Often this is the side only seen when required and then only by those directly involved. There are the happy events when babies are named and weddings take place. Then there are the sadder occasions when people pass to Spirit and relatives must be helped by the minister for the funeral services. Sometimes the people are well known faces and attend the church on a regular basis sometimes the church connection is through parents or Grannies but all need the church at such times.
But there is yet another aspect to the church. If people have an enquiry or something is puzzling them about the Spirit world or they are not well, feel lonely and just want a little chat with a friendly voice or have a need to feel they matter to someone, they phone this church. Many times they are people who don’t attend the church or attend very infrequently or have once visited, twenty years ago, but never the less they too need the church at such times.
And then there are those members who for various reasons can no longer visit the church but want to keep in touch as they have such fond memories and feel they still have a connection with us. Some keep in touch from other towns in this country for example, Moira MacKinlay who with her husband ran Windygates Church for many years, sends us good wishes for tonight. But some messages come from further a field, Bettina Bartel from Germany, who is revisiting us next week, and many of you will remember Kim and Celia Pritchard and their two sons who were named in the church, they keep in touch from New Zealand. More recently Avril Johnstone-Craig, now in Australia, forwards news and I’m going to tell you a little story passed onto me by Avril.
A man and his dog were walking along a road. The man was enjoying the scenery when suddenly it occurred to him that he was dead. He remembered dying and that the dog walking beside him had been dead for years. He wondered where the road was leading them.
Eventually, they came to a high stone wall along one side of the road. It looked like fine white marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight. When he was standing before it, he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother of pearl and that the street that lead to the gate looked like pure gold.
As he and the dog walked toward the gate he saw a man so he called out, “Excuse me where are we?” “This is Heaven, sir,” the man answered. “Wow would you happen to have some water?” the man asked. “Of course, sir, come right in and I’ll have some iced water brought up” The man gestured and the gate began to open. “Can my friend
the dog, come in too?” the traveller asked.” I’m sorry sir, but we don’t accept pets”
The man thought a moment and then turned away and continued on the road he had been going with his dog. After another long walk and at the top of another hill he came to a dirt road leading through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed. As he approached the gate he saw a man leaning against a tree, “Excuse me!” he called to the man, “Do you have any water? Yes there’s a well over there come on in.” How
about my friend here?” the traveller gestured to his dog. “There should be a bowl by the well help yourselves” said the man
After the traveller and the dog had drunk until they were full, he asked the man, “What do you call this place?” “This is heaven,” was the answer. “Well that’s confusing there’s a place down the road that was Heaven as well”. “Oh, said the man, you mean the place with the pearly gates? Nope that’s hell.” “Doesn’t it make you mad that they use your name like that?” asked the traveller.
“No we’re just happy that they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind As Avril said when you are very busy but still want to keep in touch you forward e-mails. So for the folks who need this church and in recognition of all the work seen and unseen, by an incredibly able, well qualified and experienced team of volunteers,
just for tonight I’m going to tweak our motto a little. Instead of “Onward ever Onward” I going to say “Forward ever Forward” because as Avril said in her e-mail “a forward lets you know you are still remembered, you are still important, you are still loved and you are still cared for.” Long may our church live up to such a motto.
As a Church we felt it was important to remain open, particularly when the other secular centres closed, to maintain a service to those in need. Although the numbers did drop, there were always people who came to our door. The majority of the development circle still managed to put on an abbreviated but still hilarious version of Grease for the Carol Service. Their infectious enthusiasm certainly warmed the hearts of the few hardy souls who ventured along. So a big thank you to all who made the effort and braved the extreme conditions to keep the Church doors open. It is to their credit that despite all, we never closed.
Mary Amos also kept going as Treasurer, one of the most taxing jobs on the Committee with Jill Scott in the background, monitoring the digital book keeping. Unfortunately the demands of Mary’s day job means she could not continue this year.
Peter Fairbrother further developed our web site. In June he changed the web host saving us subscription fees. A new members’ section was added, as well as new photos. Regular e-mail enquiries were continually answered. A welcome pack for new members was also prepared. Helen Morgan continued buying kitchen supplies and did sterling work in supplying very impressive but good value buffets.
Special events in 2010 included demonstrations from Ruth Baruch from Cheshire on 19 March, then Brian Lynch from Belfast on 28 April. Brian’s workshop was a great success, revealing the individual potential of so many of our developers. The SASH AGM for healers took place at Howden Park Centre in Livingston on 19 August. BAHA training in the Code of Conduct will be arranged to give our healing leaders validation to train new healers. Basic first aid training for Healers is also still to be arranged. Bernice, June and Mae ran our annual introductory workshop for newcomers on 24 August. Another enjoyable and successful day, that gave encouragement to a number of new people to join the Development Circle.
Stephen Wakeling from Nottingham visited us for the seventh year on 15-17 September. He gave a very strong special demonstration on the Friday. Karen Willis gave our committee and developers a Trance evening on 29 November, followed by a really productive Saturday workshop for the developers. At our annual members’ gathering on 19 November Nita Saunders again ably demonstrated the standard of mediumship that our developers aspire to. On 31 January she treated us to a thought-provoking seminar on aspects of the physical phenomena. Cont…2/….
Improvements were again limited last year, mainly due to pressures in Committee members’ time and day jobs. New locks were fitted to the outside doors and some of the cupboards. Despite this, some cash was stolen from the office upstairs during the Monday seminar in January. The locked drawer on the desk was forced. We now have even more door locks and a new safe.
Following up on previous complaints from our neighbour at no. 20, Mrs Brown, about light pollution, we obtained Listed Building Consent for lighting in the slabs on the front path from Bath Street. This would provide much better evenly distributed lighting, under our control. However we still have to agree with Mrs Brown how we share ownership and maintenance responsibility, before any work can start.
The Christmas Fair on 5 November raised £1385 and raffle £87. Thanks to the hard work and dedication by Joyce, Helen, and many others.
Particularly sad milestones last year were Len Sutton’s passing in August, then Doris Small in September. Both funerals were taken by Minister June. We will continue to remember Len in our thoughts as well as Doris, with tender affection.
In April June conducted the naming service for Sophie and Adam Hendry. One of the memorable happy highlights in the Minister’s duties was Mark and Ying’s colourfully international marriage blessing on 13 August, conducted in Mandarin and English (or Scottish). ( Does this count as making her an international minister ?). Then Suzanne and Jonathan’s wedding on 5 December. The extreme snow combined with the hilltop venue with sparkling views over white carpeted West Lothian created a truly magical setting.
A new venture this coming year is a conducted demonstration evening for developers, including those from circles outside Portobello. This will be on the first Thursday of the month starting in April, for a 3 month trial period.
Forthcoming special events in 2011 include Ruth Baruch on Friday 25 March, then Ewan Irvine’s seminar on Monday 18 April. Both are highly recommended.
There is still scope for other new activities this year. We hope new Committee Members will bring fresh ideas and talents. However the vitality of our Church and its continued growth very much depends on each and every member becoming more actively involved.