'The core o' ocht is only for the few'
This exploration of Langholm’s Hugh MacDiarmid’s damning verdict on the church formed the presidential address given in May 2018 by the parish minister at Langholm, Eskdalemuir, Ewes and Westerkirk. The quotation in the title is from ‘A drunk man looks at the thistle’ where the poet accuses the church of keeping Christ to themselves. The paper begins with an analysis of the parish and its people and explores models of ministry, the dangers placed on unity in a parish of several locations, and goes on to question what 'belonging’ to the church means. He asks: 'To what extent does our decline as local congregations reflect our failure to satisfy people's yearnings, and are these yearnings felt by those who self-describe as Christians but do not attend church?'