CHURCH OF SCOTLAND
In 1887 Queen Victoria was on the throne and the woman’s place was in the home. Dr Archibald Charteris had a ground breaking vision – the daring notion that women had spiritual gifts and practical energies that could revitalise the church. 1893 saw him writing in ‘Life and Work’ of the Guild as a movement of all the willing women workers in a parish, old and young, rich and poor, for mutual help and united action.
The second conference of the Guild in 1892 and many conferences thereafter underpinned the fellowship and importance of worship in the Guild. The three day conference opened on a Sunday with all the delegates gathering for a worship service, the foundation on which the whole Guild was built. Guild Sunday it was called. Whilst the delegates gathered, ministers with Guild branches in their parishes reflected on the Guild that day in worship and sermon.
The secretary of the Guild nationally reported to the annual meeting. One sentence which struck many was, ‘We may compare the Woman’s Guild to a pea-vine, on which each Parish Branch of the Guild is a pod, and the various sections of work in that Branch are the peas. A good many of us are apt to think that the Parish Branch of the Guild is only another pea, smaller or larger, alongside of the rest, but it is really meant to be a pod, enclosing all the various peas, each quite distinct, but all united by their pod, and through it to the main stem. There is no need to point out that the pod in no way challenges comparison with the peas! Its function is different; its worth is in its capability of keeping the peas together and encouraging their growth; its glory is in their healthiness, size and number.’
So very often we can become inward looking but the Guild was never conceived as such a fellowship. Charteris himself wrote, ‘Our Guild, if it fulfils its aim, will, first of all, bring old and young, rich and poor, in the congregation to know each other, to help each other, and next, it will encourage them to take counsel together how to carry blessings to the poor outside the church, to the needy and the lapsed, to Jew and Gentile, beyond the fair domain of Christendom’.
The Guild was envisaged not only as inward looking but a vehicle of mission to the wider parish and world. through fellowship meetings and Guild projects the Guild has continued to be true to its initial ethos, other than it no longer is the Woman’s Guild, but the Church of Scotland Guild, enabling men to share in the fellowship and work.
The General Assembly approved the founding of the Woman’s Guild in 1887 and the Guild is as needed today as it was then.
The Guild nationally, each three year cycle, still identifies six projects; three at home, and three overseas, to which the branches commit themselves by educating the church membership, raising finances to establish responses to each project, providing the seed funding and encouragement required to make a difference to all who benefit from the projects. Many of these projects highlighted by the Guild, in the first instance, are later taken up charitable agencies and even governments. The courage of the Guild makes people aware and brings benefits to many who would otherwise not receive such attention, support and care.
Lugar Parish Church Branch was established in 1928 and a year later supported Old Cumnock Old Church when they established their branch. It is perhaps fitting that all these years later the two congregations are linked and served by the same minister.
In 2017-2018 Mrs Marge Paterson, one of Lugar Guild’s members served as National Convener of the Guild and the Lugar Branch still meets from October to March, on the first and third Tuesday evenings, in the Church Hall at 7.00pm. Each meeting meets in fellowship with a speaker covering a wide and interesting breadth of current issues.
Men and women of all ages are very welcome to come along and share in the fellowship.