Celebrating 200 years of Sannox Church

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Sub-heading: Ambitious target to raise £200,000 to renovate former manse

The history and heritage of Sannox Church go back a long way and 2022 will be a significant year – the 200th anniversary of the completion of the original church and manse buildings.

On Sunday December 4 this significant heritage and the first 10 years of Sannox Christian Centre will be celebrated during a special afternoon gathering.

That day will also see the launch of Project 200 – a year marking the 200th anniversary and of fundraising to renovate the former manse – the last of the original buildings to be restored.

A key aim of Project 200 is to raise at least £200,000 to renovate the former manse adjoining the church to provide six more bed spaces, with the ambitious target of encouraging 1,000 people on Arran, in the UK and overseas to donate £200 each.

In 1800 James Haldane visited North Glen Sannox to bring the good news of Jesus to the glen.

A ‘spiritual awakening’ took place and people formed what we would now call a ‘house church’.

They worshipped in their homes and the Sannox open air for the next 16 years. In 1806 Alexander Mackay was sent to take care of the newly formed church.

He married a local girl, Janet Macmillan in 1809 and ministered at Sannox until his death in 1856.

In 1821 the Duke of Hamilton agreed to the congregation’s request for land for a church – which was built for £400.

It opened in 1822 and was the only church between Lamlash and Pirnmill.

In 1829 the Clearances came to Arran and North Glen Sannox people were on the first boat to Canada which sailed that April from Lamlash Bay.

After the congregation left, the church continued in various forms.

Between 1874 and 1878 Rev Blacklock ran a ‘Highland College’ there, training young Gaelic-speaking men as evangelists who travelled far and wide, many founding Baptist or Congregational churches.

In 1878 the Rev Allan McDougall was ordained as Pastor and ministered at Sannox for 54 years until 1932.

The Rev McDougall’s son was Pastor of the church from 1962 to 1966. After that various visiting ministers and local people kept the church alive.

By 2012, when it was purchased by the newly-formed charity Sannox Christian Centre, the church and adjoining manse had been left unused for several years and were looking shabby and unloved.

There was much tidying up, clearing out and cleaning to prepare the little church for a reopening service that Easter Sunday – a service of celebration and thanksgiving with folk from Arran and many parts of Scotland.

Another building on the site, Dundarroch Cottage, was the first to be fully renovated.

With the help of many volunteers and generous donations, by the end of 2015 it was transformed into attractive self-catering accommodation with four en-suite bedrooms for up to nine guests, named McDougall, MacMillan, MacKinnon and McKillop after Arran families with links to Sannox, plus a lounge, dining area and kitchen.

In the same period a gatehouse (office and prayer room), laundry room and tool shed were added to the site.

A ‘Rhythm of Prayer’ in the morning, at lunch time and late afternoon was established based on Celtic Christian principles.

A large oak Celtic cross was erected behind the church. The choice of wood linked with Dundarroch which means ‘Hill of the Oaks’.

A programme of events and hosting was started to welcome and accommodate the rising number of guests and day visitors.

Close links with the community have been formed, including taking part in Arran Open Studios and the Corrie Christmas Fair.

Between 2019 and 2021 the church was completely renovated to a high standard with its own kitchen and toilets.

Recently re-opened, it now provides a modern, beautiful space in which to worship, pray and meet together in God’s presence.

Fibre broadband has been installed and in 2022 the aim is to start live streaming the rhythm of prayer and some events.

From 2pm to 4.30pm on Saturday December 4, Arran residents and friends from further afield are invited to gather at Sannox to celebrate the re-opening of the church and hear about the Project 200 plans.

The afternoon will be a mix of information sharing and discussion over refreshments, a short presentation on Project 200 with some materials to take away and an informal thanksgiving service.

Project 200 will include a historical exhibition in the church.

Existing links with descendants of the Arran families who left in the 1800s will be developed and it is hoped some of them will visit during the year.

Island schools are being invited to be part of the commemorations in various ways.

A programme of teaching and other events is in preparation with a special emphasis on a week of celebration in June, and in August Sannox will once again be an Arran Open Studios venue.

For details on how to donate and for more on Project 200 and on the overall vision of Sannox Christian Centre, visit the Sannox website www.sannox.org/project-200-2


The Sannox Christian Centre as it will look when completed. NO_B49sannox01

Inside the renovated church where the acoustics are superb. 01_B49sannox02

A stained glass cross in the church vestibule. 01_B49sannox03

The renovated church with the manse in the background. 01_B49sannox04

An exterior view of the derelict manse building. 01_B49sannox05

The inside of the manse at present. 01_B49sannox06

A computer generated image of how the church and manse exterior will look when all renovation is complete. NO_B49sannox07

Designer’s ‘cut-away’ impression of what part of the renovated manse interior will look like. NO_B49sannox08

Project 200 logo NO_B49sannox09