Christian Life 

Kirking of the Council put on ice

Old High Church, Inverness
Old High ChurchA Leading Inverness minister yesterday made a strong plea in his sermon for the retention of a centuries-old annual church ceremony.

The Rev Douglas Clyne's comments followed a surprise announcement last week by Inverness Provost Bob Wynd that the Kirking of the Council would in future go into abeyance until the start of the next council four-yearly cycle in 2011.

Press & Journal 3 September 2007


Ed note: The "Kirking" ceremony has - as a long-standing tradition - been held in the Old High Church in Bank Street/Church Street. The Old High is the oldest church in Inverness. Rev. Clyne is "interim moderator" (locum minister) for the parishes of Old High/St. Stephens.


Prayer note:
There is a Pray for Scotland "Prayer Walk" around Inverness each 1st Tuesday of the month - starting at the Town House at 7.30pm
Contact Ernie Gibson
Tel. 01463 772755

Click <here> for the above, and other regular Inverness Prayer Groups.
Norman Campbell (Guest) 03/09/2007 12:58
In the year of 'Highland Culture' how absurd that the leading dignatory of our city sees fit to end a tradition which is so linked with the one factor which has had the greatest influence in shaping our heritage and highland culture. ie Church and recognition of God.

Is the provost replacing this ceremony with something else or is he as bereft of principle as his decision appears ??
Peter Carr 03/09/2007 15:50
Probably the continuance of a PC society gone mad!
Clark Walls (Guest) 03/09/2007 20:58
2 Chronicles 15:2 "Listen all you people of Judah and Benjamin! (and Inverness) The Lord will stay with you as long as you stay with Him. Whenever you seek Him, you will find Him. But if you abandon Him He will abandon you.
John Parker (Guest) 04/09/2007 11:50
Very well said Clark. This very powerfully applies not only to Highland Councillors - but to the whole nation. Those with eyes to see it and hearts to acknowledge it can recognise - in all that we are seeing in our society - that God is lifting His hand of protection from us; and giving us over to the consequences of our rebellion.
dave gillan (Guest) 04/09/2007 17:08
I dont expect any less from a society and a world which has chosen seperation from God.

The glory of the Lord has departed, "ichabod"
David Lynch 05/09/2007 09:19
Did anybody hear the sermon? I would be interested to know in what way Jesus spoke about politics in his day?

Paul spoke before Agrippa and Festus by invitation, it seems the invitation from the Kirk has expired. That said I think it is a sad loss when colourful tradition vanishes, but so is the way of the world, it was only ever tradition.
The church can be as active as ever in the community without any pomp and ceremony.
Editor 11/09/2007 13:20
Church officials to probe council kirking

Senior Inverness churchmen are to investigate whether the city's provost had a right to cut the "Kirking of the Council" ceremony without consultation.

Inverness Courier:
Editor 11/09/2007 14:39
According to former Highland Councillor and Old High/St. Stephen's elder Ron Lyon, Provost Wynd declined to follow the "Kirking's" Order of Service which had him listed for the Bible reading (Luke 6:20-31).;&version=31;
Church of Scotland (Guest) 05/10/2007 14:29
Kirking ceremony is church’s prerogative, insists presbytery

THE four centuries-old ceremony of “Kirking of the Council” is a matter for the church rather than Highland Council, Inverness Church of Scotland Presbytery insisted this week.

Organisation of the ancient kirking service, and an invitation – in bygone days a strict obligation - to civic dignitaries to attend, is clearly the prerogative of the minister of the city’s oldest church, Inverness Old High, members agreed.

They voted unanimously to recommend that Old High St Stephen’s congregation continue its invitation to Inverness City Committee to attend the annual kirking ceremony, one of the few such events remaining in Scotland.

And they strongly urged “the continuation of this important Christian tradition and link with the past in the Old High Church”.

The presbytery’s church and community committee has over the past month fast-tracked research on the issue, with the help of former depute Inverness provost and local historian Sheila Mackay.

It has confirmed that the ceremony – to mark local politicians’ affirmation to serve God and their fellow citizens - dates back to 1602, shortly after the Reformation reached the Highlands.

The issue arose in the wake of Provost Bob Wynd’s unilateral decision last month to suspend the kirking ceremony for the remainder of the current council’s tenure of office, which ends in May 2011.

Provost Wynd, who during this year’s ceremony refused to read the Scripture lesson chosen by interim moderator the Rev Douglas Clyne, and instead delivered a message on the need for “inclusivity”, stirred up a storm of protest after revealing his intention to suspend the ceremony for the rest of his term of office, without consulting either fellow councillors or Mr Clyne.

The city committee, many of whose members have criticised the provost’s action, has since agreed to set up a working group to consider proposals for future kirkings.

The group will include the provost and three other members, including city manager David Haas.

Rev Peter Donald, Crown Church, commented: “The working group is purely a council group, and doesn’t involve the church.

“I just offer the comment that while I think the council is fully entitled to proceed down this line, it is the prerogative of the church to pray for those in government and to invite the secular authority into the church.

“The church must be very careful about selling out theologically to an approach that loses the Christian distinctiveness of what we do.”

Presbytery clerk Rev Alastair Younger, St Columba High, remarked: “It seems there’s quite a delicate issue with regard to the kirking of the council.

“By its very name and history it has been the prerogative of the established church to invite political representatives of the community to attend the kirking.”

Mr Younger recalled that when he had come to Inverness 31 years previously, he had been invited to a meeting in the town house by the incumbent provost, who assured him there was a mutuality between the church and the local authority.

“In my view,” he added, “the prerogative lies with the church and no-one else. The structure of this service is a matter for the church and the content of this service is a matter for the church.

“The matter of ecumenism may well be incorporated into proceedings if it’s seen to be seemly by the church, but the idea that we might have a minister, an atheist or whatever in the pulpit gives us a wee problem.

“Ministers or elders could be called to account if a service is outside the parameters of what’s considered normal.

“We have to be very careful here. While we may be willing to listen to others, the church is responsible for worship, the structure of that worship and the invitations to attend such a ceremony.”

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