Category Archives: Mission

The last newsletter

Welcome to 2021!   A new year to look forward to, an opportunity to review our lives, and to consider our life’s journey.    Superficially, we make resolutions to “do better” or to “do more”, or to “do less”!   Whatever we think of, we look to change something.    At the end of 2020 there was much talk about a new beginning in 2021, throw off the disappointments and frustrations of Covid dominated 2020, and get on with our lives properly in 2021.   Well here we are – New Year, new lockdown – I have felt quite stunned at this reversion to our limited activities, our closed homes and so little social contacts.    But…. we have learned a little of how best to organise our lives in this “new normal”, we hear of the roll out of the vaccine, and the increased understanding of how best to treat those infected, so there is definite hope in our hearts for a better time ahead.  

One aspect of our situation which saddens me is the growing adoration of “science” as the saviour from our woes.  In the media, “Science” has taken on a personality – we trust in “the science” to get us out of trouble, to defeat the “virus”, to heal our people.   Now I agree – science is a wonderful system of research and study, many people have discovered thousands of amazing and life saving techniques by applying a scientific system to studying our world, but it is a system, not a “being”. 

It is people, not “the science”, who by applying their gifts of thinking and designing who are making the discoveries and inventions which we can use to overcome Covid and so many other terrible diseases.  

What wonderful abilities we have as people.   People mysteriously made in the image of God.  As we consider the clinicians and researchers who developed the Covid vaccines, as we give thanks for the new treatments and skills of our doctors, nurses, and other medics, remember to give the ultimate thanks to God, the ultimate clinician and technologist, who gave us the abilities and curiosity we have to learn through scientific systems, give thanks to Jesus Christ, whose life and love have opened the way for our lives to be complete and fulfilled with Him, and give thanks to the Holy Spirit whose inspiration and guidance have led into such an abundance of knowledge and discovery. 

I have been considering this weekly Newsletter for a few weeks now.   Should I restart as previously?   This was begun in March last year as a vehicle for communication to the congregation of North Knapdale, and I expected it to be for a month or two.   It has gone on a bit longer.   It was also something which I thought would keep things “ticking over” until we could get back to normal.   This was really a forlorn hope, and we can safely say now that North Knapdale Church, and all churches across Scotland and beyond, will never get “back to normal”.

If we can let this “normal” go, and look forward and trust that God is doing something more, something different with his people, if we can stand back and allow Jesus to build His church in His way and then join in, then I think we will see wonderful things happening in the Kingdom of God – here and elsewhere.

Twice this week I have been drawn to readings where God’s people are told to “be still” and let God get on with it.    Both are in times of trouble and anxiety, in times of fear and uncertainty. 

The first is in Exodus Ch 14 verse 13.   The Hebrews have escaped from Egypt, but their initial euphoria at freedom and victory has been dashed by the reality of coming up against a new challenge – the Red Sea.   The old enemy, the Egyptian army is pursuing them from behind, and ahead it looks like their freedom has been dashed by the barrier of the Red Sea.   Trapped between the army of their foes, and the impassable waters.    They are worried, and fearful and rushing about trying to do something, anything, to get out of their situation – go back to captivity, give in to Egypt, no apparent way ahead.   

This is what Moses says: 

 “Do not be afraid.   Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He shall accomplish for you today….”    

What a promise this is – and an instruction.  When we are uncertain, when we are anxious, when the past seems to be coming back to get us and the future is a big barrier – “Stand still”.    Stop rushing around, calm your activities, the situation is beyond you, but wait and see what God is going to do.    God opens up the sea, and they walk across in the dry land.  

How many Hebrews saw that coming!     There are times when standing still is all you can do – and trust in what our amazing God will accomplish.

The second reading is in 2 Chronicles Ch 20 vs 15 to 22, and it is too long to write here so look it up to read yourselves.   Again the Hebrews are stuck with an overwhelming enemy army coming to get them.   They don’t know what to do or where to go – and the Spirit of the Lord says through one of the leaders: 

“Do not be afraid or dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s…… will not need to fight in this battle…”

This is a time, I think, for us to “Stand still” to wait to see what God is doing.   To recognise that the battle is not ours, but God’s.   No rushing about, or bright ideas, or quick solutions, for us and our church.     

We wait, and pray, and praise, for we do know that God is working and will bless us, as we wait.

Sometimes it is difficult to stand still, but let’s do that and see the amazing work of God for his Kingdom.

As part of that standing still I am going to stop this newsletter as a regular item.   I will send out important information, and items of interest when they come in, but for the moment I will be silent, and I would ask that we all, together, listen and look out for, and welcome the ways that we see God working as we stand waiting – who knows how we will see the Red Sea parting!



Help for malawi

The Mid Argyll Churches Malawi Twinning Group sent £4000 out to our friends in Kasamba Church to help them with protective supplies for the Covid Pandemic. The minister of their church, Rev. Custom Kapombe, whom some of you will have met, has sent this report on how the money was spent. There are lots of lovely pictures in the report and a breakdown of where the money was spent.

Digital church conFerence

On Monday David and I took part in the digital church conference. There were about 65 participants and it was also very interesting with time for breakout rooms to chat in small groups.

The speakers were Rev. Albert Bogle, a former Moderator of the General Assembly, Dr. Peter Phillips, professor of Digital Theology at Durham University, Neil MacLennan a tech person, and Laura Digan, a very charismatic and bubbly trainee minister.

Dr Peter Phillips explained that the church has always mediated religion with e.g. icons, religious paintings. Now we are mediating religion digitally.

Church is a community expression of our faith – online or offline – or should we just call it “church”?

Dr. Phillips then went on to explain the three uses of technology in church:

1. To enable offline church – like having a website to engage with members and invite non members to attend traditional church – “come to our building”. The focus is “bums on seats”

2. To extend offline church into online activities – first week of lockdown some churches broadcast a service from an empty church. We the congregation were spectators rather than participants.

3. Disrupting offline church through online church – second week of lockdown – interactive service broadcast eg leaving a space for silent prayer so the spectators can feel connected and participate. Using zoom or Facebook live the spectators can truly participate. Not only is God present in each physical location He is also present “online”.

Sanctuary First is an expression of online church. (They even have on online cafe running 10-12 every weekday. Go on their website and have a look).

We then had break out groups where we talked about what we were already doing.

The main issues were:

digital availability ie poor internet connections in rural places

no Internet access for majority of elderly members.

God is in the digital space as well as the physical locations

God can and does make things Holy on line.

After lunch we reconvened with Neil MacLennan speaking about the technical issues.

He talked about zoom being a very useful platform for meetings and that the congregations should keep going with their functional meetings. He referred to property committees and finance committees etc but we don’t do so much of that. He did say that on line kirk session meetings are fully legal.

Doing large tech is a team game where one person looks after the tech side of the meeting while others run the talking side. 

He suggested three different ways of doing online church:

One to many ie live streaming a service, like watching tv.

Some to some ie a few people meeting together as church on the zoom platform.

Some to many ie the leaders using zoom and live-streaming that to many. After the livestream everyone can have their own coffee and chat on zoom.

For all this to work he says it is necessary to get help and pay money!

He had some tips on what to do which were helpful:

Take it easy

Get young people to help

Pick the low hanging fruit


If all you do is phone 2 people a day that is good.

Next speaker was Rev Albert Bogle on Rebooting the church

“A new kind of networked congregation may well emerge, one no longer defined by location”

Our immediate challenge is:

Grieving for what has been lost

Pastoral burden of ministry

Reluctantly embracing technology

The financial challenge

Reconnecting to our core calling.

He said if all we do is try to keep the institution afloat we have missed the point. John ch4v23 “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” This is what Jesus said when the woman at the well wanted to know where the correct place to worship is. The physical location is not important!

There have been discussions on the legality of communion taken on line. Alberts view is that actual physical communion – is it even authentic – communion is only a foretaste.

He said “How many buildings are going to survive the virus?

We need to think about networking with other churches and non church organisations. Think about how the early church worked. The network has to be bigger – worldwide.

We then had another breakout group where we were to discuss the question:

How then would thinking like a “Networking Church” begin to change the way we approach mission and the gifting of the churches at the moment as well as looking to the future?

This was a difficult question for the ministers in the group to answer as all they seemed to be thinking about was how to keep their own congregation gathered. They didn’t quite grasp the networking idea.

I’ve got loads of ideas running around my head but I won’t explain them just now!

The last speaker was Laura Digan who was filled with enthusiasm and talked about how the Holy Spirit was just as active online as anywhere else.

We were absolutely exhausted after the conference just because it was online for 4 hours including a lunch break. Apparently it gets easier the more you do.

Talk 23 Feb 2020

Today, as we get ready to begin the period of Lent, our approach to the wonder and drama of Easter, we are directed towards looking into this mysterious event in the life of Jesus and His disciples – what we know as the “Transfiguration” of Jesus on the mountain side.

Like so many events in the gospel, this is loaded with meaning, with symbol, and with instruction – pointing us to the truth, the amazing significance, of the life of Jesus of Nazareth, and gives us such a jolt towards the conclusion – “surely this man was the Son of God”.

Readings: Exodus 24v12 to 25v9:
The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone with the law and commandments I have written for their instruction.”
Then Moses set out with Joshua his aide, and Moses went up on the mountain of God. He said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we come back to you. Aaron and Hur are with you, and anyone involved in a dispute can go to them.”
When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from within the cloud. To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.
The Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give. These are the offerings you are to receive from them: gold, silver and bronze; blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; ram skins dyed red and another type of durable leather; acacia wood; olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece.
“Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.

Matthew 17v1-8:
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one but Jesus.

We have heard two stories here, thousands of years apart, in Exodus, at the beginning of the formation of the Hebrew nation as the people of the living God.   Refugees moving towards their promised land, and then later, in Galilee, in the midst of the life of the Messiah, Jesus, taking His disciples to a new understanding of His place as Son of God.  Two very different events, in very different cultures.

Moses is called by God up the mountain to speak with God, Jehovah, and receive instructions for His people.  There are some similarities with Jesus story – Moses waited six days before God called him to his presence, Moses met God in a cloud, but there the similarities dissolve.

Jesus waited six days in Galilee before going up the mountain, and yes he did seem to go into a cloud to meet God, no, to meet Elijah and Moses.   

Moses was meeting God for 40 days – Jesus was in His meeting for a few hours possibly.

Moses is given lengthy instructions on what God wants his people to do:   we often only think that this is when Moses was given the ten commandments – yes, but these were already given to him on a previous meeting with God.   This time God first gives extremely detailed instructions as to how to build “The Tabernacle” – a tent like building in which God could visit and instruct His people – or at least the chief priest of his people.

There are 7 chapters following Moses meeting with God in which Moses recites the instructions of God as to how to build the tabernacle, how to furnish it, how to prepare the priests, how to dress the priests and then finally who to use to build it all.    Then God writes the ten commandments on to stone tablets – and gives them to Moses.

God is saying, I have given you rules to live by, and made promises to you to be your God, but I need to keep communication open with you always – and to do that you need to make this very precious, and very holy and complex building, with special furniture, and specially prepared people in symbolic clothing into which I can come to meet you and you need to get the details absolutely right – its got to be perfect   

God is saying to Moses, we are so far apart, so different, we need to have extraordinary preparations before we can come near each other.

Let’s go back to Peter, James, and John, up the mountain with Jesus.

Jesus does not go into a cloud, but he himself is changed – transfigured, transformed in some mysterious way – He shines like the sun, his clothes become dazzling white – and he is joined by two others – Moses and Elijah – the two outstanding prophets and leaders of the Hebrew nation, the chosen people.  Two people who have been recorded in the scriptures as knowing God.

It is as if Jesus is entering another dimension, he has stepped out of the material present in Galilee and is with others from another life time – or to put it another way, he has drawn the others from their eternal life place, into His presence in Galilee.   This is sounding like “science fiction”, isn’t it – I would rather call it “Spiritual reality” – it is beyond our normal human experience – but really – Jesus is showing the disciples that he is more than a man, He is giving them a glimpse of His divinity.   

Peter, as you can imagine is deeply affected by this – he recalls this later in his letter – 

“We didn’t follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses to His majesty.  Eye witnesses – we saw His majesty – , God revealed in Jesus.”

Moses was given 7 chapters of detail as to how to prepare a place where God could talk to his people.

God gives us 16 words of instruction on the mountain with Jesus as to how God can talk to His people:

“This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased, listen to Him”

If you want to hear what I am saying to you – listen to Jesus.

If you want to know how I would like you to live – listen to Jesus.

If you want to know my will for you – listen to Jesus.

I do not need special buildings any more, I do not look for special clothes, I do not need you to appoint special people.   

Here is Jesus – This is my Son, He represents everything of me, listen to Him.

This is not complicated, it is not easy, it asks for commitment, it asks for faith, it asks for trust – but it is not a complicated message.

This is my Son, Listen to Him.

You know, in talking to people, in reading stories of Christian lives, in hearing people speaking of their Faith in Jesus, I have heard many people say that they came to follow Jesus after reading one of the Gospels, reading of Jesus life and words, His teaching and His actions.

I have never come across anyone who came to faith in him after reading Genesis, or Exodus, or even the Psalms.

People come to know God through the life of Jesus. 

It was not an empty phrase that God gave to Peter, James and John as they watched with awe as Jesus talked with Moses and Elijah.   These words are the very essence of life for all.

Here is Jesus – transformed before you, here is Jesus moving beyond your material existence into the realm of eternity, into the place of continuing life – into timeless reality

Here is Jesus – my Son, Living God of creation and all that is

Listen to Him.

How simple, how uncomplicated, how welcoming, 

As we read the Gospels again and again – as we refresh our memories of the words, actions, promises of Jesus.

So we hear again and again His words.   We hear His words, are we listening.

And so as we live our lives:   Are we listening?.   What has he said to us in the past, how has he led us up to now?  and – 

What is He saying, to you, to me, to us, for our lives, for our actions, for our Faith in Him. – for our comfort, and our challenge –  

What is He saying – Are we listening – today


House Group

House group is generally hosted by David and Louise on a Tuesday evening at 3 Braeface. Each evening is different with sometimes a dvd, sometimes discussion, questions, prayers, songs and always tea and cake. Everyone is welcome to join in, just phone first to confirm it’s on.

Tuesday 3 March we have a guest, Rev Alan McWilliam, former minister of Whiteinch Church of Scotland. Alan will be talking about the Biblical model of church team leadership based on Ephesians 4 v 11 – 13. Come along and find out about APEST!

Informal notes on the meeting on Mission Development Planning for the Mid Argyll Parishes: 17.9.19

David Caruthers opened the meeting with prayer.

David Caruthers and Hilda Smith both stressed that we should be looking at the next 10 to 20 years, beyond their likely current tenure as ministers.

It was noted that other areas, such as Dunoon and Campbeltown were also going through a similar review of their structures and developing their plans for the future which involved the churches in their areas coming together through linkages and unions, with a reduced number of ministers.

A suggestion was made that, as Presbytery was considering appointing a “Chaplain to Farmers” this may be a post which could be incorporated into Mid Argyll.

The use of technology to bring sermons and other worship materials into churches was suggested to reduce the load on individuals leading worship over a number of church buildings.

It was suggested that we should as a group identify the tasks which the “new church” wanted to achieve, and then consider the resources required to achieve this, and then look at the type of personnel and structures to best carry this through.

The point was made that, while looking to focus on mission to develop the church, it would also be incumbent on the church to look after and nurture the existing members, particularly where it was apparent that membership was dying out.  

It was noted that a ministers are required to carry out Weddings and baptisms, and to some extent funerals, although the Church of Scotland is providing training for readers to carry out funerals.

A proposal was made to divide mid Argyll into two “areas”.   Ardrishaig joined with North and South Knapdale, and Lochgilphead joined with Glassary, Kilmartin and Ford.    This would avoid displacing the current ministers but would increase their responsibilities, membership and populations.   One further Mission Development person could be employed to encourage mission across the two areas.

Another suggestion was made that the area could come under one minister giving leadership to a team of two Mission Development people working across the whole area and also working with, training and encouraging members to do mission activities.

In both the above scenarios local worship could continue to take place with input from Local Worship Leaders, Readers, and other lay members.

With either of the above scenarios  funding for a third post would have to be applied for, although the Church of Scotland is planning to disburse funding to Presbyteries for such posts through the saving accruing centrally under the reduction of staff in the Radical Action Plan. 

It was agreed that this was a starting point for discussions and that for future meetings, two people from each parish, plus the two ministers, attend to represent the views of the members.

The next meeting was set for the 1st October 2019, at Lochgilphead Parish Hall.

Norma Kelly and Kim Ritchie have agreed to attend from North Knapdale.

Presbytery Mission Committee Community Outreach Report

This report addresses the needs of the community in relationship to concerns of loneliness, poverty and injustice in Argyll and Bute. 

Food Banks:



  • Providing starter pack to homeless people who are moving into permanent accommodation for the first time i.e. all household goods, etc., referrals from housing services or CARRGOMM. Food parcels referrals come from social services. 


  • Offers referral giving access to food banks. No names mentioned and bags of essential foodstuffs delivered to CAB office for client to pick up.

CAB – Argyll & Bute Citizens Advice Bureau:

Oban Road, Lochgilphead.

Free impartial, confidential advice on a range of issues:

  • Debt advice and management
  • Financial advice and borrowing 
  • Housing
  • Employment
  • Consumer and utilities issues
  • Health and community care
  • Family relationships
  • Bereavement
  • Armed Forces
  • Tax
  • Mortgage
  • Pensions and insurance

CAB functions as a front office that helps people by  ‘removing the red tape’ and alleviating confusion of which service and resources are available to people in need and requiring assistance. 

Helensburgh to Dunoon, Campbeltown to Oban and the Islands.

Local volunteers uniquely placed to respond to local needs and reflect local priorities. Outreach centres in other areas, Campbeltown, and Oban Job Centre. Government funded money advice service – budgeting, debts, etc., and offering to travel to Islands if required.

In addition, the service deals with patients’ advisory service and complaints relating to the NHS. Signposting service for Housing issues for example: ACHA, Fyne Homes, Argyll Homes (formerly council-run).

Argyll & Bute CAB –  ‘ABCAB’:

Kilmory Estate, Lochgilphead.

Not to be confused with the previous entry for CAB, this ABCAB is directly funded and operated by the Council and delivers the following services:

  • Debt counselling and welfare rights across the area
  • Focus on resources for vulnerable people and in need of urgent advice.

ABCAB will work closely with the Council sand support the work of the many other advice centres which operate throughout Argyll and Bute. Again, this is a free, confidential and impartial service to support people across this area. 

Mid Argyll MS Centre:

Campbell Street, Lochgilphead.  01546 – 606303

Provides a positive, supportive environment for those affected by multiple sclerosis and many other long term conditions and injuries.  

Wide range of activities through the week: therapies, exercise classes, self-management, workshops, singing and various activity groups, helps combat loneliness and improves quality of life and wellbeing. 

Outreach Worker Claire Cameron offers home visits for anyone with any long term conditions:

  • Coffee and chat 
  • Loneliness
  • PIP forms
  • Blue badge application
  • Giving people back confidence and self-esteem
  • Getting through the ‘red tape’
  • Holds regular group meetings on Islay and Jura Islands:
    • Lunches and workshops 
    • McTaggart Leisure Centre 
    • Gaelic College
    • 1-to-1 home visits 
    • Carries out ‘informative days’ with GPs
    • Access to therapies to carry out home visits

Claire Cameron carries out awareness events across mid Argyll, Kintyre, Islay and Jura.

Dochas Centre:

50 Campbell Street, Lochgilphead.  01546 -600022 

The Dochas centre is based in a central position in Lochgilphead, it houses an art gallery and a carers’ room which can be used for people to meet and chat. It is a centre for individuals and various groups for example, Dementia support, Parkinson support, GBS and Motor Neurone disease. Mental health support, addictions, life following bereavement. 

The Dochas Centre – delivering opportunities, care, hope and support. 

Carers don’t look after themselves and all too often, their health suffers as a result of their challenging caring roles due to the emotional and mental stress. They can discuss their fears and anxieties, share their problems and find support. 

 Outreach worker base on the Island of Islay, offers carer support:

  • Lunch groups
  • Befriending groups

Carers meet together and talk over their problems and solutions. The service responds to the needs of clients and offers a comprehensive range of help.  The service is flexible to their needs as well as offering an opportunity for people to discuss the strains on relationships and the responsibilities of the caring role.  The carers are dealing with the complex needs and conditions of the long term and terminally ill.  

The Dochas Centre is essentially the ‘voice of the carers’. This service is used by the local High School offering counselling services to the under 16s. 

Lomond and Argyll Advocacy Service:

Various offices situated in Argyll and Bute.   

Mid Argyll: 01546 – 606056

Cowal & Bute: 01369 – 840250

Oban & Lorn: 01546-606056

Kintyre: 01586-553428

LAAS is an independent, free and confidential advocacy organisation operating in West of Scotland.

  • Independent – separate from Social Services and all other organisations
  • Free
  • Confidential

In the course of putting together this report, I had the great privilege in meeting face-to-face with many of the people running these organisations. I was impressed with their professionalism and the quality of their services and their caring nature. 

People within these organisations and services have the right knowledge and the right skills to help people in need. They offer signposting and advocacy services directly. Each organisation is therefore, uniquely positioned to deal directly with individuals and to provide the right information.   Importantly, these services are able to operate self-sufficiently so that clients are not generally moved on to other services.  This means that any signposting is carried out within one organisation.  All organisations are linked up together and have up-to-date knowledge regarding available resources. 

Norma Kelly

9th July 2019, Tayvallich

Mission planning conclusions

Mission Development Planning – Congregational Meeting 21.7.19
This 5th meeting when 15 people attended drew together the themes we had been discussing and suggested some conclusions…

David Logue briefly gave the background to the meeting and went over the summary sheet of discussion to date.
We discussed the three main options set out in the paper and then considered the questions listed on the second page.

Following discussion on the options listed, the general consensus was:
Option 1 – Status quo – three ministers – This is not realistic in view of the shortage of ministers and the financial constraints on the Church of Scotland.
Option 2 – Two full time ministers shared between the five parishes with support from readers/ ordained local ministers. This would increase the work load on the two ordained ministers without gaining any benefit for the parishes.
Option 3 – One minister and one other post – eg a mission development person or a youth worker or an elderly persons worker or two part time posts, with support from readers/ordained local ministers. This would provide for overall leadership and overview by an ordained minister with a team of one other full time “MDS” person – who could concentrate on Community outreach/youth work/ older people work etc., across Mid Argyll (possibly two part time posts). Church members would be encouraged to take on roles, such as Pastoral care, worship leading, assisting youth work, etc. The minister would lead a team of paid and voluntary staff across the whole area.
With this model we may also be able to gain extra finance from C of S for a second “MDS” post or similar.
This option appears to offer the most potential for Mission development for the area.

We then looked at the questions on page 2 of the summary sheet and had wider ranging discussion on these:
What are the pros and cons of having two ministers?
Pro – Shared workload, ordained ministers more available for Sunday worship in each Parish, and for communion services. Some people expect a minister’s visit rather than an elder.
Con – Leaves the bulk of the workload on the two ministers. Will reduce the opportunity for employing Mission Development staff – for specialist or dedicated outreach in the area. Would remove the impetus to have one united Parish of Mid Argyll. (see below)
What are the pros and cons of having one minister and Mission development person etc.?
Pro – One minister would have Mid Argyll Parish of about 400 members and a population of 5,800 which is a manageable number. Employing an MDS to do community outreach would provide a specialist who could concentrate on both reaching out to the community, and working with church members to take on voluntary roles. The number of parish administrative roles would be greatly reduced – e.g. Session Clerk, treasurer, Safeguarding, Presbytery elder, Property convenor etc. This would free up people for other activities. One parish across Mid Argyll would bring together a “critical mass” of Christians to resource church initiatives. We also suggested that we could have one united service for the whole area, once a month, with local services on the other Sundays.
Con – Sunday worship services – Minister would take one each week leaving the others to be led by “lay people” e.g. Local worship leaders, readers, retired ministers etc. Members would not be visited at home by the minister except in special circumstances.

Can we make a case for funds for another full time outreach worker?

We think that if we can adopt this model of a united Mid Argyll parish with one minister then we have good case to get funds for another paid post – at least as a trial as we get established.

Are we willing to continue having congregation members, readers etc taking services regularly?

Yes, this is well supported and helps to grow the faith of members. It was commented that generally during a vacancy church members pull together and the variety of worship leading styles and content is beneficial. It encourages members to get involved and increases faith. It was also recognised that sometimes in long vacancies the members become less enthusiastic as there appears no end to the vacancy.

What buildings do we think we need across Mid Argyll?

One suitable place of worship in each of the five parishes to maintain and develop local community worship, and outreach.
A suitable place of worship should ideally have a flexible layout, kitchen and toilets.
One building in Mid Argyll suitable for united monthly services, and other larger events.

What, if any, building do we need to serve the Crinan, Bellanoch, Cairnbaan areas?

There is no place for this community to meet at the moment. It was agreed that this should be addressed in some way – e,g. A “community Hub” for meetings, groups to get together, and for worship. Bellanoch church is well placed if the facilities can be improved – toilets and kitchen and parking, and this needs to be explored.

It was also suggested that the small rural church buildings – particularly Bellanoch and Achahoish provide places of quiet and contemplation, and embody the tradition of worship in these areas. Some effort should be made to preserve this.

What building, if any, do we need in Tayvallich and Achnamara.

The hall in Achnamara is proving to be a very good centre for the community and for church activities. There are plans in progress to look at adding an extra space to Tayvallich Church to improve the kitchen and to provide a comfortable setting for groups and meetings. The interior of the church could also be revised to be more flexible.

There was clear consensus at the end of the meeting that the preferred way forward is for Option 3 and structured as a single parish of Mid Argyll. We would plan to improve the facilities at Tayvallich church and explore how we can develop Bellanoch church into a community hub.

Mission Planning Summary

Mission Development Planning: Summary

Meetings in North Knapdale have been held on 29 May, 2 and 16 June, and 7 July.

On 7 July we looked at the main themes which had come out of the first three meetings and these are listed below in order of most mentioned.

Theme Description Number of mentions
Community Connection The church being involved in the activities and interests of the community in which they live 21
Mission Communicating the gospel of Jesus Christ to people who have not heard or have rejected the message of Christianity. 17
Prayer and Spirituality Worshipping together, seeking God’s will, telling others of God’s love, sharing belief and faith in God. 12
Christian Teaching Teaching and discussion on Christianity, faith, Bible study 9
Care and Concern Serving others in the church and community who have some area of need. 8


We talked about what staffing would be best in terms of paid staff and volunteers which would be able to serve the five parishes of Mid Argyll.

The main Options are:

1 Status quo – three ministers – this is not a realistic option due to financial restraints from Presbytery and Edinburgh.

2 Two full time ministers shared between five parishes with support from readers/ordained local ministers.

3 One minister and one other post – for example a mission development person or a youth worker or an elderly worker or two part time posts, with support from readers/ordained local ministers

We may be able to bid for extra funding from Edinburgh for another (non-minister) full time post if we have suitable mission plan 

If we want to maintain the current pattern of Sunday worship in each parish this would require readers and local worship leaders and members of the congregation regularly taking part in leading worship, as there will not be a minister available to take services in each parish every Sunday.


We talked about the buildings we would need in order to carry out the above themes that we have identified.

There was concern about the possibility of closing Bellanoch Church.  It was agreed that Bellanoch church is strategically placed to serve Bellanoch, Crinan and along the canal.

It is an attractive venue for worship but lacks facilities, level access and parking.

There is no “community space” available in the Crinan, Bellanoch, and Canal side area although the Crinan Coffee shop has been used for some community events, e.g. Community Council meetings.

A suggestion was made to build around Bellanoch church to transform it into a “community hub”, retaining the worship space, and adding meetings room, toilets and kitchen. 

Some plans are currently being developed for extension/alterations to Tayvallich church.  Use is also being made regularly of Achnamara Hall.

It was agreed that we set up a meeting with the other four parishes to discuss all our plans.

The next meeting for North Knapdale is after worship on 21st July in Tayvallich Church.

Some questions to think about for this next meeting are:

What are the pros and cons of having two ministers? 

What are the pros and cons of having one minister and a mission development person/youth worker/other full time person (or two part time)?

Can we make a case for funds for another person – for what role?

Are we willing to continue having congregation members, readers, Local Worship leaders taking services regularly when our minister(s) is not available.

What buildings do we think we need across all Mid Argyll?

What, if any, building do we need to serve the Crinan/Bellanoch/canal side area?

What building, if any, do we need in Tayvallich, and in Achnamara?

All previous notes are on the website or ask for a paper copy.