Stenton | Belief

In his account of the parish of Stenton (Snodgrass, C.P. 1953, p417), the Rev Dr Hugh MacKenzie noted that church attendance was ‘not so regular’ as it had been in the early years of his long ministry. The half century since then has seen a continuation of that trend, and Stenton church, like those of other hillfoot villages, has been subject to union and readjustment in response to declining membership and shortage of ministers. There are good attendances at Christmas, Easter, and on Remembrance Sunday, although the Harvest Thanksgiving is no longer the special occasion it was in the past. Church organisations such as bible class and Woman’s Guild no longer exist, although efforts are always made to keep a Sunday school going.

Most baptisms now take place during the church services, a change from the past when many were conducted at home, or in the home of the parents. Recently, more marriages took place in church rather than in the manse or vestry, which was common in the past. From 1978, the proclamation of banns in church or on the church notice board was not legally necessary; initial concern that the connection between church and marriage might be lost has proved unfounded. There has been a marked decline in the numbers of young people joining the church by profession of faith.

In 1965 the church was repainted, re-carpeted and lightened by the removal of the chancel rails and the curtaining of the dark screen at the west end. More recently, some pews were removed from the back of the church to make it possible for the congregation to meet after the service. A special exhibition was mounted in 1979 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the building of the church.

Since 1987, a Christmas carol concert has been given by the Stenton Singers under the direction of Lynda Jeffrey; a collection is made for a given charity each year; almost £10,000 has been raised since the choir’s inception. In 1991, over £10,000 was raised speedily and easily for the repair of the church tower, which perhaps indicates that the church still has a place in the community, and a support that goes well beyond that of the active membership.

1916-49 Hugh Skinner MacKenzie
1949-56 Walter Chalmers Smith Angus
Stenton manse sold
28 April 1957 Stenton and Whittingehame linked under Whittingehame minister
1957-62 Arthur Roy Stark
1963-71 William Roy Sanderson
1969 Stenton glebe and barns sold
1974 Stenton and Whittingehame linked with Prestonkirk (East Linton)
1974-83 Kenneth Grant Hughes
1986-98 James B. Lawson
30 September 1999 union of Stenton, Whittingehame & Prestonkirk as Traprain parish
2000 Howard J. Haslett