You have probably recently heard comments that ‘oor kirk’ ’ was asking for mair money again. Unfortunately what you may or may not have heard is the truth. A more gentle way of asking for ‘mair money’ is to say that we are having a Stewardship Campaign. In other words we are having to look at our finances just we have to do in our own household. How much is in our purse at the end of the week?
At a Kirk Session meeting earlier in the year a decision was taken to ‘go for it’ We really had to take a good look at things in a realistic approach. Celebrating 225 years as Annan Old Parish Church we have strong a legacy of survival to maintain the upkeep of the church building, the hall and the manse.
As the 225 celebrations drew to a close the work of the Stewardship Committee began. Two gatherings were arranged and invitations to every household on the church roll were sent out. After a tremendous amount of effort by many folks the evening gathering and afternoon gathering were great. It may well have been the thought of an Annan Old plate of soup or just that you wanted to know more but I believe both gatherings were peculiar to the usual, friendly atmosphere so familiar to our members and friends whenever they meet. Everyone who came in was given a warm welcome.
After opening the meeting with prayer Esther Bicket handed over to husband John to state some hard facts about the current financial situation in Annan Old. Did we know that it costs £6,000 a year for heating and lighting? Did we know on average it costs £1,350 each week to maintain our church and its work? Or, the music including licences, organ and piano maintenance, annually costs a staggering £3,500? But, on the plus side if a tax payer signs a Gift Aid Declaration the church can recover 25p in each pound given. Are we mindful also of the fact that Annan Old has to send £3,500 each month for Ministry and Mission?
The reason for the gatherings is simply ‘to look to the future – the future of a church which has been the centre of a community for 225 long years. A church which has seen lots and lots of laughter, love and tears and, God willing, will continue to flourish.
Doris Gebbie, a relatively newcomer to Annan Old said how much she and her husband had become part of Annan Old and now feel very much part of our church family. Doris, in her short talk said that our ‘giving to God’s church’ is not only time, talent and money but it is about ‘giving ourselves’
It wouldn’t’ be Annan Old if everything always went to plan. Dave Paul had bravely written a short sketch with ‘sisters’ Mary and Martha waiting at the church gate to go into Coffee ad Chat when they were approached by a ‘slick ( not so young) reporter Simon Hardcastle who was currently making a documentary about why people still come along to this church. Through great hilarity and a few promptings from ‘Mrs Hardcastle’ the message rang out loud and clear. There is SO SO much going on in Annan Old.
In her inimitable, unassuming manner, Martha, alias Doris Shiels soon put Simon in his place. Sunday morning worship, Sunday Club, Ten Plus Group, Friendship Club, Singing Group, Sew What, The Guild, Toddlers, Prayer Time, Bible Study, Grace Space, Fridays in Faith, Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Appeal, Turn on the Tap, Kate’s Kitchen, Food Bank and Toiletries for Women’s Aid . An inordinate amount of outreach into the wider world just goes on, and on and on. Closer to home, a monthly service offered at Lydiafield Residential Home is always special and really appreciated . We are privileged to be part of that too.
Simon, by this stage, knew he was no match for Martha so, head hung low, accepted an invitation to go into the hall for coffee . But, there was more than coffee on the menu. Simon’s ears pricked up, someone was singing….. ALL ARE WELCOME IN THIS PLACE ….as more and more voices sang out, the welcome which had been present in the past, was present that day, and with God’s blessing will ring out for many, many more years. We hope Simon enjoyed his coffee and his ‘come-upance!!!’
As the gatherings came to a close Liz Collett took the floor to endorse the feelings of the previous speakers. As Liz said, there is so, so much going on so it is our job to ‘go out and tell’.
To rewind to the beginning, it is surely not unfortunate that we need more money. If there was nothing happening, as in our own household if we didn’t need to eat or keep warm, or run the family here, there and everywhere there would be fewer big bills.
We are truly blessed in Annan Old Parish Church that we have so many super folk who give their all to keep a roof over our heads. There is so much for everyone from day old babies at the Toddler Group to the 98 year olds who grace our pews on a Sunday morning.
As Liz Collett said, our next big celebration, 250 years will see her even older than 80 plus VAT. Long live all who celebrate here.