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News from Presbytery, thanks to Dr Myra Waddell, our Presbytery Elder. Presbytery meetings cover a lot of ground, so these notes simply refer to matters of specific local interest in our parish.
Covid -19: Naturaly, Colonsay & Oronsay Parish has been in full compliance with official guidelines throughout the pandemic. Dr. Alastair Scouller has provided weekly online services by Zoom to date, with remote support by some of our visiting ministers from time to time. Our church building as been allowed to re-open since September and we held one Zoom service per month from within the building in the winter. We are now using the church building every week, but Covid regulations are strictly applied and the service is shared with our virtual congregation by Zoom. Please remember that our Zoom services are open to one an all and we have been joined by worshippers from very distant lands. Services are held at 10.30 each Sunday and last for about 30 minutes; for an invitation to join, please email byrne[AT]colonsay.org.uk , you will be very welcome.
Assessor Elders: Martin Waddell and Dr Myra Waddell, from Seil, are our Assessor Elders, to strengthen our Kirk Session. Martin and Myra join our existing Ruling Elder, Kate Bowman, and help to ensure that our pastoral and administrative functions are maintained; they also help to represent us outwith the island both formally and informally.
Interim Moderator: Colonsay & Oronsay Parish has now joined a "Hub" of vacant parishes within the Presbytery and we welcomed Alison Hay, who took us under her wing since early 2019, as Vacancies Manager. It is now just over 30 years since Rev. Ron Crawford, our last resident minister, retired due to ill-health and parishioners are most grateful to the Interim Moderators and to the volunteer visiting Ministers and preachers who have sustained us throughout.
Sunday Services are normally held at the Parish Church in Scalasaig, and these are always joint services for both congregations, the Baptist Church and the Church of Scotland. All services are very much an occasion for families and all are welcome on an ecumenical basis.
Information Leaflet: a modest four-page publication is available within the church, with notes upon the history and architecture of the building. Recipients are invited to make a donation to the dedicated Fabric Fund, and a minimum of £1.00 per copy is suggested.
Heritage: It is an extraordinary fact that there are more than one million people alive today in Canada alone who, if they did but know it, have at least one ancestor who came from Colonsay. Parishioners are always interested to welcome descendants of our diaspora to services, or to provide photographs of gravestones and family homesteads if a personal visit is impossible. It is perhaps interesting to know that any emigrant who departed after 1802 will have been familiar with this church, which still provides both a spiritual and physical link with the past.
The Colonsay & Oronsay Pilgrim Trail is a booklet (£10.00) giving a great deal of information on Oronsay Priory and the many ancient religious sites in these islands.
The Easter Service is held at the Parish Church, like all other scheduled services. This is a particularly joyous annual event and an important family occasion. We offer an especially warm welcome for all children.
Our church building is available for community purposes. The main benches have now been fitted with comfortable cushioning and new roller blinds facilitate the use of projection equipment. Speakers on environmental, cultural, ecological or related subjects (birds, flowers etc,) are always welcome. There is no charge for the use of the church, although donations to the Fabric Fund are naturally welcomed.
The Parish Church is always available for meetings and other community activities.
The Baptist Church now hosts Colonsay & Oransay Heritage Trust exhibits and is a venue for related activities.
The weekly "offering" is not connected to our Fabric Fund, but supports the wider work of the Church of Scotland in "Ministries and Mission", Our parish contribution amounts to about £130.00 per service (ca. 42 services p.a.). Of this contribution, 84% goes towards Ministries, and 16% towards Missionary work, at home and abroad.
The Fabric Fund is devoted to the care and maintenance of our own parish Church, together with any improvements. Collection boxes for the Fabric Fund are in the church, also Gift Aid forms - by completing a Gift Aid form your contribution is increased by 25%.
Our church was built in 1879 at a cost of over £300, to accommodate up to 100 worshippers, and it has served us faithfully. Although it remains in use for occasional services and is available for weddings and funerals, in the autumn of 2016 we decided to combine with the Church of Scotland congregation in the use of just one building for regular worship. Please join us on Sundays in the parish church at Scalasaig.
Our manse was built in the 1930s by an outstanding architect, Balfour Paul, with a penchant for unusual roof designs. Over the years the building was well-maintained, and was equipped with both mains electricity and mains water as they became available and it benefitted from many improvements, including new windows throughout. Eventually, however, the slates became nail-sick and the roof developed serious problems so that the slates were replaced by a modern material. The curious roof design became rather more conventional, but the appearance was maintained by a form of trompe l'oeil - the contractors hung slates vertically to replicate the original shadow effect.
The manse was also upgraded internally and we hoped that it would continue to be attractive to the visiting ministers and preachers who have so faithfully served our tiny congregation. It is with great regret that the arrangement is coming to an end, and in late summer of 2019 the manse was offered for sale. Colonsay is too small to provide a living for a resident minister and we are most grateful that services can be continued by virtue of the Church of Scootland manse; we are also very glad to be able to share our services with the summer visitors to Colonsay. In winter, our congregation is modest in number, so it is a particular pleasure to see it burgeon somewhat during the summer months. Our church building is now in the care of Colonsay and Oronsay Heritage Trust as an exhibition centre and our congregation participates in joint worship hosted by the Parish Church at Scalasaig. Our manse has been purchased by Colonsay Community Development Company and will be used as domestic accommodation. The legacy of Rev. Dugald Sinclair and the founders of our church in Colonsay is in good heart.
Since the autumn of 2016, the Baptist Church has no longer been in use for worship on a regular basis, and both our congregations unite each Sunday at the parish church in Scalasaig. There is a synergy in this decision, and it is good to know that the Baptist Church will still be maintained for occasional services as required, and will be used for important community purposes between times. The decision has concentrated our own minds, and we have taken steps to improve our disabled access. Vehicular access is now provided to a point from which there is a level path; and we have been able to render the curtailage stockproof once again.
Following two recent crises in recent years (two large Georgian windows and the full restoration of the belfry), parishioners are resolved that we must try to avoid such problems in future. So maintenance has become proactive rather than reactive, and to this end a dedicated Fabric Fund has now been established. An annual inspection of both the church and the manse is undertaken each autumn, so that an annual contract for ongoing and preventative maintenance can be awarded. It is felt that this makes for more appropriate stewardship in this day and age, is immensely better for the fabric of the buildings, avoids the waste in time and materials which arises from "make-do-and-mend" and in fact will be much cheaper in the long run.
For clarification, weekly offerings do not go to the Fabric Fund, instead they contribute towards the sum that the parish contributes to Ministries and Mission annually; this amounts to about £5,000 per annum, mostly going towards "the support of our pastors" in every parish, but with about 16% reserved for social care, outreach and the wider work of the Church. Anybody wishing to contribute towards the Fabric Fund is invited to use the specific donations box within the church, or to visit our special page, the Fabric Fund.
The Church of Scotland parish of Colonsay and Oronsay (No. 211300) is a registered Scottish Charity No: SC031271