On June 22nd 2003, Fr John Stevenson from St. Peter and the Holy Rood, Thurso celebrated the first service of Holy Communion at Fir Chlis, with about 20 communicants.
Fr John continued to come once a month to celebrate Mass and when Fir Chlis was blessed with hosting a priest on retreat, it would be blessed with regular, sometimes daily, Mass.
Fr Len Black took over from Fr.John at some point when the Episcopal church was trying to find its way in a changing world but the congregation was truly set on a firm footing when Fr Nicholas Court came on the scene in April 2010.
The congregation of St. Mary by the Cross was officially constituted on 5th April 2012 (Maundy Thursday) by Bishop Mark and numbers attending have grown significantly since . During 2017/2018 there were more than 75 folk who had attended one or more of the monthly services, many travelling many miles to be there. The wonderful thing is that these folk were from several different denominations too.
Kathleen Pannell has generously hosted these services in the ‘Upper Room’ at Fir Chlis, with the wonderful support of the loving fellowship of others, under the pastoral care of Fr. Nicholas.
Fr Nicholas retired at the end of May 2020 and a new era began for St Mary-by-the-Cross as part of the North East charge, under the leadership of Revd James Currall. Exactly what that future will look like is as yet unclear, but it is likely to be in a new location. We all look forward to when the COVID pandemic eases, so that we may gather once again for our monthly service and fellowship.