Westray Kirk Guild

Westray Kirk Guild meetings happen fortnightly between October and April each year.  We usually gather around 7.30pm in the welcoming environment of Kalisgarth Care Centre in Pierowall.  Committee members meet late Summer/early Autumn to chat about the programme for the year ahead and we incorporate our own ideas together with inspiration taken from the Guild annual theme guide. The details of this year's programme are contained in the events section.



Liz McVicar Leader                                       Jo McDonald Leader

01857 677597                                             01857 677357       

email a.mcvicar@sky.com                            email jo.macd@btinternet.com   



Ena Fergus Secretary                                Margaret Hewison Treasurer

01857 677257                                          01857 677349

email ena.fergus@btopenworld.com           email margaret@magsh.plus.com



Westray Guild Meeting on 24th January - A Treasure Hunt!

For this meeting Caroline Kent (the lady in the green top who can be seen hovering anxiously in some of the photos!) had devised a Treasure Hunt which focussed on what was in the church building and caused everyone to think more closely about objects that may well have been taken for granted or not noticed at all. The aim was to find all the clues and to complete the Biblical text from these.



With their customary enthusiasm, the ladies launched themselves at the first clue. Once this was understood, the search for the second clue could begin. And so it went on throughout the evening. Everyone agreed that the Treasure Hunt had been most enjoyable and most educational. Thanks go to Caroline for all of her work.  The supper which followed was reckoned to have been well earned!






Westray Guild Meeting on 21th March - Mindfulness with Simon Tarry



There was a good turnout for the meeting and a great deal of interest in what Simon would say. Probably few of us knew what "mindfulness" was although it is frequently talked about in the media.

Often we sit in rows but, for this meeting, the chairs were set out in a semicircle to make sure that everyone could see Simon and also the flipchart with his material.


Simon began his talk by asking us all to think about how busy our lives are and how many thoughts are crowding in on us at any one time. Many of these thoughts can be very negative, causing anxiety and stress. Mindfulness is about trying to slow down and to focus on the present rather than becoming anxious about the past or the future. It is also about being non judgemental of others or of ourselves.

As an example of what he meant, he asked each one of us to take a sultana. Rather than immediately eating, he asked us to look carefully at the texture and colour, and when we did put them in our mouths, to eat slowly and to be aware of the taste. While it is not practical to do that with all of our food, it was most interesting to be asked to look, feel and taste, and to do it slowly! 

He explained that our brains are processing countless thoughts and emotions at any one time and that it is easy to feel quite overloaded. Probably no one among us would say that they have not felt that way on a few, or possibly many, occasions.

He offered a quiet meditation exercise for those who wished to participate but stressed that we could stay in our chairs rather than have to lie down on the floor! The exercise involved breathing slowly and deeply, being aware of our breathing, and trying not to concern ourselves with various thoughts that might intrude. 

Overall it was a very interesting session and much appreciated by the audience. Simon presented his talk in a light hearted way but managed to convey a great deal of information and many insights.






Orkney Presbyterial Guild Council

Liz McVicar has been Presbyterial Guild Council Convener for the past four years.

This involves leading meetings in Kirkwall five times a year. Representatives from the ten Orkney Guilds attend these meetings

The meetings include:


Business – Reports    Finance

                               Project Co-ordinator

                               Resources Co-ordinator

                               National Council – feedback from meetings in Edinburgh. 

Organising Spring and Autumn Rallies –  inviting speakers on a variety of topics. Usually around 90 people attend the  Rallies.

Support, through visits, is given to Guilds encountering problems.

Liz attends the Conveners’ Conference in Edinburgh in June each year. This is an important link because it keeps our Guilds part of the bigger movement, and not just isolated groups in our northern communities


The Guild Roadshow

We were delighted when we learned that the Guild Roadshow would be coming to Orkney and Shetland in September 2016.

The National Convener Rosemary Johnston, whose father came from Orkney, and the General Secretary Iain Whyte gave a presentation on The Action Plan, describing it as a journey, a living document, where consultation would be the norm. They also introduced a new 4 part book of Guild ideas, due to come out in late September.


Rosemary Johnston and Iain Whyte


This turned out to be a well attended event – 10 ladies and 1 gentleman came in from the North Isles, adding to a very good attendance from all the other Guilds.


The Westray Contingent!

This was a very worthwhile day, Guilds going away feeling encouraged and  supported in what they are doing.


What is the Guild?

In 1887 Dr Archibald Charteris had an inspired vision of a Church in which women fully participated. He investigated and reported back on the work being done by women. His findings were approved and passed by the General Assembly in May 1887.

  “Commend the object of training women workers for service in the home and foreign fields to the liberality of the members and friends of the Church.”

He founded the Women’s Guild so that the Church would have the benefit of the spiritual gifts and practical energies of women.

To put the timing into perspective, in 1886 women were allowed to train and practise as doctors and in 1887 women were allowed to graduate from Scottish universities.

In 1997 the Women’s Guild became The Church of Scotland Guild with a new constitution, and men were welcome to become members.


The aim of the Guild 

The Church of Scotland Guild is a movement within the Church of Scotland  which invites women and men to commit their lives to Jesus Christ and enables them to express their faith in worship, prayer and action.


Now there are four tenets of the Guild: Worship, Prayer, Action and Fellowship


The Guild motto            

Acts 27: 23   Whose we are and whom we serve.


The strategy for 2015 – 2018 is “Be Bold, Be Strong .”

The work of the Guild is supported by a Theme Guide, one theme for each year, ‘Go in Peace’, ‘Go in Joy’ and ‘Go in Love’.


During the session 2016 / 2017 we will concentrate on the theme ‘Go in Joy’ –

J Jesus -first, O Others -next, Y Yourself-last.


For all of its long history the Guild has been addressing issues and problems of the time

eg  1887 / 1893 Funding a girls’ school and hospital in Kalimpong. 

     1893    Bringing country produce to the poor of the city, at low prices.

     1904    Opening a cottage for ‘women victims of ‘intemperance’.

     1919   Opening hostels for women and girls – in Edinburgh and Glasgow.


When have the collective voices of the Guild been heard and support given ?

          the trafficking of people, violence, HIV / AIDS, trade justice, Amnesty 

          International, Christian Aid and Mercy ships.

‘To be silent is to be unfaithful’.


Guild Projects

Guilds have continued to support, over a three year period, a range of six projects under the Project Partnership Scheme introduced in 1997.

Working with Aid Agencies both at home and overseas, the Guild has done what it could to alleviate suffering wherever the need was identified, often among the most marginalised in society

Projects are supported both financially and by prayer.

At present the Guild is supporting:

  • a Mission International  project in Haiti, aiming to improve the spiritual and material lives of some of the poorest communities in the world.
  • Let’s Stick together – Care for the family, aiming to promote strong family relationships, particularly during times of stress after the arrival of a new baby.
  • Caring for Mother Earth in Bolivia, a Christian Aid project, aiming to provide solar powered ovens to poor families where at present women and children spend all their time cutting wood for fires.  Education on deforestation and climate change will also be promoted.
  • All Friends Together – Prospects in Scotland – supporting churches to include people with learning disabilities in all aspects of church life.
  • Feed the Minds – breaking the cycle of Female Genital Mutilation, so girls can stay in school and not be married off at a young age. 125 million females in 29 countries, including Scotland, have been affected by this horrendous practice, continued due to superstition and fear.
  • Street Pastors – Ascension Trust – a very dedicated group of trained volunteers in 20 areas of Scotland working with vulnerable young people, particularly at weekends.

Since 1997 £4 million has been raised for Guild projects: over the past 3 years around £775,000 was raised, and it is anticipated over £1million will be raised over the current 3 years.

Where there may seem to be depressing negative issues, we should always look for something positive to encourage and give hope.

If we think we cannot do something - remember, God does not choose the equipped, He equips the chosen.

For more details on the Guild Projects go to  



In November each year we have Guild Week,  the main purpose being to raise awareness of the Church of Scotland Guild, it is an opportunity to celebrate all that is good about the Guild. For the past year or two the Westray Guild has taken the service highlighting HIV / AIDS.


The Church of Scotland Guild faces challenging times.

At the present time the focus of the National Council ( based in Edinburgh ) and its committees is about the future of the Guild in a changing society.

As a result of The Three year Action Plan, supported by the General Assembly 2015:

  • The Guild is becoming more forward thinking, changing its approach to raise its profile. One of the biggest challenges is image or perception.
  • We do not want to hear “It’s aye been done that way.”
  • Meetings should be joyous occasions.
  • Technology is being embraced – on-line ordering and video conferences, signing up for e–newsletters and blogs for comments, exchange of ideas and good practice.
  • There is flexibility in how Guilds operate.
  • A bigger range of user friendly resources is being introduced.
  • Membership is being addressed, encouraging men to join.


The Guild has been around for a long time and has adapted through many world changes. 

The Action Plan gives each Guild flexibility to adapt to its own circumstances.

QUOTE: Change is about acknowledgement of the present and anticipation of the future .... it is not about criticism of the past.

We cannot go back, but the past has made us what we are today.

Indeed the Guild faces challenges, but challenges can be opportunities.

The Guild is still one of the biggest voluntary organisations in Scotland.

As quoted in our Three Year Strategy:



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