Lord Wallace visited Brae in Shetland on Thursday 12th August where Elders and church members gathered from across Shetland and were served at tables by the Ministry Team.

The Moderator spoke warmly about the vital importance of elders to the Kirk, and encouraged them to keep faith through the changes facing the whole Church of Scotland. He spent time chatting to as many people gathered in Brae Hall. It was the selected central venue on the mainland to enable people to travel from different parts of Shetland.

He  spent time with church members and ministers, Rev Dr Fran Henderson,  transition minister for Shetland, Rev Irene Charlton and Rev Lynn Brady.

Speaking after the meeting Lord Wallace said, “I appreciated both the opportunity to speak to the gathering as a whole, as well as talk and listen to individuals.

“No one minimised the scale of the challenge and sometimes difficult decisions involved in reaching where we are today but I was encouraged by the universal resolve to make the new arrangements work and to see this as a fresh opportunity for mission.

“One other welcome feature of the evening was hearing how pleased people were simply to be able to come together again and socially enjoy each other’s company.”

Lord Wallace in Brae Hall, Shetland

Photo by Penelope Smith

The Moderator chats with resident Mildred Thomson

The moderator with care home manager, Jennie Gunn

The moderator chats to resident Marina Gray with Sue Anderson, deputy manager and manager,Jennie Gunn

‘This was a whistlestop tour including a visit to the Crossreach Care Home, ‘The Walter and Joan Gray’ in Scalloway. The name originates from the man who received the fateful mayday call from the RMS Titanic. Mr Gray was born in Scalloway and was working as a radio operator for Marconi on the east coast of Canada when he received a mayday call from RMS Titanic, the passenger liner which sank in the north Atlantic Ocean after hitting an iceberg in 1912. He returned to the village on 1962 after he retired and the property that he bought was turned into a care home after he and his wife, Joan, died.

The care home, which offers accommodation to 16 residents and additional day care for older people, is run by CrossReach, the operating name of the Church’s social care council. It is one of the largest and most diverse voluntary sector social care organisations in Scotland.

Speaking with care home staff and residents, Lord Wallace praised the staff for their selfless efforts over the last 17months of the pandemic as embodying ‘Christian faith in action’

Jennie Gunn, manager of The Walter and Joan Gray care home, said: “It was a lovely afternoon and our residents enjoyed the Moderator’s visit.

“Everyone was in good form and he joined them for afternoon tea and asked how we had all coped during the pandemic and discussed some of the challenges.

“The Moderator praised staff for their work to keep all the residents safe and asked them if they were enjoying spending time with their families and getting out in to community again.

“We assured him that it had been a team effort and I told him that I am very proud of the staff who worked long hours during the pandemic to ensure that the needs of our residents were met.”

This was Lord Jim Wallace’s first visit to Shetland following his induction as moderator of the General Assembly, for the Church of Scotland. Lord Wallace, represented Orkney and Shetland in the House of Commons between 1983-2001. He said: “My welcome couldn’t have been warmer, and it was a real joy to meet up again with old acquaintances as well as meeting new ones,” he said.

“It was also inspiring to hear how people locally are adapting the Church to better fit the needs of the 21st century, as well as being able to congratulate the ministry team in person for their hard work, just over a year since they officially became part of the Presbytery of Aberdeen and Shetland.”

The Ministry Team were hugely grateful that Lord Wallace was able to take time out of his busy schedule and make this trip to Shetland and encourage everyone in their tasks.