Stated Annual Meeting 23rd February

As this post is written, matters in Ukraine have taken a serious turn for the worse with the invasion by Russia. Our hearts go out to the people of Ukraine who have already suffered much in world wars, the legacy of decades of Soviet occupation and mismanagement, and the Chernobyl nuclear accident. The thoughts and prayers of the world go out to the innocent people of Ukraine at this desperate time. At times such as this, all we can do is pray that God would show mercy on our world and hear the cry of the broken people of Ukraine. 

On Wednesday evening, 23rd February, the Stated Annual Meeting of the Congregation was held to reflect upon and receive the annual accounts for 2021. The trustees had previously approved the accounts at the Management Committee meeting on 17th February. We are very grateful to our treasurer Angus for taking us through and explaining the accounts so ably and for all his hard work throughout the year in managing the Congregations finances. It is heartening to see a healthy surplus of over £13,000 in our accounts for the past year. Despite the challenges of two very uncertain years due to COVID and the financial squeeze everyone is facing, the Congregation’s giving is more than commendable. 

On behalf of the Kirk Session and the Management Committee, I should like to take this opportunity to thank you all most sincerely for your committed and selfless giving during the past year. Again, we thank God for His goodness to us during the past year and that we can meet our Financial Commitments. Hard copies of the accounts for 2021 will be available at the church door at both services tomorrow ( Sunday, 27th February). Our sincere thanks go to Angus as treasurer and the team who count the offering each week for their hard work during the year. 

Campbell then summarised the Fabric situation and our plans for the future as a Management Committee. It is hoped that in the coming year, we can make progress in the sale of the Mission houses at Amhuinnsuidhe, Scalpay and Drinnishader. It was emphasised how vital voluntary help is within the Congregation, and for things to progress in the year ahead, more help is needed. 

Our scripture reading at the S.A.M was from 1 Corinthians 12, a passage where the apostle Paul likens the Church of God to the body of Christ. He uses a clever analogy of the human body to illustrate how vital every part and member of the body of Christ, which is the Church, is.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 

(1 Corinthians 12:27)

In the Church, as in the body, every part or member is vital and has a role to play and contribute. I fully believe that every one of us has a skill, a talent, an ability or a measure of time that can be used in the service of Christ and His Church. And so, the Kirk Session and the Management Committee would welcome every offer of help and assistance that can be given. It is only fitting that I also thank all the office bearers for their hard work and commitment and all others who have worked so hard to get the Church open again in the past year and continue to keep our services running online. 

During the previous year, the Rev Donald John Morrison, having previously intimated to the Kirk Session his wish to step down from the role of Session Clerk, handed over the role to Mr Kenny Macleod. It would take much more than a short post like this to convey the gratitude of the Kirk Session and Congregation to Donald John, who with great wisdom, patience and grace acted as clerk to the Kirk Session during a challenging time in history of the Congregation. Rev Donald John has brought exemplary skills of judgement, understanding, pastoral insight and a lifetime experience in serving the people of Harris to his office. We are truly indebted to him and wish himself and Fiona God’s richest blessings for the future. On behalf of the Kirk Session and Management Committee, Kenny made a suitable speech and presentation to Donald John of a Mont Blanc pen as a token of our thanks and appreciation.

Although we can look back on the year with thankfulness, I will not beguile anyone into thinking that the years ahead will be easy, as there will be serious challenges ahead for the Church in Scotland. As some of you will know, negotiations are currently taking place to merge the ten existing Presbyteries constituting the Church in the Highlands and islands into one or perhaps two super presbyteries. This will have significant ramifications for us in Harris and our small Presbytery of Uist. 

Despite and through it all, the work of God goes on, and God continues to build His Church against which the gates of hell shall crumble. So tomorrow, we meet to worship God in both English and Gaelic. The Sacrament of Baptism will be celebrated in the morning, as Febin and Maggie Christopher bring their little daughter Alana Rose for baptism. We rejoice with Febin and Maggie and promise them and their own families our prayers and support as they take their vows as parents for Alana.

Tomorrow morning’s sermon looks at a praying mother in Mark 7 who is rewarded with answered prayers on behalf of her child with persistence. Every day that passes shows us how much there is to pray about, and the situation in Ukraine should motivate us to pray as never before for God to show mercy to our world. 

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