CHAIRMAN’S REPORT - Rev Douglas Irving

The early months of 2015 saw the Church given over to concert and oratorio.  First, the last two concerts of a series organised by St Cuthbert’s Trust and Absolute Classics, piano solo and piano trio concerts in January and March.  On 7 March 2015, one of the highlights of my near eighteen years here as Minister, a very inspiring Messiah for All, with in excess of 130 voices from across SW Scotland offering praise to the glory of God.  After expenses, over £1,100 profit too was raised.  In April 2015, Hilary and I were part of a thirteen person delegation from our Presbytery to Debrecen Presbytery in Hungary.  Our trip included a day’s visit to churches in Romania.  With other in our Presbytery, Hilary and I will host again Hungarian friends here in June 2016 with hopefully another minister from Debrecen preaching from our pulpit.

Under the auspices of Kirkcudbright Churches Together, it was my privilege again to act as Chair at a lively Pre-General Election 2015 Parliamentary Candidates Forum held in the Church Hall.  Another is to be held on Wednesday 27 April 2016 in advance of the Scottish Parliamentary Elections on 5 May 2016.  These contributions to local political debate over the years have been well attended and appreciated by candidates and audiences alike.

July 2015 saw publication by St Cuthbert’s Trust of an Economic and Needs Study Report funded by Awards for All Scotland, under the authorship of Julian Watson of Creetown Initiative, the Report in relation to the internal redevelopment of our Church Building.  The Report offered an objective view and stark analysis of which the Trust and all concerned have had to take serious consideration, with discussions ongoing.  Publication of the Study Report sparked off quite vocal discussion in the Congregational Board leading, sadly, to the resignation of some members, unhappy at decisions reached.  Four representatives of the Congregational Board have had constructive discussions with four members of St Cuthbert’s Trust and more recently with a group of members anxious to see the Congregation itself carry through much needed improvement works to the interior of the building to make it a better resource for congregation and community.  Proposals in regard to the congregation carrying out the work are to be looked at with it agreed that member Colin Milligan, who had written to the Minister, will speak in the first instance to Board and Session members about the success of similar project work at his former Church, St Ninian’s, Turriff, carried out by the congregation, for which £444,000 was raised.  St Cuthbert’s Trust are still looking at matters too and it is hoped that the congregation will be soon given opportunity to express its view.

Charitable giving by the Congregation to outside causes continued during 2015 with donations to Bethany Christian Trust for the Homeless of Dumfries & Galloway and the Christian Aid for their Project in association with the Scottish Government of delivering improved maternal and neo-natal healthcare for women in Karonga, Malawi.  Our donation in the latter regard of£5,000 was match funded to the extent of £35,000 by the Scottish Government.  With nine other congregations in Scotland raising the same and being similarly matched funded, a total of £400,000 has been raised nationally.  There has been generous response too, along with other congregations in Presbytery, to the Annual World Mission Stamp Appeal.  Service to our own community continues with significant contributions through our CrossReach-sponsored Heart for Heart Project and our Wednesday Club with thanks due to Sheena McCurrach and Liz Dagg and their team of helpers and to Campbell and Sheila Blair and the Wednesday Club Committee.  In giving we receive!  During 2015 we received legacies of £1,000 and £21,427.69 from the late Mrs Jean McCredie and Miss Mary Mitchell, respectively.  I have carried an increased burden of responsibility in recent months through times of change and challenge.  Appeal is made for an individual to take on the role of as congregational liaison person to work alongside our Church Treasurers SCVS and relieve myself and other members of the finance committee of this responsibility.  Congregational Accounts in new format have produced incorporating the Atkinson Place and Palmer Bequest Accounts.  Atkinson Place Reorganisation is underway with application soon to be made to OSCR, the charities regulator.  The Application for Planning Permission for the provision of replacement of UPVC windows at Atkinson Place properties will be considered by the full Planning Committee of Dumfries & Galloway Council this Tuesday 22 March 2016.  I would put on record the dedicated service of Donald Haining and Billy Irvine over all the years I have been here, and more before.  Tenants and congregation alike have benefited from their energies, mental, physical and spiritual, expended in the Kingdom’s cause.  Thanks are expressed as well to Clerks past and newly installed on three year appointments, with special mention of Ron Paterson, thirty three years our session clerk, who died on 31 January 2016, of whom we all have our storehouse of memories.  Appreciation is expressed to Alex Kinnell our Fabric Convener for huge personal input in recent months to the ongoing renovation works programme on the church building.  Mention is also made of the dedication of our Church Secretary Ann Morgan over the past year.

Geoff Monk’s time with us last year training as a reader, leading to his acceptance as such, is put on record.

My pastoral letters in monthly editions of our Parish Newsletter over the years remain a cause for personal thanksgiving to God as I acknowledge in humility the Lord’s writing in them too.  It is hoped that they have been sources of both encouragement and inspiration to the readership, as they have proved to be to myself, looking back on them.

I acknowledge my debt to the Manse Family, Hilary, Roan and Jean, as an immeasurable source of support, comfort and consolation over our near eighteen years in Kirkcudbright, of which, in togetherness, with many a fond memory, we will soon take our leave.

May the word of the hymn writer continue to be the prayer of the church family offered here:

“Let us build a house where all are named, their songs and visions heard
and loved and treasured, taught and claimed as words within the Word.
Built of tears and cries and laughter, prayers of faith and songs of grace,
let this house proclaim from floor to rafter:
All are welcome, all are welcome , all are welcome in this place.



We have had an enjoyable year of activity and social time. We play on Thursday afternoons, summer excluded, from 2–4 p.m. in the Church Hall, with a break for tea. New members are welcome and bring a friend too. We have a spare racquet so come and give it a go.   

BOYS BRIGADE – Margaret King

What a busy exciting year we've had! Since our last report we have had our Barbecue and Prize giving at The Dhoon. Once again, Mike, Laura and Chris did the cooking and as usual, it was super. Our thanks to them. We had our Snowman Drive which was very well attended and great fun. We also had our annual visit to Polarbites for tea. Thanks to Robert and his staff.Our next event is the Beetle Drive on 28th April - everyone welcome! We're planning to fit in a sponsored walk before we break up for summer holidays and also a trip out somewhere. We made fish for the Arts and Crafts Trail and this year it is boats.We had a lot of 5 year olds start this session and it has been inspiring seeing them gain confidence and become active members of the Boys Brigade. We now run the Anchors and Juniors together.  Boys Brigade (Scotland) are happy with this arrangement and have given us advice and materials to help.   We do some activities all together and some separately and it seems to be working extremely well. We have been doing lots of teamwork and the boys have become very adept at helping clear up the Hall!!!    Thanks to Tracy, Kathryn, Hannah, Hamish and Douglas Grieve. Douglas is doing his Duke of Edinburgh award and has proved to be a great asset and we will miss him when he moves on to his next activity. Another successful and rewarding year with the Boys Brigade.

CHRISTIAN AID - Linda Kinnell

Christian Aid week last May 2015 raised £4,109.46 from the house to house collection. This requires a great deal of work and also co-operation with the local Episcopalian and Catholic churches.  A further £507 was raised by my sponsored Half Marathon Walk. In total therefore, £ 4,616.49 was sent to Christian Aid from Kirkcudbright. Thanks are due to all those who collected, counted money or helped in other ways. 


The Parish Church Drama Club has enjoyed another year of bringing live theatre to Kirkcudbright.  Again in conjunction with The Kirkcudbright Primary Players, and under the able direction of Carol McQuistan, they mounted a seasonal pantomime in December “Jack and the Beanstalk”, to considerable acclaim. So much so, that a previously unscheduled matinee had to be added!  Audiences were delighted to see the beanstalk “grow” to huge proportions, and to watch the valiant “Jack”, with the assistance of a good fairy, deal with the evil giant “Blunderbore” and the witch “Poison Ivy”, rescuing the Princess and the talented cow “Buttercup”, and indeed the whole kingdom from their horrible clutches! This spring we are again mounting some evenings of two one-act plays with refreshments served in between.  One is a play about a planned retirement party called “A Secret Life”, and the other is about a projected house sale called “What a Sell”.  Both are funny and delightful episodes out of real life. We mourn the loss this year of our President of many years – Ron Paterson – whose life we recently celebrated at his funeral on 22 February.  But we also rejoice at the fact that many new folks have come to swell our numbers, both as actors and as technicians this year. We hope to continue to provide “good theatre” in this excellent venue for many years to come.  


The Heart for Art project in Kirkcudbright is now into its third year of operation. The sessions are held every other Tuesday afternoon from 1.45pm - 3.45pm.  We have a valiant group of 6 to 10 volunteer helpers who give up time and effort, when they are able, to work with those who come along. The majority of those attending are in long-term care and have dementia or special needs, but we welcome all who may benefit from being with company for the afternoon where they will be given the opportunity to paint and draw and interact with the group.The Heart for Art project is funded by CrossReach, the Social Care Council of the Church of Scotland who have provided a trained project officer and assistants to oversee and encourage our group and others throughout Scotland. We are also well supported by the community and our Minister, Douglas Irving, who first identified the potential of starting such a project in Kirkcudbright.  A large part of the materials and supports are funded by CrossReach, who last year won funding to continue to support the project for the next three years.  More comes by kind donations from within the community or from our helpers. Framing and mounts have also been donated by one of our artist volunteers. Our aim is to work alongside those who come along, one to one where possible, encouraging and supporting their endeavours. We also provide tea and coffee and home baking – all kindly provided by helpers. Heart for Art is an excellent community project – entirely free but only possible through the support we have from our volunteers. If you would like to help or attend or know someone who would like to come along, then do contact us on 01557 814547 or 820240 or come along to one of the sessions A warm welcome will await you at ‘Heart for Art’! Forthcoming sessions: 8 & 22 March, 5 &19 April, 3, 17 & 31 May, 14 & 28 June. No sessions during July, resuming again on 9 August 2016. 


We are welcomed at the Manse on a Monday morning by our Minister and sit in comfortable chairs, (so appreciated by those with aching backs) in his lovely room.  For a short time we drink coffee and – watched by over by benignly by Teddy Bear – catch up on news which helps us relax. Rev Irving gives us copies of a hymn, sits at his piano and accompanies us splendidly as we follow St Paul’s injunction that “with gratitude in our hearts we sing hymns and spiritual songs to God” Prayers are then offered for any we know who are passing through difficult times, then our books and bibles are opened as the current study begins.  We have recently delved deeply into St Marks’ Gospel, now in Lent, joined by members of other Churches we are exploring the Psalms which express every human condition and emotion and bring it before God. Mr Irving guides us sensitively through all our studies but when occasionally church business requires his presence elsewhere, Rev. Elizabeth Thomson gently helps our discussions. This group is no “Holy Club” we welcome anyone who sincerely wants to know more about the Bible, where we can discover that “Thy word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path”. 

MUMS & TOTS – Elizabeth Bennett

Another successful year has passed in this group and some children have moved on from us to nursery. Hopefully they have started to learn to socialise & share but the real education will start at nursery. The children bring so much pleasure to all of the adults, helpers & relatives alike. It is always amazing how quickly they learn where the biscuits live! Since the older ones moved on after the summer holidays they have been replaced by a sizeable number of very small infants, many of them are first babies so the mums have a great opportunity to compare notes and learn from each other. A number of mums have told me that the group has been so good for them. It has got them out of the house to share adult conversation. With the kind of dark wet winter we have had it has been a God send for some of them. At the end of November it was a great pleasure to hear the mums organise a Christmas night out for themselves at the Kirkcudbright Bay. First time that has happened in the years we have been open. The grannies & helpers have a regular night out at Arden House about 4 times a year but we were speechless before our last one when we were presented with a signed thank you card with a sizeable sum of money to help our evening out. The mums really appreciate what is being provided for them by the church. This spring we had our first invitation to go to Cream of Galloway farm to see the new lambs so some of us are going there on the 16th of this month. Over the months we have had a number of nationalities with us- Scottish, English, Irish, South African, Polish, Latvian, Romanian, Chinese, Philippino. Not bad for a wee place like Kirkcudbright!  I would like to thank John Thomson for having the hall warm every week. Also the health visitor or her assistant who come once a month to answer any queries the mums have or to weigh the babies. Saves them a visit to the health centre. A big thank you goes to Barcaple for lending us their carpet cleaner & to Campbell & Sheila Blair for giving up their time to clean the carpet and return to hoover it & roll it up after it had dried. I cannot finish without a BIG thank you to all the helpers who give up Wednesday and/or Friday of their week to be there to help prepare the hall & set up the kitchen for the all important tea, coffee, juice and of course biscuits. 

PRAISE BAND - Susan Hutton

The Praise Band has had another good, busy year and now has a good number of singers so are operating on a rota with varying combinations of voices and musicians each week.  Many thanks to Gail for organising the rota. As the Bible says we seek to support and encourage the praise and worship of God by the whole congregation in spirit and truth. "Sing to the Lord a new song......sing to the Lord, praise his name: proclaim his salvation day after day." Psalm 96:1-2.


Sunday school numbers are encouraging.  There are seven children who regularly attend the older group (primary school age) and five children who regularly attend the younger pre-school group. Sunday school takes place during 9.30am service, following the children’s talk in church. The teaching material from Scripture Union echoes the Scripture used for the children’s talk given in church, and gives the leaders different options and ideas to help communicate the message in a fun and memorable way. We are fortunate to have eight leaders this year: Emily Hutton, Susan Hutton, David Crudgington, Lindsay Wade, Claire Vickery, Hamish Waddell, Helen Innes and Sarah Crudgington, who is the leader for the younger group.  It was felt that it would be useful for the leaders to have an adult helper to assist with the older group, and we are currently looking for anyone who would like to help out on the helpers rota.  Any offers of help would be gratefully received. 


The Group meets in Daar Lodge at 10.00am till noon most weeks with a Summer break. To belong to the group is a transforming experience. It is open to all.  


The Tuesday Evening Group meets on Tuesdays in each other’s houses.  At the beginning of the year we decided to study the Scripture passage which would be the topic at the 9.30 Service the following Sunday.  After this we were fortunate under the leadership of Liz Thomson to be able to begin a study on the history of the Bible which we felt we lacked and would give us a better understanding and enrich our Bible studies.  During Lent we have been looking at a study on Pilgrimage which has involved conversations about different themes on our Pilgrimage through life. Come and join us in our learning and fellowship, you will be most welcome.  


We continue to meet, study and pray each Tuesday evening.  A time of fellowship and chat starts this time together.  Our choice of study this session has been, in the first term, Elisha - a man of mission, man of miracles!  We really warmed to this Old Testament figure and found him deeply inspiring.  His godly nature - visible to all he met, his calm and trust in difficult times and all through everything his unfailing faith - these spoke much to us and challenged us in many ways for our own lives.  Since Christmas we have been enjoying Barnabas - the encourager.  What a wonderful thing to be an encourager.  We should all be encouragers!  A trait too often neglected. Our 'extra mural' initiatives have included TRY PRAYING.  One of our members suggested we look into this last spring and the result has been that all the church members have received this little booklet that has been such a help and indeed life changing for so many people. We have also held on the first Sunday of the month at Barcaple a time of praise and teaching - open to all. In the group we find a true bond in our shared love of Christ. This results in genuine love, care and concern for each other. There is an openness and a trust among us which makes for a truly upbuilding experience.  Please feel free to join us.  


Wednesdays 2.00pm - 3.30pm. Another year of this Club's meetings comes to a close on 23rd March. It seems to have passed very quickly and we have all enjoyed a great variety of speakers, entertainment and musicians.  At Christmas we had a meal in the Selkirk Arms followed by a visit to the Pantomime and in June we shall go on an outing to Gretna. The Club is open to anyone over the age of 60 and some of our most active members are in their 90's!  We meet from October to March. Here folks are seeing old friends and making new ones.  For people who live alone it is a great opportunity to have some company and some chat over a cuppa and home baking!  There is a very cheerful atmosphere and it is great getting to know everyone. This year we have topped 50 on two occasions and there is always room for new members!  We record our thanks to the 'tea committee' and also our indebtedness to the Rotarians who drive the minibus each week.   


We continue to meet in various members homes each week.  During the year we have used some of the Methodist study courses obtained through the good offices of Marian Dixon.  During Lent we used the York Study Course on the Psalms.  These courses always spark interesting discussions with their penetrating and thought-provoking questions.  I think all of us benefit from the opportunity to talk over and think about some of the points of our faith which we may have “taken for granted” for years.  We welcome Wednesday evenings each week as a chance for a good cuppa with friends and a chance to talk about the most important things in life. We will welcome any who care to give us a try!  


Malawi. In February 2014 the Parish Church signed an agreement with Christian Aid, committing us to raising £5,000 for a Christian Aid project in the Karonga district of Malawi, an area suffering extremely high maternal and child morbidity rates and a lack of qualified health personnel at the community level.  Our final donation to this project was made in September 2015 which with the 7:1 match funding by the Scottish government made our gift worth £40,000. Since the partnership began a number of targets have been achieved including the training of 61 Health Surveillance Assistants for 61 villages, 7454 under 5’s were provided with growth monitoring and immunizations, 858 women were reached through ante-natal clinics, providing monitoring for vital signs, HIV testing, vitamin A supplements and treated insecticide bed nets. Women’s Groups share information on pregnancy and labour issues, HIV/AIDS, family planning, and sanitation, hygiene and nutrition. The “Men as Partners” groups, involving 20,216 men, address many health and social issues, such as condom education and distribution.  Groups for young people, imparting information on sexual and reproductive health rights and life skills have so far reached 22,663 young people. In May 2015 we hosted a beautifully presented and moving photographic exhibition about the Project, showing the poverty and difficulties of life in this area but also illustrating the difference this project has already made in many of the villages. Syria. We then considered several projects for our continuing support.  However as the harrowing plight of the Syrian refugees was increasingly in the news we decided to send the money already in the bank and the proceeds of the following 2 coffee mornings and Winter Wonderland to support these refugees through Save the Children, a total of £1000. Nepal. “Let us build a House”.  We also heard about a Church of Scotland initiative, to fund the building of 50 houses in the Dhading area of Nepal by their partner organisation, United Mission to Nepal.  The earthquake in May 2015 caused over 8000 people to lose their lives and over 6 million families to lose their homes with many still living in makeshift shelters.  The group decided to raise the £500 needed to fund one house, a target that will hopefully be reached by the March coffee morning. Palestine. Our next longer term project will be to support “Medical Aid for Palestinians” (, a UK based charity founded in 1984.  Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) works for the health and dignity of Palestinians living under occupation and as refugees, delivering health and medical care to those worst affected by conflict, occupation and displacement, working in partnership with local health providers and hospitals.  With offices located in Beirut, Ramallah, Jerusalem and Gaza City, MAP is able to respond rapidly in times of crisis.  By focusing on health education, research and specialist training programmes, MAP supports the advancement of local knowledge and the skills to solve local problems, an approach essential for building communities' resilience.  MAP is also one of the voices of conscience speaking out about the chronic conditions those Palestinian communities continue to face,  playing an important role in bearing witness to the root causes of the crises we respond to and raising awareness amongst the British public and others. We would like to say a very big thank you to all our faithful supporters.  In 2015 the popular monthly coffee mornings raised £2,040.58, whilst donations and a sale of books brought the total for the year to £2,380.58.