Inspires online January 2021
|News from the Scottish Episcopal ChurchJanuary 2021Welcome to the first edition of 2021 of Inspires Online – the monthly electronic newsletter of the Scottish Episcopal Church. Inspires Online highlights news and events from across the Church and also includes news from organisations related to the Church.|
It is good to hear from our readers so please do get in touch with us either by replying to this email or by contacting Donald Walker, Director of Communications at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Aidan Strange, Digital Communications Co-ordinator at email@example.com.
New schedule for SEC online worship
The regular Sunday online worship provided by the College of Bishops is to be supplemented this year by broadcasts to mark many of the major feasts and festivals in the Calendar, as well as significant national commemorations.
The weekly Eucharist service has taken on increased importance once again with the return of lockdown, which has required places of worship to close their doors until further notice.
Just over one third of the Scottish Episcopal Church’s congregations can join online worship provided by their own church, but for others, the provincial broadcast might be their only opportunity to take part in joint worship.
A schedule of where each broadcast will come from has been planned for all Sundays from now until Easter 2, as follows (subject to any late changes):
31 January: Diocese of St Andrews
7 February: Diocese of Aberdeen & Orkney
14 February: Diocese of Glasgow & Galloway
21 February: Diocese of Moray, Ross & Caithness (Lent 1)
28 February: Diocese of Edinburgh (Lent 2)
7 March: Diocese of Brechin (Lent 3)
14 March: Diocese of St Andrews (Lent 4)
21 March: Diocese of Aberdeen & Orkney (Lent 5)
28 March: Diocese of Glasgow & Galloway (Palm Sunday)
4 April: Diocese of Moray, Ross & Caithness (Easter Day)
11 April: Diocese of Edinburgh (Easter 2)
A provisional programme is being prepared for beyond the existing schedule.
To accommodate additional broadcasts that fall on significant midweek calendar dates, it has been decided not to continue with Service of the Word or Evening Prayer on Thursdays, which ran weekly from May until it was temporarily suspended in November to allow resources to switch to Advent and Christmas worship broadcasts.
The effect will be to continue with, on average, one additional provincial worship broadcast per week, but without the regular Thursday slot. Some weeks there may be two midweek broadcasts, and other weeks might have none.
There will also be a full programme of Easter Week broadcasts, as happened last year shortly after lockdown was announced.
Meanwhile, online worship that was offered over the Christmas season appears to have been well received. Seven different worship broadcasts and two video messages from the Primus and the Church Leaders Forum were delivered over a nine-day period, along with daily video recordings of the O Antiphons.
Viewers commented on the high quality of contributions from musicians and singers across the province who participated across the services. Over 40 people took part, from all seven dioceses.
The highlight was arguably the creation of a provincial online choir for the Advent Lessons & Carols service. Organising and delivering the virtual choir service was an ambitious project and gratitude is due to those who answered late pleas to come on board and get involved. Feedback from some participants is that they thoroughly enjoyed being able to sing as a group, albeit at some distance in both space and time. The venture will be attempted again – but not every week!
List of churches offering online worship
As mentioned in the preceding article, around one third of Scottish Episcopal Churches are offering weekly online worship services.
A list of those that the SEC communications team is aware of is available here at the provincial website.
The list was last updated on 30 November 2020, and will be updated again in early February. Any additions or amendments required should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Church makes clear its position on closures
Following media reports that church leaders had threatened legal action if the Scottish Government does not reverse its recent decision to close places of worship during the current phase of the Covid pandemic, the Primus issued a statement to make clear that the Scottish Episcopal Church was not part of the group seeking change.
“Having worked closely with the Scottish Government during the pandemic, alongside the Church of Scotland and many other denominations, in a bid to protect the vulnerable by stemming the spread of the virus, I would like to state that we have no part in the move to take legal action against the Government,” said the Most Rev Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness and Primus of the SEC.
A group of 500 church leaders – 200 from Scotland and 300 from elsewhere in the UK –signed a letter to the First Minister calling for her to lift the ban on communal worship, stating it would seek judicial review if the closure of churches is not dropped from lockdown restrictions. No SEC churches signed the letter.
The Church of Scotland has also distanced itself from the call for legal action.
Earlier in the month, the College of Bishops issued a pastoral message to the Churches and congregations of the Scottish Episcopal Church, at the onset of the latest lockdown.
“Many of us have watched, with growing concern, the rise in the number of those testing positive for Coronavirus,” said the Primus, on behalf of the College of Bishops. “This rise has been seen right across Scotland during the past few weeks and may get higher still as the effects of the recent holidays become clearer.
“Many of our churches had already decided to remain closed or to suspend face to face worship as this situation unfolded, limiting the numbers to 20 people had given an added headache to our larger churches while sustaining the weekly opening regime had become exhausting for some of our smaller congregations. The awareness of the speed of transmission in the new variant had made it quite clear that the position of Places of Worship was becoming more and more difficult to sustain, a situation made clear by the First Minister.
“The re-closing of our churches is difficult, especially for those who have had the privilege of meeting together over the past few months, yet it is now what we must do. The provision of Provincial online worship will continue and many of our churches will meet together via a variety of platforms. We must continue to pray for each other, for the communities we serve and for the authorities charged with protecting the nation.
“Please continue to pray for the College of Bishops as we will continue to pray for you until with the help of science and our health service we can once again have the freedom to meet together.”
Argyll & The Isles electionAt the time of writing, the Electoral Synod in the Diocese of Argyll & The Isles was preparing to meet to consider and vote on the three candidates who were short-listed for the episcopal vacancy.
The Rt Rev Ian Paton, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane, has been the acting bishop in the diocese since the translation of Rt Rev Kevin Pearson from Argyll & The Isles to Glasgow & Galloway in January 2020.
A report of the outcome of proceedings will appear in the February edition of Inspires Online.
Provincial Welcome Day
The annual gathering of clergy who have recently been ordained or joined the Scottish Episcopal Church from elsewhere, and for new Lay Readers, normally takes place in February at the General Synod Office in Edinburgh, as shown in the above photograph from last year.
This year, of course, a physical gathering is not permitted because of lockdown restrictions, but the day will still go ahead … drum roll … online via Zoom.
Around 18 invitations have been accepted for the 23 February event, to gain an overview of the work of the Province, and a brief overview of the work of each area of the General Synod. Guest speakers include the Primus, Rt Rev Ian Paton, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane, Rev Dr Michael Hull, SEI Director of Studies, and Mr John Stuart, Secretary General of the GSO.
Bishop Ellinah mourned in ScotlandNews of the death in January of the Bishop of Swaziland, Ellinah Wamukoya, was received with great sadness in Scotland, where she was a great friend and a regular visitor thanks to the Diocese of Brechin’s long-standing relationship with the Diocese of Swaziland.
Bishop Ellinah, who was the first female bishop in the Anglican Church in Africa, had recently undergone surgery and was convalescing when she contracted Covid-19. She died in Eswatini on 19 January, aged 69.
She was widely known in the Province of Southern Africa and throughout the wider Anglican Communion for her advocacy of environmental issues and the integrity of creation, and in 2016, she was listed by BBC News as one of the 100 most inspirational and influential women in the world.
The Diocese of Brechin welcomed Bishop Ellinah to Scotland several times as part of the three-way relationship formed by the Dioceses of Brechin, Swaziland and Iowa, and she visited most recently in 2018 when she attended the consecration of Bishop Andrew Swift.
Visits to Swaziland – renamed Eswatini in 2018 – by representatives of Brechin Diocese have also taken place over years, including a youth pilgrimage and, in 2019, the installation of Mrs Patricia Millar (the Companionship Links Officer for the diocese) as a Lay Canon of All Saints’ Cathedral in the city of Mbabane.
Bishop Andrew said: “It is a devastating news that Bishop Ellinah has died. She has been a great friend and support of the Diocese of Brechin for her time as Bishop of Swaziland and I found her a wise and insightful colleague as I have developed my understanding of the episcopacy.
“It was a privilege to have her attend my consecration and to visit her diocese in 2019. She planned to retire later in 2021, so her death before she was able to end her ministry and spend retirement with her husband Henry and their family is very cruel.
“Bishop Ellinah was an inspiring bishop with a great and effective presence in the wider Anglican Communion as well as in her own province and diocese. She will be greatly, greatly missed by all who knew and loved her.”
The Primus, the Most Rev Mark Strange, added: “I spent time with Bishop Ellinah during meetings of the Anglican Bishops In Dialogue, and her joy in her ministry and her care for us all was wonderful.
“Her evening greeting of ‘Primus Mark have you been good today?’ accompanied by her wonderful smile will be a lasting memory.”
St Mary’s hosts The Service on BBC Scotland
BBC Scotland programme The Service will feature Scottish Episcopal Church worship again on Sunday 7 February when it comes from St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow.The Very Rev Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of the Cathedral, will lead the worship, with intercessions from the Rev Canon Oliver Brewer-Lennon and music from the BBC archive of recordings from St Mary’s. The programme will be broadcast at 12 noon and will be available to watch again here shortly after transmission.
The SEC has also been represented twice recently on BBC One Scotland weekly worship programme Reflections At The Quay.
The Rev Maggie McTernan of St Margaret’s in Newlands, Glasgow, was one of the two hosts on 27 December. She was joined by the Rev Roy Henderson of Pollokshaws Parish Church. Music came from archives of hymns and carols recorded in earlier years, including Hark! The Herald Angels Sing from Old St Paul’s in Edinburgh.
Then on 24 January, the Rev Diana Hall, Rector of St Anne’s Scottish Episcopal and Methodist Church in Dunbar, co-presented Reflections alongside Church of Scotland minister the Rev Anikó Schuetz Bradwell of Humbie and Yester, Bolton & Saltoun parishes.
Music from archives included footage from St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh, and there was also music in the studio from renowned accordion player Gary Innes. The broadcast is available to watch again online here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000rsby
Ms Hall has also appeared twice on radio recently. On 29 January she was a guest on the Daily Service programme on BBC Radio 4 LW, where she explored the theme of ‘Resurrection and the life everlasting’ as part of a series on the Apostles’ Creed.
The 15-minute programme, which is a mix of Christian reflection, worship and music, can be listened to again here.
The previous week, Ms Hall was the guest on BBC Radio Scotland’s Thought For The Day slot on 21 January. She spoke about singing, from sea shanties to Cat Stevens’ Morning Has Broken, as she discussed how congregations have missed being able to sing in churches during the pandemic, while adding that many of us across the country are still singing at home.
“Music has the power to reframe how we experience the world,” said Ms Hall. “When times are hard we might find we can sing of longings we dare not speak; that melody can give hope we struggle to find; and that a shared rhythm brings solidarity, helping us to keep on keeping on.
“We are all learning to sing a new song at the moment. As we do, may we find encouragement and hope for each new day.”
The programme is available to listen to again at the following link, with Ms Hall appearing at the 1hr 22 minute mark here.
Primus supports Covid vaccination programmeThe Primus, the Most Rev Mark Strange, has signed a joint statement with Faith Leaders from across Scotland in support of the Covid-19 vaccination programme.
The statement says: “We faith leaders in Scotland understand the difficulty that our communities are facing during this pandemic. We urge all faith communities to take measures that will ensure their safety and the safety of others. Furthermore, we support the Covid-19 vaccination programme across the community and we encourage people to be vaccinated so that they keep themselves and their neighbours safe.”
The full list of signatories can be found here.
Meanwhile, the Primus was also one of the joint signatories to an interfaith statement in support of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, although this time as the Most Rev Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness, rather than as Primus or on behalf of the College of Bishops.
The UN Treaty came into legal force on 22 January 2021. It prohibits signatories from taking part in any activities involving nuclear weapons, including possessing, transferring, using, or encouraging use of nuclear weapons.
As part of the joint statement, Bishop Mark appears in a short video produced to demonstrate how people of diverse faiths in the United Kingdom welcome the treaty and share a common goal of a more peaceful world, which can be viewed here.
Later on the same day, Bishop Mark addressed an online peace vigil held by Pax Christi Scotland, part of a global movement which promotes peace, respect of human rights, justice and reconciliation.
He was joined by the Very Rev Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Bishop William Nolan of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Galloway, and Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer, a member of the cross-party anti-nuclear group in the House of Lords.
The vigil contains a powerful personal reflection from Bishop Mark about his fear of nuclear war as a child and then a teenager, which starts at the 28-minute mark on this link.