Blackhall St Columba’s Church of Scotland, Edinburgh





Blackhall St Columba’s is a suburban church (single charge with an unrestricted call) situated in the north west of Edinburgh. This active Congregation is in vacancy for the first time in 23 years and we are keen to build on our past, by seeking a Minister of God’s calling for today and tomorrow. We see our mission as being to bring people to a personal knowledge of the love of Christ and to spread the Good News joyfully in a variety of ways.

We envisage a preaching and pastoral ministry which will help foster new links with the Parish and Community, and we look forward to working in friendship, partnership and shared leadership with our new Minister to face the many challenges and opportunities of the future as covered in the recent Local Church Review.

We believe this profile gives an accurate view of an active and relatively healthy congregation but we are far from complacent and recognise that for us to continue to fulfil God's purpose in the years to come will require the inspired leadership of a man or woman of God with their own ideas of how to take us forward into the third decade of the third millennium.

The following profile gives a summary of the current activities of the church but we as a congregation are open to adopting new initiatives and modifying or dropping existing activities as the new minister exercises his or her leadership of us in God's work. One of the main challenges for Blackhall St Columba's is to bring those with busy working and family lives more fully into the life of the church and its community of Christian fellowship. Recognising that there are multiple calls on the spare time of this vital section of our society the church would seek to work with the new minister to bring organised Christianity back into their lives, potentially by adjusting the pattern or format of services.

The Parish Profile is available from the website: or from the Clerk to the Nominating Committee:
Mrs Catriona Johnston Tel: 0131 332 4431 or email:
to whom applications and recommendations should be sent no later than Sunday 31 May 2015.






Blackhall St Columba’s Church of Scotland, Edinburgh

  • History

  • The Parish

  • The Parish of Blackhall St Columba’s lies just to the north west of the city centre at the foot of Corstorphine Hill and astride the A90 Queensferry Road. Much of the Parish was developed during the inter-war years with bungalows and some flats in the Ravelston area together with some more recent houses. Local shops and businesses together with the Craigleith Retail Park, which includes major retail outlets, provide the economic activity in the area.
    Schooling in the area is provided by Blackhall Primary School and by Davidson’s Mains Primary School. Secondary education is provided by The Royal High School. Only Blackhall Primary School is located within the Parish. The Minister is Chaplain to Blackhall Primary School. The Mary Erskine School, part of the independent Erskine Stewart’s Melville Schools, is also in the Parish.

    In the 2011 Census the Parish population is recorded as 4,675 people living in 1,967 houses.   The population structure varies considerably from the average for the Edinburgh Presbytery area and Scotland as a whole. It is a more mature population with few students and young adults (16 to 44 years), a growing number of young families (the local primary school has been extended several times) but significantly higher numbers in the older (45+ years) age groups.
    Further information is at


  • Our Mission Statement
  • We believe God’s purpose for Blackhall St Columba’s Church is to bring people to a personal knowledge of the love of Christ and to spread the Good News joyfully through caring, worshipping and serving the Parish, Nation and the World.


  • Vision Statement
  • Our Vision is to seek to fulfil God’s purpose. We seek:-

    In all this we seek to enthusiastically pursue God’s purpose.


  • Worship
  • is a blend of traditional and contemporary hymns and choruses with Powerpoint in use for the words and for other purposes. Musical accompaniment is provided by pipe organ (rebuilt 2005) or piano and we are open to developing our worship further.

    At present services are as follows.

    11am Every Sunday there is a Traditional form of Service. Members are involved in readings and prayers and some children’s addresses.

    Full Communion Services are held in October, February and June at 9.30am, 11am and 3pm. The Sacrament of Communion is observed after Morning Worship on the last Sunday of most other months.

    9.30am An informal Family Service takes place on the first Sunday of some months (not every month) and every week in July and August. Families assist at these Services.

    8pm Sunset Services take place in July and August

    The programme of additional summer services is under review.

    Fortnightly midweek informal Services organised by volunteers are held at noon on Wednesdays in the small hall from September to May. A rota of car drivers provides transport for those unable to get there independently






    Easter - Maundy Thursday and Good Friday Services are held at 7pm, Easter Morning Service at 11am with Communion. There is also an Early Rise Easter Service at 8am at the Tower on Corstorphine Hill followed by bacon rolls in the Church halls.












    Christmas - Brass band Service of Carols, Choir Service of Lessons and Carols, Carol singing at Sainsbury’s, Christmas Eve Family Service at 7pm, Watchnight Service and a Christmas Day Service at 11am.








    Annual Services - Harvest

    Festival, Back to Church Sunday, Remembrance Sunday, Youth Organisations’, Cradle Roll, Welcoming New Members, Christian Aid, Challengers and Open Door Promotion Service (our Sunday School), Service linked to the Charity being supported for the year, Eco Service.


    CDs are made of the Sunday Service and delivered to those who cannot attend and ask for them.


    Services are held in local Care Homes (sometimes with Communion) and at the local Primary School as well as in members’ houses should there be a need.

  • Christian Education
  • Challengers (see our Sunday School, Open Door (our group for young teenagers), 2 Bible study groups, an Alpha group, New Communicants Classes, and Daily Bible readings are available for members.


  • Music in Church
  • The Director of Music is the Organist and Choir Master. At the 11am Sunday Morning Service (except July and August) the Senior Choir contributes introits, anthems, with 4 part harmonies for the hymns where appropriate and the Organist plays voluntaries. The Junior Singers (Primary 3 to Primary 7 children) and Sing Aloud, our praise group, occasionally take part during Services. The Congregation is highly enthusiastic about the music provided by these groups of people.

  • Children
  • The Cradle Roll Convener liaises with baptismal families for the Sacrament Service of Baptism. Thereafter a team of volunteers keep in contact with Cradle Roll families from baptism to age 3 when they become old enough to join Challengers.

    There is a Crèche for children (birth – age 3) whose parents wish to attend the 11am Service. However, children are welcome to attend the Service and small activity packs are provided to help to entertain them during the Service.

    There is a summer Christian holiday club, Venture Week, in August for primary age children. This is very well attended.


  • Pastoral Care
  • Pastoral Care is a very important element in the life of Blackhall St Columba’s and its members value it highly. Our past practice has been that the Minister, with the support of Elders and the Pastoral Care Committee, visits the sick, bereaved and housebound and any others who need a visit. Elders are asked to identify people in their Districts who need to be visited.  The Pastoral Care Group also visit the housebound. A list of visits is regularly given to Elders and provided at Session Meetings.

    There is an active Prayer Chain whose members offer prayers for those in the Parish, who request it either directly or through their Elder, and for the wider world.


  • Membership
  • The Roll has 750 members and a weekly Congregation of about 200 to 220. Members are encouraged to complete a Commitment Card showing how they wish to contribute to the life of the Church in terms of time and talent.


  • Governance
  • St Columba’s operates the Model Deed of Constitution with a separate Kirk Session and Congregational Board.

    Kirk Session has 69 Elders with Sub Committees for Outreach, Pastoral Care, Youth, Communication, Stewardship and Eco. Most Elders have Districts, some outwith the Parish, and there is a Postal District (Members of the Congregation in the postal district receive the magazine, letters reminding them about Communion with their Communion card and a Christmas card. All letters enquire about their wellbeing and encourage them to get in touch if they do not attend services). Elders also visit the organisations which use the Church Halls annually to show active support for the groups.

    Congregational Board comprises 30 members: 15 who are elected by the Congregation to serve for 3 years, plus an equal number of Elders appointed by the Kirk Session for a similar 3 year period. 


  • Finances
  • As a large contributing Church we have always met our Ministries and Mission obligations. In addition to the normal givings the Congregation has provided £200K for a new Organ and £300K for Roof and Stonework refurbishment since 2002 and over £200k for specific charities in the last 20 plus years. There are retiring collections at Communion, Christmas, Easter, and Remembrance and for some World emergencies.
    General income is provided by givings, hall lettings and legacies. The Church is taking part in the National Stewardship campaign and is in Year 3, where the emphasis is money.


  • Staff
  • We employ a Director of Music, Church Secretary, Church Officer and a Church Cleaner.


  • Communication
  • We publish the Blackhall Bulletin, a quarterly magazine for the Parish and Kirk News, a magazine for our Church members in the other months. Both have volunteer Editors. These magazines are available on the first Sunday of the month and are delivered by the District Elder or their Visitor. When District Elders are aware of new households in the Parish a PIP (Parish Information Pack) pack is delivered to give information about the Church and the local area. A ‘Who’s Who’ leaflet (September) gives contact details for the various activities taking place within the halls. A ‘What’s On’ leaflet (March and September) gives a calendar of events and general information about our Church.

    The Church has a website which gives details of the activities taking place within the Church and halls


  • Administration
  • The Church Secretary (who works on weekday mornings) runs a well equipped Church office with computers and copying equipment.


  • Activities
  • Blackhall is an Eco and Fairtrade Congregation with a regular Fairtrade stall held on the 2nd Sunday of the month, and we support Fresh Start (a homelessness charity run by Edinburgh churches see ) with weekly collections of goods and an annual retiring collection. Some members also volunteer for Fresh Start in a variety of ways.
    The Cameo Club (Come And Meet Each Other) meets every 2nd Friday Morning. It is an organisation which brings people who can no longer get out on their own to a coffee morning get together for a chat and some form of entertainment. The local medical practice or any member of the Congregation can suggest people who may benefit from this. People are brought to the Church halls by volunteer drivers and then taken home again afterwards.

    The WATCH Committee (Working Altogether Caring and Helping through the Cross organises a Christmas Fair and other events during the last six months of the year with all the proceeds going to our chosen charity.

    The Christian Aid Committee organises the annual house-to-house collection and holds a Service and occasional other events to support Christian Aid for the first six months of the year.

    Refreshments are served after Morning Service giving folk a chance to meet and welcome new people and visitors informally. In the summer this takes place between Morning Services.

    Welcome Teams are at the door to greet people to Sunday Services, they hand out Orders of Service, and where necessary, help people to their seats. They also collect residents from Cairn Housing, our local Care Home. There are wheelchairs for anyone who needs them.  Beadling and Sound System Volunteers operate at every Service on a rota basis.

    The weekly fresh flowers are donated by members of the Congregation and arranged either by them or by one of the Flower Team. After the Services they are delivered to those who are unwell, bereaved or celebrating a particular major occasion, by teams who work on a rota basis.
    There are driving rotas for the 11am Sunday Service and the Midweek Service as well as one for the Cameo Club. Recently a Taxi Fund was set up to assist with this service.

    Various coffee mornings are held on Saturdays throughout the year. We run an annual Church picnic and an annual golf outing

  • Mission Partnership
  • With Pirie Mission in South Africa, was started in 2006 and there have been several visits between the two Congregations, and some £10,000 + has been raised by St. Columba’s and sent to them to help build a multipurpose church.


  •  Community Groups
  • The church halls are well used by both Church and Community goups including the Youth uniformed organisations, the Guild and various other organisations. There are no other community halls in the Parish. 


  • Church Connections
  • Blackhall also provides support for the neighbouring Drylaw Parish Church in the shape of two Assessor Elders at present, although other jobs, including Finance and Property Conveners, have been undertaken in the past. The Session Clerk sits on the Finance Committee of Edinburgh Presbytery. 

  • Community Connections
  • Blackhall Bulletin magazine (delivered to every household in the Parish, several shops, the school, the bank, the library, the local hotel and all members outwith the Parish and posted to those who wish to maintain a connection with Blackhall), PIP packs, Sports Day, Cameo Club. The Church is represented on the local Community Council.

  • Property
  • Church, Halls, Manse and Church Officer’s House (rented out at present). Maintenance of Church buildings, halls, manse and Church Officer’s house is up-to-date and under continual review by the Fabric Committee.

    Church Halls There are three halls, a fully equipped stage, a projection room, storage facilities, a kitchen and toilets within the Church hall building adjoining the Church. The Church Officer supervises the care and use of these facilities with the assistance of the Church Cleaner.


    3 Public Rooms, 3 Bedrooms, Study, Kitchen and Utility Room with white goods, Bathroom, Cloakroom with Toilet, Double Glazing, Gas Central heating, Garage and on street parking in an area currently with no parking controls. It is situated about 500 yards from the church.





    Church Office
    Columba Road, Edinburgh, EH4 3QU

    Tel: 0131 332 4431
    Further information can be obtained from the Interim Moderator Rev Dr Alistair Donald     E-mail address:

    and the Clerk to the Nominating Committee      
    Mrs Catriona Johnston E-mail address: