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.

2018 Feb 7th

Today I'll be story telling at nursery.

For the rest of the day there is nothing in the diary so that allows desk time. Worship prep for Presbytery on Saturday, and to start putting together worship for Sunday.

I'm on the Education Working Group on Presbytery and we are looking at the training that is given to Congregational Worship Leaders. Training of CWLs is very much left up to ministers with the result that what is expected varies widely. The Education WG is tasked with finding a framework of basic training that could be used across Presbytery.

The other thing I must do today is have a look at the Trustees Reports for the accounts of each congregation. A copy of the accounts is lodged with OSCAR and must have a report; the report needs updated each year - always an opportunity to review the aims and objectives of the congregations and to see how these have been met.

That's all.

2018 Feb 6th

Today I knitted an owl. I took it to the local primary school where I'm teaching knitting. Tuesday afternoons have an hour of various skills, knitting is one.

And, so far today, I've taken half centimetre off the layer of paperwork on the desk.

2018 February 5th

Acharacle Parish Church offer lunch once a month to all who might like to enjoy sumptuous soups, brilliant bacon rolls and crackingly good cakes! All for a donation - what could be better? I went along to help and to chat to people - and I might have had soup and a bacon roll too and, er, some trifle, and chocolate tiffin. (Not had much dinner, can't think why.)

A couple of visits and desk time for the rest of the day.

2018 February 4th

Worship at Ardnamurchan Parish Church then at Acharacle. the first service each Sunday is usually at 11am and the second at 2pm. Each week the times alternate so that next week Acharacle will be at 11am and Ardnamurchan at 2pm. Thankfully, so far, I've not turned up at the wrong church at the wrong time!

The manse is in Acharacle and it takes an hour to drive between the two church buildings - so I get to have a reflective time going over what went well and how to tweek the service for the other congregation.
After the second service there was a pastoral visit. Great to sit down and chat.
Quiet evening ahead.

2018 February 3rd.

The induction of Rev Anthony Jones to Fort Augustus and Glengarry went well. As Moderator I led the service, first time, eek! Four hours and 146 miles of travel.
Now, it's on with finalising worship preparation for tomorrow.

2018 February 2nd

The newsletters have been posted, tomorrow's induction service finalised, I took a funeral, travelled for two hours and now it's time to start on Sunday's order of service. And, because it's Friday,I have a glass of wine.