Book marks 200th of St. Columba Church
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.