Musings From The Manse

A reflection for these days of a church in Lockdown.

Last Sunday we thought about joy and where it comes from. Joy and happiness are often confused but they are different. It is possible to be joyful even when we are unhappy. Joy comes from gratitude welling up deep within us.

Many of us are struggling just now. Struggling with the frustration of lockdown, struggling with the uncertainty of what lies ahead, struggling with the restrictions still in place and so, it can be a challenge to find things to be thankful for.

Gratitude and thankfulness are a spiritual discipline which bring great joy, try it….

Wednesday saw the beginning of the month of July and as a wee encouragement and a wee challenge, on our Facebook page we launched #joyfuljuly a whole month of being joyful. Each day we plan to share a wee thought about thankfulness and encourage us to find our inner joy.

Why not join us for the journey through July and share the things which bring you joy with us so that together we can encourage one another.

For the joy of the Lord is our strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)


Diane’s Thoughts: Saturday 4 July

Lockdown reflections from our Session Clerk

This week our Kirk Session held it’s first full meeting on Zoom and it was lovely to see everyone after such a long time.  It was a new experience for us as a Kirk Session and it was the first time many of the Elders had used Zoom.  It was very worthwhile as we were able to go through lots of business and make sure we were all up to date with church matters.  Thanks to all who took part.

If you haven’t used Zoom before, why not give it a go?  There is a Zoom Café every Sunday morning around 11.30 am, just after the Sunday Reflections online and also on Thursday afternoons from 1.30pm.

Our Kirk Session had a long discussion about reopening the church building as the Scottish Government is now allowing churches to open for private prayer and small funerals provided very stringent criteria are followed.  Seonaid, our Property Convener and Health and Safety Officer, also works in Health and Safety for a Local Authority and has been able to guide us through the requirements and procedures which will be needed to reopen our building.

Seonaid prepared a very detailed document to assist us and also measured the seating arrangements using the current 2 metres requirement.  Although we have a large building, we will only be able to accommodate 32 households with a maximum of 50 people in the church and use of galleries is not permitted.  There would be a one-way system with allocated seats, wearing of masks, no singing, no toilet facilities and no social gathering.

The Kirk Session appreciate that people may wish us to open for private prayer and funerals and we would like to be able to do so and have reviewed all the requirements and restrictions, however, in the current circumstances we do not feel it would be safe to do so.  We have to make sure that everyone is safe including our volunteers, Minister and Funeral Directors.  We will keep working towards reopening and will review this again at our next meeting at the end of August.

The discussions with other churches are also continuing and the Kirk Sessions of Carriden, St Andrews and the Old Kirk have agreed, in principle, to work towards becoming one Church of Scotland congregation with one Kirk Session and one Minister and one Ordained Local Minister.  We are now moving into more detailed discussions so please pray for all who take part that God will guide us and show us the way forward so we may build His kingdom here in Bo’ness.

Whilst the building is closed, church is continuing and for me that means a lot of emails, Zoom meetings, planning and being involved in decision making.  Lockdown has also given me more time to reflect and to enjoy my garden, the view from my window and the beauty of the world all around me.  The highlight for me this week was cuddles from my Grandson Andrew, after 3 long months.  Such joy!  I hope you will find joy in all you do in the week ahead

Diane’s Thoughts: Saturday 27 June

Lockdown reflections from our Session Clerk

We are now emerging from 3 months of lockdown as things slowly open again and I am reminded of the Bob Dylan song “The Times They Are A- Changing.”   Like many people I was fairly content to stay at home for a few weeks in the expectation that once lockdown was lifted everything would go back to “normal.” Of course, I now realise that we are now living in a very different society and have to adapt to new ways where queuing outside shops, wearing masks and meetings with friends are restricted to outside or through Zoom.  The times are indeed a-changing whether we like it or not and that applies to church life too.

Last week we held our first Social Distance Bake Sale which was a great success and raised £770 for church funds which will go some way towards meeting our commitments.  We sold 120 boxes of yummy cakes and were also able to donate cakes to the staff at Bo’ness Hospital, Tesco and the Fire Station.  Thanks to our superb team of bakers, helpers, delivery drivers and a special thanks to Colin for excellent safety arrangements.    I am very grateful for a willing team of helpers who were prepared to adapt our normal way of doing things and for the great team spirit as we all helped each other (at a safe distance!).

If you came to collect cakes or saw the photos on facebook, the social distancing queuing arrangement, one-way system and hand sanitising procedures etc will be the sort of arrangements that we will have to put in place if the church building is opened.  Deep cleaning will also be required after each use of the building and we will need to complete a very lengthy Risk Assessment and Fire Risk Assessment to be approved by Falkirk Presbytery before our building can be reopened.

There has been coverage in the media about churches opening for private prayer and although we are not planning for this, please remember that the Prayer Labyrinth is available at the West Side of the church and I would encourage you to visit and I pray that you will find the Labyrinth helpful.  Resources are available on the church website.

Our first full Kirk Session meeting by Zoom will be held on Wednesday and reopening the building will be on the agenda.  A Kirk Session meeting on Zoom will be a new experience for us and I know it may be a bit daunting for some so please pray for us as we adapt to this change.  

As we continue our mission outwith the church building and as we look to the future, we pray for vision to serve our communities in new ways and that all our church family will be ready to embrace the challenge of change and embrace the new for the sake of future generations.


Musings From The Manse

A reflection for these days of a church in Lockdown

This week we passed the 100 days stage in Lockdown! Over 100 days, can you believe it? That’s almost a third of a year!!

A third of a year where the days seem to blur and merge into one another with very little to mark them out as special…

And yet…

Perhaps when we think of it like that we miss something… I wonder if in fact they are special, and unique precisely because they are so unlike anything we have ever experienced before?

What if these days which we dismiss as boring and infinite are much more special than we realise? They are after all days of which we have never seen the like of before, And they are days which it is likely many if not most of us will probably never see the like of again in our lifetime…

Perhaps we might think of these odd days as a sabbath… a time of rest – well for those of you who aren’t working through them anyway…

But what if we can think of them as Sabbath… a time of rest,

Away from the usual busyness and bustle off everyday life?

A gift. Not just for us, but for creation. As traffic has decreased on our roads and in our seas and skies so too has the pollution associated with it, and our world has been recovering. And during these days when we’ve had less to busy us we’ve relished in the sounds of the birds, we’ve noticed the changing seasons and even although I’ve still been as busy, if not busier I’ve taken a real interest in the back garden, grown things from seed and I’m loving literally watching the flowers grow.

Simple things.

In Scripture Sabbath is a period of time, 24 hours instituted by God as a blessing. It finds its beginnings in the creation narrative at the beginning of Genesis, and then it is one of the things that God asks of Israel in the 10 Commandments- to keep Sabbath. To set aside that time – 24 hours for rest and renewal, and to worship the God who gives us all that we need to sustain that time.

As Lockdown begins to ease, are you desperate to return to the busyness and bustle, to have your days marked out by different activities and social engagements? Are you desperate to be able to return to normal and restart your normal activities?

Or will you be seeking to hold on to something of the rhythm of these days? Perhaps over the coming days and weeks as Lockdown eases we may want to spend some reflecting on what these last few months have taught us,

About ourselves, about God and about life?

What do we want to hold on to from them?

What are we desperate to let go of from them?

Can we find balance as we go forward?

Lots to contemplate and lots to reflect on … just as well we’ve got a few more weeks in which to do it…

God bless…


Father God,

Many of us moan and complain about these Lockdown days,

We miss so much about the life that we once had…

But Lord nothing is ever wasted with you,

No experience is ever meaningless…

What do you long for us to learn from these days?

What are the changes that you long for us to make?

Encourage us to see these days as you see them, And to wonder at the opportunities within them.

To see them with fresh eyes,

And to find your grace within them,

In Jesus name,


Diane’s Thoughts: Saturday 20 June

Lockdown reflections from our Session Clerk

Like many other times during lockdown, this week has been a week of mixed emotions for me and a bit of a rollercoaster at times. There’s lots to be thankful for and yet a lot of anxiety as lockdown restrictions are slowly lifted and we try to find how we will be able to meet again.

Monday started at our Drop Off point for the Community Food Pantry and once again we were uplifted by the generosity of people and there was some great chat too with folks as they dropped off their donations.  In the afternoon we delivered Activity Packs to the Food Pantry with craft items for children which will go to them with the family food parcels.  We are grateful to the Coalfields Regeneration Trust for the funding for this.

Thursday brought the much-anticipated announcement from the Scottish Government that we are now moving into Phase 2 of the exit from lockdown.  It won’t make much difference to me, as my family still can’t come into the house but I was delighted for my friend who has been shielding since March and can now finally go for a walk.  The First Minister had hardly finished speaking when a very misleading press release was issued by the Church of Scotland about the reopening of church buildings and that sadly has brought much anxiety.  We need to make sure that our church building is reopened when it is safe to do so and until then we will be continuing to be church outwith the building.  There’s much speculation and rumour about what will happen but at the moment it’s still unlikely to be any time soon.

Of course, Thursday was also the day which would have been the Fair E’en and I normally love walking round the arches.  Instead I went down to the Labyrinth which has been created in the grass at the West Side of the church and found it very calming and very helpful as I slowly walked round it and mediated.  I quietly prayed for all who I normally see in church and for all the people who have helped me in my journey of faith throughout the years.  It was also a timely reminder that I didn’t need to be in the building to feel close to God.  If you haven’t been to the Labyrinth yet please make a visit as I’m sure you will find it very comforting and uplifting.  Check out our website for resources to use.   Well done to Reese for skilfully creating it in the grass.

I spent Friday morning baking for our Social Distance Bake Sale and when I heard the Town Hall clock chime at 11 o o’clock, I had a wee bubble as I thought of Queen Elect Lily and all who should have been taking part in the Fair and my grandson, Andrew, who had been looking forward to attending his first Fair with Deanburn School.

So, a week of ups and downs but in it all I realise I have much to be thankful for and there is much to look forward to. 

Musings From The Manse

A reflection for these days of a church in Lockdown

Since Pentecost in our weekly Sunday Reflections we’ve been reflecting on the theme of journeys. All of us are on a journey, not just the physical journey of our days but also a journey with God and on Sundays we’ve been thinking about the sense that our journeys with God begins with a call, and God equips us for the journey on which God calls us. Even with God beside us, behind us and before us our journeys aren’t always easy, many of us know that being a Christian doesn’t prevent us from experiencing the difficulties of life, but it does mean that we can rest assured that God is with us, loving us and weeping with us and for us and giving us just what we need in each moment.

This week the Scottish government announced that we were entering phase 2 of our journey out of Lockdown. As part of that was the announcement that churches may if they wished and if they had all of the safety measures in place open for private prayer, we’re not sat the point of reopening our building, but if any of you have journeyed past the Old Kirk this week may have noticed that we’ve been a bit busy creating an outdoor space for reflection and prayer – a labyrinth – where you can take a journey of your own.

A labyrinth is a pattern laid out on the ground and is meant to re-create the journey of a pilgrim to the Holy Land, and the city of Jerusalem in particular. In walking a labyrinth, the pilgrim follows the sense of preparing yourself for the journey, of different stages along the journey, and of reaching the centre, the destination of the journey in itself. It is of course a spiritual journey, one which you take with God. We hope that you will find this space helpful in your own journeys with a God as you reflect perhaps a bit more on our themes from Sunday’s or just take some time alone with your thoughts.

There are some resources available on our website which might be helpful for you in your journeys in the labyrinth. You can find them here…


Diane’s Thoughts: Saturday 13 June

Lockdown reflections from our Session Clerk

It seems like a long time ago that we are all together in church.  Our church building has been closed for almost 3 months with no sign of us being able to open again soon, certainly not in the way we are used to.  Of course, although the building has been closed, we are continuing as church outwith the building by providing services and reflections online and much need pastoral support, mission and outreach.

A small group from the Kirk Session have been holding meetings via Zoom and there have been lots of phone conversations and emails as we make sure our ministry continues, our building is looked after and we operate with a reduced income. We are very grateful to all who are helping and for all the prayers and support. There are lots of wee jobs that we could be getting on with around the building and grounds now that some of the restrictions have been relaxed.  If there is anything you could help with, please get in touch.

As time goes on and we start to ease our way out of lockdown, some very difficult decisions lie ahead for us as a church as we consider how we can reopen our building and at the same time keep everyone safe ensuring we are following best practice in accordance with guidance from the Scottish Government and the Church of Scotland.   We already see from the media the preparations schools are making for reopening with social distancing and reduced class sizes.  Churches face similar issues and we will have to consider hygiene, deep cleaning, hand sanitising, seats at least 2 metres apart, one-way system, wearing masking etc    It’s all very different from church as we know it.

You will also recall that at this time last year we were asked to hold conversations with the Kirk Sessions of Carriden and St Andrews about the future provision for ministry in Bo’ness with a view to us joining together as one congregation.  The discussions were very slow to begin with and then, of course, everything stopped in March when church buildings had to close.  The discussions have resumed and Amanda and I had a meeting via Zoom with the Session Clerks and Interim Moderators of Carriden and St Andrews in May with another planned for the end of June.  It is still the hope that we will all come together as one congregation and no decisions have been made about buildings.

No decisions about reopening our building or joining with other congregations will be made without the involvement of the full Kirk Session and we will do everything we can to keep you up to date.  This may all sound a bit gloomy and I want to reassure everyone that we are working hard on your behalf and will keep you fully involved in all decisions so please do not worry.   Please pray for Amanda and all of our Kirk Session as we find a way forward.

We are trying to work out a road map for the future, in an ever-changing environment and in all we do we must trust in God to guide us and give us strength to make the right decisions.  We pray that God will show us the way ahead.

Musings From The Manse

A reflection for these days of a church in Lockdown.

At last, it seems, there is light beginning to appear at the end of the tunnel, with the news that Lockdown is to be lifted further this coming week as we move into phase 2 and with the news that some holiday accommodation may be allowed to prepare for reopening in the middle of July.

It might seem then as though there might be some returning to normal… except that it won’t really be going back to normal, rather we’ll be taking this next step to our new normal where physical distancing seems here to stay.

On Friday I received the guidelines from the Church of Scotland about when and how we might be allowed to reopen our buildings, and they, as expected made for somber reading.

It will be up to the Kirk Session in due course once we are in to phase 3 to decide whether or not and in what capacity we will consider reopening our buildings. But with limits on numbers allowed to gather inside the building, the advice against singing, the recommended wearing of masks and the requirement to keep everybody 2 metres apart at all times (and that’s at leat 3 pew lengths) it is unlikely that we will be opening our doors until much later in the year.

And so it looks as though online worship and fellowship is here to stay…

If you’d rather not watch online, or if you don’t have access to the internet, then you can now listen to our service by phoning this dedicated phone line 01506 536797 (cost of a local call).

I know that many are now beginning to struggle with the thought of shielding until the end of July, but just because we can’t meet together in person, it doesn’t mean that we’re not all thinking of one another and missing one another, and so I encourage you to keep in touch, there’s our weekly zoom café at 1:30 pm where you can bring your own cuppa of choice and chat online with others. All that’s needed is to download the zoom app onto any smartphone or tablet, and you can join us here.

But even if you don’t have access to the internet you can still join in the conversation on your normal telephone on 0131 460 1196 where you will be asked to key in the meeting ID which is: 320 367 3450

Our zoom cafe is also open on a Sunday immediately following the live showing of our Sunday reflections, usually around 11:15 and the link and the phone number are the same as above.

If you have any other ideas about ways that we can connect with one another over the coming weeks and months then please do let us know.

And we’ll keep you informed as we journey through this time into the new normal…

And so, the challenge is, how can we encourage one another and continue to grow and reach into our community with the good news that the a kingdom of heaven has come near in these days, and what will it mean for us to be the church in the days ahead?

Much to think about….

Blessings, Amanda

Financial Update: June 2020

A message from Eric, our Treasurer

In my writings in the weekly newsletter and in my video two weeks ago I have been encouraging you as members and Elders to change your way of giving from Free Will Offering envelopes to monthly Standing Order or to find ways of getting your offerings to me. I’m delighted to report that Standing Orders have increased from £860 before lock down to £1662.50 which covers most of our monthly outgoings. From 7th May until earlier this week I have banked offerings and donations amounting to £2654 so a big thank you to you all. This has enabled me to pay outstanding invoices and to make a payment to Ministry and Mission which contributes to our Minister’s salary.

Although Standing Orders have increased, they still fall short of out total monthly outgoings by £1634. It’s therefore important that we continue to make our offerings on a regular basis to keep an increased and healthy bank balance and to find out how to do this listen again to the video or give me a call on 01506 510511.

There’s also a Church of Scotland donation button on facebook which enables you to make donations to the Old Kirk using either pay pal or credit/debit cards.

Thanks again for your support. It’s much appreciated.


Socially Distanced Bake Sale

With us unable to meet together as normal, we’ve come up with a different way to raise funds and let you all enjoy a sweet treat.

On Saturday 20th June we’re having our first every Socially Distanced Bake Sale! We’ll be selling boxes of cakes for £5 each which you’ll be able to pre-order online from Wednesday 10th June. You’ll also get the choice of collection or delivery and you’ll receive a tasty selection of treats from our brilliant team of star bakers.

Click here to order your cake box(es). You’ll be given the choice of collection or delivery plus a time slot.

📦Collection-Our safe collection point will be at the Old Kirk car park. You’ll be able to select your collection time when you make your order. Collections are easier for us so if you can pop down then we’d appreciate it.

🚪 Delivery-
If you can’t make it, or you’re shielding etc, then we’ll deliver your cakes to you. Just pop in your address on our order site and we’ll drop them off safely at your door on the day.

Payment will be collected upon delivery/collection. If possible, please have the exact amount available as we won’t be able to give change (to minimise contact/handling).

We’re making sure that everything is safe including food prep, collection and delivery. Your support is greatly appreciated and we can’t wait to see you all (from a distance!).

Musings From The Manse

A reflection for these days of a church in Lockdown.

Here we are 12 weeks in to this Lockdown journey and with no signs we’ll reach our destination any time soon.

At the beginning of this were you anticipating still having your movement restricted and being unable to gather indoors you love all these months later?

A whole season has passed while we’ve been sheltering at home.

I find myself already forgetting what made my days so ordinary and I am enjoying these looser and more fluid days, though I must admit, I think all of us are struggling to keep track of what day it is!

I’ve been taking a bit of time to reflect these last couple of weeks, to look back over the journey of these last few months and to think and reflect.

In our online reflections this week I reflect on the sense of how I’m seeing this time as a liminal time. Limin comes from the Ancient Greek for threshold, and I can’t help but wonder if this space away from church as we know it is a kind of doorway, a threshold into what comes next.

It looks as though it will be a while yet before we are all able to gather together again in person within the Old Kirk building and so over the next few weeks and months we will be looking at different ways of offering fellowship and encouraging one another in faith.

But during these days as we discover what it truly means to be a church without walls let’s be open to listening to God and following where He leads us and guides us. Let us watch for where God is already at work in the world, and let’s join in…And let’s not just long to go back… let’s wonder and dream about what God might be transforming us into as God leads us through this passageway, and what the future of church might be like when we emerge.


You are God of the past and God of the future,

All time is in your hands.

Enable and encourage us to trust you

As you lead us through this passageway into a new

Future with you.

In Jesus name,



Diane’s Thoughts: Saturday 6 June

Lockdown reflections from our Session Clerk

This week is National Volunteers Week and I am very grateful for all the volunteers who help in many roles in church life throughout the year.   Most things around the church are done by volunteers ranging from running groups, maintaining the building and grounds, cleaning, minibus, administration, fund raising, IT, flowers and much more, with many people multi-tasking.      In “normal” times when our building is open, we see many of the volunteers but there are also many people working behind the scenes using their time and their talents in other ways.  As a church we are reliant on our volunteers and greatly appreciate all who help.

In these times, volunteers are helping in new ways as we have become a Church Without Walls.  Our beautiful building is closed but church continues as we worship online and serve the Lord and our community.  The way people have risen to the many challenges we face at this time and who are helping with new initiatives like the Food Pantry and the Bags of Blessings is very encouraging for the future and much appreciated.  We have a great team at the Old Kirk and it’s a pleasure to be part of it. 

Last week I mentioned that we should be thinking about some fundraising and I’m delighted to say that already 2 events are being planned which should raise much needed funds and also give opportunities for people to be involved.   There will be a Social Distance Bake Sale in the Church Car Park on Saturday 20 June from 12 noon to 2pm where you will have the opportunity to buy a box of mixed home baking for £5.  All boxes should be pre ordered by 17 June – more details in this newsletter and facebook.  If you are able to donate any baking please contact Diane on 510936.  We are also planning a sponsored 500 miles event – more details to follow shortly.

As Christians, God calls us to use our gifts to help others.  We all have different gifts, all given by God and all special.   How are you using your gifts to serve our Lord?  Many people are helping their neighbours, shopping for others, phoning people, taking time to show love and care.  These are the sorts of things Jesus calls us to do.

 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.  There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work”

1 Corinthians 12:4-6, NIV

With grateful thanks to all our volunteers who are using the gifts God has given them to help others.


Our History: ‘Muirhouse’

Ken Rae, our Church Historian, has been working over the last few years to document more about the Old Kirk and it’s history.

As part of his research, he got in touch with Meredith Greiling (Senior Curator of Transport at National Museums Scotland) who details here the fascinating history of ‘Muirhouse’ which hangs proudly in the Seamans gallery.

For the past six years I have been researching the fascinating phenomena of ship models in Scottish churches. The practice of hanging a ship model in churches is quite common in some parts of the world, particularly in Scandinavia and the port towns around the Mediterranean, but it is not so common here. In total I found 37 surviving ship models from 26 churches around Scotland. At the beginning of my research I wrote a piece for Life and Work, asking churches to get in touch if they had a model, and soon came to learn about the model at Bo’ness, which I was lucky enough to visit under the guidance of Eric Reid.

The model itself is of a three-masted 32-gun frigate, it has a kilted highlander figurehead, with the name Muirhouse and the date 1634 painted in gold on the stern. The model almost certainly does not represent an actual ship; the name Muirhouse probably refers to the hamlet close to Bo’ness where the Sea Box owned property, and the date refers to the founding of the Sea Box.

The old church, prior to the current ‘old’ church, was built in 1638 almost entirely from subscriptions from the ‘Skipperis and Mariners of Bo’ness.’[1] The town had one of Scotland’s oldest mutual beneficial societies for its sailors; the ‘ancient Friendly Society’, the Bo’ness United General Sea Box, which had been set up as a maritime welfare organisation in 1634, and whilst it operated under several names over the centuries; the ‘Ancient Society of Seafaring Men, the Sea Poor’s Box of the Burgh of Borrowstounness, the Sailor’s Society, and the Sailor’s Box Society’ it has always been colloquially referred to locally as the Sea Box, and often just the Box.[2] The society was founded as a benevolent organisation; ‘from inception the Box was concerned with the charitable works, particularly interested in the presbyterian cause; building the church, paying the minister and the schoolmaster.’[3] When in 1649 the mariners decided to split from Kinneil church, in order to pay for their own minister the shipmasters and others invested money into land locally at the farm of Muirhouse, purchasing 169 acres two miles south of the town.[4] The church and the society were greatly interwoven organisations; the church relied on the Box for its financial contributions and the Boxmasters, as they were called, met at the church and naturally had their own designated seating area in the church, and were paying £1 in 1646 ‘for keeping of the keys of the sailors loft,’[5] which was demarcated and signified by the hanging of a ship model. Although we do not know who made the model, or when, we do know that it existed in the church prior to 1824 as the Bo’ness Sea Box Society records at Falkirk Archives includes a receipt for payment: ‘To Riggen, Painting the Ship afresh’[6] paid to Robert Sinclair 13th August 1824, which suggests that the model had been in the possession of the Society for some period of time before that date. There are no other records for the ship model or references to it in either the kirk session minutes or the Bo’ness Sea Box Society records at Falkirk Archives, until 1889 when a new church was built. As Bo’ness grew into a larger port town through the seventeenth century, trading mainly with the Netherlands, the requirements for the church changed and the building underwent several renovations during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It was finally considered too small and inadequate for the needs of the town and so a new church was built. The new church, confusingly now called Bo’ness Old Kirk, opened on Sunday 14th Oct. 1888. Some fittings from the old church were moved into the new building, including a sixteenth century Dutch pulpit, and the Muirhouse model.

The kirk session minutes during the period of the new building works are mostly concerned with the seating allocations for the new enormous church. Bo’ness Old Kirk, was built with seating for 1,000 people. The kirk session minutes give an account of ‘a meeting between Kirk Session representatives and representatives of Bo’ness Sea Box Society, Bo’ness Beneficent Society and the Anderson Trust, 8th March 1889 at the new church on Pan Braes to allocate seating.’[7] The entire west gallery was ‘to be allocated to the Sea Box’[8]

A typical exchange in the kirk session minutes indicates the importance of seating for the society:

In pointing out the seats proposed to be allocated to the Sea Box vis the whole of the west gallery except for the two back seats Nos. 164 and 165 proposed to be retained by the session Mr William Miller mentioned that he considered it desirable that the Sea Box Society should possess the whole gallery and that it should be matter for further consideration and arrangement whether the Society should not purchase Nos. 164 and 165 and so be proprietors of the whole gallery.[9]

This proposal was agreed with the session. The kirk session minutes also record permission granted in 1889 to install the ship model Muirhouse above the new gallery:

with power also to the said society to erect and suspend (but that securely) and maintain in all time coming the model of the ship or vessel ‘Muirhouse’ from the roof of said West gallery but that always at the risk and expense of the said society, the responsibility of its being resting solely on the members of said Sea Box or society with entry occupation and possession to said pews from and after the term of Martinmas Eighteen Hundred and Eighty Nine to be the term or date of entry…[10]

Over the years interest in the model has been shown from other quarters, as suggested by another letter in the Falkirk Archives from the Scottish Exhibition of National History, Art and Industry, Glasgow 1911, requesting to borrow the ‘the little ship “Kenhouse” (?)’[11] for display in an exhibition.  The Muirhouse model is a rare early survivor of a tradition which demonstrates the town’s close affinity to the sea, and is a beautiful example of a maritime folk-art custom. I hope the congregation and wider Bo’ness community continue to cherish it for many centuries to come.

With best wishes,

Meredith Greiling

[1] Johnston, Records of an Ancient Friendly Society [Reprinted from the Falkirk Herald], p.15.

[2] Ibid., pp.11-12.

[3] Johnston, The Records of an ancient Friendly Society: the Bo’ness United General Sea Box. Two centuries and a half of local history [Reprinted from the Falkirk Herald], p.46.

[4] Ibid., p.18.

[5] Ibid., p.40.

[6] Falkirk Community Archives, A042.342, Bo’ness Sea Box Society Invoice To Riggen, Painting the Ship afresh.

[7] National Records of Scotland, CH2/540/8 pp.359-362, Minute Book of Kirk-Session of Bo’ness.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Minute Book of Kirk-Session of Bo’ness, 1867-1892, Records of Church of Scotland synods, presbyteries and kirk sessions, CH2/540/8, Church of Scotland, Falkirk Community Trust Archives, pp.359-62.

[10] CH2/540/8 Minute Book of Kirk-Session of Bo’ness, pp.396-7.

[11] Falkirk Community Archives, A042.496, Letter from Scottish Exhibition of National History, Art and Industry, Glasgow, 1910, Bo’ness Sea Box Society records.

Diane’s Thoughts: Saturday 30 May

Lockdown reflections from our Session Clerk

I hope you have had a chance to enjoy the glorious weather and the slight easing of lockdown is helping to lift your spirits.  Will you change what you’ve been doing?  What are you looking forward to? 

I know many people are looking forward to being able to spend time with some other family members and friends, albeit with social distancing and the prospect of family being able to travel a short distance to visit again has given some folks a real boost.  Others are looking forward to a trip to the garden centre, the golf course and some are even excited about going to the tip!  Any wee changes are welcome and help us to see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel of darkness.

Although this first phase of lifting lockdown is encouraging there is still a long way to go and the reopening of church buildings is many months away.  The building is closed but the church is still going and our ministry continues in different ways.   We are trying to keep in contact with people and would welcome your help and suggestions as to how we can keep in touch and how we can help our church family who may be finding things hard.  What do you like about what we are doing and what are you missing?  Please let us know.

We are also looking for new ways to raise much needed finance as there is no income at present from hall lets or fundraising and no weekly offerings.  We are grateful to all who have arranged Standing Orders, Bank Transfers or sent cheques and money.  Our Treasurer Eric can be contacted on 510511.

Could you do some fund raising?  Some churches are selling home made cakes, jams, afternoon teas in a bag, crafts etc .   Or maybe you could do a sponsored event or hold an online quiz?    If you could help in this way, we could publicise it on our facebook which reaches a wide audience.   This would help us to keep our finances and building in good order and continue our ministry.

This Sunday is Pentecost when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit 40 days after Easter and it’s known as the birthday of the church.  Pentecost is a time for celebration and all Church of Scotland congregations have been asked to join together in worship in one big service online.  Many of you have already played a small part in this by sending in your photographs to be displayed alongside other Christians throughout Scotland as we come together as one big church family.  The service will be conducted by the new Moderator of the General Assembly, the Right Rev Dr Martin Fair and I hope you will join with us on Sunday for this special service.


Musings From the Manse

A reflection for these days of a church in Lockdown.

My dear friends,
As I write this today I am sitting in my warm, sunny garden watching a tiny blue tit hop too and fro from branch to branch on the apple tree. Isn’t this weather glorious!

Tomorrow we celebrate Pentecost. The moment where the Holy Sprit which Jesus had promised the disciples would come, came and breathed on those gathered in a locked upper room, birthing the church.

We find the account at the beginning of the book of Acts, where Jesus, before he ascended into Heaven told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until He had sent his Spirit. And so, after Jesus’ ascension the disciples the disciples return to the city and go to the upstairs room where they were staying, and set about organising themselves, they appoint Matthias as a replacement for Judas, and Acts 1 tells us that they joined together constantly in prayer, and they waited. Waiting patiently for the Spirit to come.

Day after day passed, until the day of Pentecost came and all of the believers were together (around 120) and as they sat together the Spirit came, with the sound of a howling gale and what looked like tongues of fire, and as they watched that fire separated and came to rest on each of them, and those gathered were able to speak in foreign tongues.

Those who witnessed it were confused, but those who experienced it for themselves knew that this was the moment they’d been promised, this was what they’d been waiting for,
And those prayers that had been whispered in that lockdown found breath, those gifts that had been honed during their years of watching Jesus found life.
And the church was birthed.
Not a building, not bricks and mortar, but a movement, created by the breath of God.
And it was that movement, of people, just like you and me who took the good news of all that they had witnessed, out of that room and into the streets of Jerusalem, out to Samaria and to the ends of the earth. Such is the power of God.

The early church had no buildings, no structures, it was purely people responding to Christ’s influence in their lives going to tell others the good news of the Saviour and the impact that he’d had in their lives. And that movement changed the world. One heart at a time.

This is such a good message for us as a church to hear, Right now in particular!
What can we learn from the early church about what it means to be church? Where is the Spirit inspiring us to move today? What will the future be like?
Why not journey with God’s wonderfully Creative Spirit, dream, and find out, as we journey through this time of Lockdown and distancing into our new, changed, futures?

Creator God,
At the beginnings your Spirit hovered in the darkness over the
waters in chaos and out of that you brought light and life,
And your Spirit came breathing life into your church on that
day of Pentecost.
Living Lord,
Breathe your Spirt into each of us,
Bring life to our gifts,
Inspire us with your dreams,
Give us eyes to see your purpose,
Hearts motivated by you,
And may we live into your dreams for us,
As individuals, created lovingly by you,
And as church,
Called into being,
Birthed by your breath.
Come Holy Spirit