As midsummer draws closer the congregation of the Gardner Memorial Church can look back on the first half of the year with surprise and satisfaction.
Surprised at how many things have happened and satisfied with how well things have turned out.
The outstanding event was the visit of the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in April.
This visit emphasised the fact that a small town church is still very much a part of a greater fellowship and, on a local level, the members of the Gardner Memorial have tried to contribute to this fellowship on weekdays as well as Sundays.
There have been soup lunches and informal midweek services.Throughout the summer, every Thursday morning, an hour is set aside for a coffee and chat (and home baking) in the church hall and all are welcome to drop in if they are passing by.
One-off events earlier in the year included the popular annual Quiz Night and also a ‘Pampered Chef’ demonstration. On Sundays during the school term, there is a Sunday School, now more trendily called ‘Sunday’s Cool’ and the Gardner Memorial and the Cathedral join together several times year to run a holiday event called ‘Messy Church’ when a good time is had by all in a combined craft and worship session.
The Gardner Memorial Minister is Chaplain to Andover School and visits the school regularly and the whole school comes to the church for their end of term services.
Sunday morning services are well attended and the praise is led by the choir.
When Dr. Isobel Slater retired as organist, it was feared that she would be replaced by a CD player.
But a rota of organists was drawn up and practically every Sunday there is a real, not a virtual, organist.
This is also a talking point, as the question “Who’s playing today?” is a good conversational gambit.
There is much to be enjoyed on a Sunday- a fine bright church, floral arrangements and well known and well-loved hymns.
The word sermon is no longer used to daunt people and heavy theology has been replaced by relevant short addresses.
The minister is entitled to a break every now and then and when the Rev. Jane Blackley was off bicycling in Holland, the Worship Group conducted morning worship and the simplicity and the sincerity of that service was greatly appreciated.
The worship group and the hospitality team, among others, do their best to make the church as welcoming and friendly as possible and on the jubilee weekend, it was decided to take that friendship out of the church and into St. Ninian’s Square.
The advantage of a square party rather than a street party was that there was no need for official permission.
All that was needed was a willing team of helpers to carry tables and chairs across Southesk Street.
The idea really took off and the organisers were truly delighted that so many folk came along to join the picnic and to celebrate the day in a neighbourly fashion.
It might be concluded, that a summer break might be in order, but not so; on July 2, 3, and 4 there will be a three day bring and buy sale.
Annie’s Sales, as they are generally known, are a bit of an institution.
If you want a bargain, a cup of tea and something sweet to eat as well, pop along on one of these days to the Gardner Memorial Hall.
In fact, you would be welcome at the Gardner Memorial at any time, week days and Sundays.