Formartine Churches Together

How can Tarves and Barthol Chapel, Udny & Pitmedden and Methlick work together?
A working group has been established, with representatives from each of the congregations, to establish the way forward. Read News Briefs below.

 

News Brief No 4 Working Group Meeting (Number 3) 
Zoom, Tuesday 14 December 2021, 7:30pm

Summary: Here we go again! There’s an ‘old’ 1993 cult classic called, “Groundhog Day,” where
actor Bill Murray wakes up one morning to realise that he is living the same day, the 2 February
over and over again. The Working Group were due to meet in Methlick Parish Church on Tuesday
14 December 2021, but because of the rise of Covid-19 cases (Omicron variant) and the First
Minister’s announcement earlier that day, we decided to meet online. There is this uncomfortable
feeling that we’re starting all over again: a rise in cases, new regulations and for some a move
back online. Will we ever break the cycle? Will we ever see the 3 February and the end of Covid-
19? Yes – but maybe not in the manner we initially hoped.

Bill Murray’s character slowly matured over the course of this film so that he saw the eternal loop
as a blessing and not a curse. It was an opportunity to do good and an occasion to grow in love
for God (my addition) and neighbour. Eventually, he got to the point that no matter what
happened, even if he was doomed to relive the same course of events again and again, he was
content, because he had found love. And at the moment he found love, he woke up and found
that it was the 3 February.

I don’t know how many waves of the Coronavirus we’re going to go through, how many times
we’re going to wake up thinking, “Here we go again,” but I do know that the Formartine Area
Churches and the Working Group in particular have got to the point where we are more open to
one another and willing to work together than ever before. And, I believe, this fraternité, this love
for one another, will be our saving grace. We will see the 3 February, even if we have to endure a
few more waves of this wretched virus.

How will this be made manifest in practical terms?
Well, over the last two meetings of the Working Group, we have been deliberating over various
models of working together. We have looked at the pros and cons of Unions, Linkages,
Guardianship, New Charge Developments, Dissolution and Hub Ministry. We have come to the
conclusion that, in principle, the best way of working together will be under a Single Parish Model.

What is a Single Parish Model?
In short, the idea is that all four congregations would unite to become one Church of Scotland
Parish. That said, there would be a commitment to maintaining a missional presence and
opportunities for worship in each of our respective communities. The administrative edifice would
be simplified. There would be one Kirk Session as opposed to four Kirk Sessions and One Board.
The new Kirk Session would be comprised of a representation of elders from each of the
respective churches. Duplication would be reduced and members and elders would be freed
focus their energies on aspects of worship, mission and service that would build up the church and
communities. The ministers would work across whole of the new Formartine Parish according to
an agreed ‘portfolio’ and would have a specific remit and specific area/s of responsibility. Local
leadership teams would be established in each church and the whole people of God would be
encouraged, empowered, trained up to have an active role in the life of the church.

What’s next? - The Working Group are aware that the Single Parish Model will have to be
approved by all the Kirk Sessions and in due course the congregations. However, there is a lot of
work to be done still before we are at that stage. Over the coming months (January – March
2022), we will be looking at aspects of structure, ministry, fabric and finance, but as we said
before: We would like to hear from you! We believe communication is really important and
that it’s a two-way street.
We will communicate often and clearly throughout this process, but
we also want to listen, hear any questions or ideas you might have about the churches working
together. The details of the Single Parish Model for the Formartine Churches is far from complete,
so we would welcome your input. Please free to contact your minister or Interim Moderator and
we’ll be happy to feed your thoughts back to the Working Group. The more input we have from
church and community the better.

Tarves and Barthol Chapel
Rev. Dr. Alison Swindells - aswindells@churchofscotland.org.uk
Udny & Pitmedden
Rev. Anthony Craig - aacraig@btinternet.com
Rev. Sheila Mitchell - SMitchell@churchofscotland.org.uk
Methlick
Rev. Dr. Will Stalder - wstalder@churchofscotland.org.uk

I’m not sure if this is the final wave of the Coronavirus we’re going to face. I hope so. What I do
know is that whatever happens with Covid-19, with God’s help and with hearts open to one
another in our respective churches and communities and a willingness to work together, we will be
the stronger for it, and hopefully, we will wake up one morning soon and find that’s it’s 3 February.

We wish you a Merry Christmas a Happy New Year! Stay safe and well and until we see or speak
to one another again, may God bless each and every one of you!

Rev. Dr. Will Stalder
Minister of Methlick Parish Church

Rev. Dr. Alison Swindells
Minister of Tarves and Barthol Chapel

Ministers of the Formartine Area Churches
Friday 15 December 2021

 

News Brief No 3 Working Group Meeting (Number 2)
Tarves Church, Tuesday 9 November 2021, 7:30pm

Summary: At our second meeting in Tarves Parish Church on 9 November we began to formulate our vision and purpose and we explored one possible model of future ministry for the area. Again there was a sense of excitement and enthusiasm and God’s leading as we looked at the challenges together. We will continue to look at these items and their implications at our next meeting on Tuesday 14 December 2021, 7:30pm at Methlick Parish Church. In the meantime, we have agreed that from the beginning of next year, Will Stalder and Alison Swindells will preach at Udny & Pitmedden once a month so that we can begin to get to know the people of this part of our area and they can get to know us.

Again: We would like to hear from you! We believe communication is really important, but we also believe that communication is a two-way street. While we hope to communicate often and clearly throughout this process, we also want to listen, hear any questions or ideas you might have about the churches working together. Please free to contact your minister or Interim Moderator and we will be happy to feed your thoughts back to the Working Group. The more input we have from church and community the better.

Tarves and Barthol Chapel
Rev. Dr. Alison Swindells - aswindells@churchofscotland.org.uk

Udny & Pitmedden
Rev. Anthony Craig - aacraig@btinternet.com
Rev. Sheila Mitchell - SMitchell@churchofscotland.org.uk

Methlick
Rev. Dr. Will Stalder - wstalder@churchofscotland.org.uk

Until we speak again, please pray, and we will do our best to communicate with everybody at each stage in the process. God’s richest blessings to you and your church and community!

Rev. Dr. Will Stalder
Minister of Methlick Parish Church

Rev. Dr. Alison Swindells
Minister of Tarves and Barthol Chapel

Ministers of the Formartine Area Churches Friday 12 November 2021

 

News Brief No 2 Working Group Meeting (Number 1)
Pitmedden Church, Tuesday 12 October 2021, 7:30pm

In the first news brief about the Joint Session Meeting that took place on Sunday 19
September 2021, I opened with this question, “How can Tarves and Barthol Chapel, Udny
& Pitmedden and Methlick work together?” I am proud to say that I can now answer the
following question, “How are we working together?”

Since the initial Joint Session Meeting, a working group has been established, with
representatives from each of the respective congregations and with the remit of addressing
the questions, concerns and suggested priorities raised on the 19 September 2021. A
summary document of the day came to seven pages and covered upwards of 15 topics:
communication, Covenant Agreement, discipleship/training, fabric, finance, youth, general
comments/feelings, ministry/ministers/pastoral care, mission, Presbytery and the General
Assembly, relationships and fellowship, structure, technology and vision.

For our first Working Group meeting, we met at Pitmedden Church on Tuesday 12 October
2021, 7:30pm. Rev. Valerie Mitchell opened the time with a devotional looking at Psalm
127. During the first part of the meeting, we started looking at our vision and purpose, that
is, what will (should) be the guiding principles of our working together. We then reviewed
the Joint Session Meeting Summary Document (19 September 2021), acknowledged the
difficult points raised by the fact that there will need to be a further reduction of 4.75 FTE
(Full-Time Equivalent Posts) across Gordon Presbytery in the New 5-Year Presbytery
Mission Plan and then set out exploring what should be our next steps in our working
together. We had a really good, open and honest conversation about the issues affecting
us all. There actually was a genuine excitement about what God could do. We looked at
the following questions:

• What are the key issues that we need to address first?
• Who should address them?
• How should we address them?
• When should we address them?

It was amazing! We could have been all over the map with these questions, but there was
a remarkable consensus on what should be the immediate focus of our attention. It was
decided that three things will (should) be the focus of our energies in the lead up to our
next Working Group meeting in November 2021:

1. Communication
2. Vision and Purpose
3. Exploration of Ministry Models

Action Points were assigned, and we then spent time praying for our respective churches and communities and then closed with Grace. We finished before midnight too!

The dates of our next meetings will be as follows:

Tuesday 9 November 2021, 7:30pm (Tarves Parish Church)
Tuesday 14 December 2021, 7:30pm (Methlick Parish Church)

We would like to hear from you! We believe communication is really important, but we
also believe that communication is a two-way street. While we hope to communicate often
and clearly throughout this process, we also want to listen, hear any questions or ideas
you might have about the churches working together. Please free to contact your minister
or Interim Moderator and we will be happy to feed your thoughts back to the Working
Group. The more input we have from church and community the better.

Tarves and Barthol Chapel
Rev. Dr. Alison Swindells - aswindells@churchofscotland.org.uk

Udny & Pitmedden
Rev. Anthony Craig - aacraig@btinternet.com
Rev. Sheila Mitchell - SMitchell@churchofscotland.org.uk

Methlick
Rev. Dr. Will Stalder - wstalder@churchofscotland.org.uk

Until we speak again, please pray, and we will do our best to communicate with everybody
at each stage in the process. God’s richest blessings to you and your church and
community!

Rev. Dr. Will Stalder
Minister of Methlick Parish Church
Minister of Formartine Area Churches (w/ Rev. Dr. Alison Swindells)
Thursday 13 October 2021

 

News Brief from Joint Session Meeting
19 September 2021

How can Tarves and Barthol Chapel, Udny & Pitmedden and Methlick work together?
The sessions of Tarves and Barthol Chapel (TBC), Udny & Pitmedden (UPC) and Methlick met at Haddo Main Hall on the 19 September 2021 to begin the process of discussing how this might/should look like in practice. There were 30 people in attendance: 25 representatives from the four churches, including the ministers of Methlick (Rev. Dr. Will Stalder) and TBC (Rev. Dr. Alison Swindells), the Interim Moderators of UPC (Rev. Sheila Mitchell and Rev. Anthony Craig) and the Probationer from TBC (Fiona Lister). It was a good and productive meeting.

Rev. Sheila Mitchell outlined the overall context, process and hoped for outcomes of the process, and included illustrations from her own context.
Rev. Dr. Alison Swindells gave a brief overview of the wider national and regional context that has influenced our present state of affairs (i.e. General Assembly and Presbytery).

We then spent time discussing with one another and sharing questions and concerns about the Presbytery Plan and working together. Time was also spent detailing what people thought should be the priorities going forward.

Going forward, a working group will be established from members of the respective churches in order to look at the proposed questions, concerns and suggested priorities. Based on the above consultation and on going communication with the respective sessions, this group will meet on a monthly basis in order to draw up a way of working together that will be positive, sustainable and agreeable by all the respective churches.

If there are any additional questions or concerns about the process or future of working together, please feel free to e-mail Will Stalder in the first instance:

Rev. Dr. Will Stalder
Minister of Methlick Parish Church
Minister of Formartine Area Churches (w/ Rev. Dr. Alison Swindells)
wstalder@churchofscotland.org

Until we speak again, please pray, and we will do our best to communicate with everybody at each stage in the process. God’s richest blessings to you and your church and community!