Kinkell Church Outdoor Service & Family Picnic

On Sunday 25th June 2017 at 2.00 pm we hold our annual outdoor service at the historic St Michael's Church at Kinkell near Inverurie.

Among the hymns and songs we shall be singing is 'Shall we gather at the river.' (We are by the River Don!) which has an interesting story:


"He showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God…" (Rev. 22.1)

 A hymn that describes our hope of being at and seeing that pure river of water of life in the heavenly New Jerusalem is "Shall We Gather At The River?" (#414 in Sacred Selections For The Church). The text was written and the tune (Hanson Place) was composed both by Robert Lowry (1826-1899). In 1864 Lowry was minister at the Hanson Place Baptist Church in Brooklyn. That summer there was an epidemic sweeping New York City, and people were dying all over. When Lowry was not busy visiting those in his congregation who were sick, he was burying others who had died. This is why the 38-year old preacher was near exhaustion when he lay down on the couch of his Brooklyn home one hot day in July. While thinking about all the people who were dying, he began to think of the great reunion at the river of life. So he did not stay on his couch long, but soon arose and was busy writing. He left his own account of this event:

     "One afternoon in July, 1864, when I was pastor at Hanson Place Baptist Church, Brooklyn, the weather was oppressively hot, and I was lying on a lounge in a state of physical exhaustion. I was almost incapable of bodily exertion, and my imagination began to take to itself wins. Visions of the future passed before me with startling vividness.  The imagery of the Apocalypse took the form of a tableau. Brightest of all were the throne, the heavenly river, and the gathering of the saints.  My soul seemed to take new life from the celestial outlook. I began to wonder why the hymn-writers had said so much about the ‘river of death’ and so little about ‘the pure water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb." As I mused the words began to construct themselves. They came first as a question of Christian inquiry, ‘Shall we gather?’ Then they broke out in a chorus, as an answer of Christian faith, ‘Yes, we’ll gather.’ On this question and answer the hymn developed itself. The music came with the hymn." Please note that I am simply quoting Mr. Lowry without necessarily agreeing with his usage of the word "pastor."

More about Kinkell Church

The first reference to a church on this site was recorded in the early 12th century, with the present (ruined bur preserved) building dating from the medieval period. It is thought that Kinkell Church served as the 'mither kirk' for the Parishes of Fintray, Kinellar and Keithhall. As churches were established in each of these communities the building gradually fell out of use and its stones were plundered for use in other buildings.

Whilst the present building contains a number of fascinating historical features, the site is no longer used for regular Christian worship apart from our annual outdoor service and picnic, to which everyone is most welcome.

More details about St Michael's Church and its fascinating historical features can be found at the following websites:

Places of Worship in Scotland

Historic Environment Scotland

Canmore - Kinkell, St Michael's Church And Burial-ground

Scottish Churches and Ruined Abbeys - Grampian Region





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