History

The present Luss Parish Church building was constructed in 1875 and underwent a major restoration programme in 2001. More than £900,000 was spent on this restoration with major contributions from Historic Scotland, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Dumbarton Enterprise and Argyll and Bute Council. More than £100,000 was raised by the small local congregation. There has, however, been a Church on this site since the year 510 AD, and in three years time the congregation will celebrate the one-thousand-five-hundredth anniversary of the founding of Luss Church by the Celtic Saint, MacKessog (a nick-name which means ‘little spear’). Recent archaeological works in preparation for the new golf course on the banks of Loch Lomond have discovered Christian remains which substantiate Luss’s claim to fifteen hundred years of continuous Christian presence here. During the year of the recent restoration the congregation was unable to use the Church building for worship. Determined to gain from this opportunity, we drew up a programme which reflected the priorities which the Kirk Session had identified. In order to create closer links with our partner congregation in Arrochar it was decided that on the first Sunday of each month the Luss congregation would travel to Arrochar to worship there. To keep the flag flying in Luss, the service on the second Sunday of each month was held in the village hall here. On the third Sunday of each month, to enable us to build links with other congregations and to learn from their way of doing things, the congregation got into cars and visited different congregations within the presbytery (asking for an invitation beforehand meant that we were usually offered lunch as well!) On the final Sunday of each month we did extravagant things – a service on a Loch Lomond cruise ship, a service in the open air at the Pulpit Rock, a service in the Coffee Shop, and so on. What a lot we learned! Luss Parish Church remains a small congregation – there are around one hundred people living in our village and slightly over four hundred living in the parish according to the latest census figures – but during the course of a year more than seven hundred and fifty thousand visitors come to our village and many of them to our Church and Pilgrimage Centre. During the course of this year, for the third year in succession, we have married people from more than forty different countries and, almost without exception, these people have worshipped with us on a Sunday morning. It is quite usual for there to be several couples who have been married here present with us on a Sunday morning. Sunday morning services are broadcast live all around the world on the internet and we have a special link with those who sail from Faslane and those who serve in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and are often to be found in the most dangerous places in the world. The congregation understands its role in welcoming the stranger in our midst. We have been helped by the strands of the Church Without Walls report’s thinking. Welcoming strangers is clearly a Biblical injunction, it is appropriate here in Luss in a way which is almost unique, it uses the skills which local folk have developed over the years through involvement with visitors and bed-and-breakfast businesses – and it is always about friendship. New technology has opened up alternative ways of making relationships with visitors real and profitable and our small congregation is enjoying discovering new ways of being the Church in a new century.