Tag Archives: Crichton Memorial Church

Brawling at the Baptism (or Kicking at the Christening)

Charlie Chaplain’s Tales




X…. & Y….. were long term clients at the old Crichton Royal Hospital here in Dumfries.

They were virtually inseparable and the best of buddies….. most of the time.

Every Sunday morning there was a half-hour service of worship in the magnificent Church on site, and both would attend most weeks…. but never on time; having sung the first hymn, during the prayer that followed, the door would be flung open with an almighty crash, and in would come the two amigos.

One of them – and this was during the prayer, remember – in a loud voice would greet the congregation with a booming “HULLO!!!”

Luckily, my prayers there were extemporised, so I was able to stop in mid-flow, and welcome them (as did the others present)

It was also usually their custom, just as I began the Homily, to get up and walk out – with a wave from one of them and the shouted valediction, “Byee!!”

Now, we had occasional Baptisms administered during these Sunday Services – the babies of hospital staff members, or the new grandchildren of NHS workers.

On one particular Sunday, one side of the Kirk was almost full with family and friends gathered for the administration of the Sacrament.

For once, the two pals were early, and sat on the other side of the aisle from the Baptismal party and guests.

Something must have been said or done, but within minutes of their arrival, an amazingly vicious and brutal punch-up kicked off.

And “kicked off it did” ….. and how!

Spilling out of their seats, the two guys ended up in the aisle beside the gobsmacked visitors who certainly weren’t expecting this cabaret of violence.

There was a look of horror – indeed, fear in some cases – on their faces, as the two combatants got stuck into each other, punching, eye-gouging, banging heads off the floor, kicking each other.

One of our regulars (a member of staff) and I managed to separate them.  A phone call was made to their ward, and off they went – under escort.

When the dust settled, I welcomed everybody warmly “on this very special day”, “filled with joy and happiness” – and I wasn’t being ironic.

Fast forward to the following Sunday; at the end of the first hymn, the door was flung open, and the familiar voice rang out loudly, “HULLO!!!”  And in trooped the two chums – the very best friends, of course.

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Tom & Graham

Our beloved organist (at St John’s Scottish Episcopal Church and the Crichton Memorial Church, both Dumfries), Tom Carrick, had a total dislike of modern “praise items”, with a special loathing of the hymns of Graham Kendrick.

When Tom died about four years ago, someone at St John’s sorted through his music and hymnaries that he’d left beside the church organ there.

In one of Tom’s hymn books, following the printed words of a hymn written by his bette noir, there was the credit, by “Graham Kendrick”, then the words, “born 1950”.  Against this, Tom had penned this brief comment, “What a pity!”


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The Crichton Memorial Church


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November 30, 2014 · 19:12

The Show Must Go On

One of the Preacher’s nightmares is to have a dodgy stomach on a Sunday morning, prior to conducting Morning Worship (tip: never have a takeaway curry the night before)

One is sitting enthroned with less than an hour to go and wondering what to do.  It has happened a couple of times – but, mercifully, I’ve had Session Clerks who could take bits of the service, while I dashed off to the church loo.

Worse – an occasion when I had to drive some distance on a particular Sunday morning to preach for a vacant Charge in the Interim-Moderator’s Church.  We set off in good time, but the snow got heavier and heavier until the road was eventually blocked.  This was in the days before mobile (cell) phones – so I had to walk through the snow-drift to a public phone box to let the Minister know that I couldn’t make it.  Poor guy – this was  his first church and so he didn’t have any “oldies” from elsewhere to fall back upon.  I hope the Holy Spirit came to his rescue!  (I later revisited – and got the post)

While a hospital chaplain, I was paged some years ago by the company which now owns the Crichton Memorial Church in Dumfries.  It would be about three in the afternoon and the Minister who was supposed to conduct the marriage ceremony (scheduled to start then) at the Church hadn’t turned up.

Could I help out?

As I wore an open-neck shirt (for hygiene reasons) and chinos at work – I said that I would have to return home to get changed into something more appropriate for a wedding – and that it would take me half an hour.  The poor bride was in tears (her mum was in tears and – later – the wedding cake was in tiers!) but after what I hoped was a reassuring chat, we got started.

It transpired that the missing Minister (who didn’t believe in rehearsals) had assumed that the Wedding was on the Saturday.  The groom and the family were not best pleased – and it even made the local rag.

On auto-pilot:  my beloved father had osophegal  cancer and died in the Western Infirmary in Glasgow in the early evening of Saturday, 21st February 1976.  After spending some time at the Hospital, I took my mother back to the family home and spent some time with her and my Father’s brother and sister who were staying with her.

About ten o’clock, I drove the thirty-odd miles to where my Church was; had a quick bite to eat, and spent the next three hours writing my sermon.

I took the Sunday service at 11 o’clock that morning, before driving back to Bearsden immediately afterwards.  And I haven’t a clue what I preached about that day.

and here’s a repost on the same subject:

Christmas Eve 1974
The Meenister’s Log

Murder in the Cathedral – well, getting duffed up on the steps of the kirk……..

I went to my first charge in June 1974 – a pleasantly quiet village where most of the excitement at Christmastide was going to look at the lights (green, amber, red, amber, green – hell , this was confusing – but exhilarating)

Anyhow, it was Christmas Eve and my first watch night service as a newly fledged meenister.

I got to the church just as the pub across the road was scaling out (whiff of the barmaid’s apron £1; sook of the spittoon £1.25; half-pint of dregs only £1.30. – I made that up)

Mind you, a few weeks before draped from the window of one of the flats above was a bed sheet with the message: “Happy 27th birthday, Granny”

OK – to our tale of woe: some of the punters from that pub decided that it would be a good idea to rough up our church officer who had asthma.

I managed to get those youths out of the building, but they started to smash up some of the diamond-shaped stained-glass windows.

So this daft wee meenister followed them outside to remonstrate; they then got stuck into me and hit on the head with an object (at that point, unknown)

The Polis arrived very quickly, and, even though they knew who the miscreants were, were annoyed when I wouldn’t make a statement.

Our Session Clerk, the saintly Dr Tom Burnett (RIP) arrived at the same time as my heavily pregnant wife. Gossip started about a Christmas baby – Matthew was actually born at the beginning of February – but he was actually putting stitches in my head (without anesthetic!)

Then right on time, I stood in the pulpit and preached about peace and goodwill toward all men.

The next day – Christmas morning – I had a 10.30 service – and, before we stated, Davie the Beadle, went to the church safe, and dialed in the code (6-6-6) opened the door and produced a dented can of Tennant’s lager (for my older friends, these were the heavier metal tins with the ‘Lovelies’ depicted thereon) – the one that had caused me to have three stitches put in my head.

I later enjoyed that can of beer – because it was ………….. Thirst after righteousness!

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3 Baptismal Tales

Baptismal Tales


It was a glorious sunny Sunday and, at the small village church, we awaited the arrival of the baptismal party.

Father arrived first, followed a few minutes later by Mum.

“Where’s the baby?” I asked them.

Mother turned to Dad and said, “You were supposed to bring him while I finished getting dressed”

And he replied, “You said that you would bring him, once you were ready!”

Jokingly (never make jokes that folk with a humour by-pass don’t get), I said “Why don’t we just go ahead with the service and I’ll baptize  the wee fellow in absentia?”

“Oh, can you do that?”    (duh!)

Luckily, a few minutes later, the godmother appeared with the infant – explaining, “It was such a lovely day and I thought that we’d be too early – so I took Tyrone for a wee walk in his buggy”



A pre-baptism visit to the happy couple……

“And the baby’s name is?”

Big Izzy, the mother of the infant: “Kylie”

“Ah”, says I ‘ she ‘should be so lucky””

Father, wee Hughie, interrupts “That’s no her name!”

Big Izzy: “That’s whit’s on her birth certificate!”

Hughie: “Aye, ‘cos you registered her!  You know that I wanted her tae hae ma Ma’s name”

Izzy: “Yer Ma’s a horrible wee wummin”

Me:”What is your Mother’s name, Mr Torrance?”

Hughie: “Unity Nicola”

Izzy: “Unity?  Jeeze, that one would cause a fight in an empty room”

Hughie: “You know full well that she was cried Nicola or Nikki – she didnae like Unity”

Me: “OK, Mr and Mrs Torrance, you’ve got to come to a decision.  “You’ve ‘Got to be certainabout what we call Kylie”

Izzy: “to keep the peace, we’ll have his Mam’s names as middle names. ‘Cos, Hughie, I luv ya – but yer mother’s still an auld besom”.

So it was to be Kylie Unity Nicola Torrance

I left, my head ‘spinning around

It was only when I got home that I realised the full horror of what little Kylie was to be named: Kylie Unity Nicola Torrance – work it out yourselves from the initials

(verily I say unto you – the above story is true, apart from the large chunks that are pure fabrication!)



The Two Amigos (see below: post “Crichton Church Services” 13 July 2013) were the best of friends, but sometimes they would fall out…. and on this particular occasion, big time!

The Church was open to everyone, patients, staff, those who liked a half-hour early Sunday service  (9.15)

Occasionally, a nursing member of staff – usually from the Infirmary – would ask me to baptise their child or grandchild.

So one Sunday morning, here we all were – the Baptismal party and their family and friends – about 30 of them – sitting on the left hand side of the Church and all dressed in their finery.

I guess that most of the “guests” didn’t realise that this was the Church for the Crichton Royal Hospital which cared for those with mental health problems.

They soon did so!  The side door was violently flung open and in came the two amigos – late as usual.  No smiles nor waves this time; obviously, they had been bickering about something.

The bickering turned into squabbling.  The squabbling turned into pushing then punching.

And the two ended up in the aisle next to where the baptismal visitors were sitting.  They rolled about on the floor, walloping each other, gouging, strangling ……. to the horror of the folks next to them  (no doubt thinking, “What kind of Church is this?”)

We manged to separate them, their ward was phoned, and exeunt stage left by the vestry door.

And, nonplussed, I just carried on as if nothing had happened.

The next Sunday, we were all back to normal.  Crash – the door thrown open – the two pals enter – a wave, a grin and a big “Hello!” to the congregation.

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July 14, 2013 · 03:51



The Meenister and the Groom await the arrival of the Bride – at the Crichton Memorial Church, Saturday 13 July

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July 14, 2013 · 02:57

Crichton Memorial Church Services

from Charlie Chaplain’s Tales


Towards the end of its days as a mental health care hospital, there were perhaps only a couple of hundred patients on site at the Crichton Royal Hospital where I delivered spiritual care as chaplain – as well as conducting Sunday Worship for users and staff at the magnificent Crichton Memorial Church.

One particular Sunday, one the patients arrived late and sat right at the front (immediately below the lectern where I kept my notes)

He’d missed the Gospel Reading around which I was about to deliver a short homily.

Just into my address, I used the word “love”, at which he interrupted me by saying in a loud voice “Would that be Philia?”

“Eh, no – it’s ‘Agape‘” I replied…. and attempted to carry on.

“What’s the difference, then?” he interjected.

So – brief explanation from me

“How about loving my girlfriend?”

(I was tempted to say, “would like to be loving your girl friend, but I’m happily married!”) but answered, “that would be ‘Eros‘”

At this point, I literally tore up my notes and a dialogue about “Christian love” as found in the NT followed

It was a splendid service and I thoroughly enjoyed my intelligent and articulate friend’s intervention.

(a description of “Love” is at the bottom of this post)


Intervention 2

Just outside the Church were beautiful lawns on which (in those days) the helicopter pad was situated.  Helicopters are used to transfer seriously ill or injured (e.g. through a RTA incident) patients to or from the adjacent Infirmary.

One Sunday morning – during the Service – there could be heard the sound of helicopter blades whirling furiously above…..  and it was discovered that just as furiously below it was one of our clients armed with an umbrella trying to  “shoo” it away from landing (shouting loudly “B*gger Off!  B*gger Off!”


The two amigos were inseparable and came to the Church virtually every Sunday – and always late.

Usually I’d be in the middle of an extemporized prayer when the side door of the Church would be thrown open – loudly – and in they would come.

S. , the more vocal of the two would stand in front of the congregation, wave to them, and say “Hello” – to which everybody, myself included, responded in like manner.  They then would take their seats.  I would try to pick up the thread of the ad libbed  prayer, would follow this with a Scripture Reading then announce the next hymn (which would be followed by the Homily).

As I began to deliver this Address, after the singing, the two guys would get up and leave – before the aforementioned S. said “Goodbye” to the congregation, waved and with his pal made a noisy exit.

(maybe they had heard me preach before?!)

Church on the Crichton Campus, Dumfries, Scotland

Church on the Crichton Campus, Dumfries, Scotland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

              The Greek word for sensual love is   Eros 
            Greek word for family love is not specifically found in Scripture, examples of it are seen throughout the Bible.
             the type of love in the Bible that most Christians practice toward each other
             Agape is the highest of the four types of love in the Bible. Jesus Christ showed this kind of divine love to his Father and to all humanity.

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July 11, 2013 · 14:23