2018 Feb 20th

Trustees reports are now both written. Each year each parish church has to submit accounts to OSCR in a particular format and part of that is a report from the Trustees. I wrote the second one today and that's them done!

Another regular admin job is collating the times of worship for the following month and getting the information to the local magazine, De The Dol. This involves forward planning, not one of my strong points. The task, however, is complete and the information is in ready for publication. For updates please check this page.

2018 Feb 16th

Off to Fort William (80 mile round trip) to visit one of the local care homes, for a working lunch, dropped of donations to the foodbank, a meeting with those who led the conference last Saturday (a review session and how to take forward the issues raised), a little shopping for food and messy Church materials) and then home using the ferry crossing.

The facts about care homes options locally.

The care home that used to be at Strontian has been closed so there is no 'local' alternative to Fort William.

From Kilchoan, at the west of the parish, to Fort William is 65 miles each way; an absolute minimum of two hours by car. if using public transport there is one bus per day, leaving before 8 in the morning, getting into FW just before 10.30am and returning from FW before 2pm and getting to Kilchoan at 4.45pm. If you are visiting the town centre home it's about a 10 minute walk from the bus station but if it's the other home it's another bus to get you there.

Not easy if you don't drive. I leave you draw your own conclusions about the provision of residential care and support of associated families of those in remote areas.

2018 Feb 15th

The neighbouring minister and myself had a meeting in the morning. We try to work together on various projects locally and within Presbytery (the Lochaber area) and that way pool resources. It works well. Then, in the afternoon I was out visiting.

2018 Feb 14th

Lots of snow on the ground, the roads were slushy and there was a storm passing over.

The weather has to be a consideration in anything anyone does here on the peninsula. Looking out at weather and road conditions I decided to cancel my visit to the Kilchoan Primary School. As with Acharacle, I go into school to assist in the classroom or generally help out and since there was no specific project I was to be involved in, no crucial role to play, I phoned in and called off the trip. It's not a decision taken lightly and I look forward to being in school in the next couple of weeks.

Back to the desk. Minutes of a recent meeting written and sent out, two weddings planned, Messy Church planning started and publicity done. Other bits and pieces too but those were the major achievements.

2018 Feb 13th

Twice a month (have I mentioned this before?) the people of Acharacle church open up the chalet next to the church building and offer teas and coffees to all-comers, cakes and biscuits too! It's a lovely way to catch up with each other in a very relaxed setting.

It's also good to be able, once again, to offer a place for the lonely if they want it, for those who just want company for whatever reason, and for those with gifts and talents in the baking department to share these in the most delicious way.

I didn't have lunch after that ...

In the afternoon I went into the primary school to continue helping at the skills sessions by teaching knitting to a little group of children. It's been fascinating to see the different techniques involved - some are more inventive than others but each child has produced a piece of knitting.

There was a lot of snow overnight so few people were venturing far. Great for stopping and chatting.

2018 Feb 12th

Took the day off, mostly.

Sometimes it's hard to get hubby and myself in the same place at the same time for long enough to catch up on household and personal admin. We did it! Diaries cross referenced so we know where each of us is and when (on the whole), the finances reconciled for another month and various other bits and pieces including a lesson for me on which of the five different remote controls to use to watch a DVD.

In the afternoon I had a l-o-n-g walk with one of the dogs. The wind blasted into us and we returned feeling refreshed (that's one word for how we felt!).

In the evening it was back on duty to attend one of the tow local community councils. Always good to keep up with what's happening. Each day is a learning day - I learn that submarines exercise around this coast line (it's not giving away secret info as it's marked on the maps.)!

2018 Feb 11th

I lead two services of worship. Each Sunday there is worship at each Parish Church. One service is usually at 11am and the other at 2pm.

At the conference on Saturday we discussed the context of how ministry is available across the whole of Scotland, no matter the size of worshipping congregation of a Sunday nor the distance between the church buildings.

Yesterday, there were 7 at each service (usually it's about 12 at each but rises during the holiday season). Nationally, there have been questions asked about what is the minimum number that makes a viable congregations.

In more populous areas, what isn't often appreciated is the logistics - these two church buildings are 22 miles apart and it takes about an hour each way on single track road out of holiday season. In one parish 12 people worshipping is about 90% of membership and in the other it's a bit lower (maths isn't my strong point) but still an amazingly high percentage. Many, many rural and remote churches have similarly high membership attendance percentages. Thank you to my neighbouring colleague for reminding of this at the conference.

End of rant.

2018 Feb 10th

Presbytery Day Conference on Saturday.

The Presbytery of Lochaber is well aware that there are challenges ahead for the Church of Scotland. A goodly proportion of ministers are due to retire in the next few years and there will be a shortage of new ministers to take over. Add to that various challenges such as fewer people attending worship means less money to fund ministry and pay the bills as well as fewer and fewer people to take on the responsibility of being office bearers. Doom, doom, gloom!

Yesterday, Presbytery held a day conference laying bare these facts to the members and congregations who came along. There is no doubt it's a challenge - but, and It's an important but, even if the institution will change, God's message that all are important, that God's love is for all, that Jesus showed this to all and that the Spirit enables all to receive God's love - this continues to be an unchanging message! Alleluia amen.

Worship is at the heart of all that we do. Everything else comes after that, who leads and where worship happens, on which day of the week, all these were deemed to be less important than worship. That was one major point that became apparent during the day. Faith and worship will continue.

At the close of the day, we returned home aware of the huge challenges ahead but, most importantly, heartened by this knowledge and to know that the opinion of everyone is important.

We pray that Church of Scotland has a future; that people of faith will continue to show and tell of God's love for all.

A good day!

2018 Feb 9th

Yesterday was again a ‘bitty’ day with visits and preparing for today and tomorrow.

One thing that is important to me is walking my dogs ????. It’s during that time the best ideas come - and many pastoral encounters.

First, being away from the manse means away from the phone and away from the different projects waiting on the desk. The head clears, creation and creativity find their way in. These, I believe, are from and because of God. Often it’s then the inspiration comes for Sunday worship, or the right words and actions for situations. Thanks be to God for the mutts!

Second, pastoral encounters. Around here most people know each other by sight if not by name. Mostly people know who I, and often stop me and pass the time of day or for a chat. A short walk can take a long time!

That was yesterday - a day conference in Fort William today. How will congregations and leaders respond to the challenges of being the Church of Scotland in the future? ????

2018 Feb 8th

I don't quite know where the day went - two meeting and preparation for Presbytery fitted round many other little jobs ... and then the day was gone! One topic often on my mind is the building at Kilchoan.

The Ardnamurchan church building at Kilchoan is in desperate need of restoration. There is now a Project Manager and also a Working Group looking at how to actually do this. While there is a goodly sum of donations (well done to the fundraisers!) in the Fabric Fund it simply won't cover the cost of making the exterior alone wind- and water- proof. Bidding for funding is extremely competitive and there has to be a strong case for any funding body to put money into any project. The project has to be with a view to the building being an integral and sustainable part of the community for many years to come. I've recently been told about a scheme for on-line donations and will look into that.

If you would like more information about this project please send me a message.