I am delighted to be writing this article which we have been able to produce and mail directly to all our households in the congregation. Since our ‘first lockdown’ we have been curtailed in our usual communications, but the Kirk Session was keen to try and reconnect with you, especially with those who are unable to be ‘online’.
As I write to you (15/01/21) we are unable to have worship together in our sanctuary but are continuing with ‘live streaming’ via our Website and YouTube channel, and later on a Sunday via Facebook. After the Service, DVDs are distributed to those who do not have internet access and wish to watch the Service that way.
Further information is provided on our Website and Facebook pages. Alternatively please contact your District Elder for further help, or phone me at the Manse.
For those of you who are able, we have reproduced a QR code which you can scan on your mobile phone or tablet which will take you directly to our media platform pages. This QR code has been placed on the back cover.
Covid-19 has brought many challenges for all of us. As a congregation we have tried to maintain contact with our membership within the constraints of a changing situation. We are very keen to broaden our reach to you at this time when regular communication is more difficult. To that end, if you have an email address and current mobile number which you have not already shared with us, I invite you to send these details to me ([email protected]) or the Session Clerk, Jim Scott ([email protected]). This will help with our future communications, especially in these changeable times. If you don’t know if you have already given us these details, please send them anyway. Thanks for your help with this task.
The current closure of the Church buildings has meant that our Church Officer and Depute Church Officer, Jim and Fiona, remain on flexible furlough with reduced duties. With assistance from the Government Furlough Scheme and an agreement of the Congregational Board and Kirk Session, our staff members have not been financially disadvantaged at this time. Our Musical Director, Alan Craig has continued to work weekly in a flexible and creative manner. The premises are regularly checked to comply with insurance conditions. During these past months, we have tried to maintain some familiar elements of our Church life – sometimes worshipping together in person and sometimes only virtually. I am grateful to the Duty Team of volunteers who helped with the process of Church reopening, helping with ushering and cleaning duties. This has all been supported by a huge commitment of time, energy and creative flair from our technical Team – Neil Copeland and Emma Donald, not to mention our weekly Readers, Office Staff (working from home) and those musicians and singers who have appeared on our screens from time to time. Elders and members of the congregation have supported members of our Church family in ways too many to mention, and the Guild telephone tree system has been a lifeline for many. So, to you all I say THANK YOU and keep up the fantastic work.
Throughout the past months we have been nursing our ailing central heating boiler for the Church premises but have now had the Church’s Energy Consultant examine the system. We are moving towards replacing the boiler and elements of our heating system at the earliest opportunity. We plan to do this if possible during the current lockdown when the halls are not being used, as the issue is quite critical. The job is expected to take 4-6 weeks to complete and initial estimates calculate the cost to be around £40,000-£60,000.
Once more details are to hand, we intend to launch a Fabric Appeal to enlist your help with this. As it stands just now, even with current funds, and possible grants, we could not meet the cost, so it is likely we will try to secure a loan from the General Trustees at 121. Elsewhere in the magazine the Treasurer will set out our finances. Returning a deficit of the level we did in 2020 was actually quite an achievement – having lost almost £25,000 of rental income has had a major impact on our cash flow. However, the continued generosity of our members has ensured that we are in better shape than we first anticipated. So, I record our sincere thanks for your continuing financial support and generosity.
Finally, I remain the Interim Moderator at Kirkintilloch St. Mary’s. This has been quite a challenge to steer a congregation with a huge deficit back into financial stability, secure an unrestricted tenure, sell a Manse, purchase a new Manse which is currently being built and is expected to be ready in April. Vacancy business is now progressing albeit in a very different direction from my previous experience because of Covid-19, but I am hopeful that we will move towards a satisfactory conclusion by May of this year. By then I will have completed two years in this role!