Blog

Autumn 2014

David Souter, The Minister of Kinnoull Parish ChurchMy “Book of Common Order” for the Church of Scotland, which is the basis for forms of worship within the Kirk, and is that red book which regularly turns up in my hands at Services at the  crematorium was presented to me when I became a licensed  Minister. Some may have noticed that the book had begun to see better days and has now been reinforced with duct tape to extend its usefulness for a bit longer. The inscription inside the book tells that it was presented to me on 28th September 1994 so I have a significant personal anniversary arriving shortly. The years have been going around.

The ongoing matter of when this minister might retire from full time work in Kinnnoull has been a topic that has been there as a background question in his mind since before he arrived at the age of sixty five.  Now heading towards sixty nine he has been able to discover that the years do not arrive without additional pain and strain physically. Dealing repeatedly with final journeys and finding words of farewell for those to whom we became close friends as their Minister brings increased emotional stress. The fact is that retirement has to happen at some point and it would be best that it be  approached in an ordered way rather than for it to happen in response to decline in abilities or health issues.

We had been attracted by the thought of moving back to the country and have been looking around for some few months for a more rural setting. Perth is a goldfish bowl especially if you are ‘well kent’ and drive a  conspicuous car. Our looking for a property has been noticed by some and been kept as a confidential matter but our frequent  conversations with  various vendors have made us realise that sooner or later the news of our searching would get out.

A couple of weeks ago we made an offer on a property that has been  accepted in principle and there is no reason to expect that  it will not  proceed. Whilst we are fortunate not to be under immediate pressure to move from our flat where we have been based for the past four  years, once we do, we hit the problem again of the Manse  Adjudication Committee and their rules and requirements. Since we have been through this process once before we do not imagine that there would be any possibility of their further approval for our next accommodation which lies beyond the city boundaries.

Kinnoull Parish ChurchAt whatever point we fully move to the new house, my demission from Kinnoull will be required. Whilst we are in no rush, it would be likely that in 6 or 9 months time we would probably be expecting to make that transition, so our feet are on the road in a manner of speaking.

There will be much to be done over the next months as the church    prepares for what lies ahead. Once we have a more precise timescale there will be formal announcements and due processes to go through. The first action of Presbytery once we get to that point is one which always makes me smile – since the Chaplain must visit any Minister who announces his wish to demit, to confirm that he is “of Sound Mind.”  (That could be quite a hurdle in my case.)

There will be many things that we will want to say one to another both formally and informally over the months ahead –  the Kinnoull years have been good for us and I believe they have been good for the Parish. Our being here for the past thirteen years has been providential and more than that – they have been years of blessing for us all.

In the meantime there is a full winter ahead of us in Kinnoull.  We have The BIG Family Service – “Church with a Smiley Face” which happens next Sunday, so I cannot report on how it goes.  This is Kinnoull’s own Version of a “Not So Messy Church” which we wrote about in the Easter edition of the Magazine and is being run on an experimental basis. It is hoped that occasional BIG Family services will provide a bridge to the youth work that goes on in organisations and in schools. NB – It is not just for young people – We are all part of “The BIG Church family”

The “Try Praying” project which was approved in principle at a previous Session, and was written about in the Summer  Magazine is also due to go ahead at a greater level of involvement than we had initially  proposed.

Change is never easy and it is seldom welcomed but it is inevitable. So  let us use this winter to make sure that Kinnoull is in the best possible position and condition to move forward. The future  remains, as it always has, in God’s hands and we can trust the one who has brought us safe this far to lead us on, as well as to lead us home.

Your Minister and Friend

David Souter

Summer 2014

davidsouter_polaroid2This has been an interesting Spring Season within Kinnoull. A season of new and surprising growth, as the Friends of Kinnoull Talents initiative has taken root. What was conceived as a way of giving an opportunity to members of the congregation to consider how they might think of using their particular abilities to raise some funds for the church has become a productive and involving season as a whole raft of ideas have emerged. We have already been more creative than we might have imagined and the initiative still has the rest of the summer to run.

The Bird boxes were a great success and rapidly sold out. The soup and tablet, although best not to be eaten together, raised some smiles and a few pounds one way and another. The Pop Up Market has proved to be a substantial fundraiser. We still have a range of other events ahead as well as the major Craft Day and Barbecue following the final morning of Sunday Club on 29th June.

As has often been said before, the funds raised are welcome but the fun that we have along the way is no less important. If you feel that your    creative abilities have not been as significant as they might have been, then be assured that your input as a supporter and a purchaser is also much appreciated.

At the end of May the Kirk came through its annual General Assembly. There was the most unfortunate need for the Moderator Designate, Rev Dr Angus Morrison from Perth Presbytery, to step down for health reasons at short notice. This required the Committee to Nominate the Moderator to  reconvene and gave me as a member of that committee more excuses to ride my motorcycle up and back to central Edinburgh for meetings. The Principle Clerk, Rev John Chalmers accepted the new nomination and stepped in to Moderate the Assembly most competently. We wish him well in his busy year ahead. The Assembly also agreed to approach Angus  Morrison with a view to him being able to be Moderator in 2015 which seemed a gracious decision.

With the potential for a major split in the Church hanging over recent       Assemblies, it was a relief that difficult discussions this year went ahead without the projected division. In his closing address the Moderator said that he looked forward to a time not too far ahead when we may leave aside the matter of human sexuality and get back on with the mission of the church in spreading the Good News of Jesus to the people of Scotland.

In mid January Rev Dr Eric McKimmon had health problems so I have again been drafted to serve as Interim Moderator at Cargill Burrelton linked with Collace but there is hope that during the summer Eric may well be able to return to his duties.

My year as Honorary Chaplain to the Royal Highand and Agricultural Society of Scotland reaches its climax as I attend the show at Ingliston from Thursday 19th to Sunday 22nd June. The duties during that time turn out to involve not only conducting worship on the Sunday Morning but also saying the Grace at no less than four formal dinners. There is apparently no such thing as a free lunch for me that week.

One of the Collace members created a very special carved horn     shepherd’s crook for me with the finely worked letters RHASS on one side and CHAPLAIN on the other side. It looks rather grand and should conspicuously identify me – Who knows – I may even win “Best In Breed” on this occasion!

With Every Blessing

Your Minister

David Souter

Easter Thoughts 2014

davidsouter_polaroid2Over my time in Kinnoull we have celebrated the Easter event in various ways. There have been Lent Studies in the run-up to Easter some years; there have been various Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services in other years and there has been good support from Kinnoull for the PACT events with the Walk of Witness through the town on the Friday Morning and the Easter Dawn Service at Quarrymill Park. There is always a great sense of joy in the Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday services here in the Church when we often have the added blessing of receiving new members by profession of faith on this greatest day in the Christian year.

One of the great joys of the Church of Scotland is that it is a broad church. We do things very differently in different parishes. That fact came home to me during my training when I was privileged to work for six months in St John’s Kirk with Rev David Ogston. Easter for David was a time of high liturgy, ceremony and Holy mystery. Holy Week meant lots of extra services and I learned much from that experience which enriched my understanding of worship.

Arriving one Easter for a service which was to be jointly led with David and myself and T. Graeme Longmuir – who was at that time Chaplain to Strathallan, I was asked if I had a white robe appropriate for that day and I had to admit that I did not. To which came the mischievous reply “Well you have one this morning!” I still have the photograph of the three of us resplendent in our white robes on this high and holy occasion.

The Publication of “Scots Worship – Lent, Holy Week and Easter” by  David Ogston which has been edited by Johnston Mackay includes those three most moving broadcasts which David made following his breakdown and I also treasure the book for that reason. His breakdown was in some ways a Lent journey for him, going out into the deserts, the wilderness before he was able to return, having “Met with himself”.

In his conduct of worship David was a true wordsmith and had a natural poetic turn of phrase. He is probably best known for the books that he has written in the Doric. When he came and preached me in to Echt and Midmar, he did so memorably in “the Mither tongue”. Although I learned to say Fit and Fu and pick up the rhythm of the local speech I am sure that they would have readily traded me, their newly chosen minister for this prime craftsman of north east “spik”.

Easter brings back to me memories of my times in worship with DO. The publication of his work has been a reminder of the richexperience I was fortunate to share during my months at St Johns. It also brings us to the heart of the faith as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. Here is  an Easter Communion prayer which is included in this rich collection. For me I read it and David’s voice is there – but whether his voice rings for you or not, the message and the words are for all of us at Easter.

With Every Blessing

Your Minister

David Souter