Two Scottish Episcopal Churches have been announced as winners at the 2023 National Church awards, organised by the National Churches Trust.
St Anne’s, Dunbar won in the Scotland Category of the Nayler Award for Excellence in Church Maintenance, and St James the Great, Stonehaven won the Church and Community Volunteer Award, run in partnership with the Marsh Charitable Trust.
The awards were presented at a ceremony in London on 6 November.
St James the Great was commended for its community work in Stonehaven and the surrounding area. “I am very pleased to have been able to receive this award on behalf of the people of St James the Great and the wider Stonehaven community” said the Rev Mary Jepp, Priest-in-charge at St James. “I strongly believe for any church to survive and flourish, we need to be embedded in the community. Much of the work we have been doing at Saint James was sparked by being out and about in the community.” St James runs a weekly refugee drop-in programme as well as a community garden in the grounds of the church alongside the Inspire Charity in Stonehaven, an employability-focused day service for adults with learning disabilities. This project has also attracted the support of other local groups including the Men’s Shed and the Masons.
Rev Mary continues: “This award is hugely appreciated, and it attests to the fact that we don’t think of ourselves as volunteers in addition to our faith. It is because of our faith that we are all called. For us in Stonehaven it’s about being open to that call, responding, and allowing the creative spirit to wriggle its way in without getting too hung up on yourself.”
St Anne’s, Dunbar was given the award in recognition of its recent maintenance projects. The Buildings Convener at St Anne’s, Mike Ling, said: “The application of skills towards the care and maintenance of a listed religious building is an expression of worship and at the same time a privilege. It is also an opportunity to apply the skills acquired over one’s working life for the benefit of the community, to learn about specialist maintenance techniques.”
Much of the work of the congregation is carried out by volunteers. Mr Ling continued: “Bringing people together to undertake tasks allows connections to be made and strengthens relationships.”
St Anne’s collaborates with many different organisations across the town including Dunbar Primary and Grammar Schools, Sustaining Dunbar, Belhaven Hill School, East Lothian Council and The Ridge, to continue to strengthen the social fabric of the community.
The congregation’s Rector, The Rev Diana Hall, said “I’m delighted to see the hard work and dedication of Mike and our other volunteers recognised in this way. Our church building is an important focal point, but church is also so much more than a building. It’s a community of love and hope with an amazing story to tell. It makes an important contribution to our common life. We look forward to continuing to explore how St Anne’s and its people can serve and work with other organisations to be a blessing in Dunbar and beyond.”
Pictured: Top left: the Rev Mary Jepp, Priest-in-charge of St James the Great, Stonehaven with hosts Hugh Dennis and Canon Anne Easter. Bottom right: Mike Ling, Buildings Convener at St Anne’s, Dunbar.