In 1864 Christ Church Falkirk was consecrated on the 13th of April by the Rt Rev’d F B Morrell, Bishop Coadjutor (eh?) of Edinburgh. The site of the church was given by William Forbes of Callendar and subscriptions to the extent of £1350 were obtained. Episcopalians in this area had been served by St Andrew’s Dunmore from 1850 and prior to that in various meeting places.
On Saturday 31 May we held a Festival Eucharist to celebrate our 150 years here in Kerse Lane. (13 April being Palm Sunday and rather wet so were we glad we’d moved the date for we had the most gloriously sunny day.) The planning for our big day has been going on for about a year, with Gill McMillan at the helm of the planning group. Invitations were handmade and sent to clergy past, Bishops who were once curates, old friends, ecumenical friends, Area Council colleagues, and the great and the good of Falkirk and surrounding areas. All altar servers were invited to take part – well, you can’t have too many servers in a procession I say. Last year everyone was asked to donate £150 if they could, either as a one-off gift or as a tenner a month, and we raised over £10,000.
Bishop John came to celebrate and we had two old curates there too: Bishop Douglas Cameron (retired of Argyll & The Isles) to preach and Bishop Bob Gillies, Aberdeen and Orkney to read the gospel. Past clergy included David Bruno, Duncan McCosh, Rodney Grant, and John Penman. We had asked folk to bring along old photos of the building and the people and greatly enjoyed reminiscing about the good old days (and laughing at those perms and full heads of hair!) Bishop Douglas’ sermon was pitched perfectly and I know a lot of folk want to read it again so it will go in our next magazine for those who missed it too.
The sun shone, the bishops arrived wearing shades, and our new St Andrew’s chapel was blessed too. This little crypt chapel had fallen into serious disrepair and been used as a workshop by a past priest who was also a handyman and had become a dumping ground for all sorts of rubbish. Over the past few months we’ve had it rewired, painted, carpets laid, furniture gifted by Erskine Parish Church which recently closed, and it is now a beautiful worship space. Lots of volunteers have worked really hard to make it work and I am so proud of them.
Lunch was catered by our local College which gave the students practice to show off their skills and Elaine made us a splendid cake with a gingerbread model of the church. Everyone agreed it was a great day and so good to catch up with old friends. Let’s hope we manage another 150 years.
W is an altar server at Christ Church. He’s been a server for about 60 years and is the most reliable of souls. In fact, it was only when he developed a heart condition a few months ago that he was unable to carry on serving. But after a few weeks at home and then in the pews he was back again waving a thurible about and pottering around the altar looking after things, albeit with a bit of a shake. W used to be an electrician and was a great handyman around the church and rectory for many years, fitting lights and showers and ovens and such like. But it came to pass that W just wasn’t able to climb ladders as he once did and we now have to outsource our electrical needs.
This week Christ Church is celebrating its 150th anniversary and there is going to be a big do on Saturday. Three bishops are coming, along with all the other guests. (Two bishops were once curates here – Bishop Bob of Aberdeen & Orkney, and Bishop Douglas, retired of Argyll & The Isles.) Of course we want everything looking spick and span for the great day and one of the jobs needing doing was fitting some new light bulbs in church. This involves a climb up a very tall ladder (Health & Safety Office look away now!) and we are running out of fit volunteers to do this kind of job. So we had to call in our local lovely electricians Robertsons to do the job and they did a grand job too.
I was telling W when we were setting up the altar on Saturday when he was in doing sacristy stuff. “I really miss not being able to do all these jobs for church,” he said. And it was said in such a heartfelt way. That made me think of all the folk who now make up most of our little flock who used to be active members, sharing their skills to keep the wheels turning. The joiners and electricians and metal-workers and bank managers and everyone who brought their ‘transferrable skills’ to be used at Christ Church. For 150 years those people have kept the Episcopal presence in Falkirk and shared their expertise as a form of ministry. And how frustrating they must now feel that they can’t do it any more.
Do these once-upon-a-time movers and shakers sit in the pews and wonder what we’re doing with their legacy? Like W, do they all wish they could do more? It must be really hard for them. Frustrating, possibly. I came to the conclusion we really must treasure them all the more. We had a funeral last week of a lady who, with her late husband, had been really involved with Christ Church in their younger days. Without them all Christ Church just wouldn’t be the church it is today. At our 150th anniversary it is to them we must give thanks.
W doesn’t realise, of course, how valuable he still is at Christ Church. He serves at the altar, he does the Sacristy on a rota and helps as Sidesperson when he’s not doing everything else. His lovely wife does the altar linens too and without them we’d be lost. W had a fall yesterday coming out of church bringing back lovely starched fair linen cloths. Not serious but it gave them a fright.
So let us give thanks for W and all those whom we sometimes take for granted. And let us pray for a speedy recovery for W, that he may be fit for Saturday’s celebrations.