Summer 2009 Messenger Archive

Welcome to the Messenger Archive for Summer 2009

Letter from the Manse 

Summer 2009

This, of course, is my last letter to you as your Minister, as I am retiring from St Mark’s on June 30th of this year. I will have served you for just over 20 years which by today’s standard in the Ministry is a long one, as most are now 5 years to  7 years.

When I arrived in St Mark’s in June 1989 I never envisaged the tasks that lay ahead of me from the small to the downright gargantuan.  I have to say though, that each time a problem presented itself it was met with the same teamwork and dedication.  That has been the anchor on my Ministry in St Mark’s and it has to be the same anchor if you want your next Minister to be with you for more than 5 years.

Jennifer, David, Garry and I owe all of you a great debt as you took us to your hearts as well as your homes and became friends as much as our flock.  This has meant so much to us throughout these last 20 years.  Now that I have decided to retire I will be able to such mundane things as water colour painting, gardening and driving about the countryside.

Where will Jennifer, David and I eventually go to worship?  We really don’t know yet.  We want to take time to find the right place so that we area able to give our all to that congregation and Minister.  No matter where we go though, our hearts will always be with you in St Mark’s.

You are now entering a new and exciting time in your congregational life here in St Mark’s and your new Minister, when he or she arrives will have their own ideas as to the way forward.  I pray that the vacancy will not be a long one, but during the vacancy, however long it may be, I appeal to you to do three things for me.

Please support all that is still going on in St Mark’s for church life continues as it has always done.  Be regular in your worship at the Church.  (It is not unusual for potential Ministers to call in just to see what the Church is like).  Give generously as well as regularly so that when your new incumbent arrives their first job is not to get you up and running again because you have let things go.

We are all sure that God will bring the right person to you in his own time.

We wish you all the best in the future.

John, Jennifer and David.

Sunday 28th June

This will be my last service among you, and I will be preaching and conducting Communion Services at 11am and 2pm.  I hope as many of you as possible will make the effort to come and give Jennifer and I the opportunity of saying our thanks to you all. During the service I will also announce the winner of my Children’s Bible Quiz.  The winner will receive a 20inch LCD Television with Freeview as well as a DVD player.  Each child who enters the competition will also receive a small prize for entering.

I have already been approached by several people who are extremely disappointed that they will not be able to come to the services due to holiday or other commitments. What I have done, therefore, is to arrange for a Videographer to come a video the service.  Thereafter there will be a professionally prepared DVD available to anyone who wishes to see it.  I suggest  therefore that, Mr Alex McConochie be approached by anyone who wishes to see the DVD.

I look forward to seeing you all then.


What Have We achieved In St Marks in 20 Years?

When I first came to St Mark’s in June 1989, the first thing I became aware of was a congregation that needed to pull itself together as a result of a protracted vacancy of more that three years.  This was initially achieved by focusing on our Centenary which was due in 1992, and great preparations were laid in place to celebrate that year.  During that year as well as many fund raising events we hosted BBC television Songs of Praise and screened from St Mark’s a live production of the Christmas Story.  During the year we managed to raise over £30,000 which was divided between a Video Endoscope for Aberdeen Royal Infirmary costing £15,000 and  a specially adapted Land Rover with the remaining £15,000 for Water Aid in Mali.

In March of 1992 we hosted HRH The Princess Royal at our morning service after which, as Patron of Save the Children Fund, she accepted the Land Rover as well as presenting the Endoscope to the hospital on our behalf.  It wasn’t too long after that we discovered horrendous problems in the roof of the Church when, after an initial survey, we were told our lead roofed dome was leaking like a sieve.  There were, I have to say, several negative persons who wanted us to close there and then, but it was my belief that if God wanted us to be here He would provide.  That He did.  With the approval of my Office Bearers, I organised a series of member visits during which each Member was shown a specially made video of the Church and of the building problems.  At the end of the meetings we had more than enough in pledges to carry out the work.  The initial costs were in the region of £180,000, but when work started this rose to around £400,000.  With our dedicated band of people we managed to raise even more than that leaving us with enough money to re-wire, decorate and invest for the future.

In 1999 we were the first of the churches in the city to conform to the Disability Discrimination Act when we installed a lift  allowing our less able members to access the Church from the ground floor. During the 20 years St Mark’s has also become the home to OAK, one of the most successful outreach centres in the city, a drama group (St Mark’s Players), a junior Drama Group (Stage Door), a Men’s Club, Circle of Care, as well as many other secular organisations using St Mark’s as a base.  This has led to St Mark’s being one of the busiest churches in the City centre.  Since 2004 we have also become twinned with Mpachika Church in Blantyre Presbytery, Malawi and so far three visits have gone out from St Mark’s with one visit in return from Mpachika.  In May of 2010 we will once again welcome our friends from Blantyre on a visit here to Aberdeen.

In 2006 when I visited Mpachika I pledged that we would help them as best we could to build a kitchen to help feed the orphans in the village, and we have now almost completed this work. There is no doubt that the groundwork had now been laid and the new Minister coming to replace me will have very little to work about in relation to buildings and finance.  Your achievements have been admirable, so please give yourselves a ‘pat on the back’. But do not sit back on your laurels, for there is still much for you to do.

May God Bless you in the future

Your Friend, John

Note from the Magazine Editor:

John’s own account of achievements is somewhat modest and I have put together, with the help of members and 20 years of Board and Session minutes, a fuller version of what he has helped us achieve.  Space limits what can be mentioned. I have tried to be as accurate as possible with events and dates.  I think I have ‘played all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order’!  Forgive any omissions and inaccuracies.

I first became associated with St Mark’s in 1997, however, I have an indelible memory of John whilst attending a service as a visitor in 1992.  It was a communion service and John delivered such a powerful sermon that its message stays with me to this day.  That same sermon was a contributory factor to me deciding to join his church, a decision which has given me not one moment of regret.

I would like to say a personal thank you for his friendship and support  both as a member of the congregation and Editor of the magazine.


And a note from the webmaster:

The Supplement to the Summer Messenger has added to the website and you can read it here.

Circle of Care

One of the first innovations of John’s Ministry at St Mark’s was the Circle of Care.  Though originally it was designed to provide visits to the housebound it has extended to include the distribution of flowers and gifts to the “over eighties” and most importantly the invitation to the Afternoon Communion and Tea in June and October.  We are indeed grateful to John for setting up this organisation so that the elderly still feel part of St Mark’s family.  We all wish him, Jennifer and David every blessing in his retirement though we shall sorely miss them.


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A Note from the Treasurer

I know that in this ‘Messenger’ the Editor will include the Session Clerk’s report from our AGM so I thought I might provide some comments from my own report to that meeting.  Much of what I said referred to the detailed figures in the Accounts but I hope these extracts will give a flavour of where we ended up last year.  We did reasonably well but we are capable and indeed should do much better.

“You will see that income from offerings was down, there was no increase in numbers giving by Gift Aid but those giving by Standing Order now number over 60.  Our income from interest and dividends is up but only as a result of a windfall payment of interest from HMRC due to late repayment of tax on Gift Aid donations.  Normal interest payments were unsurprisingly down from the previous year due to the generally poorer performance of the financial markets.

Income from Hall Lets was down by almost a half and overall income was down by an exceptional amount at about £55,000 but this was largely explained by the special fundraising the previous year to fund the new kitchen as well as significant grants from Presbytery and OAK as well as redemption of over £20,000 of capital investment.

Thankfully however expenditure was also significantly down, again due to spending in 2007 on the Kitchen.   Also down was the market value of our remaining investments due to poor market performance.

At the year end we were left with a surplus of £6,655.  About £2,290 of that was income to the Projects Fund from the Charity Shop, Garden Gathering and Silver & Copper Mines, the balance being made up of almost £5,000 of a surplus on the Congregational Account, less items of expenditure met from the Kitchen and Lift Funds.”

Alex McConochie

Letter from the Interim Moderator

Dear Members of St Mark’s

I am grateful for the Editor’s invitation to write a few words as your Interim Moderator at St Mark’s.  The Wikepedia definition of interim is “a temporary measure until something more complete and permanent can be established”.

I must say that I feel very “Interim” at the moment as the actual Vacancy will not begin until John’s retirement at the end of June.  However, one of the advantages of the new procedures for filling a Vacancy, where the minister is retiring, is that we can begin to take steps to fill the vacancy before the minister retires.  In our case that means we already have a Nominating Committee in place and a Parish Profile is in a state of readiness.

After John retires the “Interim” Interim Moderatorship is over and the Nominating Committee will be in a position to take active steps to fill the Vacancy.  I trust that my time as Interim Moderator will be very Interim and something more complete will be established very soon.  I know your last vacancy was very prolonged but this time we have the great advantage of an unrestricted Call.  However it is fair to say that in counterbalance to that the supply of Ministers is not as plentiful now as it was during the last vacancy.

So please do prayerfully support your Nominating Committee during the forthcoming vacancy.  Also be aware that every member of St Mark’s has a part to play, whether on the Nominating Committee or not.  I would urge you all throughout the Vacancy to be loyal in your attendance at worship, generous in your giving to the Church and supportive of all its work and witness.

With Best Wishes

Mark Rodgers

Session Clerk’s Report to the AGM

This is my last report as Session Clerk at St. Mark’s Church.  It really doesn’t seem 15 years ago since I stood here as a much younger man giving my first report!  It has been an interesting and challenging few years and many changes have taken place.

What has been happening at St Mark’s over the last year?  Probably far too many events to mention.  Sunday on Sunday we come along to worship as that is part of our life but do we know or care what else goes on in the life of our Church?

We are still working with Queen Street and the Kirk of St. Nicholas Uniting as the City Centre Grouping.

Recently the Parish Development Committee evaluated the work of the Grouping over the last few years. We were commended for the steps we had taken in joint thinking and working.  Joint services were now the norm as is the interchange of ministers to take worship in the other churches.  Our initiative in setting up a venue to distribute Big Issue magazines to vendors was seen as highly successful and worthy of praise.  Combined training has also taken place with an external facilitator with the focus being on working relationships within the Grouping and how to get the most of everyone’s talents!  Lenten Studies and Holy Week Services have also been set up.  The Grouping committee was reminded that the Sessions of the 3 churches should be meeting annually to discuss progress and also the way forward.  An Additional Minister had been mooted and the Committee had spent a considerable amount of time preparing a Job Specification and a Grouping Profile, but this was put on hold at a recent Presbytery meeting.

Our Congregational records for 2008 were attested last month.  As usual all were in good order.  Unfortunately our roll continues to fall and it is very pleasing to see that a Communicants’ class is starting today.  Hopefully we will get lots of interested people to come along.  OAK continues to make its mark and has been praised for its Christian witness in the City Centre.  It was also commended for the cleanliness of its kitchen and food arrangements in a recent inspection.  Betty and Malcolm Steel and their staff have worked tirelessly over the year and they are always looking for more volunteers.  Many charities have benefited over the year from money distributed by OAK.

St Mark’s still offers a wide range of activities during the week.  Many people take part in The Guild, Guild of Friendship, Men’s Club, Drama Club, Stage Door, Scottish Country Dancing, Girls’ Brigade and the Choir. Come along and enjoy the fellowship.  You may discover a hidden talent.

As you are aware the young folk of today are the Church of tomorrow.  We must continue to encourage our young people to come along to the Crèche, Sunday school and Youth Fellowship where Helen Burr and the teachers do a wonderful job in involving the youngsters in the life and witness of Christ.

Margaret Donald and her band of helpers continue to involve our older members in Communion and afternoon tea in June and October.  Many are visited regularly and at Christmas they receive their gift.  From past experience, not my own, but my mother in law’s, I know how much these events mean to the Circle of Care members

But now what does the future hold?  As you know our minister has decided to retire in June of this year, a decision which took many by surprise.  It is indeed a very true saying that you don’t appreciate someone or something ‘til you know they are leaving.  Who can believe that the Manse family have been here nearly 20 years?  Over the years John has helped to raise the status of St Mark’s in the City of Aberdeen.  He has worked tirelessly and selflessly for the good of our Church and its members and to spread the word of Christ in the city centre.  He has been visionary in many aspects of his work and we are now in the strong and healthy position of having the right to call a new minister.  John will, indeed, be a loss to St. Mark’s but the old adage holds good.  When one door closes another one surely opens. John has been ably supported by his wife Jennifer over the years and she will also be missed when they move on.

To celebrate John’s ministry at St. Mark’s, a social will be held on Saturday 27 June at 7pm in the church and then down to the hall for supper. I hope that many of you will manage to come along and thank Jennifer and John in person.  You will receive a letter giving you more details when you get you Easter magazine and Communion cards.  Mark Rodgers, chaplain at Woodend Hospital, has been appointed Interim Moderator.  Now is the time to pull together as a congregation.  If you are asked for your name to be put forward for the Nominating Committee to chose our new minister, please give it serious consideration.  Let’s all be proactive in the next few months ahead.  It’s an exciting and challenging time!!

I have been very privileged to be Session Clerk at St. Mark’s Church.  It has been rewarding and has been made easier by all in the church who have been very supportive.  But the time is now right to demit office and I am very pleased that Ian and Marjorie Lord have agreed to take on the role from the end of June. I wish them well.  We have been working together over the last few months.

Over the next few months it is vital that you all continue to give your full support and commitment to those who will have the responsibility of selecting our new minister.

David Yacamini

The Strollers

As usual the onset of summer means The Strollers will be moving out of Aberdeen for their Saturday outings whilst staying in town on Tuesdays.  If you care to come along on any of the dates listed below, we should be pleased to have you join us.






Tuesday at 10.00am








Saturday at 2.00pm









Change of Address

Mrs Margaret Leslie

Rosewell Gardens  to

Ashley Lodge

Mrs Alice Munro

Raeden Crescent  to

Strachan Mill Court

New Members by Certificate

Mr and Mrs Norman Gill

Barkmill Road

New Members by Profession of Faith      

Keith Low


Sarah Low


James Main


Daniel Maclean


Joan Maclean


Catherine Macnaughton


Malcolm Macnaughton



‘He will surround you with love on that golden day’

5th March Mrs Helen Dugan Rowan Court
12th March Mrs Margaret Hay Fairview Home
12th April Mr William Craig Lethen Park
 14th April Mr Edward Sutherland Cranford Home


 7th Dec 2008

 Isabella Mairi Ann Brown, c/o Emerates National School, Abu Dhabi, Granddaughter of Alan and Ann Brown

 19th April 2009

 Adam David Rose, c/o 29 Rubislaw Park Crescent, Grandson of David and Jean Yacamini