Or, so it may seem… It’s been more than 12 months since I last updated things. In a day and age where we have become accustomed to digesting information in 140 character tweets or “bestnine” instagram snaps, I have found it easier to also communicate on those terms. Stories, however, remain important so here’s a quick round-up of our adventures over the past year.
2016 saw us continue to deepen and strengthen a number of key partnerships. It has been a personal joy and delight for me to see the Scottish Surfing Federation invite us to assist with a number of their events. At the start of April a crew braved the strong winds and cold weather to offer hot drinks and sustenance to the judges and competitors at the Scottish National Championship up in Thurso. The event became mobile due to the changing wind direction and swell patterns with tough competition played out in challenging conditions. The end of April also saw us do something similar in much warmer conditions and rolling waves at the Scottish Lowland Longboard Contest which ran over two days at Belhaven Bay by Dunbar. There was a really great atmosphere and our very own Simon and Michael both entered with Michael taking second place overall and losing out only to the current reigning Scottish Longboard Champion – our good friend, Sam Christopherson. Not bad for Mike’s first Scottish comp!
April was also a bit of a personal pilgrimage for me as I had been involved with a degree of email discussion across the Atlantic with another not for profit organisation whom I am proud to be a cheer-section for. That started with a story called To Write Love On Her Arms written on a myspace page back in 2006 and ended up with my family attending their 10th anniversary celebrations in Florida. My own reflections were published on the Rooted website which you can read here.
I had also contributed an article for the TWLOHA blog in 2015 which was published in May 2016. You can read that here.
June saw a few of us head off to the North Shore of Scotland for a great stag weekend/surfari. It was so good to be away from the demands of every day life and to enjoy eachother’s company, to talk about the things that really matter and to soak up the beauty that Scotland has to offer. There’s talk about that becoming an annual CS trip for those who may be interested.
The Christian Surfers UK (CSUK) annual Gathering takes place in Cornwall each June. Whilst a much smaller Scottish contingent were able to attend this year, we were humbled and stoked to be awarded the trophy for CS regional group of the year for the second time in three years! It’s a real testimony to the individuals within this group and how much they love surfing and how much they love the surfers they come in contact with.
July has become synonymous with SUrf Camp. 2016 was our third and much biggest one yet after becoming over-subscribed a few months before the event. Once again, it was a brilliant partnership between Scripture Union, CSUK and our friends at Coast 2 Coast surf school. The teenagers seemed to have an absolute blast with a wide range of activities complementing their daily surf quotas all packaged up with a chilled-out vibe and plenty of time to explore the topics we addressed throughout the week.
The following week witnessed many of us crossing the Irish Sea to celebrate two of our crew tie the knot. It was such a perfect day!
July also saw friends who we had met through CSUK three years ago relocate from Cornwall to Dunbar. Over the years, social media had given us a window into one another’s’ lives and a friendship had blossomed. When they told us in 2015 that they had been feeling more than a nudge to move to Scotland to start a fresh expression of church, we were really intrigued. It has been quite a thrill to watch how that story has begun to unfold – the highs, the lows, the in-betweens. A year ago, I don’t think any of us could have imagined the stories of others who have relocated to Dunbar and of how much benefit we have found in establishing some weekly rhythms of meeting together. It has been a beautiful collision point of stories, questions, friendship, faith and doubt. We have dared to call it more than community but to seek to reclaim the notion of this being church. In October we officially launched things and you can follow the story or join us any time. All the information can be found by searching for Discovery Church Dunbar on Facebook.
October saw some of the CSUK crew wing their way back up to Thurso from Cornwall. Once again hot drinks and food were served to the judges and competitors at the UK Pro Tour event and we also had the benefit of a few days of hanging out.
A few of us have also stepped up into new roles. Michael has become increasingly involved in the Scottish Surfing Federation assisting with their finances. I’ve stepped up to become a regional rep for Surfers Against Sewage with whom I have been heavily involved for the past 12 or so years.
So as another year starts, it’s good to look back before paddling back out again – away from the safety of harbour and into the great depths of God. We don’t know what all it will hold, but, with booking open for SUrf Camp 2017, the dates confirmed for both the Scottish National Champs and the Scottish Lowland Longboard comp and Davina the camper-van shortly to make a welcome return from the coachworks after having corrosion treated and a fresh paint-job, there is much to put a smile on our faces and a sparkle in our eyes.
February also sees my own little family officially commissioned out from Central, the home church that we had belonged to for over 20 years and whom have been so instrumental in the Soul Surfers story. With that in mind, we have decided to dispense with the Soul Surfers moniker and recognise that this has grown to encompass a much wider range of individuals scattered from the Scottish Borders to the Shetland Isles. We have, therefore, dropped the name in favour of simply recognising that this has become Christian Surfers Scotland – part of the wider CSUK and CS International movements.
As 2016 reached its end I found myself re-reading Tom Anderson’s wonderful “Grey Skies, Green Waves”. I hope the words he wrote several years ago about some of my friends ring true for many within the Scottish surf scene and beyond.
Thanks for reading along. We’ll keep updating the blog periodically. In the meantime you can follow our feeds under @soulsurfers over on Twitter or via the Christian Surfers Scotland facebook group.