minister in a very historic church built In 1592 in the town of Burntisland. (See attached photo of St. Columba Parish Church in Burntisland.)

In 1601 King James VI of Scotland called together a General Assembly of The Church of Scotland. A national assembly of the church would normally be in the capital city of Edinburgh, but there was a plague in the southern section of Scotland where Edinburgh was, so the church leaders decided to hold it in Burntisland across the wide firth of forth, or bay. This wide body of water could be a protective shield against the plague ravaging the southern part of Scotland.


There is a plaque on a pillar in Burntisland church sanctuary that reads:

AD 1601, KING JAMES VI OF SCOTLAND CALLED THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE KIRK OF SCOTLAND TO MEET WITHIN THESE WALLS WHEN THE PROPOSAL FOR A NEW TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE, LATER TO BE KNOWN AS THE AUTHORIZED VERSION, WAS PUT BEFORE HIM.


King James the VI of Scotland became James I of England in 1603 when Queen Elizabeth died. A major act of James was the ordering of a new translation of the English Bible, popularly called the King James Version (KJV), published in 1611. Did you get that? It was in the parish church of Burntisland, Scotland, which met there because of a plague in Edinburgh. I can hardly believe that I served as assistant minister “within these walls”, where one of the most revolutionary acts in the world was discussed and acted upon with the publication of the KJV version of the Bible.


Back to my first question: “Can anything good come from this pandemic?” Great movements were raised up because ordinary people could read the Bible in their English Language. African slaves, used the stories of the Bible in their struggle for freedom. Abraham Lincoln said when given a Bible in 1864 by former slaves, ”All the good the Savior gave to the world was communicated in this book.” Martin Luther Kings’ voice soared from above because of his baptism in the words of the English Bible.


Yes, great good can come after this pandemic. Today’s sacrifices can inspire nations to protect our earth, create health care for all, stand with the poor and more.

Respond to: burntisland195557@gmail.com

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