Monday, 11 March 2013

Lenten Pilgrimage - 23

Today we are visiting the church of St John the Evangelist in Southside Road, Inverness.

St John’s is the oldest Scottish Episcopalian congregation in Inverness. According to the records, the Reverend Hector Mackenzie, Minister of the Parish from 1683, was ‘a staunch upholder of Episcopacy, and declined to accept the new system (presbyterianism) at the Revolution, but continued to perform his duties as Parish Minister’. On 14 October 1691, Hector Mackenzie, along with his people, were extruded from the Parish Church. Thus began the history of St John’s, although for many years following, they worshipped in secret.

At the end of the hundred years’ persecution which followed the 1688 Revolution, Episcopalians met for a time in a small Meeting House on the Maggot. The present church is the third to bear the name of St John in Inverness. The two previous buildings stood on different sites on Church Street The first, at the northern end of Church Street, was erected in 1801. The second was built on the same side of Church Street, but nearer other end, and was consecrated in 1839. The second church remained until 1903 when the greater part was demolished.

Materials from the old church were used to enlarge the Chapel of St Columba, originally a Mission of the Cathedral, which became the third St John’s in 1903.

The splendid stained glass windows behind the altar came from the second St John’s in Church Street.

St John’s most famous Incumbent was undoubtedly Dean Charles Fyvie, Rector from 1819 to 1850, whose diaries, most of which are in the National Library for Scotland, give a fascinating glimpse into Scottish life in his time.

New every morning is the love
Our wakening and uprising prove;
Through sleep and darkness safely brought,
Restored to life and power and thought.

New mercies, each returning day,
Hover around us while we pray;
New perils past, new sins forgiven,
New thoughts of God, new hopes of heaven.

If, on our daily course, our mind
Be set to hallow all we find,
New treasures still, of countless price,
God will provide for sacrifice.

Old friends, old scenes, will lovelier be,
As more of heaven in each we see;
Some softening gleam of love and prayer
Shall dawn on every cross and care.

We need not bid, for cloistered cell,
Our neighbor and our words farewell,
Nor strive to find ourselves too high
For sinful man beneath the sky.

The trivial round, the common task,
Will furnish all we ought to ask;
Room to deny ourselves, a road
To bring us daily nearer God.

Only, O Lord, in Thy dear love,
Fit us for perfect rest above,
And help us, this and every day,
To live more nearly as we pray.

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