From David Kerr, Vestry secretary

I need to tell you about a meeting the Vestry had with the Bishop recently. You’ll mostly be aware that Robin is approaching 65, though that, as they say, is merely a number and is belied by the energy and enthusiasm he continues to bring to being Rector of St John’s. That job, though, is enormous and, in many ways, bears little resemblance to how it was ten years ago, when he . . .

David Kerr
David Kerr

arrived; still less that of twenty or thirty years ago. You will have guessed, by now, if you hadn’t already, that Robin is proposing to retire; and that that will be at the end of June this year.

The first thing is to reassure you that he is not ill; nor is there any other negative reason for his retirement. He wishes, as we all would wish for him, to be able to enjoy his retirement, Helen’s retirement, their grandchildren and all the normal things, while they are both still fit and healthy.

The second thing is that, inevitably, people retire, or move on. I wasn’t at St John’s in those days, but I know that there have been times in the past where these transitions have happened in sad, or unplanned, circumstances. But this is something that Robin has planned, after consultation with Helen, the Bishop and others; and there is evidence that God has been planning this, too. What do I mean by that? Well, consider, firstly, the strength of St John’s position: we are a viable, active, diverse congregation, which has experienced competent, pastorally and spiritually sensitive leadership for the past ten years. We have a Vestry which is an elected spiritual eldership and a supportive Bishop and Diocese. It won’t be an overnight process to find a new Rector. But there are recognised structures in place to help charges deal with the situation. More about those in a minute. In the meantime, I was talking about God’s planning. In the past year or two, our already generous allowance of retired Clergy has been added to by the arrival of Hamilton and Grace and by Jim and Carole Booth all of whom have been with us for well over a year. This means we have a wealth of experience and spiritual and pastoral depth to draw on meantime. God’s provision. And it means we don’t have to rush out and collar the first person with a collar that we see.

Let me say a bit more about the protocols and so on that are in place to keep us on track in the absence of a Rector. I’m not going to go in to the Chapter & Verse of this just now, or we’d be here all day. That detail will come later and is governed by the 2010 Constitution and the rules and procedures of the Diocese and Province.

Firstly, Robin will still be with us for the next few months. His last weekend with us is expected to be 25/26 June. There’s more detail and a rationale for this, but I’ll save that meantime.

Secondly, it falls to the Bishop to appoint an Interim Priest, after consulting the Vestry. What it says is, ‘The Bishop appoints the Interim Priest to keep a watching brief with the Vestry during a vacancy. The priest is there to offer advice to the Vestry as issues arise in the ordinary life of the charge and may need to deal with pastoral emergencies…. It is expected that the Interim Priest would be the first point of contact for funerals, marriages and other occasional offices. The priest may decide to officiate at these or to delegate them to another priest.‘ The Vestry felt that Jim Booth, who has been amongst us for some time and has contributed to the development of healing prayer ministry would be a good person to fulfil this; Jim has indicated a willingness to do so, and the Bishop will shortly formally confirm this.

The Interim Priest is not expected to chair the Vestry. The Vestry has meantime agreed that James Clark-Maxwell will do this, and that Heather Gibbings will be his depute.

So that’s how we keep the lights on and the services happening with no Rector.

The procedure for appointing a new Rector is governed by the 2010 Constitution, so may vary from what people may remember from last time.

Within a reasonable period (and we have provisionally agreed with the Bishop that that would likely be in June), we have to hold a Special General Meeting at which 7 constituent members of what I’ll call a Vacancy Committee are elected. In many charges, this is the Vestry; here there can be an overlap to a greater or lesser extent, but the only actual requirement is that members be constituent members of the congregation of at least a year’s standing. That committee is required to act in consultation with both Bishop and Vestry in finding a suitable candidate for recommendation to the Bishop for appointment. The Committee cannot begin to search until the existing Rector has left. A Parish Profile, describing the kind of church we are, and a Person Specification, outlining the kind of person we’re looking for, would be drawn up. The post can be advertised and it is possible, also, that the Bishop might make a recommendation (which the Vacancy Committee is not obliged to accept) if there is someone he knows of and whom he thinks might be suitable. Eventually, an agreed candidate or candidates is/are arrived at, interviewed, recommended to the Bishop and, if approved by him, appointed.

So: a likely timeline for all of this is:

  • Mid-June, 2016: SGM held; vacancy committee elected
  • End of June: Robin departs
  • September: AGM and Vacancy committee starts its deliberations
  • November: Vestry at Cumbrae and final work done on the Parish Profile and Person Specification and approval by the Bishop.
  • January, 2017: Search, advertising etc begins
  • March, 2017: Interviews and successful candidate appointed; likely 3 month notice period to his/her existing charge.
  • June, 2017: New Rector at St John’s.

You may feel that’s a long time, but the Bishop advises, and the Vestry agrees, that it is already a fairly tight time scale to do all the things we need to do. We need to do it once, and do it right.

There’s more detail available, but I’ve kept you long enough. Just to finish; different people will have different, and complicated, emotions about this news. My personal feeling, which some, but not all of you, may share, is that I wish neither Robin nor Helen were going, but I have to recognise that everyone eventually must retire or move on and, in terms of the planning Robin has put in to this and God’s provision of so many people (and that includes each other) to look after us, this is the ‘least worst’ time for a change of Rector; it’s not a disaster and we mustn’t make them feel it is; we need to release them with our blessing, with our thanks for the past ten years and to wish them every blessing in the next stage of their life together.

The Vestry – any of us – can answer any other immediate queries you may have.”

David Kerr – Vestry secretary


St John the Evangelist, Dumfries, is a parish of the Scottish Episcopal Church also serving Methodist parishioners locally.


You can donate to St John’s by credit or debit card by following these links.


And, as always, if you need us, you can contact  

Annual General Meeting:

The Annual General Meeting will take place on the 1st October. As usual it will be held within the context of the 11am service. There will be a bring and share lunch and the formal meeting will follow. Forms for nominations to the elected vacancies are at the back of the church.  The AGM papers are at the back of the church.  If they run out, please ask the Church Office.    If you prefer to receive them by email, please sign the sheet at the back of the church.  You only need to give your name, assuming we have your up to date email address.  If you will NOT be able to attend the AGM, and would like your apologies noted, there is a sheet to sign for this as well.  If you wish to raise a matter under Any Other Business please let Margaret Morton have the details of that by 12 noon on Friday 29th September. or 01387 262734


If there is sufficient demand, we hope to run a trip (destination not decided on, yet, but suggestions welcome) in mid-October (possibly 14th or 21st, date still to be decided);  we may also run something in mid-November, and there has been a suggestion we might go to the Christmas Market in Hawkshead (near Ambleside/Windermere) on or about 2 December.  Watch this space!

Other Dates for your Diary:

  • Friday, 06/10/2023:                                           Beetle Drive*
  • Friday, 19/01/2024:                                           Burns Supper
  • Thursday,  14/03/2024                                      Pamper Session
  • Saturday, 16/03/2024                                        Men’s Breakfast

* See notice below….


  • A gentle reminder to those who have bought tickets for Cook and Taste India – this will take place in the Hall on Saturday 30th September at 2.30 pm. Come ready to enjoy all the goodies on offer, and watch out for the raffle prizes, too.
  • Watch out for MU Prayer space which is held on the second Thursday of the month, via Zoom, at 12noon and 8pm. You’ve (probably) just missed Peace & Reconciliation this week, but forthcoming sessions include Faith in Action (12 Oct), Gender Justice (9 Nov) and God With Us (14 Dec).  Details on the poster on the lit noticeboard, and also the St J’s website.  The Church Office (pastadmin@stjohnsdumfries.,org) can provide Zoom joining details.  The invitation to join in ‘Prayer Space’ is not just for MU members…(see above)

We are hoping to have different themes in the window bays in the church at Harvest, particularly celebrating the theme of ‘Gifts’.  If you would like to contribute towards the cost of the flowers, provide some kind of gift, or would like to take on decorating a bay yourself, please speak to Carolynne or Janice.

Activities are resuming after the summer break.  Short Mat Bowling will resume, in the Hall, this Tuesday, 26/09/2023;  the Quiz Nights will resume this Friday, 29/09/2023, both at 7.30pm.

On the subject of activities, please support the Beetle Drive here at St J’s Hall on Friday, 06/10/2023.  Doors open 18.30;  eyes (however many you have) down at 19.00. There will be a refreshment break halfway through (no bush tucker involved), and a raffle.  No entry fee, but donations invited.  If you’ve never played before, don’t worry;  all will be explained, and it should be fun.

Dumfries Christian Network tells us…

African Children’s Choir on Monday 25th September at 2.00pm in St Andrew’s Church (picture of poster below…note that the time is incorrectly stated on the poster;  concert starts at 2pm, not 2.30pm)

Quartz says…

  • CLC:  This is the Quartz house group, we meet every second Monday. More info is on the website. [].  On the 05/10/2023, we are planning to meet at Tatyana’s!  Please get in touch if you need directions. 
  • Forest Church:  We will continue to meet at the Crichton on the 3rd Sunday in the Month.  
  • Magazine:  A Quartz review is being written for the Autumn/Winter St Johns Magazine. You can still read the last one in the current magazine which can be downloaded from the St John’s website or picked up in the building.
  • The Blog:  This site is maintained by Wordsmith Crafts CIC. Sometimes the content comes from people who have sent things in. There is the capacity to let other people post blogs directly too, and these will be tagged with their name. This expands the use of the site to encourage discussion, even for those who cannot physically meet in one place often. If you would like to contribute, or recommend someone, please get in touch.
  • An invitation:  Would you like to become more involved in Quartz?   We will be publishing a list of ideas for projects. If you are inspired and would like to contribute an idea have a quick search on the website for similar things to compare it with what Quartz has done in the past – then send your idea in. Once the list is published, we will be trying to find people to help make them happen! Involvement in one activity does not commit you to being involved in any others (unless you want to be). If you are willing to be more involved in the planning and selection of ideas let us know.

Dumfries Academy tell us…We would be extremely grateful if you could share details about our Fairtrade Coffee Morning with your congregation.  It is being held on Saturday, 30th of September, 10am – 12:00 pm at St George’s Church Hall.  All the money raised will help pupils to finance a life changing trip to Kenya in 2024.   Entry costs £5 for adult and children can attend for free!

There will be live musical performances by pupils throughout the morning,  a raffle and a selection of stalls selling home-baking, second-hand books and home-made jewellery.  

It promises to be a good day!

Contemporary Service

The Contemporary Service will be at 6pm on Sunday 21st September followed by refreshments in the hall.


St John's Church

2 days 15 hours ago

Sunday 24th September is our Seventeenth Sunday Service after Pentecost. There is an Eucharistic service at 11:00 am. Do join us- be great to see you! Tonight there is a

St John's Church

6 days 19 hours ago

You are must welcome to join us for our contemporary service this Sunday in St John’s at 6pm. Be great to see you! 👍

St John's Church

1 week 4 days ago

Choral Evensong will take place at St John's Church, Newall Terrace, Dumfries, on Sunday 17th September at 6pm, sung by the Choir of St John's Church, Dumfries, in memory of

St John's Church

3 weeks 3 days ago

Sunday 3rd September is our Fourteenth Sunday Service after Pentecost. There is an Eucharistic service at 11:00 am. Do join us- be great to see you! Tonight there is evensong