St. John’s Church
Kildalton and Oa Parish Church
Built between 1897-1898 by architect Sydney Mitchell. It is said to be inspired by the Romanesque Saint-Leger church at Leulinghen-Bernes near Bologne, France. It replaced the former churches at Lagavulin as the population and congregation grew and moved more centrally to ‘Port Ellen’ village.
At the east end of the church is the Chancel which is framed by a slightly rounded chancel arch. Here there is the communion table and a beautiful stained-glass window, ‘Christ the Good Shepherd’ erected in memory of the Rev. James Mackinnon who served as minister from 1894-1938.
At the opposite end of the church are a further two stained glass windows.
A new porch was completed in 2006 with an accessible toilet. The fully concreted path gives excellent wheelchair access to the church, which has modern lighting and heating.
At present there is one service of Worship in St. John’s on Sunday Morning at 11.30am.
Gaelic services, Girl Guide & Brownie Thinking Day Service, Christingle Service, World Day of Prayer service and the week of Prayer for Christian Unity are held annually in different churches on the island and are all ecumenical services.
In August of each year we hold an open-air ecumenical service at the Kildalton Cross. The cross itself dates to 800AD, it is considered the finest surviving Celtic Cross in Scotland and is situated in the churchyard of the former parish church of Kildalton, about 7 miles east of Port Ellen.
The church also plays an important part in special commemorative services such as Remembrance Sunday where a service is held at the local war memorial.
In 2019 we also participated in WW100 with special services in remembrance of the lives lost in the sinking of the SS Otranto and SS Tuscania, and the important role the local people played in the aftermath of these tragedies, being held at the American Monument in the Oa.
Since 2018, following an article about it in life and Work, we have had our own Shawl Ministry, where prayer/comfort shawls are made by congregation
members with love and prayers for the recipients. These are then distributed locally, nationally and even internationally with and accompanying prayer.
Following our union with Kilarrow Parish we follow a Unitary Constitution where there are 8 serving elders from St.Johns.
We have a membership of 86 with an average weekly attendance of 40. We are a committed and enthusiastic group of Worshippers whose excellent choral Praise is accompanied by a modern Allen digital Organ. Several members of the congregation participate on a rota of readers. On occasion the Elders have conducted services of Worship.
Our Sunday School has come and gone over the years in different formats. At present it is held every Sunday during term time in the church hall (St. Columba hall) from 10-11am. We have an attendance of around 10 children ranging in age from 4-17yrs, with the older children helping with some of the more energetic Praise!
Our very good working relationship with the Baptist Church, which was fostered by our previous minister, continues to be developed by the new Baptist minister and his wife who we support with their Sunday evening Teens Café. They also hold Alpha sessions for the older teenagers.
Every year there is a weeklong Summer Beach Mission run by Scripture Union and supported by the Baptist Church and St. Johns in providing support in person and kind, which is very well attended and culminates in a joint family service in St. Johns.
Every Sunday our church is adorned with beautiful floral arrangements, generously donated on a weekly basis by members of the church and local community. These are then delivered as part of our outreach to people in the community who have experienced bereavement, illness, hardship or who would just appreciate a visit and a friendly chat.
We have a very strong Fundraising team who are well supported by the local community. We run a weekly Lunch Club in our church hall during the summer months, which is well attended by both locals and visitors alike. On the sad occasions when we lose a member of our community we have, on request, provided catering for the Purvey. Our team are also busy throughout the rest of the year catering at many varied events at local venues such as the Islay Show and Feis Ile.
They also do a lot of fundraising throughout the year with our annual Spring Bazaar and Christmas table top sale. In addition to giving fundraising support to the Baptist church and other local churches they also raise funds for and support local groups such as Chit Chat ( a support group for individuals with chronic illnesses) independent causes such as Myeloma UK, MacMillan Cancer Care and Christian Aid.
The population of the local community within Kildalton and Oa Parish is approx. 1,100 people.
In our village, Port Ellen, we have an award-winning primary School with an all-weather games pitch, 3 food stores, Post Office/Craft Shop, Medical Practice, Filling Station, owned by the community run South Islay Development (S.I.D) which also has a 3 berth Mobile Home park with Waste disposal facilities. S.I.D also run the local Playing Fields complex with Bowling green, tennis, Putting and football pitch. There is also the MacTaggart Cybercafé and Castaways thrift shop.
There are many self-catering holiday homes and B&B’s in the parish along with 2 hotels and an Inn. There is a wonderful restaurant, serving local seafood. A few miles out of the main village is the award winning Machrie Hotel and Links Golf Course.
We have an impressive Marina which caters for both local crafts and visiting yachts.
There are 3 distilleries, Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Laphroaig which can be reached by a lovely walk along the ‘3 Distilleries Path’, with 2 further distilleries in development.
More information on activities in the area can be found on www.islayinfo.com
Tourism makes a very important contribution to the life of Kildalton & Oa Parish and we welcome visitors of all denominations, whose presence in St. Johns enriches our worship, and whose lovely comments can be seen in our Church visitors’ book.
01496 301494/ 07785397159