ABOUT NEW LAIGH KIRK
Our church building is a well known landmark at the centre of Kilmarnock. You are welcome to come inside and find out what happens when people of all ages meet for worship. It’s not a closed shop or a Holy Club, but a caring community, reaching out to all.
The church is more than the building – it’s the people. We are out and about in Kilmarnock – visiting care homes, hospitals and schools, volunteering in the community and hosting groups from toddlers to senior citizens and homeless folk in our John Finnie Street halls.
Our church is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 12pm-2pm. Come along to pray, worship, or even explore the rich history of our church.
On Sundays, we are open for public worship from 11am until 12pm. All are welcome!
OUR VISION AND MISSION
Our mission at New Laigh Kirk is to be compassionate, inclusive and to walk with Jesus. Through gospel, service, worship and missions, we bring God closer to our hearts and closer to the hearts of those around us. As a fellowship of believers, we have the honour of proclaiming the glory of Christ to one another in a loving and caring setting. A caring welcoming church at the heart of Kilmarnock reaching out to all with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Our Five Marks of Mission at New Laigh Kirk are:
1 To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom by developing a faith community. Being a centre of prayer and worship.
2 To teach, baptise and nurture new believers by engaging with the whole community.
3 To respond to human need by loving service by being an hospitable community.
4 To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation.
5 To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth by being a resourceful faith community.
BAPTISM -FAITH FROM BIRTH
We are always delighted when parents wish to have their children baptised into Christ’s church within New Laigh Kirk. Having a child is a great joy but a child also comes with responsibility on behalf of the parents. Many parents want to give thanks for the safe arrival of a child. In the Church of Scotland we practise 'infant baptism', meaning that we baptise children as well as adults.
Baptism is one of the two sacraments recognised by the Church of Scotland, the other being the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
What is baptism?
Baptism allows the church to publicly welcome the person being baptised into God’s family. We believe that it is through being baptised that people are part of the worldwide church. We often talk about people becoming members of the church of Jesus Christ during a Baptism service. Baptism, we believe, is the sign of ‘dying’ to our old lives and ‘rising to new life in Christ’. We sprinkle water on the head of the person to be baptised symbolising the washing away of the old life.
If I am baptised, am I a member of the church then?
The Church of Scotland recognises that to become a ‘communicant’ member you must, as an adult, profess your faith in Jesus Christ. So although, during baptism, you become a member of the worldwide church, to be a full ‘communicant’ member of the Church of Scotland, you must acknowledge your faith in Jesus Christ understand what it means. If you are interested about becoming a member of our church, please see the Church Membership page on the website.
Who can be baptised?
The Church of Scotland practices infant baptism, as well as adult baptism. In the case of infant baptism the Church expects at least one parent either to be a member of the Church or willing to become a member. In the baptismal service the parent or parents profess their own faith and promise to give their child a Christian upbringing. In the case of adult baptism the person himself or herself makes the appropriate promises.
When are people baptised?
Baptism is administered at Sunday worship in front of the congregation. This emphasises that baptism is part of the life of the church and stresses the important nature of the sacrament.
How can I find out more?
If you would like to know more about Baptism for yourself or for your children, the please contact our minister, who will be happy to discuss it with you.
Contact: Rev. David Cameron on 01563525416 or at David.Cameron@churchofscotland.org.uk
MEMBERSHIP -A FAMILY OF FAITH
What is a Christian? It’s a deceptively simple question. It’s not simply defined by the country you live in, or the family you came from, or even someone who lives a ‘Christian’ life. Christians aren’t the only people who aspire to be loving, kind, honest and generous, or who have a concern for the weak and the vulnerable. Jesus, and most of the people in His stories, are Jewish, or pagans. Our country, family background and our way of life may all contribute to our understanding of being a Christian. But another ingredient is required: trust. Specifically trust in Jesus Christ.
A Christian is a work in progress. Some days we trust a little more, some days a little less. Our Christian lives can be distinctly wobbly, as we face challenges from relationships, work and the culture around us. Our belief in God can be upset by questions of suffering, or the actions of human beings including Christians. Christians are, by definition, not perfect, as we acknowledge our need for Jesus, we recognise our flaws and failings. But Christians live in the trust that God is with them, shaping them, helping them become more Christian, and more like Jesus.
People thinking about joining the Church, as well as Church members of many years, often feel their faith is not firm enough, or that they struggle with faith and get things wrong. The best Churches have room for doubt, and also the honesty to challenge people to live a more loving and generous life. Being a Christian is about a transformed life – turning from self-centredness to a life that acknowledges the need to love God and to love those around us. Being a Christian is the journey from simply loving ourselves to loving those in the world around us, and loving God.
If you would like the opportunity to explore aspect of your faith, or further information about becoming a member our minister will be happy to discuss this with you
Contact: Rev. David Cameron on 01563525416 or at David.Cameron@churchofscotland.org.uk
GETTING MARRIED AT NLK
Can anyone be married in a Church of Scotland church?
The Church of Scotland is 'national', in that every district has its parish church. The parish minister is willing to discuss conducting marriage for any member of the parish. If you are not a church member, the minister will want to discuss with you whether a religious ceremony is what you are looking for, whether it will have meaning for you, and whether he or she agrees it is appropriate in your situation.
Can divorced people be remarried in the Church of Scotland?
Marriage is not understood in the Church of Scotland to be a sacrament. Whilst believing and asserting as a Church that marriage is for life, a minister may conduct the marriage of a divorced person whose former spouse is still alive. He or she, however, will wish to be certain that problems which gave rise to the first divorce are not likely to be repeated. The future well being of children from the first marriage is also taken into account. The final decision rests with the minister concerned.
Can people come from outwith Scotland to be married in a Church of Scotland church?
Yes, this is possible. Marriage in Scotland takes place under Scots Law, and those people who satisfy its requirements may be married. However, the local minister also has to agree to conduct the wedding. In practice, some ministers are not able to marry everyone who comes from without their parish; some locations have a very high demand for weddings and it is not possible to fit these in as well as more immediate parish duties. In all cases, a minister will wish to interview a couple before agreeing to marry them, so that he or she is satisfied that a religious ceremony is appropriate. It is helpful if the couple have a reason for approaching a particular parish minister - family, knowledge of the place, etc. The minister may suggest that the couple arrange for their own minister to conduct the wedding.
Can a minister of another Church conduct a wedding in Scotland?
Yes, if the Scottish Registrar is willing to accept him or her. For this, the registrar may need documentary evidence that the minister is in good standing with his or her home Church. The minister of the church in which the marriage is to be celebrated would also need to give approval.
Is it true that a minister can marry a couple anywhere?
Yes, but not all are willing or able to do so. Some may feel, for example, that a particular location does not contribute as well as a church does to the meaning of the ceremony. However, it is now possible for civil weddings to be carried out by registrars outside Registry Offices in approved venues.
What should I do next?
It is important to arrange a date with a minister before making other arrangements. The local registrar should be approached not more than three months and not later than a 29 days before the date of the wedding. The intention to be wed will be displayed at the Registrar's Office and, if no objections are lodged, a marriage schedule will be issued, which must be produced at the wedding for signing. This is then returned to the Registrar's Office who will then issue the marriage certificate.
HISTORY OF NLK
Welcome to the history of Laigh Kirk, Kilmarnock. This well known Church, historically old, but modern and vigorous in work and witness, is steeped in history, and we give thanks for the faithfulness of previous generations who have provided us with such a heritage.
Laigh Kirk's history and development is an integral part of the history and development of Kilmarnock itself. Between the 4th and 6th centuries an Irish missionary Saint called Marnoc, probably a follower of St. Columba, established a Christian settlement here, and popular belief has it that this settlement was near the site of the present Laigh West High Kirk. Indeed the town is thought to have taken the Saint’s name.
Around the 13th century a church was erected on or near the site of the present building. It was known as the Low (or Laigh) Church, a reference to its geographical position in that it stood in the low part of the town or hamlet as Kilmarnock then was. Nearby there was a corn mill, and the Dean Castle was built about the same time; all of which suggest the establishment of a community.
This then was the first church in Kilmarnock, and following the reformation in 1560, the Laigh was the first and only Church of Scotland in the town. By 1731, as Kilmarnock flourished and the population increased, Laigh Kirk became too small to accommodate all the worshippers and in that year another Church (the Old High) was born.
The commencement of a third congregation some 30 years later is worthy of mention in that it gives an interesting insight into the system of patronage then existing in the appointment of ministers and the absence of democracy in the Kirk. In 1764 the Earl of Glencairn announced the appointment of the Rev. William Lindsay to the Laigh Kirk. The Kirk Session and congregation opposed this nomination resulting in the matter reaching the General Assembly who ordered the nomination to proceed. On the appointed day many of the congregation surrounded the Kirk, but even after members of Presbytery and other notables, including Lord Glencairn, managed to enter the Church, there was riot and disorder. Reports say that "the good folk of Killie fairly pelted the dignitaries with mud and rotten vegetables, dead cats and other filthy substances". Although the induction had to be abandoned, it was later achieved at the Presbytery House in Irvine, and Mr. Lindsay was installed rather than inducted. Because of this many members left Laigh, some of who formed their own congregation from which the Henderson Church was descended.
Some 22 years later, in 1786, the response was exactly the opposite when the Rev. Dr. James MacKinlay commenced a ministry that was to continue for 55 years, during which he gained wide respect. Robert Burns seems to have taken an interest in Laigh Kirk ministers of his time, making mention of at least three in his works, and he hailed MacKinlay’s arrival with great pleasure. During Dr. MacKinlay’s ministry it was not unusual for the Kirk to be packed to overflowing, and old women and the poor took collapsible canvas seats to allow them to sit in the aisles, this probably because of the seat rent system. A noteworthy occurrence of Dr. MacKinlay’s ministry was the tragedy of 1801. On Sunday, 18th October of that year the Kirk was packed as usual for the afternoon service when some plaster fell from the ceiling. People thought the building was about to collapse, there was a rush towards the doors, and in the panic some thirty people were killed. On examination afterwards the reports say that, although the roof was insecure, there was no danger, and had the people dispersed calmly no lives would have been lost. The building was however condemned and pulled down, and in 1802 the foundation stone of the present Church was laid on the same site.
For 50 years (1916-1966) the Laigh was served by the Rev. D.P. Howie. Mr. Howie had the remarkable experience of ministering to the Laigh during the latter part of the first world war and throughout the second world war. Following his retirement Kilmarnock Town Council conferred on Mr. Howie the Freedom of the Burgh in recognition of his long service.
Although today all Church of Scotland Churches are Parish Churches historically Laigh has been the town Church of Kilmarnock, closely connected with municipal services and affairs. It is interesting to note from records of 1709 that the former Kilmarnock Town Council accepted responsibility for the maintenance of the clock on the Laigh Kirk Steeple, and to this day the clock is maintained by the local authority. Another example of this relationship was the commissioning in 1721 at the town’s expense of a new weathercock which still proudly adorns the Laigh steeple.
In the burial ground at the side of the Kirk can be seen the gravestones of John Ross, John Shields, and John Nisbet, all executed for taking part in the covenanter’s uprising at Bothwell Bridge, a reminder that the people of Kilmarnock played a significant part in Scotland’s fight to secure and retain the Presbyterian form of worship and administration. Also laid to rest here is Tam Samson, the great friend of poet Robert Burns.
On the Kirk tower the date 1410 is inscribed, and although the entire structure is not that age, relics of a pre-reformation altar from Roman times were revealed in 1803 when the new building was in progress. The present Church building dates from 1802 and the bell from 1853. The first organ installed in 1877 was replaced in the 1920’s, while as recently as November, 1984, the musical praise was further enhanced by the installation of a modern organ following a successful financial campaign by the congregation. In Bank Street, the stairway to the pulpit still exists although no longer in use; while across the road the former vestry is now a shop. One can picture the minister in bygone days stepping across the road to take the service, an expectant congregation, uncomfortable, straight-backed, and squeezed into old pews.
Inside, the Church is bright and attractive with a feeling of history and appreciation for a treasured inheritance; and nowhere is this projected better than on a Communion Sunday morning with the finely carved table set with fine silver, some of which dates from 1709.
Throughout the centuries the Laigh has been at the heart of Kilmarnock, situated just off the town Centre, and close to what was The Cross. The redevelopment of the town centre involving movement of population, presented Laigh with a fresh challenge and mission, and following the re-seating and redecoration the Church was re-dedicated in January, 1973. In 1995, with financial assistance from grant-giving bodies, the stonework of the building was restored, new lighting installed, and internal decoration carried out. On completion of this massive undertaking the Church was again re-dedicated on 3rd December, 1995.
On the translation of the incumbent minister in 1999, the General Assembly decreed that the vacancy would be filled on the basis of a "reviewable tenure". This was not thought by the Kirk Session to be either a permanent or forward-thinking solution, and so discussions were entered into with West High Church whose own minister Rev. Robert Christie was due to retire and the General Assembly was unlikely to permit a call to the impending vacancy. A Basis of Union was established between the two congregations. This resulted in the union of the congregations of Kilmarnock: Laigh and Kilmarnock: West High on 5th October 2000. During the union negotiations a joint vacancy committee was formed from both congregations with a remit to seek a new minister who would be inducted as minister of the united congregation as early as possible following the service of union. In January 2001 the Rev. David S Cameron was inducted to the united charge of Kilmarnock: Laigh West High Kirk.
In 2002 a new stained glass window was installed and dedicated in the North Porch. Signifying "New Beginnings" this window adds to the history of this building in the "new Beginnings" of the millennium, the newly-invigorated congregation, and a new modern ministry. So as we go forward in the 21st century the congregation of Laigh West High Kirk looks forward to continuing God’s work here in this historic building.
Early in the year 2009 the Kirk Session of Laigh West High Kirk were approached by the Kirk Session of Grange Church with a view to a possible further union. Discussions were entered into between representatives of the respective Kirk Sessions, and a basis of union was presented to both congregations, this basis of union being accepted by the congregations on Sunday 4th October, 2009. The Presbytery of Irvine and Kilmarnock, at their October meeting, approved the proposed union, and agreed that a Service of Union should take place in Laigh West High Kirk on the evening of 29th October.
The Service of Union was held on 29th October, 2009 when the Reverend David S Cameron was inducted to the charge of New Laigh Kirk. It is of note that three members of the officiating team from Presbytery were themselves members of the new congregation - Presbytery Moderator, Mr Derrick MacAllister; Presbytery Clerk, Rev Colin Brockie; and Presbytery Depute Clerk, Mr. Steuart Dey.
At the reception following the Service of Union a covenant was signed between New Laigh Kirk and St. John's Onthank for a pioneering ministry covering the North West Area of the town.
New Laigh Kirk are an Eco-Congregation
“Before you finish breakfast this morning, you’ve depended on more than half the world”
Martin Luther King
These words were spoken a generation ago but still demonstrate how our habits affect others globally as the Global South strives to feed the Global North. To support this approach, NLK has applied for Bronze award status as an eco-congregation.
What is Eco-Congregation? Eco-Congregation is an ecumenical programme helping churches make the link between environmental issues and Christian faith, to respond in practical action in the church, in the lives of individuals, and in the local and global community.
Why are we doing this? As a Congregation, we connect with each other plus others in our community. We also connect with others we do not know or see globally but we do it in a Christian manner that, hopefully, is eco-friendly.
What does this mean? This approach is about how we consider climate and eco-issues as part of our spiritual lives as well as our day to day living. The current cost of living crisis and energy costs have escalated these issues into our day to day living and has an impact on how we look after our homes but also our Church buildings and surrounding areas.
What have we done so far? We continue to support Fair Trade and promote Fair Trade products. In June 2023, we have applied for our Bronze status award. This has been a combination of assessing where we are as individuals and as a congregation in terms of spiritual and daily living and how we consider climate issues locally, nationally and globally. Our prayers and worship regularly remind us of the gift of creation.
Our self-assessment work, along with the Kirk Session, have commissioned an eco-survey to look at our climate efficiencies and to make suggestions on how we can continue to look after our beautiful sanctuary and other Church buildings, but in a more energy and eco-friendly way for our lighting and heating. A water meter is also being installed to monitor use and we continue to support and encourage recycling where possible.
What can you do? There are steps that individuals can do to promote the work of our eco-congregation. Pray for the issues within our town, our country and our world. Take appropriate steps to reduce carbon footprint where you can. Reduce inefficiencies in our energy use at home and in the church – switch off lights, using heating timers, maximise use of the halls and sanctuary to make the most of the heating and lighting; reduce food waste and landfill.
Over the coming months, the Eco-Congregation will look to provide more information, hints and tips but further information can be found here.
“No individual can live alone, no nation can live alone, and anyone who feels that he can live alone is sleeping through a revolution.”
For more information about Eco-Congregations, Fair Trade and more, please see the links below.