By JEFFARAH GIBSON
Tribune Features Writer
IN response to what has been a growing demand for a versatile worship experience, St Andrew’s Presbyterian Kirk, one of the oldest churches in the Bahamas, has added a new nightly service every Sunday.
Since its launch back in September, the Kirk@7 service has received a tremendous response from worshippers. Pastoral intern Enrico Bain said the church has worshipped in the “traditional” way for some time, and its leadership believed a more flexible format would be more inclusive and welcoming, particularly to those with no background in the Presbyterian Church and no background with churches at all.
“We also noted that very few churches held evening services and so we felt we could offer something unique, particularly in the downtown area. Our morning attendance is 200 plus and we are 75-80 per cent full, and so we felt that a sensible way to pursue further growth was by providing another worship option, at a time we think persons would like and with a style we know they would love,” said Mr Bain.
The Kirk@7 has been in the making for some time now, and back in September the leadership and congregation made it an official part of services.
“Kirk@7 was designed to accommodate a number of different people groups. The church recognised that there are many people that may not be able to make it to church on a Sunday morning, due to work or other circumstances, may have lost connection with a church, or don’t have a church home, or simply have a taste for a more contemporary worship style. Whatever category one may fall into, Kirk@7 was designed for you and is committed to offering dynamic biblical teaching and contemporary worship music in a style we think you’ll like at a time we know you’d love,” said Mr Bain.
Though many churches have an evening worship service, what makes the Kirk@7 unique, he explained, is not only its significant historic presence, but its evangelic nature in its commitment to accommodate the working class and reaching the de-churched.
“The response to the second service has been phenomenal. We really didn’t expect so many people to receive the service as warmly as they have. It seems as if persons were waiting for this level of diversity from the Kirk as well as wanting to be apart of a family but longing for a different experience. It has been commonly described as ‘refreshing, ‘beautiful’ and a ‘great fit’ for many. It has attracted not only old members but new faces as well,” said Mr Bain.
While many churches may like to offer their congregation a unique and non-traditional way of worshipping, some of them are simply not in the position to do so, he explained.
“Not every church has the demand – caused by full morning services – or the resources – human and financial – to do multiple services. So we pray that every congregation would make the most of what they have.”
In addition to Mr Bain, Jude Vilma, musician A’Leithia Sweeting, along with Pastor Bryn MacPhail are responsible for Kirk@7.
“Combined with a healthy financial position, the Kirk felt experimenting with an evening service made good sense,” said Mr Bain.
The Kirk (Scottish word for “church”) is a 207-year-old church in downtown Nassau. St Andrew’s Kirk is the third oldest congregation in New Providence and worships in the second oldest church building. For 200 years the Kirk was affiliated with the Church of Scotland. In 2010, the Kirk transitioned to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, a US-based denomination.