Our Sunday morning worship services will start at 11am until the end of September.
What might Jesus have said if he were with us during these difficult times? 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 2021:
2020 had ended with some optimism as the Covid vaccine became available but early 2021 saw a second lockdown because of a worrying variant. In spite of this, Libberton and Quothquan continued to join with the other Tinto Parishes online and its parishioners contributed to the rich variety of online services and events.
The Kirk session continued to meet to ensure that the business of the congregation continued and kept in touch with members of their district to offer support during this second challenging period. Elders also continued to look after the building and fabric of the church,
Rev George continued to inspire through the weekly online services and the 24/7 Tinto Parishes reflections phone line. Once again, Holy Week and Easter services were held online with appropriate music, images and reflections. Many parishioners also followed the Holy Week pilgrimage of the Moderator, Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair, as he followed in the footsteps of the Celtic saints in his own area of Angus, sharing his experiences, reflections and prayers through the Church of Scotland’s online channels.
“Focus”, the quarterly newsletter of the Tinto Parishes, with an individual contribution from Libberton & Quothquan, continued to be published with news, reflections, prayers, articles and links.
Parishioners worked with Church of Scotland Community Outreach worker, Angela Brydson, to grow potatoes for the Clydesdale Food Bank and enjoyed the Lenten Lego Challenge she ran for local primary schools. It was lovely to see some of the creations made by children from Libberton Primary School.
In May 2021, admittedly with some nerves, worship in the church building started again. Thanks to the tireless work of the Kirk Session, supported by Rev George and the Lanark presbytery, all of the necessary Covid guidelines were put in place to enable this reopening: a seating layout which conformed to social distancing regulations; a rota of welcoming elders; protocols for arrival and departure of worshippers; an enhanced cleaning regime; register of those attending; arrangements for data storage and disposal in line with GDPR etc. Initially singing was not permitted which was a disappointment to many but, thanks to our group of 3 organists, there was still live music every Sunday morning. As regulations eased, confidence grew, more people attended and singing (albeit from behind masks) began again. Parishioners once again participated in worship by bringing in the Bible at the start of the service and reading from the scriptures. The Worship Group also led a number of Sunday worship services including one focusing on the climate summit COP26 in Glasgow.
In July, Rev George Shand retired from ministry in the Church of Scotland after just over seven years in the Tinto Parishes. At his last service in Libberton and Quothquan, senior elder David Brown reflected on the contribution Rev George made to the parish when he moved here from St. Andrew’s Scots Memorial Church in Jerusalem. He enriched worship by sharing his experiences of living and working in the Holy Land and introduced new services including the Tenebrae and Blue Christmas. He encouraged the parish to look outwards and become involved in wider Church of Scotland initiatives and learn about the work of Christian charities around the world. He led a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and participated in two pulpit exchanges with congregations in the US and Canada. David paid particular tribute to the work of Rev George during the pandemic when he moved the worship, life and work of the church online and his support of the Kirk Session as they worked to reopen the church building safely. In recognition of the huge contribution he made to Libberton & Quothquan, David presented Rev George with a cheque on behalf of the congregation and wished him and Margaret well in their retirement.
Thanks to the support of the Lanark Presbytery, Rev Dr Elijah Obinna, minister of St John’s Church in Carluke, was appointed Interim Moderator and, building on the work carried out by Rev George before his retirement, a schedule of services, visiting ministers and preachers and kirk session meetings was established (for the first half of 2020 so far). Members of the kirk session drew up lists of readers and organists and parishioners assumed their roles once again in the life and work of their church: flowers were placed in the church every week; the church was appropriately decorated for key services; the coffee group began to meet again; collections for the Clydesdale Foodbank were made and delivered. Harvest was celebrated and Remembrance Sunday solemnly marked in the church building once again. It really was a joy to return to some of the “old” traditions. Advent was celebrated in church with a candle lit every Sunday. Christmas Day was celebrated with a Carol service led by an elder and his family and a service led by a visiting minister on the Sunday after.
During our period of vacancy, the congregation has been blessed by the range of visiting ministers and readers coming to Libberton & Quothquan to lead them in worship and of course the Congregational Worship Group has continued to lead some services. We had 3 christenings during the year, including that of twin girls.
A short article on the theme of the Sunday worship service and notices of upcoming events and information appears in the local press most weeks, latterly reminding everyone that the church building was open for worship once again and reassuring everyone that all Covid guidelines were being followed. The website continues to provide up to date information for those interested in our congregation.
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 and identifying and providing support where required.
Towards the end of the year the congregation followed presbytery developments as, after 436 years, the Presbytery of Lanark became part of the new Forth Valley and Clydesdale Presbytery. And the elder team look forward in supporting the new presbytery with its new mission planning process.
Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic and the retirement of Rev George, Libberton and Quothquan has prevailed, just like the willow in the storm. The congregation bent, because it had to, but it did not yield and it did not break. We look to the future in our new presbytery with confidence and with joy.
REVIEW OF 2020:
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.