A PUB in the Scottish Highlands has been donated to a diocese of the Scottish Episcopal Church, to enable it to continue to offer monthly worship services in a remote area, besides providing a traditional tipple.
The Crask Inn, Lairg, in Sutherland, will continue to run as a pub, but will also now offer its seven bedrooms as a retreat centre for people wanting a place of sanctuary in “stunning surroundings”, the Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness, the Rt Revd Mark Strange, said.
Bishop Strange said that the Church was overwhelmed by the generosity of the pub landlords, Michael and Kai Geldard; they had put it on the market, but then felt called to give it to the Church instead.
For the past three years, the inn has become home to a new congregation, which meets once a month. It was set up by the Priest-in-Charge of St Andrew’s, Tain, the Revd Christopher Mayo, who said that people travelled up to 100 miles for the monthly service.
He said: “At last month’s eucharist we were full, and had people standing out in the hallway. It’s a congregation for people in a remote area, and for those who may be reticent to step inside a traditional church building.
”It started with half a dozen people, and now we have over 30 each month.”
The pub will be run by Douglas Campbell, a eucharistic minister and assistant to Bishop Strange, and his wife, Denise, who is a GP. The inn is popular with tourists, and those coming to the Highlands for the fishing and shooting seasons, as well as people following the Land’s End to John O’Groats route.
”The Crask Inn is the only property in sight,” Bishop Strange said, “and is an important centre of hospitality for people visiting the area; but also it is a focus for the scattered local community. The locals will continue to be very important to the Crask. It will be a place of welcome and hospitality, and a place of prayer and spirituality. It is such a huge gift.”
The congregation has been dedicated by Bishop Strange as the Crask Mission. It is one of five new missions that have opened in the diocese in the past few years.
The former owners, who are members of the new church congregation, are to move into a cottage near by, and use the grazing rights that come with the pub to run a smallholding.