Forfar church stunned by 'generosity and kindness' of the Swiss

Members of a Forfar church have been left “stunned” after they received a £4,200 donation from Christians in Switzerland to help them weather the Coronavirus storm.

Elders at East and Old Parish Church are more accustomed to being the ones helping others in their community so they were “overwhelmed” by the generosity of Dubendorf-Schwerzenbach Church in Zurich.

The Swiss church decided to act after Rev Barbara Ann Sweetin set out the situation facing her church amid the COVID-19 pandemic for an article in its newsletter.

Rev Barbara Ann Sweetin
Brothers and Sisters in Christ - Rev Barbara Ann Sweetin, her husband Billy with Rev Catherine McMillan and her husband Peter who are both wearing Church of Scotland tartan.

The money, which equates to 5,000 Swiss Francs, will be used to cover East and Old’s running costs and pay a member of staff because offerings have dropped off due to the church being currently closed as is its charity shop which usually provides an income.

It will also help the congregation continue its missional work to support people of all ages in Forfar.

Mrs Sweetin said: “I personally felt overwhelmed by the generosity, kindness and thoughtfulness of a Christian Church which we have strong links to who reached out in love and grace and offered a helping hand and hope during this difficult period.

“Like all Church of Scotland congregations, we get a great deal of delight helping others, never thinking we need anything and not expecting it.”

Great compassion

The two congregations formed a link in 2017 after Mrs Sweetin met Rev Catherine McMillan of Dubendorf-Schwerzenbach Church at an event organised by the Church of Scotland.

The friendship led to members from both congregations undertaking exchange visits over the last few years and Mrs Sweetin has preached at the famous Grossmunster church in Zurich.

Speaking today, she said: “I informed the Kirk Session last night during a video conference call and they were stunned, overwhelmed, surprised and encouraged that money was sent to us.

“All Christians, no matter which country we are in, care for one another as best we can with what we have and the Swiss have shown great compassion to us at this time.

“This donation will help keep us afloat along with our members extra donations until we can return to a semi-normal church life which in turn will help with the many missional work programmes we are involved in such as our Alzheimer’s group.”