Local Review Report 2 : Your Church Today



Kincardine & Deeside Presbytery



                                             Local Church Review                                                    


                                                 YOUR CHURCH TODAY

Stonehaven Dunnottar

linked with

Stonehaven South


“Love God and serve the world.

  Serve God and love the world”      


Scottish Charity Numbers:

SC013165 and SC016565






Introduction................................................................................................................................................... 3

1.           The story of our churches ...................................................................................... 3-4

2.           Life of the congregation........................................................................................ 5-11

3.           Congregation and Wider Church............................................................................ 12

4.           Resources – people, buildings, money............................................................ 13-14

5.           Presbytery Plan.......................................................................................................... 15

6.           Communication.......................................................................................................... 16









This “REPORT 2 : YOUR CHURCH TODAY” was compiled from group work at open joint meeting on 14th February plus individually completed reports submitted anonymously.  Apologies if some of the answers seem lengthy but it was necessary that everyone’s response was included.

A second meeting took place on 13th March and this resulted in our Joint Future Plan. This is not a definitive document but forms the basis of continued discussions, decisions and development.



1.    The story of our churches


1.1 Stonehaven’s story: Stonehaven is a seaside town founded on fishing and farming but, as the venue for many holiday makers from around the country, also a place of fun. Today the fishing boats no longer go out from the harbour and although there are still hard-working farmers in the surrounding countryside, the focus within the town itself is on attracting tourists through the natural beauty and historical interest of the area.

In its recent past the town became home to many commuters and off-shore workers in the booming oil and gas industries. This resulted in the planning and building of many new homes. The effect of the recent slump in these industries is only now beginning to be felt with job losses and fears for future employment.  

Our churches set within the local community have been part of the changing fortunes and focus of Stonehaven for centuries.

1.2 Dunnottar’s story:

The location of the present Dunnottar Church has a long spiritual history that predates the Scottish Reformation and the birth of the Church of Scotland. The oldest building on the site is the Marischal Aisle completed in 1582: later the final resting place of some of the Keith family with its Dunnottar associations.

The main church today is built around a simple structure dated 1782, extended to its final external shape by 1903 and tastefully and purposefully updated internally under the millennium project. This has been part of a continued determination by the congregational membership to meet the changing needs of the local community.   

This strength of purpose was made very clear in the fundraising for and the eventual building of St Bridget’s [ a name with Dunnottar Castle links] by 1888 as a church for the people of the Old Town. This continued missional concern led to the adaption of the building [including the removal of the pews] to a hall church with increased flexibility of use.

Dunnottar is an old church but an ever developing one: respectful of her cherished past but always looking forward to how she may faithfully serve the people of today and tomorrow.  


1.3 South’s story

The South Church history is a long and varied one.


Its origin dates back to February, 1843 when an association consisting of members from the churches of Dunnottar and Fetteresso was formed in anticipation of the disruption which came in May.  It became a Free Church and the first communion was held on 25 June, 1843. 


It is interesting to note that from the year of 1846 to 1873 the South Church ran a Free Church school in Robert Street.


The Church building on Cameron Street was built and dedicated in April, 1869.  From 1889 to 1895 the Church was extending and supported a missionary who used the Mission Hall in the old town and worked among the fisher folk, for at that time there were 60 boats in Stonehaven.


In 1900 South Church joined with the United Presbyterian Church and became the United Free Church, and in 1929, the South Church became a Church of Scotland and has had two linkages, one with Kinneff Church which ended in 2007 and now one with Dunnottar.


South Church has a history of adapting and developing and occupies a central position within the town, its hall being well used by members of the community.


1.4 Our joint story so far ….

A deferred linkage between Dunnottar and South was established in 2006 while Rev Gordon Farquharson was minister of Dunnottar and Rev David Stewart at the South. The linkage would only come into effect when Mr Stewart demitted office. There was meantime a growing co-operation and closeness between the two congregations such as joint worship services during the Summer months. 

Rev David Stewart demitted office in the Summer of 2012. The linkage came into immediate effect and the then incumbent of Dunnottar Rev Rosslyn Duncan was inducted as minister of the South in August 2012.  

A general principle was quickly established: equality in decision making and in responsibility. It was for example decided by the Trustees of both congregations to sell the South Manse and to retain the one at Dunnottar with its shared financial upkeep equally divided.

We have now been in linkage for almost four years. During this time there have been different understandings of what being in a linkage actually means and how it affects those who are trying to minster in many different ways within it. There have been different levels of commitment to worshipping, working and witnessing together. As a consequence some people are quite happy to continue as we are but to go no further along the road to eventual unity. Some believe we have gone too forward already and want to step back. Others think we cannot get to union quick enough.

This time of Local Review allows us space to consider together - prayerfully and purposefully - the way forward that makes best use of all the resources we have at our disposal [people with diverse gifts and skills; money; buildings] to proclaim the Gospel of God in Christ and to serve the needs of this ever-changing and ever-growing community in the wider Stonehaven area and beyond.     

2.     Life of the congregation


Worship – The shared experience of meeting God; we gather to express our need for God and to express our gratitude for all that God has done for us.

  •          Style(s) of worship – describe a typical service format;
  •          Number of weekly services; patterns of worship;
  •          Musical range; praise band; organ; soloists; etc;
  •          Use of audio visual equipment;
  •          Congregational member involvement in leading worship;
  •          Anything else you would like to tell us?


The linkage came into effect in August 2012. Initially separate services were held at both Dunnottar and South. However this was not successful. Congregational numbers at the South were particularly small. There was also little time for the Minister to engage in any time of fellowship with members of either congregation. From January 2013 there have been weekly joint services in the different locations.

Sadly there are those who do not attend worship in any location other than their original church.

Low numbers of South members attending worship at any of the three locations are particularly worrying.

Most services currently follow the traditional ‘hymn sandwich’ [hymns, prayers, children’s address – often with visual aids - , readings, sermon] with variations for all-age services. However a recent innovation has been our Fifth Sundays at St Bridget’s  – worship ‘with a difference’ ie alternative style and format – gathering round tables – enjoying activities including crafts  - enjoying fellowship and refreshments before and after service

Lectionary readings usually used. Bible version varies. Pew Bibles Good News in South and New English Bible.  “Roots” material also used at both churches.

Both orders of service and hymn boards are used at Dunnottar and South.  

Organ music. Piano. Occasional visiting Brass/Praise Band. Joint choir. No resident organist therefore rota to be organised. This is a difficult and time-consuming task taken on by two members of the joint worship team. Different instrumentalists are encouraged but there has been no great response as yet. The Kilwhang hand bell Ringers play once or twice a year. 

Use of CH4 at Dunnottar and CMP at South.  SGP and JP are also available at Dunnottar. Occasional use of CDs.

Occasional but much appreciated Sunday School/Kids Praise participation eg Nativity,  Harvest and End of Session services.

Puppets are making the occasional appearance J

Limited use of Power Point.  – screen/projector/lap top need to be set in place each time  and there are few people willing to help out with the technical aspects. Occasions include: Christingle, Fifth Sundays, Holy Week, Christian Aid, India Village Ministries, Blythewood Shoebox Appeal. The need for more permanent multi-media equipment is clear but not necessarily for use every week.

Loop system appreciated although there are ineffective spots at both Dunnottar and South.


Recording of services - currently only at Dunnottar but on the South ‘to do list’ - for distribution to housebound/elderly.

Rota of regular Scripture readers. More dramatized readings welcome.

Prayers for others led by people other than the minister happens at Dunnottar only. This needs to be rectified.

Joint worship team regularly lead whole service. Ian Wilson, a South member, often provides pulpit supply in the Minister’s absence .

Other special services incclude: Holy Week and Easter; Bereavement, School end of terms, Watchnight, elderly/housebound

Plus regular communion [4 times a year plus extra post-service] with afternoon services at St Bridget’s. Evening communion services twice a year at the South.

Home Communions upon request.

Play area for young children at Dunnottar. 

Bus transport provided wherever the service is held.



Evangelism - The calling of every Christian to be a witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is all the ways in which we share our Good News and bring others to the point of beginning their own journey of faith.

-      How do you help people to start to become Christians?

-      Communication;

-      Anything else you would like to tell us?




As individuals:

-          lead by example

-          be open about our faith … willing to talk and to share … work, school whenever/wherever

-          friendship

-          involvement in community

As a church:

-          nurture of children through Sunday School /Kids Praise but also through connections with schools and youth organisations

-          Scripture Union in local primary schools

-          Chaplaincies in care homes, schools and youth organisations

-          encourage worship attendance of people of all ages through parish ‘drops’ at special times such as Christmas 

-          offer a warm and sincere welcome at all services/events

-          make it easier for ‘lapsed’ members to come back without embarrassment

-          make worship ‘accessible’ for the non-churched at baptisms/weddings/funerals e.g. do not assume everyone knows what to do/say eg Lord’s Prayer ; do not assume everyone is familiar with even basic bible passages and tenets of faith  

-          make church buildings physically warm, comfortable, conducive to joyful/meaningful worship 

-          offer different style of 5th Sunday services attract people unfamiliar/uncomfortable with traditional church services

-          Bible Study – relaxed and encouraging atmosphere – deliberately not led or attended by the Minister 

-          Enquirers / new communicants – rather than run formal courses such as Alpha personal direct invitations for informal chats have been offered – take up however disappointingly low

-          Be Creative initiative for children / young people – Fridays after school with different activities – but again take up very low


Provide diverse “non-threatening” way in to the life of the church:

-          Thursday fellowship coffee ….Lunch Club ….Craft group … Guild ….Coffee/Craft mornings and seasonal Sales : all attended regularly by many non-members

-          Social events [Ceilidh, Burns suppers, BBQ]  - many said that more similar events were needed but recently organised activities have not been well supported eg concerts, quiz night, ceilidh 

-          Church run activities: whist, bowling, badminton

-          support and involvement in Eco issues

-          support of Fairtrade

-          other “third party” projects: local, national and international   

-          decorating buildings for Easter / Harvest / Christmas

-          making premises and other resources available for community groups and activities including churches/hall for Humanist funerals

-          providing technical support for school and local nursery plays etc

-          flower/card/prayer/towel ministries extended beyond membership


Raising awareness/profile of the Church:

-          Easter eggs: farmers market

-          Carol singing in the square – sadly not very effective


Service - The living out of our faith in practical ways.  Jesus called us to be servants of all and this is shown to others as we care for our neighbours.

-          What systems of Pastoral Care (elder districts, etc.) do you have?

-          How do you respond to the needs of others in the parish and beyond?

-          Are you involved with school or other chaplaincies?

-          In what ways are you involved with social issues?

-          In what ways do you share responsibilities with community groups or agencies and/or mission partnerships at home or abroad?

-          Anything else you would like to tell us?



Elders districts: elders, pastoral elders, visitors, befrienders:

-          These are insufficient in number therefore many members are left unvisited especially those outside the town. This is an increasing problem with an elderly membership with more people needing to be visited and fewer people willing and able to make these visits. 

Minister: with her increasing work load and consequent time constraints her visits are generally for urgent or specialist reasons e.g baptisms, funerals, weddings, home communion or ‘crisis’ situations

Thursday fellowship coffee and regular lunch club

-          provide time of good food and fellowship

-          also contact point for pastoral care [eg who’s missing, who’s not looking well etc]


Funerals - care of the dying and the bereaved

-          Minister’s public perceived role but long term elders can provide continuing care   

-          number of funerals high for whole Stonehaven area – great concern for both local ministers especially as we provide mutual pastoral cover and support 


Visiting/befriending the elderly/housebound/sick/bereaved/lonely

Care homes

-          prayerful and practical support to local homes including Clashfarquhar [Crossreach]

-          worship services

-          funeral care



-          end of term services and assemblies

-          supporting curriculum activities – RMPS

-          pastoral care of pupils, staff and families

-          providing premises/expertise for shool plays etc and fundraisers

-          Scripture Union

-          strong relationships with primary and special needs schools – currently much less so with Mackie 


Youth organisations: BBs … Cadets… Brownies/Rainbows

-          provide practical support

-          chaplaincies


-          premises available for diverse community groups including mental health and special needs

-          polling station

-          children have a safe play area in the garden at St Bridget’s

-          stewards station for Fireballs

Emergencies such as flooding

-          emergency shelter

-          café during clean up time

-          fundraising

-          flood fund distribution

-          flood prevention committee

-          chairing public meetings

South is an eco-congregation and has recently hosted regional events

Dunnottar has recently provided premises and assistance for 121 meetings



Cyrenians – year round food boxes plus Christmas/Harvest collections 

Used stamps – dogs for the deaf 

Salvation Army – Christmas toys and Christmas collections

Far and Wide – limited involvement in running of this facility

Knitting for seamen’s mission plus many other causes home and abroad [fish and chip babies, peru jumpers]

Royal Legion – Remembrance and other special anniversary services


Child sponsorship

-          Indian Village Ministries

-          Compassion

Christian Aid – regular collections and other fundraising [band concert]

Blythewood Christmas Shoeboxes

CRAFT GROUP: fellowship plus items for fundraising and charity 

Guild projects: fellowship plus awareness / fundraising for ‘projects’


Discipleship - The act of following Christ. It is about learning what it means to be a Christian as we experience life and question what we believe. The church should equip its members with “practical guidance for expressing their faith in the world during the week.”

-          How do you help people of all ages [Children, Young People, new members and adults] row in their faith?

-          In what ways do you promote personal devotions, private prayer and opportunities to reflect on life experiences?

-          Which resources do you use?

-          Anything else you would like to tell us?



Sunday School / Kids Praise

School assemblies

Boys Brigade – sadly local company now facing closure

Keeping up direct contact of baptismal families eg initialled towels at Christmas after baptism. Need to resume regular birthday cards. 



Bible Appreciation Group


Life and Work

Website – South daily readings

CofS website

Inspire magazine

India Village Ministries newsletter

Prayer table

Prayer cards

Bookmarks on pews

Radio: Mearns FM

Prayer group

-          monthly prayer theme

-          prayer list

-          monthly pre-service meeting


-          Prayers

-          Lectionary gospel readings and worship themes for personal preparation/reflection/prayer  

-          Letter form the Manse

-          Opportunity to submit own thoughts in articles

Prayers for others at Dunnottar – written by congregation members

Promote activities in other churches

“Roots” all-age and children’s material

World Day of Prayer

Crossreach prayer diary

Prayer Trust materials




Fellowship - The opportunity of experiencing God’s grace and love in and through God’s people; this is about people really getting to know each other.

-          How do you build relationships within the church?

-          How do you encourage people to meet outwith worship?

-          Anything else you would like to tell us?



We recognise the importance of meeting and eating together including

-          refreshments and chat after services

-          Thursday Coffee 

-          Lunch Club

-          Easter breakfast

-          Kids Praise BBQ, parties and picnics


Other recent successful initiatives:

-          Earth hour supper by candlelight

-          Choir lunch


Importance of warm and friendly welcome at door

Sales and coffee mornings : fundraising, fellowship, raising church profile

Social events

-          Concerts

-          Sports – bowling, badminton

-          Crafts

-          Whist



Keeping in touch.. deliveries of magazines … communion invitations … especially important for the elderly/housebound and those others unable to attend worship …. also showing we continue to care through flower/card/towel ministries

Kilwhang handbell ringers: socialising and service   

Dressing the churches for Christmas, Harvest, Easter

-          scope for skill sharing and socialising


Working together:

-          Magazine meetings

-          Joint worship group

-          Property committee


Congregation and Wider Church


Wider church – Your relationships and involvement with Presbytery, central church structures and other denominations.

  • How would you describe your relationship with Presbytery?
  • Tell us about any relationships with Councils (and/or their committees) of the General Assembly.
  • Tell us about any ecumenical relationships.
  • Anything else you would like to tell us?
  • Tell us about Ecumenical relationships
  • Tell us about any partnerships you have with the World Church
  • Tell us about your involvement with organisations like Christian Aid.




Minister plus 5 elders [3 from Dunnottar and 2 from South] are heavily involved in the work of Presbytery.

Updates/reports on Presbytery and its activities are presented at all Session meetings

There still remains a sense with many of the membership that Presbytery is other than ourselves i.e. totally separate. There is an inability/unwillingness to recognise that Presbytery is a body that consists of ministers and elders such as ourselves trying to support/encourage/enable local congregations. The legalistic language and proceedings of Presbytery and its publications, while they may be necessary as a court of the Church. do not help.   

The Minister and Presbytery elders attend the General Assembly on a rota basis. The membership is encouraged to keep up to date with proceedings on-line. Matters of particular interest and importance are reported.   

 Ecumenical activities:

-          World Day of Prayer – held at various church locations on a rota basis but now always organised by our Minister 

-          Christian Aid – previous combined participation now generally left to individual congregational participation

-          Holy Week – shared evening services at St Bridget’s with early morning service at the Harbour followed by breakfast at St Bridget’s provided by team from Dunnottar

-          Remembrance – now alternates between St James and South – our Minister  always involved in leading worship

-          Nine Lessons and Carols – choir and readers from various congregations but organised by our Minister and now held at St Bridget’s 

-          Schools – chaplaincies shared among several local church groups

-          Residential homes – short services on – Sunday afternoons and Wednesdays at various times are led by a variety of church groups – rota currently organised by our Minister 

Mutually supportive of social events and fundraisers

Missionary Partners: India Village Ministries

-          “wee hoosie” collection boxes and other fundraisers

-          updates through circulation of regular newsletters

  • welcome visits by Suresh, our missionary partner, and his family


3.     Resources – people, buildings, money


Human Resources – People helping to make your mission statement a reality.

  • Who are your ministry team members?
  • What support is there for your minister/ministry team including admin support?
  • How is training and development (in-service training, study leave, staff appraisals, etc.) supported?
  • With your present staffing and volunteers are you resourced to achieve the developments highlighted in this report?
  • Anything else you would like to tell us?



Minister is the team of one.

Mutual support with Minister of Stonehaven Fetteresso eg pastoral cover for holidays, study leave etc.

Administrative support provided for 6 hours week approx. Paid by Dunnottar.

Assistance is required due to heavy funeral and care home/sheltered housing responsibilities.

Difficulty in finding a congregational Treasurer willing to take on all the responsibilities of the office.   

Difficulty in filling South Church Officer post [for weddings, funerals etc].

Difficulty in finding Sunday School leaders at Dunnottar

Drop in elder numbers especially at South

Many deliveries - paper, office supplies, cleaning materials for Dunnottar and Fairtrade goods for South – are delivered to the Manse. Minster then required to deliver them to appropriate locations. 


Buildings – Sanctuary, halls, manse, church officer’s house, etc.

  • How are your premises used and when was the last full inspection?
  • What is their state of repair?
  • Describe their suitability for purpose?
  • Do you have a five year Property maintenance plan?
  • Anything else you would like to tell us?



Copies of the following reports attached:

-          Manse maintenance plan [joint responsibility]

-          Initial report on possible changes at South using proceeds from sale of South Manse

-          Five year rolling plan at Dunnottar – but currently subject to alteration due to extensive roof/wall work that may be necessary at Dunnottar Church 


Last Presbytery property inspection at Dunnottar took place on September 2012.

No Presbytery property inspection at the South has taken place in recent years.


We are beginning to ask ourselves if we can justify the high expense in terms of time, labour and finance of all our church buildings especially with such large expenditure likely in the near future. This is difficult topic with so many members emotionally and spiritually deeply connected to certain worship spaces but it needs to be addressed. 




MoneyIncome, reserves, stewardship, etc.

  • Comment on your ability to finance all you are currently doing.
  • How is the work of your church financed – is it mainly from givings or is it dependent on income from hall lettings, legacy interest, etc?
  • Are you over-dependent on givings from any particular age group or individuals?
  • When did you last address stewardship, what stewardship programme are you using and when will stewardship next be addressed?
  • Anything else you would like to tell us?



Copies of separate 2015 Accounts for both Dunnottar and South are included with our reports.

Two large and unexpected legacies at Dunnottar provided the necessary capital for some of the recent/proposed property costs at Dunnottar. Extensive fund raising will be necessary to cover the remainder. Grants etc are currently being applied for.

As stated above the sale of the South manse has provided a large amount of capital for property work at the South.

The general expenditure of both congregations regularly exceeds their annual income. 

Both congregations are primarily elderly. Givings tend to remain static. Substantial number of donors especially at South have not moved to direct debit. Difficulties therefore in budgeting/cash flow.

It has been several years since a stewardship campaign was held in either congregation. It is planned for a joint campaign to be held in the next year or so.  

Hall lets for both congregations provide substantial income. 


4.     Presbytery Plan


Presbytery Plan



As members of a linked charge we are considering whether we simply continue as a linkage or more actively word towards eventual union.  This question is currently taking up a large part of our thinking and planning.

However we also recognise that we need to reflect upon our place [whether as a linkage or union]in the wider Stonehaven area.   

We are unhappy with the current allocation of only 2 FTE to the Stonehaven area in spite of its population size, is high funeral work load and the many other areas of service [schools, residential care, extensive new house building]. We recognize the great and increasing pressure on the existing clergy and any future ministries.

The clergy have already begun to reflect together on this. Discussions with the Session of Fetteresso and members of the Presbytery MAV committee will begin in September 2016. 










Communication Strategy – Tell us about your communication strategy/plan including website use:

  • How do you promote your vision and mission?
  • How do you keep in touch with members?
  • How do you encourage members to keep in touch with one another?
  • How do you advertise your church and its activities?
  • Anything else you would like to tell us?



Regular visitations by elders and visitors.

Spotlight and Southscene magazines: delivered/posted to church membership. Extra copies for others.   Dunnottar 9 months out of 12. South 4 times a year.  Magazines contain ‘letter from the manse’; worship themes; prayer items; as well as news of many church activities.


Posters – church notice boards, sheltered housing, library, surgery etc 

Wall hangings, displays etc in church buildings

Invitations – paper and personal – communion – back to church/ bring along a friend services

Parish drop leaflets: Advent - Christmas

Leader articles and occasionally thereafter in Talking Newspaper

Fellowship events: such as Thursday Coffee, Craft Group, post service refreshments, Lunch Club, bowling. 






Printer Printable Version