11 February 2019
Club member Andy Matthew was speaker on 11th February and told the remarkable story of how a pair of surplus communion chalices made the long journey from their home church in the East Neuk of Fife, to St Andrew’s Scots Kirk in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
The story started almost eighty years ago, when two young men enlisted in the Army. They trained together, became officers together, joined the Chindits together and together fought the Japanese in Burma during WW2.
They survived and returned home to find civilian life lacking. Both decided to become Ministers in the Church of Scotland. They trained together and were ordained together. One became Minister at Netherlee church in Glasgow; the other at St Andrew’s, Colombo.
They remained in touch and for over sixty years, Netherlee Church has maintained fellowship and friendship in partnership with St Andrew’s. This also led to a live connection between the 91st Glasgow (Netherlee) Scouts and the 17th Colombo St Andrew’s (Netherlee) Scout Group.
For many years the congregation at Netherlee supported the Ladies Ward 19 at Mulleriyawa Mental Hospital in Colombo; but it was in 2005 that Netherlee Church made a major contribution towards the establishment and continuing operation of a halfway house called ‘Netherlee Cottage’. This place enables ladies from Mulleriyawa to be rehabilitated into society, develop skills for employment and move on to independent living.
But it was the decision to mark the 90th Anniversary of Netherlee Church, by providing St Andrew’s Church with a Communion Cup, that brought this story to its conclusion. A need for a communion cup was advertised. Contacts in the Church of Scotland worked their magic, the need was satisfied, a donation made and the East Neuk Chalices found a new home.
A remarkable and intriguing story of the power of the friendship and fellowship of two men; of two congregations and of worlds many thousands of miles apart - and yet together.
It was a humbling yet warming story and one for which Malcolm MacDonald was delighted to propose an appreciative vote of thanks on behalf of the club.