Greetings from the Manse! First of all, I would like to extend a warm word of gratitude to Mary, for revitalising our newsletter. Thank you, Mary for your diligence and enthusiasm. This kind of commitment is always contagious! May we all be equally diligent in giving you our full support.
Today, I would like to focus on our link with the Island of Coll; since I’ve just finished my fourweek stay on this beautiful island. As the troubled waters of the Church of Scotland’s “reshaping progress” approached our very shores; we were all deeply concerned with the future of the island congregations.
The current trend, sadly, seems to be changing the island congregations into “mission stations”. Now that all sounds pretty proper; but in effect this could mean that such a mission station will not be entitled to have its own kirk session, it’s own church and its own manse, per se. Their future would be solely in the hands of the kirk session of the “mother congregation”. Now this has caused serious concern among all the island parishioners.
The good news, however, is that the new (and approved) presbytery plan is going to sustain Coll’s status, as a congregation, linked to Connel. Of course, we will have to extend the work of the kirk session on Coll; but at least they are giving us a proper chance to foster growth and ensure our future status.
I’ve tried to make the most of my stay in Coll, during the month of July. I’m happy to report that there are some exciting developments on our sister island: This coming Sunday (28 August) we will have the ordination of a new elder, Janet Wilson. We haven’t had a new elder at Coll for a long, long time. It will be a joyous occasion! Also, the Presbytery of Argyll and Bute have appointed two assessor elders to help the kirk session; namely Mary Thomson from Connel and Catherine Robb from Ardchattan. It’s wonderful to see Connel and Ardchattan, reaching out to help our sister congregation at Coll.
Life on Coll, now, is vibrant and full of promise: The Community Centre at Arinagour is called “An Cridhe”; which means: “The Heart”. And it truly has become the very heart of the island! We are fortunate to have a new manager at An Cridhe; Chris Thornton- Holmes: Chris is absolutely wonderful at making An Cridhe a vibrant, thriving hub. Tourists and islanders alike, flock daily to the centre. Here you can help yourself to a variety of teas, coffees and fruit juices: all free of charge. You can rent a bicycle; electric bikes too- and use the internet. There are shower and toilet facilities, too: Open to all; at 24 hours a day. I’ve attended two of An Cridhe’s wonderful ceilidhs with my family and made so many new friends. And that was probably the most special of my stay ay Coll: Reaching out to folk beyond the congregation itself. Getting to know the islanders (and many tourists!), one by one. It’s the informal fellowship that forms the heart of a minister’s ministry; in my humble opinion.
So, dear friends: Thank you for letting me off for four weeks to Coll. It was time well spent. Next year, after the summer holidays, I will report back about life on Coll. Right now, I am so happy to be back home and able to do house visits. I’ll be knocking on your door, soon, I hope!
Willem Bezuidenhout (Minister). August 2022
The Session Clerk for Coll is
Isle of Coll
Tel: 01879 230080
The Session Clerk for St Oran’s and Dunbeg is
Tel; 01631 710589