Morgan settles in for second spell with Portgordon church
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THE lure of the north-east has proved too great to resist for a local church's latest exchange recruit.
Portgordon Community Church have laid out the welcome mat for the latest addition to their team in the shape of Morgan Cobb, who has made the journey from North West Colorado in the USA to join Pastor Willie Aitken and his colleagues.
Ms Cobb, who is initially here for a six-month period, previously was in town helping the church last October, the experience proving such a positive one she was eager to return.
She revealed that a transatlantic link between the Buckie area and the States inspired her to make the trip cross the pond.
"I know Scott Middleton, who was the pastor at the Buckie Church of Christ a number of years ago and he encouraged me to come over here," Ms Cobb said.
"Scott spoke very highly of the Buckie area so I came over last October. He loved it over here and has often said held like to come back.
"I'd been to Europe – the likes of Romania and Hungary – but had never had any connection before with Scotland. It was my first venture here and I fell in love with it and knew I wanted to return.
"I would've been back sooner but the lockdown in March delayed that so it was August before I could come back.
"I guess I really didn't have any expectations of what this area would be like before I came. There are similarities between home and here. I'm from a small, rural community which had a population of about 5000 people when I was a kid – it's about twice that size now – and everybody knew each other.
"There a lot of differences, though –there are a lot of mountains in Colorado and the nearest ocean is about 2000 miles away! One of the things I love about where I am living is the great view of the harbour I have from my window."
While the coronavirus restrictions have limited what she can do, there has still be plenty of work with the church to keep her occupied, with more hopefully on the horizon.
Ms Cobb continued: "I've been helping out wherever needed, really, as far as the coronavirus restrictions will allow.
"We've just reopened the church in the village hall, which can accommodate about 22-23 people with social distancing measures, so there's plenty to do there.
"Obviously we're hoping that the Covid restrictions will open up soon and we'll be able to start doing more. One of the things I'm really looking forward to is helping get the youth club up and running again.
"There's lot of things we're looking to get up and running again when the restrictions allow.
"Although I'm here for six months this time, I hope to make a long term commitment after that."
However, it has not been a case of all work and no play for Ms Cobb, who has been able to indulge her passion for history. Included on her itinerary have been some historic churches across the north-east, such as New Aberdour – founded in 566AD by St Dostran, a contemporary of St Columbus – and St Mortlach's at Dufftown. This church was founded around the same time as New Aberdour by another ancient saint by the name of St Moulag.
Pastor Aitken said he was delighted to welcome Ms Cobb back into the fold again.
"We're delighted to have Morgan here with us again and glad to have her help.
"As this things gradually open up there's more and more to do, although since the lockdown started we've had to find other ways to reach out.
"The likes of Facebook and Zoom have been a lifeline for many church members. Before Covid I hadn't heard of Zoom and now we're doing regular Bible study classes using the app.
"We've been posting services on Facebook and we even managed to hold a virtual Holiday Club, which usually would be held in the Fishermen's Hall with over 100 kids attending. Scott and Pam [Middleton] recorded songs over in America and my wife Sharon and I recorded some here and then I put it all together and posted it on Facebook. We had 1000 people accessing it and the kids told us they loved it.
"The importance Facebook and social media has played in keeping people in touch with the church reminds me of something myself and Morgan discovered when we visited St Moulag's church in Duftown. Originally there was a leper colony back there and while they weren't allowed into church because of the disease there were special windows in the walls where they could gather and watch the minister and hear the singing.
"Facebook and social media has become like these windows, with the coronavirus the disease not leprosy.
"Nothing really changes."
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