Ministers Letter – June 2009

Rev. Ray Coates
My Dear friends,

I’ve just returned from a holiday at Rothesay on the Isle of Bute. For those of you unsure of where that is it is in the Firth of Clyde in the West of Scotland. We had a lovely holiday. It rained every day but we still had a lovely holiday and would go there again.

We had never been there before and during our stay had a tour of the island, a visit to Mount Stewart House (a remarkable stately home), a trip onto the Mull of Kintyre and a free day to amuse ourselves in. Our coach driver was a mine of information and among other things we learnt that the Midget Submarines and underwater chariots, the X-Craft, that played a part in the Second World War, were remembered at Port Bannatyne, just two miles away from Rothesay itself. Submariners who volunteered for missions on these helped disable the German Battleship ‘Tirpitz’ in its ‘safe’ harbour in a Norwegian Fjord. Their training was undertaken on Bute and a high proportion of the volunteers lost their lives in training or on missions.

On the free day we wandered into Rothesay centre from our hotel. The small local museum was excellent, as was the Discovery Centre (The Tourist Information Bureau). Among the things I learnt there was the fact that back in the 1950s during the summer months some 60,000 people would arrive each day for their holidays. The figures were staggering.

A DVD showed how they would spend their holidays and brought back memories of seaside holidays at Scarborough and other English seaside resorts from those days. All have since felt the pinch as cheap package holidays and a preference for going abroad to warmer climes where the weather might be more reliable have dramatically reduced the number of visitors.

Well Rothesay and those dependent on tourism have had to adapt. New ventures such as a Jazz Festival, Farmers’ Markets and a marina have appeared, among other things. For me it was a salutary reminder that change is one of the things that will always be with us. It affects us all and churches as much as any other community grouping. We’ve seen changing emphases in cricket and other sports as they have had to adapt. It is not always easy and the challenge often to both individuals and churches seems to me to be to manage to combine tradition with ‘the new’. I’ve seen it happening myself and I’ve seen it in our villages. I’ve seen the Church endeavouring often in a fast changing world to provide some much needed sense of stability for people’s lives. I’ve also seen the Church seeking new ways of connecting with people and being relevant for their lives and our times. In all I want to encourage folk in times and things that are not always easy.

Your Minister and friend,