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Hello here’s this months magazine, the online edition, hope you enjoy reading it.
Issue 271 July 2020
Scottish Charity SC006842
Unfortunately, All Worship Services, all Church Organisations and Non-Church Organisations, all Church meetings including Kirk Session and Core Groups are still cancelled/postponed until further notice. We will keep you informed as and when updates are available.
Here we are – still in the midst of perplexing and challenging times although the lockdown is easing slightly. The UK Government has eased the lockdown in England for the majority of the country although as I write this I hear that Leicester has been put back into lockdown. The virus is still out there – spreading across young and old alike – no-one is immune.
We need to be vigilant to the guidelines issued by the Scottish Government which is taking a cautious approach to easing lockdown in Scotland – baby steps for a return to normality are the order of the day. The Church of Scotland, similarly, is adhering to the Scottish Government’s guidance on the opening of church buildings. Churches have been issued with a voluminous guidance document and risk assessment which has to be followed and approved by Presbytery before the Church can re-open. What we REALLY want is back to Church with a relatively “normal” experience of Church and that isn’t going to happen for some time yet. I would ask for your prayers for those in our congregation who are working towards addressing the criteria of the guidance and risk assessment. There is a lot to be done and I am not willing to rush these preparations. My first and foremost concern is for the welfare of our members and church attendees. I need to be sure that we have done everything possible to mitigate the spread of the virus when we do return to Arbroath West Kirk. I will keep you posted on progress and what is being done to facilitate a safe return for everyone.
Last weekend I listened to the Moderator of the General Assembly, Martin Fair, speak of the gifts of the Holy Spirit – we all have different gifts and God provides us with different skills for us to use in different situations. We are not all the same – thank goodness! Many different people make up our Church and we can use all their talents and gifts as a combined people of God. Some of us are very good at praying, others at preaching. Some of us would never entertain the idea of standing in front of the congregation and reading the lesson or getting alongside someone who was grieving and in need of company, finding the right words to say. God gives us the skills to do the job he has in mind for us – He would never set us out on a journey without equipping us for the way ahead. We need to learn to trust that God knows what is best for us and will give us the wherewithal to do His will.
Last month, I spoke about prayer being at the heart of the life of the Church – it is still so important that you continue to pray for your fellow worshippers, especially those who are struggling with health, bereavement, isolation and perhaps lacking in confidence. Please use the talents and skills God has given you whether it is to encourage others, share the love of God, make someone a cuppa or to be a listening ear in times of uncertainty. Of course, you must adhere to the social distancing guidance and stay safe. God hears our prayers and will answer them.
May God bless each one of you
Update from the Clerk
A lot of work goes into Safeguarding which is largely unseen so it is good to say thank you to Linda Nicoll, Angus Presbytery’s Safeguarding Trainer and Presbytery Contact, who has decided to retire after 22 years of service. We especially thank her for the professional way she informed and trained so many church workers and we wish her well in the future.
The Kirk Session are looking to recruit assistants for the posts of Treasurer and Session Clerk. You can find out more about these roles from the Treasurer and the Clerk by emailing West Kirk’s office.
The protocols for opening up church buildings must make sure the building is Covid19 Secure. Churches are required to prove this and get Presbytery approval. In the present phase there is no plan at the moment to open West Kirk for private prayer.
Bill Clark, Session Clerk.
History of Our Congregation (6)
I know some of our members will be interested in Erskine Church (see above) so here is a brief history of another congregation in West Kirk’s ‘family tree’.
In 1813 a small number of people, who were of the Burgher persuasion of seceders, wanted to form a congregation which led to the Presbytery of Aberdeen appointing the Rev. King of Montrose to preach to the gathering in Croall’s Room in John Street, on a Sunday of his choice. Thereafter, preaching was conducted irregularly and so on 14th April 1814 a number of ‘heads of families’ requested a minister to preach on a regular basis. Then on 27th June 1814, 23 people petitioned to be formed into a congregation and on the 7th July the Rev. Blackadder of Brechin met the applicants and received them into communion and proceeded to the election of Elders. In August 1814, three Elders were ordained, and on the following Sunday, Holy Communion was celebrated by the congregation.
Having moved from John Street to the Trades Hall in the High Street they longed to have their own church, so in 1821 they built a meeting-house in Fore Abbey Street. This building was initially in a poor state without flooring and with an end window missing. However, under the ministry of the Rev. Alexander Sorley the congregation grew and prospered. It was said that Sorley began his ministry at a favourable time when the population of the Burgh increased by about one-third between 1831 and 1841. With this prosperity the congregation were able to build Erskine Church in Horner’s Wynd (now Commerce Street) with some 800 sittings. The architect, James Maclaren of Dundee, designed the building with a gothic frontage of ashlar masonry. The church was opened on Sunday 6th July 1851, by the Rev. Dr King of Glasgow, son of the minister who preached the first sermon to the congregation back in 1813.
In the Arbroath Guide of 17th February 1894, the sketch opposite was used to illustrate an article titled “Inauguration of Organ at Erskine Church”. At this event the then minister, the Rev. Dr Angus, made recognition of the various donators, namely, Mrs. Mackenzie of New York who had gifted the organ, Mr. Charles Corsar, Seaforth, who had made a ‘handsome contribution’ to costs, Mr. David Corsar junior, and Mr. William Corsar, Cairniehill (sons of Charles Corsar) who had gifted a hydraulic engine for the organ, and finally, Mr. William Grant who had decorated the apse at his own expense. All these benefactors should be remembered, but by way of illustration the contribution to the religious life of the Burgh made by David Corsar of the Elms is, by any measure, outstanding.
David Corsar was the senior partner in the firm of Messrs Corsar Brothers, flax spinners and manufacturers. As well as running this extensive textile business, being involved in local government and numerous good causes, it was said of David Corsar that his connection with Erskine Church was long and honourable. He was an Elder of Erskine United Presbyterian Church, Princes Street United Presbyterian Church and High Street United Free Church. In 1880 he was one of the delegates of the United Presbyterian Church to the Pan Presbyterian Synod in Philadelphia, and in 1883 was one of a deputation who visited the mission stations of the United Presbyterian Church in South Africa. As a young man he began the superintendence of classes that were then called Mission School (now known as Sunday School) and this became an abiding interest throughout his life. Initially the classes were held in a room in his works in Applegate before moving to the Venture School in Park Street. All his life, David Corsar remained an enthusiast for Christian mission and for education.
In 1955 both Erskine and Princes Street Churches fell vacant and this difficult situation continued until Tuesday 26th November 1957 when the Rev. Kenneth Macmillan, having previously been elected, was inducted as the minister of the linked charge of Erskine and Princes Street Churches. This arrangement of two churches and congregations and one minister was a relatively new one for the Church of Scotland and there was considerable interest in seeing how it would work. However, not long after the linking the congregations came together in a union on Sunday 1st November 1957 in a service held in Princes Street Church conducted by the Moderator of Arbroath Presbytery, the Rev. Frank Clark, St. Stephen’s Church, Carnoustie. The united charge was named St. Columba’s Church. On the advice of Angus Presbytery’s architect the Princes Street buildings were chosen as the place of worship and Erskine Church in Commerce Street was sold to the Old Church for use as a church hall and it is now the Erskine House Business & Design Centre. Next month we will take a look at Princes Street Church.
As you will all be aware the restrictions that have been placed during these unprecedented times are slowly being relaxed. In line with this we would like to reinstate delivering Church flowers, adhering to the social distancing rules, to anyone in the congregation that is particularly in need of a kind gesture.
If you know of anyone please contact Ruth Ferguson on 01241 870152 who will make the necessary arrangements.
The Sunday School and Faithfinders are now on holiday for the summer. We will restart on 16 August 2020. If the church is still closed, teaching will be delivered online, with suggested activities for the children to do at home with their family.
ARBROATH WEST KIRK, KEPTIE STREET, ARBROATH, DD11 3AZ
Please note the office is operational, however, not the set hours as before. The phone is being checked regularly for messages, if you need to get in touch where possible, please do so via the website or the email address and I will get back to you as soon as possible.
Change of Address
If you have moved house recently, or are about to move, either within or out-with the town,