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The Church of Scotland in Lochaber has developed a new way of working in order to be more flexible and responsive to the needs of communities.
They have done this by creating one large charge with a number of places of worship and a ministry team to serve the whole area.
Duncansburgh MacIntosh and Kilmallie are now united in a single organisation as Fort William Kilmallie. That congregation has three places of worship – Corpach, Caol and on The Parade in Fort William – and all of these are continuing to be used.
The congregation is linked with Kilmonivaig, covering Spean Bridge and Roy Bridge. The whole group will be served by a ministry team, who will work closely together.
The parish minister for the new group is Rev Richard Baxter, who now adds Kilmallie to his previous role with Duncansburgh MacIntosh and Kilmonivaig.
The team will include Rev Morag Muirhead, (ordained local minister) and Mr Bill Skene (reader), and the congregation is looking forward to welcoming a new full-time team minister early next year.
Explaining the reason for the changes, Rev Richard Baxter said: ‘It makes sense
to work as a team over the whole area instead of in separate units.
‘Everyone around our communities uses the same health centre, the same high school, the same hospital, and the same shops.
‘Our way of working as a church needs to be updated to reflect the realities of life. This helps us to share resources and to work together on the same mission of sharing the good news wherever we can.’
Asked what changes church members and others would see, Richard said: ‘There will be a variety of voices and styles in our worship in each place, as members of the team will work across the whole area.
‘It should help us to be more flexible for organising life events, so people will be free to use our buildings and people in whatever combinations meet their needs.
‘We already share online worship, along with printed and email worship resources, so
we’re building on what we have already been developing.’
Although this may look like a new way of working, Richard said that Kilmallie and Kilmonivaig were two of the largest parishes in Scotland in centuries past.
‘Historically, Fort William was part of Kilmallie, so in some ways we are reconstructing a very old arrangement, as well as creating a new one,’ he added.
Richard said: ‘I hope we can develop a strong and varied team, working together with people from all parts of the parish to revitalise the life and worship of the whole church.
‘As for what we hope to achieve, our aim is simply to try and find out what God is doing and to join in.’