We are an active and busy congregation who are privileged to be custodians of
the most architecturally magnificent building which is an iconic landmark in Forres, occupying
a position which has been a site of Christian worship for over 800 years.
In normal times it is open every Monday to Friday in summer for the public
to appreciate its reverent and peaceful atmosphere.
It is the only Presbyterian church in Moray featuring in "Churches to Visit in Scotland".
It has been for generations the dominant church in west Moray, to which
many local people feel strong affection and attachment through the weddings, christenings and,
more sadly, funerals which have taken place there.
The present congregation aims to continue all that is best in this tradition by sustaining
and upholding the highest standards of the Church of Scotland practice of worship and music.
Community Profile of the Congregation
The regular congregation are largely resident in Forres, with a relatively high age profile.
Forres is a medium-sized Scottish town, with a growing population of just over 10,000. It is famous countrywide for its floral
displays in the summer, and also for its benign climate with low rainfall and average sunshine hours
among the highest in the UK. It has been a Royal Burgh from the 12th century.
There is a second Church of Scotland congregation in Forres, also on the High Street. Their church was originally built
as the Free Church in 1903. The boundaries between the two and the other rural parishes in west Moray are shown
in the accompanying sketch map. Whereas St. Leonards is linked with the neighbouring parishes of Rafford and Dallas, St. Laurence is a single charge.
The Statistics and Mission Working Group at 121 George Street undertook the considerable task of analysing and
reassembling data from the 2011 census in a form which gives extensive detailed demographic statistics for every
parish in Scotland as well as comparisons with other churches in its Presbytery. These can be obtained by clicking on
and searching for "Church Finder". The area covered by St. Laurence had a
2011 population of 7,102, whereas Forres East (the area covered by St. Leonard’s, had a population of 2,291.
The disparity between these figures reflects the way in which the prosperous 19th century merchants built mansions which
tended to lie in the east and south parts of the town. Membership of both congregations is spread equally across the entire town.
Our worship and other activities aim to sustain and strengthen the congregation's faith, to help people explore their spiritually, and to encourage service in the name of Christ.
Under normal conditions regular worship is at 10.00 am on each Sunday throughout the year, including Remembrance Sunday.
It takes a traditional form in which the normal praise book is Church Hymnary 4th edition, with occasional items from other Christian Song Books.
There is a friendly welcoming atmosphere within the church, and refreshments are regularly available after the service.
The Sacrament of Holy Communion is celebrated on the last Sundays of February, May and October.
There is a Christmas Eve Service at 6.30 pm and a service on Christmas Day itself at 10.00 am.
A short act of Holy Communion follows the Easter Day Service.
The church building is grand in many respects, and its maintenance in prime condition is commented on by many visitors.
As well as having an admirable acoustic, there are no pillars in the main body which makes it ideal as a concert venue.
Artists who have recently performed here include Julie Fowlis and Duncan Chisholm, while our regular organist and choirmaster,
Alistair Hardie, is well known locally for his outstanding musicianship, which makes a massive contribution to our regular services.
Thanks to two large legacies the church embarked just before lockdown on a major refurbishment of the North Aisle which has been
converted into an attractive meeting area with kitchen and toilets. The absence of a church hall,
together with unsatisfactory attempts over several years to rent adequate premises for this purpose has been a running sore for many years.
This has now been remedied, and St. Laurence can now boast an excellent 21st century self-contained church complex.
The life and witness of the church is currently led by the Kirk Session and a Congregational Board elected by the congregation
administers its finances and property. There is a Congregational Roll of around 300, of which about 200 are in normal times active in supporting
the minister and 15 Elders, of whom 10 are female. There are six additional members of the Congregational Board. The constitutional structure is
currently that of Board and Session, although the latter are committed to moving to a Unitary Constitution as soon as circumstances permit.