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The Lighthouse News and History Magazine

Year of the Light Church Service

Celebrating 200 Years of the Bell Rock Lighthouse

At 4pm on the afternoon of Sunday, June 12, in the courtyard of the Signal Tower Museum in Arbroath, Scotland, the congregations of all the Arbroath churches will join together to mark the 200th anniversary of the Bell Rock Lighthouse at The Light of the World Service.

"We felt it was only fitting to celebrate the bicentenary of this iconic lighthouse, which has been saving lives for 200 years, with a ceremony for people of all faiths and churches," said Reverend John Cuthbert of St Mary's Episcopal Church, Arbroath.

Throughout 2011, the people of Arbroath have been celebrating the bicentenary of the Bell Rock Lighthouse with the Year of the Light, a programme of special events organised by local people, communities, organisations and businesses. The Light of the World Service is the latest of these and Reverend Cuthbert explained that the service is being held in memory of those who lost their lives on the Bell Rock prior to and during the construction of the lighthouse, which was completed by Robert Stevenson and his men in 1811.

"The theme of The Light of the World Service will be the Bell Rock, its lighthouse and the sea that surrounds it and has played such an important part in the story of Arbroath and its people over the years," continued Reverend Cuthbert. "During the service, there will be a wonderfully appropriate selection of music, hymns and readings, including, thanks to the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses, Robert Stevenson's prayer for the men who were working alongside him on the Bell Rock Lighthouse.

"Stevenson, who was a religious man, wrote this prayer on the front page of his Bible and repeated it every morning during the construction of the Bell Rock Lighthouse. Perhaps this prayer is one of the reasons so few men were lost while the lighthouse was being built, despite it being located in the middle of the North Sea, on a deadly reef covered by the tide twice a day."

Amongst those attending the service will be David Taylor, webmaster of the Bell Rock website and a member of the Year of the Light Steering Committee, which is supported by Angus Council's Local Community Planning Team. "As a descendant of one of the builders of the Bell Rock Lighthouse, who also lived at the Signal Tower as Master of the Tender from 1812 - 1821, I will definitely be making the journey from Edinburgh to Arbroath on Sunday, June 12," said David.

During The Light of the World Service, there will be a blessing of the commemorative plaque to those who were involved in the construction of the Bell Rock Lighthouse and recently unveiled by the Princess Royal. "This blessing will be very moving, especially for those in attendance who are descended from the mariners, masons, craftsmen and labourers who built the lighthouse," said Harry Simpson, Chair of the Year of the Light Steering Committee. "The Light of the World Service promises to be a superb afternoon and it would be wonderful to see as many people there as possible."

Reverend Cuthbert echoed Harry's sentiments. "Anyone who wishes to come along to the Signal Tower on Sunday afternoon and join in with this very special Church service will be made very welcome," said Reverend Cuthbert, who added that, in the event of adverse weather condition, The Light of the World Service will be held at St Mary's Episcopal Church, Springfield Terrace, Arbroath.

For more information about The Light of the World Service, and other events happening during the Year of the Light, which is sponsored by JD Wetherspoon, visit

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