Socially distanced services have resumed starting at 11am on Sunday mornings. At the moment there is no singing although the organist does play some hymns on the organ.
What might Jesus have said if he were with us during this difficult time? We don't know of course & Jesus was always full of surprises, but here are his words from Matthew 6:26-34:-
Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
REVIEW OF 2020:
Objectives and Activities
The Church of Scotland is Trinitarian in doctrine, Reformed in tradition and Presbyterian in policy. It exists to glorify God and to work for the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom throughout the world. As a national Church, it acknowledges a distinctive call and duty to bring the ordinances of religion to the people in every parish of Scotland through a territorial ministry. It co-operates with other Churches in various ecumenical bodies in Scotland and beyond.
Libberton & Quothquan is linked with two other parishes, Symington and Cairngryffe under the title of “The Tinto Parishes”. Together they represent the Church of Scotland serving the South Lanarkshire communities of Carmichael, Covington, Libberton, Pettinain, Quothquan, Symington Thankerton and an extensive rural hinterland .
Worship in Libberton & Quothquan church takes place on the vast majority of Sundays at either 09:30am or 11:00am. On occasions (approximately 8 times per year), when there are joint Services with the other congregations from the Tinto Parishes, parishioners from Libberton & Quothquan join their friends in the other churches and take their turn in welcoming to Libberton & Quothquan.
The Sacrament of Holy Communion is celebrated twice per year, in March and November.
Sunday School is held during the service with the children leaving the main service after 2 hymns and the “Time Together” childeren’s talk.
Coffee and team are servced in the church after every service. For larger functions, the church uses the Village Hall in Quothquan as the church has no hall of its own.
Paritioners provide transport for those who require it.
Special services are held to mark key points in the Christian calendar, especially Holy Week, Easter and Christmas. These are widely publicised and are successful in bringing visitors into the church.
A popular congregational Coffee Club meets every two weeks.
The Kirk Session meets regularly to manage all aspects of the church building, church business and contact with paritioners.
Sunday flower rota is well supported by Church members.
Elders and members play an active part in Sunday services through bringing in the bible, reading bible passages and collecting the offering. The congregation actively encourage others, particularly younger members of the congregation, to get involved in these activities.
Some Notable Achievements
2020 began in a fairly normal way for Libberton and Quothquan: regular Sunday morning worship attended by around 30 parishioners; Epiphany and Candlemass celebrated; a schedule of visiting ministers drawn up; organists booked; the absolute joy of a full church for a christening; the fortnightly coffee club in the Gillespie Centre in Biggar; Kirk session meetings; plans for the annual Daffodil Tea at the end of March; plans to attend a neighbouring parish’s annual Bowling evening; stamps collected for the Church of Scotland appeal in aid of the Women’s Development Centre in Kandy, Sri Lanka; the latest letter from John McCulloch, mission partner of the Tinto Parishes, based in Jerusalem, received and shared; the absolute joy of a full church for a christening; first edition of the quarterly “Focus” magazine ready to print…
And then the pandemic turned 2020 into one of the most challenging years in living memory, impacting on every individual and every organisation, indeed every area of life. However Libberton & Quothquan, under the inspiring leadership of Rev George Shand, more than rose to the challenge as Rev George, with the support of the Congregational Worship Group, took the life and work of the church online. Trial runs and practices were held as this small group upskilled itself and, very soon, parishioners joined with members of the linked congregations in worship every Sunday over Zoom. A young student member of the congregation provided technical support over the phone to many parishioners and in so doing enabled them to get online and participate again in the life of their church.
Initial services were simple in nature but, as confidence in our skills, the technology itself and the possibilities it offered grew, the services became more and more sophisticated. Soon members of the congregation were participating by reading passages from Scripture or presenting their reflections and Rev George sought out hymns in which the congregation could join from their own homes. Coffee and tea at the end of the service continued – in “Breakout rooms” on Zoom. Although very different from what parishioners were used to, these informal get-togethers maintained the community spirit within the church, providing as they did, a time to chat, discuss, check in with friends and generally spend time with others. There is no doubt that these online services were an important “lifeline” for many people (including some friends &relations from beyond Libberton & Quothquan), particularly in the early days of the first lockdown, and the joy people felt in being able to see others and worship together (albeit through a screen) was palpable.
Services were recorded and posted on a partner parish’s website and the Tinto Parishes’ Facebook page to enable wider access. Those who could not get online could listen to the services live using their telephone. A 24/7 “Tinto Parishes Reflection Line” where Rev George recorded a different reflection each week was widely advertised. This reflection line is still going strong and now makes a selection from each Sunday’s service available to those who call in.
The minister and elders reached out to all members of the parish (and beyond), checking in with parishioners and providing offers of help, both material and spiritual. Rev George linked in with other groups in the community who were providing support and made his contact details and those of the Session Clerk widely known. Parishioners looked out beyond themselves and made contributions to local charities such as Womankind Clydesdale and the Clydesdale Foodbank.
A short article on the Sunday service and the church community was published in the local press most weeks, with key contact details.
Every day during Holy Week Rev George emailed “Daily Focus Online” with a scripture reading, a brief reflection and prayers. Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday were celebrated in online services with appropriate music and visuals provided by Rev George through screen sharing. All materials and services were also made available online through parish websites and Facebook.
Some parishioners participated in the online “Heart & Soul “ part of the General Assembly and watched the service of installation for the new Moderator, Rt. Rev. Martin Fair. Later in May, they were able to join National Worship for Pentecost Sunday, led by the Moderator followed by Tinto Parishes own online celebration of Holy Communion. Parishioners shared the elements which represent the body and blood of Christ online all at the same point in the service.
“Focus” continued to be published, (weekly during the first lockdown) with less news and events but more reflections, prayers, articles and links as well as information on local organisations offering assistance during the pandemic.
In the summer an outdoor “Reflective Space” on the theme of “Walking Together” was set up in the churchyard. A series of boards, each with a short scripture passage, a short reflection, a prayer and contact details were placed around the churchyard. This enabled parishioners to visit the church grounds and participate in worship and reflection even though they could not go inside the building. The installation moved round the three churchyards of the Tinto Parishes.
Also in the summer, parishioners welcomed Glasgow University theology student, George Sneddon, on placement. Parishioners participated in a short series of online evening “Reflective Scripture” meetings, where George looked anew at familiar Bible stories.
As lockdown eased, the Kirk Session worked with Presbytery to explore the possibility of the church building reopening. The interior was measured out according to social distancing regulations, a maximum number of worshippers was determined and a full Health & Safety review was conducted. However, after thoughtful discussion which took a range of factors into account, the Session decided against reopening the building and committed to continuing worship online.
In the online Harvest Thanksgiving Service, a local farmer reflected on farming in the Christian tradition in 21st century Scotland, sharing his views on what had changed and what had remained the same.
Rev George led a moving online Remembrance Sunday service which incorporated a very visual Act of Remembrance with images of local poppies and those from foreign fields as well as the war memorials, plaques and stained glass windows of the different parishes showing the names of those who served and those who died, accompanied by reflective music and words. Although parishioners were not physically in the same place, they nevertheless joined together by standing in their living rooms, kitchens and studies for 2 minutes silence to remember the fallen.
Advent was celebrated online with parishioner participation and on each of the four Sundays of Advent, parishioners met in the evening to enjoy “Four Carols+” singing, where everyone could suggest favourite carols and sing along to the words provided on screen by Rev George.
Although, in the words of Rev George, many people had a “pared down” Christmas, parishioners still joined online with the other Tinto Parishes to celebrate the birth of Christ in Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services. On the Sunday immediately after Christmas, they shared in the online Christmas service led by the Moderator, Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair.
Elders have continued to maintain contact with parishioners in their district, keeping them up to date with the church, encouraging them to join Sunday worship either online or via telephone and identifying and providing support where appropriate.
In March, when the first lockdown was introduced, Rev George shared the words of Rev Alison Britchfield of Tillicoutry: “Christ’s church is not closed...because it is not a building…the church is YOU and me, and every child of God… it will stay open as long as His children stay open to God, and seek his presence wherever they may be”.
Libberton and Quothquan church has lived these words throughout this exceptionally challenging year: parishioners have stayed open to God and have sought his presence wherever they may be.
The congregational roll stayed at around 79 throughout the year, although attendance at Sunday worship services was been prohibited for most of 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions. In normal times approximately 30 members would attend regularly on Sundays, and the Minister, elders and church members would support regular services held in the Bield Sheltered Housing as well as at Greenhills Care Homes.