UNTIL 1941 DYKE had two churches – today there is one and the question being asked by the congregation is if the Dyke Church would be missed should it close.
The picturesque village near Brodie Castle to the west of Forres at one time had two thriving congregations served by Dyke West Church and Dyke East Church.
By the time the Second World War had come to an end, Dyke East Church had closed and for many years stood as a potato barn before being converted in to a B&B in the early 2000s.
The remaining West Church has existed since the early 17th century and so became the Parish Church and the area’s sole place of worship. Initially this was a thatched building but gradual improvements over the next century saw the kirk take on its present shape, featuring the historic triple-deck pulpit that is one of only two remaining in Scotland.
In common with many rural church congregations, attendances at Dyke have dwindled – especially among young adults and families. With significant expenditure required to keep the building fit for purpose, the congregation are now looking for ways to reverse that trend.
The Kirk Session believes that there are additional ways to make good use of the building apart from Sunday worship, marriages, baptisms and funerals.
“We have to move with the times” Church Elder Alison Rodgers told insideMoray, adding: “The congregation of Dyke Parish Church believes the building itself is central to the character of the village and is important to many local people and visitors, but can we sustain the building on sentiment alone?
“If the Church is to be sustainable at the hub of the community we need to make sure it serves that community now and in the future.”
The church currently has a service on Sunday mornings at 10am with a crèche, provides a Messy Church several times a year for families, while the Guild also meets monthly and there are several annual functions such as a very popular Burns Supper and Plant Sale.
One major success story has been what began as a monthly coffee morning run jointly with the Dyke and District Hall committee. Attendance at that has grown over the last year with soup and home-baking now on the menu.
“It is becoming very popular amongst locals and people from further afield while providing an opportunity for bringing people together and letting them get to know each other a little better,” Alison said, adding: “This venture demonstrates in a small way what can be done if different groups combine forces and share the work involved in providing a much valued local activity.”
Now the congregation would like to build on this to better meet the needs of the community.
They are inviting all those interested, but particularly residents of Dyke and District, to come to a public meeting to discuss options for the future of the Dyke Church. That it is hoped will find out if there is an appetite in the local area to keep a Church in Dyke Village for future generations.
A strong demonstration of support would be helpful to the congregation as they look at how they could use the building to better serve the local community and make it accessible to all.
Anyone interested in finding out more should attend the open meeting in Dyke Village Hall at 7.30pm on Friday April 29, when refreshments will be provided.