Mearns Coastal Parish Church
Johnshaven Church is to be sold – or transferred.
Built in 1860 for the United Presbyterian Church, in the early 20th century it became the place of worship of the United Free Church of Scotland. In 1929 the Free Church merged with the Church of Scotland but it was not until the respective ministers of the two churches retired in1947 that this happened in the Parish of Benholm. Church of Scotland worshippers then had two churches they could attend, the 1832 Kirk at Benholm and the Church on Castle Street.
With the induction of the Rev George Hastie in 1998 Benholm and Johnshaven and Garvock/St Cyrus, formerly a linkage, became a union to be known as Mearns Coastal Parish Church. Then, with the closure of Benholm Kirk in 2004 and its subsequent sale to the Scottish Redundant Churches Trust, the Church on Castle Street became the only place of regular worship in Benholm and Johnshaven.
Now, as Mearns Coastal’s December newsletter explains, “ after many years of struggling to maintain the fabric of Johnshaven Church and Hall, Mearns Coastal Parish Church is no longer in a financial position to keep this up”. Consequently, at the most recent meeting of the Kirk Session, the decision, not lightly reached, was taken to begin the procedure for the sale or transfer of the building..
This may well, of course, take some time. Firstly, a meeting will be held after morning worship in Johnshaven Church sometime in the New Year of the members of Mearns Coastal Parish Church and then permission for the sale or transfer must be given both by the Presbytery of Kincardine and Deeside and the General Trustees of the Church of Scotland.
Should all those parties agree to the Kirk Session decision then the loss of the church and hall would be a huge blow to the local community. As well as the place for regular Sunday services including special services such as the celebration of Baptism and Holy Communion, Christmas and Easter, Remembrance Day and the Primary School, the church has also hosted concerts and other musical events.
The hall is currently used on a regular basis by Mearns Coastal Guild and the Guides and for meetings of the Kirk Session, while it is also a venue for committee meetings of village organisations and for fund-raising and social occasions and, as the Rev Dempster stresses, “it is an appropriate and proper setting for parish funerals and weddings”.
The Kirk Session has acknowledged the help and generous donations given by many people over the last few years in an effort to keep the church in Johnshaven going.
Despite this, though, given the serious financial difficulties in which Mearns Coastal Parish finds itself, the session reached the conclusion that there was no alternative to their decision.
Nevertheless, Benholm and Johnshaven remain part of Mearns Coastal Parish Church and the Rev Dempster has stressed that the pastoral ministry will continue whatever and in the meantime church services in Johnshaven will also continue.
In this vein the Rev Dempster conducted Sunday morning’s service in Johnshaven Church, the fourth Advent candle, the candle of Peace, was lit and the minister spoke of how the unexpected nature of Jesus’s birth had brought joy to the world.
There will be only one service in Mearns Coastal Parish this Sunday and that will be a united service in St Cyrus Church at 11 am followed by a period of fellowship..
There will be a children’s post Christmas afternoon film show in St Cyrus Church at 2 pm on Tuesday, December 30 to which all are welcome.
The minister has thanked Marion Brownlie and those who helped in the sale of appointment calendars which raised £500 for Mearns Coastal and asked the congregation to note that there will be a united New Year service with Holy Communion in Johnshaven Church on Sunday, January 4 at 11 am.
Service times, beginning on Sunday, January 11, and for the rest of 2015 (except for special services) Sunday worship will continue as at present – St Cyrus Church 10 am and Johnshaven Church 11.30 am.
New Year’s Dance
A dance, welcoming in the New Year, is to be held in the Village Hall on Saturday, January 3. Featuring five local bands, Radar, Kinell, Odium, Standby and Tangleha’ it will start at sixish and go until the “wee sma’ hours.” Stovies will be provided by the Anchor Hotel and patrons are invited to bring their own liquid refreshment. Raffle. Proceeds shared between pancreatic cancer research and the Johnshaven Village Hall.
The Guild brought the first half of their season to an end last Monday afternoon with a most enjoyable and jolly Christmas lunch in the Village Hall. Members next meet in the Church Hall on Monday, January 19 at 2.30 pm when Dr Orr will speak on Bamse, the St Bernard dog that became the heroic mascot of the Free Norwegian forces during WW II.
Later the same evening the members of the Bridge Club put away the cards for a couple of weeks before settling down to some fine festive fare provided by the ladies and will meet again in the Village Hall on Monday, January 5 at 7 pm.