Monday, 24 August 2009


Inverness Methodist Church is one of the largest Methodist churches in Scotland. It is a modern church built in a beautiful setting on the banks of the river. Unfortunately the growing town of Inverness has developed in the opposite direction and so the church is no longer as central to the heart of the town as it once was. That though doesn’t stop many coming to the weekly coffee morning, with the attraction of excellent home baked cakes, and we were fortunate enough to be able to join members of the church and visitors on Wednesday morning.

About half the congregation are able to walk to the church but many more drive many miles to be able to worship. Many other church members struggle to do that on a regular basis, living hundreds of miles away in a circuit that covers most of the Scottish Highlands, including a local preacher on trial who lives on the Outer Hebrides. The Superintendent minister of this one church circuit, Rev Dr Peter Howson, has a vision of being able to develop and support a number of locally based classes around the Highlands, with the help of a number of faithful local preachers and worship leaders who live in remote parts of circuit.

After we had eaten far too many cakes than was good for us, we shared in the short act of worship that takes place in the church every Wednesday at 12.15, a service that uses prayers from the prayer handbook and joins this congregation in the North of Scotland with Methodists around the world.

One of the main Action for Children offices in Scotland is in Inverness, and later that afternoon I was able to meet many of the managers and project workers based there. They told me about how Action for Children was one of Scotland’s leading children’s charities and they had been working in the Highlands since 1985.

The picture shows me with Action for Children administrator and Inverness Methodist Church member Susan Reid.

Services cover all ages, from projects working with young mothers with pre-school children that meets weekly in the Methodist church buildings to a comprehensive range of services called “Gael Og” (Young Highlander) for older children, including intensive support and fostering services for extremely vulnerable young people.

A new project based around street football and a mobile advice unit has been supported by the local police because of the positive way it has engaged with young people and made a noticeable difference to criminal activity.

Action for Children is working with children in the Highlands who have experienced significant and sometimes unimaginable trauma in their short lives. They help to provide stability, care and support and there is clear evidence of the difference that this makes.

We spent a very pleasant evening with Peter and Jane Howson before travelling on to the Moray Coast the following day.

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