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On the 16th September 2016 Anstruther Parish Church and Cellardyke Parish Church Scotland were formally joined together as one church at a worship service led by St Andrews Presbytery. The combined churches are now called St Ayle Church and both building complexes remain in use to develop outreach and serve the community. St. Ayle remains linked to Kilrenny Church. Both churches are developing the spiritual lives of individuals and practically changing church structures to make worship more current and relevant to the needs of today.
Why St Ayle? Who was St Ayle?
(584 – 650) also known as St Ayeul, St Aile or Agil. He was the son of Agnoald, one of the principal lords at the court of young Childebert II (570-95), King of Austrasia and Burgundy (Butler, 1866). St Ayle’s parents, by the advice of St Columban, consecrated him to religion in the monastery of Luxeu. He studied under the Abbot St Eustasius and distinguished himself by his passion, humility and self-discipline. St Ayle and St Eustatius were sent to preach in Bavaria in 617. On their return, St Ayle governed the monastery of Rebais, in the diocese of Meaux, near Paris France. He was appointed First Abbot in 636. He died at 66 in 650 (Anon., 2002).
There has been no historical account indicating that St Ayle went to Fife, although there have been chapels named after him. It is thought that the Abbey of Balmerino possessed some relic of St Ayle. In 318, the lord of Anstruther, William de Candela gave a piece of land on the site where the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther stands, to the Cistercian Abby of Balmerino, North Fife. A community of fishermen, coopers and brewers developed in the area and a small chapel was built in the 15th century to serve their spiritual needs. This chapel was called St Ayle’s and was located on the north side of the Fisheries Museum (Carr, 1960s). With the reformation, the Chapel of St Ayle discontinued its religious function but was only demolished in the 1850s, when it was used as a store-house. However, a window of St Ayle’s chapel was preserved and integrated into the north wall of the Fisheries Museum where it can still be seen.
We today, like St Ayle in the past, are most influenced by a loving God who sent his son Jesus to live among us. Psalm 33 gives us words of hope and strength in the last few verses, which say: “Watch this, God’s eye is on those who respect Him, the ones who are looking for his love. He’s ready to come to their rescue in difficult times, in lean times he keeps body and soul together. We’re depending on God, he’s everything we need”.
Christians gain strength in worshipping, learning and serving together. This is faith at work, not outdated ways of being church, but finding ways to show and share the love of Jesus. The apostle Paul writes in the Bible that we should clothe ourselves with Christ. The original Greek word used for “put on” was the same word used for “brooch”. So our aim as a church is to “put on” love, a love that clasps us, embraces us and holds us together as God’s people. No one who comes to church is perfect, in fact most outside the church have an image of change and decay, if it was like that none of us would be there. The ancient writer of Proverbs noted: “a cheerful heart makes a cheerful face”- we hope that in church today you will find cheerfulness breaking through... In these changing times, it’s good to have a heartbeat of Hope. Through Jesus we can lift our eyes from how things are and see them as to how God wants them to be. If you want to know more, please contact us.
Rev Arthur Christie
Charities Registered in Scotland: SCO00181
Linked with Kilrenny Church of Scotland
Charities Registered in Scotland: SCO02653