Moderator joins Aberdeenshire congregation to help mark 200 years of church history

Two centuries of church history have been celebrated with a special service in Aberdeenshire.

The Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, joined the congregation at Durris Church in Aberdeenshire to mark the 200th anniversary of the current church building.

Drumoak Durris Church minister Rev Jean Boyd and Moderator Dr Iain Greenshields (centre) with members of the congregation.

Although the present building opened in 1822, the site has been associated with Christian worship for well over 1000 years and a wooden plaque inside the kirk records the names of ministers and priests who served the local community as far back as Hugh Wells in 1420.

The Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, joined the congregation at of Drumoak Durris Church at Durris Church in Aberdeenshire to mark the 200th anniversary of the current church building.

Planting for the future

In addition to his sermon, Dr Greenshields was invited to plant a cherry tree and was presented with the engraved spade he used as a memento.

Dr Greenshields commented: "The atmosphere at the exhibition and in church was exceptional and the service was a real celebration of what Durris is about as a community church.

Dr Greenshields commented: "The atmosphere at the exhibition and in church was exceptional and the service was a real celebration of what Drumoak Durris Church is about as a community church.

"Linda and I felt very much at home with people who were very obviously passionate about their church and their witness to their parish. The church is very obviously led by a very able minister and supportive elders."

This year also marks the 20th anniversary of Durris joining Drumoak on the opposite side of the Dee to create a single congregation. Drumoak and Durris minister Rev Jean Boyd said the congregation had been delighted that Dr and Mrs Greenshields had been able to join them.

Rt Rev Iain Greenshields and Mrs Linda Greenshields (left) are invited by Drumoak and Durris minister Rev Jean Boyd to plant a cherry blossom tree to mark Durris Church's bicentenary.
Rt Rev Iain Greenshields and Mrs Linda Greenshields (left) are invited by Drumoak and Durris minister Rev Jean Boyd to plant a cherry blossom tree to mark Durris Church's bicentenary.

"They really appreciated his service and that he and Mrs Greenshields spoke to lots of people," she said.

"It was also nice to see a lot of old friends who haven't been since pre-Covid, and we also had a few people who travelled quite a distance."

This included some who came from as far as Brighton and a former Durris regular from Australia who was in the area to visit family.

Dr Greenshields and Janet Smith, one of the first female elders at Durris Church, cut the 200th 'birthday' cake.

Role of the church recognised

Mrs Boyd added that the occasion allowed the congregation to share their memories of the church.

"It really reminded you how much the church has been a part of the community over the years," she said.

Sadly, that role is set to with both Drumoak and Durris church buildings currently in line for disposal under draft proposals being considered by the Presbytery of Kincardine and Deeside.

However, in his sermon, Dr Greenshields stressed the mission of the church was more important than its buildings.

Warning that the Church was facing difficult times and challenges, he stated: "What does Jesus effectively say? ‘I am the Temple – it is with me you will find God's presence and not in a building.'

"Jesus outlasts the building – ultimately it is Him that it is all about – that is our challenge."

Mrs Boyd said the Moderator's message had been a positive one.

"He made it clear that church is about a relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ and not just an attachment to a building," she said.