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Rural Cowal Vacancy


 Argylls Secret Coast lends itself to a beauty and rural location like no other. 30 years ago, Rural Cowal was an ageing population with schools facing closure, shops shut and support networks in decline. More Recently, however, many have realised the joy of living in this beautiful area, being part of a thriving, caring community. There has been a major shift in the demographic makeup with young families and early retired people moving or returning because of the quality of life on offer. Our primary schools are growing and although the Church rolls do not reflect this demographic change yet, they too are growing, offering hope and an opportunity for our churches.

This change was accelerated by the Covid pandemic with people realising the need for a better life balance. Improvements in connectivity and broadband communications have offered many the potential to work from home anywhere in the country or to run and develop their own businesses. West Cowal and The Shore Villages area is easily commutable to Glasgow and the central belt with an excellent ferry service making a life on our shores more attainable, as well as Dunoon Grammar School being an excellent school. Traditional Occupations sit in Agriculture, Horticulture, Fishing, Fish farming, Forestry, Tourism and local amenities resource. Our retired community bring a wealth of knowledge and experience from many diverse roles in industry, making conversations rich and diverse. The area is steeped in history and benefits from the Faith in Cowal Pilgrim Trails.

Our minister would be one who is an inspiring servant of God, caring and personable and with a heart for serving the Lord within our parishes. With an ability to lead and include all, you would work as part of a team with enthusiasm and passion for creating positive change and driving forward the life of the church as an integral part of the charge of Rural Cowal.


Charge of Rural Cowal (Presbytery Mission Plan)

The charge of Rural Cowal was created as part of the Presbytery Mission Plan approved in August 2022. The linkage of the two congregations, West Cowal and The Shore Kirk, will take place on the date of induction. Plans are already in place for the sale of all buildings determined (b). The call is unrestricted, and you will be the first minister of this new charge. Both congregations operate the Unitary Constitution. The Presbytery plan makes provision for an OLM or Reader, and an OLM is currently assigned to the Charge.

There will be 3 Church buildings in the care of the Kirk Sessions: • Strone Church in the care of the Shore Kirk • Kilmodan Church, Glendaruel, in the care of West Cowal • Kyles Church, Kames, Tighnabruaich, Millhouse and Portavadie in the care of West Cowal  The congregations also have access to Kilfinan Church and Kilmun Church both of which are part of the Faith in Cowal pilgrimage trail and attract many visitors. 

 Worship and Churches At present West Cowal has agreed an interim pattern of worship. This includes a service every Sunday at Kyles (10.00am), a Service three Sundays per month at Kilmodan/Colintraive (11.30am) and a service twice per month at Kilfinan (11.30am). On the fifth Sunday of the month there is a joint service at 11.00am. The Shore Kirk holds a service every Sunday at Strone Church (10.30am).

The Presbytery plan makes provision for an OLM or Reader, and an OLM is currently assigned to the Charge. The charge of Rural Cowal (West Cowal and The Shore Kirk) provide an online Sunday Message which is published on YouTube, the website and Facebook, and has around 80 views per week. There are no other Church denominations present across the parishes, and worship tends to be naturally ecumenical and welcoming. There is currently an arrangement that the Scottish Episcopal Church conducts a service in Kyles Church every two months which is open to all.

Argyll Presbytery will cease to exist as of 31st December 2023 and will become Cleir Eilean I – Highlands and Hebrides, which will cover approximately 40% of the landmass of Scotland. This is an exciting new development and work is well underway to launch the new Presbytery.

The Parishes

The charge of Rural Cowal serves the communities of Otter Ferry, Kilfinan, Ardlamont, Kames, Tighnabruaich, Glendaruel, Colintraive, Clachaig, Rashfield, Benmore, Kilmun, Strone, Blairmore and Ardentinny. The total population is around 2280 and both parishes are of a similar size. The communities in addition to a resident population, have a high number of holiday homes which contribute to the local economy and make the churches and area a busy place at Christmas, Easter and in the summer.

The Parish of The Shore Kirk Strone Church The Shore Kirk (Strone Church) is situated by the meeting of the Holy Loch, Loch Long and the Firth of Clyde in the village of Strone. The Church is well maintained and has an attached main hall, smaller hall, large kitchen, and toilet. The Church is in the process of upgrading the heating system and refurbishing the hall. The Sanctuary is fitted with a large screen, internet access, and the Church office has a telephone line. There is plenty of parking and the opportunity to develop a courtyard to the rear.

 Historic Kilmun @ Kilmun Church Kilmun Church was recently sold to Historic Kilmun, a local organisation who run tours and events within the building and are part of the Faith in Cowal Project. There is a very good relationship between the Shore Kirk and Historic Kilmun and the building can be used for life events, such as weddings or funerals.

Congregational Life Congregational life at the Shore Kirk is growing and has potential now to thrive. The Shore Kirk Guild meets on the first Tuesday of each month from 2.30pm – 4.00pm. The number of people attending varies but we expect to attract up to 12 individuals. We meet for Christian Fellowship, to study the Bible and share our life experiences with each other as well as setting aside time for friendship over tea and coffee. We also invite outside speakers to share their experiences and, consequently, we have been able to support the Dunoon Food Bank and local humanitarian aid to refugees of the war in the Ukraine. We also support the Guild project to help reforestation in Malawi by collecting used stamps both from the church members and the wider community. We are currently looking at ways to forge links with other Guilds in the Cowal area with the first being an Advent reflection at the beginning of December. The Guild runs all year round with the exception of our meeting in January. We have been particularly pleased that the Guild has been able to welcome members who do not attend regular Sunday worship in the Shore Kirk.

A Coffee, Craft and Knit Group which meets on a Thursday evening has attendees from the community and beyond and is growing weekly. This group are knitting poppies to decorate the church and village for Armistice Sunday, will help make Christingles for the upcoming Christmas Service and are presently busy creating Christmas Crafts. A lively group with laughter and chat, bringing some out of their homes who wouldn’t otherwise feel like going out. We also have a regular Lenten study group. The Church Hall is the only hall within the village of Strone and there is an opportunity to engage with local groups to expand the activities that are on offer. The congregation donate to Dunoon Food Bank at the weekly service, and this is delivered the following week. The local school studied the church last year and visited Historic Kilmun and The Shore Kirk and the children were fascinated by their visits and made and presented the church with a beautiful advent calendar. The school are open to being involved in the life of the church. 26 children attend the local school but there are many more children on the Shore, who, because of a lack of childcare go to school in Dunoon. We meet for Tea/Coffee after church and the donations raised have supported Christian Aid, 5 Ukraine Appeal, Dunoon Foodbank, Operation Smile and November/December donations will go to Santa Sleigh

Kilmodan Church building - This historic building is in Clachan of Glendaruel and is close to the school. It is a historic building with an adjacent working graveyard and Historic Scotland Standing Stones and a visitor car park. The Church is part of the Faith in Cowal project. The building is in the process of being upgraded to include toilets and a kitchen to adapt the worship space. Planning permission has been applied for and work is expected to commence in spring 2024. Funds are available.

Kyles Church in the village of Kames is close to the manse and has an attached main hall, kitchen, and toilets. The church and hall have very effective Air Source heating, and both are fitted with screens for audio visual use in worship. There is a small car park at the rear with space for development

Kilfinan Church is in the process of being disposed of to The Society of the Friends of Kilfinan Church, a registered charity with a long history of supporting the building. The Church includes a Visitor Centre (The Lamont Vault) and is part of the Faith in Cowal Pilgrims Trails. The congregation will retain access to the Church for worship, weddings, and funerals etc. The Society are keen to maintain an active link with the congregation.

Colintraive Church is currently owned and used by West Cowal and will be sold with the funds being allocated to the refurbishment of Kilmodan Church. It is expected the property will be marketed in early 2024 but will remain open and in use till the date of sale

Congregational life in West Cowal includes a weekly lunch club ,a regular bible study, and provides space for a local Parents & Toddlers group. There are strong links with a local Drug Rehabilitation service, The King’s Court. This residential unit where currently the minister and church members serve among the directors/trustees has a strong Christian focus and is managed by the Maxie Richards Foundation. In the past few years there has been a marked change in the community with a shift to young families. We need to find new ways to engage with this group and are looking for a minister who will help us engage

Resourcing Mission Within the area of Cowal congregations have access to a significant bequest that supports mission initiatives. Priorities are agreed annually by the churches in Cowal and funding of up to 75% of projects can be available. At present the bequest supports the eXp Youth Project based in Dunoon, the Faith in Cowal project, the installation of audio-visual equipment in churches, and makes provision for small grants throughout the year.

West Cowal Manse Kames, Tighnabruaich PA21 2AD. A modern villa built in 2005 and comes with Air Source heating supported by solar water heating and is well insulated. The main bathroom and en-suite have recently had new mains pressure showers installed. The manse has an up-to-date EPC level ‘C’ rating. The manse comes with a double garage with a large storeroom above

Local Amenities The local primary school for the manse is Tighnabruaich Primary and includes a pre-school nursery. The secondary school is Dunoon Grammar. The Grammar School is 25 miles away in Dunoon and young people can either stay in the school hostel Monday- Friday or travel daily by bus. There are also primary schools in Glendaruel and Strone and all three primaries have good relations with the Church and welcome chaplaincy. Health Kyles Medical Centre is a modern surgery in Tighnabruaich. There are two doctors, a pharmacy, dental surgery with weekly service and a monthly optician service. The nearest A&E is in Dunoon though there is a helicopter service for urgent emergencies. Although in Highland Health Board most hospital appointments will be in Greenock, Paisley, or Glasgow Shopping and Transport Links Dunoon is the nearest for a Supermarket and many independent shops – Morrisons and the Co-op, both have a delivery service to Kames. There is a friendly well stocked shop and Post Office in Kames which can supply most goods, while a short ferry trip from Hunter’s Quay to Gourock takes you to Greenock and the central belt towns. Both Glasgow and Oban are within a two-hour drive.


Ministers in Cowal receive a 40% discount on ferry fares from Western Ferries. Ministers Travel Expenses All Cowal ministers travel expenses (including ferry fares) are met in full by a local bequest so that there is no burden on the congregations for travelling around the large parish, taking a ferry to hospitals or on other church business across Argyll. Glebe & Fishing Rites There are two Glebes associated with West Cowal, The Kilfinan Glebe and Kilmodan Glebe. Both are currently let to local farmers. The Kilmodan Glebe also comes with fishing rites to a stretch of the river Ruel and includes ‘the minister’s pool’. The Fishing’s are let at present to a local angling club. Community Living in West Cowal There are many active sports clubs – including two Shinty teams, Kyles Athletic and Col Glen, Kyles of Bute Golf Club, badminton, table tennis, pickleball, indoor bowls, coastal rowing with the Kyles of Bute and Colglen Skiffs. There are line dancing and Scottish country dancing groups along with Yoga, Pilates, and open water swimming groups. There are various centresin the area offering a variety of yoga, wild swimming,sauna, and, health and beauty therapies There is a monthly SWI rural group that meets monthly in Millhouse and a Crafty Dames which meets weekly in Kames. In addition, the whole presbytery is rich in creative talent with Art Clubs and creative workshops. Open Art Studios, Cowal is a well-supported event each September for all our artists and crafters.

Other local groups include Gaelic Speaking lessons, walking groups and a community choir. For younger folks, we have kids shinty, Brownies, with Tighnabruaich Sailing School offering weekly Topper sailing in the spring/summer. There are also Toddlers and Book Bug Sessions locally, as well as some of the local communities with new young families organising events between them and building strong bonds. Across the whole of the Presbytery there are opportunities to sample excellent coffee, cakes, and eating out opportunities including Scotland’s Country Restaurant of the year, Portavadie Marina, the Blairmore, the Ardentinny, local hotels and more restaurants and musical events in Dunoon. Tighnabruaich is home to the local Inshore Lifeboat Station manned by volunteers.


For more information Interim Moderator, Rev Janet K MacKellar, Tel No 01369705549 or 07717454932, email Clerk, Lyndsey Phillips, Tel No: 07738175457 Website Facebook pages The Shore Kirk Strone Church and West Cowal

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