Worshippers to gather on shores of Loch Ness

Three Scottish churches are joining together to hold their first Picnic and Praise event on the shores of Loch Ness.

The service is taking place in the ruins of Urquhart Castle, near Drumnadrochit, a popular destination for tourists and people hoping to catch a glimpse of the famous 'Nessie'.

Historic Scotland, which runs the castle, has given the greenlight for the event, which will start at 7:30pm on Sunday, after normal opening hours.

The service has been organised by Glenurquhart Free Church in partnership with local Church of Scotland and Episcopalian congregations. The main guest is country blues and Gospel singer Gus Eyre.

Glenurquhart Free Church minister Rev Dr John Ross said the castle's grounds were a "natural amphitheatre".

"We are inviting people to bring guests with them to enjoy a picnic on the grassy area sloping down to the loch, just above the castle tower, and listen to and sing along with traditional Psalms, hymns and contemporary Christian music provided by the praise band and other singers," he said.

The Free Church has had a presence in Drumnadrochit - presently at Glenurquhart - since the Disruption in 1843.

The area also has significance to Christians as it is believed Columba passed through in around AD 580 on his way from Iona to meet the Pictish king at Inverness.

Tradition has it that the Gospel came to the area after he sought out - at God's prompting - a very old man called Emchat who was ready to hear the Word of God and believe. Indeed, Columba found the man and shared the Gospel with him. Emchat was baptised and, accompanied by the angels, passed into the presence of the Lord.

A Free Church spokesman added: "As far as we know it's the first time any religious group has taken over Urquhart Castle for an evening, so it will be a special and historic night for Drumnadrochit.

"It is quite an ambitious plan, but so far the vibes have been good in the community and we hope the weather and also the midges will be kind to us."

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