KIRKCUDBRIGHT PARISH CHURCH - AFTER CORONAVIRUS

Do you remember early 2020? What were you doing? Planning that holiday by a foreign beach, about to head off on that cruise you always wanted to go on. How many of us saw the storm that was brewing on the other side of the planet? Then lockdown, furloughing and social distancing became the words on everyone’s lips. The sad daily review of the deaths caused by a virus that escaped from some wild creature and entered a human race with no immunity to its ravages. All in the space of a few months. The world has changed and may never be the same again. So, like all creatures we must adapt our ways, our lifestyle. We within the Christian community in this town must do the same. It is how successful we are and how prepared we are to make those uncomfortable adaptions that will determine our fate.

When the grandchildren want to speak to Granny and Grandpa, they do so on-line. Zoom and Skype are the way things are done now. And it is the Grandparents that are making the call. Never has there been so many “connected” oldies. It is fair to say that most families in this land are routinely using some form of on-line social media networking. Some, of course, are just not able to connect with technology and that is a serious issue

Covid-19 has also had a devastating effect on businesses, hotels and local economies and will no doubt bring poverty and distress to many. The financial crisis that covid-19 has left us with will haunt us in the UK and indeed throughout the world for years to come. Churches will not be immune to this financial maelstrom. Even before covid-19 most churches in our area, have operated routinely in the red. We have only avoided this problem in recent times thanks to several generous legacies.

The world has changed for many workers too, or at least those lucky enough to have kept their jobs. When my daughter returns to work after lockdown, she will be, like many, only able to physically be at work two days a week. For the remaining days she will work at home connecting into her organisations computer system.

All these changes to lifestyle, how we communicate, financial worries, fears over employment, changes to work patterns, the sheer uncertainty of life that covid-19 has brought is quite a difficult thing to comprehend. Let us face it, none of us has ever, in our lifetimes, seen a world change so dramatically so rapidly.

But, what about Kirkcudbright Parish Church, are we going to survive? Can we adapt to the new way of doing things?

You know the old joke about “how many church elders does it take to change a lightbulb”: change!

Even before covid-19 changes were being put in place that will ultimately affect every Church of Scotland community throughout the land. The first stages of a Church of Scotland Radical Action Plan (RAP) is under way. RAP proclaims as its main banner the slogan “well equipped spaces in the right places.” Does that refer to us you may ask? The events of the last months may indeed hasten the implementation of RAP.

So, what do we need to do and are we up for it?

The Church is after all not closed. Only our buildings are closed. As a Church we are essentially functioning as normal, it is just how we do things that have changed and must continue to change.

Well perhaps the first thing is “do not panic” as a certain Dads Army character would say. We have the technology. If Granny and Grandpa can go on-line, so can we.

Indeed, for those of you in the know, the church has run an 11-30 am on-line Zoom service every Sunday morning since the start of the lockdown. Regularly we have ~ 55 plus connections and thus around 70 attendees. Most attendees are local, but some connections are from quite a distance away. It is a short service, just over 30 minutes in duration. There is a further chat time for half an hour at 12-15pm.

House Groups are continuing and using Zoom. These services and meetings are all about keeping a Christian community together. It is only through social interaction that the church will hold together.

But this is just the beginning. Soon most of the churches business will be done on-line (Zoom). But more important for the church we will need to rethink our whole modus operandi. It will take time, but we must find new ways to play our role within the community.

Is the church fully behind these changes. Sadly, no. The simple reality is that for many, having to change so many “lightbulbs” all at once is taking a little while to sink in. Hopefully, the skill set required to enable the church to survive and adapt will be put in place. If it is left to just a few to soldier on and carry the burden alone then the system will crash and no amount of “switch off and switch on again” will reset the system. We have total system failure.

If we as an organisation cannot adapt, or if there is not a willingness to learn new tricks, the lightbulbs will not get changed, and the spiritual light that has for so long glowed in our Christian community will fade, and the church will fall into obscurity. “Do not panic” all will be well. We pray.

If you read the Church of Scotland articles on its website or read about how Churches throughout the land are coping with covid-19 in the media, there are innumerable stories of Christian communities positively thriving at this time. Some churches get hundreds of connections to their on-line services. Yes, they may not be the same people who normally attend church, but that is the point. At this time of turmoil many are asking fundamental questions that we as Christians need to be able to help with. Some Church of Scotland minis-ters have been using on-line services for years. These services do not replace, but supplement-ing Sunday worship. Perhaps this is the return to the early Christian tradition of house churches all be it on-line.

The Church is not closed, it will never close, it is merely us that need to operate in a different way.

Is our Church in Kirkcudbright fit for the future?

That will be for time and you, the reader to decide.

Are you any good at “changing lightbulbs”?

Will you keep the light of the world glowing in our (virtual) church?

Ron McHugh
 

ONLINE DONATIONS

During the Covid-19 crisis the church has experienced a great downturn in its funding from members of the congregation and general public. We should be very grateful for any donations you may wish to make online whilst our buildings are obliged to remain closed.

This is very easy to do securely via the Church of Scotland website – just follow these simple steps:-

1. Click on this link –  http://cos.churchofscotland.org.uk/donate/ – then in Step 1:-
2. Click on the Donate to a Congregation button.
3. Enter Kirkcudbright in the church identifier box below it.
4. Complete the rest of the page as you see fit.
5. Click on Donate at the bottom of the page.

We thank you sincerely for your support in these difficult times!
 

CHURCH INCOME DURING COVID-19

As I have mentioned before, our income is being severely reduced as the Church is closed, hall lettings have ceased and Summer fund raising activities have been cancelled.

Thank you to those who have continued to support the Church with their weekly offerings by posting me cheques or leaving envelopes in the mailbox.

However the Bank of Scotland is handling only ‘essential’ transactions to minimise contact between customers and staff, and I am trying to comply their wishes.

It would assist greatly, therefore, if members who normally make regular contributions by Open Plate, FWO or Gift Aid envelopes would change their method of payment to a Bank Standing Order.

By this method, the donation is credited directly to the Church bank account, without the need for me to physically attend the Bank.
The payment can be at whatever interval you decide-weekly, monthly or quarterly etc., can be Gift Aided or Non Gift Aided, and can be terminated at any time you wish.

For those using internet banking, there will probably be an option under ‘Payments’ –‘set up standing order’ and if not on internet banking , then a standing order request form can be obtained from your bank.

If you would like to help by using this method of payment, please contact myself: 

Bill Borthwick: “finance@kirkcudbrightparishchurch.org.uk” or Margo Kerr (Gift Aid Administrator): “margo.kerr@talk21.com” for details of the Kirkcudbright Parish Church bank account.

Thank You.

Bill Borthwick,
Treasurer
 

WARTIME EXPERIENCES OF A CHURCH OF SCOTLAND MISSIONARY

With the recent commemoration of the 75th anniversary of VE Day, one of my sons asked what his grandparents had been doing on the original VE Day. That prompted me to have a search through my father’s old five-year diaries which he kept all his adult life, and lo and behold, below is the entry for 8th May 1945.

“Celebrations everywhere, flags flying, bells ringing – but I have to spend day in bed, sick and vomiting with a temp. over 104 degrees!! Called in the military doctor (Capt. Lake – a female) from hospital. Better this evening”

The fact that he was obviously suffering from a bout of malaria at the time (for which there is still no effective vaccine!) got me thinking about his experiences in India, particularly during the war years and the result is this small article for the newsletter.

My father, Robert (Bert) Waddell was a Church of Scotland missionary from the late 1930s to the mid-1950s, working as an educational advisor amongst the Santal people of north east India – the Santals are/were an aboriginal ethnic group with a very low social and economic position in caste ridden India at the time. He enjoyed his time in India, where he met my mother who was doing similar work with the Irish Presbyterian church and where I was born. Life for missionaries in India does not seem to have been particularly hard – they had servants, a cook and a gardener and were in many ways considered part of the British Raj. The main difficulty was the climate which was unbearably hot for much of the year and extremely wet and humid during the monsoon. The hottest months of the year, May and June, were usually spent on holiday at one of the many hill stations in the foothills of the Himalayas where the climate was more bearable. My father arrived in India in 1939 and within months World War Two had begun. The main threat throughout the war was the prospect of Japanese invasion from their bases in neighbouring Burma (Myanmar). It never happened but my father’s diary frequently refers to unrest in the area stirred up by what he refers to as “fifth columnists” working for the Japanese.

In 1942, my father suffered a double bereavement when his father died and his brother Douglas, my uncle, was tragically killed in a training accident while serving in the R.A.F. Bomber Command. He decided to come home on compassionate leave to help his sister deal with winding up the family business and this decision gave rise to the most dramatic event of his life – the ship he was travelling in was sunk by a German U boat in the south Atlantic! The whole story of this event and its heroic, yet tragic, aftermath is captured in the book 'Goodnight, Sorry for Sinking You'.  To summarise, my father was one of those lucky enough to survive the sinking and, after spending two weeks on an open lifeboat, to land at the island of Saint Helena, where he was marooned for three months, waiting for another ship to take him back to Britain. He wrote a detailed account of his experiences which was one of the main sources for the book whose title was reportedly the last words spoken by the U boat commander to the lifeboats after the sinking.

To complete the story on a happier note, my father and mother were married soon after and returned to India by ship, this time using the shorter but not necessarily safer Suez Canal route. They spent the rest of the war there and returned to Britain in 1955 accompanied by yours truly aged 2 and his older brother aged 5. Needless to say, I have no memories of India, but the old black and white family photograph albums are a good substitute.

Ivor Waddell
 

COVID KO's ANN'S RIO ADVENTURE!

On Friday 24th May Sue McMinn and I were to travel down to London to have a couple of days relaxation before Sue ran the London Marathon (for Parkinson’s Disease charity) and I flew off to Brazil to help finish renovating a community centre in Rio with Mission Direct. As you know the London Marathon was postponed and my trip to Rio was cancelled. A disappointment to us both, but with accommodation rebooked for the rescheduled Marathon in October we are looking forward to being able to have our couple of days in London and I along with friends and family will be able to stay to support and watch Sue run the marathon.

Mission Direct have now informed me that they have an alternative date in October to go to Rio. As we do not know what is going to happen with this virus and what restrictions will still be placed on us, I have decided it would not be advisable for me to plan to travel to Brazil in October. The virus is rampant in the Favelas in Rio at the moment and this is where I would be working every day. There is another date planned for Brazil in May 2021, and hoping the virus is better under control and by then there is a vaccine, Mission Direct have agreed to postpone my trip until then.

I may not be working on the same project as intended in the Community Centre but will be working with ABBA Children’s project – set up in the middle of the nearby Favelas to provide education to primary children who wouldn’t otherwise have access to education. I will be helping to build new facilities to support the expansion of this vital work.

I do hope all of you, along with your loved ones near and far, are keeping safe and well during this time of “lockdown”. We have been blessed with sunshine and the beauty of spring flowers. On my walks I have seen small unidentified creatures rushing across the road , deer grazing in the woods and squirrels scurrying around looking for food or running madly up and down the trees. I have watched the garden and roadside flowers awaken and grow with their lovely vibrant colours, especially the primroses and marsh marigolds and have had time to watch and listen to the birds. In the past in my busy-ness sometimes I have not had the time to be still. These walks have been my prayer time.

Even though I would rather our lives were back to normal I have in a way been thankful for this time of peace and relaxation with more time to talk with family and friends, research family history, write letters, send emails, read, garden, take photos, bake and make some earrings.

I have missed being with family and friends, 9.30am Church Services, Church activities, working in the Church Office and my Tuesdays at Barcaple , sport on the TV, and of course not being able to go to the hairdressers !!

Let us hope and pray that in the not too distant future all the things we have missed we will be able to enjoy again. I pray that until those days are with us again, may the Lord hold you in the palm of his hand and keep you safe.

Ann Morgan