RELIGION: Joy as Church of Scotland Moderator officially opens new Highland church

15 September, 2023

The Rt Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

By Cameron Brooks

A brand-new church at the “heart” of the most westerly village in mainland Britain has been officially opened.

Ardnamurchan Church in Kilchoan was dedicated and blessed by the Rt Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, yesterday. (14 September)

Around 60 people gathered for the “momentous and happy” occasion including representatives of other Christian denominations and the local community.

The single-story church is part of Acharacle and Ardnamurchan Parish, which now includes the whole of the Ardnamurchan peninsula.

It has a sanctuary, a standard commercial kitchen, two toilets and an audio-visual system which will be used for services within the building as well as for streaming.

The church is available for use by Christian groups and the local community.

Mrs Foster-Fulton said she was “honoured” to officially open the new church and spend time with the ministry team and congregation.

“The local community have taken the building to heart already and it is becoming a hub, hosting yoga, crafting and bagpipe lessons to name just a few,” she added,

Ardnamurchan and the cross which is made from wood from a pew from Sanna Church.

“The dedication service was wonderfully busy with local members, Presbytery of Lochaber guests and folk from the wider community celebrating.”

Addressing the congregation in a sermon, Mrs Foster-Fulton said doors are a symbol of a wide open welcome.

“Not gate-keeping or keeping things and people out but for drawing community in,” she added.

“Today, we gather to bless this sacred space and all who enter it.

“It sits as a beacon to folk coming from other islands – it sits at the heart of this community and will be the seat of rites of passage – baptisms, weddings and funerals.

“The breath and DNA of generations will embed itself in its stones and wood.”

Mrs Foster-Fulton asked the congregation to remind themselves of who they are, every time they go in and out of the church.

“Remember what the purpose of this building is – a central point for love to breathe, for people to learn, to be safe and offer safety and welcome,” she said.

“And you will be a blessing – you will serve your God-given, love-inspired purpose.

“Blessed will be your worship and your music, blessed will be your clubs and meetings, blessed will be your outreach and service in the community you are part of, blessed will be your lives, an embodiment of Christ.

“Open wide the doors of your building and the doors of your hearts.”

The building replaces the former Ardnamurchan Church which was closed for health and safety reasons in 2018 and sold.

The congregation continued to meet regularly in the local community centre while the new church was built on glebe land.

A spokesman for the General Trustees, the property-holding arm of the Church of Scotland, said: “The General Trustees were delighted to assist in land provision for the new church.”

It is next to “Church House” which is used by visiting ministers and others during the summer months.

During the service, a short film on the history of the church in Ardnamurchan was shown.

Reference was made to the sale of the old church and the desire to carry the memory of the place forward.

There are various reminders of history in the new building – the cross behind the communion table was fashioned from an old pew and above the door is a cross, which adorned a mission church at Sanna, a hamlet on the Ardnamurchan peninsula.

Parish minister, the Rev Donald McCorkindale, described the event as a joyous occasion.

“There was a wonderful sense of celebration and community at the dedication service and all really appreciated having the Moderator with us,” he added.

Mrs Foster-Fulton was accompanied by her husband, the Rev Stewart Fulton.

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