The membership of the church is 176 with 2 Adherents and no-one on the Supplementary roll. There are 16 Elders. The average attendance on a Sunday is approximately 30.
We currently have one resident organist who is playing twice a month. We recently bought a new digital system for playing music on the other Sunday’s
A Church Magazine is produced bimonthly to keep the people of this rural community informed of the day-to-day life of the church. Church members contribute articles of interest. In Stichill Church there is a screen allowing use of a digital projector for hymns and other items.
Stewardship campaign in 2018
This began with an open meeting conducted by the Church of Scotland advisory group on stewardship. Following this a booklet was produced that invited the whole congregation to be involved in determining the way forward. In this context the Session decided to look first to the needs of Smailholm and Roxburgh parishes as they are the two most vulnerable parishes. In July three groups of two people visited every home in Smailholm parish and spoke with the occupier(s) about the place the church had in the community. A small booklet, on the history of the church up to the present, was left at each home along with a questionnaire that was collected a few days later.
We got a good response about retaining the church building but not necessarily seen as a religious centre. We continued the services until the end of 2018 but recently have mothballed the church. Roxburgh was visited in September with much the same results. The process is beginning to sell both of these churches.
We intend for Stichill and Makerstoun to be visited in a similar fashion even though these are the better-attended churches. We feel that a special campaign will be helpful in developing a closer relationship with the community.
Church Organisations, Committees and Community Involvement
The Guild plays an active role in the work and witness of the church and arranges fund-raising and social events and is involved in the wider work of the Presbyterial Council of The Guild.
The Kids Club used to be on a Friday afternoons in blocks of 3 or 4 weeks at a time and involves primary school children from the parishes and is led by dedicated members. In recent times numbers have fallen due to progression to secondary school. The club is suspended at present, but children themselves still help in organisation of special services and last year they made a valuable contribution to the Christmas services.
The Choir meets for special festivals and events throughout the year
The Worship Team was set up in 2002. It is a group of people actively involved in worship by taking all aspects of the Sunday worship; preaching, reading scripture and leading prayers. There are four members of the congregation who have taken regular services throughout the year and work in with the rota of services in the churches in the past. Other members do the readings every Sunday and occasional prayers. During the vacancy the worship team were very active, but now that we have a new minister one of this team will be leading worship about once a month. Each of the four members has a style of their own which has enhanced the services. We also take services in the care homes of Kelso throughout the year in rotation with the other churches in the area. One member also takes funeral services at the church, graveside or crematorium. These services are appreciated by the congregation and community.
The Events Team plan an annual programme of fund-raising events and social occasions.
Buildings and Fabric Team
The Buildings and Fabric Team look after the churches, meeting rooms and Manse.
The Finance team look after the financial affairs of the congregation.
Presbytery of Jedburgh
Kelso Country Churches are involved with the local Presbytery of Jedburgh and have an active participation in its running, with a former moderator in our session who now is the Fabric and Glebes convenor on presbytery. Our presbytery elder is also very active and is on the Ministries & Mission committee. This is a progressive process of involvement, which indicates the willingness of members to participate in the future decision making of our parishes and churches in the borders.
Kelso Churches Together (KCT)
Kelso Country Churches plays its part in Kelso Churches Together. This is an organisation that consists of all the denominational congregations in the town of Kelso and surrounding area. It is responsible for the preaching rota at the Old folk’s homes and some Christmas services. It organises the local World Week of prayer event and runs a communal tea-tent at the Border Union Show for the two days of the show. An ecumenical service is held at the start of Kelso Week in July and an outdoor service in September in the Kelso Square
Support of Charities
The congregation has a direct interest in many different charities and has raised in the order of over £2000 in their support each year for the last three years. They include Self Help Africa; Christian Aid; Blythswood Care; East Africa Appeal and Myanmar Refugees. Also the church regularly supports the local charities of Cheviot Youth and the Borders Women’s Aid at Jedburgh.
Together with the churches of Kelso North & Ednam and Kelso Old & Sprouston we employ a youth worker in Kelso. We successfully applied to the ‘Go For It Fund’ from Church of Scotland and have been given a grant for 3 years on condition that we can match-fund the money. KCC have already pledged money towards this for a three year period.
We have been associated with the Kelso foodbank which is run by KCT for many years, collecting food at the churches and have volunteers helping in its distribution from the Kelso depot.