Moderator opens community garden project in Perthshire
Published on 16 August 2022 3 minutes read
The Moderator of the General Assembly has formally opened a new multi-use community square in a Perthshire village.
Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields said it was a privilege to bless St Kessog's Square in Comrie on Sunday evening – a £240,000 project which has been 16 years in the making and will benefit generations to come.
It features open grassy space, flowerbeds, picnic tables, a special structure will soon be built to host concerts, plays and worship events and benches will be installed.
The land was formally occupied by Comrie Garage until 2007 and various plans over the years to properly redevelop it failed to get off the ground until it was bought for the local community by Comrie Parish Church in 2014.
The Kirk Session used money donated by a mystery benefactor and renamed the site St Kessog's Square after a sixth-century Irish missionary who is believed to have brought Christianity to Perthshire.
Members asked the wider community for ideas for what could be developed there for the benefit of all.
A proposal was accepted and the community started fundraising in earnest and also secured donations and grant funding to create what is now the village's new green lung.
Around 100 people attended the ceremony and Dr Greenshields cut a white ribbon at the entrance archway to declare St Kessog's Square formally open and offered prayers for the whole community.
Addressing the crowd, the Moderator said: "Innovation, that's the name of the game – finding new ways for the Church and the community to work together for the benefit of all.
"Historically we have used the word ‘parish' in the Church to define the area we served.
"I am not sure many people understand that word anymore, but they do understand community.
"That defines what we aspire to – a Church in the community, for the community and working with the community.
"I love the sense of mystery that lies behind this – a silent benefactor who has purchased and donated the land.
"I hope you are here today and have a deep sense of satisfaction at what you see.
"It is amazing what can be accomplished with a bit of imagination and prayer – thinking outside the box and doing good for the community and visitors to this place as well as honouring God."
The opening service, which featured a hymn, the Lord's Prayer and a reading of Psalm 46, was led by Rev Craig Dobney, minister of Comrie Parish Church.
He said he hoped that St Kessog's Square would be a source of pride for local people and a "place of peace, joy, refuge and strength".
The minister said: "It is a lovely square and perfect for locals and visitors alike to sit in to enjoy nature, particularly for older people living with dementia who cannot get out into the hills anymore.
"The opening ceremony went very well and we had a good turnout which was great.
"It was such a privilege for us to have Dr Greenshields attend and it was an amazing experience for some of our older members who have never encountered a Moderator in Comrie before."
Mr Dobney said the fact that a mystery donor entrusted the church to buy the land and ensure it is used for the good of the wider community sent out a significant message.
"It shows there is such a great deal of trust in the Church and the big thing for me is projects like this illustrate that we are not just stuck inside our buildings - we are not hiding away - and we are out in our communities and serving," he added.
"Having a church presence right in the middle of the community in an open-air square is a fabulous opportunity for mission and outreach."
Unsurprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the completion and subsequent opening of St Kessog's Square.