One community is a former council estate and the other is a new and enlarging neighbourhood of middle class people in the main. Needless to say, both communities need the gospel, and the congregation is currently considering various methods of evangelism in order to reach them.
In 2005, the congregation also began a partnership with Duthil-Dores Free Church, which explains its current name of Greyfriars Stratherrick. Therefore the congregation has both urban and rural communities to think about. The church building in Inverness is very suitable for evangelistic activities as well as for other meetings and for youth work, with very good catering facilities and several rooms. Worship services are held every Sunday in Inverness and Stratherrick.
The congregation has a healthy mix of young and old, with about thirty children attending its Sunday School and crèche. On Sunday mornings, the congregation in Inverness can number about 140 (including children), and about 80 attend regularly on Sunday evenings. The midweek meeting in Greyfriars usually numbers about 60. Numbers in Stratherrick at present are about a dozen. In the combined congregation, there are about 85 members and 40 adherents.
The current minister is Malcolm Maclean and he came here in 2009 after ministering for several years in Scalpay. He is from Inverness and is familiar with many aspects of the town’s life. There are ten other elders and seven deacons; the congregation also benefits from the wise counsel and other contributions of Rev. D. K. Macleod, the retired minister of Kingussie Free Church, who is one of the elders.
The congregation in Inverness has several meetings each week for children and teenagers. A weekly Mother and Toddler’s meeting also takes place as well as a monthly meeting for young mothers. There is a monthly meeting for retired persons which involves a small lunch and a short address. A fortnightly Bible Study for those in their twenties has been very helpful. Women for Mission meet each month and is well supported. A reading group goes through a particular title monthly and meets towards the end of the month to discuss it. In Stratherrick, there is a weekly youth event and a monthly Bible study taking place. Christianity Explored, or a similar evangelistic programme, will begin in the near future.
The congregational website (www.greyfriarschurch.org) attracts a substantial number of visits each week. It is updated weekly with audio of its regular Sunday and weekday services (the minister also provides notes of his sermons) and with information about what is going on in the congregation. Items from the weekly newsletter are also available on the website. The site will be developed in the future to include personal testimonies of members as well as other material.
Over the years the congregation has had its ups and downs. It lost a sizeable proportion in 1999 when both members and adherents left. During the ministry of Dr. John Ross (2002–2008), through the goodness of God, the congregation recovered numerically to round about the number it had before the division. Since then, it has enjoyed a small but steady growth, for which it is grateful to God.
The congregation gives well financially and is allowed to have an assistant. Consideration is being given to this role at present as to how it should be utilised in taking the gospel to the community around the church, to both teenagers and older people.
As is common with all churches, our biggest challenge is taking the gospel to others. Having said that, the most effective method of evangelism is simply to tell people about Jesus. We also face the challenge of maintaining spiritual disciplines of corporate prayer and developing our already constructive means of fellowship. In order for all this to happen, we would value the prayers of other congregations, both within the Free Church and beyond.