Book marks 200th of St. Columba Church

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - BY MAR­GARET CALDBICK News Staff

Jean Mcrae Mcrae trav­elled from Glenelg in In­ver­ness, Scot­land for the 200th anniversar­y ser­vice and lunch at St. Columba Pres­by­te­rian Church in Kirk Hill. She joked that she hoped it wasn’t her who brought a High­land Scot­tish mist to the cel­e­bra­tion Sun­day.

The driz­zle mat­tered lit­tle to the large gath­er­ing seated in their warm pews other than to can­cel a planned group photo on the church’s steps after the ser­vice.

In­stead, the mem­ber­ship headed through the rain and across the lawn to a large tent where tables and chairs seated the sev­eral hun­dred peo­ple at­tend­ing the anniversar­y lunch con­sist­ing of a long ban­quet table cov­ered in sand­wiches, vegetable plat­ters, dain­ties and desserts.

The ser­vice was a mu­sic-filled af­fair fea­tur­ing the Campbell Trio, Gabrielle and her ta­lented chil­dren Rachel and Noël, who brought a gasp of ap­pre­ci­a­tion and an ut­tered “Wow!” at the close of their beau­ti­ful ren­der­ing of the hymn Great Is Thy Faith­ful­ness. The trio of­fered gifts of mu­sic through­out the ser­vice and per­formed a con­cert in the church after lunch.

The ser­vice was cel­e­brated by Rev. Jim Fer­rier who in­tro­duced vis­it­ing guest pas­tors Rev. Leo Hughes and Rev. Jean Franklin Harms who each spoke about their con­nec­tion to St. Columba’s.

The anniversar­y ser­vice hon­oured the tra­di­tion of the con­gre­ga­tion’s fore­fa­thers and peo­ple were asked to stand to pray and stay seated to sing, a re­ver­sal of the usual order. Also, in the 1800s churches did not have or­gans, so the gath­ered were asked to sing sev­eral hymns with­out ac­com­pa­ni­ment.

In her pre­sen­ta­tion, Jean Mcrae Mcrae ex­pressed sur­prise and de­light at how much Gaelic was spo­ken and sung at the ser­vice.

Dar­rell Ma­cLeod sang the first line of the Twenty-Third Psalm in Gaelic and the con­gre­ga­tion echoed his words, read­ing the pho­netic Gaelic words printed in their pro­grams.

Don­ald­son Ma­cLeod of­fered the Lord’s Prayer in Gaelic and also rem­i­nisced about his mem­o­ries of St. Columba as did Phyl­lis MacMaster who brought laugh­ter from the room with her child­hood sto­ries about the church.

A high­light of the ser­vice was Bill Con­nors’ ac­com­pa­ni­ment on the church’s an­tique reed or­gan to Blest Be the Tie that Binds.

On view at the front of the church and set on an easel was a beau­ti­ful oil paint­ing by Stu­art McCormick of St. Columba Church painted in 1947. In the paint­ing, a herd of Ayr­shire cat­tle grazes in the fore­ground un­der a mag­nif­i­cent sky.

The church was dec­o­rated with dis­plays of his­tor­i­cal ar­ti­facts loaned by church mem­bers in­clud­ing an im­pres­sive McGil­livray of­fi­cer’s sword brought from Scot­land by Dun­can McGil­livray (c. 1745-1805). After the Campbell Trio con­cert, there was a slide show of colour­ful pho­tos col­lected from over the years that did not make it into the com­mem­o­ra­tive book.

The first Pres­by­te­ri­ans to set­tle in the Town­ship of Lochiel came from Glenelg, Scot­land, in 1793. In 1862, the con­gre­ga­tion de­cided to re­place their wood chapel with a new stone church to be called St. Columba that was ded­i­cated in 1869.

The Pres­by­te­rian Church in Canada was formed in 1875, but it was not un­til 1911 that St. Columba, a con­gre­ga­tion of the es­tab­lished Church of Scot­land, de­cided to be­come part of the na­tional church with the ad­dress Kirk Hill.

The ser­vice on Sun­day also dou­bled as the book launch of St. Columba Pres­by­te­rian Church: cel­e­brat­ing 200 years, 1819-2019 , an

am­bi­tious work two years in prepa­ra­tion and fea­tur­ing the mem­o­ries of cur­rent and for­mer church mem­bers, some the di­rect de­scen­dants of the orig­i­nal Glenelg, Scot­land settlers.

The line­ups for pre-paid and avail­able copies of the com­mem­o­ra­tive book were long with some peo­ple snap­ping more than one copy. Copies are $60 each and num­bers are lim­ited.

Con­tact Au­drey Nixon Craw­ford at 613-525-0170 or mail au­[email protected]


IN­TER­NA­TIONAL LINK: Chanc­ing across a link last year to St. Columba Pres­by­te­rian Church in Kirk Hill and its up­com­ing 200th anniversar­y, Jean Mcrae Mcrae, who is a mem­ber of the Parish Church of Glenelg in In­ver­ness, Scot­land, says she “kinda in­vited her­self.” She ex­plained, “I had to read the no­tice sev­eral times to make sure I had the right year.” She re­traced her steps from her trip to Canada in 1965 when she first vis­ited St. Columba Church in North Glen­garry. Ms. Mcrae Mcrae in pe­riod dress was among the guest speak­ers at St. Columba’s 200th anniversar­y ser­vice on Sun­day.

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