“The Orkney Branch Keeps the Faith,” Ensign, Apr. 1987, 78
The light of the gospel is still burning in the Orkney Islands, off the coast of Scotland, though the missionaries have been withdrawn for the time being.
The Orkneys consist of many scattered islands north of Scotland, some of which have no cars or buses. Travel is extremely difficult, especially in the winter. In the beautiful old city of Kirkwall, though, are three members of the Church who meet faithfully every Sunday: Brother William Arnot (Arnie) Flett; his wife, Sister Williamina (Mina) Flett; and Sister Charlotte (Lottie) Gorn.
They gather in the sitting room of Sister Gorn’s home, with Brother and Sister Flett driving in from nearby Finstown. Sister Mina teaches Relief Society (with Brother Arnie sitting in). Sister Lottie then teaches the Gospel Doctrine lesson, and finally, Brother Arnie conducts a sacrament meeting in which he also blesses and passes the sacrament. Hymns are sung, unaccompanied, and then the three members speak or bear testimonies. They often listen to tape recordings of addresses from general conference. Brother Arnie, a skilled piper, sometimes brings his bagpipes and plays music suitable for the Sabbath.
All are converts to the Church. Arnie was born in 1934 in St. Ola, near Kirkwall. His father was a farmer, as are many of the Orkney Islanders. For five years he and Mina ran a dairy farm, but now he works for the Water Department.
Arnie was brought up in the Plymouth Brethren Church, but eventually sought additional truths. His conversion began dramatically one Sunday morning about seven years ago. Quite suddenly it came to him that he must find a better way of living. One of his sisters was being taught by the missionaries and desired to be baptized, so he and Mina investigated. As they listened to the elders’ discussions, Arnie sensed that the missionaries brought into the house something precious—something that left when they left.
Still, although he liked the missionaries personally, he resisted baptism, counselling Mina “not to get involved.”
But a year and a half later he became involved himself, and a year later Mina, too, was baptized. As so often happens, the teachings of a particular missionary had touched her heart, and the Holy Spirit did the rest.
Mina, born in 1937 on the Island of Wyre, married Arnie in 1956. Now that their children are grown, Mina spends her time helping the old and disabled. Because they need her, she goes to their homes three times a day, every day of the week.
Lottie Gorn was born in 1919 in Holm, eight miles from Kirkwall. She grew up with all the skills and duties of a farmer’s daughter. During World War II she served in the military, at home and abroad, and afterward returned to the farm. She later pursued a career as a medical receptionist and then as a bookkeeper. Now retired, she still does occasional book reviews for the local newspaper.
It was her love of the Bible that led to her conversion. She had always treasured the scripture, but her reading convinced her that there must be greater truths available than those she had already discovered. She had many questions and a great hunger to learn. When the missionaries called on her one evening in 1977, she had just read one of the epistles of Peter and was bursting with unanswered questions. They were able to answer her questions, and she was soon baptized.
Together, these Orkney Islanders are keeping the faith and looking forward to the time when the missionaries will return and the Church in the Orkneys will grow into a full congregation. In the meantime, they know that “where two or three are gathered together in my name, … behold, there will I be in the midst of them.” (D&C 6:32.)
Correspondent: Anne Perry, public communications director in the Norwich England Stake.