80 Rowan Avenue
The following is based (filled out just a little!) on what I said during our Farewell Service.
Lynne and I came to live in Kirriemuir in July 2001 with our three boys Stephen, Roddy & Alasdair due to my post as a chemistry/science teacher at Forfar Academy. Stephen started at Webster’s HS after that summer with the other two entering P6 & P3 respectively at Northmuir PS. The first few months we attended The Gate Church in Dundee with occasional visits to Strathmore CF but at the start of 2002 we made the decision to commit to SCF as Kirriemuir was where our relationships were being made.
In 2004 Andrew who was the Pastor at the time invited me to prayerfully consider becoming an Elder at SCF – some 10 years after Pastor Jim Pirie at Sheddocksley Baptist Church in Aberdeen had done the same thing. And three years later after accepting the call to serve as an Elder, I was appointed Assistant Pastor before becoming Pastor on Andrew’s retirement five years ago.
More significant to me than taking up the position of Pastor, however, was the church voting to affiliate with the Elim Pentecostal Church and then be accepted as an Elim Church Incorporated at the end of 2013. It has been a fruitful connection. I became a Minister in Training prior to being ordained last June in Birmingham and one of our former Elders, Gordon Brown, is now one year into his MIT studies with his placement at Perth Elim.
The fact I am an ordained minister with Elim meant I could apply for the post of Port Chaplain. It was one of the post’s stipulations and so I am thankful to God for taking me through the journey of the past few years. The support, advice and connections I’ve made with Elim have been invaluable not only to me but also to the church here. If we are prepared to engage with the Elim Movement then it gives us a wider perspective on what God is doing in the UK and worldwide rather than just keeping to the confines of our own locality. It was great to have Pastor Steven Holmes and his wife, Annette, from Dundee Elim join with us on Sunday as an expression of that support. Lynne and I together with Kenny & Cheryl were also thoroughly blessed by our time at the Elim Leaders’ Summit in Harrogate last week and the church here has benefited from many fine Elim people over the years who have come to minister, most notably, Kevin & Margaret Peat.
As Lynne and I say farewell to the fellowship that has meant so much to us over the past 17 years I am particularly glad that those senior men – Andrew, Stuart, and Jim – who welcomed us and our boys into the life of the fellowship way back then were prominently involved on Sunday. My first memory of meeting Andrew & May was on a visit to their house for tea over 20 years ago before going up to Noranside for a Prison Fellowship meeting – Isabel Gibb & Eddie Bamforth (now both gone to be with the Lord in glory) were both there, too. Lynne & I also did some house hunting in Kirriemuir back in 1998 which included Stuart & Gail’s former home at The Stables, off the Brechin Road, an encounter where I was convinced Gail was Scandinavian! We also sang two of Jim’s songs on Sunday and I have been so thankful to God for his devoted commitment to leading worship and for his and Angie’s faithful support and perseverance to follow the Lord through the ups and downs of life.
Lynne and I actually did buy a house in Cortachy Crescent back in the summer of 1998 and were all ready to move until 10 days before when it fell through to a lack of building warrants and completion certificates that our solicitor picked up on – despite the fact it had sold twice within Angus since that work was done! This meant we remained another three years in Aberdeen and during that time I was struck down with post-viral fatigue. This led to two spells of two months off teaching over an 18 month period. It also led directly to me laying down the call and journey to Elim ministry I had begun in Aberdeen. However, our move to Kirrie in July 2001 began a really difficult number of months for me. Despite the boys and Lynne settling in quickly, I felt we’d made a mistake in coming here. It was a dark time! I really missed Aberdeen, the people and the church scene there. I had been saved in Aberdeen in 1985 and knew so many people who we had worshipped with, journeyed with, prayed with, gone on mission with, and experienced God’s goodness and grace through. It took the Lord in a personal way together with His people here for me to become anchored into life in Kirriemuir. And so, at the beginning of 2002, we committed ourselves to Strathmore Christian Fellowship which met at that time every Sunday morning in the Town Hall. We settled into the body of Christ here and the call to serve the Lord came springing back up from where I’d buried it!
Over the 17 years since then the enthusiastic encouragement from Andrew, in particular, has been fundamental in developing the ministry that both Lynne and I have been called to by the Lord. For several years, we oversaw the youth with trips to Bradford for the Rocknations youth conference, Edinburgh for the Frenzy Christian music festivals, Aberdeenshire for the Imagine youth festival. Here, there and everywhere! And we also met weekly on a Sunday evening in various locations including our home, Fairlie House, and Bridges.
Andrew also encouraged me to pursue a vision for a monthly outreach dinner meeting along the lines of the Full Gospel Businessmen’s model and for several years we ran meetings on Monday evenings in the Airlie Arms (until the hotel went up in flames!!) and then the Royal Hotel in Forfar.
Further evangelistic ministry work in Kirrie took place with the PWAMM team from Perth at Martin Park and the Challenger bus coming to Kirrie Hill every Friday night over a period of several months; there were also several weekend conferences here in Kirrie – with David Holdaway, Jim Bell, Tommy MacNeil, Mark Rodgers & Andrew Jewell, and Alan Ross; the establishment of what was to become REAL Women – again with Andrew’s encouragement; Arbroath Windmill Centre weekend family retreats – uncomfortable beds and children running around the big old house; the annual Dads and Lads jaunt to Glen Clova – midges, no sleep, and clothes reeking of smoke from the bonfire!; a men’s retreat to Abernethy Ardeonaig above Loch Tay; our regular summer weeks aka ‘Times of Refreshing’ at CLAN Gathering in St Andrews with almost half the church going there to share accommodation in flats at David Russell Hall – or experience the ‘joys’ of camping. I’m not sure where we got our energy from other than from the Lord!! Great memories!
In April 2010 I had a relapse of the post-viral fatigue. Two full terms off school meant I offered to resign from being Assistant Pastor but Andrew and Francis Gordon persuaded me otherwise. I’m grateful to God for their support and wisdom at a time when I was struggling health-wise. Over the years other church highlights have been the purchase and redevelopment of Bridges in 2010-11, the establishment of Angus Foodbank in 2012, and two visits to Uganda (2014 & 2017) with Derek along with Kenny Martin & Hugh Henderson respectively – as well as my own visit to Mozambique last year.
To the many members and adherents of SCF past and present who have supported us, encouraged us, and who we’ve had the privilege of ministering to and walking along side, sometimes at very difficult times, we say ‘thank you’. Some have moved on to other parts of the country or pastures new, and I recall especially those who have gone on to be with the Lord in heaven where there are no more tears or suffering. At times, too, we’ve faced challenges, hurtful words and actions, but thanks be to God who in His grace, mercy and love has used our whole experience here to shape and mould us into the people He wants us to be – for at the end of the day it is all about each of us becoming more like Jesus – that’s the Father’s heart for us all!
It has been a privilege serving the Lord here – particularly over the past 12 years that I have served in a pastoral capacity – and each of you have each played your part in shaping the people Lynne and I are today. In a very real sense, it is you who are enabling us to continue our journey with the Lord back in Aberdeen as Port Chaplain.
The position of Port Chaplain with the Sailors’ Society is an exciting God-given opportunity. We value your prayers as we seek to continue to be led by the Holy Spirit. Of course, with the house still to sell in Rowan Avenue we will be around for a while yet but we are not anxious about that. We will combine some commuting with staying with Lynne’s brother, Scott, until the Lord makes clear what’s happening. We will always have a place in our hearts for Strathmore CF – a people to whom it could be said we’ve given the best years of our lives! Of course in God for the believer the best is yet to come! The bottom line, however, is I pray the power and presence of the Spirit of Christ will lead and guide us all in the days ahead.
Sunday was a special day as we marked the end of our time here with Strathmore CF. It was a great service of praise to our God, with sincere, heartfelt contributions from Andrew and Stuart. It was a wonderful spread of food, too, and well done to Cate, Elizabeth and Cheryl, in particular, for organising that. Lynne and I thank everyone, too, for the many kindnesses shown, and the fellowship not only on the day but throughout many years. The gifts, flowers and cards received both from the church body and from those on a personal level have been much appreciated. Tristan giving me his supply of 2p coins he’d dug up from the garden was such a sweet moment – coins that he was hoping to “grow” into more money! We also want to thank the wider leadership for taking us out for a meal at the Strathmore Arms on Friday evening.
As I said on Sunday whilst preaching the final message the Lord had given me, life at times will be unpredictable for all of us. A year ago I would never have predicted I would be stepping down from being Pastor of Strathmore Christian Fellowship to become Port Chaplain in Aberdeen. I will be starting with Pete Donald, Port Chaplain at Montrose on Monday and will be going up to shadow the Port Chaplain at Invergordon, north of Inverness, on Wednesday and visit a cruise ship or two. The following week I will fly down to the Sailors’ Society Head Office at Southampton. I will then drive a minibus back to Aberdeen – a distance of 570 miles! This position – as life itself – will continue to have unpredictable moments I’m sure.
Through everything as believers in Jesus Christ we are to trust the will of God for our lives, trust in His sovereignty and grace, and that whatever happens let’s remember God IS good and that, ultimately, He is in charge! Our lives are – as the letter of James points out – but a mist (4:14) – here today and gone tomorrow – so let’s seek to do His will in the time we have. And whatever we face may the Lord enable us to be more like Jesus in being Spirit-led; Servant-minded; and Shepherd-hearted.
Lynne and I will, of course, let you know our new address when we eventually move and people will be very welcome to call on us or even stay – not all at the same time, however! In the meantime, please do keep in touch as we manage living in Kirriemuir and working in Aberdeen. To God be the glory!
Kenny & Lynne