Fintry Kirk Newsletter-Winter 2019

“And the Word became flesh and lived among us,
and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a Father’s only son,
full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

Christmas is approaching fast, the time when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the story of how the eternal God brought about our salvation by becoming a helpless child. It is hard to grasp in its entirety what this means, even how it can be that God will redeem us by becoming vulnerable like us. We mortals usually try our utmost to appear invincible, invulnerable, in control; we pride ourselves in not needing any help or support.
Somewhere down the line, we have learnt that we should be independent, that it is shameful to need help or to show weakness. We are usually much more comfortable with helping others than with accepting help. Moreover, at times of illness or crisis, or when we are becoming more frail and are not able to do all the things we used to do, we try to manage on our own - sometimes longer than we should. Not many of us are happy to admit to our need for help, even though we know that there is no one on this earth who has not at some time in their lives needed someone else, or will do so in the future. Still, we seem to think that life is about keeping up the pretense of strength and independence as long as we possibly can.
How wrong could we be! The apostle Paul tells in one of his letters of his experience of weakness, and of his prayer to God to make him strong, and of God’s answer to him, “My grace is all you need, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Paul learnt that as Christians we are free to acknowledge our faults and failings, our shortcomings and our weaknesses, because we know that God knows us and loves us just as we are. As Christians, we can trust in God's power to transform us, trust that God will use our ‘imperfect’ lives to share God’s love. We are not called to be perfect; we are called to be faithful.
In addition, it is maybe not surprising that it is Paul who repeatedly reminds his Christian friends that we are members of one body, the Body of Christ. Through him our lives are inextricably interwoven and we are called, not to try and do as much as we can on our own, but to follow Christ together. We of all people should know that there is no merit in claiming our independence, but instead to learn to let go of those stubborn tendencies to live without others, without God.
This is why the Good News of Christmas is so important for all of us, why we all need to hear it over and over again: The Creator of this world did not come to “sort the mess of this world out” with scary threats and by a show of strength. Instead, the Maker of the universe became human and vulnerable and even died on a cross, so that we might learn that our salvation does not lie in our strength but in our weakness. Only when we acknowledge our need for God and for each other and allow ourselves to be touched by the love of God will we find wholeness and healing.
The Good News is, “the Word became flesh”, the Word of Love that God has spoken to people for centuries is now tangible, there for all to see, wherever people live in the light of that love, wherever they share the love they found with each other, where people dare to be vulnerable and open for God's healing love.

In this special season when we remember the birth of Christ, may we open our hearts so that we can be reached by the love of God that came down at Christmas.

Wishing you a joyful Christmas and every blessing for the New Year,

Sigrid Marten

Guild News

Our first meeting on September 2nd 100s in the Menzies Hall where we all enjoyed Rhona McLeod’s reminisces of the 2018 Commonwealth games In Australia and Kenny Crawford’s supporting of the European Golf Tour. This was very well supported, and we sent £170 to the special unit of the Queen Elizabeth University hospital.
Celebrating Guild Week in September, we went to Mugdock for lunch and watched the film, The Guernsey Potato Peel Pie Book Club! It was thoroughly enjoyed by all.
On October 7th we had an open night at the Church with the Fine Kettle, where many other guilds joined us. It was an enjoyable musical evening, with accordions, guitar and keyboard.  On November 4th we had an excellent speaker from Dundee on one of our projects, The Sailor’s Society, as chaplains in the ports, they support the crews of many different types of ships, many without any knowledge of English.
On November 9th we held a coffee morning to collect 70 shoeboxes for Blytheswood. Thanks again to Kieran at Clydesdale Bank. These went to Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia.
On December 2nd we had Leslie Christie from the presbytery guild to culture us. Our usual meeting in January in Culcreuch Castle is cancelled due to closure but the sports club has kindly agreed to host us on January 14th at 4.30pm for 5pm. Joyce Begg is entertaining us, and we’d be delighted if anyone else would like to join us. 
On February 3rd we are having a film show from Anne Roy, apparently a wonderful photographer. Anne is the daughter-in-law of May & John Roy, late of Fintry. We enquired what “Start Up Stirling” were short of, as they are coming to our meeting on April 4th – apparently, it’s cash, so we elected to have a lunch at the Centre Criquete at 12.30pm on March 22nd for donations. Everyone welcome!

Helen Robb

Kirk Maintenance

SESSION HOUSE: This has been a busy and expensive period for your Kirk. We started last year with redecorating and painting the Session House, including new carpets and repairing many of the chairs, we also undertook some maintenance on the outside.

HEATING: At the beginning of the year, we had to replace the Kirk oil tank and associated items to bring the heating system into the 21 st century. The key person overseeing this work has been our Church officer, Hugh Edmund. Hugh has still to complete the safety fence that will surround the new oil tank.

DEFIBRILLATOR: Many of you will have noticed the new Defibrillator (AED) that has been installed to the right of the entrance door to the Session House. Fintry now has a defibrillator at the Hall, and two at the Sports Centre. Our thanks to the Fintry Community Council for organising this installation.

WHEELCHAIR AREA: We have removed one of the pews in the Kirk so that we now have a space for disabled and those who are in wheelchairs. If there are accompanying carers there is seating available behind the new wheelchair spaces. The pew that has been removed has been “loaned” to the planned Fintry Museum.

KIRK PATH: We are planning on upgrading the path to the Kirk front door. It is a very dangerous and slippery route, and the handrail is not something to be relied upon! We will need to identify some funding to help us defray the cost. However, we now have some quotes and this work could begin shortly. Once this path upgrade has been completed, we will look at the Kirk entrance door. For some reason in the distant past the door, which is a “bifold” door was bolted together to form one door. Our plan is to restore to the original design.

KIRK CEILING and ROOF: Many of you will have noticed that the ceiling in the Kirk is “moulting”. This is mainly due to ageing of the emulsion; in other words, it needs redecorating. This is not helped by a loss of some slates and holes in the roof. We have organised for the roof to be surveyed and we await the result. The roof repairs and painting of the ceiling could be an expensive outlay for your Kirk, so please watch this space!

ADVENT CANDLE HOLDER: The advent candle holder has been given a deep clean and essential repair undertaken, along with a coat of paint. Hopefully you will all be able to enjoy it over the next few weeks. 

Happy Christmas to you all!                                      Chris Drapper.

Pause for Thought

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them.
Genesis 1:27
The traditional Christian view of human origins begins with the narrative in the Book of Genesis, when God created the first human couple; Adam & Eve, in the Garden of Eden. While secular geneticists have tried to discredit this story as myth, insisting that we must have come from a pool of several thousand individuals, the latest scientific research has now cast doubt on these estimates. In 2013, the number was reduced to just four. Six years on, a collaboration between the American molecular biologist, Dr. Ann Gauger and Swedish population geneticist, Ola Hössjer, published an intriguing paper showing that it is possible for all of humanity to have come from a single pair of humans(n=2)! While the work is not a hard proof of Adam & Eve, it at least shows that a primordial single pair could indeed have given rise to all of humanity. For those who wish to look a little deeper, check out this link:
Science continues to affirm the Biblical narrative in new and surprising ways; a tool to understand His Glorious creation.

Neil English(ed.)

One Card for Fintry

“One Card for Fintry” will be supporting the newly created “Strathendrick Netball Club” this year.

Step 1:  You make a minimum donation of £1 (more if you feel like it!) at the bar and you will receive a postcard (or use your own card).

Step 2:   You write your Christmas message, ditty or doodle to your friends in Fintry on the postcard/your card.

Step 3:  You put it up on the Christmas message board, which will be located in the Sports Club entrance hall.

Step 4:  You take your time to read and enjoy all the seasonal messages of goodwill knowing that you have contributed to something worthwhile.

So, save so trees and a lot of your time by supporting One Card for Fintry.

Any questions/queries please contact Gail Reid.

Fintry Kirk Newsletter-Spring 2019

By the time this reaches you, the season of Lent will almost have started, those six weeks ending with Holy Week. This is one of the most important times in the Christian year because it is the time when we recall Jesus' last days in Jerusalem before his death on the cross. It starts on Palm Sunday when we celebrate his entry into Jerusalem, his short moment of glory when the frenzied crowds proclaimed him King.
There are many different ways to remember Christ’s suffering - the story of his Passion. In many Christian Churches there will be evening services held every night of Holy Week to follow Jesus on his journey to the cross. Some people will be going on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Holy Land, following in the footsteps of Jesus in the place where it all happened. Before I became a minister I sometimes went to Iona to spend Holy Week at Iona Abbey, and there are many other retreat centres all over the country which offer special programmes at that time.
People set aside time to reflect on those last days before Jesus died on the cross. It is a time to try to understand ever more the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection, the meaning his suffering can have for our lives. It is a time to look at Christ’s experience of the fickleness of crowds, of anger at the money lenders in the temple, of the special closeness with his friends at the Last Supper, of betrayal by someone he loved, of being captured, mocked, abused and sentenced to death.
Thinking about Christ’s suffering for many people becomes a time to look at their own painful experiences in life as well. It could be a time when we take these things to Christ in prayer because he knows about human suffering. We don’t need to pretend with him, we don’t need to put on a brave face for our God, God knows, God understands - and God offers to heal those memories, to make broken lives whole.
I believe it is important that we set aside some time during this week to meditate on Christ’s Passion, as a Church and as individuals. Otherwise Easter loses its meaning. We cannot have Easter without the story of the Passion. We cannot celebrate Christ’s resurrection if we ignore his suffering and his death on the cross. If we do not want Easter to become just a time for chocolate eggs and cute bunnies, we need to look at the whole story. The pain of the cross and the glory of the resurrection and new life belong together.
This is why we again have our united Maundy Thursday Service on 18 April at Fintry Kirk at 7 pm.
Please note: This service will take a slightly different format this year. We will meet in the Session House for a simple meal of soup and bread, remembering Jesus and his friends at their Last Supper. This will lead into sharing communion together around the tables, following the first disciples’ example.
It would be helpful for our preparations if you could let us know whether you are hoping to attend this service. We want to make sure we have room – and soup! – for everyone. Please contact the minister or your elder about this.
 Our united Good Friday Service will be in Balfron Church on 19 April at 7.30pm. We meet together for an Easter Breakfast in the Session House at 8.30am, followed by our Morning Service at 9.30 am on Easter Sunday, 21 April, to celebrate Christ’s resurrection and the new hope he has given us all. All are welcome at all of these services!"
May we all find signs of resurrection in our lives in this special season!


Prayer is important in our life of faith because it is how we stay in touch with God. This is is not just about words, it is about being in tune with the wisdom and the truths that we know through the teaching of Jesus and others before and after him. This is how we learn and grow in faith and trust, by stopping and becoming aware of God’s presence in our lives. It is good to take time to be still and listen for God’s voice. This is how we stay firmly rooted in God’s love. Jesus touches on how important it is for us to have strong roots and to grow flexible branches which can produce fruit, when he says,“I am the vine, you are the branches.” (John 15:5)

So we come to God in prayer to stay connected through Jesus, the vine. We take time to give thanks for all God’s creation, for the people around us, for blessings received.
Jesus encourages to bring our lives and the lives of others, our worries and our joys before God in prayer. Again, no words or formula are needed for this. God understands:
‘Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.’ (Matthew 6:8)
We may be aware of times when we have been unkind or selfish; of harsh words, careless comments; things done, things left undone. This quiet time can be an opportunity to offer up our less than perfect lives to God and ask for forgiveness. To all of us Jesus says,
“See, I make all things new…to the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.” (Revelation 21:5&6)
As members of a Christian community who can’t always be together, we want to connect during the week in prayer, wherever we are. The suggestion is that we take time each Wednesday at 12 noon to pray. We call this our WEDNESDAY PRAYER.
On Sundays we may make a suggestion for a particular concern that we invite you to remember that week. But this is also an opportunity to remember the wider community, neighbours, friends; our country and its politicians, God’s children in other parts of the world; our church friends, office bearers and minister, our neighbouring churches, fellow Christians in other denominations… the possibilities are endless!
We invite everyone to join us in prayer, as we look to deepen our roots and spread our branches, growing in faith and widening our hearts through the compassion of Christ. 
We also have set up a PRAYER TREE in Fintry Kirk at the back of the sanctuary.
Feel free to use one of the leaf-shaped pieces of paper provided to write down your prayer or the name of a place or a person that you want to pray for, and hang it on the Prayer Tree. For reasons of confidentiality, please don’t use last names. God knows which ‘Jimmy’ or ‘Jean’ you mean.
Once a month, all the leaves from the Prayer Tree will be gathered by our Prayer Group and all names will be included in the prayers at their meeting. After that, the papers will be destroyed.
The PRAYER GROUP of Balfron and Fintry churches meet every Tuesday evening at 7pm. On the first Tuesday of the month the meeting is in the Fintry Session House, the other weeks in Balfron Church. All are welcome! No previous experience needed.
In the book of Revelation we read of the dream that there is a tree of life planted in the community,
‘... and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.’ (Revelation 22:2)                              Sigrid Marten

Guild News

2019 started for the Guild with our annual high tea, most ably provided once again, by Culcreuch Castle and enhanced by an entertainment of folk music and dance offered by May and Paul Anderson. 

In February our speaker was Dr. Catherine McKinnon of the Vine Trust. This entirely voluntary organisation supports two boats, equipped with medical and dental facilities, which ply the upper reaches of the mighty Amazon together with its tributaries. They travel between the remote villages of this vast area, providing otherwise unobtainable health care. Dr. McKinnon spent six months on one of the boats and her talk, based on her experiences, was both interesting and truly inspiring.

Our March meeting will bring a Boy’s Brigade speaker to the village, when all well be welcome to join with the Guild. It promises to be a wonderful evening of past and contemporary information together with lots of shared experiences. Details of this open meeting can be found on the Kirk noticeboard. This can be found to the immediate left of the door to the Sports Club lounge.
This year 97 boxes were collected for the annual Shoe Box Appeal.

Rosie Walters

Pause for Thought:

All creatures look to you

    to give them their food at the proper time.
When you give it to them,
    they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
    they are satisfied with good things.
When you hide your face,
    they are terrified;
when you take away their breath,
    they die and return to the dust.
When you send your Spirit,
    they are created,

    and you renew the face of the ground.

                                                                               Psalm 104: 28-30

Many people seem to have accepted that evolution is a fact. However, the latest scientific consensus is now strongly suggesting otherwise. German palaeontologist and former Darwinist, Dr. Gunter Bechly, lays out the very latest evidence in this fascinating talk which can be viewed here:

Bechly provides solid evidence that suggests that the history of life on Earth involves many sudden stops and starts, with the gradualism predicted by Darwinists nowhere to be found! This comports perfectly with the Biblical view of progressive creationism, as proclaimed by the psalmist of old.

Neil English (ed.)

Fintry Kirk Newsletter – Winter 2018/19

Guild News

We opened this 18/19 session with Heather Stephenson telling us about her time with Voluntary Equal Students Abroad (VESA) through Strathclyde University – in South Africa. It was a so good to hear of young people getting such opportunities.
Our October meeting was with Maggie Lunan on Alternativity; Getting away from the Razmataz of Christmas. This was an open meeting, when we had meetings with other guilds.
In November we had Bill High showing us slides of Malawi which was so very interesting and with the guild’s help providing solar panels to power water pumps with the United Nations matching each one.
Sunday 18th November is the beginning of Guild Week, when we all take part in the service at 9.30am, led by Barbara McLeod. To celebrate on Friday the 23rd we went to Forth Valley College for lunch after which we were shown round the ‘Eugine Shed.’
We have some activities on Monday December 3, in preparation for Christmas and new year, when we wish you all a happy and meaningful time.
We start the new year as usual; on January 17th with High Tea at Culcreuch Castle, being entertained by Paul & Mary Anderson.
On February 4 we have Catherine McKinnon talking on the Vive trust in Peru.
On March 4 we have the Boys Brigade, one of our projects.
On Friday November 10 we collected 90 shoeboxes which are destined for eastern Europe. Thanks to all who contributed, especially Karen, Eileen & Ian’s daughter and friends.
On December 9 we collect gifts in the church for children and pass to Preschal in Glasgow.
Senior Citizens lunch is on the first Friday of every month in the sports centre.

Helen Robb

Harvest Thanks Giving Service and Harvest Home Lunch

Cauliflowers, carrots, cucumbers and courgettes all took pride of place at our Harvest Thanksgiving Service and Harvest Home Lunch.
Once again the congregation, gardeners, growers and farmers of Fintry donated a magnificent selection of fruit and vegetables for the day.
In the church so many boxes and baskets of fruit, vegetables, trays of duck and hen eggs and jars of jam were handed in, the display at the front of the church had to be increased in size.
During the service the minister thanked everyone for their kindness and generosity.
With only half of the donations on display in the church the other half –including carrots, onions, leeks, potatoes, turnip, apples and beef were taken to the Sports Club where Brenda and her staff worked their magic.
After the Harvest Thanksgiving Service almost 70 people gathered at the Sports Club for the traditional Harvest Home Lunch a celebration of the crops safely gathered in 
A packed room enjoyed a three-course meal of leek and tattie soup, beef casserole with vegetables and apple pie produced from the donated food.
After lunch all the church donations were taken to Glasgow where they were delivered to the Simon Community for the Homeless.
This is the fourth year the food has gone to the Simon Community expressed their gratitude to the people of Fintry.

Meg Duckworth

Fintry Kirk  - the original story   

Without a doubt, it is the Church that creates our original true community. 

Fintry has a story that goes back 3,000 years and beyond. We have evidence of people living in this sheltered hidden valley back to over a thousand years before Christ.  Yet we cannot give detail to these peoples. We can only imagine their existence.  Very likely living as separate groups around the valley; small numbers who would use the safety of a high point like Dunmore Hill to watch for the enemy and to retreat to in attack.    

But the one sure thing we can claim is that the formal unifier of this valley will be the Kirk.  People have been gathering to worship on the site of the present church for over 800 years!  This is before Wallace and Stirling Bridge, and Bruce and Bannockburn.  Think about that…   a continuous unbroken line of community gathering in our own wee village. Nothing else we have done since then can match that achievement. The Kirk is the true original heart of Fintry. 

Travel back to this point of 1207, when we first find a mention of the Church Parish of Fintry.  We have just completed the first uniting of Scotland from its separate kingdoms.  A significant time for us in Fintry to mark our re-birth. 
We could actually have been worshipping on this spot for hundreds of years before then, but we just don’t have any written proof. Certainly there are formal churches well established by then in places like Stirling and Falkirk.  Our own early kirk is dedicated to St Modan who was preaching in west central Scotland in the 6th century and who influenced places around us.  Could St Modan have even paused at Fintry in his travels?

Other evidence that worship here is much earlier than 1207 includes the fact that we have Maldonan, third earl of Fintry living in the 1200s at a motte, or Norman style castle, below Dunmore. At almost the same distance in the opposite direction was Sir John de Graham’s Castle at our end of the Carron reservoir.  Sir John’s family and predecessors may have been there even in the 1100s or earlier. An archaeological dig there last year confirmed this part of Fintry’s story.

A huge pride should be taken from the other roles of the Kirk.  Of course, back in the early Middle Ages, the whole country was Catholic and virtually everyone believed in God and went to Church every Sunday.  The same would happen in Fintry.  But even beyond worship, the Kirk would set the standards for behaviour and life in the community of Fintry.  It was effectively the early police and court.  The minister backed by the session, when it became a Protestant Church, would ensure that moral and social values were part of life.  If you committed a “crime”, the whole village would know when you were shamed in public on Sunday!  You might even be publically punished by being chained in “jouggs”* outside the kirk   -  the local equivalent of stocks. 

The church is the big proof that early Fintry, or Clachan (hamlet) of Fintry is all built round the east end of the valley. Culcreuch Castle may have been a mile westwards but the local community originally grew round the Kirk. The new village, Newton of Fintry, is of course a designed community from the 1700s. 

There is written proof that some form of church building on the present site goes back to at least 1207.  We can safely assume folk were gathering to worship here in Fintry way before that.  We certainly know that a Church is built here in 1633.  But this is surely a replacement building to improve on what was there before.   We know there is a record of ministers as far back as 1560.  One specifically named is George Auld, minister from 1586.  It is the only mention we have of 16th century minister, but lost records do not mean there were no ministers, nor church before 1560.  Rev. George Auld’s initials are on the very bell we hear every Sunday.  So our bell has been ringing in Fintry for well over 400 years!  

The Kirk Session records are full of details and events of real people and  life and death in Fintry over hundreds of years.  The oldest found copies are safely stored in Stirling Archives for anyone to see. The wonderful copperplate writing, old spellings and early Scots language all mean they are hard to decipher.  Definitely a job for someone with expertise and time. Who knows what gems are lying in them!  

Move forward to 1769 and Peter Spiers arrives in the valley.  He bought Culcreuch Castle then for £15,000.  That would be about £1.3million today! (Or back then a skilled craftsman would take over 500 years of work to earn that money!)  This changes everything for the Kirk.  Spiers builds the new village of Fintry a mile away, to provide workers’ homes for his new cotton mill.  The old Clachan of Fintry (hamlet) built around the church becomes the minor village. 

This is not the end of the church, but a revival.  The population booms from a few hundred to a peak of over 1600 at one point. (Today it is about 600).  The church must have been packed every week as back then, everyone went to church.  That road from the present Fintry to the Kirk would be absolutely filled every Sunday morning with hundreds of locals, putting on their “Sunday best” clothes to come together to worship. 

Just picture the social event that Sundays provided.  The whole village on their one day off a week (unless you were a farmer on seven days a week, with just a wee break for Kirk.)  The blethering and story-sharing on that journey must have been a huge Sunday treat. 

The Church did so much for the community back then.  The poor and elderly would be cared for in an early social security system of parish poor funds. The Church would back the provision of schooling for children long before free school for all was made law in 1872.

We can guess that Peter Spiers was one of the quiet benefactors who paid for the rebuild of the present church in 1823.  He was certainly a member of the Kirk Session until he died six years later in 1829.  

Lovely old customs give us a picture of life at the Kirk in the 1700s. The old graveyard used to be a place where the wives hung out their sheets to dry on the gravestones.  The beadle was ordered to pull the sheets off and throw them in the midden or dung heap to discourage them!  There must have been some amusing, angry verbal exchanges in the kirk-yard!   

David Smith, Chairman Fintry Museum Society 

*Jouggs were simple enough. An iron neck collar with a hinge at the back and loops at the front to allow a padlock to be used. They were usually used in conjunction with 'stocks' for the feet. Nasty!       

Remembrance Day

As dawn broke on Remembrance Sunday the haunting strains of a lone piper drifted through Fintry valley.
Outside the Kirk young Andrew Spence played an emotive lament.
Andrew was one of 1,000 pipers across Scotland, who played at 6 am to herald a series of commemorative events marking the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War on November 11th 1918.
Later in the morning the congregation and community gathered at the Kirk for a traditional Remembrance service led by Reader and retired Army officer Alastair McPherson from Dunblane.
The church was decorated with Flanders poppies in memory of the 12 men from Fintry who gave their lives during the conflict.
During the service a poppy wreath was laid on behalf of the congregation by Chris Drapper, Clerk to the Congregational Board. Ken Smith, Chairman of Fintry Community Council laid a second on behalf of the community.
At 7 o’clock in the evening the congregation and community gathered again at the Kirk for a Bells for Peace service led by the minister Rev. Sigrid Marten
Although the Armistice was signed at the 11th hour on the 11th day in 1918 it did not come into force for six hours “until all hostilities had ceased on the Western Front, on land and sea”.
Around the world Bells for Peace services were held at exactly the same time. In Fintry it was 7 pm while across the world it was at all times of night and day.
In Fintry the church bell was pealed at exactly 7.05 pm, as others were ringing simultaneously in five continents around the world.

Meg Duckworth                                                          


Fintry Kirk Newsletter – Autumn 2018

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil;
for you are with me; your rod and your staff – they comfort me.”
(from Psalm 23)

Hello, everyone!


What a time we have had! It has been a whole year since I wrote to you in the church newsletter.  I have had to take so much time off out of the past three years, following surgery and illness and the separation from my husband, that it feels as if I need to start afresh in getting to know what is going on in the life of the church and in the lives of people connected with our community. I have missed much of what has been going on, not least the lovely redecoration work in the Session House. It all looks so well-kept and ‘ship-shape’ now, ready to be put to good use.

I would like to thank our Session Clerk, Meg Duckworth, the guest preachers, all the office-bearers and many helpers who have been working hard looking after the business of the congregation. It has been a relief for me to know that things were well attended to.

Maybe even more importantly, I know that you have continued to look after each other. The Flower Team, the Elders, the Prayer Group, and the many visible and invisible webs of friendship and care among the congregation are an important way of staying in touch and supporting each other. Not everything may be perfect, and sometimes we may miss something or lose sight of someone. But I have a real sense that there is a will to “bear one another’s burdens”, as the apostle Paul calls it.

In many ways the past year has been devastating and difficult for my family and me. Being in pain, whether physical or mental,  is very hard for all of us.  And being in the ‘valley of the shadow of death’ that Psalm 23 speaks of is not easy. But in my experience, there is no short-cut. We need to go through that dark and difficult place and deal with what is in front of us, before we can find ourselves on those green pastures again. That is an on-going process.
In his poem ‘What is man?’ Waldo Williams writes, “What is believing? Holding out until relief comes.” In the same way, we may want to ask: What is faith? “Holding on to God’s hand, and not letting go – ever!,” I want to say. We are not alone, even when we feel very alone. We are held safely, gently, firmly.

In the past months, many people have reached out to me. I am very grateful that I have had support from the wider Church of Scotland, from colleagues, members of the congregation, neighbours, friends and family. I have appreciated that people wanted to make contact, but it was equally important that I had space to work out for myself what I needed.

Through all this I have been reminded of the importance of pastoral care, the way we as Christians choose to stay connected and to care for one another, sharing in the healing love of God which we know through Jesus.

This will always be the work of the whole people of God, but in the church we also have people, like the Elders, who have been given the special task to stay in touch and be aware of special needs and crises in people’s lives. As the minister I am one part of that wider circle of pastoral care. That has been difficult for me during the many months of being unwell and being away from the life of the church, and this has been frustrating for me, and I imagine, at times for you too. Now that I am back, I would like to re-connect and listen. But I also need to be realistic in what I can do after having been unwell for such a long time. My time as a shared minister between Fintry and Balfron will continue to be limited, and I will have to pace myself and work with my damaged back.

So, just to avoid confusion, I would like to say:

Please don’t assume I have heard about your situation through the grapevine. Instead,  I invite anyone who would like a visit from me to let me know, either through an elder, or by contacting me directly. I may not be able to see you immediately, but we will work something out. And please, continue to look out for each other, sharing the light and the love of Jesus Christ.

With many blessings,

Sigrid Marten

MARCH – MAY 2016
Hello everyone,
“Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians (6:2)
These words of the apostle Paul to the Christians in Galatia sum up for me much of what being the Church means. Although there are many things that occupy our time and that need our attention in our life as a congregation, many aspects of our life as a body of people who need to be organised, very practical things, often important things, we must never forget the reason why we belong to Christ’s body, the Church.
Through Jesus we know that loving God and loving our neighbour are inextricably bound up together, that we are called together to embody the love that we have found. We are called by Christ to be the Church, not because Jesus thought it was important to set up another institution, but in order to be his body, serving the world that he loves so much.
This is something we cannot do on our own. Even when Jesus sent out his first disciples to heal and to teach, he sent them out in sets of two. Together we pray that our lives may become more Christ-like. Together we strive to learn how to live the life of the kingdom that he has promised us. Together we seek to support one another on our journey of faith. Together we take the Good News to those around us.
“Bearing one another’s burden” is one way of how we share the love of God. It is not something that only ministers or elders or adults or young or strong people can do – we do this for one another. Of course, usually we cannot solve another person’s problem for them, but we can listen to their story, we can look out for them, we can share the burden by knowing about it, we can pray for each other, and every now and then there is a bit of practical support we can offer.
But all this is only possible if we are as willing to accept the support of others as to offer it to them.  If we only want to give, we are in danger of turning this gift of mutual support into a power game. If we want to be the strong one, the giver, all the time, might that not imply that we think it is shameful to need another person’s support, a sign of failure perhaps? Is that maybe why it sometimes takes us so long to ask for help?
As a church we want to look out for each other, and we have got systems for visiting in place. Sometimes it takes more than systems, and sometimes the systems need improving, but there is also a need to let each other know that we would love for someone to visit us, for example, or whether we would rather they respected our privacy.
Most of us will have been taught through life that strength and independence are worth striving towards and holding on to. For many areas of life this may be true, but only to a certain extent. There comes a time when we could harm our own well-being by insisting on being independent. There are times when it is foolish to want to rely on our strength alone.
Most of us will come up against our own limitations at some point in our lives, some sooner, some later. Are we going to wait until that time before we embrace the truth that Christ teaches us: that we belong together, that as God’s children we are called to be companions on our journey together, sharing our strengths and weaknesses, our joys and our sorrows? Or can we open our hearts to God’s truth now that we are called to bear one another’s burdens and live as the Body of Christ together? In the words of one of our hymns,
“Brother, sister, let me serve you, let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant too.”
With every blessing to you all in this season of Lent and Easter,

 7 STATION ROAD. BALFRON, G630SX  01360 440 285


4 March 7pm World Day of Prayer Service in Balfron Church
6 March 9.30am Communion Service (Rev. Moira MacCormick)
13 March 9.30am Morning Service (Rev. Dr. Valerie Allen)
16 March 7pm Annual Stated Meeting
20 March 9.30am Palm Sunday Service (Rev. Dr. Valerie Allen)
24 March 7pm United Maundy Thursday Service in Fintry (Rev. Dr. Valerie Allen
25 March 7pm United Good Friday Service in Balfron (Rev. Dr. Valerie Allen)
27 March 9.30am Easter Sunday Service (Rev. Dr. Valerie Allen)
3 April 9.30am Morning Service (Rev. Dr. Valerie Allen)
10 April 9.30am Morning Service (Rev. Dr. Valerie Allen)
13 April 7pm Kirk Session Meeting
17 April 9.30am Morning Service (Rev. Dr. Valerie Allen)
24 April 9.30am Morning Service (Rev. Dr. Valerie Allen)
1 May 9.30am Morning Service
8 May 9.30am Morning Service
11 May 7pm Congregational Board Meeting
15 May 9.30am Morning Service
22 May 9.30am Morning Service
29 May 9.30am Morning Service
5 June 9.30am Communion Service

Margaret Cameron, Bridgeview Nursing Home, Dundee
1st Friday of the month, come and join us for good company, soup, sandwiches, scones, cakes tea and coffee.£5.00
Contact Margaret, on 860288
                           DUNSWATER TRUST ENDOWNMENT FUND
The Church has a small fund for the benefit of people living in the Parish of Fintry who might value a little financial assistance. Distribution of money is at the discretion of the Minister and is intended for example for one-off items and purposes such as a winter coat or school shoes for a child, assistance with travel costs to visit ill relatives or essential items to enable a student to attend college. If anyone feels they could be helped by this fund contact the Minister, the Rev Sigrid Marten, in complete confidence.
Please remember if you are on door duty to give assistance to Ian White to record the collection.
Fintry Guild members enjoyed a fun evening at Culcreuch in January and thoroughly enjoyed David and Jackie Smith’s performance of Tam O’Shanter.
The Guild Syllabus for the next 3 months is as follows:
March 7th, 7.30pm: Ascension Trust- Street Pastors Project.
Street Pastors are trained volunteers, with a Christian commitment, who go out into the streets in all weathers to listen, care and help people. They take the church to the street. Street Pastors are usually on the street from 10.00pm to 3.00am on one or more weekend nights. It is hoped that the legacy from this partnership with the guild is that communities will feel safer. Come and hear more about this valuable community service supported by the National Guild.
April 4th 7.30pm: Christian aid- Caring for Mother Earth in Bolivia.
Christian aid was 70 years old last year and is concentrating on climate change. Millions of Bolivians are struggling to survive in what is one of the poorest countries in the world. There is a new team in Bolivia to manage this project. Working with the Bolivian partners, they will provide assistance to more than 700 families. Climate change, and large scale deforestation, are causing water shortages in the higher villages and flooding in the lower villages. The rainwater runs off the mountains with the absence of tree cover. Crops are also affected. Come and hear how this is being tackled through the help of Christian Aid and supported by the National guild.
This year’s World Day of Prayer comes from Cuba. The theme is: “Receive Children, Receive Me” It will take place at Balfron Church on March 4th at 7.30pm. All are encouraged to attend and join in the celebration with other congregations around the world.
Easter Sunday March 27th
Fintry Guild are delighted to invite you to join us, once again, to share a heart-warming breakfast before the Easter Sunday service. Rolls and bacon will be served along with toast, cereal, fruit juice, tea/coffee and large helpings of good company and friendship. Everyone is welcome and breakfast will be served from 8.30am to 9.15am in the session house. Don’t forget the clock goes forward!
Afternoon Teas April 9th and May 14th.
The famous guild afternoon teas will be on the 2nd Saturday of the month in April and May instead of the first Saturday due to weddings in the church. Our regular customers will tell you that the home baking and the friendly atmosphere and good company are well worth the wait.
For the rest of the summer the afternoon teas will be on the first Saturday of the month as usual from 2.00pm to 4.00pm in the session house.
The guild afternoon teas have been a successful venture for many years so don’t miss out, come and join us. You can also buy homemade cake to take home and visit the beautiful Fintry kirk.
Fintry Guild AGM and Hotpot supper is on May 2nd 6pm. Members will bring a variety of food as well as items that tell a story and/or a poem, a joke, a song, an impression or any other form of entertainment. This is a great way to finish our year together and to plan for the next so please come and support the Guild.
The guild is a movement within the Church of Scotland, which invites and encourages both women and men to commit their lives to Jesus Christ and enables them to express their faith in worship, prayer and action.
Come and join us and know that you are welcome.
Pam Jackson Chair.

Fintry Church of Scotland is a Scottish Charity.
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