Kirkcaldy church to have major facelift

John Baillie who played the organ at Kirkcaldy Methodist Church from the age of 10

John Baillie who played the organ at Kirkcaldy Methodist Church from the age of 10

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Community invited to anniversary celebrations

KIRKCALDY’S Methodist Church is about to celebrate its 125th anniversary with a week long display of pictures and stories outlining its interesting history.

Deacon Sarah McDowall

Deacon Sarah McDowall

And members of the local community are being invited to be a part of the celebrations in the building which will then undergo a major facelift to make it much more “user friendly” and able to cater for more outside meetings and activities.

The anniversary event, entitled ‘Our Story’ will run from September 14-20, and will be open daily from 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. except Sunday when it will run from noon to 4.00 p.m.

It will also be open on Wednesday evening from 6.00-8.00 p.m.

It will feature a display of old photos and memorabilia as well as the stories from members of the local community. There will be contributions in the form of artwork from youngsters from Pathhead Primary School.

The inside of the church in 1948

The inside of the church in 1948

The church on the town’s St Clair Street has been a place of worship for the Methodist movement which was started by John Webster whose belief was a church which transcended buildings by taking the gospel out to the
people.

And it is that principal of being a part of the community which Deacon Sarah McDowall wants to expand into the Pathhead and Sinclairtown areas, by opening up the church as a meeting place for locals to join together.

“There are very few facilities in this area for young and older people, and we would like our church and its hall to become more community use buildings.

“Through our own fundraising ventures, and grants including the Common Good, we have managed to raise around £75,000 which we plan to use to adapt the church to be more accessible for those with mobility problems, with direct access to the church from the car park.

“We want to take out all the old pews to have a more flexible area for worship, install 
a new kitchen and new toilets, as well as improving 
the entrance and installing lots of cupboards for 
storage.”

The renovations are due to start later in the autumn, and once completed the Deacon would like to start up a toddler group as well as a cafe which would both be open to the local community.

“A lot of people have said that there are no places around here to have a decent cup of coffee or to meet with friends and that’s what we would like to be able to offer,” she explained.

“We would also be keen to offer the facilities for local groups to meet, be it pensioners’ groups or a youth
club.”

At present the church runs alternate Sunday services with Rosyth Methodist Church and a Bright Hour women’s meeting fortnightly from September to May.

In October the Children’s Parliament is going to do craft work with local schools for a
week.

Frontline Fife has also used the building for drop in sessions for people who are homeless or about to become homeless, and there is a Credit Union operating in the building every Thursday.

Revealed: Mystery man who played in 1948

The mystery young organist who played at the Methodist Church in 1948 has been uncovered.

A search was launched for him in last week’s Press after the church came across his name in its old records which showed he was just ten years old at the time.

And John Baillie, who is now 76, is still playing music today.

Mr Baillie was a music teacher at Balwearie, which was a four-year secondary school at the time, from when it opened in 1964 until he retired 17 years ago. And he still gives piano lessons today.

He explained: “The first I heard about this was when one of my wife’s friends phoned last Thursday morning saying ‘The Press is looking for you.’ It came as a bit of a surprise, and there was another call from a family member telling us about it.

“I went out and got a Press and read the story and it has really brought back a lot of old memories.”

John said he had become the church organist through his music teacher, Russell Robertson, who was organist for Invertiel Church which was on the former Morrisons site on the Esplanade at the time.

“He told me that the Methodist Church was looking for an organist and I went along and ended up playing there for two years.

“I played at the morning service then I went to Sunday School and I was back in the evening again, so it was a long day. I stopped playing when I went up to High School.”

John started playing piano when he was just seven years old and went on to play in a dance band for many years, playing concerts around Fife. When the band folded he started playing for school musicals at Kirkcaldy High School where he was a pupil, and has been playing ever since.

After leaving school at 15, he worked as a costing clerk for Nairn’s linoleum manufacturers until around 1960. All that time he still played and earned a diploma by studying in his spare time.

When a recruitment drive was launched for teachers, John went to a three month crammer school in Edinburgh where he took three Highers and went on to Moray House teacher training college for six months before qualifying as a music teacher and joining the Balwearie staff.

“I always knew I wanted to do something with my music, and my teacher in Edinburgh wanted me to become a concert pianist, but in those days unless you were very wealthy you had to go out and earn a living.”