Bid to stop famous Fife games from being held on a Sunday

A church group is calling on Markinch Highland Games organisers to stop the event from taking place on a Sunday.
A church group is calling on Markinch Highland Games organisers to stop the event from taking place on a Sunday.

The organisers of Markinch Higland Games are facing a call from a religious group to respect the Sabbath and stop all future events from being staged on a Sunday.

Shane Fenton, secretary to one of the oldest annual games events of its type in Scotland, told the Gazette he was “astounded” by the request received by members of prominent religious group recently.

In a letter from Alan M. Boyd, clerk of the Sabbath Observance Committee (SOC) of the Free Presbyterian Church, it stated: “It has come to our attention that Markinch Highland Games took place on 4th June which also happened to be the Lord’s Day, commonly known as a “Sunday”.

“We would wish to take this opportunity to remind you of the duty of us all to ‘Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy’ (Exodus 20:8) and crave that the Lords Day would be kept clear of all activity in connection with the Markinch Highland Games.”

Taken aback by the call to switch days, Mr Fenton said he initially thought it was a joke, until he checked the letter which turned out to be genuine.

The SOC letter continued: “For the sake of the spiritual welfare of the people of Fife, and indeed the nation as a whole, we feel duty bound to contact you concerning this matter, and prayerfully hope that in future, you would give it your careful and appropriate consideration.”

Hitting back at the calls Mr Fenton said he was surprised at to have received the request now considering the games had been held on a Sunday every year for over four decades.

“They must really regard our Games as an urgent threat to the moral fibre of the entire nation if it’s only taken them 44 years – the length of time the games have been held on a Sunday,” he said.

“I respect their beliefs but in this day and age they might be better keeping them to themselves.

“The games being held on a Sunday has been a tradition for over 40 years without any complaints being received.

“We do note their concerns, the games however will continue to take place, as always, on the first Sunday in June, when I’m sure it will be supported religiously by the local community.”

The Markinch Games is one of the region’s most popular annual events, drawing in big crowds every year. It also boasts the oldest pipe band competition in Scotland.

The Free Presbyterian Church were unavailable for comment as we went to press.