January 2019

This session meeting was an extra meeting – mainly to consider the question of appraisal & adjustment.  As you probably know – we are now facing a serious shortage of ministers and radical steps will need to be taken to resolve how the current supply of ministers is shared fairly among congregations.

There were a number of meetings held by presbytery to look at possible ways forward and at our meeting we were presented with the 2 most likely to work options.

1. The creation of Hubs (ours to be John Knox, St Columba’s and Kilmaurs)

2. A series of adjustments (Unions) to reduce the total number of ministries required (our local one would be John Knox & St Columba’s)

When discussed at session – there was merit in either, but we probably favoured the Hub idea.

Representatives of John Knox attended the final presbytery meeting and, after much discussion, the majority of presbytery decided to go for the adjustment (union) option.  This means that the plan for Stewarton going forward is that John Knox will have a union with St Columba’s which will take place after Gavin’s ministry ends.

It should be noted that

  • There will need to be further discussion between the 2 churches as to how this takes place

  • The question of which buildings to use will be decided by a presbytery committee who will be conducting a review of all church buildings

  • The Stewarton churches made the point that this could only succeed and be radical if we had to pay less in Ministries and Mission (M&M) contributions to the church centrally as well as less central control of conduct of services

Other items

Finance – The treasurer confirmed our projected deficit of £13,000 for this year (this includes an increase of £3000 in our M & M payments to central church this year).  We urgently need to find grant money for our youth work expenses.

Small hall – session agreed to go ahead with the replacement of roof in small hall

New elders – We have 13 prospective new elders undergoing some training before deciding finally if they wish to continue to become elders.

Graham Whitham, Session Clerk

November 2018

New Elders

As you know we asked for suggestions of names of members who could be asked to consider becoming elders and as a result we had a group of names – all of whom have been approached.  As you would expect – a number declined and the remainder agreed to pursue this further (by attending our away day and some training from Gavin).

Hopefully the final group of new elders will be ordained in the New Year.


Unitary Constitution

We have now had final confirmation that our new constitution is adopted by the church. This means all matters of governance are now the responsibility of Kirk Session including finance and property. We hope all our retiring Deacons will find new roles in the church to use their gifts and talents.


Away Day - 10 November

We had a good away day with our team of elders and prospective elders.  The focus was on some material – 6 essential strategies to help young people discover and love your church

see website - https://churchesgrowingyoung.com/

It’s based on research into churches that are attracting young people and continuing to be churches of all-ages.

Some of the ideas include that younger people want are

o   A warm church community that takes Jesus’ message seriously

o   Meaningful involvement

o   discussion on more topical issues

o   feeling of belonging  and being needed in the church

o   to be able to see church as relevant

There is much more to the material and it is hoped to have church wide meetings (either a day conference or series of meetings) to get us all involved.


Special Interest Groups

A lot of the plans for 2019 are maintaining work that is already underway.  There is some thought being given to moving our Tuesday morning open time to Saturday morning to see if it attracts more people. 

Sessions plan to trial a new style of communion service has been postponed to March (allowing the December communion to be a part of a celebration of women in ministry). The change in March will simply involve a change to the way that we distribute the elements.

Finance & Property have produced the more demanding reports

For the current year and for 2019 – we are running an operational deficit of £13,000 which means we will need to look at ways of increasing income as well as cutting costs.

In addition to this we have the following significant building costs coming soon

§  Repair church ceiling £3221

§  Replacement of small hall roof £4752

§  Replacement of boilers £20,760

§  Repaint the church ceiling – no estimate yet

Again we will have to look for ways to finance this.


We have in fact decided to use some of our reserves to go ahead and repair the church ceiling to prevent it becoming dangerous (this does not include painting).  There will be some disruption to use of the sanctuary – but we have booked the work for 4th & 7th of December.  This is simply a repair to plaster – we will have to repaint the ceiling at a later stage.

Graham Whitham, Session Clerk




September 2018

Church weekend away, 22nd – 24th March 2019, for the whole church, time together spent at Scripture Union’s new facility at Gowanbank in Darvel. More details to follow.

World Mission - a small group from John Knox (Helen Hunter / Christine Monks & Gavin Niven) are planning to visit our partner church in Northern Cyprus – all self-funded with some help from central church funds.

Worship – last year Session decided to try new ways for conducting our communion service. For the next communion service (December) we will try a form of service that many churches and our own presbytery has used – this involves inviting people in small groups to come out to take communion at the front (in the aisles). More information to come over coming weeks. [Update: This year we have an opportunity to celebrate 50 years of women in ministry in the Church of Scotland and the December morning communion is an apt service for this celebration. The original plans for December communion, will therefore be put in place for the March communion instead.]

Property - following the completion of our new roof, it has become apparent that there are a few more areas in need of urgent attention. This includes: sanctuary ceiling (plaster repair and painting), new central heating boiler, new roof and ceiling in small hall and a repair of our front wall & gate. This obviously looks expensive & we will need to look at grants & fundraising. The first step will be to get some quotes to clarify the picture.

Youth work – amongst other things our youth worker continues to work with our own H2O as well as a group of teenagers who come to Alpha / pizza evenings at the cottage. In addition – Gillian continues to help implement the new chaplaincy approach at Stewarton Academy as well as provide chaplaincy services. She delivers the CAP youth money course at the Academy and has facilitated a paired reading group where members of John Knox will help S1/2 teenagers with their reading. She also provides crossover outreach to the P6/7 group as they transition to the Academy.

Harvest service – is on 7th October with a light lunch and we will again collect shoeboxes for Blythswood Care.

September/October 2017

Notes from September Session

2 people supported by Session to become worship leaders – Gillian Burns & Peter Anderson.

Trustees are hoping to have an away day & hopefully spend time on discussing – the linkage and unitary constitution among other things.

A joint meeting of Deacons Court & Session was held to look at finance

The current roof project costs have increased as we had to replace sarking boards as well as other parts (slates / waterproof layer etc) – this additionally meant we had to replace the gutters.  The overspend is of the order of £20,000.  This will produce a cash flow problem for us, so The General Trustees of the C of S have agreed to lend us £15,000 for 1 year (interest free) which will then let us reclaim a grant equivalent to the VAT paid as well as bring forward some gift aid tax relief.  These 2 measures should allow repayment of the loan.

G Whitham
Session Clerk