We are pleased to note that the good rate at which people are receiving the vaccination is helping to cut the rate of infections and reducing the risk of hospitalisation for those who’ve received it. This is very good news and gives us increased hope for an exit from lockdown. This month the Scottish Government’s attention is taken up with the safe return of children to schooling. Indications are that it will be into April before “Stay at Home” restrictions are eased and worship can resume – accordingly, we will not be able to open the Church in the near future.
We are currently in the period of Lent in which we look at the start of Jesus’ ministry after his baptism, follow him into the wilderness as he undergoes temptation, follow him through his ministry of teaching and healing and then finish with the final days of his ministry before his Crucifixion. It is a period where we can travel with Jesus through these important times in his life. They cover the essentials of his life and ministry and our study of them can strengthen our faith.
On the reverse side of the Ruthwell Cross there is a scene of two early Egyptian hermit saints, Paul and Anthony, meeting in the desert to break bread. Hermits usually lived in isolated places so that they would be spared normal human contact which would prevent them from serving God fully as they sought to. Even so, they still needed contact with others – when they wanted to celebrate the breaking of bread – which required someone else to be there with them.
In our present situation we often feel that we are in the wilderness. We are cut off from our normal contact with relatives, friends and neighbours. We are cut off from communal meeting – especially worship in the Church in front of the Cross. We may not be in the depths of a desert – but we are still isolated from each other and feeling that as a deep want. We have access to telephone and electronic ways of having some contact – which helps – but does not fully satisfy us.
As a Kirk Session we are still maintaining contacts within the parish. 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].
The website has contact details for Fiona Sloan and myself if you cannot contact anyone else.
That need which brought Paul and Anthony together in the desert was for communion with each other and with God which comes from breaking bread together. Our Communion services are among the highlights of our year after Christmas and Easter. As we approach Easter we have the wonderful record by the Gospel writers of Jesus celebrating the Passover Feast with his disciples on the night before he was crucified. It was his Last Supper – but it has become for us the central celebration of our communion with him, with God and with each other. This is the crowning celebration of our Faith and our Fellowship. We look forward to sharing it soon again in the Church in front of the Cross. You can read of this in Luke 22:7-20 as well as the other Gospels.
May we be aware of the communion and fellowship we already have and let us look forward to being able to share it in person later in the year.
Bill's previous messages are still available on our NEWS PAGE
The Moderator, Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair prepared a couple of services recently which are still relevand and worth viewing.
We are invited to copy and share the following links with our congregation.
• Moderator’s Service of Worship for 17th January 2021 - CLICK HERE
• CAPTIONED Moderator’s Service of Worship for 10th January 2021 - CLICK HERE
• Please note that the service will not be visible on YouTube until 0300 on Sunday 3rd January. This means that should you send an email out to your members in advance they will not be able to view it before Sunday morning, however, they will be able to receive the link from you before then.
To view the interview with Prof Daniel O'Donnel on the Visionary Cross Project CLICK HERE
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.
Bills message for February 2021
A message for January 2021 from our interim moderator Bill Holland
Dear friends, we’ve now entered December and the period within the church which we call ADVENT. The root meaning of Advent is COMING.
In the first place it refers to God coming into our world in the person and body of Jesus. We refer to this as the INCARNATION i.e. God coming into our human flesh.
The first purpose of this is to show us that God is not a distant, impersonal God – he is close and available for us.
The second purpose is that God is showing us clearly that our lives are important to him. The implication of that is that we should take care of our bodies and our lives and realise they are important to us. That seems unnecessary to say – but I’m sure there are times when we forget to take full notice of our bodies and their health.
From time to time we may have an individual emergency which makes us take stock. This year we’ve all been impacted by the Covid-19 Pandemic which has threatened our health and lives, severely disrupted our living pattern and looks like having a long-lasting impact on all our lives.
Thankfully, we have now had news of the first vaccine being approved – with others to follow shortly. This gives us renewed hope – that the worst dangers will start to come to an end – and that we will be able to rebuild our lives together and separately – but, no doubt, with many changes.
In this time of Advent we look forward and prepare ourselves for our celebration of the Birth of Jesus. This year we come from a common starting point that we’ve never shared before. Many of our hopes at this time will be similar – looking for a return to something which is “normal” – but knowing that there will be many differences and changes.
We will have a “different” service at Christmas. Recently, when we had a Board and Kirk Session meeting by Zoom, we found extra benefit in just coming together and seeing each other. We decided to have a Zoom Lessons and Carols service – gathering together as many people as possible. We will be able to accommodate up to 100 people. We have started our planning and will hold it on Sunday 20 December at 7.00pm – “doors open” at 6.30pm so that you can meet and chat. Posters will be displayed to give more details and the LINK will be put up on the website a few days before the meeting.
Our certainty will come from recognizing God’s purpose in coming into our world in Jesus in a human body. In this he identifies with us in every part of our lives. He knows each one of us intimately – all our hopes and fears, all our frailties and strengths and all our desires for our futures. Although it is the Birth of Jesus, the baby, that we celebrate, it is because of what he became that we celebrate. In our celebration of Christmas we are taking hold of all that Jesus was and became. We are already assuming and taking in his Life, Death and Resurrection and what they mean for us. He is our hope and our promise of life.
Another title used for Jesus is EMMAMUEL – which translates as “God is with us”. That is a presence and a promise which will stay with us beyond the Christmas season and will give us hope and strength for our living in the days to come.
God bless us all.