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
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Ena Fergus Secretary Margaret Hewison Treasurer
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Church of Scotland Guilds of Orkney
Spring Rally in Westray Parish Kirk
The Rally took place on the 10th of May and was a great success. More than 50 ladies came over on the ferry (thankfully they had a good crossing!) and were joined by members of the Westray Kirk Guild, Mary from Papay Kirk and ladies from the Westray Baptist Church.
Iain McDonald welcoming everyone to the guild rally
The guest speakers were Teenie and Michael Harcus of the Westray Baptist Church who talked of their work and their mission. They have toured extensively and spoke of the impact that their music had had on a wide range of audiences. They also played a number of pieces, much to the enjoyment of the audience.
It could not be a guild event without mentioning the food which contributes so much to the fellowship. After Michael and Teenie had completed their talk, soup, sandwiches and traybakes were provided with tea and coffee. The ladies could not be sent back on the ferry without sustenance!
All agreed that they had enjoyed a wonderful afternoon!
Liz McVicar speaking. with Michael and Teenie Harcus in front.
Guild Report 2017
At the General Assembly the Guild was congratulated on its 130th Anniversary.
The report by the National Convener Rosemary Johnston, whose father came from Orkney, was very well received by the General Assembly.
At the time of writing the report numbers were:
Members 20,054 Groups 821
The number of men in the Guild is slowly rising – the past and present Moderators of the General Assembly recently becoming members.
There is a Guild to be found in two-thirds of our congregations, the smallest having 4 members and the largest over 90 members.
“ The effective running of a Guild can be greatly supported and enhanced by the provision of good quality resources. Leadership, faith development, worship, recruitment and so on can all be addressed in this way.”
The Assembly challenged churches to support Guilds.
Project donations to the Guild’s 6 current charity projects both home and abroad totalled £343,000 by February 2017.
It was a pleasure to attend the Guild’s Big Sing during Assembly week where the sound of almost 1000 voices was fantastic. £3000 was raised to support the work the Synod of Livingstonia’s Aids Programme in Malawi.
Although the Guild has been around for 130 years it is still relevant in today’s world, with different issues to address, and is an organisation worthy of our support.
Guild Conveners’ Meeting
The annual meeting took place in Edinburgh on 1st June 2017
The Action Plan launched in 2015 has been largely implemented, and the Guild is moving forward in a positive way with more flexibility, looking at new ways of leading, planning, resourcing and communicating through Social Media.
A new range of merchandise has resulted in sales trebling – this includes a new china mug produced for the 130th Anniversary. Guild tartan items are to be found in unexpected places eg the Queen has a scarf, Prince Philip has a tie, a lady wore a scarf when visiting the Antarctic.
As well as the Annual Gathering in Dundee in September, with an attendance of 2000 people, local gatherings are taking place to suit those who cannot travel so far. This year’s Big Sing is taking place in Inverness, a stage nearer but still a step too far. As it was held in Greenock last year we had our own Big Sing in Kirkwall and a Peedie Sing in Westray. It is good to involve as many folk where and when we can.
I have retired from being Guild Convener of the Presbyterial Council for Orkney, but am now taking my turn to attend meetings of the National Council ( Communication and Marketing Committee ) in Edinburgh which meets 4 times a year. It is important that there is a representative from every Presbyterial Council who will keep Guilds informed of all that is happening in the Guild world of today.
Our Spring Rally in Westray on 10th May was very well attended and was a great afternoon of fellowship and worship. 57 ladies travelled from the mainland, Mary Thompson came from Papay, along with ladies from the Baptist Church and our own Guild. All greatly appreciated Michael and Teenie’s presentation and singing. I had very positive feedback from mainland Guilds about the fellowship and hospitality they enjoyed in Westray. I would like to express my thanks once again to all the Westray ladies who provided food and helped on the day. It was greatly appreciated.
Orkney Presbyterial Guild Council
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
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.
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’.
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:
WE ARE BOLD, WE ARE STRONG, WE ARE THE GUILD.