MINISTER’S Farewell Gift Reflects Special Role Of The ‘Toon Kirk’

22 June, 2022 | Local

From left, Rose Sloan and Tom Kater, musicians; the Rev. Graham Kelly, deacon at St. Mary’s Catholic
Church, Greenock; Cllr. Drew McKenzie, Provost of Inverclyde; the Rev. Alan Sorensen, minister
of Wellpark Mid Kirk; Louise Long, chief executive of Inverclyde Council; and
Grace Kennedy, session clerk, wearing the badge of office.

WELLPARK Mid Kirk — known affectionately in Greenock as The Toon Kirk — has received a bespoke insignia to be worn at civic events hosted there.

The church’s minister, the Rev. Alan Sorensen, who is retiring this week after 22 years, commissioned the solid silver badge of office and presented it to the congregation as a farewell gift at his final Kirkin’ of the Council on Sunday.

Mr Sorensen explained: “We have a fairly unique relationship between Wellpark Mid Kirk and Inverclyde Council, the church is across the square from the Council buildings and since 1761 we have been privileged to host many civic events, not just the annual Kirkin’.”

“The minister has traditionally been the chaplain to the council and he is often asked to represent the church at many functions. It might surprise some that there have been five occasions this month alone where the Provost and I have shared an event.

“It occurred to me that when the Provost is wearing Inverclyde’s chain of office it would be a nice touch if the church had something similar, so I commissioned the insignia for anyone representing the church at some such event to wear.

“The session clerk was sporting it for the first time on Sunday as she led in the procession of councillors and officials. It’s always good to add a little bit of colour to such occasions.”

“I believe the annual Kirkin’ used to be a very formal occasion, but now it’s an ecumenical celebration of the life of the whole community in the council area and I think it adds to the sense of occasion.”

On behalf of the kirk session and congregation, Grace Kennedy, session clerk, said: “I’d like to thank Alan for the very kind and unique gift. I know that whether it’s me, or someone else who has the opportunity to wear it, we will wear it with pride and remember who gifted it to the church.

“The insignia is beautifully made and will be worn by members of Wellpark Mid Kirk for very many years to come. It’s a lasting legacy to be cherished.”

The badge of office has been designed by Jen Cunningham, a talented young jewellery designer and silversmith, who specialises in bespoke landscape and townscape jewellery such as wedding rings.

It shows a modern representation of the church’s distinctive profile. Mr. Sorensen said: “I cannot thank Jen enough, she did a wonderful job –- unlike me! I said I would source an appropriate chain but when we put them together the chain just didn’t look right. So, the badge was unveiled with a simple ribbon, and a more suitable chain will be forthcoming for its next outing.”

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