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Duddingston Kirk, Edinburgh

Sunday Services at 10 am and 11.30 am

Letter from the Manse

April 2017

The Reverend Dr Jim Jack writes:

Dear Friends,
We reproduce the excellent report given by our Session Clerk to the Stated Annual Meeting of the Congregation that was held in April …

2016 has been another eventful and full year. With regard to our membership numbers, we ended the year with 434, down 22 on 2015. Although this is only a small reduction in our membership, it is similar to previous years and adds to a gradual downward drift. I am optimistic that perhaps next year I might be able report that our membership has remained constant! With regard to other statistics, Baptisms were 9 (compared to 8 in the previous year); Weddings 11 (15 in 2015) and Funerals 34 (44 in 2015). The number of young people in our organisations aged 18 and under has remained steady at around 200.

The number of Elders varied throughout the year. We finished the year at 47, comprising 20 male and 27 female, though over the last couple of months this has dropped to 44 (18 male and 26 female). We lost a number of Elders from the retired list, such as Duncan Sinclair in February, Bob Darling in March and Alex Coull in November. No new elders were ordained in 2016 but we will be seeking to add to our number this year.

Katherine Taylor continues her studies as a Minister of Word and Sacrament allowing her, in due course, to become a Minister of the Church of Scotland. She still does elder duties and has responsibility for the thriving Parent and Toddlers Group. The latter has a very dedicated staff, some of whom have been there for over 25 years.

Tricia Whyatt was first employed by us in January 2014 on a two-year contract as a Part-Time Pastoral Assistant. Her contract was renewed in January 2016. She takes responsibility for the regular Stillness Services on Wednesdays and is a member of the Pastoral Care Group led by Margaret Cockburn. This is a most important part in our Ministry and it is likely that a second Pastoral Care Group will be formed this year.

Maintaining the Vulnerable Persons Register is an extremely onerous and essential responsibility. The Register contains the names of 33 volunteers and we are indebted to Jill Gilchrist and Helen McMillan. Helen has now stepped down, and this year Janette Wilson was appointed to replace her. It now has such importance in the eyes of Presbytery that they insist that every Elder must attend a Vulnerable Person Protection course and one was held here last year.

In April the Elders’ Conference reviewed our first year into the Local Church Review and our Elders’ Conference in May this year will look at how we have progressed in year two of the five-year plan. In attendance will be a senior member of Edinburgh Presbytery. Our plan is vitally important in maintaining the viability of Duddingston Kirk.

The Glebe Project, as it has become known, has featured significantly in our Action Plan. It is now well under way. Lizz Paterson was appointed our Glebe Project Worker in January 2016 for a period of three years. She has been a tremendous asset and an inspiration. On 30 March 2016 the Garden Room opened its doors. Its success owes much to the many volunteers who operate on a two-shift basis from Wednesday to Sunday. Anne McCrossan was employed by us as Part-Time Coordinator of the Garden Room and adds a spiritual element to that role.

Following the resignation of Colin McMillan in June 2015 after more than twenty years as Property Convenor, we were delighted that in August last year Gordon McConnachie agreed to fill this most important role.

The Presbytery Plan with respect to New Restalrig and St Christopher’s has been resolved with the new united congregation known as Willowbrae Parish Church. Similarly, the union of London Road with Holyrood Abbey is now known as Abbeyhill Church.

We have twelve committees of the Kirk Session and fourteen organisations encompassing our wide spiritual and temporal interests. In addition we support the work of eight charities.

Our annual Watchnight Service was again very popular. Dr Jack preached to a packed congregation utilising his considerable gifts of wit and Christian outreach. The retiral offering raised £958 for Fresh Start.

Kenny Train and his team have been working on our behalf to become recognised as an Eco-Congregation and the first stage of the award was achieved only a few weeks ago.

After ninety years at Duddingston, the decision was made, reluctantly, to disband the Guild and a Service of Celebration was held in October. We thank all the Guild members throughout the years for their witness, work and wisdom.

We have seen John Anderson settle into his role as our organist and his Worship Group team is looking at introducing other forms of praise. He is very ably supported by Ken Taylor and Walter Carlton.

You may have noticed that we are getting more 'Hall lets' for our premises. The Kirk Session has agreed that celebrations of baptisms, weddings and funerals should only be within a Christian context.

Towards the end of the year Rob McInnes tendered his resignation as our Beadle after three years of service. He left us at the beginning of February this year, and has been replaced by Brian Gibbs.

In May we welcomed the Reverend Laston Chisenga and Chipende Chomba from St Marks Church in Kabwe, Zambia. The Session has approved a reciprocal visit by Dr Jack and Steve Oliver, possibly in October this year.

Following the quite considerable legacy left to us by Ian and Meg Galloway, a Memorial Vine is being constructed along one of the walls in the manse garden.

The Kirk Session has agreed to regard the Dr Neil's Garden Trust as a Church organisation. One distinct advantage to them is that they will not be subject to hall letting charges and this will go some way to offsetting the £16,000 grant they no longer get from the National Trust for Scotland.

The Afternoon Tea initiative for senior members of our congregation continues to be a great success with a Strawberry Tea in June and a Yuletide Gathering in December. I always receive an invitation to this and I have convinced myself that I receive this invitation in my role as Session Clerk and for no other reason!

In the latter part of last year, Dr Jack was on sick leave for a number of weeks. During that time our services were conducted by the Reverend Dr Martin Scott and his wife, the Reverend Jayne Scott, both now members of our congregation. It is on occasions like this and during July and when Jim is on holiday that it brings home to me the quite considerable behind-the-scenes work that Jim does. I have a small taste of that when on such occasions Jim diverts his calls to me. Believe me, the calls come in at all times and most of them are not straightforward and inevitably need follow-up. We are particularly blessed that we have Jim as our minister and we are indebted to him for the leadership he gives us. For 16 years now we have had the benefit of his boundless energy, enthusiasm and vision which is truly inspirational.

Finally, could I say that everything that we have undertaken as a congregation could not have happened without the willingness of the congregation to get involved and I acknowledge the wealth of talent we have.

David Howie

On behalf of the ministry team at Duddingston, I wish you and your family a wonderful Easter time and hope that God will touch all of us in a way that truly reflects the dynamic love that God has for each one of us.

The Reverend Dr Jim Jack