REV BILL HOLLAND'S AUGUST MESSAGE
We have now moved into Phase 3 of the Scottish Government’s plan to ease out of lockdown.
Churches are allowed to open for worship under very strict conditions. These include rigorous cleaning of the buildings before and after each service, social distancing of 2 metres between people attending, no singing, no books and, most recently, face masks to be worn. Numbers attending any service are limited to 50 regardless of the capacity of the church.
While wedding and funeral services are allowed, the maximum who can attend is fixed at 20.
As you can imagine, we are finding it very difficult to even consider re-opening Ruthwell Church under these requirements. In addition, to help us assess our own situation, there is a personal risk assessment form which gives you a score based on age, sex and various health conditions.
The analysis of the score says: “A score of 6 or more suggests a high risk and indicates that you should continue to work or participate in church life from your home”.
I can safely say that many of us will have such a score and be unable to attend church meantime. This form is meant to be used privately for each person’s own information.
However, I’m prepared to share my own to let you see how we might be placed.
I start with 6 for being over 80, have to add 1 for being male and then another 5 for various health issues – bringing me to 12. The fact that I feel fine most of the time and am willing and able to do many things doesn’t seem to enter into this calculation.
We’ve added the tool for you to use. It’s called “PersonalRiskAssessmentTool”.
I find it hard to accept this blanket of risk that has been put on to everyone who is elderly. On the contrary, I feel that many of us are “survivors” who have proved ourselves able to live and work through many difficult circumstances and years to attain our age. We have also shown ourselves to be careful in how we have handled the events of our lives.
The main thing for us at the moment is to hold fast to our Faith and hope and pray that things will come good for all of us. We can continue to communicate with each other to share our humanity and our experience. The elders are there to help in their districts and our Locum, Rev Gerald Moule is continuing his pastoral work by telephone. If you wish to contact him, his number is 01683 220667 and his email is: [email protected]
We know that Jesus and God are with us in every minute of every day and that each one of us is important to them. In John’s gospel 3:16 we read, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.” He also promises us, as the Good Shepherd, “I have come that you might have life – life in all its fullness”.
May God bless us all,
The annual ceremony in tribute to Robert Burns, which is normal held at Brow Well, Ruthwell, was not able to go ahead as normal this year. However, here is a link to the president's address and tributes to The Bard.
Ruthwell Church is the oldest building in South West Scotland still in regular public use. It is a painted rubble kirk, which began as a long narrow medieval church. The Murray Aisle was added in the 17th Century and the apse, which houses the cross, was added in 1886. It is in a remarkable state of repair both outside and in.
The graveyard,which surrounds the church, is still in use and is bounded on two sides by a tall gated wall.
Our traditional Session House is located out with the church yard in the large car park adjacent to the church. The Session House has been extended to provide a good-sized meeting room and a large galley style modern kitchen and toilet.
Welcome to Ruthwell Kirk web site. Our aim is to give you an understanding of our Church of Scotland congregation, our rural community and our ancient Christian heritage.
Our united congregation was formed in 2011 from the linked parishes of Cummertrees, Mouswald and Ruthwell. Our place of worship is Ruthwell Church and the two church buildings at Cummertrees and Mouswald have now been closed.
The united parish lies along the beautiful Solway Coast between the towns of Annan and Dumfries. The congregations live in and around the rural villages and hamlets of Collin, Mouswald, Ruthwell Station, Clarencefield, Ruthwell, Cummertrees and Powfoot as well as in the larger towns of Dumfries, Annan and Lochmaben.
The parish has one primary school at Cummertrees, which is well renowned in the area and there are local secondary schools in Dumfries and Annan.
The Parish attracts people from around the world to visit the ancient Ruthwell Cross, a magnificent 7th century Anglo Saxon preaching cross and the oldest cross of its kind on mainland UK. The church also houses a magnificent 12th century font. The Trustee Savings Bank Museum, is in Ruthwell Village and is famously the oldest savings bank in the world, founded by the Reverend Henry Duncn, minister of the parish in the 18th century. Just outside the village, you can find The Brow Well, with its historic connection to our national bard Robert Burns, who bathed there shortly before he died.
The local area boasts two golf courses within the parish at Powfoot and Hoddom and several more in the surrounding area. There are many accessible walks along the miles of shore and forests in the parish and the National Cycle Route also runs through the parish and the vllage of Ruthwell. We have Hotels and wedding venues at Comlongon Castle in the village of Clarencefield and Hetland Hall just outside of Mouswald. The Powfoot Hotel has recently reopened in Powfoot village and Clarencefield is home to The Farmers Inn.
The RCM club was founded in 1985 on the inspiration of our minister at the time, Rev Robert Nicol and his wife Margaret. It was created to develop a friendship amongst the ladies of the three parishes and provides a welcome night out once a month during the winter with a variety of speakers, demonstrators and outings.
A friendly, welcoming, relaxed group who meet in Cummertrees Hall on the first Monday of the month from 2pm – 4pm. Meetings vary according to members’ wishes or suggestions. All are welcome.
Many visitors are interested in tracing ancestors in our area. Memorial Inscriptions (MIs) for our cemeteries have been transcribed and published by Dumfries and Galloway Family History Society. The Society has a Research Centre in Dumfries. It has a website which gives details of the archives they hold and a list of the publications which are available. http://www.dgfhs.org.uk/
The Ruthwell Cross is a magnificant 7th Century cross which is the oldest of its type on Mainland UK and twinned with another in Bewcastle in Cumbria. The cross has a checkered history and was condemned by The Church of Scotland during the The Reformation as being too papish. The cross was broken up and hidden in the graveyard, which the main part being conceled as a curch pue in the church itseld. It was the rediscovered by two of the minister in the 18th century and follwong 20 years of reconstruction it stand in the church today as a testament to our heritage. Incidentely...the Church of Scotland has never rescinded the condemnation of the cross and after 250 years.......
Our last full time minister, Jim Williamson, retired in 2009 and initially we were fortunate to have the excellent pastoral care and leadership of Rev Neil Campbell as our interim moderator, with Rev Logan Kirk as pulpit supply. Rev Kirk subsequently took over as Interim moderator and has since retired, with position currently being ably handled by Rev Bill Holland. For several years, we have been grateful for the attention of our Locum Minister, Rev Gerald Moule from Moffat, who has continued to encourage this successful union until such times as we find a suitable candidate for our vacancy here at Ruthwell Church. We have all prayed and worked together towards this successful union of our three charges.
A nomination committee has been appointed and the search continues for a new minister. Our vacancy is for a part time of 50% ministry, allowing applicants time to pursue their other interests. Indeed like our famous 18th century minister Henry Duncan who while preaching in this parish, founded The Trustee Savings Bank, the first savings bank in the world.
The manse is a four bedroomed modern bungalow, built in 1982, with oil fired central heating and double glazing throughout. The lounge has a large picture window to the front and patio doors to the side as well as a fireplace.
The kitchen with informal dining area has been newly refurbished. There is a separate dining room plus a shower room and family bathroom.
There is an integral garage and ample parking for visitors in the tarmac drive.
We have a very active Kirk Session of twenty one elders who are joined by a further five to form the Congregational Board, all of whom work hard to ensure that the parish is in good spiritual health and organise various events as well as fund raising.
We have 200 members on our congregational role and we enjoy an attendance of around 30 at our Sunday worship in Ruthwell Church, although our communion services, which are held twice a year and our Chritstmas, Easter and Harvest Thanks giving services can attract up to 80 members.
We asked our congregation to tell us what they felt about their church and their faith, their hopes for the future and the qualities they believed would be of most value to the individual answering the call to be the new minister of our parish.
This is a summary of the conversations we had.
Fellowship was the aspect of Church Life, which brought most joy to our members. There was a real sense that we have an opportunity, through our union of reaching out into the community and sharing God's love and message with young and old.
Many expressed a hope of attracting young people to join us in the church and we have several new young members, who have now completed their New Communicants Class and are now members of our congregation.
We would like to see our Young Church gaining momentum and are hoping to re-introduce it to encourage young parents to bring their children and themselves to church and enjoy the fellowship and friendship there.
The most valuable quality for our new minister, was considered to be that of providing inspirational practical Christian teaching. It is also important to the members that the successful applicant would be able to relate to children, young people and the wider community and finally, to make people feel welcome.
In return, we as a congregation and a community, would make our minister feel welcome and supported in their role as minister at Ruthwell Church.
We’re now at the start of another month.
We can start with a positive and joyful item. Presbytery met recently – holding their meeting via Zoom. A report was given by the retiring Moderator, Mrs Sylvia Livingstone, and she was thanked for her year of service. The minister installed to succeed her is Rev Mhairi Wallace, OLM at KTT – our neighbours. We congratulate her on her appointment and wish her every blessing in her year of office.
You will have noticed that the Scottish Government has moved to Phase 2 and eased some of the restrictions that were in place.
Some of the easing affects the use of Church Buildings. However, the procedures to be followed include stringent arrangements about building inspection, risk assessments, hygiene and social distancing at two metres. These arrangements have to be under the supervision of Presbytery. At its meeting Presbytery set up a committee to advise on and supervise the re-opening of Churches. It will be some time before re-opening can take place at Ruthwell.
Another matter for us is the presence of the Ruthwell Cross. Much as we love to encourage visitors to come and enjoy it, we realise that the presence of such visitors at this time, in an unplanned way, could expose us to unwelcome risks and a lot of extra work.
The other side of the coin is that many of us would not have the possibility of attending Church under present circumstances. People who are shielding and those who are in the vulnerable group by reason of age and/or health are also discouraged from exposing themselves to this kind of risk meantime. We will proceed carefully and safely.
As a Church and community we are using a mixture of old and new methods to communicate with each other and to keep our connections going. We are grateful to those who contribute to keeping the contact circle wide open to make sure we are OK. As our Locum, Rev Gerald Moule is continuing his pastoral work by telephone. If you wish to contact him, his number is 01683 220667 and his email is: [email protected]
Here is the written version of the service for today from The Moderator.
Special edition of Heart and Soul streamed online https://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/
Published on 7 May 2020
A special celebration of the life of the Church of Scotland in all its richness and fullness is being streamed online.
The digital version of Heart and Soul, which will be shown on Sunday, 17 May, promises to be a “beacon of light and hope” during the dark days of the Coronavirus lockdown.
Heart and Soul showcases the Kirk is all its fullness.
The programme, which will run for just over two hours from 2pm via the Church website and Facebook page, features an eclectic mix of worship, music, stories and good conversation with a host of guests.
People accustomed to attending the colourful event in Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh – a key part of the General Assembly, which has been cancelled due to the pandemic – will be able to watch it later at a time of their choosing.
Hosted by Rev Ken Froude, Seonaid Knox and Rev Justin Taylor, the abridged event will begin with a replay of the historic online installation service for the new Moderator, Rev Dr Martin Fair, at the General Assembly Hall the previous day at 11am.
Thousands of people usually attend Heart and Soul in Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh every year.
Rev Bryan Kerr, convener of the Heart and Soul Project Board, said: “At a time of difficulty and concern for a lot of people across society we wanted to send out a clear message that the Church is still open and there to support people.
“It is still a beacon of light and hope in these dark times, and we felt that having a big weekend of celebration when the Moderator is installed in an historic way was a good opportunity to do something different.”
The line-up includes Heart and Soul regulars Fischy Music, who will lead a segment for all ages. There will also be some very special conversations on a range of topics, including how faith guides decision making.
Journalist Hugh Pym, an elder at St Columba’s Church in London, will be speaking to Professor Jason Leitch, the National Clinical Director of the Scottish Government, who has been heavily involved in the response to the pandemic.
The BBC’s health editor will also be chatting to Viv Dickenson, chief officer of CrossReach, the operating name of the Church’s social care council, which runs 70 services for people of all ages across Scotland, including care homes.
Worship and conversation
Very Rev Dr Susan Brown, convener of the Church’s Faith Impact Forum, will be discussing climate justice with Green MSP Ross Greer, a member of Bearsden Cross Church in East Dunbartonshire and Tara Shannon from Church of Scotland Youth. (COSY)
Rev Anne Stewart, a chaplain at HMP Castle Huntly near Dundee, will be in conversation with Hospital chaplain, Deacon Mark Evans DCS, about chaplaincy as a career and the impact of Coronavirus in their places of work.
Speaking ahead of the event, Mr Evans, head of spiritual care at NHS Fife, said: “Chaplains affirm the unique worth of each individual and Covid-19 has required healthcare staff to find new ways of working.
“Yet despite the unprecedented challenges, aspects of the chaplains’ role remain the same.
“In the midst of all the uncertainty and anxiety, they continue to be present in wards and at bedsides 24/7.
“Creating safe spaces where people feel supported, cared for and loved.
“Brave spaces where people can explore their fears and dreams, their concerns and hopes.”
The online event will be rounded off with some highlights from the archive over the last ten years of Heart and Soul, the Guild Big Sing and the General Assembly.