Moderator helps Fife church celebrate bicentenary
Published on 29 January 2024 4 minutes read
The Moderator of the General Assembly attended a special service to mark the bicentenary of a Fife church.
Rt Rev Sally Foster-Fulton said it was a privilege to join in with the celebrations at Pathhead Parish Church in Kirkcaldy yesterday.
One of the highlights for the congregation was Linda Hugh singing a specially composed hymn called "The Light of Christ" composed by organist Alan Urquhart.
Mrs Foster-Futon was accompanied by her husband, Rev Stuart Fulton, and preached to the congregation, who later enjoyed refreshments and fellowship in the church hall.
Speaking afterwards, she said: "We found a warm and wide-open welcome at Pathhead Parish Church yesterday.
"It was lovely to share in their bicentennial celebrations and to hear about the year-long events marking this milestone.
"There was such a family feel in the Pathhead community."
Pathhead Parish Church was built in 1823, initially as a chapel of ease (a building built within the bounds of a parish for the attendance of those who cannot reach the parish church conveniently) from Dysart Parish Church.
Following the so-called Disruption of 1843, part of the congregation separated to form Pathhead East Free Church.
In 1958, the two congregations united and made their home in the present building which had been rebuilt following a devastating fire in 1953.
Rev Andrew Donald, minister of Pathhead Parish Church, said: "It was a great honour and privilege to invite the Moderator and her husband to celebrate our bicentennial year.
"The service was incredibly special because it included a recital of the Pathhead hymn which celebrates the spirit of our church's life in its first line.
"'We thank you Lord, for giving us this day. Two hundred years in faith along life's way. To build a Church so strong, and a place we all belong, for it's Yours, and it's ours, so it's mine.'
"That sense of belonging was shared by the Moderator, who spoke of its relevance in the life of the church today.
"At this end of Kirkcaldy, there has been many new houses built and we have experienced several new faces joining us in our Sunday services.
"We want to make them all feel welcome, not just on a Sunday but also throughout the week.
"That's why our church has participated in the Warm Spaces initiative, when people can come along to our church cafe on Monday's and enjoy a plate of soup and a roll, or just sit and read a newspaper.
"It's also the reason for having our cafe, open to the public from Tuesdays to Friday, so that people realise that the Kirk is there for everyone whether they are church-goers or not, whether they have faith and whatever their own belief systems.
"We also deliver meals to our parish, thanks to a dedicated team of volunteers.
"In the midst of our celebratory year, we have had a small team planning how we can welcome everyone from the community."
Mr Donald has been the minister of Pathhead Parish Church for more than 18 years.
He said he was presented with a booklet titled "Centenary Souvenir, 1823-1923" upon his arrival which provided an insight into the church's interesting past.
It was prefaced by the Rev Thomas Gillespie Snoddy who served the congregation from 1922 to 1958 and was the last minister of the East Church before both the West and East congregations united.
Mr Donald said: "His words raise an amusing smile as he describes his take on congregational life 100 years ago.
"Church histories are sometimes biographies of ministers, which is a flattering and futile method of procedure.
"In the general view, church records are thought to be void of humour but this is not the case.
"They are invaded, as all things are, by natural absurdities; they mirror the quaintness of former customs and convey hints of human eccentricities which gleam laughingly amid the field of barren facts.
"There is, for example, something absurdly humorous in the proposal of an architect to put a fine ornamental chimney costing £150 on the hall when the hall itself is entirely hidden behind the church.
"There are rings of laughter all round those letters where officials are asking for ‘more' or venting the spirit of some harmless rivalry.
"In these ways the pages come gently into life and we join hands with the dead who lived, and worshipped, and worked before us, and gave us their heritage of love and wisdom garnered through a hundred years."
Reflecting on the 200-year presence of the church in Pathhead, Mr Donald said the booklet suggested that nothing has changed in the church over the passage of time though "everything has changed".
"What makes the Church is not its bricks and mortar but its people," he added.
"We especially learned that lesson through the Covid years of restriction and shutdown.
"The Church is the body of Christ and each person a member of that body.
"We toil and labour with all our flaws, frailties and quirks of character to build the Kingdom which is founded on our saviour Jesus Christ.
"We know we are not perfect but we try to point to the One who is."