Building a House of Prayer in Arran
Something way beyond our expectations is being birthed with the unfolding vision of Sannox Christian Centre on Arran.
We see the Lord bringing together people whom He has been equipping and envisioning, throughout their lives, to build and be part of something He is creating for such a time as this.
We know that the former Congregational Church at Sannox was built in 1822 by a people who had experienced an outpouring of God’s spirit in the early 1800s. There were, however, emerging signs of a worshipping people here long before that time. Across the water from Sannox on North East Arran lies the Isle of Bute with the Celtic monastic site of St Cathan, a contemporary of Columba, and his nephew St Blane. In its day, it was said to be every bit as important as Iona as a place of Christian learning and training for evangelism. The Clyde Estuary became the highway through which these early pioneers travelled, taking the good news with them into the central belt of Scotland.
The Clearances of 1826 saw many of the Sannox congregation moved from the Island, with many settling in Canada. We have made contact with two different groups of Arran descendants who are very interested in the rebuilding of Sannox. Later, in the mid 19th century, Sannox was, for a time, a training school for Gaelic speaking evangelists who took the Gospel of grace to the Highlands and Islands and beyond.
Having prayed on this site since 1990 I felt led, with others, to write out a vision for a House of Prayer at Sannox in 2009. We were unaware that other people were doing the same, although they did not yet know about Sannox. In March 2011 we were brought together and a year later we owned the property through the generous donations and interest free loans gifted by God’s people. The Whirl-wind began! One year into the vision we have seen people drawn from the four corners of the earth. They just turn up at the door or are found standing beside the road looking for help. Latvians, Americans, Israelis, Czechoslovakians, French, Chileans, South Africans, Canadians and lots of English, Irish and Welsh as well as Scots. Some know where they are coming to and others just happen by. The Nations are coming to be blessed and to bless us.
Our plans for restoring and developing the centre were passed by the planners without any objections or conditions – unheard of by our Architect, Project Director and Trustee, Stuart Carr from Angus. Stuart can be found on site during the week with his sleeves rolled up, building and restoring the accommodation block. He can be stopped for tea and a chat anytime – so please visit.
Stuart is also on the look out for volunteers to help him with the task. George Hazel, our other Visionary and founding Trustee, travels the world with his work in city planning and is now also busy responding to invitations to share the story of Sannox. George has been carrying this vision for 40+ years and was challenged by the rhythm of prayer and lifestyle practised in the early Celtic Church and felt God’s heart was to see this restored to our Nation. At Sannox we have adopted a Rhythm of Prayer and are presently using Northumbrian Community resources but seek to develop our own prayers and worship in time.
As we seek the Ancient Paths at Sannox, we are exploring the roots of Christianity way back through the Revivals into the days of the Celtic Saints and the birthing of Christianity. We have taken on board the core values of hospitality + community and of honour + blessing. The early Celtic saints established themselves in communities which became centres of healing, hospitality and education for the people around. Can we, in Sannox and Arran, recreate something of this model? Just as no denominations or doctrines that created divisions existed in those days, we ask people to leave these things outside our gate for their time at Sannox. We want to create a place where people can come to rest in God’s presence and leave restored – back to fulfil God’s calling on their lives, taking with them the ability to operate out of His Rest.
We need help and support to fulfil this wonderful plan as it is bigger than any of us.
Our website www.sannox.org contains information on how you can become involved or get in touch with us. There is also a link to the You Tube fly through of the planned developments. Or join us at our Open Day on Saturday 27th July 2013 where you can meet those already involved and see the site and plans while sharing Hospitality with us.
Barbara McNeice, Trustee.