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Picturesque church in £1 million appeal

The picturesque St John’s Episcopal Church, alongside the A82 and looking out over Loch Leven at Ballachulish, is in need of work to restore the building and install new heating.

But with an aged and declining congregation, the church is looking to loch-side communities and its many visitors to help raise the estimated £1million needed to carry out the work. As part of Sunday’s Ballachulish Adventure event, there will be a re-enactment by the Rt Rev Martin Shaw, Bishop of Argyll and the Isles, of a visit in 1770 by Bishop Forbes.

Weather permitting, it will take the form of the open air service when he baptised 76 people and confirmed 432 with many more attending the church for the Great Service on the final day of his three-day visit.

It was a visit that possibly saved the Episcopal church from local extinction. Prior to that, the local communities had been served by itinerant Escopalian Catechists with the very occasional visit by a few clergy.

Bishop Forbes, from Aberdeenshire, used the chalice, inscribed the Parish of Appin 1723 which was said to have been used to give communion to Jacobite troops before the Battle of Culloden 23 years later. It is still in use today.

Writing later in his journal, Bishop Forbes mentioned that he had preached from the doorway of a small storehouse which still stands in the present burial ground of the present church, built in 1842 with its chancel added in 1888.

As a result of his visit, there were 850 Gaelic-speaking communicants attached to St John’s Church, of which only five could read and write Gaelic, their first and only language, because of the restrictions of the then Penal Laws.

The church already attracts visitors seeking their roots, particularly the MacInnes, Stewarts, MacColls and MacKenzies.

• Full story at the Aberdeen Press & Journal.

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