Old High St. Stephen's, Inverness

Welcome to Old High St Stephen's Church, Inverness

Category: Old High Halls

Friends of Old High Musical Evening Saturday 28 October 2017

FROM SALON TO DRAWING ROOM on Saturday 28 October, at 7pm, in the Old High Church Hall.
Join Robin Versteeg and friends for an evening of French and Scottish Chamber Music, raising funds for the Friends of the Old High Church.
Tickets £12.50 including wine & canapes.
For catering reasons, tickets should be purchased in advance from Christina Cameron 07771 736982 christinajcameron6@gmail.com.

Sale of the Old High Hall: Congregational Meeting, 13 September 2016

The Congregational Meeting regarding the sale of the Old High Hall has now been rescheduled to Tuesday, 13 September 2016 at 7.30pm in the Old High Church.
The following is the edict which will be read on the two previous Sundays, 4 and 11 September 2016:

Notice is hereby given that a meeting of this congregation will be held in the Old High Church on Tuesday the 13th day of September 2016 at 7.30pm for the purpose of considering the recommendation of the Kirk Session to sell the Old High Hall or to take such other action as the congregation may determine.
For the avoidance of doubt a vote will be taken at this meeting seeking the congregation’s concurrence with the Kirk Session’s recommendation.
By order of the Kirk Session,
Linda Philip,
Session Clerk

Please contact us if you need any further information.
More information about this matter is available here.

Meeting about the Old High Hall cancelled

The Congregational Meeting about the sale of the Old High Hall, planned for this Tuesday night, has, unfortunately, had to be postponed. This is because someone raised a concern about the way it has been intimated to the congregation.

A Congregation Meeting of this sort happens after at least 2 Sunday’s notice has been given to the Congregation. We checked with the Presbytery Clerk and the Principal Clerk of the General Assembly, it is clear that we more than enough notice for the meeting has been given (3 Sundays, not just 2).

However, someone complained that the wording of the announcements did not make clear what the purpose of the meeting was to be. In fact, myself and our Session Clerk, Linda Philip, and Depute Session Clerk, Christine Mackenzie, are quite sure that everyone did understand what the purpose of the meeting was, so this complaint was a complete surprise to us. Throughout this process, the Session Clerks and myself have been utterly committed to being open with the Congregation about the reasons for the need for the sale, and the process to be followed.

In order to absolutely ensure that everything is done according to the law of the Church, we will now postpone Tuesday’s meeting. We intend to propose to the Leadership Team that the new meeting take place on 13 September, and will give due notice nearer the time.

Our apologies that this has happened. Of course we want to get this decision over with. You have today the information which we were giving out in advance of the meeting, and you will notice that not much has changed since the Kirk Session made the decision to sell the Hall, and that if you were not already acquainted with this information we trust you will find it informative. As always, and continuing our policy of openness, Linda and Christine remain happy to answer your questions on this matter.

Update on Old High Hall Proposed Development

The convenor of the the Old High Development committee, Cliff Sim,reports on current developments:
Old High Hall
As you will be aware we are in the middle of exploratory discussions with Birchwood Highland (BH) to improve parts of the Old High Hall to provide BH with modern offices, kitchen and toilet facilities.
This would involve converting the existing crèche room, the small hall and adjacent store into offices with a new separate entrance, accessed from the lane between the Penta Hotel and our building.
The present kitchen would become toilets and the adjacent room used by the choir and our handbells group would house the kitchen and be available as a common room or shared facility, as also the new toilets. The existing disabled toilet would remain. The old boiler room would be completely sealed off.
This would leave us with full use of the main hall and the present ladies and gents toilets, (just off Academy Street) one of which would remain with the other converted to storage and shared access to new toilets and kitchen facilities. If more storage was required this could be readily accommodated in the main hall at the kitchen end, with some suitable partitioning, as required.
Funding all these works from outside grant sources has proved negative so we have offered the opportunity to BH to cover the expenditure required for the full costs of conversion, separation of gas and electricity supplies, etc. In return they would pay an agreed annual rent, say £10K pa, with repayment of their outlays recovered from a reduced net rent over a ten year period. If BH costs were £70K annual net rent £3K.
We see this as an opportunity to improve our building, better equipped for the future,
and also of great benefit to a very impressive local charity which provides wonderful assistance to those with mental health issues. Possibly a win-win situation for us both.
We are applying for planning permission and change of use now but are fully aware that we still need the approval from both our congregation and Inverness Presbytery.
However we must look forward and we think doing nothing now is not an option so we have a chance to effect an improvement, while also helping a worthy local charity.
If this proposal does not proceed we will have to re-seal the hall roof and re-decorate the rooms at an estimated cost of at least £12,000, to be met from our own resources.
If any member has any questions at all or wishes more detailed information please apply to me as Convenor of the Old High Hall Development Group or any team member viz Jim Alexander, Jim Monro, Frank McCubbin, Rev Peter Nimmo and Margaret Sutherland. We also consult our Treasurer Sandy Cumming.
Cliff Sim, Convenor 1st March 2015

Congregation information evening 13 January 2015

We had an excellent information evening for the congregation about our finance and property action plan on Tuesday 13 January. Our Session Clerk, Linda Philip, took some notes. Here is her report. If you would like more information, please contact us.
Report of Congregational Information Evening
held on Tuesday 13 January 2015 in Old High Hall
The minister, Rev Peter Nimmo welcomed everyone and opened the meeting with prayer. He outlined the church’s Mission statement. He then highlighted the items on the Action Plan followed by an update on each item.
Insurances: Christine McKenzie said that the renewal date was shortly coming up but it was unlikely that there would be a reduction to the cost of the Old High church insurance. The church is insured for £9.5 million. As this was a Grade 1 listed building it was possible that grants might be available. Inverness Council has offered their services to look at the insurance. It was also important that a more positive approach is taken with the media.
Ministries & Mission: This is a complicated calculation taken over 3 years but there would be no reduction for this year.
Outside Agencies: Peter has met with David Stewart MSP who has offered to set up meetings with national and local government bodies. Peter has also met with the council, BID and has had interest shown from the Civic Trust. It was noted that Historic Scotland will amalgamate with Ancient Monuments in May this year.
‘Friend’s scheme: Jennifer Morrison has written to various churches who have a ‘Friend’s scheme in operation and has had several replies to be followed up. It would most likely be necessary to have a constitution and a charitable trust drawn up.
Old High hall: The plans for Phase 1 and Phase 2 were available for consideration. Further provision has been made for storage comparable with the area we now have. Phase 1 funded by Birchwood Highland would allow them access to the building, followed by Phase 2 which would see a change mainly to toilets, kitchen and committee room. We hope to source funding for this. The final stage will be to renovate the hall. Rent and terms of the lease have to be agreed. The plans will shortly go before the various stages of Presbytery. We should know their decision in February 2015.
Energy costs: Joan Darcy explained that the energy costs at St Stephen’s had been looked at by professional services who recommended changes to the heating operation. We will find out how effective these changes are with the next bills.
Running costs: The Treasurer has a tight grip on the day to day running costs.
John Craigie legacy: This had been used to fund the Pastoral Assistant’s expenses which are now being paid for by the church. The Education team will look for a project for the John Craigie legacy.
Informing the congregation: This was the second congregational meeting. It may be necessary to hold a few more meetings to keep the congregation well informed.
The congregation were given time to ask questions and the meeting closed with prayer.

Homelessness and poverty event: Sunday 26 January

PRESS RELEASE FROM: Willie Morrison on behalf of Old High St Stephen’s Church
22 Jan 2014
For further information please contact the Rev Peter Nimmo on 01463 250802
Sunday kirk supper and drama to highlight local poverty
A city centre congregation is to highlight the plight of homeless in Inverness and the Highlands in a novel way, with a supper and a dramatised reading of the New Testament parable of the Prodigal Son.
This move, by Old High St Stephen’s congregation, in conjunction with Inverness Church of Scotland Presbytery, is its contribution to Poverty and Homelessness Action Week, a major national publicity drive to help the poorest in our society, which starts on Saturday.
The week features many memorable events at both local and national levels – from inspiring events featuring young people taking action for a better world, to hearings where people bravely share their experiences of poverty and homelessness.
The Inverness event, which takes place at Old High St Stephen’s Church Halls, Academy Street, on Sunday evening from 6pm, also features talks by and conversations with Dr Paul Monaghan and Alex Gilchrist of Highland Homeless Trust, who will emphasise the constant and increasing cries locally for help in the current financial climate.
Old High St Stephen’s minister the Rev Peter Nimmo said:

It is a chance for us to eat and meet, to worship and to learn first-hand of the issues, and for us, as followers of Jesus, to reflect on how we can use our gifts in response to this need. This invitation to join us and hear of these problems is being extended to folk of all faiths or none. All who are interested are welcome.

Congregation member and leading organiser Iain Todd, who is also a Church of Scotland reader – a trained and experienced lay preacher – remarked:

The aim of the evening is for all faiths or none to come together to listen, and perhaps learn, from two of the many professionals at work in our city with folk who are really struggling with issues of homelessness, poverty and the changes to the benefits system and who often, in their vulnerability and of necessity, find themselves drawn down the pay day loan route with its legal, but punitive interest rates.
Pay day loans are accepted by all as being awful things – and since the UK Government did away with crisis loans, and the new benefit system is paid a month in arrears, desperate folk who have no money are being sucked into the Wonga and Cash Converters of this world who charge horrendous rates.
I have a wee friend who recently told me she had borrowed £200, which will cost her £300 to repay.”

Mr Todd also spoke of an acquaintance who had told him he didn’t believe there was any real poverty in Inverness , and who insisted: “Define poverty for me. I bet they all have big plasma televisions.”
He said credit unions were not the answer for folk in dire poverty, as they were more akin to saving schemes, and would not respond to pleas for immediate cash.
And he concluded: “All are welcome on Sunday evening to listen, learn and maybe respond.”
Footnote: Inverness Food Bank, set up in 2005 at the Free Church Hall in Madras Street , and supported by many local churches and other organisations, now distributes emergency supplies to thousands of needy Highland families each year, and has the unenviable reputation of being one of the busiest of its kind in Britain .

Old High Hall- proposed Elderly Care Centre

You may have heard of a proposal to use the Old High Hall for a resource centre for the elderly. It is thought that a place where older people can meet in the city centre will fill an important need for Inverness, as we continue to face a greater number of elderly persons in the community.

The Kirk Session is examining a proposal from Friendship Services, a local charity who also operate the Dunbar Centre across the road from the Old High. Friendship Services are now undertaking a feasibility study, to be carried out by the University of the Highlands and Islands, into whether there is a need for such an elderly care facility. Over the next few months they will be distributing questionnaires and holding meetings for older people in order to find out about their needs and wants. We have agreed to help them be in touch with older people within our own congregation. However we have not yet agreed to use Old High Hall for this purpose.

The Old High Hall is well used by the community, but less so by the congregation. It requires considerable investment to bring it up to modern standards. If the elderly care proposal goes ahead it will likely attract funds which could be used to modernize the hall, we would receive a rent for its use, and it would provide an important service to the community.
However the Session is a long way off from deciding that to agree to the use of the hall for this purpose. We are still digesting the results of Future Focus, and we may well develop other plans for the use of the hall in future. Friendship Services know that the Kirk Session might well decide to do something else with the hall which would mean it could not be used by them.
So, the proposal is at a very early stage, and no decisions have yet been taken. The feasibility study going ahead over the summer does not imply that the Session has made a final decision about using the Old High Hall in this way. We do not know whether there is a need for an elderly centre in the city centre, nor whether the Old High Hall is suitable or could be adapted for such a sure, nor whether we would wish the hall used for this purpose. There are many questions still to be answered!
The Session will keep the congregation informed whenever there are new developments. If you would like to know more, please contact the Minister.

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