With our special thanks to Callum McNicol and Davy Hannah for their time and effort in creating this film for us.
A message from the Manse – An Update on our Future
It was the building I was dragged along to as a young boy for Sunday School; the building I made good solid friends in and where I attended the Youth Fellowship; the building I enjoyed going along to for the week-long Easter and Christmas Holiday Club; the building I played badminton in and where I enjoyed jumping around learning Country Dancing. The adjacent sanctuary was where I developed a keen interest in Christianity; where I first proclaimed my faith in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ; where I joined the Church of Scotland at the age of 16; where I first discovered my passion for singing and joined the choir; the very sanctuary where, through the preaching and teaching of my parish minister, I felt the strong and unmistakable calling of God to full-time Ministry of Word and Sacrament. Within that building sits the pulpit from which I preached my first sermon; goodness, it was even the building where I worked as Church Officer for a couple of years to help fund my studies. That building mattered so much to me and I would have given my right arm if I thought I could have saved it from the inevitable. Sadly, the building closed some years ago and is now used as the Scottish Centre for Personal Safety.
You may well be asking why I am sharing this with you. Let me be clear, it is not so that I can rub the proverbial salt into any potential wound. This is about explaining to you that I understand how uncertain this time is for you as you grapple to come to terms with the decisions made at the General Assembly in May. There is no question that some of our beloved Kirk buildings will need to go; we have far too many of them and we can ill afford to maintain them. This of course means that there is the very real prospect, as previously explained, that Rhu & Shandon church building could be deemed to be surplus to requirements. It is a ghastly prospect; so many of you have precious memories of growing up in the building; of attending Sunday School or Bible Class; of committing yourself to Christ; of marrying the love of your life; baptising your children before God, family and friends; of watching your own children grow up and come through Sunday School and Bible Class. You’ve faithfully supported the Guild, the Women’s Group and the various organisations and charitable events across the years. This is not an easy time but believe me please, I understand.
I know that many of you have attended the drop-in sessions organised by our Session Clerk, Andrew Nisbet, and have actively engaged in the discussion presenting your own concerns, queries and views concerning the way forward. All of this was fed back to the Kirk Session when it met on Tuesday 3 August and a substantial part of that meeting centred around consideration of what you have been saying. What became clear is that there exists a very real concern that the distinctive rural identity of Rhu & Shandon would be lost in a Union with Helensburgh Parish Church. That of course is assuming they would be willing to enter into another Union – the reality is that it would be your job to convince them of that. My overarching aim in this inevitable process is to reach some sort of settlement that suits the majority of people at Rhu & Shandon. So what can we do that would suit most people? That is the million pound question! That said, we have decided to widen the net and reach out to neighbouring congregations to see if they would be willing to enter into informal talks, without prejudice or commitment, to see if we can achieve what the Church of Scotland is setting out to do in the Mission Plan Act 2021, whilst at the same time keeping the majority of our membership together. I fully support and endorse this move and have indicated to the Kirk Session that, were any such talks successful and a Union with another congregation agreed, I would be willing to demit my office as Parish Minister to enable those changes to take place.
Change is never easy in whatever form it comes. But change is inevitable because life does not stand still, and we have to keep adjusting and adapting and being open to the fresh winds of the Spirit. Never more so than in these present, troublesome days. It will not be easy for any of you, I know that and I feel for each and every one of you. As conversations continue to take place behind the scenes, please be assured of my fervent prayers in the weeks and months ahead. Whatever progress there is we commit to keeping you informed.
With every blessing,
Recently we bade farewell to our much loved associate minister Tina…
Tina we wish you a very happy retirement – thank you for all the time you have spent with us – we will miss you a lot….
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