Pray for Bracadale & Duirinish

Struan_FCC

 

I had the pleasure of assisting at the communion weekend in Bracadale & Duirinish Free Church (Continuing), Isle of Skye, over last weekend, 5 April. This was a great joy for me personally, as a return trip to my native island, and also to help to serve the cause there.

I think it would be helpful to give a brief report, to encourage prayer for that congregation.

 

AREA

Bracadale and Duirinish are the parishes of the West and North-West of the Isle of Skye, an indescribably beautiful part of God’s creation. In the spring sunshine, the great sea lochs that divide the landscape gleamed like sheet glass, while in the distance tower the grey mass of the Cuillins mountain range. The West side of Skye is largely unspoiled countryside, and bears the marks of history: the runrig of ancient crofts on the hillside, the peat banks across the valleys.

The first thing you see on reaching Bracadale by the Portree road is the stone church, where before the Disruption, the great Maighstir Ruaridh, Rev Roderick MacLeod (1794-1868), was minister in the 1820s. This church is still in use today as a place of worship, having been bought many years ago by the Free Presbyterians. Further along the road is the Free Church (pictured), an original nineteenth-century building, scarcely changed down the generations. The pulpit I preached from has served the purpose for generations, and faithful, Biblical sermons have been heard from it consistently for more than a century. I was struck during the Sabbath morning service to notice the inscription on the communion cup: Bracadale Free Church, 1878. Think of that – to drink from the same cup in use in communions ever since the Victorian age!

 

CONGREGATION

This congregation is small and elderly. The area is heavily depopulated, and this shows in the church, where all the communicant members bar the minister and his wife are over the age of 65, and there are no children in regular attendance apart from their own family. Numbers would be about 30 in the morning, 15 in the afternoon service in Waternish (20 miles to the north), and less than 10 in the evening service, alternating between Struan and Carbost.

The congregation suffered a heavy blow in the recent death of the senior elder, Alasdair Nicholson, Amer. Yet the people attend faithfully, and listen closely. The spirit is warm and welcoming, and their joy to have a new minister settled in the congregation is evident. The Lord has maintained His cause here down the generations, and we trust in Him to continue to do so.

 

MINISTER

The new pastor is my former fellow student Rev Calum Smith, originally from Stornoway. I remarked to him as we drove to the church on Sabbath morning what a remarkable providence it is, that having sat together in classes and lectures, that now we should go together to conduct a communion service. The Lord is good! I was encouraged to see his obvious love for his people, and their respect for him as their under-shepherd in the Lord.

His wife, Muriel, and children, Andrew, Eilidh, Angus and Malcolm, seem well settled in their new home. It was great to have in the manse over the weekend Calum’s two sisters, Una and Donna, and nephews Mark and Ross, to help out with the catering of the weekend. We are thankful that God has provided a very suitable manse in a large rental property, on very reasonable terms, just outside Struan.

The fellowship was good: catching up with old friends, making new ones, and encouraging one another in the Lord. I found the preaching to be a joy in such circumstances. Unusually, I took something of a series in four of the five services, excepting only the Sabbath morning service itself, drawing from the life of Noah. I have followed this series in the recent Sabbath evening services in my own congregation, and found that I could adapt some of the messages quite easily to suit the traditional themes of the communion weekend. I cannot speak for others, but I found a rich blessing and encouragement in the weekend, and feel it still.

 

PRAY

This congregation needs prayer, therefore

  • Let’s remember the Lord’s people in small numbers, in remote places, that they would continue to know His presence and blessing;
  • Especially, though, let’s pray that God would draw new people to himself, especially among those who attend church, but seem to make no progress;
  • And let’s pray that the Lord would give others a desire to seek and find salvation in our Highland communities, even those who never attend worship at the moment;
  • Let’s remember faithful ministers in small congregations, that they would be warm, loving, and winsome in their presentation of the Gospel of Jesus;
  • And, above all, that God would be glorified in His worship, alike amongst the many and among the few.
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