In 1989 a number of this congregation left the Free Presbyterian Church for the ecclesiastical wilderness of the APC. They continued to occupy the church and manse although they had no moral or legal right to do so. The true Free Presbyterians had to worship in such halls as were available. This state of affairs was painful to me, especially as I had preached at the opening of this church in the early 1960s.
When we recovered our property in December 2000 we were naturally very pleased but, when the property was examined, it was clear that the APCs had allowed both church and manse to fall into a state of disrepair. We were faced with a bill of at least £105 000 to put our buildings in good order. I shall make no further comment on this inexcusable conduct. Our Deacons’ Court applied to the Finance Committee for a grant and loan to effect the necessary repairs. The repairs then proceeded under the vigorous and efficient superintendence of Mr Ian MacKinnon, Onich.
At the Communion last April, we rejoiced that our church and manse were now in a good state of repair; indeed, some of the visitors to the Communion stayed in the manse. The Sabbath evening service on this solemn occasion was conducted by Rev D J MacDonald. A minister from Canada on a visit to Scotland was present and, at the end of the service, told the elders that his attendance there was the highlight of his visit. In view of the encouragements we experienced, the Kirk Session resolved that there should be another Communion in this congregation on the third Sabbath of September, DV.
In the meantime, the APC congregation have begun to attend the Free Church. The following is part of a report, in The Free Church Record, on the special service held to commemorate the semi-jubilee of the Free Church minister in Fort William: “Mr Donald MacNicol, from the Fort William APC congregation, who worship with the Fort William Free Church congregation, concluded the evening by speaking warmly and enthusiastically about Mr Mair’s ministry and wished him God’s richest blessing on his ongoing ministry”. Since this statement, and his presence on such an occasion, make it clear that Mr MacNicol has now laid aside any pretence of continuing to be a Free Presbyterian, perhaps his conscience will provoke him to return to their rightful owners the Deacons’ Court and Kirk Session Records of the Free Presbyterian congregation in Fort William. He has already been asked to do so, and this would be an appropriate time for him to act properly in this particular matter.
(Rev) Donald MacLean, Interim Moderator