Ale & Teviot United Church


Report on Presbytery Visit to Congregation

5 YEARLY VISITATION TO ALE & TEVIOT UNITED

Having visited the united charge of Ale and Teviot United, the visiting committee is delighted to bring this report to Presbytery. The relationships and working practice of office bearers in the church is of a high calibre, and the church is very keen to carry out the missional work that it has been tasked with.

The visitation committee comprised Rev Lisa-Jane Rankin (convenor), Mrs Janet Combe, Rev Jenny Earl, and Rev John Shields. The committee have visited the Kirk Session on several occasions, and the convenor met the Reverend and Mrs Frank Campbell on a separate occasion at their Manse. Mrs Combe attended the Sunday School at Ancrum and Lilliesleaf and the Guild at Ancrum, and Mr Shields attended worship at Ancrum.

The report will work through the various stages on the handout supplied to the five yearly visitation teams, under the headings provided.

WORSHIP

Members can choose from quite a variety of service times at the different places of worship in the Union. Every Sunday Ancrum meets at 10am, and Lilliesleaf at 11:30am. There is pulpit supply twice a month which enables Crailing to have services at 10:30am. There is also, from April to October, a monthly evening Songs of Praise service. There are no midweek services.

Several different types of worship have been introduced over the years, including an evening Healing Service with Communion, which have been supported by Presbytery members but not so much by the congregation.

A Kirk Session committee recommended, as a means of outreach, holding of services out-with the church buildings. These have met with mixed success. There were occasional services in the Cross Keys Pub in Ancrum, which were poorly supported and were discontinued. An outdoor service in Lilliesleaf school playground in August has suffered from the vagaries of the Scottish summer and is to be reviewed. On the other hand, a joint service with a visiting Boys Brigade company from Dundee at the Ancrum football field, where the BB camp was located, has been very popular.

There is a yearly Carol Service at Eckford which is organised by the Community.

Midweek activities have usually been held in the manse, but with the redevelopment of Ancrum Church to provide a meeting room, it is intended that these activities take place in the meeting room in 2010/11. There is a fortnightly Bible Study, led by an elder, John Marshall. There is the Tuesday Girls group, run by Alexis Campbell, which is a fun informal way of getting to know Jesus better. A Ministry Hour for healing etc is to be introduced on Sunday evenings when there are no formal services.

The congregation has been open to trying different styles of worship in the past and will continue to do so in the future. One of the members of the committee participated in worship in Ancrum one Sunday, and whilst it was not what they were used to, found worship a very moving experience and truly appreciated the minister’s style and content.
The committee is delighted that leading worship is not the sole-domain of the minister. As well as the pulpit supply, elders lead an outdoor act of Remembrance, as well as participating in the normal diet of worship. The organisations in the church, including the Guild, have organised services. The congregation is also involved in worship, particularly Lessons & Carols and Easter Sunday.

Different types of music are used in the churches, including CH4 and hymns sheets. There are two good organists who are willing to try new songs and hymns. New Spring Harvest songs are tried out, some to good effect as witnessed by the Convenor’s participation in a Healing Service. Easter Sunday evening saw the participation of the Town Band who played a mix of traditional and modern songs.

Children and young people also participate in worship. The Ale Group (teenagers) have taken a service, including a Palm Sunday Last Supper biblical enactment. This group has now been discontinued as most of its members were moving out of the area to study, with one taking a gap year teaching in Chile, but primarily because the couple who had led the group with such inspiration have moved out of the parish.

The Sunday School children are participants in Communion. The ‘Kick Team’ has been twice to the area under the leadership of Youth for Christ. This event offered football training in the morning, also in the schools, and in the evenings there’s sport plus the team speaking about their faith. They have participated in worship too.

Different traditions have now evolved with frequency of Communion. Ancrum celebrates Communion 3 times a year, including one evening Healing Service, where the congregation stand round the Table. Lilliesleaf is similar, as is Crailing, with one service being in the village hall in Eckford.

Interestingly, the attendance at Communion is no bigger than a normal Sunday. It would appear that this is no bad thing, as Communion whilst still important to the congregation, is seen as part of the normal diet of worship., as opposed to for ‘high days and holidays.’

There are no problems with the administration of Baptism.

USE & DEVELOPMENT OF OFFICE BEARERS

When people are called to be elders, the initial resources used to help them become good elders are varied, and include the DVD and materials of ‘Why Me?’ produced by the Kirk. Recruitment is done on an informal basis. As part of their ongoing commitment to training, the Session has previously used Beatrice Kyle, the former Presbytery Elder Trainer, but now encourage participation in Presbytery-wide events.

Some have also participated in the ‘Leading Worship’ course, and some have accessed the elder training offered over the last few years by the Presbytery. Elders are representative of the congregational age balance, and the Session believes there are sufficient elders to spread their work fairly. They think their constitution is democratic, and there is an informal use of committees, especially within the 3 worshipping communities. The Session keeps up-to-date with the wider work of the Kirk through reading ‘Life and Work,’ and many have computers to help them access different websites. There have been several members of Ale and Teviot United on the Church and Nations’ Committee of the Presbytery, and it probably helps that the minister is the Presbytery Clerk!
The Session feel they have a good relationship to the Presbytery and an excellent relationship with each other, as well as having the ability to work well together. Both minister and office-bearers feel they are on very good terms. Several members of the Committee have attended Session meetings, and were impressed by the way the Session interacted with each other. Relations appear to be very good, and work was done with the feeling of openness and interaction, but also a pleasing informality. There was actually laughter and fun during the meeting!

The organisations within the church comprise the Guild, the Tuesday Girls, Bible Study, Ale Group (teenage) – now discontinued, but hope that a new Bible Class can be established in its place, Ancrum Junior Church, Lilliesleaf Sunday School and the Ancrum Choir. For many years there was a drop-in centre for Ancrum youth at the Bowling club, this closed due to the huge commitment of time.

Membership is in the region of 470. The Session feel they’re short on ages 10 to 40 (the same as most churches), but they have quite a few in the 41 to 50 age group. The gender split is approximately 70% female 30% male, again typical of many congregations.

There are two paid members of staff, the two organists.

CHRISTIAN EDUCATION

The Kirk Session complies with the Church of Scotland Code of Good Practice for the Protection of Children and Young People in the Church. There is a Safeguarding Officer, a Safeguarding Committee, and the Session minutes record the people who are on the Church’s register.

Letters are sent out each year to all of the families in the Parish who have had children baptised, inviting them to join either of the two Sunday Schools.

CDs of the worship services are to be provided for the housebound, and there is always a theological input into the Church magazine which is sent to every household in the Parish. There are also between forty to ninety ‘hits’ a week on the website. All of these are good ways to promote the church to a wider demographic. An Alpha course was trialled, but didn’t really work in the church’s context. For those who wish to join an Alpha course, they are encouraged to join at Jedburgh Old and Trinity. It is hoped that the Re-commitment and Gift Day will encourage members to come back to worship.

Ale & Teviot also believes in doing good for others, and has had many successful fundraisers for different charities. The Tsunami Coffee Evening raised thousands of pounds, as did the church project which raised money for Water for Life. They yearly send off filled shoe boxes for the Blysthwood Christmas Appeal. The whole parish is generous to Christian Aid, and the door-to-door collection usually raises £3000.

One member has spent a gap year abroad as a teacher, and funds have been sent to the Ghanaian village where she has an ongoing connection, as well as having donated money for an operation for a child. The church is to be commended for their support of these charities and helping those who are on the margins of society.

MISSION

The minister works very much with an emphasis of Ephesians Chapter One when it comes to mission work within the parish; that idea of the spirit of wisdom and revelation which will lead to the breakthrough of people seeing how good God is. The church is very much a part of the parish, and tries hard to respond to its needs. There are forty nine new houses being built in Ancrum, which will provide new mission opportunities for the congregation.

The church works with other Kirk congregations through the following:
pulpit exchange with Selkirk; quiz night with Jedburgh Old & Trinity; Jedburgh Old & Trinity Guild is invited to the Guild Christmas Party. They also work with the Salvation Army, Baptists, Burnfoot Parish Church and Jedburgh Old & Trinity through the Clan Gathering. There are no other denominations in the parish.

The minister is chaplain to two primary schools, both of which have a new management team, so it will take time to get to know the new team. He is also part of a chaplaincy team at Jedburgh Grammar, which is again going through a change, and new work is being done in Selkirk High School under a new Headteacher.

The church has also appointed annual projects, most recently (2009/10) Borders Additional Needs Group, and Help for Heroes.

Members often offer themselves in sharing the wider work of the Church, as well as being encouraged through the newsletter. The congregation, like most others, would like to have more young people participating in the church.

MINISTRY SUPPORT

The minister is happy with his finances, as well as being aware of what the Kirk offers in terms of pension and housing, and pastoral advice.

Frank’s ministry is complemented by his wife’s contribution to the life of the church. They both feel a call to the Healing Ministry. In terms of ministry development, they both feel it is important to be fed themselves in order to fulfil ministerial duties. This is done with the aid of American ministries material, as well as going to hear a wide range of speakers at Christian events.

The minister believes that everything ‘hangs’ on Biblical teaching, and in developing this thinking with others. And although he doesn’t have any plans to use the Study Leave scheme, he may use it in future to continue his work with American ministries material.

The Kirk Session is satisfied that adequate administrative support is given to the minister, particularly to help with the supply of the newsletter. The Session do appear to fully support their minister in all his endeavours. The Session make sure that there is a ready pulpit supply, and there is leadership coming through for the Bible Study. They do take a healthy interest in the Manse family, and Frank and Alexis feel supported by the Session, and indeed the church as a whole.

FINANCE

The finances of the church are in good order. If the Session feels it needs money for the church, the minister will preach on Stewardship, and there is always a good response. The church has had an annual Re-dedication service for a few years, but this year’s Gift Aid appeal to run alongside the service is a first. There was a stewardship campaign run in Lilliesleaf about seven years ago, but it was felt that the people who participated in running the campaign benefited more. It would appear that what the church is doing is already more than adequate.

FABRIC

The buildings under the care of the Session have been adequately maintained over the years, and under the expert care and attention of the fabric convenor, has just undergone major refurbishment work on the three centres of worship at a cost of £150,000, all met out of funds held by the trustees.

The minister is very satisfied by the maintenance of the Manse.

The churches have been made available to other local buildings in the past, although there is now less need because of the completed renovation of the village hall in Ancrum. The Community Council has used the building, as well as MP and MSP surgeries, and after-school French. Ancrum took away part of the back of the church to build a meeting room which has benefited the church very much. The Junior Church meets there, and tea and coffee is served (with the aid of a food preparation area) at the end of each service, and Session meetings take place there. The Presbytery Business Committee meets there too. It is a comfortable area, and conducive for meetings, both formal and informal. There is also a new toilet and other additional rooms at the front of the church.

With the exception of Eckford, which has been dealt with in the Presbytery Plan, there are no plans to get rid of other church buildings at the present time. The Presbytery Property Survey appears to have been complied with.

CONCLUSION

The committee is happy that God’s Word is being preached and lived in the congregation. It should be held up as an example of good practice in the church. The committee were made to feel very welcome by minister, Mrs Campbell, the Session and congregation alike. It should be commended for its stewardship as well as the money it brings in for other charities and causes. It was a pleasure to attend Session meetings because of the way each elder listens to others, and there is an excellent spirit of cooperation in the room, led by the minister himself. Although the work was done, and in a short time, there was a good relaxed atmosphere.

DELIVERANCES

Presbytery:

1. Receives the report.

2. Commends the Kirk Session for its hard work and diligence.

3. Commends the congregation for its good stewardship and giving of its time and talents to both church and other charities.

4. Commends the new use of space in Ancrum church and commends the Fabric Convenor for his project management of the refurbishment of churches and manse.

5. Encourages the church, the minister and Mrs Campbell in their ministry.

6. Encourages the church to find new ways of engaging with young people.

7. Encourages the church to look at new practices for stewardship.

8. Encourages continuing dialogue with colleagues and other denominations in the wider work of the church.

9. Commends the minister, Kirk Session and congregation to the gracious care of Almighty God.

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Ale & Teviot Church

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