Kirkwall East linked with Shapinsay

Rev Julia Meason, minister of Kirkwall East linked with Shapinsay, writes about focusing on outreach and the unique challenges that serving two churches on two islands brings.

Knitted teddy bears for Teddies for Tragedies
Our knitters supporting Teddies for Tragedies which bring comfort to children across the world one bear at a time

We are an island linkage - two churches on two different islands (Orkney Mainland and Shapinsay) sharing a minister and aspects of ministry.

The geography of the place means that I'm in only one church every Sunday (two Sundays in a row in Kirkwall, third Sunday in Shapinsay - only in the school summer holidays do I take both services every week) - the weather can be unpredictable causing ferry disruption at times. This means that both churches have very active Worship Teams who regularly lead worship.

Both congregations are eco-congregations. Here Shapinsay get their first award. Kirkwall East has got as far as the continuing award.
Both congregations are eco-congregations. Here Shapinsay get their first award. Kirkwall East has got as far as the continuing award.

Both churches are grappling with what mission and ministry mean in the 21st century. Kirkwall East had Future Focus a year ago and as a result we decided to focus on worship and outreach as our priorities.

Worship entails regular Sunday worship, Bible study series, Messy Church and other forms of worship (alternative, Wave of Prayer etc.).

Outreach is varied: we have very popular monthly quick light lunches which bring people into the church but also raise money for our Malawian partners in Thyolo Presbytery as well as the Malawi Music Fund run by our director of praise.

We've set up Awareness Walks around town which lead you in prayer as well as along the physical route.

We're currently planning a games night to which members would invite people from the community.

The plant sale
Every year Kirkwall East's Plant Sale provides plants and pots as well as home bakes to the community and raises funds for the kirk.

Shapinsay is in its third year of Path of Renewal pilot. As part of this we've got a core group of people from within as well as from the fringes of the church trying to see how to connect the two.

The most successful venture so far has been our coffee afternoons. We realised there is no natural gathering space for folk from the island (no café in winter months) and so decided to provide one.

We're working in partnership with the Shapinsay Development Fund who have given us their premises free of charge - we provide teas, coffees, home bakes and activities for the children.

We also do Bag the Bruck (dialect: rubbish), a beach cleanup, and Christmas Community Carol Singing.

Both churches work with uniformed organisations. Here 1st Kirkwall Company Boys Brigade on their annual parade to the East Church.
Both churches work with uniformed organisations. Here 1st Kirkwall Company Boys Brigade on their annual parade to the East Church.

The churches meet together for what became known as the elders' nurture sessions where we worship together as well as offer workshops on topics like mission, pastoral care or eco-congregation. This year we've opened them to elders across the Presbytery. We visit one another on occasions too.

Find out more about Kirkwall East and Shapinsay Kirk.