Growing with God’s Grace at St Ninian’s


Wednesday 22nd June 2016

In his resumé of the past year, the Rector explained that our MAP team comprised the Vestry plus Mrs Ann Gault, who had substantial previous experience of outreach into the community. He outlined the reasons why our Year Two MAP never got started: Sandra Walsh, our facilitator, had become a member of the congregation though had indicated her willingness to lead and co-ordinate our Year Two MAP; also extra responsibilities placed on the Rector by the Bishop had meant that he had lacked the time for any structured planning. Bishop Gregor expressed his gratitude for all that David had done in the past year, especially as it was in the lead-up to his retirement. He was certain that, with a new facilitator and Sandra’s help, work on the MAP could resume, allowing David to stand back and let others take it forward. He added that any work that is done for the next part of the MAP could count towards the parish profile which would need to be carried out during the forthcoming vacancy.

See attached for a full report of the meeting: 160622-report-of-year-two-review-with-bishop-gregor-2


Wednesday 1st April 2015

Bishop Gregor opened the meeting with the Growth Strategy Prayer and his apologies for the postponement of the meeting. He explained that its purpose was to review the past year, and what we had planned to do, and then to see what had actually happened.

The Rector then showed a presentation he had put together under different headings to illustrate the worship, activities and outreach of St Ninian’s.

See attached for a full report of the meeting: 150401-report-of-year-one-review-with-bishop-gregor

Sunday 2 March 2014: Signing the Mission Action Plan (MAP)
Today Sandra Walsh, our Facilitator, came to sign off the MAP outlining the priorities identified by St Ninian’s for the forthcoming twelve months: Children and Young People, and Learning and Discipleship.

Sandra Walsh and the Rector

Sandra Walsh and the Rector

Sandra and the Rector signing the MAP

Sandra and the Rector signing the MAP

(Click on the link below read the Mission Action Plan in full.)

St Ninian’s Castle Douglas Mission Action Plan

Below are some of the suggestions and comments made by members of the congregation in their questionnaires completed as part of the ongoing Community Audit:

  1. back-up teams to visit people in hospital or after discharge;
  2. visits or help for housebound; knowing who needs them;
  3. regular visiting to those unable to go out much;
  4. annual visits to all via Pastoral Team;
  5. something to help old people rediscover their purpose in life;
  6. publicity about car-sharing on the website;
  7. St Ninian’s should give help where required – find out what is required – ask younger generation what they would like to see done;
  8. occasional choral evensong with visiting choirs/groups;
  9. teenage youth group with other churches;
  10. post-Confirmation youth group, perhaps in school/college holidays;
  11. Roman Catholic congregation to be kept informed of Advent/Lent courses which they could attend; (already advised of Sunday Evening Alternative Services);
  12. simple services in care homes for the elderly;
  13. monthly ‘Any Questions?’ chaired by the Rector;
  14. more Bible study/prayer groups;
  15. a service with spontaneous contributions – prayers/hymns/scripture readings from the floor;
  16. more informal services, possibly aimed at youth;
  17. formation of fellowship groups;
  18. small study/discussion groups;
  19. make creative use of Church garden;
  20. ecumenical outreach/sharing meals, resources/presenting a more united front;
  21. regular use of stand microphone for meetings.

If you would like to support or become involved in any of the above, please speak to Jenny Wright or the Rector.

Jenny has prepared some charts showing profile information gained from the Congregation’s questionnaires. (This is not 100% accurate because not everyone has returned their questionnaires to her but it gives a snapshot):

(Click on graphs for larger view)

Distance from Church

Distance from Church

Distribution of Congregation according to age

Distribution of Congregation according to age and gender

Age & gender in numbers & percentages

Age & gender in numbers & percentages

Disability Status

Disability Status

The following is the GROWTH STRATEGY REPORT prepared by Secretary, Jenny Wright, for the Annual Meeting of the Congregation on 27th October 2013:

Our first congregational meeting with our facilitator Sandra Walsh, looking at ‘Why are we going for Growth?’ was held at the end of May and a first report following that meeting was received and studied at our Vestry meeting at the beginning of August. A further meeting at the end of August started the ball rolling.

From the report, a review of our present identity was of a talented, committed and friendly/welcoming congregation with a Rector and wife who were highly regarded, a building that felt like the ‘House of God’ and strengths included good preaching and high quality music.

The range of services was appreciated, the facilities excellent and shared with other groups. Mothers’ Union, the Men’s Group and the Thursday Fellowship Group were listed as adult outreach and ‘Little Fishes’ as outreach both to young parents and children.

Although the congregation as a whole appreciated the liturgy, there was an awareness that this, the high church vestments and ‘county’ reputation could deter the uninitiated.

The report has a long list of our strengths under each of the strands and then a much smaller list of our weaknesses with thoughts on how some of these could be approached.

1. Prayer and Spirituality

i)     Intercession training is needed.

This was recognised as something that could be done straight away and the Rector ran a session that was also attended by other congregations in the diocese and was much appreciated. For those unable to attend, the Rector has copies of the presentation he used which could be made available.

ii)   More regular fellowship and study groups are needed.

A group is now running in Bothwell House. This group is full but another group could be arranged if and when there is the demand.

iii)   There is no prayer group.

Jenny Wright is looking into starting one.

Private and contemplative prayer could be developed by inviting in outside specialists to give instruction.

iv) Encourage personal spirituality through daily prayer and scripture readings. e.g. study with Bible Reading Fellowship notes.

2. Learning and Discipleship

We need more teaching and studying.

The Rector is looking into this. We have meetings about four times a year where invited speakers are covering a topic. There is a possibility that a series could be run in the region using a similar range of speakers. He will lead an Advent course this year.

It has been suggested that he produces a reading list for those who wish to study alone.

3. Missional Leadership

i)     Do we look outward enough? A community audit may identify areas where we can serve the community. This may in turn lead to opportunities.

ii)    Subscribe to mission work abroad. Watch this space!

4. Numerical Growth, Welcome and Integration

Although we see ourselves as a welcoming congregation our numbers are falling as we lose people to age or job related events. There were quite a lot of ideas to help put this right including publicity, invitation, hobby/interest related events and a welcome pack for newcomers. (These have been put together and include a magazine, a guide to St Ninian’s and one to the Scottish Episcopal Church).

5. Children and Young People

i)     It is recognised that, although we do quite a lot for younger children, we don’t cater much for the teenage/young adult category. This needs to be rectified.

6. Imaginative Outreach into Communities

Although it was recognised that we are not very confident in this area, there were quite a lot of ideas including visiting the housebound, church open days, encouraging ecumenical relationships with other churches and joining in with what’s already going on, sharing resources and using the website and other avenues for publicity more.

We are starting a community audit to find out where the needs of the community are. Ann Gault, Ian MacQuarrie and Jenny Wright are forming a sub-group to move this on. We are in the process of producing a town map and an OS wall map where we can identify meeting places, places that serve the community, where people live etc. We will also use statistics found online and use questionnaires to this end. The first questionnaire is to our own church community but there will be others targeting the police, social services, schools, healthcare, other churches and the general public.

The Vestry has identified Children and Young People and Learning and Discipleship as the two strands to focus our efforts on and hope that numerical growth will also come from this.

Jenny Wright


On Sunday 3rd March, Sandra Walsh, our appointed Facilitator who comes from Gatehouse, attended our 11.00am Service to meet the congregation of St Ninian’s for the first time and gave a brief outline of how she would be working with us in the future. A date was set – Trinity Sunday – when she would be coming to ‘get us started’.

26 May 2013 – Trinity Sunday – the first meeting of the congregation to discuss the Growth Strategy. There will be more information when we receive Sandra’s report from the meeting. Meanwhile, here are some photos taken during the periods of assessment and planning – and of people enjoying the lunch afterwards.

Sandra reads some of the comments on the initial assessment sheets

Sandra discusses a query with one of the groups

Canon David Main makes a suggestion …

Some serious thought is going on here.

Clem is telling an amusing tale …

Roz puts forward a suggestion


Eating and drinking – something St Ninian’s people excel at. Come to think of it, nobody mentioned hospitality as one of our strong points!