Moderator embarks on presbytery tour of Ayrshire

The Moderator of the General Assembly is embarking on a 10-day visit to learn more about the life and work of the Church of Scotland in Ayrshire

Lord Wallace said he is looking forward to attending a wide range of events organised by the Presbytery of Irvine and Kilmarnock from tomorrow.

He will visit churches, charities and local businesses as well as meeting with hospital and prison chaplains to encourage them in their vital work.

Lord Wallace
Lord Wallace is an elder at St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, Orkney.

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant the last two years have been very challenging for chaplains who are at the forefront of supporting staff, patients, people serving sentences and their families though stressful and heart-breaking times.

Lord Wallace is visiting Fullarton Parish Church in Irvine to learn more about a Mission Pioneer programme launched by the presbytery last year to connect with people in refreshing and dynamic ways.

He will meet members of six Pioneer Initiative Teams, four connected to parish churches and two operating across the presbytery area, which work in a variety of contexts to bridge the gap between church and people where they are to form new worshipping communities.

Opportunity to learn

Speaking ahead of the visit which runs from the 26th of March to the 4th of April, Lord Wallace said: "Presbytery visits are a wonderful opportunity for Moderators to see first-hand the life of the local church and offer encouragement and support to members and the wider communities they serve.

"They are pastoral in nature to offer encouragement but it is also an opportunity to learn.

"I am looking forward to hearing the stories of congregations, communities and people and sharing just a little of their journey in faith.

"The last two years have been challenging for all of us in different ways and all those involved in ministry have been on the frontline serving communities to the best of their ability in difficult circumstances.

"As a Church, we seek to be active in the community and I am looking forward to meeting a wide range of people from different walks of life to discuss the issues that they face and assure them all that they are held in our prayers."

On Sunday, Lord Wallace is preaching at Kay Park Church in Kilmarnock and will give a presentation to Rev Willie Hall to mark the 50th anniversary of his ordination as a Minister of Word and Sacrament.

Later that evening he will meet a group of young people at Fullarton Parish Church and they will have the opportunity to ask him about his role and the wider Kirk.

Lord Wallace will visit Crosshouse Hospital near Kilmarnock on Monday morning to meet members of the chaplaincy team and will go to Woodland View, an acute mental health hospital within the grounds of Ayrshire Central Hospital in Irvine on Wednesday morning.

Later that day he will meet staff and students at Ayr College's Kilmarnock campus and on the Thursday he will tour round MYB Textiles in Newmilns, a factory which manufactures lace that is exported around the world.

Lord Wallace will meet members of The Guild at St Columba's Parish Church in Stewarton on Friday following a visit to HMP Kilmarnock to meet chaplains, staff and inmates.

That day also involves a meeting with session clerks at Rowallan Castle to hear about the concerns of local congregations against a backdrop of a new five year mission plan currently being prepared.

On Saturday the 2nd of April, Lord Wallace will visit Centre Stage Kilmarnock, (Ayrshire Arts Centre) which uses music and drama to support children, disabled people, homeless people, ex-offenders and people living with dementia.

The following day he will preach at Mure-Relief Parish Church in Irvine and later attend a conference for elders at Dreghorn and Springside Parish Church.

On Monday, Lord Wallace will meet with ministers to hear their thoughts on the challenges and opportunities facing the Church as it embraces new ways of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ and meeting 21st century mission needs.

Importance of eldership

Rev Jill Clancy, Moderator of the Presbytery of Irvine and Kilmarnock, said: "We are looking forward to welcoming Lord Wallace to our local communities to encourage and support ministers, elders and congregations.

"We have organised a wide and varied programme which we hope he will find stimulating and as an elder himself, I am pleased that he will get to spend quality time with other elders who are going to be taking on more responsibilities within congregations and communities.

"Everyone has as part to play within the Church.

"The presbytery is very much a forerunner in the development of Mission Pioneer work and hopefully Lord Wallace will share what he learns about how this bold and exciting project has developed with the wider Church.

Mrs Clancy said the Moderator's visit is much appreciated, particularly after the last two years.

"People are under so much pressure and stress, not just because of the impact on the lockdown but also due to the soaring cost of bills – food, energy and fuel.

"There is a lot of doom and gloom around, not least with the horrendous war in Ukraine, so the church locally is determined to do what it can to support local communities in many different ways."

Chaplains play vital role

Mrs Clancy is a prison chaplain at HMP Barlinnie in Glasgow and used to work part-time at HMP Kilmarnock when she was the minister of Annbank and Tarbolton Parish Churches.

"It is lovely that the Moderator is visiting hospitals and the prison to support and encourage staff and chaplains who have been at the forefront during the pandemic," she said.

"For me it is very important that he visits because sometimes chaplains can be made to feel they are not real ministers because they are not in a parish.

"Our ministry is completely different but over the past two years it has been so vital to so many people.

"Chaplains are confidants, a shoulder to cry on and people who can listen to the angst, worries and fears of staff and those in our care."