Last week we had our Annual General Meeting, at which we looked back on God's goodness to us as a church over the previous year.
We kept the business part short and then enjoyed some Chinese food together!
The Session report for 2016 is below. As someone commented on the night, we're grateful for further encouragements in 2017 already, which aren't included in this report. We look forward to seeing what God will do in the year ahead!
Stranraer RPC Session Report for 2016
2016 was a year which saw many encouragements in the life and witness of the congregation.
We give thanks to God for the privilege of public worship which we enjoyed together on 103 occasions this year. There was an average attendance of 25 in the morning and 13 in the evening. We were encouraged to see new people begin worshipping with us. It is our prayer that in 2017 we would see some of those who worship with us publicly profess their faith in Jesus and come under Christ-appointed oversight by becoming church members. We would encourage our members to take every opportunity they can to worship God with his people, in fulfilment of their membership vows.
Rev. Stephen Steele preached in Stranraer 81 times on the Lord’s Day, as well as leading two Bible studies per week. He preached on the following books and subjects: Mark chs 5-8, the life of Elijah, Genesis 1-3, prayer, 1st Peter, the ‘One anothers’ of the New Testament, Luke ch 24, 1st Samuel chs 1-7 and the Church.
- Rev. Gerald Milligan preached 12 times
- Mr Stephen McCollum (RPCS) preached 4 times
- Rev. Stephen Neilly (RPCI) preached twice.
- Mr Joey Dunlap (RPCNA), Mr Philip Ross (APC) and Rev. Tom McWhirter (UFC) all preached once.
Session met 6 times. We are grateful that Rev. Andrew Quigley and Mr George Rodger (Airdrie) continue to serve as interim elders, and prayerfully look forward to seeing more local elders ordained. The current local elders met on 16 other occasions to pray for the members, friends and work of the congregation.
The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was celebrated twice. 26 people partook of the sacrament on 29th May, and 19 on 27th November.
Up to 4 children were cared for in the crèche during the morning service each week. Bible stories were taught using Go Teach materials. Session thank the following people who cared for our covenant children in this way: Elizabeth Craig, Ruth-Anne Henderson, Lesley McIntyre, Angela Milligan, David Milligan, Gerald Milligan, Ruth Milligan and Carla Steele.
February: On 7th February, Rev. Gerald Milligan was installed as a ruling elder. This was followed by a congregational lunch at the manse, after which we heard the testimonies of George Rodger (one of our interim elders) and his wife Janette. It was an encouraging day, and we are grateful for Gerald’s continued willingness to serve the congregation, now in a new capacity.
March: March saw the first ladies’ get-together, organised by Carla and held at the manse.
April: On 29th April, Rev. Peter Jemphrey gave an encouraging mission update on the work in Galway.
May: On the 8th of May, a memorable congregational trip to Wigtown was held following the morning service, to mark the 331st anniversary of the martyrdom of the Two Margarets. An act of worship was held at the martyrs’ stake. We are grateful to Wigtown Baptist Church for the use of their hall to eat our lunch, Mr Jim Henderson (a member of the congregation) for driving us in his vintage bus, and to God for the great weather and the fellowship enjoyed.
June: In June, the congregation had its first week-long RP Mission team, led by Mr Joey Dunlap (a member of Grace Gibsonia RPCNA, who has since begun training for the ministry). The team:
- Gave out postcard invitations to every house in the town, as well as Stoneykirk, Sandhead & Lochans.
- Gave their testimonies in two higher RMPS classes in Stranraer Academy.
Helped organise and run a ladies' coffee morning, men's curry & quiz night and church BBQ
- Cleaned 1300 seats at Stair Park (home of Stranraer FC) in preparation for the new season.
- Helped out with the drop-in cafe which Stephen volunteers at each week.
- Sang some psalms and spent some time talking to the elderly folk in Dalrymple Court (sheltered housing).
- Did an open-air psalm sing in the town centre.
- Visited Covenanter monuments in Anwoth & Wigtown.
July: In the summer, a new church website was launched, featuring information about the church, audio sermons and news articles, including Stephen’s regular column in the Stranraer & Wigtownshire Free Press. We have since launched a church Facebook page.
August: We had a weekend-long GO Team helping us from 26th-29th August. Eight team members came from Northern Ireland and three from Scotland. We distributed postcards to the surrounding towns and villages, sang psalms in the town centre and in Dalrymple Court. We are also ran a number of events for the congregation: a BBQ, a screening of the Knox film, a men’s breakfast & a church lunch. A number of visitors were at church for the first time on the Lord’s Day. Half of the team’s transport costs were covered by the GO Committee, while the other half was generously covered by Trinity RPCI.
September: In September we began a weekly prayer meeting before the morning service. We would encourage as many people as possible to come and pray for the Lord’s blessing on the preaching of his word, and for the advance of his kingdom.
During the past year, there have been a number of developments in regard to the church buildings. Around the turn of the year, lead was stolen off the hall roof. This has since been repaired and an insurance pay-out received. During the repairs, it became clear that several of the trusses in the hall were not in a good condition, and needed to be replaced. This was confirmed by a survey of the hall, carried out by Asher Associates of Dumfries. This work was carried out using money we had received when two lots of war stock held by the congregation were redeemed by the government. We also received a grant of £2,000 from the Ferguson Bequest Fund. We are grateful to God for his timely provision.
It was also decided to do major work to the hall, putting in a heating system, along with two new toilets and a new kitchen. This would necessitate a new entry way between the hall and the church. It was also decided to create a space at the back of the main church where tea and coffee could be served after services. A survey of the main church building was also carried out, and we plan to begin working through its recommendations in the year ahead.
December: Work to the hall began in December, being carried out by Mr Colin Muirhead, who is a member of the congregation, and co-ordinated by Rev. Milligan. Significant financial gifts towards this work were received from Trinity RPCI and an individual in the RPCNA.
Looking back on a year of growth and development we rejoice at seeing Christ build his church through the preaching of the Word, and for a deepening sense of fellowship in the congregation. We are grateful for the prayerful and financial support received from God’s people around the world, and particularly the Irish RP Church. We enter 2017 confident that ‘nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few’ (1 Samuel 14:6).