COLONSAY CHURCHES - The Church of Scotland


Latest News, November 12th 2016:

Our Belfry was in serious danger of collapse, so we launched an Appeal in December 2015; meanwhile the structure was taken down, new stone was cut and it was re-instated during the summer. This was an amazing project for such a tiny community, and only made possible by the great generosity of well-wishers worldwide. We were very fortunate to reach our fund-raising target. Please see a full report on the project

Happily, the project is now complete. On the other hand, we do need to continue will important maintenance, and have details about our fabric fund


The Church of Scotland in Colonsay - as it is in 2016

Because of its remote location and tiny population, Colonsay does not sustain a fulltime ministry, but we are in the Presbytery of Argyll and very fortunate in having the dedicated services of Rev. Liz Gibson, our Interim Moderator. Furthermore, we have the benefit of regular Sunday worship virtually throughout the year, kindly provided on a rota by a visiting ministers and lay preachers.

We have only two buildings - a relatively modern manse and a simple but very attractive church, which was built in 1802. The active island congregation comprises some 10% of the population, but for most of the year is more than doubled through the support of visitors and holidaymakers. We also have a magnificent glebe - some 30 acres of very varied terrain a few hundred metres north of the harbour at Scalasaig. The glebe runs from sea-level to 70 metres in altitude and includes four differing geological strata, providing rich diversity in flora and habitat. It is neatly divided by the road and gates, stiles, signs and two suggested walks have been provided, so that everyone can enjoy this wonderful resource (but, naturally, at their own risk).

During 2015, the congregation was resolved to take all possible steps to ensure the future viability of the parish; we recognised that we are extremely fortunate in regards to the provision of worship. and in the assets with which the parish is blessed - but we felt we must do more to ensure that, by good stewardship, these benefits will remain for future generations. We explored the opportunity to provide future income and a reduced carbon footprint through the installation of a wind-turbine, but found that we would need to dig a trench 60 cm deep and 300 metres long, through solid rock. More successfully, we made good progress in year four of a programme intended to protect and enhance the ecology of the glebe. Above all, we were determined to create a sustainable and proactive programme of preventative maintenance for our buildings, in contrast to our pre-existing policy which was more "make-do-and-mend" and in this we were blessed with good fortune .

Our buildings had been professionally surveyed in the autumn of 2014 and in addition to more minor problems it was revealed that two of our large Georgian windows were in urgent need of replacement, with one being unlikely to survive another year. The survey was not a secret - see details here. This report meant that we needed to spent £10,000 immediately and forced us to launch an appeal - and were overwhelmed by a most generous response. Now that this urgent work is complete, there will be a regular and detailed annual inspection each Autumn, and a contractor will be employed to carry out all necessary works in the following springtime. This will be difficult to sustain for the first year or two, but in the long run it will be cheaper, less wasteful of resources and immensely better for the fabric of the buildings and the future viability of our parish.

We expect to have to spend about £2,500 per year and have created a dedicated Fabric Fund for the purpose. Details appear on this page - which lists all the different ways in which one can contribute, from any location and in any currency.

During 2015, we discovered that our belfry was in danger of collapse; the General Trustees of the Church of Scotland kindly helped us to identify a qualified Conservation Architect and plans were drawn up to address the problem. We were very fortunate in the support that we received and in October 2016 we held a service of rededication, the belfry having been fully restored. Read all about it here.

The Church of Scotland in Colonsay - how we want it to be

We want to make full use of the church itself and in particular we would like to be able to host more events and activities. We would like to offer it as a venue for lectures and presentations of an ecological or environmental nature - we would love to hear from organisations connected with everything from Marine Litter to Cetaceans, Bumblebees or the Night Sky; we imagine perhaps a PowerPoint-style presentation, after which participants could repair to the hotel across the road for social discussion. Sadly, we cannot as yet offer a lecture fee, but if we could start such a series of events, maybe it would gain momentum? The church has also proved to be ideal for classical music, and there is even a modest but seviceable keyboard instrument which is under-used. If you have a need for such a venue, please contact the Session Clerk


The Church of Scotland in Colonsay - its history

We are looking forward to giving a history of the Church of Scotland in Colonsay; it will involve quite a lot of work, but will be well worthwhile. Please come back to this site to check up on progress!



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