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“….. anointed … to preach good news ..” (Isaiah 61:1)

Rev Roderick Mackenzie, MA
1900-1909

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Photograph courtesy of Rev Douglas MacKeddie, Maryburgh Free Church

Roderick Mackenzie was ordained a minister of the Free Church of Scotland in 1868 and his first charge was in Tarbert, Harris, where he remained until 1884 when he became minister of Maryburgh Free Church. Earlier in his life he was a teacher.

Following the Union of 1900 Mr Mackenzie left the Free Church to become minister of the new UF congregation in Maryburgh and continued to serve until early 1909 when he retired to Perthshire at the age of 72 to go into farming with his son.

Prior to his retirement he had the satisfaction of seeing the congregations of Maryburgh and Ferintosh agree to amalgamate, and would have been involved in the planning of church and manse in Conon Bridge.

Newspaper reports of the time reveal Roderick Mackenzie’s part in community activities and his care and compassion for those in need. His congregational responsibilities appear to have accelerated because, in May 1908, he made application to the UF Assembly for a grant from the Aged and Infirm Ministers’ Fund for an assistant. Although a grant of £40 was allowed, there is no further report of an assistant being appointed.

Mr Mackenzie came north to participate in the services and functions connected with the opening of the new church. He was described as being not in his usual health and rather depressed. He became a patient in the Ross Memorial Hospital “in a grave condition from which he never rallied” and died on 23 October, two days after the formal opening of his final charge.

His obituary reveals him to be a man who “devoted himself largely to his congregational duties, taking a constant interest in Presbyterial and other Church work, and particularly in Church politics”. He had “a particular and intelligent interest in educational administration and served on Fodderty School Board”. In manner he was “at times somewhat brusque” but was “kindly-hearted and sympathetic”. As a preacher “his pulpit ministrations were not only forceful and vigorous but well reasoned and logical, although (he) was never perhaps a popular preacher in the wider sense of the term”. Finally, “Those who were in closest touch with him, and knew best the man behind the manner, loved him best …. many who could not agree with his views were ever willing to admire his consistence and his conscientiousness.”

Roderick Mackenzie’s funeral did not take place in the Church he had served so well but went from the Ross Memorial Hospital to Fodderty Cemetery “and was largely attended”.

Rev Alexander M F Macinnes, MA. BD, PhD
1910-1918

Alexander Macinnes, who had been minister at North Knapdale, Inveraray, was inducted to the joint charge of Ferintosh and Maryburgh United Free Church in March 1910. The fact that approaches to two other ministers had proved unsuccessful may account for a report in the Ross-shire Journal that “the call to Mr Macinnes was pursued with singular enthusiasm and the desire of the congregation was unanimous”. He was no `second best’ and came to the parish “having a highly creditable university and divinity career”.

The induction took place in the Church and was followed by “an excellent luncheon” in Conon Public Hall for the new minister and members of Presbytery, with the same venue hosting a social meeting in the evening for members of the congregation and their friends.

Having barely had time to draw breath in his new charge, Alex Macinnes was elected Moderator of Dingwall UF Presbytery in less than three months! In subsequent years he appears to have devoted himself to serious matters within the parish rather than more worldly affairs, as he is found to be a member of Urquhart and Logie Wester School Board, the Urquhart Horticultural Society and lectured regularly at meetings of Conon Literary and Debating Society, of which he became honorary president.

In December 1918 Alex Macinnes decided to seek pastures new and left for Kirkliston (Edinburgh) but not before he had reported the Church “… with ecclesiastical debts cleared off, and buildings so complete and flourishing numerically and financially.” And in even more flattering terms, “The organisation is perfect, and a more intelligent and capable body of office-bearers I am sure cannot be found in any congregation of its size in the country.”

By 1924, while still minister at Kirkliston, Alex Macinnes had become a Doctor of Philosophy and in that year published a book, The Kingdom of God in the Apostolic Writings, which was dedicated to his congregation and to his former congregation at Ferintosh and Maryburgh – “in grateful recognition of pleasant and profitable associations”. In May 1928 he declined “the harmonious call” from Lochranza UF Church.

One final connection with Dr Macinnes is a report, in January 1927, of his son, a minister at Larbert, accepting an invitation to go for one year to St Andrews Scotch Kirk, Buenos Aires, which “has over 1,000 members and several suburban churches”.

Rev James Izzat Johnstone
1920-1927

Rev J Izzat Johnstone (not to be confused with Rev J Johnstone, Strathpeffer, of the same era) came to Ferintosh and Maryburgh UF Church in February 1920, from Olrig, Caithness, where he had ministered since October 1914. Born on 19 March 1870 at Townhill, Dunfermline, he was educated in Dunfermline High School, Glasgow University and the United Presbyterian College prior to being licensed by the Presbytery of Edinburgh in 1900. He was inducted to Point Road Church, Durban, South Africa, in 1903, and to Clifton Church, Johannesburg, in 1908.

As with Rev Dr Macinnes, the same sense of celebration occurred following Izzat Johnstone’s induction, there being a luncheon in Conon Hotel “when over forty ladies and gentlemen were the guests of the congregation” with “the menu … substantial yet choice, while the service was perfect”. Speeches followed the meal while toasts were proposed to the King, the Imperial Forces and, finally, the new minister!

In the evening a social meeting was held in Conon Public Hall, which was crowded “to its utmost capacity”, when the new minister was presented with “a well-filled wallet of banknotes” and the interim moderator with a “wallet of bank notes” . The evening had also included praise, prayer, “an excellent tea” and several hymns and anthems “rendered most creditably by the choir”.

During his time in the parish Izzat Johnstone became president of Conon and Maryburgh Literary Society, was Moderator of the United Free Church Synod of Moray and Ross, a Commissioner to the General Assembly of the UF Church, and an active supporter of the British Women’s Temperance Association. He appears to have had an interest in music (Mrs Johnstone was church organist and leader of the choir and junior choir) and either entertained the choir to “a delightful evening spent in music, games, recitations, (and) good things in the way of eatables” or joined them each year on their annual outing, or chaired social events – for example one in Conon School when there was a “pleasing and varied programme” – or supported Mrs Johnstone’s production of “a service of song by the junior choir of the Church”.

In his leisure time he was an active member of Maryburgh and Conon Lawn Tennis Club, gaining success in singles and mixed doubles matches and even winning a challenge cup for gents’ singles!

In December 1927, much to the regret of a congregation which acknowledged “his spiritual growth and the value of his visitation of the sick”, Izzat Johnstone left to become minister of Calder UF Church, Lochwinnoch. By 1929 he found himself without a charge, as Calder Church had declined to enter the 1929 Union with the Church of Scotland, but in November 1929 he received a call from London Road East Church of Scotland, Glasgow, where he was inducted the following month.

Rev Malcolm Maclean
1928-1961

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Young Malcolm Maclean in 1914             Malcolm Maclean in the 1940s
[Both photographs courtesy of Mrs C Bennett, niece of Malcolm Maclean,]
 

Malcolm Maclean was born on the Island of Scarp, Harris, on 11 November 1896. He was he eldest of a family of six born to Donald John Maclean and his wife Margaret.

Malcolm first attended Scarp Primary School and then, on reaching the age for secondary education, moved to Orkney to stay with an uncle, Rev Allan Maclean, who was minister on the Island of Sanday. He first attended Sanday School and then Kirkwall Grammar School. At the age of 18 he enlisted in the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders, attaining the rank of Officer. Badly injured at Passchendaele in 1917, he was hospitalised to Leicester where he was nursed by his future wife, Winifred Marsden. After the war he went to Edinburgh University and graduated in 1924, gaining prizes for Celtic and Scottish Studies and for Church History. He then went to New College, Edinburgh. In 1924 he married and in that year was inducted to Applecross

In 1928 he was inducted to Ferintosh and Maryburgh where he remained until he died of leukaemia in 1961. Malcolm and Winifred had three children: Una, born in Applecross in 1925; Stuart born in 1928 (died at the age of 9 months); and Sheila, in 1931.

When WW2 broke out he volunteered for service and was a chaplain attached to the 33rd British General Hospital in Africa, Iraq, Malta and Sicily. Due to ill health he left the Army in 1943.

Malcolm Maclean was also a noted Gaelic scholar, fluent in both Scottish and Irish Gaelic. He was much sought after as an adjudicator at Mods and music festivals in Scotland and Ireland. He had been Moderator of the Presbytery of Chanonry and Dingwall, and also of the Synod of Ross, Sutherland and Caithness. Like his predecessor, Alex Macinnes, he was a member and one-time president of Conon and Maryburgh Literary Society.

In his early years in Conon Bridge Malcolm Maclean went to Lowestoft during the English herring fishing season in order to minister to the many Gaelic speakers who worked there.

Older members of this congregation recall Malcolm Maclean as a man who had great rapport with children, devoted to the needs of his congregation, and an enthusiastic participant in all aspects of parish life. He died at the age of 65 and is buried in Urquhart Old Churchyard.

 

Rev D R Macleod, MA
1961-1986

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Photograph taken outside Ferintosh Manse in 1971 and courtesy of his sister, Mrs Marion Macdonald.

Donald Roderick Macleod was born in Carloway on the Isle of Lewis on 29 September, 1919, as one of a family of six. He was educated at the primary school at Carloway and then at the secondary school at Kingussie.

During the Second World War he served as a staff sergeant in the Royal Engineers at home and overseas. He was also involved with the Church of Scotland Huts and Canteens mission while in Germany.

Following war service ‘DR’, as he was affectionately known, became a student at Edinburgh University, graduating MA in 1950 and completing the Divinity course at New College in 1953. His university education was one of the things he prized most and he remained well-read throughout his ministry.

From 1953 to 1960 he was minister at Kilmallie, near Fort William, and then from 1960 to 1961 he was minister at Hope Memorial, Wamphrey and Johnstone Bridge, in Dumfries-shire.

Inducted as minister of Ferintosh Parish in 1961, he remained there for 25 years until his retirement in 1986. While minister at Ferintosh ‘DR’ was much involved with the setting up of the Children’s Panel, started the first Scout and Guide groups in the village, and was chaplain to the ATC.

‘DR’ was never afraid to speak his mind and he could certainly be controversial. Conversations with him were never dull, and once you got used to it, his slightly impish sense of humour was wonderful. But underneath the sometimes wry exterior was a genuine compassion that was as warm as it was large. One of his mottoes was to ‘leave things better than you found them’ and those who were touched by that compassion know that he left us better people than he found us.

His ministry at Ferintosh will be remembered with affection and gratitude by a great many within the congregation and community. No record would be complete without mention of his practical skills with wood and stone, and any visitor to Ferintosh Manse will pass through the gateway he created.

Donald R Macleod died on 29 August 2000, a month short of his 81st birthday.

[Above extract courtesy of tribute paid at the September 2000 meeting of Ross Presbytery by Rev D J M Carmichael.]

Donald Macleod was a man of vision, and at the beginning of his ministry recognised the need to add a hall to the Church. With the “Mission Church” in School Road becoming redundant owing to the retiral of the Rev John Sellar, the newly-formed Congregational Board (previously known as the Board of Managers) decided that this property would be suitable and so it was developed.

Not many years later, ‘DR’ suggested that thought be given to building an extension to the hall to form a mini community centre for villagers to gather socially. Also, he was eager that a small retirement home be built in the village to allow the elderly and infirm to remain within their community.

In 1963 he recommended that the pulpit be removed and a smaller one installed in the left corner in order that the new communion table should be central and the focal part of the Church, with a suitable setting for the baptismal font. This was resisted owing to the strong views of one traditionalist !

However, ‘DR’ had success in 1977 when the School Road hall was sold and, coupled with a proportion of the sale of the East Church (Urquhart) manse, a healthy building fund allowed the building of the present hall to commence – his original dream realised.

He did not just dream, he acted! Villagers who can recall the severe flooding of 1967, when the banks of the river Conon were breached, will also recall how ‘DR’ marshalled practical support and worked tirelessly alongside those involved in the evacuation of people trapped in their properties.

During the first fifteen years of his ministry in this parish Donald Macleod was required to conduct services each Sunday in both Ferintosh Church and the Urquhart Church, with an evening service in Culbokie School once per month. It was only in 1977 that the Union and Readjustments Committee finalised transferring to Resolis Parish (renamed ‘Resolis and Urquhart’) “…. that part of the parish of Urquhart lying from the east side leading from Alcaig crossroads to Mossend.”

During his ministry he was supported by his wife, Priscilla, who contributed to the work of the parish in several roles, being President of the Guild for some years and, latterly, as organist – a task to which she devoted many hours of preparation. When their sons, William and Donald, were older, Mrs Macleod returned to teaching and became the very successful head teacher of Mulbuie Primary School.

Although his parish may have decreased in size, there was no diminution in Donald Macleod’s energy in attending to the needs of its inhabitants in the intervening years until his retirement on the last day of 1986.

Unusually for a retired minister, he purchased a house only yards from his former manse and, while supporting the ministry of his successors (and, with their permission, continuing to visit ‘old’ parishioners), he maintained his rigid determination not to interfere in the work of the parish in any way.

It is a strange coincidence that, in the November 2000 edition of Life and Work, the death of Rev D R Macleod is recorded on the same page as the intimation of the licensing of student Andrew F Graham ….

Rev T Clifford Kelly
1988-1993

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Photograph courtesy of Rev T C Kelly 

Thomas Clifford Kelly was born in Ballynahinch, County Down, Northern Ireland in 1930 and completed both primary and secondary education in a school under the auspices of the Presbyterian Church of Ireland. He gained entrance to the Scottish Congregational and United Free Church College in Edinburgh in 1953, with associated studies at Edinburgh University, and, after completing a five-year course in Divinity Studies, was ordained in May1958.

At the University he met Johan, a daughter of the Free Church Manse in Aultbea, and they were married in Delny Free Church in August 1958. Called to serve in the Congregational Church, he ministered in Airdrie, Avoch, and Easterhouse, Glasgow. Having been received into the Church of Scotland in 1972 he became minister in North Bute from 1973-81; at Cargill-Burrelton with Collace from 1981-88; and completed 35 years in full-time ministry at Ferintosh from 1988-1993.

During his ministry Clifford Kelly was Moderator of both the Presbytery of Dunoon and the Presbytery of Ross and served on different Assembly Committees and the Bible Society of Scotland.

Now retired and living in Kinross he carries out occasional locum work and he and Johan say they enjoy being doting grandparents to seven grandchildren.

Clifford Kelly was inducted to Ferintosh in 1988 and began the work of building up a parish which had endured more than two years of vacancy. In addition to pastoral and preaching duties he saw the need to revive the somewhat tired fabric of the Church and in 1988-89 the chancel, aisles, entrance hall and stairs were carpeted, the interior was painted and voluntary labour embarked on the varnishing of pulpit and pews. It is thanks to Clifford Kelly – but in practical terms Johan Kelly and a team – that the congregation can sit on comfortable cushions each Sunday instead of hard, wooden pew seats!

With an ever-increasing Sunday School (part of which had to be accommodated in a caravan adjacent to the Hall) and the needs of organisations within and outwith the Church, it was obvious that the Hall required to be extended and this project was embarked on and was completed in 1990.

In 1990 both minister and kirk session gave support to Fred McCreadie in his embarking on training which eventually led to his becoming a Reader of the Church of Scotland. The following year, Clifford Kelly had practical support through the six-month attachment of Alexander (Sandy) Glass, the newly-retired rector of Dingwall Academy, as part of his training for auxiliary ministry.

In common with his predecessor Clifford Kelly recognised the importance of ministering to the young people in the parish and established a youth group – Meeting Point – which grew and flourished in his time and that of his successor. Then, in 1990, a creche was opened in a small room in the Hall in order that parents might be free to join in Sunday morning worship in the knowledge that their child was in safe hands of a group of capable volunteers.

Clifford Kelly retired at the end of November 1993 but, ever conscious of the desirability of continuity in the parish (and mindful of the long vacancy prior to his induction), he gave the Kirk Session advance notice of his intention, which permitted arrangements to be made in advance of his waygoing and the hiatus to be merely four months.

Rev Daniel J M Carmichael
1994-2003

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Photograph by Alasdair Cameron

Daniel John McLeish Carmichael came to Ferintosh Parish as a young bachelor, fresh from his probationary assistant period at Mannofield Parish Church in Aberdeen.

Born in Glasgow in July 1968, and after primary and secondary education in the city, he graduated from Glasgow University with an MA (Hons) in History and Politics, following which he studied at Aberdeen University and obtained a BD (Hons) in Church History.

Inducted to Ferintosh Parish in February 1994, Dan settled down to getting to know the area and his parishioners, but as a young man living on his own in the manse it could not have been easy coping with the demands of a parish while maintaining his domestic needs. However, it was not long before the congregation was delighted to learn of his engagement to Joanne and their subsequent marriage in 1995. There was even greater delight when Matthew arrived in 1999, followed by Anna in 2001.

Like all his predecessors, he instituted changes in church life gradually and tactfully, one of the first being to hold a Bible study group and a singing practice group on alternate Wednesday evenings. The need to communicate the work of the Church throughout the parish was undertaken by means of a bi-monthly newsletter. The youth group, Meeting Point, established by Clifford Kelly, continued to flourish and had a programme as varied as drama in worship, quiz night, and occasional weekends away to Christian outdoor centres. Later years saw the introduction of a young women’s Bible group, the Wednesday morning prayer group, a prayer requests box in the vestibule, and a Friday Club for young people from P.7 to S.2.

In 1995 Dan decided to introduce a Good Friday service and have informal Communion on Easter Sunday. Pew Bibles were introduced the same year, as were Christmas cards to all homes in the parish. In 1996 the first Holiday Club took place, the newly-formed Social Committee held a barbecue (the first of many) for the congregation and continued to broaden its scope in following years through harvest suppers, countryside walks, and a series of fetes at Alcaig courtesy of fondly-remembered Muriel Macduff-Duncan.

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 Alcaig Fete

With the benefit of a legacy the Kirk Session had replaced the sound system in the church and this allowed the taping of services for members of the congregation unable to attend Church.

The Millennium of 2000 presented a challenge to do something “special” and it was decided to aim to raise £2,000 for each of – the world, the community, the church – and the congregation responded to this magnificently, as history has shown that Ferintosh folk always do. During the year, for the world, £2,000 provided a sum towards Ross Presbytery’s establishment of a bursary to enable a divinity or medical student from abroad to study in this country and the sinking of a well in Ekwendene. For the community, £2,000 enabled a copy of Luke’s gospel to be purchased for each primary school child in the parish, along with a commemorative mug; and financial support was given to a project at Cameron House, Inverness. The final £2,000 benefited the church by providing a new pulpit fall, bible markers, lectern fall and communion table runner, while the surplus remaining from this amount was shared among Ekwendene, Ludihana and Cameron House.

In common with most churches in Scotland, Ferintosh embarked on creating a Millennium banner by means of the needlework skills of members of the congregation led by Sheila Munro. The banner depicts the Cross and the fruits of the Spirit set against the background of Ben Wyvis and in centenary year provides a pleasing backdrop in the Church Hall having been located there when the Easter Story, crafted by Sunday Club, took its place in 2007. A mosaic, created by Meeting Point, and the Millennium emblem of the Church of Scotland, crafted in cross-stitch by Brenda MacCulloch, face worshippers as they enter Church each Sunday.

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 Millennium Banner

Music played an important part in Dan Carmichael’s life and he saw it as significant in worship. Gone are the days of the same organist turning out faithfully, morning and evening, for years on end, but Dan was fortunate, latterly, to have the support of Priscilla Macleod and Margaret Buchanan, with Ken Cumming and Angus Bethune giving generously of their services in the evening, although it was not unknown “when times were hard” for Dan to play the organ for morning worship.

In September 2003 Dan left to become minister of LenzieUnion Church of Scotland, the first minister to leave Ferintosh for another charge since Izzat Johnstone’s departure in 1927 !

Rev Andrew F Graham
2006-2016

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Andrew Fraser Graham was inducted into Ferintosh Parish on 13 January 2006.

Born in Motherwell in 1960, he attended Dalziel High School prior to joining the Merchant Navy as an Engineering Officer Cadet working with Canadian Pacific Steamships. After a few years he entered the Royal Air Force as an Air Electronics Operator, based mainly at RAF Kinloss., and served in this capacity for over twenty years until a new career opened in providing training for RAF aircrew on Nimrod flight simulators, again at RAF Kinloss.

Having been licensed as an auxiliary minister with the Church of Scotland he was ordained in Hopeman Church in 2001. However, he felt called to full-time ministry and enrolled in Aberdeen University where he graduated with a BTh degree in 2003, following this with a post-graduate diploma in Pastoral Studies and Practical Theology in 2004. His probationary period was served in Nairn Old Parish Church prior to coming to Ferintosh with Margaret and family, Hazel being at university in Edinburgh and Kenneth in his final year at school.

A vacancy of over two years required some stock-taking by the new minister and Andy could see areas requiring development and improvement.

The importance of Easter in the Christian calendar was highlighted by Andy beginning what has become a tradition of Bible reflections on the first three evenings of Holy Week, with a Maundy Thursday communion service as well as the customary Good Friday service, plus the introduction of Easter Sunday worship at 8.30 am, followed by breakfast in the Hall, prior to a Family Service at 11.00 am. He has also revived the practice of holding a service at Conon Bridge war memorial on Remembrance Sunday.

Prayer and Bible study are seen by Andy as vital in a congregation and these are met through groups gathering for the former, weekly on Wednesday mornings from 10.00-10.30, and for the latter fortnightly on Wednesday evenings from September to Easter, 7.30-8.30 – or longer, when discussion becomes animated!

In appreciation of the use of the Church Hall for their meetings, the ladies of Ross-shire Flower Club held a Flower Festival in the Church in August 2007 using the verses of the hymn All Things Bright and Beautiful as their theme. The Festival was so successful and enjoyable that Andy encouraged and actively pursued the compilation of a calendar for 2008, using photographs taken over the weekend. It was a sell-out!

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Work among the young people in the parish has continued through the annual Holiday Club and has been expanded by the introduction of a youth club – X-tra Time – for those in P.6 and P.7, meeting on a Friday evening (September to Easter) for games, crafts, Bible teaching and (for them) the all-important snack-time! A youth fellowship – FYF – was established and meets in term-time after Sunday evening worship for Bible discussion, questions, prayer time and (naturally!) a snack. ‘Fun Days’ have been held on several occasions as a ‘taster’ for the annual Holiday Club.

Ever eager to promote the work of the Church in the community and beyond, Andy has encouraged and supported the various groups within the Church – some of which are Pastoral Care, Social Committee, Mission and Outreach – in their endeavours to offer practical assistance, social interaction, and humanitarian aid at home and abroad.

In November 2016 Andy left to become minister of Bendochy and Coupar Angus Abbey Churches. His ministry and commitment to the development of the parish will be missed.

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At Dan Carmichael’s waygoing social the Rev Douglas Mackeddie quoted from 1st Thessalonians 1:2-3 : “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father.” This text applies not just to a single minister but to each one who has laboured in Ferintosh Parish in the past 100 years and continues to do so, preaching the Gospel and giving help, support and spiritual comfort to all in need.

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