LETTER FROM THE MANSE
Friends, even good ones, often can’t resist comments about a minister only working an hour on a Sunday. If I had a £5 note for every time someone has said that to me, I would be rich indeed! Mind you, there are some weeks when it would be wonderful if that was the case – but not really.
Whatever life in the ministry involves, it is never dull. One of my favourite programmes on television is “Rev” the fictional (almost) tale of Adam Smallbone, played by Tom Hollander and his wife Alex, the wonderful Olivia Colman. Adam’s small rundown London Parish has a great deal in the story lines with which many parish ministers would identify.
Recently I have been involved in supplying information about the church to those responsible for the Easthaven 800 celebrations. An information request about the War Memorial reminded me that there were some congregational “supplements” for Life and Work dating from the 1918 to 1938. They make for interesting reading about life in earlier times. Here are some excerpts.
April 1920 – ‘The children will never forget it’ said the father of one of the children who were at the Christmas-tree party in Panbride School on the evening of 10th January. Most of the children had never seen a Christmas tree before and were greatly excited and charmed by the tree, which was so wonderfully beautiful with its lighted candles and many coloured gifts’”
November 1936. “Four Easthaven men have received awards from the RNLI for their brave feat in rescuing the occupants of the distressed boat, Fisher Lass on 23rd August. Three of the men are brothers, the eldest being an octogenarian. They are James, William and Alexander Herd. The fourth member was Robert Ramsay, a railway employee. The event occurred on a wild day when a heavy sea was running. A motor boat, drifting towards the shore, appeared to be in imminent danger of being dashed to pieces against the jagged rocks. The Easthaven men did not need to see the signal of distress that was sent up, they had already seen that the sails were blown away and the engine was out of commission.
Hastily pushing off in a rowing boat, they pulled towards the rapidly approaching craft. They succeeded in bringing it to anchor, and took the three occupants ashore in their own boat. We are proud to be able to claim these heroes as members of Panbride Church”
Even earlier, Rev David Trail wrote in 1833 in the Second Statistical Account of Scotland, about the Parish of Panbride. “The number of families is 300 – 88 are engaged in agriculture, 103 in trade manufactures and handicrafts, and 109 not comprised in either class. The people in general are sober and moral in their habits and regular in their attendance at public ordinances. They are also industrious and frugal and are altogether a very respectable portion of the community”
One of the junior members of the Sunday School wrote an essay in June 1923, entitled “What you should do on Sunday” ‘Sunday is the first day of the week, and it should be carefully observed by everyone because it was the day Jesus rose from the dead. Everyone who can, should go to Church on Sunday, and if he can’t he should read his Bible at home. On Sunday everybody should put away his weekly books and read better ones.’
90 years on, that junior member in 1923 would probably not recognize a Sunday in 2014, but I believe that the church still has an important place in the life of this community. I wonder what someone in another 90 years (2104) will make of us as viewed through recent issues of UPDATE? Hopefully, still “altogether a very respectable portion of the community”.