Refurbishment and Re-Dedication of Croick Church: 24 May 1983

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Croick's Historic Kirk's New Life

The folk of Strathcarron and for miles around were happy with the choice of visiting preacher for the rededication service at Croick Kirk last month -- the Rev. Dr. Murdo Ewen MacDonald, Professor of practical theology at the University of Glasgow.

A Harris man, Professor MacDonald is a contemporary and friend of the minister of the united charge of Kincardine, Croick and Edderton, the Rev. Alastair Rennie. From the pulpit of the old Parliamentary Kirk designed by Thomas Telford and built in 1827, the rich Hebridean voice of the professor spoke of the value of the remembrance, and why it is was important to remember incidents like the cruel eviction of the people from Glencalvie in 1845.

For the glen people, too humble to seek sanctuary in the church itself, sheltered in the graveyard under the east gable, and scratched their pathetic farewell messages to their homeland on the glass panes before heading out for the far corners of the world.

Now Croick has become a central point for Commonwealth visitors, many seeking their roots in what was once Ross country.

The Rev. Mr. Rennie, who thanked all who had helped save the historic church, in which only about a dozen services a year are now held, said that it was the local joiner who spotted a suspicious bulge in the roof several years ago.

Golspie architect Mr. Robert Beaton was called in and he discovered a main beam rotted through. The roof timbers were sagging as a result, and the north wall was suspect.

With the help of the Historic Buildings Council and donations from all over the world, but mainly through the drive of the local congregation, the sum of 18,000 pounds had been raised for the necessary repairs. When the church and nearby single-story manse had been built in 1827, the entire cost had been 1,426 pounds, said Mr. Rennie.

One problem remained to be solved -- how to preserve the messages etched in the east window, to allow the thousands of visitors each year to read them behind protected glass.

At the simple service of rededication -- though there were doubts if the church had ever been dedicated in the first place -- the precentor was Mr. Ewen Stewart, organist in Ardgay Church.

The Rev. Alexander MacAlpine, clerk to the old Tain Presbytery of which Croick Church had been part until two years ago, offered the opening prayer and dedication of the offering, which was taken on entry to the refurbished church.

Mr. Alan Turner, Culrain, clerk of the congregational board, read the first passage from the scripture, and the second reading was from the Gaelic Bible, as it would have been in the early days of Croick Church.

Mrs. Dorothy Brown and Mr. Stewart sang an unaccompanied duet, before the Rev. Roderick MacKinnon, clerk to the Synod of Ross, Sutherland and Caithness, led in a prayer of intercession.

The benediction, by Professor Murdo Ewen MacDonald, was also in Gaelic.

From: The Northern Times, Golspie, Sutherland: May 1983.

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