News

Easter Sunday

We had a good sized congregation for our Easter Sunday service – it was lovely to see such a crowd. Roy had set up an Easter egg hunt for the children and I am sure there must have been some full tummies before lunch!

The church looked lovely as you will see from these photos.

More photos of the memorial plaque unveiling day

Irene Lukkarinen has kindly sent some photos of Orphanage old boys and girls who attended the service on 12th November 2017.

    

Left to right, Bobby Balgowan, Margaret Morrison nee Balgowan, Avril Herald nee Clark, Ina Mcguire nee Reside, Binky Lincoln, Catherine Marri Lovie nee Dingwall, George Knight and Mr Rainey

Christmas Day 2017

We had a wonderful celebration on Christmas morning.  Reverend Roy led our worship with a large congregation present.  The church looked very festive with the tree taking pride of place beside the high altar.

A new arrival

We were delighted to hear of the safe arrival of Otto Findlay, a new son for our German friends Christian and Kerstin Lontzek and a brother for Mathilde.  We wish them all the very best and hope to meet Otto in person in 2018.

Aberlour Orphanage Memorial Panel

On Sunday 12th November, the Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire, Mrs Clare Russell, unveiled a panel in the church depicting the life in the former Aberlour Orphanage. This was timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the closure of the Orphanage in 1967. It also conceded with Remembrance Day.

Mrs Russell unveils the panels

Mrs Russell chats with former Orphanage residents and their families

Visitors look up entries in the church records

The Last Post is played

 

The war memorial with wreaths laid by the Lord Lieutenant, local Scouts and the congregation

2017 Financial Accounts

The annual accounts are attached herewith. Accounts posted on website

 

The blessing of Mathilde

We were delighted when Christian and Kerstin Lontzek came from their home in Halberstadt, Germany to spend three months in Aberlour.   Christian had found us two years ago when he and a friend camped in their car outside St Margaret’s and came to our service.    He returned last year with his wife Kerstin and then in July this year he and Sebastian Schmook, the other half in their duo of Pipe meets Organ, gave a wonderful concert in St Margaret’s.

In September Christian and Kerstin brought their daughter Mathilde and have been part of our congregation, bringing joy and music to our services.   On Sunday, the Rev Roy Vincent conducted a service of blessing in St Margaret’s for their daughter Mathilde.

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Antiques Valuation Day

Antiques Valuation Day at St Margaret’s Church 17th September 2016

A successful visit by three valuers from the auction house Lyon & Turnbull in Edinburgh took place on Saturday 17th September.   Inspired by the success of the Antiques Road Show, we held a day in the church for people to bring in their family treasures for evaluation and comment.   Coffee, tea and a generous supply of sandwiches and cakes were consumed while everyone waited their turn with the experts.    Items of all sorts were brought in, from gold curling medals to a child’s pedal tricycle to a 400 year old silver-gilt urn, and everyone enjoyed learning more about the history of their possessions.

It was a happy and sociable day, and we are most grateful to everyone who came.   The wonderful sum of £1,233.68 was raised for church funds, and we are particularly grateful to Colin Fraser, Theodora Burrell and Trevor Kyle for their knowledge and expertise, and for giving up their Saturday to enable our fundraising effort.

 

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Finished at last!

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From this….

 

We are delighted that thanks to generous funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Scotland,  donations from kind supporters and money raised after a great deal of hard work, we have achieved our goal of making the church wind and watertight for the foreseeable future.   There is nothing much to show for all the work except smart painted gutters and repaired downpipes, but high level repairs were always going to be visually unrewarding, and the best we can say is that we have prepared the building for the next stage of the project, with planning for this taking place over the winter.

However there are two hurdles to cross before we can plan with confidence:  the first of course is to raise enough money, and the second vital part of the planning is to exclude the bats from the building.   We cannot expect the community to use the building with pleasure if bats are flying about above their heads!  The health and safety issue is paramount, but the damage they are doing to the fabric of the building and its fixtures and fittings is very depressing.

We have applied to Scottish Natural Heritage for an exclusion order:  watch this space!

 

to this!

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The key to the future….

An article in The Times on Saturday 29th June 2013 seems particularly apposite for us at St Margaret’s as we carry out repairs on our A listed church, and consider the best way forward for the future.   It was written by the Ven David Meara, Archdeacon of London, and is reproduced here to encourage us in our task, and to remind us again that so many parishes are facing the same problems!

Thomas Hardy succinctly summed the competing aspects of church buildings: “To the incumbent the church is a workshop.  To the antiquary a relic.  To the parish it is a utility.  To the outsider a luxury.”  To Hardy these expectations were incompatible, but that is no longer true today.

The Church of England is the custodian of 16,000 churches, 12,000 of them listed as of historic and architectural importance.  Their maintenance is the responsibility of local people – a heavy burden in small parishes.

The Society of Antiquaries of London recently hosted a conference on the theme “Piety in Peril”, bringing together statutory and national bodies to examine our ecclesiastical heritage.

The challenge is threefold.  First, while our parish churches constitute an unique architectural record and contain fixtures and fittings of national importance, they are first and foremost places of worship and mission.

Tensions do undoubtedly arise when a parish wants a comprehensive reordering or the utilisation of some part of the church for an office, a kitchen, a lavatory or a meeting space, but one of the messages of this conference was that with sufficient creativity, pre-planning and goodwill such differing needs can be brought together in harmony.

The National Churches Trust has made many grants for the improvement of facilities so that wider community use may be possible, and the revised criteria for Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grants stress engaging more people with the heritage asset and benefitting the whole community.

This value-for-money approach, quite rightly, puts pressure on churches to make their facilities available to as wide a range of people as possible.  We need to broaden our base of community support, find new partnerships and explore new ways of managing these precious buildings so that as many people as possible can benefit from them.

The second challenge is financial.  In years to come we shall face an increasing burden of church maintenance costs right across Europe, with the decline in state funding and the drop in charitable giving as we weather the recession.

Around 70% of the money for church repairs is raised locally, supported by various grants and charities.  In the UK the HLF has given more than £400 million to over 3,700 places of worship since 1994.  This year £30 million will be available “to help breathe new life into places of worship” with individual grants of £10,000 to £250,000 for listed structures.  As well as reducing the repair backlog, HLF funding will also help provide new facilities “to ensure these important historic buildings can be used and enjoyed more widely by their local communities”.  So, alongside urgent repairs, “funding will be provided for new work to extend community use such as toilets, kitchens, lighting and heating”.

In addition the Church Buildings Council and the National Churches Trust make grants for maintenance, repair and new facilities.  There is money available from a variety of sources, and churches need to be more proactive in making application for these funds.

The third challenge is a spiritual one, highlighted by Linda Monckton of English Heritage, who drew figures from the 2011 census to show the 11% decline in the numbers of those professing the Christian faith over the past ten years, and the corresponding rise of those who profess no religion (14 million, up from 6m in 2001).  This steady process of secularisation means that there is less understanding within society about the role of the church in the community and correspondingly less willingness to see ecclesiastical buildings as deserving extra protection and funding.  As congregations in rural areas tend to be small, and the band of willing volunteers grows older, so the stewarding of our ecclesiastical heritage buildings becomes harder.

As one conference speaker said, “Congregations keep buildings alive”, and the best way to ensure our historic churches remain in good repair is to grow lively congregations committed to open their buildings to the wider community and to share their faith in imaginative ways.

One issue that no amount of money or manpower can tackle is the problem of bats in churches.  More than 6,400 parish churches are used by bats, which are protected under UK and European law as endangered species.  Unfortunately, bat droppings and urine cause terrible damage to fixtures and fittings.  At Wiggenhall St Germans in Norfolk, for example, the congregation has spent £29,000 trying to resolve the problem.  The damage and cost there and elsewhere is unsustainable, and the law needs amending urgently.

In spite of this warning, the message of the conference was a positive one.  Our churches are in a better state of repair than they have been for many years, and there are resources available to help maintain and adapt them.

Churches need to broaden their support in their communities and find imaginative ways of opening their buildings to wider use.  If we understand our church buildings better we will value them more, care for them more effectively and involve more people in their stewardship.  With energy and a more flexible mindset the incompatibilities of which Thomas Hardy spoke can be resolved, and our churches can be saved and enhanced for future generations.