Halkirk-Westerdale newsletter

Watten, Bower, Halkirk -Westerdale Churches’ Newsletter
March 2015
Dear Friends
Something old … something new
We do traditional things at this time of year. But this year, there are some new features to add to the traditional ones:

We emerge from winter into spring during March and that might bring some of  us out of our homes on a Sunday and into church , like hibernating nature waking up from winter slumber. The Halkirk and Bower services will be in their halls up to Easter, which are warmer than the church sanctuaries.

We celebrate Mothering Sunday on the 4th Sunday in Lent. This year it is 15th March. Come and celebrate it in church with the company of some of the Mother’s of the Bible and the history of the church.

Palm Sunday is 29th March this year. We will have Communion at Halkirk that day. On the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, may He be welcome into our lives as we remember his self-giving on the cross.

Easter Day is on 5th April. It is also the weekend of the Northern Nashville in Halkirk. We are inviting the Nashville-go-ers to come to our Easter Day service at Halkirk and to celebrate it with Country Gospel Easter songs of praise. Any musicians would be welcome to come and play along with us. We will have a musical tribute to the late George Hamilton IV who died last September and who did so much to link Country Music festivals to local churches during his lifetime. Easter Day Gift envelopes are distributed with the Halkirk newsletters as usual.

It is also the time of year for Stated Annual Meetings  receiving Annual Accounts. This year’s review will show that our congregations are all struggling to meet our running costs from our offering income. We will needs to remedy that situation: please consider increasing your  offerings. Please support our fund raising efforts.  Please support our annual gift days.

In Watten, there will be an Auction Sale on Friday evening, 8th May in the village hall. Please support the event by donating articles for sale, then coming to make sure everything sells for a good price. Councilor A I Willie Mackay will be our auctioneer.

In Bower, we are going to have our next Coffee Morning at the Thurso British Legion on Friday 22nd May, and then a Scottish film Quiz night in the church hall on Friday 29th May. Then we will have a sponsored Route March from Bower School to the Bower Community Hall on 14th June.  It will have a World War One theme, with prizes for the best costumes and modes of transport.

With your support for these various church service and fund raising events, we will continue to be the church in our communities. But without the support of our congregations, we will fail our Lord, and our communities. Like re-emerging spring flowers, let us grace God’s house with our signs of life.
Yours in the Master’s service
Rev Alastair Gray

Our church buildings:
Bower suffered storm damage in January to the coping stones on the wall head above the front door. That has been repaired and an insurance claim submitted. We are also waiting word about a Government scheme roofing grant for listed places of worship. The redecoration of Halkirk has been delayed until we have a heating consultant’s visit to advise on insulating walls and windows. We are awaiting some roof maintenance work on Watten Church which we hope will be done in the springtime. 

Funerals: (since December)
Alan Roberts, Lowwood on 9th December at Bower
Helen Campbell, formerly of Bain Place, on 15th Dec. at Watten
Paul Lee, Monygairn, Clayock, on 17th December at Halkirk
Keith Marden, Nissedale, George Street, on 12th January at Halkirk
Catherine Brims, riverside home, on 20th January at Watten
John Rainford, 4 MacIntosh Pace, Thurso on 7th February
Donald ‘Deedles’ MacLeod, 15 Bain Pl, on 27th February at Watten
John McLeod, 4 Laurie Place, Thurso on 28th February at Bower

Friday 6th   2 p.m. The World Day of Prayer service this year is at Halkirk The material comes from Bahamas this year.

Sunday 8th service theme: Seated with Christ’ (symbolism from medieval pew carvings and Bible teaching about our status in Christ). Watten monthly retiring offering for the Fabric Fund.

Friday 13th 6 p.m. Watten Church office bearers meeting to approve the annual accounts.

Saturday 14th 10.30 a.m. Bower Stated Annual Meeting  to receive and approve the annual accounts.

Sunday 15th Mother’s Day services. Service theme: Mothers of the Bible
Sunday 15th 3 p.m. We lead the service at Pulteney House

Wednesday 18th 7.30p.m. Halkirk-Westerdale Church office bearers meeting to approve the annual accounts.

Wednesday 18th 7.30 p.m.- 9 p.m., in St Peter’s and St Andrew’s Church, Thurso - ‘’Defending Life and Liberty’- a pre-election meeting of the Christian Institute.

Wednesday 18th  2.30 p.m. the Bower and Watten Guild provides afternoon teas and devotions at Achvarasdal Home.

Saturday 28th, 3 pm. (Pulteney Centre) & Wednesday 1st April  7.30 p.m. (Thurso High School) Caithness Orchestra Spring Concerts.

Sunday 22nd Stated Annual Meetings are combined with the morning services at Hakirk at 10 a.m . and at Watten at 11 a.m. At Bower our theme is ‘ Sacrifice in famous films’

Sunday 29th Palm Sunday services. Communion at Halkirk

Thursday 2nd  2 p.m. Halkirk and Westerdale Guild meeting. Janet Mowat will speak of her visit to  Spinalonga: the leper Island.

Thursday 2nd   7 p.m. Maundy Thursday service at Dunnet Church using the traditional Long Table.

Friday 3rd  7 p.m. Joint Good Friday service at Canisbay for the Central Grouping of Parishes.

Sunday 5th  Easter Day. Country Gospel service at Halkirk at 10 a.m. Family services at Watten and Bower. . Retiring offering for Christian Aid at Bower Church.

Friday 29th May (St John’s Episcopal Church, Wick), and Monday 1st May  (St Peter’s Episcopal Church, Thurso) 7.30 p.m. Wick Choral Society Spring Concerts.

Tuesday 5th 7 p.m. Caithness Presbytery in Wick St Fergus Church

Thursday 7th  2 p.m. Halkirk & Westerdale Guild AGM and planning meeting

Friday 8th 7 p.m. Watten Church Auction Sale in the Watten Village Hall.

Friday 22nd  10 a.m. – 12 noon Bower Church Coffee Morning in the Thurso British Legion. Produce and baking stall and hamper raffle.

Saturday 15th General Assembly begins in Edinburgh. Our minister is a commissioner this year.

Friday 29th 7.30 p.m. Scottish Film Quiz Night in Bower Church Hall

Sunday 7th Watten Church Annual Gift Day, and Sunday Club presentations

Sunday 14th 1.30 p.m. Bower Church Route March after the service, from the School to the Community Centre.



Bower, Halkirk-Westerdale and Watten Churches Newsletter
December 2014

Bower Church of Scotland, Charity no. SC 001363
Halkirk-Westerdale Church of Scotland, charity no. SC 008544
Watten Church of Scotland, charity no. SC 003365

Dear friends,
Advent Sunday falls this year on St Andrew’s Day,30th November,  which makes me think of Scottish influences in the celebration of Advent and Christmas.

     In our hymn books, some of the great carols are Scottish Paraphrases – portions of Scripture set to poetry and music by folk like the Rev John Morison of Canisbay Parish in the 1730’s. Other Christmas hymns in our new hymnary are set to Scottish folk tunes, dance tunes and playground songs. Let us enjoy them this year.

     Among Christmas stories are Scottish ones with timeless truths that apply all round the world. See the ‘Storyteller’ section of the church website for a set of these for December. They will also feature in our December Sunday services.

     Scots language also tell the Christmas story. Our Bible readings during December church services will be in various Scots dialects. There is something heart-warning and couthy about our native tongue- it seems to say, ‘This word is for you and me.’

     The ‘Thought for the Day’ section of the church website has had a Scottish focus over the last three years: first with Scottish islands, then with Scottish castles, and now with Scottish church buildings. These are being linked each week with descriptions of the church in the Bible. As you look at these, perhaps you might think, ‘Am I/are we measuring up to these marks of the church? Are we leaving a mark on the landscape of life, not just the map of a country?’

     Another part of the website devotions – ‘On a Wing and a Prayer’ - also has a Scottish dimension for December. We list birds under their Scottish names. That might bring to mind some Scottish songs and poems, or the remembered voices of our grandparents. These birds call us to prayer and worship, as Jesus once said they would do.

          Another part of the website devotions – ‘Storyteller’ - also has a Scottish dimension for December. The Christmas story is told each day of the month with a variety of Scots language articles – poems, hymns, dramas, readings and stories. They are extracted from my own ‘Scottish Voices’ Bible Commentary I use from time to time.

     And what of Scottish Christmas decorations? Our evergreen Christmas trees and wreaths, painted pine cones, Christmas logs, holly sprays, peat and log fires – they all come from our own landscape.

     Then crown your Christmas season with worship at your local church. Your own voices are better vehicles of the Christmas message than all the professional choirs and chart toppers that the world can produce. If you want some quality Christmas music, just add a measure of our local musicians – the Wick Choral and the Caithness orchestra concerts will thrill you. So the celebration of our national culture will not only begin and end on 30th November this year, but will continue right through December. Let’s be part of it to make the message of ‘God with Us’ all the more real this year.

Yours in the Master’s service

Alastair Gray

Duncan Neil Gray and Campbell Lachlan Gray, The Manse, Watten,
on 19th August at Bower

Cissie Coghill, Thor Wynd, on 23rd August (Bower Cemetery)
Agnes MacDonald, Strathcoul, on 12th September (Halkirk)
Alice Gough, Pentland View, on 16th September (Halkirk)
David Parker, 29 Sinclair Lane , on 19th September (Halkirk)
Billy Williamson, Oldhall, on 19th September (Watten)
Brenda Fletcher, Rockeljay, Watten,  on 5th October (Watten)
Mary Sutherland, Sinclair Square, on 10th October (Halkirk)
Shelagh Macleod, formerly Halkirk,  on 25th October (Halkirk cemetery)
John Andrews, Clayock, on 28th October (Halkirk)
Anne Flett, Corrigal, Watten, on 12th November (Thrumster)
Donad MacKillop, Pulteney House, on 18th November ((latheron)

Monday 1st, 6 p.m. The first of the Light up a Life Highland Hospice carols services takes place at the Caithness General Hospital

Tuesday 2nd ,7 p.m. Caithness Presbytery meets at Thurso West Church

Thursday 4th, 2 p.m. Halkirk and Westerdale Guild Christmas theme meeting, with a floral art demonstration. The  Bower and Watten Guild are warmly invited to come.

Friday 5th, 7-9 p.m. and Saturday 6th, 2.30 p.m. ‘Alice the Musical’ - Halkirk Village Council Drama Group production in collaboration with Eden Court Creative with local children.

Saturday 6th, 1 p.m. Bower Senior Citizens' lunch.

Saturday 6th, 7.30 - 9.30 p.m. Christmas Watten young people's Disco (primary 4 and over).

Sunday 7th, Communion Sunday at Bower. All Christians are invited to share in our Communions, regardless of which branch of the church we were brought up in or belong to.

Sunday 7th, 2-4 p.m. Watten Christmas party - (primary 3 and under). in the Watten Village Hall.

Sunday 7th, 4 p.m. Gift day service in St Peter’s and St Andrew’s Church, Thurso.

Tuesday 9th, 2 p.m. Bower and Watten Guild meets at Bower.

Friday 12th, 7 p.m. Concert by Watten School in the Village Hall. The Enormous Turneep (p.1-3 children), and ‘The Real St. Nick’ (p.4-7 children)

Sunday 14th , 11 a.m. Watten Communion. ’Come, the feast is spread’

Tuesday 16th, 2 p.m.. Bower School Christmas service in Bower Church.

Thursday 18th, 7.30 p.m. Wick Choral Society annual Carol Concert in Wick St Fergus' Church, with the Caithness Orchestra also playing.

Thursday 18th, 2 p.m., Halkirk School Christmas service in the church

Friday 19th , 11. a.m., Watten School service in church.

Saturday 20th, 10.30 a.m. Bower  Congregational Board

Sunday 21st , Christmas family services at all three congregations

Sunday 21st, 2.15 p.m. Caithness General Hospital Chapel

Sunday 21st , 2.30 pm. Caithness Orchestra carol concert in St Peter's and St Andrew's Church, Thurso.

Wednesday 24th, 11.15 p.m. Christmas Eve Watchnight service at Halkirk Church for all three congregations. (The offering is for Christine Stone's missionary teaching work in Nepal)

Thursday 25th, 11 a.m. Christmas Day service at Canisbay Kirk

Sunday 28th . Joint service at Bower at 12.15 p.m.

Monday 29th, 10.30 a.m. Watten Congregational Board

The Halkirk-Westerdale Congregational Board will meet whenever we receive the architects' report from their visit in October.
2015 - January - 

Sunday 4th  Joint service at Watten at 11 a.m.

Thursday 8th 2 p.m. Halkirk-Westerdale Guild, ‘Crete and the island of Spinalonga, a former leper colony ’ by Janet Mowat.

Tuesday 20th 2 p.m. Bower-Watten Guild.  Mrs Catherine Paterson, ‘World War One’

Halkirk-Westerdale, Bower and Watten
Parish Church  Newsletter

August 2014

Bower Church of Scotland, Charity no. SC 001363
Halkirk-Westerdale Church of Scotland, charity no. SC 008544
Watten Church of Scotland, charity no. SC 003365

Dear Friends
 ‘The leaves that are green turn to brown’
So runs the Simon and Gartfunkel song, which illustrates its own summary of life: ’ Time hurries on’

The Bower Church Flower Festival  in June was a great success. The  addition of a cartie competition for children, and teas for the visitors gave it a garden party atmosphere.  The theme of ‘The Last Summer of Innocence’ made it one of the first events of 2014 to mark the start of the First World War.

In our churches during the summer, we have had two joint services on 6th and 13th July at Halkirk and at Watten. These were better supported than previous shared worship times,  so thank you to all who travelled to another church.  During that period, we were enjoying being in a different manse- on Stronsay, Orkney while I conducted the services on Stronsay and on Eday.  That involved a bit of small boat travel as well as the Northern Isles Ferries.  Bird life on these islands have populated the ‘On a Wing and a Prayer’ part of our church website for two months.
The Commonwealth  Games in Glasgow  from 23rd July to 3rd August inspired our illustrated sermon thoughts  during that period, as we shared in the ‘Go for Gold’ theme.

There have rarely been so many pressing needs in the world during a summer period, and all these needs: the Ukraine  terrorism attack, the Ebola health crisis, the Gaza conflict,  and the persecution of Christians in Iraq have all given our Prayers for others in church a sense of urgency. We play an important role in fighting for good in these scenarios.

What is still to come?
There will be a joint service on 25th August for the baptisms of our twins, Duncan Neil and Campbell Lachlan , and also for grand-daughter Anastasia (a sister to Sasha).  The last joint manse family baptism was at Watten. This time it will be at Bower at 12.15 p.m., with tea and cake after the service for everyone.
The Scottish Referendum on the 18th September should be a time to think about our identity and values, not just our economic prospects. We will ponder these issues on Sundays 7th and 14th September by seeing how independence and interdependence (i.e. both the ‘Yes’ and ‘No Thanks’ points of view) have both long histories in our Scottish nation, and also in Biblical traditions.

The next stage of improving Bower Church is to paint the exterior of the windows. Elsewhere in our linkage, the directors of the Halkirk and District Benefit Fund have offered us £56,000 towards the costs of insulating and redecorating the interior walls. Future heating and redecoration costs will be greatly reduced.

We will have a concert in Halkirk church on Thursday 11h September at 8 p.m. with the Caithness big Band.  Traditional swing/ jazz music is timeless and appeals to all ages. It is experiencing a resurgence with the popularity of jive dancing. Entry is by donation.  It is part of our project in the Band to take our music to a variety of  community settings throughout the county.

The Bower Annual gift Day will be on Saturday 13th September,    10 a.m. – 12 noon in the church hall. This will be a Coffee Morning when we thank you with coffee for bringing your Gift. This replaces the early November date when we have had the Gift Day in previous years. We plan to have some live music on that day.

Yours in the Master’s service
Rev Alastair Gray

Funerals: (since 1st June)
Lorna St Clair-Chalmers, Roselyn,  Camilla Street,  on 3rd June in Halkirk
Nan Bremner, Lynegar Burn, Gillock,  on  17th June
Bill Dodds, Rampyards, Watten,  on 19th June
Joyce Henderson, formerly of Dunn , Watten to Watten Cemetery on 8th July
Stella Ross, Bonar Bridge,  at Halkirk on 16th July
Jean Macdonald, Henderson Square, Watten on  30th July
Jean Ross, Roseville, Watten on 31st July
Cathie Bremner, formerly of Achingale Place,  to  Watten Cemetery  on 8th August

Sunday 24th 12.15 p.m. Joint baptism service at Bower for Duncan, Campbell and Anastasia Gray.

Saturday 30th 1.30 p.m. Marymass Fair, Dunnet Playing Fields

Sunday 31st 7.30 p.m. Ian White leads a worship concert in St Peter’s and St Andrew’s Church, Thurso.

Tuesday 2nd,  7 p.m. .Caithness Presbytery in Thurso West Church

Sunday 7th Sunday Club begins at Watten Church at 11 a.m.  All children from Watten, Halkirk and Bower are very welcome . retiring offering at Watten for the Bible Society on Bible Sunday.

Thursday 11th 7.45 p.m. Caithness big Band concert in Halkirk Church. Entry by donation (to our redecoration fund)

Friday 12th (time to be arranged) Watten Kirk Session and Congregational Board

Saturday 13th  10 a.m.- 12 noon, Bower church Gift Day Coffee Morning in Bower church Hall (enter through the church)

Sunday 14th 2.15 p.m. Caithness General Hospital Chapel service

Tuesday 16th 2 p.m. Bower-Watten Guild at Watten. The speaker is the Rev Ronnie Johnstone.

Tuesday 16th 7.30 p.m, Halkirk-Westerdale  Kirk Session and Congregational Board.

Saturday 20th 10 a.m.- 12 noon, Halkirk-Westerdale Gift Day Coffee Morning.

Sunday 21st minister on Colonsay. Those who are leading our services here will be announced beforehand.

Friday 26th 10 a.m.- Macmillan Fund Coffee Morning in Bower School

Saturday 27th 10 a.m.- 12 noon, MacMillan Fund Coffee Morning in Watten Village Hall

Thursday 2nd 7.30 p.m. Guild autumn rally in St Peter’s and St Andrew’s church, Thurso. The Speaker is Mrs Marjorie Paton. The Halkirk Westerdale Guild will attend the rally as their opening meeting for the session.

Sunday 5th Harvest Thanksgiving in each congregation. At Halkirk and Bower- Dried and canned foodstuffs to the Highland Foodbank, and any fresh produce to Achvarasdal home. At Watten all our gifts go to Achvaradal. Retiring offering at Watten for Christian Aid.

Sunday 12th or 26th  6.30 pm. Bower Songs of Praise (to be confirmed)

Tuesday 14th 7.30 p.m. Bower Kirk Session and Congregational Board

Sunday 19th 10 a.m. Halkirk-Westerdale Communion

Tuesday 21st  2 p.m. at Bower, Watten-Bower Guild meeting at Bower.

Friday 24th 10 a.m. – 12 noon Bower Coffee morning at British Legion, Thurso

Thursday 6th 2 p.m. Halkirk and Westerdale Guild – the speaker is Rev Heather Stewart.

Sunday 9th  Remembrance Day (WW1 special commemoration).Halkirk: 9.45 p.m. at War Memorial and 10 a.m. at Church;  Watten- 10.30 p.m. at War Memorial and 11 a.m. at church; Bower- 12.15 p.m. in church and 1 pm. at the War Memorial. Retiring offerings for Poppy Scotland.

Tuesday 18th 2 p.m. Bower-Watten Guild