Welcome to our website –which we hope will give you a flavour of the kinds of things we get up to, and the kinds of people we are, here at Belhaven Parish Church – linked with the historic Spott Church in the foothills of the Lammermuirs.

We would love you to visit us if you are in the Dunbar area.  Whether you come along once or decide to join us regularly for worship, we hope you fill find that we live up to our Mission Statement: that Belhaven Parish Church is a welcoming family that seeks through the love of God to help all people grow in faith and service, living out the gospel as part of the community.  

Even better - come along and be part of that mission!

 

 

For over 25 years now, Belhaven Parish Church has been linked with historic Spott Kirk, a delightful congregation which meets in the lovely peaceful church just over the A-1 in the foothills of the Lammermuirs.

Although small in number, the Spott congregation brings a lively worship and a warm spirit of fellowship to their church life together, while the simplicity and attractiveness of the building, that seems to carry in its stones, the echoes of faithful worshippers over many centuries all combine to make Spott a very special place - and a very special experience.

The well-documented Visitors book reveals how many people have found spending time in Spott Kirk to be a precious and memorable experience - and because the church is open all the time…it offers a rare chance for quiet reflection and prayer in a world that often seems too busy for its own good.

As everyone involved in the church knows, Laurence leaves us in late January 2017 after nearly 39 years of taking care of all our pastoral needs and also fully supporting and caring for the community of Dunbar and the surrounding area.

Please come along and make his departure memorable. There are 2 main opportunities to do this:-

Sunday 8th January 2017 in the Church at 1900 a special Songs of Praise for Laurence featuring a selection of his favourite hymns.

Friday 13th January 2017 – in the Church Hall from 1700 to 2100 hours – an informal opportunity to come along and say a personal goodbye to the man. Come along when it suits you during this time. Note there will be a small ceremony at 1900. Nibbles and refreshments will be provided.

Rev. Laurence Twaddle

Minister of Belhaven and Spott Churches from 1978-2017

A number of people have been asking for some of the sermons form the book "Still Preaching after all these years" to be published on the website, so we have added a new menu at the top - "Featured Sermons", which will contain a number of sermons by our recent Minister Laurence Twaddle.

You can see these be selecting from the menu, or by using the search facilities.

 

ANNUAL REPORT

BELHAVEN AND SPOTT PARISH CHURCHES

 

APRIL 2014

 

“It was the best of times…it was the worst of times!”

(Charles Dickens – A Tale of Two Cities.)

 

Last year’s Annual Report finished with these words:

So, the tapestry takes shape… a picture is emerging… one of positivity and promise… a tiny segment of the on-going story of faith and pilgrimage that is Belhaven Parish Church, Spott Parish Church…

What will the next segment be like?

 

It turned out that the “next segment” was full of unexpected twists and turns, new challenges - and dark as well as light.

 

Every year I put up my Year Planner on which are written the engagements commitments and responsibilities of the year. I don’t keep a diary... not since I met a frantic minister who had left his diary on a bus, and had no idea where he should be any day of the week, who was getting married where and when, and what commitments he had entered into. Having all that information on my Year Planner, pinned securely to the wall, gives me peace of mind. Even I can’t lose a wall!

But to call it a Year Planner is a new definition of optimism, for there is not that much planning we can do for a year… We can hope and anticipate… but as John Lennon said: “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans”.

And to some extent, that certainly was how 2013 turned out for me. And for many people – people whose plans were rocked by circumstances and upheavals undreamt of at the beginning of the year.

 

Notwithstanding those shocks and tremors, there was much to celebrate in the life of the church over the last twelve months, and to find quiet satisfaction with, as we reflect on the year and give thanks for it.

 

The place of the church in our local schools, and the opportunities to share in their lives, has been a great delight and privilege…

Everything from 'Big Questions' discussion panels to Multi-Faith days, from special features like 'BubbleGum and Fluff' at Christmas to whole-school visits to Church for their Christmas Religious Observance, and including the support offered by the Mentoring Programme, by the new Bereavement support team, and also by the church folk who help children with reading – these are connections of real significance, and demonstrate the commitment of the church to real caring, without strings.

West Barns Primary School has also welcomed deepening connections with the church, and offered opportunities to build a relationship that is proving helpful and creative.

Meanwhile, of course, warm links with Belhaven Hill School continue to be valued and important.

And when terrible tragedy struck this past year, the Chaplaincy Team was invited in to bring ministry and support to staff and pupils alike. 

These are very special blessings and responsibilities, and we are encouraged by them.

 

There is a clear and ongoing commitment to sharing our faith with new generations wherever that can be done. For example, when Rainbows and Guides come along to our services they know the welcome is real and warm. And the wonderful dedication of leaders in Launchpad and Lazers means special moments like the Nativity Play offer a real feeling of Christmas, and are hugely appreciated by the congregation. The rise and rise of the Toddler group, and the loving hand of friendship that is held out there, is a further vital and creative element in our witness and outreach, the Summer Programme with children and teenagers yet another earnest of our commitment to share the gospel with new generations, who certainly will not be hearing it if we do not tell it!

 

Right at the heart of all our involvement with the young people of our town lies the Dunbar Christian Youth Worker Project, and the uniquely valuable contribution of Richard Taylor to the churches' witness to them. It is especially pleasing – and a quiet little miracle in itself – that funding is now in place to sustain the Project at full strength for the next three years. God is good.

 

Last year was the Year of Talents, when we sought opportunities to demonstrate the many gifts that God has made available to the work of his church – and from singers to banner makers, from bakers to flower arrangers, from writers to pray-ers, those gifts were brought to the enrichment of our church life together… freshening up the mix with colour, imagination and energy.  The whole experience helped us believe that we have all the talent we need, right here, and when that talent is linked with loyalty, commitment, and love, we can be confident that meaningful and effective ministry will happen, right here, in the service of God. Witness the amazing Flower Festival which, perhaps unexpectedly, took us out beyond our own concerns to the needs of others.

 

Our small and not-so-small groups have had a great year too, with

Inspire Women’s Group gathering pace and developing connections at the edges;

The Men’s Group enjoying another marvellous programme with speakers of the highest calibre engaging with issues of profoundest significance and great interest;

The Guild - always dedicated, worshipful, hard-working - taking us out far beyond our own interests and concerns to the wider church and the needs of the world;

even the Book Group gathering focus and generating the kind of loyalty and sharing that has proved creative and bonding, offering the chance to learn about how we think, and where we are coming from.

 

Places change, and we have seen that even in the last year with the church fabric being brought up to a high standard of maintenance and efficiency, the place made bright and welcoming, and all necessary provisions put in place to make it comfortable and well-cared for. People sense that here is a group of people who care about their church buildings and facilities, and want them to be the best we can make them. David Wight is the prime mover in keeping standards high and the work he does in the course of the year is astonishing, invaluable and hugely appreciated.

 

And there is always a steady trickle of new folks - of all ages - coming among us and becoming part of our witness and worship, bringing their stories, their experiences and their vision. It keeps us moving, and moving forward…restless to find the best way to be the Church for now, for here, while always being true to the heart of the matter, true to the Lord who lives at and is the heart of the matter.

 

Belhaven News - so attractively presented, and always a great read - helps to keep channels of communication open, and as the Website:

www.belhavenparishchurch.org.uk

is up-graded and refined, we hope it too will serve as a resource for sharing ideas and explaining to an even wider audience what we do, and why we do it.

 

At the core of things - keeping us focused on the main thing - lies the prayer that upholds and shapes everything, and there is much prayer sustaining the life of our congregations: the prayers of the many, many people who, without fuss but with great faithfulness, hold up the church leaders in regular and faithful prayer… the prayers of the prayer groups that meet to share in prayer together... the prayer breakfasts which take place regularly and inject strength and purpose and fresh zeal into the life of the church... together these form a vital heartbeat in our congregational life. We need it. Otherwise we are just keeping an organisation ticking over.

 

Parish ministry is a very unique and amazing thing. The congregations pay for a ministry that serves far more people than simply those on the Church Rolls, and make that ministry available to whomsoever needs it, even though they may not have any connection with the church or be planning to have any connection. So much of my time is taken up offering unconditional love and compassion to people who need it - and need it now - and your commitment allows me, in the name of the church and the Christ we serve, to be the minister that this individual or that family needs… Many people express their appreciation of this kind of no-strings-attached compassion that you make available because you care about people.

 

My work as hospital chaplain - being part of the great team down at Belhaven Hospital - continues to be a source of delight, and anyone who has been a patient there, or has had a family member as a patient, knows the quality of care provided, and certainly appreciates how fortunate we are to have this wonderful resource on our doorstep.

 

The churches in Dunbar, and around, continue to feel their way towards greater sharing in work, worship and vision. New personnel bring their own richness to the mix, and it has been encouraging to share in special moments together - discussion groups at St Anne’s, the installation there of Andrew Bain, and the Joint Service for the Week of Prayer for Christianity Unity being especially memorable.

 

Our presentation at 'Heart and Soul', the big event at Princes Street Gardens during the General Assembly in May, caught the eye and gave focus to the idea that Belhaven and Spott are trying to build bridges between Church and community, between generations, and between the local churches themselves. It’s a good aim. A work in progress, as we know.

Much has been done. Much has been tried. Yet our core business, as it were, remains the same: worship, witness and service in the name of Christ.

 

Worship has certainly continued to be a source of inspiration and encouragement as well as delight. There is great singing, with a rich variety of praise explored (old classics, gospel songs, contemporary praise, Celtic/Iona-style songs) - the wonderfully talented musicians who drive that praise along are a huge and rich blessing to our congregational life, and I hope they know how much what they do is appreciated.  There are prayers from across the world, and sermons that try to address the real issues in the lives of people living in the real world.  All done with genuine love for God and in the spirit of warm fellowship. So many different people with their own back-story, their own preferences, their own prejudices... and yet together a worshipping community, rooted and grounded in our shared love for Christ, and in our desire to serve God as his people. It’s a powerfully impressive and uplifting cocktail. I am certainly glad to be part of it… and when tough times come, I know with all my heart that these are the people I want to be with, need to be with.

 

I hope this gives something of the flavour of the last twelve months or so -

much to be thankful for and to celebrate.

 

The next twelve months will hold who knows what… but there are certain aims and targets for the life of Belhaven and Spott, including making sure that our finances are strong, resilient, and capable of serving our vision and purpose. The whole Church of Scotland is taking time to attend to this matter, and Belhaven and Spott are involved in this process too as we consider our levels of giving, and adjust them in the light of present demands, future challenges, opportunities and hopes.

I might be naïve, but my feeling is that once the good people of Belhaven and Spott think about it a bit, and realise the needs of the present and the possibilities of the future, they will respond with commitment and joyful generosity so that the Church they love can do the work to which it is called, without having to keep looking over its shoulder, wondering how it will manage to make ends meet.

 

On a personal level it has, as you know, been a strange and dark time - the love of so many people has been enormously sustaining, and the prayers and wonderful kindnesses have brought an incalculable blessing.

That goes deep - and stays forever.

For kindnesses too many to mention, encouragement too deep for words, and always love that surrounds, enfolds and heals…

I thank you.

 

Laurence Twaddle.

 

====================

 

 

 

 

BELHAVEN SESSION CLERK’S REPORT:

 

Was it 'business as usual' in Belhaven's Kirk Session in 2013? In many ways, yes.

We had our usual 11 meetings – good attendances, good discussions, in the kind of good atmosphere where folk are able to be their friendly, helpful, caring selves, sharing respect and responsibility with an openness and warmth that is vital and appreciated.

We met, as we do every year, with Spott elders, sharing lunch, celebrating and sealing afresh our commitment to maintain this happy linkage.

 

We considered discussion topics and questions set by '121' and Presbytery, such as on “A Right Relationship with Money”, ecumenical relations locally, the role of the Eldership currently and in the future, Presbytery Forward Planning issues...

We were happy to encourage Dunbar Churches Together in the distribution of welcome leaflets to the 'new houses' and in the Palm Sunday procession, to support S U Holidays, the Heart and Soul event, Christian Aid Week, the East Lothian Food Bank, the Holiday Club, and all the amazing work done by Richard Taylor and those who run the Youth-worker Project. And of course, at home, to promote our Stewardship Programme – 'Sharing Talents'.

 

We hear of folk going the second mile, helping to keep people in touch, to keep doors open... Elders wear several hats, it seems – in addition to aprons and overalls! - and hope that by keeping good relations 'at home' in Belhaven, by trying to be open to new ideas and aware of the changing world out there, we can go out and build good relations, serve a good purpose in the wider community. And as we are so often reminded, it's all about people and caring – we hope never to lose sight of that.

 

We have many people to thank – I could happily name everyone, but perhaps could be allowed especially to thank (in no particular order) Mary Jamieson for being our Presbytery Elder for a good number of years, Elspeth Johnston for replacing Mary, Malcolm Paton for taking on church website management, and Margaret Cannon for faithfully keeping us up-to-date with Safeguarding matters. Where to stop with the 'thank-yous'? Not possible – thanks to everyone!

Every part of this report began with the word 'we' – we meet, we think, we talk, we plan, we serve together. And we share. Yes, Kirk Session business was much as usual in 2013, but of course we shared a huge thing – we shared losing Alison Twaddle. This loss goes deep – we miss her, and are grateful to have had all her support, her insight, her wit, her good sense, her love, and her fine example.

We now go forward in 2014, trusting, hoping, caring and sharing together, and so thankful for Laurence's continuing guidance, commitment and love.

                                                                                Barbara Richerby ( Session Clerk)

================

 

Congregational Board Chairman’s Report March 2014

 

Another year passes in what seems to be the blink of an eye, yet when we look back over the many challenges that seem to come from an ever increasing and determined set of regulatory bodies, it makes me wonder where we found the time to complete the wide and varied challenges that we faced.  However face them we most certainly did, and along the way found new and inventive ways to ensure that Belhaven Church not only meets our current needs but will remain in excellent condition for many years to come.

The buzz word of the politicians over the past few years has been austerity and this has also impacted on the church.  As households have had to adjust to a squeeze on personal finances, this has also been a theme very much at the forefront of the Congregational Boards deliberations over the past year and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

The Finance Committee have been at the forefront of guiding us through these times.  While I must point out that we are by no means destitute, we have had to look long and hard at how we as a church balance the books.  This is a theme that you will hear much more of in the coming year as we move to a period where we will focus on stewardship.  In the very near future a number of events have been planned to highlight the wide and varied groups that use Belhaven Church and how we can contribute more to the finances of the church.  My thanks go to Myra Johnstone and all on the Finance Committee for the excellent work over the past year, not only on the work on church finances but also the huge effort they have already undertaken on stewardship planning.

I mentioned at the beginning of this report the seemingly never ending legislative and regulatory changes that must be adhered to and acted upon to allow the congregation and the groups who use the church to continue to do so.  We have met and kept ahead of many of these demands by the sterling work of our Fabric Convenor David Wight.  Over the past year David has ensured that we have met our obligations in relation to all matters Health and Safety and overseen the Fire Assessment ensuring that we have fire doors, electrical   inspection and upgrade and renewed pathways outside the church.  David also oversees all letting of the church buildings, this brings in much needed revenue for the church finances.  May I take this opportunity to thank David for all his efforts in ensuring the church remains in good order.

At the forefront of all our social activities are the members of the Social Committee and the church Burns Supper is now the Burns Supper to attend.  I am thankful for all the work they do throughout the year.  They are never ones to hog the limelight but work tirelessly behind the scenes.  Their hard work is the very foundation of many a successful church social event and I would like to record my heartfelt thanks for the way they support the church.

The 2013 Church Fete was blessed with good weather a great crowd and fantastic organisation.  Silvia Devine has taken on the role of fete co-ordinator and last year was one of the best.  On a lighter note we had one of the shelter boxes the congregation had generously donated on display thanks to Robin Hamilton.  A number of enquiries were made to purchase the tent and its contents.  We can be justly proud that we, as a congregation, have donated such an essential and lifesaving piece of equipment for use in areas struck by disaster.

Members of the Board have assisted in the organisation or running of numerous events over the past year.  From the Summer Fete Burns Supper, Easter and Christmas services, soup lunches and teas after the service, clear signs of a vibrant Church full of life vitality and fellowship. While not every item under discussion runs smoothly and opinions differ this has been the exception rather than the norm.  Assisting me over the past year in her role as secretary has been Bronwyn Brodie, who has the unenviable task of accurately recording the discussions at the board meetings.  I would like to record my thanks for her hard work over the past year.

 It has been an honour to serve as Chairman of the Congregational Board and I would like to thank all members for their support and helpful advice.         

 

Dougie Denholm

Congregational Board Chairman.

 

 

ACCOUNTS FOR 2013

 

 

Belhaven Parish Church                                                                          

Extracts from Accounts for year ended 31st December 2013

 

_____________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

INCOME                                                                                2012              2013   

 

           

 

1.  Voluntary Income

 

Offerings                                                                              55946                         56398                                  

Tax recovered on Gift Aid                                                            11861                        13139

Other donations                                                                   2622                           1676 

Legacies                                                                               15550                         55855

Grants received                                                                  28507           

Contributions from congregational organisations                    771                530

                                                                                              115257                     127598          

 

 

2.  Incoming Resources from Activities for Generating Funds

 

Use of premises                                                                    5276                           4726

 

 

 

3.  Investment Income

 

Bank interest receivable                                                     1278                             955

 

 

 

4.  Incoming Resources from Charitable Activities

 

Weddings and funerals                                                      1540                           1900

Coffee mornings etc.                                                                         590                  915

Concerts                                                                                 1059                             673

Other income from charitable activities                                    5323                           5147

                                                                                                  8512                           8635

           

 

 

 

TOTAL INCOME                                                                130323             141914                                                                                                                                                                                          

EXPENDITURE                                                                     2012              2013             

 

6.  Costs of Generating Voluntary Income                      

 

Envelopes for offerings                                                      345               248

          

7.  Costs of Charitable Activities

Support costs                                                                              122214         92660  

 

8.  Governance Costs

 

Independent examiners fee                                                          864               900   

 

TOTAL EXPENDITURE                                                    123423         93808  

 

_____________________________________________________________________

 

INCOME/EXPENDITURE 2013                         

 

TOTAL INCOME                                                                                     141914

TOTAL EXPENDITURE                                                                             93808

 

                                                            Surplus                                           48106  

 

The figures set out above show the financial position at the end of 2013,   however, the surplus of  £48,106 needs to be viewed in context.   £55,463.81 was received from the estate of the late Mrs Pauline Monica Taylor and a further £390.94 from the estate of the late Mr. Alexander Hunter.   These Legacies significantly boost the Total Income figure for the year.   In order to gauge Regular Income the £55,854.75 needs to be deducted from the Total Income.   The Expenditure then needs to be deducted from the Regular Income figure to provide a more realistic picture of church finances, as set out below:

 

TOTAL INCOME                              141914

LESS LEGACIES                                  55855  

REGULAR INCOME               86059

LESS EXPENDITURE                          93808         

            DEFICIT                                 -  7749

 

The above deficit of £7,749 includes expenditure of £4,800 on tarring the paths around Church premises;  inspection and upgrading of electrical appliances to meet new regulations, £2118.53;  fitting of fire doors and storage cupboard to meet safety regulations, £2165.70.     In relation to Income there has been the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme (GASDS) operating as from 2013 which allows parishes to claim Gift Aid on small cash donations of £20 or less up to a threshold of £5,000.   Belhaven has received a further £1250 in Gift Aid through this scheme, the maximum, annual amount payable and this has reduced the deficit.      (Comprehensive information on Income and Expenditure plus copy of Accounts  available in Session Room of Church.)

 

During 2013 the Finance Committee has continued to strive to achieve a healthy financial position for Belhaven Parish Church in terms of the balance between regular weekly/monthly Income and weekly/monthly Expenditure.    In order to achieve this healthy balance the regular Income figure, not including Legacies,  needs to be greater than the Expenditure figure.   This then enables Belhaven to be self sufficient and provides a more sound foundation for the future of the church.  This does not detract, however, from the importance and value of Legacies to Belhaven’s financial position.     There is no doubt Belhaven would have faced a vastly different situation in 2010, given the major roof repairs costing £46,258, had there not been the Legacy from the late Mr Alexander Hunter.   Belhaven’s Total Resources in 2013, detailed below, has only been possible through receipt of a further generous Legacy.  

 

FINANCIAL POSITION AT END DECEMBER 2013

 

BALANCE WITH ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND                         15044.20

 

INVESTED WITH CHURCH OF SCOTLAND                             170000.00

 

TOTAL RESOURCES AT END DECEMBER                    185044.20

 

The Finance Committee is of the view that Legacies have been and continue to be vital but need to be kept for the larger, sometimes unexpected expenditures on buildings/fabric and also for outreach and should not be used to cover everyday expenditure.    As a congregation we need to reflect on our own givings in light of the underlying deficit position and the likelihood that without further action it will grow.   

 

The congregation is already aware that the General Assembly set out the requirement for Churches to cover a three year cycle focusing on time, talents and money.   In 2012 Belhaven focused on time, in 2013 talents and in 2014 the focus will be on money.   To take the focus on money forward an Exhibition/Celebration of the past/present/future life of Belhaven Parish Church is planned for the weekend of 10/11 May.   Further information will be sent out about this weekend.   It is hoped as many of the congregation as possible will  support the event.             

 

During 2013 Belhaven Church was able to make donations to the Philippines Typhoon appeal through the Famine & Disaster Fund and a retiral collection.   The Christmas Eve collection was donated to the East Lothian Foodbank and a Soup & Sweet lunch was held in aid of Dunbar Area Christian Youth Project.  

 

Financial demands on the congregation increased during 2013 with the Finance and Fabric committees continuing to work closely together to try and ensure careful management of Church finances.   It is crucial to celebrate the ongoing, generous financial giving of the congregation on a week by week, month by month basis.  Without this regular financial support Belhaven Parish Church would cease to exist.   It is also important to acknowledge the generosity of the late Mrs Pauline Monica Taylor and her valued support for the work of the church.    Along with the regular financial contributions during 2013 the congregation gave generously of their time and talents organising a number of successful events;  the Burns Supper, the 35 year celebration of Laurence and Alison at Belhaven, the Fete and the Flower Festival.   Without this spirit of sharing and this generosity of giving from the congregation Belhaven Parish Church would not be able to minister to the needs of the community and we thank God for this commitment.  

 

 

Myra Johnstone  - Treasurer

 

          

 

 

 

 

 

SPOTT PARISH CHURCH – TREASURER’S REPORT 2014;

 

This has been a challenging year for Spott Church’s account. The day-to-day running costs of delivering the Church’s ministry continue to rise, as does the requirement to maintain the fabric of the buildings.  However, the need to meet the challenge remains. 

 

Over the past year, we were only able to meet our regular financial commitments by drawing on ‘irregular, or non-recurring, sources of income.  This was because there was an unexpected drop in general giving which is of concern, if the church is to meet the targets of pastoral care.

 

Spott church has three main accounts.  The main account is the Treasurer’s Account, which deals with all giving, and from which the general expenditure is drawn.   For 2013, the figures are:

           

Income:                                                                                           £10,698.64 

Expenditure:                                                                                   £10,378.47 

                                                                                                           

Income over Expenditure:                                                         £ 320.17      

 

Within the Income figures above, the regular weekly, or monthly giving element in 2013 amounted to £8,074.98, compared to £9,149.58 in 2012;

a drop of 11%.

 

There may be many reasons for this decline, but the message must be that the whole congregation should consider how it can step up to the challenge.  That means ensuring that our regular giving remains sufficient for the work that has to be done in Christ’s name.

Spott is fortunate in having some reserve funds in other accounts, from which to draw, should it have to meet exceptional items of expenditure.  These are not inexhaustible and should not be looked at as a continuing source of funds for meeting regular commitments.  The two reserve funds, with amounts held, are:

 

·        Deposit Account: £13,632.96

·        Funds held by Church of Scotland (used for large fabric expenditure only): £7,899.38

 

Peter Macintyre (Treasurer, Spott Parish Church)

 

 

SPOTT CONGREGATION – ANNUAL REPORT from the SESSION CLERK

 

 

We faced some considerable challenges over the past year and the Session considered several issues vital to the life of our parish.  Not least among these have been issues facing the wider Church and its future.  For example, the General Assembly asked all Kirk Sessions to consider options for the future of ministry in Scotland.  This was against a background that there will shortly be insufficient, fully trained ministers to undertake parish work even on the current constrained basis.  This issue will come to the fore when our parish charge becomes vacant as, in time, it inevitably must do. 

 

We were also asked to consider (with our Belhaven partners) the role of elders, particularly the way they are selected and equipped to serve. 

 

Financial issues have also occupied our minds, particularly the fact that, as a small congregation, we have a narrow base of contributors and rely heavily on the presence of a few committed members.  If we are to continue as a self-supporting charge – a status that may become vital to our future congregational life – our regular giving needs to become a priority for all who love Spott Church and what it has provided over generations.  It is all too easy to take the blessings of our Church, dedicated minister, and regular worship here Sunday by Sunday for granted.  We need to acknowledge in a practical way the debt we owe our priceless spiritual heritage.

 

Worshipping in a quiet and beautiful place lifts our spirits and strengthens our faith.  But we have to be ever looking towards all the work of the Church that goes on beyond our borders.  One reminder of this work was given by the Church of Scotland’s summer festival – Hearts and Souls - in Princes Street Gardens.  A wide range of interest and offerings from our sister churches all over Scotland was on display and we met many stimulating people doing great work.  It was inspiring indeed, as no less is the work of the World Mission Council outside of Scotland which we read about every month.

 

During the year we participated with our good friends at Belhaven in a number of their activities to which we are always welcomed.  Not least among these are the Dunbar Area Youth Project, the Men’s Group, the Holy Week lunch talks, and many others.  We recently had the opportunity to offer our Belhaven friends some hospitality here in Spott - many thanks to the organizing ‘hosts’ for that.  This event followed our annual joint Session meeting, held this year in Spott when, yet again, the strength of our linked fellowship was roundly reaffirmed. 

 

We lost a few dear friends in 2013 and we remember, with sadness certainly but with great thankfulness, the lives of Cathy Campbell, Colin Gray, and of course Alison.  But if we lost some lovely people we gained others and welcomed Val Goodwin and Tom Black to our fellowship, and Duncan Nicholson to the Session.  More recently we have also welcomed Jacquie Waugh as a Readership trainee; she preached her first sermon in Spott yesterday.

 

Our congregational roll remains small but little changed at over 100.  We remind ourselves, however, that a congregation’s strength resides not in its number but in its spiritual health.  A pointer in the right direction was, perhaps, our decision in the autumn to enter a trial period of monthly communion celebration.  These monthly services have moved the emphasis away from the formality of our six-monthly communions towards a more informal setting in which to share the elements that lie at the very heart of our Christian life.

 

Spiritual highs were there to be shared.  But the Church’s framework still needs to be held together and at the grassroots we dealt with, or rather Peter dealt with, praise the Lord, the usual round of repairs – woodrot, bell-pull, roof, gutters, and – which will have joyed Colin Gray’s and Jacky Bulluch’s hearts – the War Memorial. 

 

It is in looking back that we come to realize how many Spott folk contribute to church life – cleaners, flower ladies, our treasurer and property convener and indeed all who serve so steadfastly on the session.  At the end of it all, we could hardly exaggerate how much we owe to Laurence for his indomitable courage and faithful service over the past year.  As he leads us in the Lord’s footsteps towards another Easter we can only offer our love.

Thank you all for your support.

 

Victor Wood, Session Clerk

 

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ANNUAL REPORT

BELHAVEN AND SPOTT PARISH CHURCHES

 

APRIL 2014

 

“It was the best of times…it was the worst of times!”

(Charles Dickens – A Tale of Two Cities.)

 

Last year’s Annual Report finished with these words:

So, the tapestry takes shape… a picture is emerging… one of positivity and promise… a tiny segment of the on-going story of faith and pilgrimage that is Belhaven Parish Church, Spott Parish Church…

What will the next segment be like?

 

It turned out that the “next segment” was full of unexpected twists and turns, new challenges - and dark as well as light.

 

Every year I put up my Year Planner on which are written the engagements commitments and responsibilities of the year. I don’t keep a diary... not since I met a frantic minister who had left his diary on a bus, and had no idea where he should be any day of the week, who was getting married where and when, and what commitments he had entered into. Having all that information on my Year Planner, pinned securely to the wall, gives me peace of mind. Even I can’t lose a wall!

But to call it a Year Planner is a new definition of optimism, for there is not that much planning we can do for a year… We can hope and anticipate… but as John Lennon said: “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans”.

And to some extent, that certainly was how 2013 turned out for me. And for many people – people whose plans were rocked by circumstances and upheavals undreamt of at the beginning of the year.

 

Notwithstanding those shocks and tremors, there was much to celebrate in the life of the church over the last twelve months, and to find quiet satisfaction with, as we reflect on the year and give thanks for it.

 

The place of the church in our local schools, and the opportunities to share in their lives, has been a great delight and privilege…

Everything from 'Big Questions' discussion panels to Multi-Faith days, from special features like 'BubbleGum and Fluff' at Christmas to whole-school visits to Church for their Christmas Religious Observance, and including the support offered by the Mentoring Programme, by the new Bereavement support team, and also by the church folk who help children with reading – these are connections of real significance, and demonstrate the commitment of the church to real caring, without strings.

West Barns Primary School has also welcomed deepening connections with the church, and offered opportunities to build a relationship that is proving helpful and creative.

Meanwhile, of course, warm links with Belhaven Hill School continue to be valued and important.

And when terrible tragedy struck this past year, the Chaplaincy Team was invited in to bring ministry and support to staff and pupils alike. 

These are very special blessings and responsibilities, and we are encouraged by them.

 

There is a clear and ongoing commitment to sharing our faith with new generations wherever that can be done. For example, when Rainbows and Guides come along to our services they know the welcome is real and warm. And the wonderful dedication of leaders in Launchpad and Lazers means special moments like the Nativity Play offer a real feeling of Christmas, and are hugely appreciated by the congregation. The rise and rise of the Toddler group, and the loving hand of friendship that is held out there, is a further vital and creative element in our witness and outreach, the Summer Programme with children and teenagers yet another earnest of our commitment to share the gospel with new generations, who certainly will not be hearing it if we do not tell it!

 

Right at the heart of all our involvement with the young people of our town lies the Dunbar Christian Youth Worker Project, and the uniquely valuable contribution of Richard Taylor to the churches' witness to them. It is especially pleasing – and a quiet little miracle in itself – that funding is now in place to sustain the Project at full strength for the next three years. God is good.

 

Last year was the Year of Talents, when we sought opportunities to demonstrate the many gifts that God has made available to the work of his church – and from singers to banner makers, from bakers to flower arrangers, from writers to pray-ers, those gifts were brought to the enrichment of our church life together… freshening up the mix with colour, imagination and energy.  The whole experience helped us believe that we have all the talent we need, right here, and when that talent is linked with loyalty, commitment, and love, we can be confident that meaningful and effective ministry will happen, right here, in the service of God. Witness the amazing Flower Festival which, perhaps unexpectedly, took us out beyond our own concerns to the needs of others.

 

Our small and not-so-small groups have had a great year too, with

Inspire Women’s Group gathering pace and developing connections at the edges;

The Men’s Group enjoying another marvellous programme with speakers of the highest calibre engaging with issues of profoundest significance and great interest;

The Guild - always dedicated, worshipful, hard-working - taking us out far beyond our own interests and concerns to the wider church and the needs of the world;

even the Book Group gathering focus and generating the kind of loyalty and sharing that has proved creative and bonding, offering the chance to learn about how we think, and where we are coming from.

 

Places change, and we have seen that even in the last year with the church fabric being brought up to a high standard of maintenance and efficiency, the place made bright and welcoming, and all necessary provisions put in place to make it comfortable and well-cared for. People sense that here is a group of people who care about their church buildings and facilities, and want them to be the best we can make them. David Wight is the prime mover in keeping standards high and the work he does in the course of the year is astonishing, invaluable and hugely appreciated.

 

And there is always a steady trickle of new folks - of all ages - coming among us and becoming part of our witness and worship, bringing their stories, their experiences and their vision. It keeps us moving, and moving forward…restless to find the best way to be the Church for now, for here, while always being true to the heart of the matter, true to the Lord who lives at and is the heart of the matter.

 

Belhaven News - so attractively presented, and always a great read - helps to keep channels of communication open, and as the Website:

www.belhavenparishchurch.org.uk

is up-graded and refined, we hope it too will serve as a resource for sharing ideas and explaining to an even wider audience what we do, and why we do it.

 

At the core of things - keeping us focused on the main thing - lies the prayer that upholds and shapes everything, and there is much prayer sustaining the life of our congregations: the prayers of the many, many people who, without fuss but with great faithfulness, hold up the church leaders in regular and faithful prayer… the prayers of the prayer groups that meet to share in prayer together... the prayer breakfasts which take place regularly and inject strength and purpose and fresh zeal into the life of the church... together these form a vital heartbeat in our congregational life. We need it. Otherwise we are just keeping an organisation ticking over.

 

Parish ministry is a very unique and amazing thing. The congregations pay for a ministry that serves far more people than simply those on the Church Rolls, and make that ministry available to whomsoever needs it, even though they may not have any connection with the church or be planning to have any connection. So much of my time is taken up offering unconditional love and compassion to people who need it - and need it now - and your commitment allows me, in the name of the church and the Christ we serve, to be the minister that this individual or that family needs… Many people express their appreciation of this kind of no-strings-attached compassion that you make available because you care about people.

 

My work as hospital chaplain - being part of the great team down at Belhaven Hospital - continues to be a source of delight, and anyone who has been a patient there, or has had a family member as a patient, knows the quality of care provided, and certainly appreciates how fortunate we are to have this wonderful resource on our doorstep.

 

The churches in Dunbar, and around, continue to feel their way towards greater sharing in work, worship and vision. New personnel bring their own richness to the mix, and it has been encouraging to share in special moments together - discussion groups at St Anne’s, the installation there of Andrew Bain, and the Joint Service for the Week of Prayer for Christianity Unity being especially memorable.

 

Our presentation at 'Heart and Soul', the big event at Princes Street Gardens during the General Assembly in May, caught the eye and gave focus to the idea that Belhaven and Spott are trying to build bridges between Church and community, between generations, and between the local churches themselves. It’s a good aim. A work in progress, as we know.

Much has been done. Much has been tried. Yet our core business, as it were, remains the same: worship, witness and service in the name of Christ.

 

Worship has certainly continued to be a source of inspiration and encouragement as well as delight. There is great singing, with a rich variety of praise explored (old classics, gospel songs, contemporary praise, Celtic/Iona-style songs) - the wonderfully talented musicians who drive that praise along are a huge and rich blessing to our congregational life, and I hope they know how much what they do is appreciated.  There are prayers from across the world, and sermons that try to address the real issues in the lives of people living in the real world.  All done with genuine love for God and in the spirit of warm fellowship. So many different people with their own back-story, their own preferences, their own prejudices... and yet together a worshipping community, rooted and grounded in our shared love for Christ, and in our desire to serve God as his people. It’s a powerfully impressive and uplifting cocktail. I am certainly glad to be part of it… and when tough times come, I know with all my heart that these are the people I want to be with, need to be with.

 

I hope this gives something of the flavour of the last twelve months or so -

much to be thankful for and to celebrate.

 

The next twelve months will hold who knows what… but there are certain aims and targets for the life of Belhaven and Spott, including making sure that our finances are strong, resilient, and capable of serving our vision and purpose. The whole Church of Scotland is taking time to attend to this matter, and Belhaven and Spott are involved in this process too as we consider our levels of giving, and adjust them in the light of present demands, future challenges, opportunities and hopes.

I might be naïve, but my feeling is that once the good people of Belhaven and Spott think about it a bit, and realise the needs of the present and the possibilities of the future, they will respond with commitment and joyful generosity so that the Church they love can do the work to which it is called, without having to keep looking over its shoulder, wondering how it will manage to make ends meet.

 

On a personal level it has, as you know, been a strange and dark time - the love of so many people has been enormously sustaining, and the prayers and wonderful kindnesses have brought an incalculable blessing.

That goes deep - and stays forever.

For kindnesses too many to mention, encouragement too deep for words, and always love that surrounds, enfolds and heals…

I thank you.

 

Laurence Twaddle.

 

====================

 

 

 

 

BELHAVEN SESSION CLERK’S REPORT:

 

Was it 'business as usual' in Belhaven's Kirk Session in 2013? In many ways, yes.

We had our usual 11 meetings – good attendances, good discussions, in the kind of good atmosphere where folk are able to be their friendly, helpful, caring selves, sharing respect and responsibility with an openness and warmth that is vital and appreciated.

We met, as we do every year, with Spott elders, sharing lunch, celebrating and sealing afresh our commitment to maintain this happy linkage.

 

We considered discussion topics and questions set by '121' and Presbytery, such as on “A Right Relationship with Money”, ecumenical relations locally, the role of the Eldership currently and in the future, Presbytery Forward Planning issues...

We were happy to encourage Dunbar Churches Together in the distribution of welcome leaflets to the 'new houses' and in the Palm Sunday procession, to support S U Holidays, the Heart and Soul event, Christian Aid Week, the East Lothian Food Bank, the Holiday Club, and all the amazing work done by Richard Taylor and those who run the Youth-worker Project. And of course, at home, to promote our Stewardship Programme – 'Sharing Talents'.

 

We hear of folk going the second mile, helping to keep people in touch, to keep doors open... Elders wear several hats, it seems – in addition to aprons and overalls! - and hope that by keeping good relations 'at home' in Belhaven, by trying to be open to new ideas and aware of the changing world out there, we can go out and build good relations, serve a good purpose in the wider community. And as we are so often reminded, it's all about people and caring – we hope never to lose sight of that.

 

We have many people to thank – I could happily name everyone, but perhaps could be allowed especially to thank (in no particular order) Mary Jamieson for being our Presbytery Elder for a good number of years, Elspeth Johnston for replacing Mary, Malcolm Paton for taking on church website management, and Margaret Cannon for faithfully keeping us up-to-date with Safeguarding matters. Where to stop with the 'thank-yous'? Not possible – thanks to everyone!

Every part of this report began with the word 'we' – we meet, we think, we talk, we plan, we serve together. And we share. Yes, Kirk Session business was much as usual in 2013, but of course we shared a huge thing – we shared losing Alison Twaddle. This loss goes deep – we miss her, and are grateful to have had all her support, her insight, her wit, her good sense, her love, and her fine example.

We now go forward in 2014, trusting, hoping, caring and sharing together, and so thankful for Laurence's continuing guidance, commitment and love.

                                                                                Barbara Richerby ( Session Clerk)

================

 

Congregational Board Chairman’s Report March 2014

 

Another year passes in what seems to be the blink of an eye, yet when we look back over the many challenges that seem to come from an ever increasing and determined set of regulatory bodies, it makes me wonder where we found the time to complete the wide and varied challenges that we faced.  However face them we most certainly did, and along the way found new and inventive ways to ensure that Belhaven Church not only meets our current needs but will remain in excellent condition for many years to come.

The buzz word of the politicians over the past few years has been austerity and this has also impacted on the church.  As households have had to adjust to a squeeze on personal finances, this has also been a theme very much at the forefront of the Congregational Boards deliberations over the past year and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

The Finance Committee have been at the forefront of guiding us through these times.  While I must point out that we are by no means destitute, we have had to look long and hard at how we as a church balance the books.  This is a theme that you will hear much more of in the coming year as we move to a period where we will focus on stewardship.  In the very near future a number of events have been planned to highlight the wide and varied groups that use Belhaven Church and how we can contribute more to the finances of the church.  My thanks go to Myra Johnstone and all on the Finance Committee for the excellent work over the past year, not only on the work on church finances but also the huge effort they have already undertaken on stewardship planning.

I mentioned at the beginning of this report the seemingly never ending legislative and regulatory changes that must be adhered to and acted upon to allow the congregation and the groups who use the church to continue to do so.  We have met and kept ahead of many of these demands by the sterling work of our Fabric Convenor David Wight.  Over the past year David has ensured that we have met our obligations in relation to all matters Health and Safety and overseen the Fire Assessment ensuring that we have fire doors, electrical   inspection and upgrade and renewed pathways outside the church.  David also oversees all letting of the church buildings, this brings in much needed revenue for the church finances.  May I take this opportunity to thank David for all his efforts in ensuring the church remains in good order.

At the forefront of all our social activities are the members of the Social Committee and the church Burns Supper is now the Burns Supper to attend.  I am thankful for all the work they do throughout the year.  They are never ones to hog the limelight but work tirelessly behind the scenes.  Their hard work is the very foundation of many a successful church social event and I would like to record my heartfelt thanks for the way they support the church.

The 2013 Church Fete was blessed with good weather a great crowd and fantastic organisation.  Silvia Devine has taken on the role of fete co-ordinator and last year was one of the best.  On a lighter note we had one of the shelter boxes the congregation had generously donated on display thanks to Robin Hamilton.  A number of enquiries were made to purchase the tent and its contents.  We can be justly proud that we, as a congregation, have donated such an essential and lifesaving piece of equipment for use in areas struck by disaster.

Members of the Board have assisted in the organisation or running of numerous events over the past year.  From the Summer Fete Burns Supper, Easter and Christmas services, soup lunches and teas after the service, clear signs of a vibrant Church full of life vitality and fellowship. While not every item under discussion runs smoothly and opinions differ this has been the exception rather than the norm.  Assisting me over the past year in her role as secretary has been Bronwyn Brodie, who has the unenviable task of accurately recording the discussions at the board meetings.  I would like to record my thanks for her hard work over the past year.

 It has been an honour to serve as Chairman of the Congregational Board and I would like to thank all members for their support and helpful advice.         

 

Dougie Denholm

Congregational Board Chairman.

 

 

ACCOUNTS FOR 2013

 

 

Belhaven Parish Church                                                                          

Extracts from Accounts for year ended 31st December 2013

 

_____________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

INCOME                                                                                2012              2013   

 

           

 

1.  Voluntary Income

 

Offerings                                                                              55946                         56398                                  

Tax recovered on Gift Aid                                                            11861                        13139

Other donations                                                                   2622                           1676 

Legacies                                                                               15550                         55855

Grants received                                                                  28507           

Contributions from congregational organisations                    771                530

                                                                                              115257                     127598          

 

 

2.  Incoming Resources from Activities for Generating Funds

 

Use of premises                                                                    5276                           4726

 

 

 

3.  Investment Income

 

Bank interest receivable                                                     1278                             955

 

 

 

4.  Incoming Resources from Charitable Activities

 

Weddings and funerals                                                      1540                           1900

Coffee mornings etc.                                                                         590                  915

Concerts                                                                                 1059                             673

Other income from charitable activities                                    5323                           5147

                                                                                                  8512                           8635

           

 

 

 

TOTAL INCOME                                                                130323             141914                                                                                                                                                                                          

EXPENDITURE                                                                     2012              2013             

 

6.  Costs of Generating Voluntary Income                      

 

Envelopes for offerings                                                      345               248

          

7.  Costs of Charitable Activities

Support costs                                                                              122214         92660  

 

8.  Governance Costs

 

Independent examiners fee                                                          864               900   

 

TOTAL EXPENDITURE                                                    123423         93808  

 

_____________________________________________________________________

 

INCOME/EXPENDITURE 2013                         

 

TOTAL INCOME                                                                                     141914

TOTAL EXPENDITURE                                                                             93808

 

                                                            Surplus                                           48106  

 

The figures set out above show the financial position at the end of 2013,   however, the surplus of  £48,106 needs to be viewed in context.   £55,463.81 was received from the estate of the late Mrs Pauline Monica Taylor and a further £390.94 from the estate of the late Mr. Alexander Hunter.   These Legacies significantly boost the Total Income figure for the year.   In order to gauge Regular Income the £55,854.75 needs to be deducted from the Total Income.   The Expenditure then needs to be deducted from the Regular Income figure to provide a more realistic picture of church finances, as set out below:

 

TOTAL INCOME                              141914

LESS LEGACIES                                  55855  

REGULAR INCOME               86059

LESS EXPENDITURE                          93808         

            DEFICIT                                 -  7749

 

The above deficit of £7,749 includes expenditure of £4,800 on tarring the paths around Church premises;  inspection and upgrading of electrical appliances to meet new regulations, £2118.53;  fitting of fire doors and storage cupboard to meet safety regulations, £2165.70.     In relation to Income there has been the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme (GASDS) operating as from 2013 which allows parishes to claim Gift Aid on small cash donations of £20 or less up to a threshold of £5,000.   Belhaven has received a further £1250 in Gift Aid through this scheme, the maximum, annual amount payable and this has reduced the deficit.      (Comprehensive information on Income and Expenditure plus copy of Accounts  available in Session Room of Church.)

 

During 2013 the Finance Committee has continued to strive to achieve a healthy financial position for Belhaven Parish Church in terms of the balance between regular weekly/monthly Income and weekly/monthly Expenditure.    In order to achieve this healthy balance the regular Income figure, not including Legacies,  needs to be greater than the Expenditure figure.   This then enables Belhaven to be self sufficient and provides a more sound foundation for the future of the church.  This does not detract, however, from the importance and value of Legacies to Belhaven’s financial position.     There is no doubt Belhaven would have faced a vastly different situation in 2010, given the major roof repairs costing £46,258, had there not been the Legacy from the late Mr Alexander Hunter.   Belhaven’s Total Resources in 2013, detailed below, has only been possible through receipt of a further generous Legacy.  

 

FINANCIAL POSITION AT END DECEMBER 2013

 

BALANCE WITH ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND                         15044.20

 

INVESTED WITH CHURCH OF SCOTLAND                             170000.00

 

TOTAL RESOURCES AT END DECEMBER                    185044.20

 

The Finance Committee is of the view that Legacies have been and continue to be vital but need to be kept for the larger, sometimes unexpected expenditures on buildings/fabric and also for outreach and should not be used to cover everyday expenditure.    As a congregation we need to reflect on our own givings in light of the underlying deficit position and the likelihood that without further action it will grow.   

 

The congregation is already aware that the General Assembly set out the requirement for Churches to cover a three year cycle focusing on time, talents and money.   In 2012 Belhaven focused on time, in 2013 talents and in 2014 the focus will be on money.   To take the focus on money forward an Exhibition/Celebration of the past/present/future life of Belhaven Parish Church is planned for the weekend of 10/11 May.   Further information will be sent out about this weekend.   It is hoped as many of the congregation as possible will  support the event.             

 

During 2013 Belhaven Church was able to make donations to the Philippines Typhoon appeal through the Famine & Disaster Fund and a retiral collection.   The Christmas Eve collection was donated to the East Lothian Foodbank and a Soup & Sweet lunch was held in aid of Dunbar Area Christian Youth Project.  

 

Financial demands on the congregation increased during 2013 with the Finance and Fabric committees continuing to work closely together to try and ensure careful management of Church finances.   It is crucial to celebrate the ongoing, generous financial giving of the congregation on a week by week, month by month basis.  Without this regular financial support Belhaven Parish Church would cease to exist.   It is also important to acknowledge the generosity of the late Mrs Pauline Monica Taylor and her valued support for the work of the church.    Along with the regular financial contributions during 2013 the congregation gave generously of their time and talents organising a number of successful events;  the Burns Supper, the 35 year celebration of Laurence and Alison at Belhaven, the Fete and the Flower Festival.   Without this spirit of sharing and this generosity of giving from the congregation Belhaven Parish Church would not be able to minister to the needs of the community and we thank God for this commitment.  

 

 

Myra Johnstone  - Treasurer

 

          

 

 

 

 

 

SPOTT PARISH CHURCH – TREASURER’S REPORT 2014;

 

This has been a challenging year for Spott Church’s account. The day-to-day running costs of delivering the Church’s ministry continue to rise, as does the requirement to maintain the fabric of the buildings.  However, the need to meet the challenge remains. 

 

Over the past year, we were only able to meet our regular financial commitments by drawing on ‘irregular, or non-recurring, sources of income.  This was because there was an unexpected drop in general giving which is of concern, if the church is to meet the targets of pastoral care.

 

Spott church has three main accounts.  The main account is the Treasurer’s Account, which deals with all giving, and from which the general expenditure is drawn.   For 2013, the figures are:

           

Income:                                                                                           £10,698.64 

Expenditure:                                                                                   £10,378.47 

                                                                                                           

Income over Expenditure:                                                         £ 320.17      

 

Within the Income figures above, the regular weekly, or monthly giving element in 2013 amounted to £8,074.98, compared to £9,149.58 in 2012;

a drop of 11%.

 

There may be many reasons for this decline, but the message must be that the whole congregation should consider how it can step up to the challenge.  That means ensuring that our regular giving remains sufficient for the work that has to be done in Christ’s name.

Spott is fortunate in having some reserve funds in other accounts, from which to draw, should it have to meet exceptional items of expenditure.  These are not inexhaustible and should not be looked at as a continuing source of funds for meeting regular commitments.  The two reserve funds, with amounts held, are:

 

·        Deposit Account: £13,632.96

·        Funds held by Church of Scotland (used for large fabric expenditure only): £7,899.38

 

Peter Macintyre (Treasurer, Spott Parish Church)

 

 

SPOTT CONGREGATION – ANNUAL REPORT from the SESSION CLERK

 

 

We faced some considerable challenges over the past year and the Session considered several issues vital to the life of our parish.  Not least among these have been issues facing the wider Church and its future.  For example, the General Assembly asked all Kirk Sessions to consider options for the future of ministry in Scotland.  This was against a background that there will shortly be insufficient, fully trained ministers to undertake parish work even on the current constrained basis.  This issue will come to the fore when our parish charge becomes vacant as, in time, it inevitably must do. 

 

We were also asked to consider (with our Belhaven partners) the role of elders, particularly the way they are selected and equipped to serve. 

 

Financial issues have also occupied our minds, particularly the fact that, as a small congregation, we have a narrow base of contributors and rely heavily on the presence of a few committed members.  If we are to continue as a self-supporting charge – a status that may become vital to our future congregational life – our regular giving needs to become a priority for all who love Spott Church and what it has provided over generations.  It is all too easy to take the blessings of our Church, dedicated minister, and regular worship here Sunday by Sunday for granted.  We need to acknowledge in a practical way the debt we owe our priceless spiritual heritage.

 

Worshipping in a quiet and beautiful place lifts our spirits and strengthens our faith.  But we have to be ever looking towards all the work of the Church that goes on beyond our borders.  One reminder of this work was given by the Church of Scotland’s summer festival – Hearts and Souls - in Princes Street Gardens.  A wide range of interest and offerings from our sister churches all over Scotland was on display and we met many stimulating people doing great work.  It was inspiring indeed, as no less is the work of the World Mission Council outside of Scotland which we read about every month.

 

During the year we participated with our good friends at Belhaven in a number of their activities to which we are always welcomed.  Not least among these are the Dunbar Area Youth Project, the Men’s Group, the Holy Week lunch talks, and many others.  We recently had the opportunity to offer our Belhaven friends some hospitality here in Spott - many thanks to the organizing ‘hosts’ for that.  This event followed our annual joint Session meeting, held this year in Spott when, yet again, the strength of our linked fellowship was roundly reaffirmed. 

 

We lost a few dear friends in 2013 and we remember, with sadness certainly but with great thankfulness, the lives of Cathy Campbell, Colin Gray, and of course Alison.  But if we lost some lovely people we gained others and welcomed Val Goodwin and Tom Black to our fellowship, and Duncan Nicholson to the Session.  More recently we have also welcomed Jacquie Waugh as a Readership trainee; she preached her first sermon in Spott yesterday.

 

Our congregational roll remains small but little changed at over 100.  We remind ourselves, however, that a congregation’s strength resides not in its number but in its spiritual health.  A pointer in the right direction was, perhaps, our decision in the autumn to enter a trial period of monthly communion celebration.  These monthly services have moved the emphasis away from the formality of our six-monthly communions towards a more informal setting in which to share the elements that lie at the very heart of our Christian life.

 

Spiritual highs were there to be shared.  But the Church’s framework still needs to be held together and at the grassroots we dealt with, or rather Peter dealt with, praise the Lord, the usual round of repairs – woodrot, bell-pull, roof, gutters, and – which will have joyed Colin Gray’s and Jacky Bulluch’s hearts – the War Memorial. 

 

It is in looking back that we come to realize how many Spott folk contribute to church life – cleaners, flower ladies, our treasurer and property convener and indeed all who serve so steadfastly on the session.  At the end of it all, we could hardly exaggerate how much we owe to Laurence for his indomitable courage and faithful service over the past year.  As he leads us in the Lord’s footsteps towards another Easter we can only offer our love.

Thank you all for your support.

 

Victor Wood, Session Clerk

 

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ANNUAL REPORT

BELHAVEN AND SPOTT PARISH CHURCHES

 

APRIL 2014

 

“It was the best of times…it was the worst of times!”

(Charles Dickens – A Tale of Two Cities.)

 

Last year’s Annual Report finished with these words:

So, the tapestry takes shape… a picture is emerging… one of positivity and promise… a tiny segment of the on-going story of faith and pilgrimage that is Belhaven Parish Church, Spott Parish Church…

What will the next segment be like?

 

It turned out that the “next segment” was full of unexpected twists and turns, new challenges - and dark as well as light.

 

Every year I put up my Year Planner on which are written the engagements commitments and responsibilities of the year. I don’t keep a diary... not since I met a frantic minister who had left his diary on a bus, and had no idea where he should be any day of the week, who was getting married where and when, and what commitments he had entered into. Having all that information on my Year Planner, pinned securely to the wall, gives me peace of mind. Even I can’t lose a wall!

But to call it a Year Planner is a new definition of optimism, for there is not that much planning we can do for a year… We can hope and anticipate… but as John Lennon said: “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans”.

And to some extent, that certainly was how 2013 turned out for me. And for many people – people whose plans were rocked by circumstances and upheavals undreamt of at the beginning of the year.

 

Notwithstanding those shocks and tremors, there was much to celebrate in the life of the church over the last twelve months, and to find quiet satisfaction with, as we reflect on the year and give thanks for it.

 

The place of the church in our local schools, and the opportunities to share in their lives, has been a great delight and privilege…

Everything from 'Big Questions' discussion panels to Multi-Faith days, from special features like 'BubbleGum and Fluff' at Christmas to whole-school visits to Church for their Christmas Religious Observance, and including the support offered by the Mentoring Programme, by the new Bereavement support team, and also by the church folk who help children with reading – these are connections of real significance, and demonstrate the commitment of the church to real caring, without strings.

West Barns Primary School has also welcomed deepening connections with the church, and offered opportunities to build a relationship that is proving helpful and creative.

Meanwhile, of course, warm links with Belhaven Hill School continue to be valued and important.

And when terrible tragedy struck this past year, the Chaplaincy Team was invited in to bring ministry and support to staff and pupils alike. 

These are very special blessings and responsibilities, and we are encouraged by them.

 

There is a clear and ongoing commitment to sharing our faith with new generations wherever that can be done. For example, when Rainbows and Guides come along to our services they know the welcome is real and warm. And the wonderful dedication of leaders in Launchpad and Lazers means special moments like the Nativity Play offer a real feeling of Christmas, and are hugely appreciated by the congregation. The rise and rise of the Toddler group, and the loving hand of friendship that is held out there, is a further vital and creative element in our witness and outreach, the Summer Programme with children and teenagers yet another earnest of our commitment to share the gospel with new generations, who certainly will not be hearing it if we do not tell it!

 

Right at the heart of all our involvement with the young people of our town lies the Dunbar Christian Youth Worker Project, and the uniquely valuable contribution of Richard Taylor to the churches' witness to them. It is especially pleasing – and a quiet little miracle in itself – that funding is now in place to sustain the Project at full strength for the next three years. God is good.

 

Last year was the Year of Talents, when we sought opportunities to demonstrate the many gifts that God has made available to the work of his church – and from singers to banner makers, from bakers to flower arrangers, from writers to pray-ers, those gifts were brought to the enrichment of our church life together… freshening up the mix with colour, imagination and energy.  The whole experience helped us believe that we have all the talent we need, right here, and when that talent is linked with loyalty, commitment, and love, we can be confident that meaningful and effective ministry will happen, right here, in the service of God. Witness the amazing Flower Festival which, perhaps unexpectedly, took us out beyond our own concerns to the needs of others.

 

Our small and not-so-small groups have had a great year too, with

Inspire Women’s Group gathering pace and developing connections at the edges;

The Men’s Group enjoying another marvellous programme with speakers of the highest calibre engaging with issues of profoundest significance and great interest;

The Guild - always dedicated, worshipful, hard-working - taking us out far beyond our own interests and concerns to the wider church and the needs of the world;

even the Book Group gathering focus and generating the kind of loyalty and sharing that has proved creative and bonding, offering the chance to learn about how we think, and where we are coming from.

 

Places change, and we have seen that even in the last year with the church fabric being brought up to a high standard of maintenance and efficiency, the place made bright and welcoming, and all necessary provisions put in place to make it comfortable and well-cared for. People sense that here is a group of people who care about their church buildings and facilities, and want them to be the best we can make them. David Wight is the prime mover in keeping standards high and the work he does in the course of the year is astonishing, invaluable and hugely appreciated.

 

And there is always a steady trickle of new folks - of all ages - coming among us and becoming part of our witness and worship, bringing their stories, their experiences and their vision. It keeps us moving, and moving forward…restless to find the best way to be the Church for now, for here, while always being true to the heart of the matter, true to the Lord who lives at and is the heart of the matter.

 

Belhaven News - so attractively presented, and always a great read - helps to keep channels of communication open, and as the Website:

www.belhavenparishchurch.org.uk

is up-graded and refined, we hope it too will serve as a resource for sharing ideas and explaining to an even wider audience what we do, and why we do it.

 

At the core of things - keeping us focused on the main thing - lies the prayer that upholds and shapes everything, and there is much prayer sustaining the life of our congregations: the prayers of the many, many people who, without fuss but with great faithfulness, hold up the church leaders in regular and faithful prayer… the prayers of the prayer groups that meet to share in prayer together... the prayer breakfasts which take place regularly and inject strength and purpose and fresh zeal into the life of the church... together these form a vital heartbeat in our congregational life. We need it. Otherwise we are just keeping an organisation ticking over.

 

Parish ministry is a very unique and amazing thing. The congregations pay for a ministry that serves far more people than simply those on the Church Rolls, and make that ministry available to whomsoever needs it, even though they may not have any connection with the church or be planning to have any connection. So much of my time is taken up offering unconditional love and compassion to people who need it - and need it now - and your commitment allows me, in the name of the church and the Christ we serve, to be the minister that this individual or that family needs… Many people express their appreciation of this kind of no-strings-attached compassion that you make available because you care about people.

 

My work as hospital chaplain - being part of the great team down at Belhaven Hospital - continues to be a source of delight, and anyone who has been a patient there, or has had a family member as a patient, knows the quality of care provided, and certainly appreciates how fortunate we are to have this wonderful resource on our doorstep.

 

The churches in Dunbar, and around, continue to feel their way towards greater sharing in work, worship and vision. New personnel bring their own richness to the mix, and it has been encouraging to share in special moments together - discussion groups at St Anne’s, the installation there of Andrew Bain, and the Joint Service for the Week of Prayer for Christianity Unity being especially memorable.

 

Our presentation at 'Heart and Soul', the big event at Princes Street Gardens during the General Assembly in May, caught the eye and gave focus to the idea that Belhaven and Spott are trying to build bridges between Church and community, between generations, and between the local churches themselves. It’s a good aim. A work in progress, as we know.

Much has been done. Much has been tried. Yet our core business, as it were, remains the same: worship, witness and service in the name of Christ.

 

Worship has certainly continued to be a source of inspiration and encouragement as well as delight. There is great singing, with a rich variety of praise explored (old classics, gospel songs, contemporary praise, Celtic/Iona-style songs) - the wonderfully talented musicians who drive that praise along are a huge and rich blessing to our congregational life, and I hope they know how much what they do is appreciated.  There are prayers from across the world, and sermons that try to address the real issues in the lives of people living in the real world.  All done with genuine love for God and in the spirit of warm fellowship. So many different people with their own back-story, their own preferences, their own prejudices... and yet together a worshipping community, rooted and grounded in our shared love for Christ, and in our desire to serve God as his people. It’s a powerfully impressive and uplifting cocktail. I am certainly glad to be part of it… and when tough times come, I know with all my heart that these are the people I want to be with, need to be with.

 

I hope this gives something of the flavour of the last twelve months or so -

much to be thankful for and to celebrate.

 

The next twelve months will hold who knows what… but there are certain aims and targets for the life of Belhaven and Spott, including making sure that our finances are strong, resilient, and capable of serving our vision and purpose. The whole Church of Scotland is taking time to attend to this matter, and Belhaven and Spott are involved in this process too as we consider our levels of giving, and adjust them in the light of present demands, future challenges, opportunities and hopes.

I might be naïve, but my feeling is that once the good people of Belhaven and Spott think about it a bit, and realise the needs of the present and the possibilities of the future, they will respond with commitment and joyful generosity so that the Church they love can do the work to which it is called, without having to keep looking over its shoulder, wondering how it will manage to make ends meet.

 

On a personal level it has, as you know, been a strange and dark time - the love of so many people has been enormously sustaining, and the prayers and wonderful kindnesses have brought an incalculable blessing.

That goes deep - and stays forever.

For kindnesses too many to mention, encouragement too deep for words, and always love that surrounds, enfolds and heals…

I thank you.

 

Laurence Twaddle.

 

====================

 

 

 

 

BELHAVEN SESSION CLERK’S REPORT:

 

Was it 'business as usual' in Belhaven's Kirk Session in 2013? In many ways, yes.

We had our usual 11 meetings – good attendances, good discussions, in the kind of good atmosphere where folk are able to be their friendly, helpful, caring selves, sharing respect and responsibility with an openness and warmth that is vital and appreciated.

We met, as we do every year, with Spott elders, sharing lunch, celebrating and sealing afresh our commitment to maintain this happy linkage.

 

We considered discussion topics and questions set by '121' and Presbytery, such as on “A Right Relationship with Money”, ecumenical relations locally, the role of the Eldership currently and in the future, Presbytery Forward Planning issues...

We were happy to encourage Dunbar Churches Together in the distribution of welcome leaflets to the 'new houses' and in the Palm Sunday procession, to support S U Holidays, the Heart and Soul event, Christian Aid Week, the East Lothian Food Bank, the Holiday Club, and all the amazing work done by Richard Taylor and those who run the Youth-worker Project. And of course, at home, to promote our Stewardship Programme – 'Sharing Talents'.

 

We hear of folk going the second mile, helping to keep people in touch, to keep doors open... Elders wear several hats, it seems – in addition to aprons and overalls! - and hope that by keeping good relations 'at home' in Belhaven, by trying to be open to new ideas and aware of the changing world out there, we can go out and build good relations, serve a good purpose in the wider community. And as we are so often reminded, it's all about people and caring – we hope never to lose sight of that.

 

We have many people to thank – I could happily name everyone, but perhaps could be allowed especially to thank (in no particular order) Mary Jamieson for being our Presbytery Elder for a good number of years, Elspeth Johnston for replacing Mary, Malcolm Paton for taking on church website management, and Margaret Cannon for faithfully keeping us up-to-date with Safeguarding matters. Where to stop with the 'thank-yous'? Not possible – thanks to everyone!

Every part of this report began with the word 'we' – we meet, we think, we talk, we plan, we serve together. And we share. Yes, Kirk Session business was much as usual in 2013, but of course we shared a huge thing – we shared losing Alison Twaddle. This loss goes deep – we miss her, and are grateful to have had all her support, her insight, her wit, her good sense, her love, and her fine example.

We now go forward in 2014, trusting, hoping, caring and sharing together, and so thankful for Laurence's continuing guidance, commitment and love.

                                                                                Barbara Richerby ( Session Clerk)

================

 

Congregational Board Chairman’s Report March 2014

 

Another year passes in what seems to be the blink of an eye, yet when we look back over the many challenges that seem to come from an ever increasing and determined set of regulatory bodies, it makes me wonder where we found the time to complete the wide and varied challenges that we faced.  However face them we most certainly did, and along the way found new and inventive ways to ensure that Belhaven Church not only meets our current needs but will remain in excellent condition for many years to come.

The buzz word of the politicians over the past few years has been austerity and this has also impacted on the church.  As households have had to adjust to a squeeze on personal finances, this has also been a theme very much at the forefront of the Congregational Boards deliberations over the past year and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

The Finance Committee have been at the forefront of guiding us through these times.  While I must point out that we are by no means destitute, we have had to look long and hard at how we as a church balance the books.  This is a theme that you will hear much more of in the coming year as we move to a period where we will focus on stewardship.  In the very near future a number of events have been planned to highlight the wide and varied groups that use Belhaven Church and how we can contribute more to the finances of the church.  My thanks go to Myra Johnstone and all on the Finance Committee for the excellent work over the past year, not only on the work on church finances but also the huge effort they have already undertaken on stewardship planning.

I mentioned at the beginning of this report the seemingly never ending legislative and regulatory changes that must be adhered to and acted upon to allow the congregation and the groups who use the church to continue to do so.  We have met and kept ahead of many of these demands by the sterling work of our Fabric Convenor David Wight.  Over the past year David has ensured that we have met our obligations in relation to all matters Health and Safety and overseen the Fire Assessment ensuring that we have fire doors, electrical   inspection and upgrade and renewed pathways outside the church.  David also oversees all letting of the church buildings, this brings in much needed revenue for the church finances.  May I take this opportunity to thank David for all his efforts in ensuring the church remains in good order.

At the forefront of all our social activities are the members of the Social Committee and the church Burns Supper is now the Burns Supper to attend.  I am thankful for all the work they do throughout the year.  They are never ones to hog the limelight but work tirelessly behind the scenes.  Their hard work is the very foundation of many a successful church social event and I would like to record my heartfelt thanks for the way they support the church.

The 2013 Church Fete was blessed with good weather a great crowd and fantastic organisation.  Silvia Devine has taken on the role of fete co-ordinator and last year was one of the best.  On a lighter note we had one of the shelter boxes the congregation had generously donated on display thanks to Robin Hamilton.  A number of enquiries were made to purchase the tent and its contents.  We can be justly proud that we, as a congregation, have donated such an essential and lifesaving piece of equipment for use in areas struck by disaster.

Members of the Board have assisted in the organisation or running of numerous events over the past year.  From the Summer Fete Burns Supper, Easter and Christmas services, soup lunches and teas after the service, clear signs of a vibrant Church full of life vitality and fellowship. While not every item under discussion runs smoothly and opinions differ this has been the exception rather than the norm.  Assisting me over the past year in her role as secretary has been Bronwyn Brodie, who has the unenviable task of accurately recording the discussions at the board meetings.  I would like to record my thanks for her hard work over the past year.

 It has been an honour to serve as Chairman of the Congregational Board and I would like to thank all members for their support and helpful advice.         

 

Dougie Denholm

Congregational Board Chairman.

 

 

ACCOUNTS FOR 2013

 

 

Belhaven Parish Church                                                                          

Extracts from Accounts for year ended 31st December 2013

 

_____________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

INCOME                                                                                2012              2013   

 

           

 

1.  Voluntary Income

 

Offerings                                                                              55946                         56398                                  

Tax recovered on Gift Aid                                                            11861                        13139

Other donations                                                                   2622                           1676 

Legacies                                                                               15550                         55855

Grants received                                                                  28507           

Contributions from congregational organisations                    771                530

                                                                                              115257                     127598          

 

 

2.  Incoming Resources from Activities for Generating Funds

 

Use of premises                                                                    5276                           4726

 

 

 

3.  Investment Income

 

Bank interest receivable                                                     1278                             955

 

 

 

4.  Incoming Resources from Charitable Activities

 

Weddings and funerals                                                      1540                           1900

Coffee mornings etc.                                                                         590                  915

Concerts                                                                                 1059                             673

Other income from charitable activities                                    5323                           5147

                                                                                                  8512                           8635

           

 

 

 

TOTAL INCOME                                                                130323             141914                                                                                                                                                                                          

EXPENDITURE                                                                     2012              2013             

 

6.  Costs of Generating Voluntary Income                      

 

Envelopes for offerings                                                      345               248

          

7.  Costs of Charitable Activities

Support costs                                                                              122214         92660  

 

8.  Governance Costs

 

Independent examiners fee                                                          864               900   

 

TOTAL EXPENDITURE                                                    123423         93808  

 

_____________________________________________________________________

 

INCOME/EXPENDITURE 2013                         

 

TOTAL INCOME                                                                                     141914

TOTAL EXPENDITURE                                                                             93808

 

                                                            Surplus                                           48106  

 

The figures set out above show the financial position at the end of 2013,   however, the surplus of  £48,106 needs to be viewed in context.   £55,463.81 was received from the estate of the late Mrs Pauline Monica Taylor and a further £390.94 from the estate of the late Mr. Alexander Hunter.   These Legacies significantly boost the Total Income figure for the year.   In order to gauge Regular Income the £55,854.75 needs to be deducted from the Total Income.   The Expenditure then needs to be deducted from the Regular Income figure to provide a more realistic picture of church finances, as set out below:

 

TOTAL INCOME                              141914

LESS LEGACIES                                  55855  

REGULAR INCOME               86059

LESS EXPENDITURE                          93808         

            DEFICIT                                 -  7749

 

The above deficit of £7,749 includes expenditure of £4,800 on tarring the paths around Church premises;  inspection and upgrading of electrical appliances to meet new regulations, £2118.53;  fitting of fire doors and storage cupboard to meet safety regulations, £2165.70.     In relation to Income there has been the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme (GASDS) operating as from 2013 which allows parishes to claim Gift Aid on small cash donations of £20 or less up to a threshold of £5,000.   Belhaven has received a further £1250 in Gift Aid through this scheme, the maximum, annual amount payable and this has reduced the deficit.      (Comprehensive information on Income and Expenditure plus copy of Accounts  available in Session Room of Church.)

 

During 2013 the Finance Committee has continued to strive to achieve a healthy financial position for Belhaven Parish Church in terms of the balance between regular weekly/monthly Income and weekly/monthly Expenditure.    In order to achieve this healthy balance the regular Income figure, not including Legacies,  needs to be greater than the Expenditure figure.   This then enables Belhaven to be self sufficient and provides a more sound foundation for the future of the church.  This does not detract, however, from the importance and value of Legacies to Belhaven’s financial position.     There is no doubt Belhaven would have faced a vastly different situation in 2010, given the major roof repairs costing £46,258, had there not been the Legacy from the late Mr Alexander Hunter.   Belhaven’s Total Resources in 2013, detailed below, has only been possible through receipt of a further generous Legacy.  

 

FINANCIAL POSITION AT END DECEMBER 2013

 

BALANCE WITH ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND                         15044.20

 

INVESTED WITH CHURCH OF SCOTLAND                             170000.00

 

TOTAL RESOURCES AT END DECEMBER                    185044.20

 

The Finance Committee is of the view that Legacies have been and continue to be vital but need to be kept for the larger, sometimes unexpected expenditures on buildings/fabric and also for outreach and should not be used to cover everyday expenditure.    As a congregation we need to reflect on our own givings in light of the underlying deficit position and the likelihood that without further action it will grow.   

 

The congregation is already aware that the General Assembly set out the requirement for Churches to cover a three year cycle focusing on time, talents and money.   In 2012 Belhaven focused on time, in 2013 talents and in 2014 the focus will be on money.   To take the focus on money forward an Exhibition/Celebration of the past/present/future life of Belhaven Parish Church is planned for the weekend of 10/11 May.   Further information will be sent out about this weekend.   It is hoped as many of the congregation as possible will  support the event.             

 

During 2013 Belhaven Church was able to make donations to the Philippines Typhoon appeal through the Famine & Disaster Fund and a retiral collection.   The Christmas Eve collection was donated to the East Lothian Foodbank and a Soup & Sweet lunch was held in aid of Dunbar Area Christian Youth Project.  

 

Financial demands on the congregation increased during 2013 with the Finance and Fabric committees continuing to work closely together to try and ensure careful management of Church finances.   It is crucial to celebrate the ongoing, generous financial giving of the congregation on a week by week, month by month basis.  Without this regular financial support Belhaven Parish Church would cease to exist.   It is also important to acknowledge the generosity of the late Mrs Pauline Monica Taylor and her valued support for the work of the church.    Along with the regular financial contributions during 2013 the congregation gave generously of their time and talents organising a number of successful events;  the Burns Supper, the 35 year celebration of Laurence and Alison at Belhaven, the Fete and the Flower Festival.   Without this spirit of sharing and this generosity of giving from the congregation Belhaven Parish Church would not be able to minister to the needs of the community and we thank God for this commitment.  

 

 

Myra Johnstone  - Treasurer

 

          

 

 

 

 

 

SPOTT PARISH CHURCH – TREASURER’S REPORT 2014;

 

This has been a challenging year for Spott Church’s account. The day-to-day running costs of delivering the Church’s ministry continue to rise, as does the requirement to maintain the fabric of the buildings.  However, the need to meet the challenge remains. 

 

Over the past year, we were only able to meet our regular financial commitments by drawing on ‘irregular, or non-recurring, sources of income.  This was because there was an unexpected drop in general giving which is of concern, if the church is to meet the targets of pastoral care.

 

Spott church has three main accounts.  The main account is the Treasurer’s Account, which deals with all giving, and from which the general expenditure is drawn.   For 2013, the figures are:

           

Income:                                                                                           £10,698.64 

Expenditure:                                                                                   £10,378.47 

                                                                                                           

Income over Expenditure:                                                         £ 320.17      

 

Within the Income figures above, the regular weekly, or monthly giving element in 2013 amounted to £8,074.98, compared to £9,149.58 in 2012;

a drop of 11%.

 

There may be many reasons for this decline, but the message must be that the whole congregation should consider how it can step up to the challenge.  That means ensuring that our regular giving remains sufficient for the work that has to be done in Christ’s name.

Spott is fortunate in having some reserve funds in other accounts, from which to draw, should it have to meet exceptional items of expenditure.  These are not inexhaustible and should not be looked at as a continuing source of funds for meeting regular commitments.  The two reserve funds, with amounts held, are:

 

·        Deposit Account: £13,632.96

·        Funds held by Church of Scotland (used for large fabric expenditure only): £7,899.38

 

Peter Macintyre (Treasurer, Spott Parish Church)

 

 

SPOTT CONGREGATION – ANNUAL REPORT from the SESSION CLERK

 

 

We faced some considerable challenges over the past year and the Session considered several issues vital to the life of our parish.  Not least among these have been issues facing the wider Church and its future.  For example, the General Assembly asked all Kirk Sessions to consider options for the future of ministry in Scotland.  This was against a background that there will shortly be insufficient, fully trained ministers to undertake parish work even on the current constrained basis.  This issue will come to the fore when our parish charge becomes vacant as, in time, it inevitably must do. 

 

We were also asked to consider (with our Belhaven partners) the role of elders, particularly the way they are selected and equipped to serve. 

 

Financial issues have also occupied our minds, particularly the fact that, as a small congregation, we have a narrow base of contributors and rely heavily on the presence of a few committed members.  If we are to continue as a self-supporting charge – a status that may become vital to our future congregational life – our regular giving needs to become a priority for all who love Spott Church and what it has provided over generations.  It is all too easy to take the blessings of our Church, dedicated minister, and regular worship here Sunday by Sunday for granted.  We need to acknowledge in a practical way the debt we owe our priceless spiritual heritage.

 

Worshipping in a quiet and beautiful place lifts our spirits and strengthens our faith.  But we have to be ever looking towards all the work of the Church that goes on beyond our borders.  One reminder of this work was given by the Church of Scotland’s summer festival – Hearts and Souls - in Princes Street Gardens.  A wide range of interest and offerings from our sister churches all over Scotland was on display and we met many stimulating people doing great work.  It was inspiring indeed, as no less is the work of the World Mission Council outside of Scotland which we read about every month.

 

During the year we participated with our good friends at Belhaven in a number of their activities to which we are always welcomed.  Not least among these are the Dunbar Area Youth Project, the Men’s Group, the Holy Week lunch talks, and many others.  We recently had the opportunity to offer our Belhaven friends some hospitality here in Spott - many thanks to the organizing ‘hosts’ for that.  This event followed our annual joint Session meeting, held this year in Spott when, yet again, the strength of our linked fellowship was roundly reaffirmed. 

 

We lost a few dear friends in 2013 and we remember, with sadness certainly but with great thankfulness, the lives of Cathy Campbell, Colin Gray, and of course Alison.  But if we lost some lovely people we gained others and welcomed Val Goodwin and Tom Black to our fellowship, and Duncan Nicholson to the Session.  More recently we have also welcomed Jacquie Waugh as a Readership trainee; she preached her first sermon in Spott yesterday.

 

Our congregational roll remains small but little changed at over 100.  We remind ourselves, however, that a congregation’s strength resides not in its number but in its spiritual health.  A pointer in the right direction was, perhaps, our decision in the autumn to enter a trial period of monthly communion celebration.  These monthly services have moved the emphasis away from the formality of our six-monthly communions towards a more informal setting in which to share the elements that lie at the very heart of our Christian life.

 

Spiritual highs were there to be shared.  But the Church’s framework still needs to be held together and at the grassroots we dealt with, or rather Peter dealt with, praise the Lord, the usual round of repairs – woodrot, bell-pull, roof, gutters, and – which will have joyed Colin Gray’s and Jacky Bulluch’s hearts – the War Memorial. 

 

It is in looking back that we come to realize how many Spott folk contribute to church life – cleaners, flower ladies, our treasurer and property convener and indeed all who serve so steadfastly on the session.  At the end of it all, we could hardly exaggerate how much we owe to Laurence for his indomitable courage and faithful service over the past year.  As he leads us in the Lord’s footsteps towards another Easter we can only offer our love.

Thank you all for your support.

 

Victor Wood, Session Clerk

 

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ANNUAL REPORT

BELHAVEN AND SPOTT PARISH CHURCHES

 

APRIL 2014

 

“It was the best of times…it was the worst of times!”

(Charles Dickens – A Tale of Two Cities.)

 

Last year’s Annual Report finished with these words:

So, the tapestry takes shape… a picture is emerging… one of positivity and promise… a tiny segment of the on-going story of faith and pilgrimage that is Belhaven Parish Church, Spott Parish Church…

What will the next segment be like?

 

It turned out that the “next segment” was full of unexpected twists and turns, new challenges - and dark as well as light.

 

Every year I put up my Year Planner on which are written the engagements commitments and responsibilities of the year. I don’t keep a diary... not since I met a frantic minister who had left his diary on a bus, and had no idea where he should be any day of the week, who was getting married where and when, and what commitments he had entered into. Having all that information on my Year Planner, pinned securely to the wall, gives me peace of mind. Even I can’t lose a wall!

But to call it a Year Planner is a new definition of optimism, for there is not that much planning we can do for a year… We can hope and anticipate… but as John Lennon said: “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans”.

And to some extent, that certainly was how 2013 turned out for me. And for many people – people whose plans were rocked by circumstances and upheavals undreamt of at the beginning of the year.

 

Notwithstanding those shocks and tremors, there was much to celebrate in the life of the church over the last twelve months, and to find quiet satisfaction with, as we reflect on the year and give thanks for it.

 

The place of the church in our local schools, and the opportunities to share in their lives, has been a great delight and privilege…

Everything from 'Big Questions' discussion panels to Multi-Faith days, from special features like 'BubbleGum and Fluff' at Christmas to whole-school visits to Church for their Christmas Religious Observance, and including the support offered by the Mentoring Programme, by the new Bereavement support team, and also by the church folk who help children with reading – these are connections of real significance, and demonstrate the commitment of the church to real caring, without strings.

West Barns Primary School has also welcomed deepening connections with the church, and offered opportunities to build a relationship that is proving helpful and creative.

Meanwhile, of course, warm links with Belhaven Hill School continue to be valued and important.

And when terrible tragedy struck this past year, the Chaplaincy Team was invited in to bring ministry and support to staff and pupils alike. 

These are very special blessings and responsibilities, and we are encouraged by them.

 

There is a clear and ongoing commitment to sharing our faith with new generations wherever that can be done. For example, when Rainbows and Guides come along to our services they know the welcome is real and warm. And the wonderful dedication of leaders in Launchpad and Lazers means special moments like the Nativity Play offer a real feeling of Christmas, and are hugely appreciated by the congregation. The rise and rise of the Toddler group, and the loving hand of friendship that is held out there, is a further vital and creative element in our witness and outreach, the Summer Programme with children and teenagers yet another earnest of our commitment to share the gospel with new generations, who certainly will not be hearing it if we do not tell it!

 

Right at the heart of all our involvement with the young people of our town lies the Dunbar Christian Youth Worker Project, and the uniquely valuable contribution of Richard Taylor to the churches' witness to them. It is especially pleasing – and a quiet little miracle in itself – that funding is now in place to sustain the Project at full strength for the next three years. God is good.

 

Last year was the Year of Talents, when we sought opportunities to demonstrate the many gifts that God has made available to the work of his church – and from singers to banner makers, from bakers to flower arrangers, from writers to pray-ers, those gifts were brought to the enrichment of our church life together… freshening up the mix with colour, imagination and energy.  The whole experience helped us believe that we have all the talent we need, right here, and when that talent is linked with loyalty, commitment, and love, we can be confident that meaningful and effective ministry will happen, right here, in the service of God. Witness the amazing Flower Festival which, perhaps unexpectedly, took us out beyond our own concerns to the needs of others.

 

Our small and not-so-small groups have had a great year too, with

Inspire Women’s Group gathering pace and developing connections at the edges;

The Men’s Group enjoying another marvellous programme with speakers of the highest calibre engaging with issues of profoundest significance and great interest;

The Guild - always dedicated, worshipful, hard-working - taking us out far beyond our own interests and concerns to the wider church and the needs of the world;

even the Book Group gathering focus and generating the kind of loyalty and sharing that has proved creative and bonding, offering the chance to learn about how we think, and where we are coming from.

 

Places change, and we have seen that even in the last year with the church fabric being brought up to a high standard of maintenance and efficiency, the place made bright and welcoming, and all necessary provisions put in place to make it comfortable and well-cared for. People sense that here is a group of people who care about their church buildings and facilities, and want them to be the best we can make them. David Wight is the prime mover in keeping standards high and the work he does in the course of the year is astonishing, invaluable and hugely appreciated.

 

And there is always a steady trickle of new folks - of all ages - coming among us and becoming part of our witness and worship, bringing their stories, their experiences and their vision. It keeps us moving, and moving forward…restless to find the best way to be the Church for now, for here, while always being true to the heart of the matter, true to the Lord who lives at and is the heart of the matter.

 

Belhaven News - so attractively presented, and always a great read - helps to keep channels of communication open, and as the Website:

www.belhavenparishchurch.org.uk

is up-graded and refined, we hope it too will serve as a resource for sharing ideas and explaining to an even wider audience what we do, and why we do it.

 

At the core of things - keeping us focused on the main thing - lies the prayer that upholds and shapes everything, and there is much prayer sustaining the life of our congregations: the prayers of the many, many people who, without fuss but with great faithfulness, hold up the church leaders in regular and faithful prayer… the prayers of the prayer groups that meet to share in prayer together... the prayer breakfasts which take place regularly and inject strength and purpose and fresh zeal into the life of the church... together these form a vital heartbeat in our congregational life. We need it. Otherwise we are just keeping an organisation ticking over.

 

Parish ministry is a very unique and amazing thing. The congregations pay for a ministry that serves far more people than simply those on the Church Rolls, and make that ministry available to whomsoever needs it, even though they may not have any connection with the church or be planning to have any connection. So much of my time is taken up offering unconditional love and compassion to people who need it - and need it now - and your commitment allows me, in the name of the church and the Christ we serve, to be the minister that this individual or that family needs… Many people express their appreciation of this kind of no-strings-attached compassion that you make available because you care about people.

 

My work as hospital chaplain - being part of the great team down at Belhaven Hospital - continues to be a source of delight, and anyone who has been a patient there, or has had a family member as a patient, knows the quality of care provided, and certainly appreciates how fortunate we are to have this wonderful resource on our doorstep.

 

The churches in Dunbar, and around, continue to feel their way towards greater sharing in work, worship and vision. New personnel bring their own richness to the mix, and it has been encouraging to share in special moments together - discussion groups at St Anne’s, the installation there of Andrew Bain, and the Joint Service for the Week of Prayer for Christianity Unity being especially memorable.

 

Our presentation at 'Heart and Soul', the big event at Princes Street Gardens during the General Assembly in May, caught the eye and gave focus to the idea that Belhaven and Spott are trying to build bridges between Church and community, between generations, and between the local churches themselves. It’s a good aim. A work in progress, as we know.

Much has been done. Much has been tried. Yet our core business, as it were, remains the same: worship, witness and service in the name of Christ.

 

Worship has certainly continued to be a source of inspiration and encouragement as well as delight. There is great singing, with a rich variety of praise explored (old classics, gospel songs, contemporary praise, Celtic/Iona-style songs) - the wonderfully talented musicians who drive that praise along are a huge and rich blessing to our congregational life, and I hope they know how much what they do is appreciated.  There are prayers from across the world, and sermons that try to address the real issues in the lives of people living in the real world.  All done with genuine love for God and in the spirit of warm fellowship. So many different people with their own back-story, their own preferences, their own prejudices... and yet together a worshipping community, rooted and grounded in our shared love for Christ, and in our desire to serve God as his people. It’s a powerfully impressive and uplifting cocktail. I am certainly glad to be part of it… and when tough times come, I know with all my heart that these are the people I want to be with, need to be with.

 

I hope this gives something of the flavour of the last twelve months or so -

much to be thankful for and to celebrate.

 

The next twelve months will hold who knows what… but there are certain aims and targets for the life of Belhaven and Spott, including making sure that our finances are strong, resilient, and capable of serving our vision and purpose. The whole Church of Scotland is taking time to attend to this matter, and Belhaven and Spott are involved in this process too as we consider our levels of giving, and adjust them in the light of present demands, future challenges, opportunities and hopes.

I might be naïve, but my feeling is that once the good people of Belhaven and Spott think about it a bit, and realise the needs of the present and the possibilities of the future, they will respond with commitment and joyful generosity so that the Church they love can do the work to which it is called, without having to keep looking over its shoulder, wondering how it will manage to make ends meet.

 

On a personal level it has, as you know, been a strange and dark time - the love of so many people has been enormously sustaining, and the prayers and wonderful kindnesses have brought an incalculable blessing.

That goes deep - and stays forever.

For kindnesses too many to mention, encouragement too deep for words, and always love that surrounds, enfolds and heals…

I thank you.

 

Laurence Twaddle.

 

====================

 

 

 

 

BELHAVEN SESSION CLERK’S REPORT:

 

Was it 'business as usual' in Belhaven's Kirk Session in 2013? In many ways, yes.

We had our usual 11 meetings – good attendances, good discussions, in the kind of good atmosphere where folk are able to be their friendly, helpful, caring selves, sharing respect and responsibility with an openness and warmth that is vital and appreciated.

We met, as we do every year, with Spott elders, sharing lunch, celebrating and sealing afresh our commitment to maintain this happy linkage.

 

We considered discussion topics and questions set by '121' and Presbytery, such as on “A Right Relationship with Money”, ecumenical relations locally, the role of the Eldership currently and in the future, Presbytery Forward Planning issues...

We were happy to encourage Dunbar Churches Together in the distribution of welcome leaflets to the 'new houses' and in the Palm Sunday procession, to support S U Holidays, the Heart and Soul event, Christian Aid Week, the East Lothian Food Bank, the Holiday Club, and all the amazing work done by Richard Taylor and those who run the Youth-worker Project. And of course, at home, to promote our Stewardship Programme – 'Sharing Talents'.

 

We hear of folk going the second mile, helping to keep people in touch, to keep doors open... Elders wear several hats, it seems – in addition to aprons and overalls! - and hope that by keeping good relations 'at home' in Belhaven, by trying to be open to new ideas and aware of the changing world out there, we can go out and build good relations, serve a good purpose in the wider community. And as we are so often reminded, it's all about people and caring – we hope never to lose sight of that.

 

We have many people to thank – I could happily name everyone, but perhaps could be allowed especially to thank (in no particular order) Mary Jamieson for being our Presbytery Elder for a good number of years, Elspeth Johnston for replacing Mary, Malcolm Paton for taking on church website management, and Margaret Cannon for faithfully keeping us up-to-date with Safeguarding matters. Where to stop with the 'thank-yous'? Not possible – thanks to everyone!

Every part of this report began with the word 'we' – we meet, we think, we talk, we plan, we serve together. And we share. Yes, Kirk Session business was much as usual in 2013, but of course we shared a huge thing – we shared losing Alison Twaddle. This loss goes deep – we miss her, and are grateful to have had all her support, her insight, her wit, her good sense, her love, and her fine example.

We now go forward in 2014, trusting, hoping, caring and sharing together, and so thankful for Laurence's continuing guidance, commitment and love.

                                                                                Barbara Richerby ( Session Clerk)

================

 

Congregational Board Chairman’s Report March 2014

 

Another year passes in what seems to be the blink of an eye, yet when we look back over the many challenges that seem to come from an ever increasing and determined set of regulatory bodies, it makes me wonder where we found the time to complete the wide and varied challenges that we faced.  However face them we most certainly did, and along the way found new and inventive ways to ensure that Belhaven Church not only meets our current needs but will remain in excellent condition for many years to come.

The buzz word of the politicians over the past few years has been austerity and this has also impacted on the church.  As households have had to adjust to a squeeze on personal finances, this has also been a theme very much at the forefront of the Congregational Boards deliberations over the past year and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

The Finance Committee have been at the forefront of guiding us through these times.  While I must point out that we are by no means destitute, we have had to look long and hard at how we as a church balance the books.  This is a theme that you will hear much more of in the coming year as we move to a period where we will focus on stewardship.  In the very near future a number of events have been planned to highlight the wide and varied groups that use Belhaven Church and how we can contribute more to the finances of the church.  My thanks go to Myra Johnstone and all on the Finance Committee for the excellent work over the past year, not only on the work on church finances but also the huge effort they have already undertaken on stewardship planning.

I mentioned at the beginning of this report the seemingly never ending legislative and regulatory changes that must be adhered to and acted upon to allow the congregation and the groups who use the church to continue to do so.  We have met and kept ahead of many of these demands by the sterling work of our Fabric Convenor David Wight.  Over the past year David has ensured that we have met our obligations in relation to all matters Health and Safety and overseen the Fire Assessment ensuring that we have fire doors, electrical   inspection and upgrade and renewed pathways outside the church.  David also oversees all letting of the church buildings, this brings in much needed revenue for the church finances.  May I take this opportunity to thank David for all his efforts in ensuring the church remains in good order.

At the forefront of all our social activities are the members of the Social Committee and the church Burns Supper is now the Burns Supper to attend.  I am thankful for all the work they do throughout the year.  They are never ones to hog the limelight but work tirelessly behind the scenes.  Their hard work is the very foundation of many a successful church social event and I would like to record my heartfelt thanks for the way they support the church.

The 2013 Church Fete was blessed with good weather a great crowd and fantastic organisation.  Silvia Devine has taken on the role of fete co-ordinator and last year was one of the best.  On a lighter note we had one of the shelter boxes the congregation had generously donated on display thanks to Robin Hamilton.  A number of enquiries were made to purchase the tent and its contents.  We can be justly proud that we, as a congregation, have donated such an essential and lifesaving piece of equipment for use in areas struck by disaster.

Members of the Board have assisted in the organisation or running of numerous events over the past year.  From the Summer Fete Burns Supper, Easter and Christmas services, soup lunches and teas after the service, clear signs of a vibrant Church full of life vitality and fellowship. While not every item under discussion runs smoothly and opinions differ this has been the exception rather than the norm.  Assisting me over the past year in her role as secretary has been Bronwyn Brodie, who has the unenviable task of accurately recording the discussions at the board meetings.  I would like to record my thanks for her hard work over the past year.

 It has been an honour to serve as Chairman of the Congregational Board and I would like to thank all members for their support and helpful advice.         

 

Dougie Denholm

Congregational Board Chairman.

 

 

ACCOUNTS FOR 2013

 

 

Belhaven Parish Church                                                                          

Extracts from Accounts for year ended 31st December 2013

 

_____________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

INCOME                                                                                2012              2013   

 

           

 

1.  Voluntary Income

 

Offerings                                                                              55946                         56398                                  

Tax recovered on Gift Aid                                                            11861                        13139

Other donations                                                                   2622                           1676 

Legacies                                                                               15550                         55855

Grants received                                                                  28507           

Contributions from congregational organisations                    771                530

                                                                                              115257                     127598          

 

 

2.  Incoming Resources from Activities for Generating Funds

 

Use of premises                                                                    5276                           4726

 

 

 

3.  Investment Income

 

Bank interest receivable                                                     1278                             955

 

 

 

4.  Incoming Resources from Charitable Activities

 

Weddings and funerals                                                      1540                           1900

Coffee mornings etc.                                                                         590                  915

Concerts                                                                                 1059                             673

Other income from charitable activities                                    5323                           5147

                                                                                                  8512                           8635

           

 

 

 

TOTAL INCOME                                                                130323             141914                                                                                                                                                                                          

EXPENDITURE                                                                     2012              2013             

 

6.  Costs of Generating Voluntary Income                      

 

Envelopes for offerings                                                      345               248

          

7.  Costs of Charitable Activities

Support costs                                                                              122214         92660  

 

8.  Governance Costs

 

Independent examiners fee                                                          864               900   

 

TOTAL EXPENDITURE                                                    123423         93808  

 

_____________________________________________________________________

 

INCOME/EXPENDITURE 2013                         

 

TOTAL INCOME                                                                                     141914

TOTAL EXPENDITURE                                                                             93808

 

                                                            Surplus                                           48106  

 

The figures set out above show the financial position at the end of 2013,   however, the surplus of  £48,106 needs to be viewed in context.   £55,463.81 was received from the estate of the late Mrs Pauline Monica Taylor and a further £390.94 from the estate of the late Mr. Alexander Hunter.   These Legacies significantly boost the Total Income figure for the year.   In order to gauge Regular Income the £55,854.75 needs to be deducted from the Total Income.   The Expenditure then needs to be deducted from the Regular Income figure to provide a more realistic picture of church finances, as set out below:

 

TOTAL INCOME                              141914

LESS LEGACIES                                  55855  

REGULAR INCOME               86059

LESS EXPENDITURE                          93808         

            DEFICIT                                 -  7749

 

The above deficit of £7,749 includes expenditure of £4,800 on tarring the paths around Church premises;  inspection and upgrading of electrical appliances to meet new regulations, £2118.53;  fitting of fire doors and storage cupboard to meet safety regulations, £2165.70.     In relation to Income there has been the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme (GASDS) operating as from 2013 which allows parishes to claim Gift Aid on small cash donations of £20 or less up to a threshold of £5,000.   Belhaven has received a further £1250 in Gift Aid through this scheme, the maximum, annual amount payable and this has reduced the deficit.      (Comprehensive information on Income and Expenditure plus copy of Accounts  available in Session Room of Church.)

 

During 2013 the Finance Committee has continued to strive to achieve a healthy financial position for Belhaven Parish Church in terms of the balance between regular weekly/monthly Income and weekly/monthly Expenditure.    In order to achieve this healthy balance the regular Income figure, not including Legacies,  needs to be greater than the Expenditure figure.   This then enables Belhaven to be self sufficient and provides a more sound foundation for the future of the church.  This does not detract, however, from the importance and value of Legacies to Belhaven’s financial position.     There is no doubt Belhaven would have faced a vastly different situation in 2010, given the major roof repairs costing £46,258, had there not been the Legacy from the late Mr Alexander Hunter.   Belhaven’s Total Resources in 2013, detailed below, has only been possible through receipt of a further generous Legacy.  

 

FINANCIAL POSITION AT END DECEMBER 2013

 

BALANCE WITH ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND                         15044.20

 

INVESTED WITH CHURCH OF SCOTLAND                             170000.00

 

TOTAL RESOURCES AT END DECEMBER                    185044.20

 

The Finance Committee is of the view that Legacies have been and continue to be vital but need to be kept for the larger, sometimes unexpected expenditures on buildings/fabric and also for outreach and should not be used to cover everyday expenditure.    As a congregation we need to reflect on our own givings in light of the underlying deficit position and the likelihood that without further action it will grow.   

 

The congregation is already aware that the General Assembly set out the requirement for Churches to cover a three year cycle focusing on time, talents and money.   In 2012 Belhaven focused on time, in 2013 talents and in 2014 the focus will be on money.   To take the focus on money forward an Exhibition/Celebration of the past/present/future life of Belhaven Parish Church is planned for the weekend of 10/11 May.   Further information will be sent out about this weekend.   It is hoped as many of the congregation as possible will  support the event.             

 

During 2013 Belhaven Church was able to make donations to the Philippines Typhoon appeal through the Famine & Disaster Fund and a retiral collection.   The Christmas Eve collection was donated to the East Lothian Foodbank and a Soup & Sweet lunch was held in aid of Dunbar Area Christian Youth Project.  

 

Financial demands on the congregation increased during 2013 with the Finance and Fabric committees continuing to work closely together to try and ensure careful management of Church finances.   It is crucial to celebrate the ongoing, generous financial giving of the congregation on a week by week, month by month basis.  Without this regular financial support Belhaven Parish Church would cease to exist.   It is also important to acknowledge the generosity of the late Mrs Pauline Monica Taylor and her valued support for the work of the church.    Along with the regular financial contributions during 2013 the congregation gave generously of their time and talents organising a number of successful events;  the Burns Supper, the 35 year celebration of Laurence and Alison at Belhaven, the Fete and the Flower Festival.   Without this spirit of sharing and this generosity of giving from the congregation Belhaven Parish Church would not be able to minister to the needs of the community and we thank God for this commitment.  

 

 

Myra Johnstone  - Treasurer

 

          

 

 

 

 

 

SPOTT PARISH CHURCH – TREASURER’S REPORT 2014;

 

This has been a challenging year for Spott Church’s account. The day-to-day running costs of delivering the Church’s ministry continue to rise, as does the requirement to maintain the fabric of the buildings.  However, the need to meet the challenge remains. 

 

Over the past year, we were only able to meet our regular financial commitments by drawing on ‘irregular, or non-recurring, sources of income.  This was because there was an unexpected drop in general giving which is of concern, if the church is to meet the targets of pastoral care.

 

Spott church has three main accounts.  The main account is the Treasurer’s Account, which deals with all giving, and from which the general expenditure is drawn.   For 2013, the figures are:

           

Income:                                                                                           £10,698.64 

Expenditure:                                                                                   £10,378.47 

                                                                                                           

Income over Expenditure:                                                         £ 320.17      

 

Within the Income figures above, the regular weekly, or monthly giving element in 2013 amounted to £8,074.98, compared to £9,149.58 in 2012;

a drop of 11%.

 

There may be many reasons for this decline, but the message must be that the whole congregation should consider how it can step up to the challenge.  That means ensuring that our regular giving remains sufficient for the work that has to be done in Christ’s name.

Spott is fortunate in having some reserve funds in other accounts, from which to draw, should it have to meet exceptional items of expenditure.  These are not inexhaustible and should not be looked at as a continuing source of funds for meeting regular commitments.  The two reserve funds, with amounts held, are:

 

·        Deposit Account: £13,632.96

·        Funds held by Church of Scotland (used for large fabric expenditure only): £7,899.38

 

Peter Macintyre (Treasurer, Spott Parish Church)

 

 

SPOTT CONGREGATION – ANNUAL REPORT from the SESSION CLERK

 

 

We faced some considerable challenges over the past year and the Session considered several issues vital to the life of our parish.  Not least among these have been issues facing the wider Church and its future.  For example, the General Assembly asked all Kirk Sessions to consider options for the future of ministry in Scotland.  This was against a background that there will shortly be insufficient, fully trained ministers to undertake parish work even on the current constrained basis.  This issue will come to the fore when our parish charge becomes vacant as, in time, it inevitably must do. 

 

We were also asked to consider (with our Belhaven partners) the role of elders, particularly the way they are selected and equipped to serve. 

 

Financial issues have also occupied our minds, particularly the fact that, as a small congregation, we have a narrow base of contributors and rely heavily on the presence of a few committed members.  If we are to continue as a self-supporting charge – a status that may become vital to our future congregational life – our regular giving needs to become a priority for all who love Spott Church and what it has provided over generations.  It is all too easy to take the blessings of our Church, dedicated minister, and regular worship here Sunday by Sunday for granted.  We need to acknowledge in a practical way the debt we owe our priceless spiritual heritage.

 

Worshipping in a quiet and beautiful place lifts our spirits and strengthens our faith.  But we have to be ever looking towards all the work of the Church that goes on beyond our borders.  One reminder of this work was given by the Church of Scotland’s summer festival – Hearts and Souls - in Princes Street Gardens.  A wide range of interest and offerings from our sister churches all over Scotland was on display and we met many stimulating people doing great work.  It was inspiring indeed, as no less is the work of the World Mission Council outside of Scotland which we read about every month.

 

During the year we participated with our good friends at Belhaven in a number of their activities to which we are always welcomed.  Not least among these are the Dunbar Area Youth Project, the Men’s Group, the Holy Week lunch talks, and many others.  We recently had the opportunity to offer our Belhaven friends some hospitality here in Spott - many thanks to the organizing ‘hosts’ for that.  This event followed our annual joint Session meeting, held this year in Spott when, yet again, the strength of our linked fellowship was roundly reaffirmed. 

 

We lost a few dear friends in 2013 and we remember, with sadness certainly but with great thankfulness, the lives of Cathy Campbell, Colin Gray, and of course Alison.  But if we lost some lovely people we gained others and welcomed Val Goodwin and Tom Black to our fellowship, and Duncan Nicholson to the Session.  More recently we have also welcomed Jacquie Waugh as a Readership trainee; she preached her first sermon in Spott yesterday.

 

Our congregational roll remains small but little changed at over 100.  We remind ourselves, however, that a congregation’s strength resides not in its number but in its spiritual health.  A pointer in the right direction was, perhaps, our decision in the autumn to enter a trial period of monthly communion celebration.  These monthly services have moved the emphasis away from the formality of our six-monthly communions towards a more informal setting in which to share the elements that lie at the very heart of our Christian life.

 

Spiritual highs were there to be shared.  But the Church’s framework still needs to be held together and at the grassroots we dealt with, or rather Peter dealt with, praise the Lord, the usual round of repairs – woodrot, bell-pull, roof, gutters, and – which will have joyed Colin Gray’s and Jacky Bulluch’s hearts – the War Memorial. 

 

It is in looking back that we come to realize how many Spott folk contribute to church life – cleaners, flower ladies, our treasurer and property convener and indeed all who serve so steadfastly on the session.  At the end of it all, we could hardly exaggerate how much we owe to Laurence for his indomitable courage and faithful service over the past year.  As he leads us in the Lord’s footsteps towards another Easter we can only offer our love.

Thank you all for your support.

 

Victor Wood, Session Clerk