The retiring Moderator, Mr David Gibson, welcomed everyone to the June presbytery meeting.
There was a special welcome for his father who had celebrated his 99th birthday the previous week.
In his last address to presbytery, David reminded that Jesus did not often follow tradition. His main concern was caring for his people and for standing up for those who were in need.
Later in his moderator’s report he thanked presbytery for its support and fellowship and said that during his year of office it had been a privilege to attend so many churches and congregations and to be heartened by the projects taking place and by the work being done in the name of Christ. However, there were some divisions that saddened him and he called for “unity through the body of Christ”.
Presbytery was united in its election of Rev Sally Russell, minister at Crossmichael, Parton and Balmaghie with Corsock and Kirkpatrick Durham, as the moderator for 2016-2017. Sally was welcomed warmly and, in turn, she thanked David for his special year as moderator.
Tribute was paid to the late Rev James R Wilkie who, as a wise and caring pastor, had served as minister at Thornhill with Penpont, Keir and Tynron from 1987 until his retirement. Mr Wilkie died on April 30.
The Rev Ian Robertson who, for 21 years, had been the minister at Colvend, Southwick and Kirkbean and who had retired in 1996, died in Lochmaben in May.
Mr Robertson, who had a reputation as a fine and gifted preacher, led his last service in his 90th year. Credit was given to him for the part he played in overturning the then council plan and keeping Colvend School from closure. Prayers of thanksgiving were given for the lives of these two exceptional ministers.
Mr Kenny McKie spoke about the work being done by Scripture Union in helping young people to explore the bible and to respond to its teachings. A position is being advertised for a new worker to start in Dumfries and Galloway and he encouraged folk to consider whether they could be that worker and develop the varied Scripture Union activities in the region.
Conveners presented their reports to presbytery and it was noted that there are 900 church guilds in Scotland with 23,000 members.
Rev David Loga n , newly inducted minister at St Mary’s Greyfriars with Caerlaverock, was welcomed as the presbytery’s vocations champion to help those who are thinking about taking up ministry in the Church of Scotland. Advisory committees were intimated for the vacant charges at Kirkmichael, Tinwald and Torthorwald and at Closeburn linked with Kirkmahoe.
Procedures can begin now to call ministers to each of the charges. Presbytery agreed to release Rev Stephen AshleyEmery from his charge at the Bengairn Parishes linked with Castle Douglas and appoint Rev David Bartholomew as interim moderator.
Rev Jannie du Plessis is coming to the end of the three year period allowed by his practising certificate but he wishes to continue in his role as minister at Dunscore with Glencairn and Moniaive. Presbytery was happy to approve his continuing for a further three years.
The presbytery accepted the following motion: “While the Presbytery of Dumfries and Kirkcudbright accepts the decision of the EU referendum, it is united and unequivocal in its condemnation of the racism and xenophobia which has been expressed in the run up to and since June 23. The presbytery is absolutely clear that everyone is equally welcome regardless of race or religion, within its bounds and throughout Scotland and the UK, and that any other view or attitude is contrary to the teaching of Jesus Christ and the Church of Scotland.”
The moderator adjourned the meeting with prayer. Refreshments after the meeting were provided by Dumfries: St George’s and thanks go to them for their hospitality.
The next meeting is on September 28.
Smiles Rev Sally Russell, the new moderator, with Rev Bill Hogg, presbytery clerk, on the left and Mr David Gibson, the retiring moderator on the right