THE THREE EPISCOPAL CHURCHES OF WIGTOWNSHIRE
PRIEST IN CHARGE: THE REVEREND MICHAEL BUCHANAN HILLS
ALL SAINTS CHURCH, CHALLOCH, NEWTON STEWART
All Saints is a Grade-A1 listed Victorian church near Newton Stewart. There are sixty-nine members on our Communicant Roll. We have a friendly core of members who work together caring for the church. We have our outreach into the Machars with a monthly service at Whithorn and also a weekly service in Newton Stewart itself.
We have ecumenical links with the local churches. We meet together informally after all our services. Our Fellowship Group meets monthly in members’ houses.
ST JOHN THE EVANGELIST, STRANRAER
St John’s is a modern building erected in 1994 above the local library and can extend its seating to one hundred and ten. It has good modern facilities making it attractive to other organisations. There are forty-three members in the over fifty-five years age group. It is centrally placed in Stranraer at the site of a proposed redevelopment area (since the departure of the ferry terminal further up Lochryan). Worship style is ‘middle of the road’ with Scottish Liturgies 1982 and 1970 and Morning Prayer from the Scottish Prayer book. Pastoral ministers assist the priest.
ST NINIANS, PORTPATRICK
The church is situated in the middle of the harbour village of Portpatrick. Visitors have been ministered to in this little building since 1937 and before that in a house group which began in 1916 during the dark days of World War 1. We are part of the world-wide Anglican communion and our style is traditional. St Ninian’s offers both Communion and Matins services.
Wigtownshire is the county in the SW corner of Scotland. It comprises of three areas: the western part, known as the Rhins, the northern part, known as the Moors and the south east, known as the Machars. These areas cover an area of four hundred and eighty-five square miles of beautiful countryside with coastal scenery, mountains, moors, rivers, lochs and rolling hills as well as a double peninsula. It is washed by the Gulf Stream which enables sub-tropical plants to grow. The county town is Wigtown which has become the book town of Scotland. The administrative town is Stranraer.
Its boundaries are the Kirkcudbrightshire border in the east to Portpatrick in the west and the Ayrshire border in the north to the Mull of Galloway in the south. Its shores are washed by the Irish Sea in the south west, the Irish Channel in the west and Luce Bay and Wigtown Bay, which divide the peninsulas. Whithorn is a southern point of the Machars and is the site of St Ninian’s Church, the first establishment of Christianity in Scotland and Northern England.
With such varied countryside it is no wonder that many outdoor activities are possible such as: sailing, golf, walking, fishing, shooting, astronomy, swimming, wind surfing, bird watching and all the activities mentioned in each profile. It is steeped in history and has many historical monuments.
Stranraer is the largest town followed by Newton Stewart, Wigtown and Whithorn. There are many villages scattered throughout the area. The population is around twenty-seven thousand.
The main access roads are the A 75 and A77. There are two ferry ports at Cairnryan, sailing to Larne and Belfast. There is a railway station at Stranraer for trains to Ayr and beyond.
Wigtownshire is largely farming land with a large creamery situated at Stranraer that produces the Really Strong Cheese. The area is reliant on tourism, small food and fish processing. The ferries are the largest employer in the area.
INDIVIDUAL PROFILES FOR INDIVIDUAL CHURCHES
St Ninians Portpatrick
St Ninian’s Church is situated in a picturesque location within Portpatrick, the ‘jewel in the crown’ of Dumfries and Galloway with a permanent population of six hundred and twenty (2008) rising in excess of one thousand two hundred during the holiday season.
The area attracts a large number of holiday makers and Portpatrick sets out to provide attractions for them. There are a number of good beaches within easy reach, good walking routes, including the start of the Southern Upland Way, 18-hole and 9-hole golf courses, tennis courts, a putting green, a bowling green and other recreational facilities within the village. There are two annual music festivals held in the village. Lifeboat Week, the highlight of the village year, is held in the last week of July.
Attendance at Sunday services averages about eighteen to twenty and this is boosted by holiday makers, some of whom return regularly over the months and also year after year.
The congregation is friendly and welcoming, a point which is often remarked upon by visitors. Indeed, many visitors comment upon the peace and tranquillity of the church itself. It is hoped that we may, in due course, organise a rota to allow the church to be open for visitors for a short time on Saturdays during holiday periods. We regularly circulate details of our services around the local hotels and guest houses. Socialising is encouraged by the provision of coffee and biscuits after Sunday services, which the majority of the congregation support.
The Blue Book (1982 Scottish liturgy) is used for Sunday Eucharist services.
Ecumenical activities are developing with joint involvement in the making of Remembrance Sunday and the joint Christmas Carol service. Our priest has, traditionally, taken part in the ecumenical service for the blessing and rededication of the lifeboat at the start of Lifeboat Week each year. This takes place on the Harbourside.
We try to reach out into our community. We keep strong links with the community via the Community Council and it, in turn, helps to give us a higher profile, in part by way of the community newsletter.
All Saints Challoch
Newton Stewart is a small town in Wigtownshire on the banks of the River Cree and is known as the Gateway to the Galloway Hills. The population is approximately three thousand five hundred. Amenities include: a large comprehensive school which serves much of Wigtownshire and Kirkcudbrightshire, three primary schools, a small GP- run hospital, a modern health centre, a museum and a cinema. The town has individual shops on the main street and two supermarkets. The surrounding area provides for tourists visiting The Galloway Forest Park (including the Dark Sky Park), the Wigtown Bay Nature Reserve and RSPB reserves. There are facilities for golfing, fishing and mountain biking. The main employers are in the farming, forestry and fishing industries, fish processing, a dairy produce factory, schools, shops, the NHS and tourism.
All Saints’ Church is in the east of the county on the A714, twenty seven miles from Stranraer and about three miles off the A75. It is situated approximately two miles north of Newton Stewart. Originally a private chapel, it was bequeathed to the Diocese in 1885. It is a Grade-A1 listed building and was completely restored in 2004. It is a fine example of a small Victorian church and seats one hundred plus twenty in the choir stalls. It has a Harston two manual tracker organ and a small choir. The church has its own cemetery and a large car park and exterior toilet. Both the church and the toilet have disability access. There is a loop system for the hard of hearing. All Saints is a Fair Trade church.
There are strong links with Whithorn Priory, seventeen miles away, where monthly services are held. All Saints also holds a weekly service in the church hall of St John Penningham, a Church of Scotland church in Newton Stewart. An Ecumenical Service is held when there is a fifth Sunday in the month in which two Church of Scotland churches, the Roman Catholic church and All Saints take part. There are also links with the local Residential homes and the housebound.
The style of worship is traditional using the Scottish Liturgies of 1970 (traditional language) and 1982 (modern language) as well as the 1929 Scottish Prayer Book for Matins. There are Pastoral and Eucharistic Assistants and Worship Leaders who assist the Priest.
St John the Evangelist Church, Stranraer.
Stranraer is a Royal Burgh with a population of twelve thousand, situated at the head of the sea loch of Lochryan. It has four primary schools, one large comprehensive school and one Further Education college, all of which serve a large area of the Rhins. The Galloway Community Hospital is based here. It has Medical and Day Surgery wards, an Accident and Emergency department and Maternity facilities. Consultants travel from Dumfries to hold clinics. The major hospitals are based in Dumfries, seventy-two miles to the east or Ayr, fifty-four miles to the north. There is a modern health centre next to the hospital. Stranraer has an excellent sports and leisure centre with a theatre/cinema and a swimming pool. There are several golf courses in the surrounding area. There are individual shops and two larger supermarkets are in the town. A leisure harbour with moorings for boats has been developed. The main employers are the Dumfries and Galloway Council, the NHS, schools, a cheese factory, ferries, tourism and shops. There are road and rail links. Ferry links to Belfast are eight miles away at Cairnryan. St. John’s Church was established in 1892 and moved to its present site in 1994. Its members enjoy their regular forms of worship having adapted to changes made by recent Rectors. Collaborative ministry has been developed and pastoral ministers assist the Rector at services and home visiting. Others take responsibility for selecting hymns and producing rotas for readers, intercessors, welcomers etc. The Editor reports these in our monthly magazine. There are two main regular services weekly, using the 1982 modern language Liturgy on Sunday and the traditional 1970 Liturgy on Thursday. Matins is held once a month, also on Thursday. There is an 8.30 am Sunday Eucharist held between Easter and October. Saints Days and other Holy Days are celebrated with special services arranged for other occasions. Our worship reflects that of a forward-looking congregation and our style includes the modern as well as the traditional forms of language in our services. Membership has evolved from incomers to the area (often of the Anglican tradition) and some local people. Some members travel long distances to attend. Everyone has ‘a job’ in the church. We worship with reverence in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. We have two organists. We are keen to promote ecumenical links and have some shared services. We enjoy our monthly social Fellowship evenings and invite other churches to join us. We attend the local nursing home to hold a service twice a year. We are a Free Trade church. We have received some financial support in the past but have been able to provide adequately for our present needs. We have plans to update our present expensive heating and our hymn projection method. We receive donations for the use of the hall. For our future mission, we wish to continue our present growth, develop and have an impact on the community, becoming more “outward-looking” through education.
St John’s website may be found at: donald9.magix.net/website