SERMON - DID JESUS EVER LEARN ANYTHING?

You’ll have had them I’m sure…
MOMENTS OF INSIGHT/INTUITION…
a sudden dropping of the penny, seeing of the light, lifting of the mist…and there…you can see it now…see what the others have been telling you about…but has hitherto seemed to pass you by…
but now…now you have it…or it has you.

We can be rolling along fine. Thinking we have life all figured out. We buy a newspaper that echoes and reinforces our world view…we know who fits in where…what is as it should be…and the corners of our thinking are rounded…the edges softened. We’re there.

And then something happens to make us look at things again…and we are unsettled…we are shaken and stirred and pretty uncomfortable about things…and we discover that the neat little box we have put life into…isn’t sufficient…lacks flexibility…we have to review our stance on this, that or the other matter…and suddenly it’s not just as simple and straightforward as we imagined.

Usually, those seismic shifts in our thinking have to do with people and our experiences with them…

•    The parents, of traditional) moral principle, whose daughter comes home and tells them she is moving in with her boyfriend…

•    The couple with strong views about homosexuality - whose son tells them he is gay.

•    The man who has always been critical of the Health Service -who finds himself in hospital and overwhelmed with kindliness and skill…

And the examples could go on:
•    The man who had no time for what he saw as the feckless unemployed is made redundant and can’t for the life of him get a job…

•    The church elder who would “never have a woman minister” finds himself with one…and she is wonderful!

•    The man who grumbles about all the “political correctness that makes such a fuss about disabled people and their rights…” who finds he now has to push his wife around in a wheelchair…and suddenly he sees the world differently.

And so on…
Time for a re-think…

All our hard certainties…rocked by… reality.
And we have to think again…look at things afresh. Re-assess our dogmatic stance.
We can cling onto our stubborn certainties – or learn to respond as situations arise, and as real people enter the equation.
And it often is to do with people…and the awfulness of their plight, the severity of their need, the depth of their crisis, the hard choices they make.

And we begin to think that sometimes, actually, it’s people first -and principles second.
--
That can be a risky road to take…who knows what accommodations, adjustments, waterings down and radical reviews it will demand
- but when the person is actually there in front of you and their need cries out…their humanity presents itself, we know instinctively where our priorities lie.

Theory might be one thing…but it often has to go out the window when we are dealing with real people.
Intellectual arguments are one thing…the needs of real individuals for compassion, grace and tenderness are another.

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So, here’s the question…did Jesus ever change his mind about things…? Did his thinking evolve, develop, change…alter – in the light of circumstances…did he ever learn anything…have one of those moments when all his certainties had to be readjusted in the light of the need of a real person there in front of him?


The creeds of the church from the earliest times talk about Jesus as being human and divine.  That’s not an easy concept and has always left tough questions for us. 
But the early church fathers – after much study and many councils, decided it was the truth revealed in the biblical texts and the remembrance of the Christian community.

So, did he know everything all the time…in the light of his being God an’ all…or did he have to learn stuff the same as we did…and so, his “being divine” gave him no special advantages –
He had to learn to read and write…
He had to come to an understanding about truth and morality and what is right and wrong…
he had to learn to be a carpenter…just like any apprentice and get skelves in his fingers and rough bits on his hands…
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And he had to deal with his cultural heritage and the strait-jacket that can be - and the certainty among his people that they were the people…and they were so chosen it hurt… and that everyone else was pretty much not worth very much …

And having breathed that air of prejudice and social arrogance from his early days…did he have to learn new thinking…discover new attitudes, different ways of dealing with the world?
And when and where did those tipping points come?

I think we read about one today.

The incident with the foreign woman is pretty shocking.
Jesus seems to give her short shrift –
His has other, bigger fish to fry…his mission to the people of Israel has his full commitment, and there is nothing left for the desperate woman with her need and crisis.
Because she is not a Jew, she counts for less
She is not a priority.
He has other things on his mind.
Simple. As it should be – according to the measures and manners of his time and common thinking of his people.
His words to her sound rough, harsh –ungracious impatient…shocking. Un-Christ-like.

He had work in hand and the people of his own culture and their blindness, their tragedy- summon him with all his resources, energy and compassion - and he seems to have nothing left for those on the fringes, on the edges…beyond the reach of his compassion.
He tells her to go away.
He sends her away.

But she won’t go.
She won’t take a telling.
Her persistence is relentless.
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And then it seems to happen.
The moment comes.
The penny drops.
He sees it.
He sees her…as a person with a desperate problem, an immediate need.
And it falls into place
Compassion overwhelms cultural stereo-typing,
Old prejudices are pushed to one side by an overwhelming humanity and love…
And he sees.
He understands
And is liberated by that moment, that insight – that divine revelation
to love the whole world…
To leave no one outside the scope and compass of his compassion.
Now he is gripped by the need of the whole world
And draws that whole world to his heart.

American Theologian Barbara Brown Taylor (swopped) describes it this way:
-- You can almost hear the huge wheels of history turning  as Jesus comes to a new understanding of who he is and what he has been called to. He is no longer a Messiah called only to the lost sheep of Israel, but God’s chosen Redeemer of the whole world - Jews and Gentiles alike…beginning with this Canaanite woman.
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That other story - of the woman taken in adultery -
whom the law said should be stoned
offers another one of those disclosure moments…
When the light dawns
And Jesus learns that people are more important than rigid legalistic attitudes…and he invites, dares his critics to share that moment of understanding…

“I know the Law says this.
But here in front of me is this trembling, terrified woman.
What matters most?
What does God the Father want me to allow to matter most?
Yes, who knows into what murky moral waters this decision will lead and how complex it will all become…
But the truth is ….people matter
Mercy matters
Grace is for all God’s children.
The good news is for all the world…
And if there are blurred edges…we will live with them, deal with them…”
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And, on another occasion - when his disciples offend against the strict Sabbath regulations that have become just silly in their rigidity…another moment of clarity….
Of course, this is the truth –
that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath…
Yes! That’s the right emphasis! This is what matters…
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We all carry stuff around with us…simplistic assessments, ancient prejudices, caricatures of this type of person or that….and we should bless those disclosure moments, when we learn something new about truth…its capacity to unsettle, its sometimes grey areas, its challenge to our comfortable certainties.

If we are truly blessed we will have our moments of discovery and insight - tipping points - when the clouds of ignorance part and the sunlight of truth illuminates our story.



If that opens us or our message up to the charge of us “being a soft touch,” offering cheap grace, we will live with that rebuke and try to explain that grace isn’t cheap…even though it is free. Kindliness is not easy – just right.

And we will allow ourselves to be open to those disclosure moments when the love of God enables us to see things differently…in the midst of real encounters…not “wham bam rockets galore revelations” –but in the quiet new certainties that creep into our soul - and we discover that people matter more than us being right all the time.

There was a man in the early years of my ministry who gave me a torrid time…he could be difficult, negative… you say black, he’d say white … his mission seemed to be to block and stymie and make sure I never got what I wanted for the church, without a struggle. He was a pain in the neck.
He got ill. I visited him in hospital and he lay there scared and sick vulnerable …and as I looked at him- I realised that, actually, I loved him. I loved the old beggar…and that all the other stuff was nothing. He mattered and he mattered to me. It was a revelation indeed.
I’m still waiting for the other moments to come. When I can open the door to a needy individual who’s looking for money or something…and feel only compassion and never cynicism and suspicion…or when I’m able to see a beggar in the streets of Edinburgh and not be torn between helplessness anger and shame…only feel only sorrow and compassion…

I take some comfort from the fact that if there were things the Master had to learn, journeys and adventures of discovery he had to make…that he will understand if it’s taking me a while to get myself to where he would like me to be….where I too will know that when it all boils down to it…people, whoever they are – strong or weak, feckless or confident, gay or straight, rich or poor, fat or thin, nice or nasty, Christian or non-Christian…they are our gift, our responsibility and our blessing.

They matter.

Every one of them.


 

 

Prayer for Christmas time

 

Lord thank you that you know us so well -

And love us so unreservedly.

 

We wander and waver and falter and fail

We run

We hide

We wave our fists in frustration

We give in to temptation with barely a struggle

And we offer loyalty to the false gods around

 

And still you love us

Still you come to our broken lives

With healing and hope

 

Still you seek us out in the wilderness of our need

Till your hands bleed.

 

This Christmas season, we are made to wonder again

In song and story that such love is ours

And marvel at the miracle of

 

The God with us

 

In our pain

Our hurting

Our loss

Our confusion

Our profound and piercing  need.

 

Today as we listen to the story

And sing the miracle

 help us to see again

The difference being loved like that

Can make to us –

If we will let you near.

 

If we will make a place for you

In our heart

 

AMEN.

 


PRAYERS FOR CHRISTMAS>

Lord we know that:

The other side of celebration is the extra sharpness of grief and loss

The piercing cold of loneliness

The bitter taste of poverty

 

Tonight a prayer for those who will be cold and lonesome, while the party goes on around them – and whose feeling of being unloved lies on their heart like a shroud.

 

Tonight a prayer for those who sense of loss will ache in them with a terrible hurting – and whose emptiness will feel all the more cruel among the laughter and the songs

 

Tonight a prayer for those whose little seems so little indeed compared with the plenty of so many – those whose poverty rises up in their faces – and their hopelessness fills them with despair.

 

Tonight a prayer for those who only have the counterfeit Christmas – and who will not glance towards the soft light of the stable.

 

Lord take our prayers and transform them from words into compassion and from compassion into action.

 

Show us how to love others with a generous and ridiculous love – that makes no rules and sets no boundaries – your kind of profligate dangerous costly love. Unsettling and terrible – the kind that makes a difference.

A House Group is a grouping of people who meet together in Peoples' houses for fellowship and to explore the Christian faith as it affects us personally and in our daily lives.  It provides an opportunity to get to know people better than is possible through a brief chat after a Sunday service; it also provides a forum to think through issues that sometimes we find difficult about our faith and to explore how others have dealt with such issues.  Finally it is a opportunity to mention items for prayer. 

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“JESUS LOVES YOU MORE THAN YOU WILL KNOW”

Rev Laurence Twaddle has been persuaded to release a further Book of Selected Sermons in December 2016 to follow his previous one, produced in 2008. Laurence’s sermons have always been received with enthusiasm and interest, indeed you will see from comments in the second book :

“He is profound and funny and irreverent and personal – and sometimes all in the same sermon.”

“He makes preaching relevant to daily life and faithful to the text, whilst at the same time making it feel like a relaxed and informal conversation.”

“His sermons were like deeply studious conversations with a wise and caring friend.”

We wish to gauge the potential interest in the second book.

The cost will be £ 10.00 with any profits going to Charity.

Please complete an advance order form and place it in in the box provided, or phone/ email Grahame Jackson (see below)

We would also like you to indicate below whether you would like to purchase a copy of the first book entitled “Still Preaching after all these years” and also priced at £ 10.00.

Thank you from Belhaven and Spott Churches

 

Please tear off …………………………………………………………………………………

                             NAME (PRINTED)                                  Tel Nr.                                 Email                             Copies

 

“Jesus Loves You …” ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

 

“Still Preaching…”     ..……………………………………………………………………………………………………….......

 

If you are having difficulty getting your order to Church

Please ring Grahame Jackson with your order – 01368 238193 or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

After hearing Neil Watson preach at Spott and Belhaven, the congregations at each church were given the opportunity to vote for or against electing Neil to be their new minister.

The result of this election was as below.

 

 

The congregation are really excited by this very positive outcome and look forward to working with Niel.

BELHAVEN AND SPOTT CHURCHES

 

ANNUAL REPORT

 

APRIL 2016

 

 

 

You forget! 

Until you take that bird’s eye view, consider the overview…. you can easily forget how much has happened, what has been achieved…what is beautiful to remember.

 

Which is why the Annual Report serves us so well, giving opportunity to revisit high points, celebrate champions, and notice the areas of the life of the church that need attention, require further consideration, or might offer fruitful opportunity for development.

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It has certainly been a year in which the life of our congregations has been enhanced and enriched by new people, sharing happily in the life of our churches.

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Most recent has been Clarence Tungunu from Zimbabwe, come to share the experience of church life in Scotland and to bring his own smile, warmth and spiritual energy. We miss him.

And before Clarence we had Jaqueline Waugh, training with us before moving on to continue her studies.  She was such a people person she soon wound cords of affection around our hearts.  We miss her too.

 

Mike Weaver stayed with us for six months or so, while still at Edinburgh University, and we remember his strong ministry and clear conviction as he blew into our congregational life with his wide work experience and his new insights. He continues his training in a church in Midlothian, and has been selected as someone tasked with encouraging new possible ministers to consider that calling.

We have been delighted, too, to welcome as Probationer Assistant for 15 months, Graeme Glover - and he has already made a huge impact on the life of the congregations, with his loving connections with individuals, his fine preaching, and his clear commitment. It’s been great having him share in ministry, and we are all delighted that Carly and Isaac are liking Dunbar so much, and making real friendships here.  Graeme is with us until the end of December, after which who knows what?

 

Belhaven and Spott should be encouraged by the fact that the wider Church of Scotland considers us suitable, indeed, carefully selected congregations for the training of ministry candidates. They seem to know that trainees will be safe with us, nurtured by us, and given real opportunities to learn ministry, and develop their understanding of ministry, among people who can be trusted to be patient, gracious and supportive. (Kind of been my experience of the congregations too!!)

..

A major event in the life of Belhaven Church since the last Annual Report has been the Ordination of a clutch of new elders, and the welcoming of elders who have come to Dunbar from other congregations. In her Session Clerk’s report, Jane lists those who have joined the Session….and I can certainly say, as I look around at a Session Meeting, and see the new elders, along with those who continue to serve with faithfulness and enthusiasm even after long years – I am surely the most blessed and lucky minister in the land! Talented, committed, loving people who bring their many, many gifts and Christian qualities to the service of the Lord they love…they surround and support me,  understand and forgive me, pray and walk alongside me.  This is truly the greatest thing…and  I value it hugely.

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I have also been exceptionally blessed in having shared the work here with Session Clerk’s who have been kind, efficient and committed. After many years, Barbara Richerby retired from the post she had served in so very well, and I have greatly valued her friendship, wise counsel and encouragement over all that time. We are indebted to her for her quiet skill in moving things along, making sure things are not forgotten, and always with a gentle graciousness.

Now it’s Jane’s task to keep me right! No small task!

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Someone from the wider church suggested, rather unkindly I thought, that they supposed I would be “winding down to retirement.”

Well, it certainly doesn’t feel that way to me! And, I hope it doesn’t feel that way to anyone!  In fact, I can hardly think of a time when there have more developments, initiatives, plans and possibilities being explored.

Worship is stimulating and varied: people are involved in shaping the life of the church for the future, and real flesh is being put on ideas.

·        The Sunday Night Prayer event once a month at West Barns is up and running, and all those who share in it feel its worth and value the opportunity.

·        The Wednesday Service on the second Wednesday of the month has grown a loyal and enthusiastic congregation and become established as a valued opportunity for worship and fellowship.

·        The House Group has clearly answered a felt need and  in another initiative that has come from the heart of the life of the church.

·        Photons – a group for young teenagers now meets regularly to look at faith and life from the particular angle of young people growing up in today’s culture

·        A New Members’ Class began in January and should be completed by the time of publication of the Annual Report.

·        An Elders’ Conference considered priorities, strategies and possibilities for the life of the church.

·        The Kirk Session has been meeting in task groups to consider how the future organisation of the life of the church might be enhanced, and how we can better serve congregation and parish in care, in mission, and in worship.

 

All of these illustrations of the creative restlessness that wants to make our church life more influential for the Gospel speaks of people who do not want to shelter under the duvet from the chill winds of secularism and misunderstanding, but rather wants to roll up sleeves, open doors, and welcome, serve and minister to the parish entrusted to our care. Not at all a winding down. On the contrary, a ratcheting up….and an eagerness to find how best to serve God, here – and now!

All this while we celebrate and applaud the work of Launchpad, Lazers, crèche in making Belhaven Church a welcoming environment for children and families.

(Though, when they minister to us through the Nativity Play and other presentations –we understand that blessings travel in both directions!!)

The Guild and Men’s Group continue to provide inspiring moments, good fellowship and a better sense of those we travel alongside on the Christian Way.

The Inspire Group , kick-started by Belhaven folks, now serves to make bridges between those for whom church and faith are difficult, and those for whom it is at the heart of their life.

Toddler Group remains the phenomenon it is…valued, indeed, treasured by those who use it, for its genuine welcome and its place as a safe haven for the harassed. Just make sure you get there before the HOUSE FULL signs go up!

Wherever this is…it is not Sleepy Hollow!

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Over the course of the year, we have had the pleasure of sharing with the other congregations in the town, the tasks and the privilege of witness and service.

Holy Week and the shared services there offered its usual raft of opportunities for pilgrims to travel together, and hosting the service for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at Belhaven in January was a particular high point .No one coming into that service would think for a second that religion in Dunbar was moribund. One listen to the singing, one look around the congregation and  you would see that faith still matters, still makes a difference.

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The role of the Church in the life of the local schools has been significant over these last months.

 

The Christian Youth Worker Project with is input across the life of the schools has been a major tool in connecting new generations with the nature of faith, and the role it plays in the history and life of the world.

Big events encouraging the children to think with open minds have been signposts along the way

·        Bubble Gum and Fluff –an inter-church exploration of the true meaning of Christmas

·        Big Questions – encouraging primary children to challenge local clergy with the kinds of issues that perplex them and make faith hard for new generations..

·        1000 children coming to Belhaven Church for their Christmas Services

·        Regular visits to the schools to take Assemblies and enjoy religious observance with the children and teachers

·        A meaty session or two with the Higher Religious Studies Class as they delved into issues of evil and God and suffering and faith!

·        Great services at Harvest and Christmas as West Barns Primary

·        Connections with Belhaven Hill School as strong as ever

These were all special moments, and they provided a real chance to build a bridge across the chasm of unbelief and disbelief that increasingly is the norm for young people. They were asked to think fairly and honestly about the phenomenon of faith and to adjust their prejudices in the light of information received.  These were great opportunities.

So, hardly a slide towards retirement.

Rather a sense of privilege, and a passion to see the church be alive to the moment, be dedicated in service – and above all be a place filled with love for God and for each of his children.

This is where the church is truly in touch with the Christ we serve; not in the pyrotechnics and dramas and wilder expressions of religiosity…but when the love of Christ is in our hearts, and we are happy to share that love – wherever that takes us.

 

On a personal front, it has been an astonishing year:

Walking Mary down the aisle at Spott Church was a wonderful moment

and seeing her happiness go to the very core of her being, was an unforgettable joy.

And who should have thought that, four weeks later, I would be going down another aisle…this time at Prestonkirk, to be married myself!!

Well done, Lindy!! What an optimist!

Definitely a game-changer! (And combining a Study Leave trip to Israel with a honeymoon was quite a good move, really!)

.

The opportunities in media that emerged last year have continued, with East Coast FM still enabling me to enjoy a Pleasant Sunday Afternoon, looking at faith issues, news and personalities…while the little piece once a fortnight in the Courier continues to give me pleasure, if no one else!

The BBC even gave me the chance to present the Morning Service on Radio 4 – going out live at 10.45 A.M. – which generated a very kind response from all sorts of interesting people..

Combine the media work with my on-going and very precious connections as chaplain at Belhaven Hospital and Dunbar United – and you can see that life as a minister is a rich and varied tapestry – and a constant privilege.

I can promise you, you will never hear me complain about my work.

I love it too much.

So, much to give thanks for: much to anticipate.

 Many blessing to count. 

 

 

 

One or two people should be particularly thanked.

David Wight contribution to the life of the congregation – and to my own peace of mind is incalculable. A true blessing and a treasure. His patience, vision and care for Belhaven Church enable us to function at a high level of efficiency and effectiveness.

The rota of organists and musicians enables us to enjoy a wide range of musical in-put and extraordinary talent, a consistently high quality of music within the life of the congregation. They are brilliant.

Over many years Margaret Cannon has worked with commitment and patience in the arcane world of Safeguarding…where the rules seem to change on a monthly basis and the paperwork mounts with unstoppable momentum…She does an amazing job.

As a man who could not even pass his O Level Arithmetic, I have always been in awe of anyone who could be a Treasurer!  We are all hugely appreciative of Myra Johnstone, and the long hours she spends making sure the Church funds are kept in good order. Another world where the demands keep changing and the work never becomes less.

Those who help with the Flower Rota and those who keep the

Car Rota working well also deserve thanks.  These are valued and important enrichments of our congregational life and are valued by all those who benefit from them.

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REPORT FROM THE SPOTT SESSION CLERK

 

We extended some very happy welcomes to new friends over the year.  Graeme Glover joined us in October as a trainee; he has already made an enriching contribution to parish work.  October was a good month in that we also welcomed a very gracious new lady to the manse, none other than Mrs Lindy Twaddle.  I seem to remember hearing our much loved minister observe that “miracles still happen!” 

Jackie Waugh and Mike Weaver completed their training assignments in Spott during the year and both have now moved on. 

In August we all noted with great sadness the death of Molly Lafferty.  Molly had spent most of her long life in Spott.  She and her husband Rab endeared themselves to all who came their way.  Molly was there at the start of Laurence’s ministry as indeed was Rab, an Elder on the Session at the time.  Happily Molly’s daughter, Angela, and son-in-law Philip remain with us and we share our many joyful memories with them. 

 

It is good to reflect how Spott Church has touched the hearts of many who have known it.  That reflection has been prompted by the arrival of two very generous donations during the year, one from Mrs Davidson’s family who moved to Canada long ago, and one from Irene Scott, a more recent dear friend who moved to Edinburgh more recently.  We see the same love of Spott expressed by other longstanding but less active members of our congregation who harbour the warmest affection for this place.  We read that many folk across the nation who may not be able - or even willing - to come to church on Sunday nonetheless carry in their hearts glowing embers of faith.  The warmest welcome awaits any such folk in this place whenever they want to return here.

 

We have again noted strenuous efforts by bodies in the national church to plan for future ministry requirements and to extend the reach and impact of Christ’s teaching among our worshipping community.  We have been asked to support a renewed emphasis on the training of Elders – a long under-utilised resource.

By contrast the burden of the church authorities’ requirement for paperwork becomes ever more taxing.  For example, the requirement to obtain each member’s written consent for us to hold merely their names and addresses would seem to achieve little beyond insulating the church from a vestigial risk of challenge. 

Session members have given unstinting service, as ever, to the requirements of their office.  Duncan Nicholson continues as our Presbytery representative and has reported regularly to us on several weighty issues.  Gordon Tweedie has assumed responsibility as property convener while Peter MacIntyre continues as our valiant treasurer.

 

As regards our services of worship, the Session decided to continue holding monthly communion on the first Sunday of each month.  The Spott Singers add their own, heartfelt contribution to these services

 

For many years now we have been partners in a much-valued and rewarding linkage with Belhaven PC.  Through that association with our friends “down the road”, and sometimes by combining happily with other Dunbar churches, we have had the opportunity to contribute to a wide range of great work that goes on in and around our area.  Such endeavours refresh our vision and have given us a fuller view of the work of Christ’s people across our community.  Richard Taylor’s efforts on our joint behalf continue to light a beacon of hope for many young people in Dunbar as they meet the challenges of growing up.

 

So for those who know and love Spott Church there is much for which to thank God. Among these blessings, we never take for granted the immense gift of a dedicated minister.  His preaching has long been a source of uplift and hope.  Perhaps less obvious but not less powerful have been his prayers.  His leadership speaks of a life filled by the Spirit. 

 

We pray that this place of spiritual refreshment and ageless beauty will continue to serve all seeking to know better our Lord and Saviour.

 

 

V N U Wood

Session Clerk

4.3.2016

 

Belhaven Session Clerk

 

2015 was certainly a year of change at Belhaven Church. No one can accuse us of being stagnant at Belhaven! With the start of new House Groups, a new Teenage group and with the Kirk Session looking at how we deliver pastoral care to see if we can make any improvements to this and to the Family Service, there is certainly a buzz in the air.

 

 Welcomes, farewells and congratulations!

Jacqueline Waugh and Mike Weaver both completed their time with us at Belhaven.  Jacqueline is finishing her studies with lots of essay writing and Mike is currently on placement at St Johns in Dalkeith. 

 

In October, we welcomed probationer Graeme Glover and his family and hope they enjoy all that Belhaven and Dunbar have to offer over the next 15 months.

 

In April, after many years as Session Clerk, Barbara Richerby decided to hand over the reigns to someone new.  We thank her for her time, her enthusiasm and her commitment, which she has given to the church in the role over the past 12 years. She really is a hard act to follow.

 

We also thank elders Kit Newman and David Ramsay who have both retired from active duties, for their many years of service and dedication.

 

It was with great delight that we welcomed 10 new elders in 2015; Andrew and Jeannie Barber, Alan and Hazel Gray, Robin Hamilton, Darren Kilfara, Moyra Lawson, Maureen Watt and Dorothy and James Wildgoose. They each bring with them a special breadth of experience and enthusiasm that can already be seen in the day-to-day life of the church.

 

Carol Hamilton is now helping Margaret Cannon in the important role of Safeguarding Officer helping to ensure that our children and vulnerable adults are protected from any harm and our thanks go to both of them.

 

Congratulations to Laurence and Lindy on their marriage and may they have many years of happiness ahead of them.

 

 

New Groups

 

The House Group meetings started in November, meeting fortnightly on a Thursday evening; there has been a very good response - around 12-14 at each meeting.  The aim of the group is to provide a place for people to enjoy friendship and fellowship with one another, to exchange views on Christian matters and to grow in faith. We also plan to review progress with the Group before the Easter break - to assess whether it is achieving its objectives and meeting needs.  So far the response has been very positive.  Anyone interested would be very welcome to join one of the groups.

 

Photons

This year also saw the start of a new group for the older teenagers.  After a number of unsuccessful attempts to find a suitable night to meet, the group settled on meeting for two hours on a Sunday once a month.  This allows them to meet at the church then retire to a house where they share a video, meal and discussion.  The first sessions have gone well with positive feedback from the group and requests to cover a variety of interesting - and challenging - topics.

 I would like to thank you all for your support in my new role as Session Clerk.  It has been made much easier because of the help and encouragement you have given me. I am still learning but with your continued help I will get there!!

 

Lastly, many thanks to Laurence for his continuing guidance, commitment and love, it means so much to us all.

Thank you

Jane McIntyre (Session Clerk) Belhaven Parish Church Congregational Board

 

Congregational Board Chairperson’s Report 

Time to reflect on another year in the life of Belhaven Parish Church and to take time to look forward to the coming year.  As always the challenges we have faced as a Congregational Board have been wide and varied.  The last report mentioned stewardship, as we strive to raise sufficient funds to ensure the church is maintained for future generations and we can continue to spread the Christian word throughout the local community and meet our obligations to the wider church family.  

The Congregational Board oversees the Fabric, Finance and Social committees who report on a bimonthly basis. 

The Fabric Committee are responsible for all aspects of the church buildings, including bookings, maintenance and ensuring that we comply with the ever more complicated Health and Safety regulations and Building regulations.  This is no mean feat as demand on use for the church buildings seems to increase year on year, this makes maintenance schedules much more difficult to plan, ensuring that we can maximise revenue while meeting the demands from all of those who use the facilities.  We at Belhaven are extremely fortunate indeed to have David Wight oversee the fabric committee and his unstinting service and attention to detail allows us to maximise the income from the church facilities while complying fully with all the relevant legislation surrounding the letting of the premises.  I would like to say a personal thank you for all of David’s efforts over the past year. 

On matters financial we have the Finance Committee to thank for ensuring that we have sufficient funds to meet all of our obligations, not only for Belhaven, but for the wider church.  As there is a full finance report accompanying this Annual Report there is no need to duplicate that information here.  Neil Richerby has been a stalwart of the finance committee over the past years and has now decided to stand down.  James Wildgoose will take over the role of convenor.  I would like to record our thanks to Neil for all of his hard work on the finance committee.  As always thank you to Myra Johnstone, treasurer for all her work and careful attention to detail.  The Board agreed in 2015 for some funds to be transferred into the Church of Scotland Growth & Income Funds (managed by well respected Investment Management Companies), dividends from these are being reinvested and although the capital can fluctuate, this is seen as a long term investment.

 As always the social committee have produced events which have been both enjoyable and profitable for the life and funds of the church.  The Burns Supper now enjoys almost cult status and getting tickets for this event requires considerable effort and speed.  This is but one example of the endeavours of all those involved with the social committee and I am indebted to them for the quiet efficient way all social activities are organised. 

Our annual fete is one of the biggest single contributors to church funds, raising around £3,000.  Sylvia Devine has been the fete co-ordinator over the past few years.  This has simplified the organising of this and reduced the time spent discussing what needs to be done drastically.  I would like to say thank you to Sylvia and to all those who make the fete happen. 

Finally the secretary to the Congregational Board who records all discussions, distributes minutes.  This was all done through a time of great sadness and difficulty in her personal life.  Through all of this Bronwyn Brodie has maintained her faith and dedication to the life and work of the church.  I would like to say a huge thank you on behalf of the congregational board for her hard work over the past year.   Also thank you to Jessie Gold, who kindly steps in whenever needed. Obviously I cannot thank everybody on the Congregational Board personally, but please be assured I would if I could. 

May God Bless you all 

Gillian Denholm

 

 

 

 

SPOTT PARISH CHURCH – TREASURER’S REPORT 2015

The encouragement to giving within the congregation since the 2014 report has met a positive response over the year to 31st December 2015.  We are pleased to report an increase in giving for Ordinary Offerings, particularly for Monthly FWO.  We were also fortunate to have received further generous bequests and donations.

This has resulted in increased income over the year for the second year running.  Funds received have been sufficient to fund our ministry, and other costs incurred in supporting our congregation.  We have also met in full our obligation towards the wider work of the church.  In terms of expenditure, there were some significant shared costs in respect of Spott Church’s contribution to the upgrading, maintenance and repairs of the Belhaven Manse.

Summary: The summary of non-recurring income, and expenditure, figures for 2015 (with comparison to 2014) are:

 

Treasurer’s Account                      2015                                      2014

 

Income:

 

Offerings                                          12,160.00                            9,733.00

Bequests/Donations                        5,474.00                             1,150.00

Weddings/Funeral Donations          725.00

Tax Claimed on Gift Aid                    2,187.00                           1,894.00

 

Income Total:                                    £20,546.00                                    £12,775.00

 

Expenditure Total:                            £16,862.00                                   £10,750.00

                                                                                                           

Some examples of major items of Expenditure:

 

Church of Scotland Mission & Ministry           5,262.40                   4,995.00      

Fabric            & Repairs                                         2,355.92                   1,356.32

Supply Organists                                        1,795.00                      290.00      

Repairs to Belhaven Manse                     2,274.30

Share of Belhaven General Costs                          974.86                   1,058.45

 

                                   

Balance of Income less Expenditure:    £3,684.00                 £ 2,025.00

 

 

Spott is also 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:

 

Local Deposit Account:                                                                 £13,632.10

 

Funds held by Church of Scotland on Spott Church’s behalf

(used for large fabric expenditure only):                                               £9,259.24

 

 

 

BELHAVEN PARISH CHURCH - TREASURER’S REPORT

 

 

 

Belhaven Parish Church                                                                          

Extracts from Accounts for year ended 31st December 2015

 

_____________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

INCOME                                                                                2015               2014

 

 

 

Incoming Resources

Donations and Legacies

 

Offerings                                                                              61992               59789                          

Tax recovered on Gift Aid                                                            14240                        14043          

Other donations                                                                   1945               5856          

Legacies                                                                                 3015                           2000

Contributions from congregational organisations                    330                  300

                                                                                                81522                        81988          

 

Charitable Activities

 

Weddings and funerals                                                      1444                           2435

Coffee mornings etc.                                                         335                      980           

Concerts                                                                                   949                            1033          

Other income from charitable activities                                    5021                           4418          

                                                                                                  7749                           8866          

 

Other Trading Activities

Use of premises                                                                    7459                          5500

 

 

Investments

 

Income from UK listed investments                                          3986

Bank interest receivable                                                      614                  979

                                                                                                 4600                 979

 

 

 

 

TOTAL INCOME                                                               101330                        97333           

 

EXPENDITURE                                                                     2015          2014

 

Costs of Raising Donations and Legacies                          

 

Offering envelopes                                                                          175               296

          

Charitable Activities

Support costs                                                                              109830                      89432

 

 

Governance Costs

 

Independent examiner fee                                                            960               930   

 

TOTAL EXPENDITURE                                                    110965          90658

 

 

 

_____________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

 

INCOME/EXPENDITURE 2015                                                                2015

 

 

TOTAL INCOME                                                                                      101330

 

TOTAL EXPENDITURE                                                                            110965

 

 

                                                                                    Deficit                       9635

 

 

 

 

 

The figures set out above show Belhaven Parish Church Income and Expenditure for 2015 with comparisons from 2014.   The figures show a Deficit of £9,635.   This Deficit needs to be viewed in context as there was considerable extra capital expenditure on Fabric of £21,809, mainly on urgent roof repairs.   The church also received legacies of £3,015 which boosted the Total Income figure.  

 

The Finance committee tries to ensure that the regular running cost of the church, excluding capital expenditure, is met from regular income, excluding legacy income, thereby enabling the church to function within its means:

 

 

 

            Total Expenditure for 2015                      110,965

            Minus Capital Expenditure                          21,809

            Regular Expenditure                          89,156 

 

            Total Income for 2015                    101,330

            Minus Legacies                                      3,015      

            Regular Income                                  98,315     

 

            Regular Income for 2015                 98,315 

            Regular Expenditure for 2015        89,156

            Surplus for 2015                                  9,159

 

 

The above shows a healthy surplus when comparing regular expenditure against regular income.   Belhaven’s financial position has continued to improve during 2015 as Offerings plus Tax Recovered on Gift Aid increased by over 3% when compared with 2014.   This might be due in part to the impact of the successful Stewardship campaign which ran throughout 2014.   The financial position in relation to regular expenditure also improved during 2015.   A budget was set covering Fabric/Repairs and Maintenance which resulted in a slight under-spend. 

 

At the end of 2014, following lengthy discussion and debate, the Congregational Board decided to transfer the majority of Belhaven’s finances to the Church of Scotland’s Income & Growth Funds which were seen to yield a higher rate of return than the lower rate of interest with the Deposit Fund.   Belhaven’s investments were subject to the vagaries of the Market and during 2015, although dividends of £3,986 were received, the capital value of the funds depreciated by £3,534 giving a net gain of £452.   The depreciation figure reflects point in time comparisons as the capital value fluctuates over time, rising and falling, and the real value will only be realised at the point of selling our investments.    The Finance committee’s position is that these investments should be viewed over the longer term.   The Finance committee will continue to carefully monitor and overview all church finances.   

 

 

BELHAVEN PARISH CHURCH  FINANCIAL RESOURCES AT END DECEMBER 2015

 

BALANCE WITH ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND                               20,473.11

INVESTED WITH CHURCH OF SCOTLAND                                   155,452.12

TOTAL RESOURCES                                                                            175,925.23

 

 

Although our resources look fairly healthy it is important not to be complacent as there will be major capital expenditure during 2016.   Further work on church buildings was identified in 2014 and 2015 contractors’ reports and the Finance and Fabric committees have plans in place to ensure prudent spending and completion of vital work.  

 

During 2015 Belhaven Church also made the following donations - Famine & Disaster Fund to Christian Aid:  £500 for Nepal Earthquake, £300 for Syrian appeal;  Launchpad collection taken at Sunday Service teas/coffees:   £100 to Children’s villages in Nepal;  Soup & Sweet lunch to Christian Aid:  £306.73 for Syrian appeal;  School Music Concert:  £250 to Grammar School Music Department, £304 to DACYP;  Christmas Eve collection:  £311.38 to Bethany Christian Trust.

 

It is crucial to thank the congregation for their financial support on a week by week/month by month basis.   Also to acknowledge the generosity of the late Mrs Mary Hare and Mrs Pauline Monica Taylor and their valued support for the ongoing work of the church.   The congregation also gives freely of their time and talents and a number of very successful and thoroughly enjoyable events were held during 2015.    

 

Without the spirit of caring and co-operation that abounds in the church the Burns Supper, Fete, etc. would not take place;  without the bequeathing of legacies major repair work and general improvements would not have been possible;  without the generosity of giving from the congregation  Belhaven Parish Church would be unable to minister to the needs of the community and we thank God for the commitment of our congregation.     

 

 

 

 

Myra Johnstone

 

 BELHAVEN AND SPOTT CHURCHES

 

ANNUAL REPORT

 

APRIL 2016

 

 

 

You forget! 

Until you take that bird’s eye view, consider the overview…. you can easily forget how much has happened, what has been achieved…what is beautiful to remember.

 

Which is why the Annual Report serves us so well, giving opportunity to revisit high points, celebrate champions, and notice the areas of the life of the church that need attention, require further consideration, or might offer fruitful opportunity for development.

==

It has certainly been a year in which the life of our congregations has been enhanced and enriched by new people, sharing happily in the life of our churches.

==

Most recent has been Clarence Tungunu from Zimbabwe, come to share the experience of church life in Scotland and to bring his own smile, warmth and spiritual energy. We miss him.

And before Clarence we had Jaqueline Waugh, training with us before moving on to continue her studies.  She was such a people person she soon wound cords of affection around our hearts.  We miss her too.

 

Mike Weaver stayed with us for six months or so, while still at Edinburgh University, and we remember his strong ministry and clear conviction as he blew into our congregational life with his wide work experience and his new insights. He continues his training in a church in Midlothian, and has been selected as someone tasked with encouraging new possible ministers to consider that calling.

We have been delighted, too, to welcome as Probationer Assistant for 15 months, Graeme Glover - and he has already made a huge impact on the life of the congregations, with his loving connections with individuals, his fine preaching, and his clear commitment. It’s been great having him share in ministry, and we are all delighted that Carly and Isaac are liking Dunbar so much, and making real friendships here.  Graeme is with us until the end of December, after which who knows what?

 

Belhaven and Spott should be encouraged by the fact that the wider Church of Scotland considers us suitable, indeed, carefully selected congregations for the training of ministry candidates. They seem to know that trainees will be safe with us, nurtured by us, and given real opportunities to learn ministry, and develop their understanding of ministry, among people who can be trusted to be patient, gracious and supportive. (Kind of been my experience of the congregations too!!)

..

A major event in the life of Belhaven Church since the last Annual Report has been the Ordination of a clutch of new elders, and the welcoming of elders who have come to Dunbar from other congregations. In her Session Clerk’s report, Jane lists those who have joined the Session….and I can certainly say, as I look around at a Session Meeting, and see the new elders, along with those who continue to serve with faithfulness and enthusiasm even after long years – I am surely the most blessed and lucky minister in the land! Talented, committed, loving people who bring their many, many gifts and Christian qualities to the service of the Lord they love…they surround and support me,  understand and forgive me, pray and walk alongside me.  This is truly the greatest thing…and  I value it hugely.

=

I have also been exceptionally blessed in having shared the work here with Session Clerk’s who have been kind, efficient and committed. After many years, Barbara Richerby retired from the post she had served in so very well, and I have greatly valued her friendship, wise counsel and encouragement over all that time. We are indebted to her for her quiet skill in moving things along, making sure things are not forgotten, and always with a gentle graciousness.

Now it’s Jane’s task to keep me right! No small task!

-

Someone from the wider church suggested, rather unkindly I thought, that they supposed I would be “winding down to retirement.”

Well, it certainly doesn’t feel that way to me! And, I hope it doesn’t feel that way to anyone!  In fact, I can hardly think of a time when there have more developments, initiatives, plans and possibilities being explored.

Worship is stimulating and varied: people are involved in shaping the life of the church for the future, and real flesh is being put on ideas.

·        The Sunday Night Prayer event once a month at West Barns is up and running, and all those who share in it feel its worth and value the opportunity.

·        The Wednesday Service on the second Wednesday of the month has grown a loyal and enthusiastic congregation and become established as a valued opportunity for worship and fellowship.

·        The House Group has clearly answered a felt need and  in another initiative that has come from the heart of the life of the church.

·        Photons – a group for young teenagers now meets regularly to look at faith and life from the particular angle of young people growing up in today’s culture

·        A New Members’ Class began in January and should be completed by the time of publication of the Annual Report.

·        An Elders’ Conference considered priorities, strategies and possibilities for the life of the church.

·        The Kirk Session has been meeting in task groups to consider how the future organisation of the life of the church might be enhanced, and how we can better serve congregation and parish in care, in mission, and in worship.

 

All of these illustrations of the creative restlessness that wants to make our church life more influential for the Gospel speaks of people who do not want to shelter under the duvet from the chill winds of secularism and misunderstanding, but rather wants to roll up sleeves, open doors, and welcome, serve and minister to the parish entrusted to our care. Not at all a winding down. On the contrary, a ratcheting up….and an eagerness to find how best to serve God, here – and now!

All this while we celebrate and applaud the work of Launchpad, Lazers, crèche in making Belhaven Church a welcoming environment for children and families.

(Though, when they minister to us through the Nativity Play and other presentations –we understand that blessings travel in both directions!!)

The Guild and Men’s Group continue to provide inspiring moments, good fellowship and a better sense of those we travel alongside on the Christian Way.

The Inspire Group , kick-started by Belhaven folks, now serves to make bridges between those for whom church and faith are difficult, and those for whom it is at the heart of their life.

Toddler Group remains the phenomenon it is…valued, indeed, treasured by those who use it, for its genuine welcome and its place as a safe haven for the harassed. Just make sure you get there before the HOUSE FULL signs go up!

Wherever this is…it is not Sleepy Hollow!

-=

Over the course of the year, we have had the pleasure of sharing with the other congregations in the town, the tasks and the privilege of witness and service.

Holy Week and the shared services there offered its usual raft of opportunities for pilgrims to travel together, and hosting the service for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at Belhaven in January was a particular high point .No one coming into that service would think for a second that religion in Dunbar was moribund. One listen to the singing, one look around the congregation and  you would see that faith still matters, still makes a difference.

=

The role of the Church in the life of the local schools has been significant over these last months.

 

The Christian Youth Worker Project with is input across the life of the schools has been a major tool in connecting new generations with the nature of faith, and the role it plays in the history and life of the world.

Big events encouraging the children to think with open minds have been signposts along the way

·        Bubble Gum and Fluff –an inter-church exploration of the true meaning of Christmas

·        Big Questions – encouraging primary children to challenge local clergy with the kinds of issues that perplex them and make faith hard for new generations..

·        1000 children coming to Belhaven Church for their Christmas Services

·        Regular visits to the schools to take Assemblies and enjoy religious observance with the children and teachers

·        A meaty session or two with the Higher Religious Studies Class as they delved into issues of evil and God and suffering and faith!

·        Great services at Harvest and Christmas as West Barns Primary

·        Connections with Belhaven Hill School as strong as ever

These were all special moments, and they provided a real chance to build a bridge across the chasm of unbelief and disbelief that increasingly is the norm for young people. They were asked to think fairly and honestly about the phenomenon of faith and to adjust their prejudices in the light of information received.  These were great opportunities.

So, hardly a slide towards retirement.

Rather a sense of privilege, and a passion to see the church be alive to the moment, be dedicated in service – and above all be a place filled with love for God and for each of his children.

This is where the church is truly in touch with the Christ we serve; not in the pyrotechnics and dramas and wilder expressions of religiosity…but when the love of Christ is in our hearts, and we are happy to share that love – wherever that takes us.

 

On a personal front, it has been an astonishing year:

Walking Mary down the aisle at Spott Church was a wonderful moment

and seeing her happiness go to the very core of her being, was an unforgettable joy.

And who should have thought that, four weeks later, I would be going down another aisle…this time at Prestonkirk, to be married myself!!

Well done, Lindy!! What an optimist!

Definitely a game-changer! (And combining a Study Leave trip to Israel with a honeymoon was quite a good move, really!)

.

The opportunities in media that emerged last year have continued, with East Coast FM still enabling me to enjoy a Pleasant Sunday Afternoon, looking at faith issues, news and personalities…while the little piece once a fortnight in the Courier continues to give me pleasure, if no one else!

The BBC even gave me the chance to present the Morning Service on Radio 4 – going out live at 10.45 A.M. – which generated a very kind response from all sorts of interesting people..

Combine the media work with my on-going and very precious connections as chaplain at Belhaven Hospital and Dunbar United – and you can see that life as a minister is a rich and varied tapestry – and a constant privilege.

I can promise you, you will never hear me complain about my work.

I love it too much.

So, much to give thanks for: much to anticipate.

 Many blessing to count. 

 

 

 

One or two people should be particularly thanked.

David Wight contribution to the life of the congregation – and to my own peace of mind is incalculable. A true blessing and a treasure. His patience, vision and care for Belhaven Church enable us to function at a high level of efficiency and effectiveness.

The rota of organists and musicians enables us to enjoy a wide range of musical in-put and extraordinary talent, a consistently high quality of music within the life of the congregation. They are brilliant.

Over many years Margaret Cannon has worked with commitment and patience in the arcane world of Safeguarding…where the rules seem to change on a monthly basis and the paperwork mounts with unstoppable momentum…She does an amazing job.

As a man who could not even pass his O Level Arithmetic, I have always been in awe of anyone who could be a Treasurer!  We are all hugely appreciative of Myra Johnstone, and the long hours she spends making sure the Church funds are kept in good order. Another world where the demands keep changing and the work never becomes less.

Those who help with the Flower Rota and those who keep the

Car Rota working well also deserve thanks.  These are valued and important enrichments of our congregational life and are valued by all those who benefit from them.

==

REPORT FROM THE SPOTT SESSION CLERK

 

We extended some very happy welcomes to new friends over the year.  Graeme Glover joined us in October as a trainee; he has already made an enriching contribution to parish work.  October was a good month in that we also welcomed a very gracious new lady to the manse, none other than Mrs Lindy Twaddle.  I seem to remember hearing our much loved minister observe that “miracles still happen!” 

Jackie Waugh and Mike Weaver completed their training assignments in Spott during the year and both have now moved on. 

In August we all noted with great sadness the death of Molly Lafferty.  Molly had spent most of her long life in Spott.  She and her husband Rab endeared themselves to all who came their way.  Molly was there at the start of Laurence’s ministry as indeed was Rab, an Elder on the Session at the time.  Happily Molly’s daughter, Angela, and son-in-law Philip remain with us and we share our many joyful memories with them. 

 

It is good to reflect how Spott Church has touched the hearts of many who have known it.  That reflection has been prompted by the arrival of two very generous donations during the year, one from Mrs Davidson’s family who moved to Canada long ago, and one from Irene Scott, a more recent dear friend who moved to Edinburgh more recently.  We see the same love of Spott expressed by other longstanding but less active members of our congregation who harbour the warmest affection for this place.  We read that many folk across the nation who may not be able - or even willing - to come to church on Sunday nonetheless carry in their hearts glowing embers of faith.  The warmest welcome awaits any such folk in this place whenever they want to return here.

 

We have again noted strenuous efforts by bodies in the national church to plan for future ministry requirements and to extend the reach and impact of Christ’s teaching among our worshipping community.  We have been asked to support a renewed emphasis on the training of Elders – a long under-utilised resource.

By contrast the burden of the church authorities’ requirement for paperwork becomes ever more taxing.  For example, the requirement to obtain each member’s written consent for us to hold merely their names and addresses would seem to achieve little beyond insulating the church from a vestigial risk of challenge. 

Session members have given unstinting service, as ever, to the requirements of their office.  Duncan Nicholson continues as our Presbytery representative and has reported regularly to us on several weighty issues.  Gordon Tweedie has assumed responsibility as property convener while Peter MacIntyre continues as our valiant treasurer.

 

As regards our services of worship, the Session decided to continue holding monthly communion on the first Sunday of each month.  The Spott Singers add their own, heartfelt contribution to these services

 

For many years now we have been partners in a much-valued and rewarding linkage with Belhaven PC.  Through that association with our friends “down the road”, and sometimes by combining happily with other Dunbar churches, we have had the opportunity to contribute to a wide range of great work that goes on in and around our area.  Such endeavours refresh our vision and have given us a fuller view of the work of Christ’s people across our community.  Richard Taylor’s efforts on our joint behalf continue to light a beacon of hope for many young people in Dunbar as they meet the challenges of growing up.

 

So for those who know and love Spott Church there is much for which to thank God. Among these blessings, we never take for granted the immense gift of a dedicated minister.  His preaching has long been a source of uplift and hope.  Perhaps less obvious but not less powerful have been his prayers.  His leadership speaks of a life filled by the Spirit. 

 

We pray that this place of spiritual refreshment and ageless beauty will continue to serve all seeking to know better our Lord and Saviour.

 

 

V N U Wood

Session Clerk

4.3.2016

 

Belhaven Session Clerk

 

2015 was certainly a year of change at Belhaven Church. No one can accuse us of being stagnant at Belhaven! With the start of new House Groups, a new Teenage group and with the Kirk Session looking at how we deliver pastoral care to see if we can make any improvements to this and to the Family Service, there is certainly a buzz in the air.

 

 Welcomes, farewells and congratulations!

Jacqueline Waugh and Mike Weaver both completed their time with us at Belhaven.  Jacqueline is finishing her studies with lots of essay writing and Mike is currently on placement at St Johns in Dalkeith. 

 

In October, we welcomed probationer Graeme Glover and his family and hope they enjoy all that Belhaven and Dunbar have to offer over the next 15 months.

 

In April, after many years as Session Clerk, Barbara Richerby decided to hand over the reigns to someone new.  We thank her for her time, her enthusiasm and her commitment, which she has given to the church in the role over the past 12 years. She really is a hard act to follow.

 

We also thank elders Kit Newman and David Ramsay who have both retired from active duties, for their many years of service and dedication.

 

It was with great delight that we welcomed 10 new elders in 2015; Andrew and Jeannie Barber, Alan and Hazel Gray, Robin Hamilton, Darren Kilfara, Moyra Lawson, Maureen Watt and Dorothy and James Wildgoose. They each bring with them a special breadth of experience and enthusiasm that can already be seen in the day-to-day life of the church.

 

Carol Hamilton is now helping Margaret Cannon in the important role of Safeguarding Officer helping to ensure that our children and vulnerable adults are protected from any harm and our thanks go to both of them.

 

Congratulations to Laurence and Lindy on their marriage and may they have many years of happiness ahead of them.

 

 

New Groups

 

The House Group meetings started in November, meeting fortnightly on a Thursday evening; there has been a very good response - around 12-14 at each meeting.  The aim of the group is to provide a place for people to enjoy friendship and fellowship with one another, to exchange views on Christian matters and to grow in faith. We also plan to review progress with the Group before the Easter break - to assess whether it is achieving its objectives and meeting needs.  So far the response has been very positive.  Anyone interested would be very welcome to join one of the groups.

 

Photons

This year also saw the start of a new group for the older teenagers.  After a number of unsuccessful attempts to find a suitable night to meet, the group settled on meeting for two hours on a Sunday once a month.  This allows them to meet at the church then retire to a house where they share a video, meal and discussion.  The first sessions have gone well with positive feedback from the group and requests to cover a variety of interesting - and challenging - topics.

 I would like to thank you all for your support in my new role as Session Clerk.  It has been made much easier because of the help and encouragement you have given me. I am still learning but with your continued help I will get there!!

 

Lastly, many thanks to Laurence for his continuing guidance, commitment and love, it means so much to us all.

Thank you

Jane McIntyre (Session Clerk) Belhaven Parish Church Congregational Board

 

Congregational Board Chairperson’s Report 

Time to reflect on another year in the life of Belhaven Parish Church and to take time to look forward to the coming year.  As always the challenges we have faced as a Congregational Board have been wide and varied.  The last report mentioned stewardship, as we strive to raise sufficient funds to ensure the church is maintained for future generations and we can continue to spread the Christian word throughout the local community and meet our obligations to the wider church family.  

The Congregational Board oversees the Fabric, Finance and Social committees who report on a bimonthly basis. 

The Fabric Committee are responsible for all aspects of the church buildings, including bookings, maintenance and ensuring that we comply with the ever more complicated Health and Safety regulations and Building regulations.  This is no mean feat as demand on use for the church buildings seems to increase year on year, this makes maintenance schedules much more difficult to plan, ensuring that we can maximise revenue while meeting the demands from all of those who use the facilities.  We at Belhaven are extremely fortunate indeed to have David Wight oversee the fabric committee and his unstinting service and attention to detail allows us to maximise the income from the church facilities while complying fully with all the relevant legislation surrounding the letting of the premises.  I would like to say a personal thank you for all of David’s efforts over the past year. 

On matters financial we have the Finance Committee to thank for ensuring that we have sufficient funds to meet all of our obligations, not only for Belhaven, but for the wider church.  As there is a full finance report accompanying this Annual Report there is no need to duplicate that information here.  Neil Richerby has been a stalwart of the finance committee over the past years and has now decided to stand down.  James Wildgoose will take over the role of convenor.  I would like to record our thanks to Neil for all of his hard work on the finance committee.  As always thank you to Myra Johnstone, treasurer for all her work and careful attention to detail.  The Board agreed in 2015 for some funds to be transferred into the Church of Scotland Growth & Income Funds (managed by well respected Investment Management Companies), dividends from these are being reinvested and although the capital can fluctuate, this is seen as a long term investment.

 As always the social committee have produced events which have been both enjoyable and profitable for the life and funds of the church.  The Burns Supper now enjoys almost cult status and getting tickets for this event requires considerable effort and speed.  This is but one example of the endeavours of all those involved with the social committee and I am indebted to them for the quiet efficient way all social activities are organised. 

Our annual fete is one of the biggest single contributors to church funds, raising around £3,000.  Sylvia Devine has been the fete co-ordinator over the past few years.  This has simplified the organising of this and reduced the time spent discussing what needs to be done drastically.  I would like to say thank you to Sylvia and to all those who make the fete happen. 

Finally the secretary to the Congregational Board who records all discussions, distributes minutes.  This was all done through a time of great sadness and difficulty in her personal life.  Through all of this Bronwyn Brodie has maintained her faith and dedication to the life and work of the church.  I would like to say a huge thank you on behalf of the congregational board for her hard work over the past year.   Also thank you to Jessie Gold, who kindly steps in whenever needed. Obviously I cannot thank everybody on the Congregational Board personally, but please be assured I would if I could. 

May God Bless you all 

Gillian Denholm

 

 

 

 

SPOTT PARISH CHURCH – TREASURER’S REPORT 2015

The encouragement to giving within the congregation since the 2014 report has met a positive response over the year to 31st December 2015.  We are pleased to report an increase in giving for Ordinary Offerings, particularly for Monthly FWO.  We were also fortunate to have received further generous bequests and donations.

This has resulted in increased income over the year for the second year running.  Funds received have been sufficient to fund our ministry, and other costs incurred in supporting our congregation.  We have also met in full our obligation towards the wider work of the church.  In terms of expenditure, there were some significant shared costs in respect of Spott Church’s contribution to the upgrading, maintenance and repairs of the Belhaven Manse.

Summary: The summary of non-recurring income, and expenditure, figures for 2015 (with comparison to 2014) are:

 

Treasurer’s Account                      2015                                      2014

 

Income:

 

Offerings                                          12,160.00                            9,733.00

Bequests/Donations                        5,474.00                             1,150.00

Weddings/Funeral Donations          725.00

Tax Claimed on Gift Aid                    2,187.00                           1,894.00

 

Income Total:                                    £20,546.00                                    £12,775.00

 

Expenditure Total:                            £16,862.00                                   £10,750.00

                                                                                                           

Some examples of major items of Expenditure:

 

Church of Scotland Mission & Ministry           5,262.40                   4,995.00      

Fabric            & Repairs                                         2,355.92                   1,356.32

Supply Organists                                        1,795.00                      290.00      

Repairs to Belhaven Manse                     2,274.30

Share of Belhaven General Costs                          974.86                   1,058.45

 

                                   

Balance of Income less Expenditure:    £3,684.00                 £ 2,025.00

 

 

Spott is also 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:

 

Local Deposit Account:                                                                 £13,632.10

 

Funds held by Church of Scotland on Spott Church’s behalf

(used for large fabric expenditure only):                                               £9,259.24

 

 

 

BELHAVEN PARISH CHURCH - TREASURER’S REPORT

 

 

 

Belhaven Parish Church                                                                          

Extracts from Accounts for year ended 31st December 2015

 

_____________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

INCOME                                                                                2015               2014

 

 

 

Incoming Resources

Donations and Legacies

 

Offerings                                                                              61992               59789                          

Tax recovered on Gift Aid                                                            14240                        14043          

Other donations                                                                   1945               5856          

Legacies                                                                                 3015                           2000

Contributions from congregational organisations                    330                  300

                                                                                                81522                        81988          

 

Charitable Activities

 

Weddings and funerals                                                      1444                           2435

Coffee mornings etc.                                                         335                      980           

Concerts                                                                                   949                            1033          

Other income from charitable activities                                    5021                           4418          

                                                                                                  7749                           8866          

 

Other Trading Activities

Use of premises                                                                    7459                          5500

 

 

Investments

 

Income from UK listed investments                                          3986

Bank interest receivable                                                      614                  979

                                                                                                 4600                 979

 

 

 

 

TOTAL INCOME                                                               101330                        97333           

 

EXPENDITURE                                                                     2015          2014

 

Costs of Raising Donations and Legacies                          

 

Offering envelopes                                                                          175               296

          

Charitable Activities

Support costs                                                                              109830                      89432

 

 

Governance Costs

 

Independent examiner fee                                                            960               930   

 

TOTAL EXPENDITURE                                                    110965          90658

 

 

 

_____________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

 

INCOME/EXPENDITURE 2015                                                                2015

 

 

TOTAL INCOME                                                                                      101330

 

TOTAL EXPENDITURE                                                                            110965

 

 

                                                                                    Deficit                       9635

 

 

 

 

 

The figures set out above show Belhaven Parish Church Income and Expenditure for 2015 with comparisons from 2014.   The figures show a Deficit of £9,635.   This Deficit needs to be viewed in context as there was considerable extra capital expenditure on Fabric of £21,809, mainly on urgent roof repairs.   The church also received legacies of £3,015 which boosted the Total Income figure.  

 

The Finance committee tries to ensure that the regular running cost of the church, excluding capital expenditure, is met from regular income, excluding legacy income, thereby enabling the church to function within its means:

 

 

 

            Total Expenditure for 2015                      110,965

            Minus Capital Expenditure                          21,809

            Regular Expenditure                          89,156 

 

            Total Income for 2015                    101,330

            Minus Legacies                                      3,015      

            Regular Income                                  98,315     

 

            Regular Income for 2015                 98,315 

            Regular Expenditure for 2015        89,156

            Surplus for 2015                                  9,159

 

 

The above shows a healthy surplus when comparing regular expenditure against regular income.   Belhaven’s financial position has continued to improve during 2015 as Offerings plus Tax Recovered on Gift Aid increased by over 3% when compared with 2014.   This might be due in part to the impact of the successful Stewardship campaign which ran throughout 2014.   The financial position in relation to regular expenditure also improved during 2015.   A budget was set covering Fabric/Repairs and Maintenance which resulted in a slight under-spend. 

 

At the end of 2014, following lengthy discussion and debate, the Congregational Board decided to transfer the majority of Belhaven’s finances to the Church of Scotland’s Income & Growth Funds which were seen to yield a higher rate of return than the lower rate of interest with the Deposit Fund.   Belhaven’s investments were subject to the vagaries of the Market and during 2015, although dividends of £3,986 were received, the capital value of the funds depreciated by £3,534 giving a net gain of £452.   The depreciation figure reflects point in time comparisons as the capital value fluctuates over time, rising and falling, and the real value will only be realised at the point of selling our investments.    The Finance committee’s position is that these investments should be viewed over the longer term.   The Finance committee will continue to carefully monitor and overview all church finances.   

 

 

BELHAVEN PARISH CHURCH  FINANCIAL RESOURCES AT END DECEMBER 2015

 

BALANCE WITH ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND                               20,473.11

INVESTED WITH CHURCH OF SCOTLAND                                   155,452.12

TOTAL RESOURCES                                                                            175,925.23

 

 

Although our resources look fairly healthy it is important not to be complacent as there will be major capital expenditure during 2016.   Further work on church buildings was identified in 2014 and 2015 contractors’ reports and the Finance and Fabric committees have plans in place to ensure prudent spending and completion of vital work.  

 

During 2015 Belhaven Church also made the following donations - Famine & Disaster Fund to Christian Aid:  £500 for Nepal Earthquake, £300 for Syrian appeal;  Launchpad collection taken at Sunday Service teas/coffees:   £100 to Children’s villages in Nepal;  Soup & Sweet lunch to Christian Aid:  £306.73 for Syrian appeal;  School Music Concert:  £250 to Grammar School Music Department, £304 to DACYP;  Christmas Eve collection:  £311.38 to Bethany Christian Trust.

 

It is crucial to thank the congregation for their financial support on a week by week/month by month basis.   Also to acknowledge the generosity of the late Mrs Mary Hare and Mrs Pauline Monica Taylor and their valued support for the ongoing work of the church.   The congregation also gives freely of their time and talents and a number of very successful and thoroughly enjoyable events were held during 2015.    

 

Without the spirit of caring and co-operation that abounds in the church the Burns Supper, Fete, etc. would not take place;  without the bequeathing of legacies major repair work and general improvements would not have been possible;  without the generosity of giving from the congregation  Belhaven Parish Church would be unable to minister to the needs of the community and we thank God for the commitment of our congregation.     

 

 

 

 

Myra Johnstone

 BELHAVEN AND SPOTT CHURCHES

 

ANNUAL REPORT

 

APRIL 2016

 

 

 

You forget! 

Until you take that bird’s eye view, consider the overview…. you can easily forget how much has happened, what has been achieved…what is beautiful to remember.

 

Which is why the Annual Report serves us so well, giving opportunity to revisit high points, celebrate champions, and notice the areas of the life of the church that need attention, require further consideration, or might offer fruitful opportunity for development.

==

It has certainly been a year in which the life of our congregations has been enhanced and enriched by new people, sharing happily in the life of our churches.

==

Most recent has been Clarence Tungunu from Zimbabwe, come to share the experience of church life in Scotland and to bring his own smile, warmth and spiritual energy. We miss him.

And before Clarence we had Jaqueline Waugh, training with us before moving on to continue her studies.  She was such a people person she soon wound cords of affection around our hearts.  We miss her too.

 

Mike Weaver stayed with us for six months or so, while still at Edinburgh University, and we remember his strong ministry and clear conviction as he blew into our congregational life with his wide work experience and his new insights. He continues his training in a church in Midlothian, and has been selected as someone tasked with encouraging new possible ministers to consider that calling.

We have been delighted, too, to welcome as Probationer Assistant for 15 months, Graeme Glover - and he has already made a huge impact on the life of the congregations, with his loving connections with individuals, his fine preaching, and his clear commitment. It’s been great having him share in ministry, and we are all delighted that Carly and Isaac are liking Dunbar so much, and making real friendships here.  Graeme is with us until the end of December, after which who knows what?

 

Belhaven and Spott should be encouraged by the fact that the wider Church of Scotland considers us suitable, indeed, carefully selected congregations for the training of ministry candidates. They seem to know that trainees will be safe with us, nurtured by us, and given real opportunities to learn ministry, and develop their understanding of ministry, among people who can be trusted to be patient, gracious and supportive. (Kind of been my experience of the congregations too!!)

..

A major event in the life of Belhaven Church since the last Annual Report has been the Ordination of a clutch of new elders, and the welcoming of elders who have come to Dunbar from other congregations. In her Session Clerk’s report, Jane lists those who have joined the Session….and I can certainly say, as I look around at a Session Meeting, and see the new elders, along with those who continue to serve with faithfulness and enthusiasm even after long years – I am surely the most blessed and lucky minister in the land! Talented, committed, loving people who bring their many, many gifts and Christian qualities to the service of the Lord they love…they surround and support me,  understand and forgive me, pray and walk alongside me.  This is truly the greatest thing…and  I value it hugely.

=

I have also been exceptionally blessed in having shared the work here with Session Clerk’s who have been kind, efficient and committed. After many years, Barbara Richerby retired from the post she had served in so very well, and I have greatly valued her friendship, wise counsel and encouragement over all that time. We are indebted to her for her quiet skill in moving things along, making sure things are not forgotten, and always with a gentle graciousness.

Now it’s Jane’s task to keep me right! No small task!

-

Someone from the wider church suggested, rather unkindly I thought, that they supposed I would be “winding down to retirement.”

Well, it certainly doesn’t feel that way to me! And, I hope it doesn’t feel that way to anyone!  In fact, I can hardly think of a time when there have more developments, initiatives, plans and possibilities being explored.

Worship is stimulating and varied: people are involved in shaping the life of the church for the future, and real flesh is being put on ideas.

·        The Sunday Night Prayer event once a month at West Barns is up and running, and all those who share in it feel its worth and value the opportunity.

·        The Wednesday Service on the second Wednesday of the month has grown a loyal and enthusiastic congregation and become established as a valued opportunity for worship and fellowship.

·        The House Group has clearly answered a felt need and  in another initiative that has come from the heart of the life of the church.

·        Photons – a group for young teenagers now meets regularly to look at faith and life from the particular angle of young people growing up in today’s culture

·        A New Members’ Class began in January and should be completed by the time of publication of the Annual Report.

·        An Elders’ Conference considered priorities, strategies and possibilities for the life of the church.

·        The Kirk Session has been meeting in task groups to consider how the future organisation of the life of the church might be enhanced, and how we can better serve congregation and parish in care, in mission, and in worship.

 

All of these illustrations of the creative restlessness that wants to make our church life more influential for the Gospel speaks of people who do not want to shelter under the duvet from the chill winds of secularism and misunderstanding, but rather wants to roll up sleeves, open doors, and welcome, serve and minister to the parish entrusted to our care. Not at all a winding down. On the contrary, a ratcheting up….and an eagerness to find how best to serve God, here – and now!

All this while we celebrate and applaud the work of Launchpad, Lazers, crèche in making Belhaven Church a welcoming environment for children and families.

(Though, when they minister to us through the Nativity Play and other presentations –we understand that blessings travel in both directions!!)

The Guild and Men’s Group continue to provide inspiring moments, good fellowship and a better sense of those we travel alongside on the Christian Way.

The Inspire Group , kick-started by Belhaven folks, now serves to make bridges between those for whom church and faith are difficult, and those for whom it is at the heart of their life.

Toddler Group remains the phenomenon it is…valued, indeed, treasured by those who use it, for its genuine welcome and its place as a safe haven for the harassed. Just make sure you get there before the HOUSE FULL signs go up!

Wherever this is…it is not Sleepy Hollow!

-=

Over the course of the year, we have had the pleasure of sharing with the other congregations in the town, the tasks and the privilege of witness and service.

Holy Week and the shared services there offered its usual raft of opportunities for pilgrims to travel together, and hosting the service for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at Belhaven in January was a particular high point .No one coming into that service would think for a second that religion in Dunbar was moribund. One listen to the singing, one look around the congregation and  you would see that faith still matters, still makes a difference.

=

The role of the Church in the life of the local schools has been significant over these last months.

 

The Christian Youth Worker Project with is input across the life of the schools has been a major tool in connecting new generations with the nature of faith, and the role it plays in the history and life of the world.

Big events encouraging the children to think with open minds have been signposts along the way

·        Bubble Gum and Fluff –an inter-church exploration of the true meaning of Christmas

·        Big Questions – encouraging primary children to challenge local clergy with the kinds of issues that perplex them and make faith hard for new generations..

·        1000 children coming to Belhaven Church for their Christmas Services

·        Regular visits to the schools to take Assemblies and enjoy religious observance with the children and teachers

·        A meaty session or two with the Higher Religious Studies Class as they delved into issues of evil and God and suffering and faith!

·        Great services at Harvest and Christmas as West Barns Primary

·        Connections with Belhaven Hill School as strong as ever

These were all special moments, and they provided a real chance to build a bridge across the chasm of unbelief and disbelief that increasingly is the norm for young people. They were asked to think fairly and honestly about the phenomenon of faith and to adjust their prejudices in the light of information received.  These were great opportunities.

So, hardly a slide towards retirement.

Rather a sense of privilege, and a passion to see the church be alive to the moment, be dedicated in service – and above all be a place filled with love for God and for each of his children.

This is where the church is truly in touch with the Christ we serve; not in the pyrotechnics and dramas and wilder expressions of religiosity…but when the love of Christ is in our hearts, and we are happy to share that love – wherever that takes us.

 

On a personal front, it has been an astonishing year:

Walking Mary down the aisle at Spott Church was a wonderful moment

and seeing her happiness go to the very core of her being, was an unforgettable joy.

And who should have thought that, four weeks later, I would be going down another aisle…this time at Prestonkirk, to be married myself!!

Well done, Lindy!! What an optimist!

Definitely a game-changer! (And combining a Study Leave trip to Israel with a honeymoon was quite a good move, really!)

.

The opportunities in media that emerged last year have continued, with East Coast FM still enabling me to enjoy a Pleasant Sunday Afternoon, looking at faith issues, news and personalities…while the little piece once a fortnight in the Courier continues to give me pleasure, if no one else!

The BBC even gave me the chance to present the Morning Service on Radio 4 – going out live at 10.45 A.M. – which generated a very kind response from all sorts of interesting people..

Combine the media work with my on-going and very precious connections as chaplain at Belhaven Hospital and Dunbar United – and you can see that life as a minister is a rich and varied tapestry – and a constant privilege.

I can promise you, you will never hear me complain about my work.

I love it too much.

So, much to give thanks for: much to anticipate.

 Many blessing to count. 

 

 

 

One or two people should be particularly thanked.

David Wight contribution to the life of the congregation – and to my own peace of mind is incalculable. A true blessing and a treasure. His patience, vision and care for Belhaven Church enable us to function at a high level of efficiency and effectiveness.

The rota of organists and musicians enables us to enjoy a wide range of musical in-put and extraordinary talent, a consistently high quality of music within the life of the congregation. They are brilliant.

Over many years Margaret Cannon has worked with commitment and patience in the arcane world of Safeguarding…where the rules seem to change on a monthly basis and the paperwork mounts with unstoppable momentum…She does an amazing job.

As a man who could not even pass his O Level Arithmetic, I have always been in awe of anyone who could be a Treasurer!  We are all hugely appreciative of Myra Johnstone, and the long hours she spends making sure the Church funds are kept in good order. Another world where the demands keep changing and the work never becomes less.

Those who help with the Flower Rota and those who keep the

Car Rota working well also deserve thanks.  These are valued and important enrichments of our congregational life and are valued by all those who benefit from them.

==

REPORT FROM THE SPOTT SESSION CLERK

 

We extended some very happy welcomes to new friends over the year.  Graeme Glover joined us in October as a trainee; he has already made an enriching contribution to parish work.  October was a good month in that we also welcomed a very gracious new lady to the manse, none other than Mrs Lindy Twaddle.  I seem to remember hearing our much loved minister observe that “miracles still happen!” 

Jackie Waugh and Mike Weaver completed their training assignments in Spott during the year and both have now moved on. 

In August we all noted with great sadness the death of Molly Lafferty.  Molly had spent most of her long life in Spott.  She and her husband Rab endeared themselves to all who came their way.  Molly was there at the start of Laurence’s ministry as indeed was Rab, an Elder on the Session at the time.  Happily Molly’s daughter, Angela, and son-in-law Philip remain with us and we share our many joyful memories with them. 

 

It is good to reflect how Spott Church has touched the hearts of many who have known it.  That reflection has been prompted by the arrival of two very generous donations during the year, one from Mrs Davidson’s family who moved to Canada long ago, and one from Irene Scott, a more recent dear friend who moved to Edinburgh more recently.  We see the same love of Spott expressed by other longstanding but less active members of our congregation who harbour the warmest affection for this place.  We read that many folk across the nation who may not be able - or even willing - to come to church on Sunday nonetheless carry in their hearts glowing embers of faith.  The warmest welcome awaits any such folk in this place whenever they want to return here.

 

We have again noted strenuous efforts by bodies in the national church to plan for future ministry requirements and to extend the reach and impact of Christ’s teaching among our worshipping community.  We have been asked to support a renewed emphasis on the training of Elders – a long under-utilised resource.

By contrast the burden of the church authorities’ requirement for paperwork becomes ever more taxing.  For example, the requirement to obtain each member’s written consent for us to hold merely their names and addresses would seem to achieve little beyond insulating the church from a vestigial risk of challenge. 

Session members have given unstinting service, as ever, to the requirements of their office.  Duncan Nicholson continues as our Presbytery representative and has reported regularly to us on several weighty issues.  Gordon Tweedie has assumed responsibility as property convener while Peter MacIntyre continues as our valiant treasurer.

 

As regards our services of worship, the Session decided to continue holding monthly communion on the first Sunday of each month.  The Spott Singers add their own, heartfelt contribution to these services

 

For many years now we have been partners in a much-valued and rewarding linkage with Belhaven PC.  Through that association with our friends “down the road”, and sometimes by combining happily with other Dunbar churches, we have had the opportunity to contribute to a wide range of great work that goes on in and around our area.  Such endeavours refresh our vision and have given us a fuller view of the work of Christ’s people across our community.  Richard Taylor’s efforts on our joint behalf continue to light a beacon of hope for many young people in Dunbar as they meet the challenges of growing up.

 

So for those who know and love Spott Church there is much for which to thank God. Among these blessings, we never take for granted the immense gift of a dedicated minister.  His preaching has long been a source of uplift and hope.  Perhaps less obvious but not less powerful have been his prayers.  His leadership speaks of a life filled by the Spirit. 

 

We pray that this place of spiritual refreshment and ageless beauty will continue to serve all seeking to know better our Lord and Saviour.

 

 

V N U Wood

Session Clerk

4.3.2016

 

Belhaven Session Clerk

 

2015 was certainly a year of change at Belhaven Church. No one can accuse us of being stagnant at Belhaven! With the start of new House Groups, a new Teenage group and with the Kirk Session looking at how we deliver pastoral care to see if we can make any improvements to this and to the Family Service, there is certainly a buzz in the air.

 

 Welcomes, farewells and congratulations!

Jacqueline Waugh and Mike Weaver both completed their time with us at Belhaven.  Jacqueline is finishing her studies with lots of essay writing and Mike is currently on placement at St Johns in Dalkeith. 

 

In October, we welcomed probationer Graeme Glover and his family and hope they enjoy all that Belhaven and Dunbar have to offer over the next 15 months.

 

In April, after many years as Session Clerk, Barbara Richerby decided to hand over the reigns to someone new.  We thank her for her time, her enthusiasm and her commitment, which she has given to the church in the role over the past 12 years. She really is a hard act to follow.

 

We also thank elders Kit Newman and David Ramsay who have both retired from active duties, for their many years of service and dedication.

 

It was with great delight that we welcomed 10 new elders in 2015; Andrew and Jeannie Barber, Alan and Hazel Gray, Robin Hamilton, Darren Kilfara, Moyra Lawson, Maureen Watt and Dorothy and James Wildgoose. They each bring with them a special breadth of experience and enthusiasm that can already be seen in the day-to-day life of the church.

 

Carol Hamilton is now helping Margaret Cannon in the important role of Safeguarding Officer helping to ensure that our children and vulnerable adults are protected from any harm and our thanks go to both of them.

 

Congratulations to Laurence and Lindy on their marriage and may they have many years of happiness ahead of them.

 

 

New Groups

 

The House Group meetings started in November, meeting fortnightly on a Thursday evening; there has been a very good response - around 12-14 at each meeting.  The aim of the group is to provide a place for people to enjoy friendship and fellowship with one another, to exchange views on Christian matters and to grow in faith. We also plan to review progress with the Group before the Easter break - to assess whether it is achieving its objectives and meeting needs.  So far the response has been very positive.  Anyone interested would be very welcome to join one of the groups.

 

Photons

This year also saw the start of a new group for the older teenagers.  After a number of unsuccessful attempts to find a suitable night to meet, the group settled on meeting for two hours on a Sunday once a month.  This allows them to meet at the church then retire to a house where they share a video, meal and discussion.  The first sessions have gone well with positive feedback from the group and requests to cover a variety of interesting - and challenging - topics.

 I would like to thank you all for your support in my new role as Session Clerk.  It has been made much easier because of the help and encouragement you have given me. I am still learning but with your continued help I will get there!!

 

Lastly, many thanks to Laurence for his continuing guidance, commitment and love, it means so much to us all.

Thank you

Jane McIntyre (Session Clerk) Belhaven Parish Church Congregational Board

 

Congregational Board Chairperson’s Report 

Time to reflect on another year in the life of Belhaven Parish Church and to take time to look forward to the coming year.  As always the challenges we have faced as a Congregational Board have been wide and varied.  The last report mentioned stewardship, as we strive to raise sufficient funds to ensure the church is maintained for future generations and we can continue to spread the Christian word throughout the local community and meet our obligations to the wider church family.  

The Congregational Board oversees the Fabric, Finance and Social committees who report on a bimonthly basis. 

The Fabric Committee are responsible for all aspects of the church buildings, including bookings, maintenance and ensuring that we comply with the ever more complicated Health and Safety regulations and Building regulations.  This is no mean feat as demand on use for the church buildings seems to increase year on year, this makes maintenance schedules much more difficult to plan, ensuring that we can maximise revenue while meeting the demands from all of those who use the facilities.  We at Belhaven are extremely fortunate indeed to have David Wight oversee the fabric committee and his unstinting service and attention to detail allows us to maximise the income from the church facilities while complying fully with all the relevant legislation surrounding the letting of the premises.  I would like to say a personal thank you for all of David’s efforts over the past year. 

On matters financial we have the Finance Committee to thank for ensuring that we have sufficient funds to meet all of our obligations, not only for Belhaven, but for the wider church.  As there is a full finance report accompanying this Annual Report there is no need to duplicate that information here.  Neil Richerby has been a stalwart of the finance committee over the past years and has now decided to stand down.  James Wildgoose will take over the role of convenor.  I would like to record our thanks to Neil for all of his hard work on the finance committee.  As always thank you to Myra Johnstone, treasurer for all her work and careful attention to detail.  The Board agreed in 2015 for some funds to be transferred into the Church of Scotland Growth & Income Funds (managed by well respected Investment Management Companies), dividends from these are being reinvested and although the capital can fluctuate, this is seen as a long term investment.

 As always the social committee have produced events which have been both enjoyable and profitable for the life and funds of the church.  The Burns Supper now enjoys almost cult status and getting tickets for this event requires considerable effort and speed.  This is but one example of the endeavours of all those involved with the social committee and I am indebted to them for the quiet efficient way all social activities are organised. 

Our annual fete is one of the biggest single contributors to church funds, raising around £3,000.  Sylvia Devine has been the fete co-ordinator over the past few years.  This has simplified the organising of this and reduced the time spent discussing what needs to be done drastically.  I would like to say thank you to Sylvia and to all those who make the fete happen. 

Finally the secretary to the Congregational Board who records all discussions, distributes minutes.  This was all done through a time of great sadness and difficulty in her personal life.  Through all of this Bronwyn Brodie has maintained her faith and dedication to the life and work of the church.  I would like to say a huge thank you on behalf of the congregational board for her hard work over the past year.   Also thank you to Jessie Gold, who kindly steps in whenever needed. Obviously I cannot thank everybody on the Congregational Board personally, but please be assured I would if I could. 

May God Bless you all 

Gillian Denholm

 

 

 

 

SPOTT PARISH CHURCH – TREASURER’S REPORT 2015

The encouragement to giving within the congregation since the 2014 report has met a positive response over the year to 31st December 2015.  We are pleased to report an increase in giving for Ordinary Offerings, particularly for Monthly FWO.  We were also fortunate to have received further generous bequests and donations.

This has resulted in increased income over the year for the second year running.  Funds received have been sufficient to fund our ministry, and other costs incurred in supporting our congregation.  We have also met in full our obligation towards the wider work of the church.  In terms of expenditure, there were some significant shared costs in respect of Spott Church’s contribution to the upgrading, maintenance and repairs of the Belhaven Manse.

Summary: The summary of non-recurring income, and expenditure, figures for 2015 (with comparison to 2014) are:

 

Treasurer’s Account                      2015                                      2014

 

Income:

 

Offerings                                          12,160.00                            9,733.00

Bequests/Donations                        5,474.00                             1,150.00

Weddings/Funeral Donations          725.00

Tax Claimed on Gift Aid                    2,187.00                           1,894.00

 

Income Total:                                    £20,546.00                                    £12,775.00

 

Expenditure Total:                            £16,862.00                                   £10,750.00

                                                                                                           

Some examples of major items of Expenditure:

 

Church of Scotland Mission & Ministry           5,262.40                   4,995.00      

Fabric            & Repairs                                         2,355.92                   1,356.32

Supply Organists                                        1,795.00                      290.00      

Repairs to Belhaven Manse                     2,274.30

Share of Belhaven General Costs                          974.86                   1,058.45

 

                                   

Balance of Income less Expenditure:    £3,684.00                 £ 2,025.00

 

 

Spott is also 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:

 

Local Deposit Account:                                                                 £13,632.10

 

Funds held by Church of Scotland on Spott Church’s behalf

(used for large fabric expenditure only):                                               £9,259.24

 

 

 

BELHAVEN PARISH CHURCH - TREASURER’S REPORT

 

 

 

Belhaven Parish Church                                                                          

Extracts from Accounts for year ended 31st December 2015

 

_____________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

INCOME                                                                                2015               2014

 

 

 

Incoming Resources

Donations and Legacies

 

Offerings                                                                              61992               59789                          

Tax recovered on Gift Aid                                                            14240                        14043          

Other donations                                                                   1945               5856          

Legacies                                                                                 3015                           2000

Contributions from congregational organisations                    330                  300

                                                                                                81522                        81988          

 

Charitable Activities

 

Weddings and funerals                                                      1444                           2435

Coffee mornings etc.                                                         335                      980           

Concerts                                                                                   949                            1033          

Other income from charitable activities                                    5021                           4418          

                                                                                                  7749                           8866          

 

Other Trading Activities

Use of premises                                                                    7459                          5500

 

 

Investments

 

Income from UK listed investments                                          3986

Bank interest receivable                                                      614                  979

                                                                                                 4600                 979

 

 

 

 

TOTAL INCOME                                                               101330                        97333           

 

EXPENDITURE                                                                     2015          2014

 

Costs of Raising Donations and Legacies                          

 

Offering envelopes                                                                          175               296

          

Charitable Activities

Support costs                                                                              109830                      89432

 

 

Governance Costs

 

Independent examiner fee                                                            960               930   

 

TOTAL EXPENDITURE                                                    110965          90658

 

 

 

_____________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

 

INCOME/EXPENDITURE 2015                                                                2015

 

 

TOTAL INCOME                                                                                      101330

 

TOTAL EXPENDITURE                                                                            110965

 

 

                                                                                    Deficit                       9635

 

 

 

 

 

The figures set out above show Belhaven Parish Church Income and Expenditure for 2015 with comparisons from 2014.   The figures show a Deficit of £9,635.   This Deficit needs to be viewed in context as there was considerable extra capital expenditure on Fabric of £21,809, mainly on urgent roof repairs.   The church also received legacies of £3,015 which boosted the Total Income figure.  

 

The Finance committee tries to ensure that the regular running cost of the church, excluding capital expenditure, is met from regular income, excluding legacy income, thereby enabling the church to function within its means:

 

 

 

            Total Expenditure for 2015                      110,965

            Minus Capital Expenditure                          21,809

            Regular Expenditure                          89,156 

 

            Total Income for 2015                    101,330

            Minus Legacies                                      3,015      

            Regular Income                                  98,315     

 

            Regular Income for 2015                 98,315 

            Regular Expenditure for 2015        89,156

            Surplus for 2015                                  9,159

 

 

The above shows a healthy surplus when comparing regular expenditure against regular income.   Belhaven’s financial position has continued to improve during 2015 as Offerings plus Tax Recovered on Gift Aid increased by over 3% when compared with 2014.   This might be due in part to the impact of the successful Stewardship campaign which ran throughout 2014.   The financial position in relation to regular expenditure also improved during 2015.   A budget was set covering Fabric/Repairs and Maintenance which resulted in a slight under-spend. 

 

At the end of 2014, following lengthy discussion and debate, the Congregational Board decided to transfer the majority of Belhaven’s finances to the Church of Scotland’s Income & Growth Funds which were seen to yield a higher rate of return than the lower rate of interest with the Deposit Fund.   Belhaven’s investments were subject to the vagaries of the Market and during 2015, although dividends of £3,986 were received, the capital value of the funds depreciated by £3,534 giving a net gain of £452.   The depreciation figure reflects point in time comparisons as the capital value fluctuates over time, rising and falling, and the real value will only be realised at the point of selling our investments.    The Finance committee’s position is that these investments should be viewed over the longer term.   The Finance committee will continue to carefully monitor and overview all church finances.   

 

 

BELHAVEN PARISH CHURCH  FINANCIAL RESOURCES AT END DECEMBER 2015

 

BALANCE WITH ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND                               20,473.11

INVESTED WITH CHURCH OF SCOTLAND                                   155,452.12

TOTAL RESOURCES                                                                            175,925.23

 

 

Although our resources look fairly healthy it is important not to be complacent as there will be major capital expenditure during 2016.   Further work on church buildings was identified in 2014 and 2015 contractors’ reports and the Finance and Fabric committees have plans in place to ensure prudent spending and completion of vital work.  

 

During 2015 Belhaven Church also made the following donations - Famine & Disaster Fund to Christian Aid:  £500 for Nepal Earthquake, £300 for Syrian appeal;  Launchpad collection taken at Sunday Service teas/coffees:   £100 to Children’s villages in Nepal;  Soup & Sweet lunch to Christian Aid:  £306.73 for Syrian appeal;  School Music Concert:  £250 to Grammar School Music Department, £304 to DACYP;  Christmas Eve collection:  £311.38 to Bethany Christian Trust.

 

It is crucial to thank the congregation for their financial support on a week by week/month by month basis.   Also to acknowledge the generosity of the late Mrs Mary Hare and Mrs Pauline Monica Taylor and their valued support for the ongoing work of the church.   The congregation also gives freely of their time and talents and a number of very successful and thoroughly enjoyable events were held during 2015.    

 

Without the spirit of caring and co-operation that abounds in the church the Burns Supper, Fete, etc. would not take place;  without the bequeathing of legacies major repair work and general improvements would not have been possible;  without the generosity of giving from the congregation  Belhaven Parish Church would be unable to minister to the needs of the community and we thank God for the commitment of our congregation.     

 

 

 

 

Myra Johnstone