The Women’s Guild, as it was formerly known, was established in 1887 by Dr Archibald Charteris who made a petition to the General Assembly, through the Life and Work magazine, to find out more on the work of women in the church.
In 1937, 7000 attended the annual meeting in the Usher Hall in Edinburgh.
In 1947, 3000 layettes were sent to Germany as part of reconciliation.
In 1997, men were invited to join, and the name changed to The Guild.
Ness Bank Guild was formed in November 1931 with the first meeting held in March 1932 with 23 members and a year later, membership had increased to 64.
This year, 2020, our membership stands at 32, and numbers have been quite consistent in recent years.
Our motto is ”Whose We Are and Whom We Serve”, and the aim is to invite and encourage both women and men to commit their lives to Jesus Christ, and enable them to express their faith in Worship, Prayer and Action.
So, what do we actually do at our meetings?
Firstly, we meet every second Tuesday evening at 7.30pm in the large hall at Ness Bank Church. Our meetings begin in late September, and finish at the end of March/beginning of April.
Throughout the year, we also have invites to other Guild meetings in the Presbytery and we have our summer outing in June to enjoy. These meetings consist of a mixture of fellowship and fun, with hymn singing, prayer, topic and bible discussion and of course tea and cake to finish. The syllabus is varied and includes a study of different themes each year. These are compiled by Guild head office in Edinburgh and include helpful resource material and speakers that are available. We find that we have a rich vein of local speakers so that we rarely need to go too far for our needs.
From 2018 - 2021 the work, worship and focus of the Guild falls under the strategy ‘One journey, many Roads’, with our new session due to start this September, centred on ‘Going the Extra Mile’. This title of course, is so apt this year, as so many people in congregations, in the community, and in the caring professions, have certainly been going the extra mile for their fellow human beings.
All six of the current projects supported by Guild members relate to themes of the three year strategy, and they are Crossreach, The Boys' Brigade, Sailors Society, The Free to Live Trust, Malawi Fruits and the World Mission Council, and last session we supported The Boys' Brigade, Faith in Young People.
Each year we raise around £2,500 from our coffee mornings, our soup and sandwich lunch and our offerings taken at each meeting. We have a ‘Martha‘ table at each meeting too, where members can donate unwanted gifts, bric-a-brac, etc, and this produces another £150 - £200 each year. All our income is divided between the Church, our projects, and our speakers' charities. Our chosen project this year was "The Boy’s Brigade, Faith in Young People" and we had speakers from the Boys' Brigade, Mikeysline, Malawi Water Aid, The Leprosy Mission, on whose committee we have a representative, and we had a very informative talk from one of our congregation’s younger members on her visit to Romania with Blythswood. We had a very enjoyable musical evening at the end of 2018 organised by one of our members, Julia Macdonald, when members of the congregation were delighted with a feast of musical items. Also, before Christmas last year, we were entertained by the Friends in Harmony group, and a lovely Christmas lunch albeit in January!
Some of the ‘best bits’ of the Guild include:
Fostering positive relationships with Crossreach, World Mission, Faith in Older People, National Youth Assembly and other Councils of the Church of Scotland.
Coming together at major events to celebrate and showcase our fellowship. This includes the Annual Gathering in Dundee and The Big Sing in December.
Bringing important issues like human trafficking and female genital mutilation, to the heart of the church.
Encouraging young and old to work together in the church and the community – this involved a very successful and competitive evening of fun and games last year, involving children from the youth groups!
Providing hospitality and welcome to new people and those at the margins of communities.
Trying to recruit new members is not an easy task as everyone has such a choice of activities to participate in, with some working and some involved in caring for children or other family members, but we all try to encourage our congregation to ‘come and try,’ with no fees required for the first year. Transport is sometimes a barrier, but all our driving members are more than happy to help. Many of our loyal members have clocked up 40+ years of supporting the Guild, and we really do need to encourage new faces with new ideas to keep our group flourishing.
The Work Party started in 1915 knitting for soldiers in WW1, and in Ness Bank the Work Party started shortly after the group was formed in 1932. We have around 8 members who meet every second Tuesday afternoon from 2-3pm, in between the Guild Tuesdays, in the church. A lot of chatter may ensue, but this hardworking group produces around 300 items of knitting which are donated to the Special Care Baby Unit in Raigmore, Blythswood Care, The Orchard at Drummond School, L‘Arche, Cheshire House and the Inverness Mosque. There is also a large amount sold at the church's Christmas Fayre each year.
The Guild also visits Cameron House, a Church of Scotland care home, with 3-4 visits a year, providing an hour of singing with hymns and popular songs, and this is much enjoyed by the residents. Last Christmas, they had the pleasure of some of our group dressed up for a Christmas party piece! Other Guild groups also visit there regularly.
Guild members hold a short service at Haugh Court, a sheltered housing complex opposite the church, on the last Sunday of the month, with hymns, prayer and an appropriate reading. As usual, this always finishes with a lovely tea and home baking, and had we not been in lockdown, we would have celebrated 30 years of this service at the end of May.
Ness Bank Guild is also responsible for recording The World Day of Prayer service each year for the patients in Raigmore Hospital. This service is written by Christian women of different countries each year, and held on the last Friday of Lent, with a full service in the East Church in Inverness.
So, as you can see, the Guild is a very active group, as our "Martha" table and all our projects shows, but I hope we also have a good dose of Mary’s attributes too, as we listen and learn from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Mrs Anne M Sutherland
Tel. 01463 238238
Mobile 07425 154715
Guild Fashion Show
Guild Games Night
Long Service Certificate Recipients - October 2019
Guild Coffee Morning