Final service at Girvan’s St John’s

Congregation members with rector and Bishop. BACK (from left) Worship leader and vestry member Ian Arbon; Sheila Barne; deputy organist and vestry member Hannah Arbon; vestry member Tricia Watts; Betty Mayhew; recent worship leader Anne Morris; vestry member Alan Bolland. FRONT (from left) Hellen Mapundu; organist Marie Mortimer; Revd Andrew Baldock; Bishop Gregor Duncan; worship leader and vestry member Paige Paterson; Janet Forrest.
Congregation members with rector and Bishop. BACK (from left) Worship leader and vestry member Ian Arbon; Sheila Barne; deputy organist and vestry member Hannah Arbon; vestry member Tricia Watts; Betty Mayhew; recent worship leader Anne Morris; vestry member Alan Bolland. FRONT (from left) Hellen Mapundu; organist Marie Mortimer; Revd Andrew Baldock; Bishop Gregor Duncan; worship leader and vestry member Paige Paterson; Janet Forrest.

A poignant final act of evening worship marked the closure of St John’s Episcopal Church in Girvan on Sunday 18 May after 167 years in the town.

But, while the small Anglican congregation is disbanding, its members are definitely not being demobilised  as rector Revd Andrew Baldock stressed.

He said: “St John’s, at least for now, has had its season, but its members have not! God will continue to use each of them in his own providential way.”

Friends from near and far joined them in their last Evensong service, led by Bishop Gregor Duncan.

St John’s was founded in 1847, after Revd William Wilson, of Holy Trinity in Ayr, petitioned the Bishop on behalf of 400 ‘Protestant Episcopalians’ in Girvan most of whom are either natives of Ireland or the children of Irish parents. Most of them are poor persons of the labouring classes…”

It was the year following the Great Famine in Ireland when thousands came to Scotland for work, including many weavers who settled in Girvan.

By 1859 St John’s had its own stone building in what is now Piedmont Road.

It stayed in use till serious structural problems developed and in 2008 the congregation began sharing the premises of Girvan Methodist Church. The Piedmont Road building was eventually demolished in 2012.

St John’s was the smallest of three Scottish Episcopal churches known as the South Ayrshire Team, whose rector is Revd Andrew Baldock. The remaining two are Holy Trinity in Ayr and St Oswald’s in Maybole.