Author Archives: James Gardner

Remember that you are Dust and to Dust you shall return. – Ash Wednesday 17th February 2021

Remember that you are dust and to Dust you shall return – Ash Wednesday 17th February 2021


Much of the Christian year is about turning and returning; facing and looking difficulties in the eyes – and passing through to something greater and better and more meaningful.  I am not saying that this is without pain, but it is certainly with a destination address which can never tarnish and can never be taken away from us….even though it seems at times as though torments are never ending.
And all of this is also about love – in its deepest and most meaningful form – away from the romance and the flowers; and into that deeper more meaningful thing which comes with years and time and more than a little understanding.  And that love which comes with knowing and still choosing to reach in and to love; to be constant and to be present – in this world and the next.
Just as when we lose someone whom we love very dearly from the physicality of this world, we never actually lose them; so God walks with us wherever we may go and whatever we may encounter.  
We are part of one great and beautiful and cyclical creation – ever changing, ever growing, ever living – in multiple forms so that it can never quite be grasped or held or pinned down to full description and comprehension.  Rather like the love of God itself – ever present and ever evolving; constantly holding us, even when we feel darkness and distance – with us always – even until the end of time.  
And this is why our actions affect and bring about effect to each and every one of us – we are part of the whole thing of the butterfly flapping its wings at the Equator – we are integral.  
And, in the love which is shown to us in the love of God, we have (even when the going is so, so difficult, and so many things feel alien and painful) the strength to keep going, through this world without fear, and never being alone.
So, as we move through the worldly, beautiful love of St. Valentine and orientate ourselves this Ash Wednesday towards the love which knows each and every atom of us throughout eternity; let us remember that whilst this mortal life is fleeting; it is rooted and bounded by a love which will never leave us, and holds us beyond death into a new and everlasting kingdom.  
As we prepare to keep a good Lent, let us remind ourselves that ultimately all will be gathered in by Creator God who loves all of creation throughout all time.  All we have to do is be faithful to the guardianship of creation – and all living things in this world.
Hugs for Valentine’s Day, and Blessings for the Lenten period to come.

Linkage service Epiphany 6 14th February 2021

Linkage Service Epiphany 6 14th February 2021

01877 330448

The Transfiguration     14th February 2021

Preparation:  Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: the first commandment is this: 
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love 
the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, 
with all your mind and with all Your strength.” The second is this:  “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.

Gloria:   Glory to God in the highest, and peace to God’s people on earth. Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer. For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, 
with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father.    Amen.

Collect:   Almighty God, whose Son was revealed in majesty before he suffered death upon the cross, give us faith to perceive his glory, that being strengthened by his grace we may be changed into his likeness, from glory to glory; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Reading:  2 Kings 2:1-12
Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Stay here; for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.’ But Elisha said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’ So they went down to Bethel. The company of prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, ‘Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?’ And he said, ‘Yes, I know; keep silent.’ Elijah said to him, ‘Elisha, stay here; for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.’ But he said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’ So they came to Jericho. The company of prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha, and said to him, ‘Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?’ And he answered, ‘Yes, I know; be silent.’  
Then Elijah said to him, ‘Stay here; for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.’ But he said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’ So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.  
When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.’ Elisha said, ‘Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.’ He responded, ‘You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.’ As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, ‘Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!’ But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two.

Gospel:   Mark 9:2-9
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 
Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!’ Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

Reflection:   
The Magi … Simeon in the Temple …  John the Baptist at the Jordan … and now Peter, James and John on the mountaintop.  They see light and are amazed; is the Transfiguration the best epiphany of all?

“Bedazzled and blurting” is how one commentator described the disciples. Peter tried to say something about the dazzling white clothes of Jesus, and the prophets appearing on either side of him.  But they did not really understand and were scared out of their wits.

An extraordinary, wondrous and moving experience may make us speechless:  how can we put it into words?  What – on earth – should we say about it?   But we may also be dumb because we do not yet really grasp the deep meaning of our experience.

St Jerome said of Peter on the mountain, “Even though you see Jesus transfigured, nevertheless, because Christ has not yet suffered for you, you are still unable to know the truth.”  We have to experience the depth of Jesus’ love if we are to grasp the truth that he is Son of God.

Jesus was aware that the Passion lay ahead for him, but God was already revealing a little of the glory of the Resurrection, the great act of power that transfigured evil, suffering and death into the triumph of love.  With assurance of that in our hearts, and knowing God’s love for us, we can come down the mountain and bring Christ’s hope into this troubled world.

Prayers:  
Almighty God, at the Transfiguration you showed Jesus in glory and gave his disciples a glimpse of his risen life.  Help us to glimpse your heavenly kingdom and a vision of how your son, Jesus, can transfigure our lives and the life of the world.  

Creator God, as we pray for your world, give us the spirit of love for all people whatever their race or creed and give the same spirit of acceptance to all world leaders that through their common endeavour, freedom, peace and prosperity may increase throughout the world.

Loving God, with the grace of your Holy Spirit, comfort all who are in sorrow, need, sickness or adversity.  Have mercy on those to whom death draws near.  Give consolation to those in sorrow or mourning and as you take them into your tender care help may they be strengthened by the power of your love.

Lord, hear us as we bring before you the people and problems that are most on our minds …

Merciful Father: accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.   Amen

The Great Thanksgiving:
             Let us lift up our hearts and give thanks to the Lord our God,
              for it is right to give our thanks and praise.
              Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; 
              Hosanna in the highest!

Worship and praise belong to you, Father, in every place and at all times.  All power is yours. You created the heavens and established 
the earth; you sustain in being all that is.

In Christ your Son our life and yours are brought together in a wonderful exchange. He made his home among us that we might 
for ever dwell in you. Through your Holy Spirit you call us to new birth 
in a creation restored by love.

As children of your redeeming purpose we offer you our praise,
with angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven,
singing the hymn of your unending glory:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.       
Hosanna in the highest.

Glory and thanksgiving be to you, most loving Father, for the gift of your Son born in human flesh. He is the Word existing beyond time, both source and final purpose, bringing to wholeness all that is made.
Obedient to your will he died upon the Cross. By your power 
you raised him from the dead. He broke the bonds of evil and 
set your people free to be his Body in the world.
On the night when he was given up to death, knowing that his hour had come, having loved his own, he loved them to the end. At supper with his disciples he took bread and offered you thanks. He broke the bread, and gave it to them, saying: “Take, eat. This is my Body: it is broken for you.” After supper, he took the cup, he offered you thanks, and gave it to them saying: “Drink this, all of you. This is my Blood of the new covenant; it is poured out for you, and for all, that sins may be forgiven. Do this in remembrance of me.” 

We now obey your Son’s command. We recall his blessed Passion and death, his glorious resurrection and ascension; and we look for the coming of his Kingdom. Made one with him, we offer you ourselves, a single, holy, living sacrifice. Hear us, most merciful Father, and send your Holy Spirit upon us that, overshadowed by his life-giving power, we may be kindled with the fire of your love and renewed for the service of your Kingdom.
Help us, who are baptised into the fellowship of Christ’s Body to live and work to your praise and glory; may we grow together in unity and love until at last, in your new creation, we enter into our heritage in the company of the Virgin Mary, the apostles and prophets, and of all our brothers and sisters living and departed.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory be to you, Lord of all ages, 
world without end. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer:   Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.   Amen.

The Communion:   draw close to Christ in spirit and thanksgiving,
and be nourished by his presence with you and within you.    

Prayer:   Holy God, we see your glory in the face of your Son, Jesus Christ.  May we reflect his life in word and deed, that all the world may know his power to change and save, to the glory of your name. Amen  

A hymn of faith and trust in God: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AdBkEJurR4

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
be all else but naught to me, save that thou art;
be thou my best thought in the day and the night,
both waking and sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom, be thou my true word,
be thou ever with me and I with thee Lord;
be thou my great Father and I thy true son;
be thou in me dwelling and I with thee one.

Be thou my breastplate, my sword for the fight;
be thou my whole armour, be thou my true light;
thou my soul’s shelter,  thou my strong tower:
raise thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

High King of heaven, thou heaven’s bright sun;
O grant my its joys after victory is won;
great heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
still be my vision, O Ruler of all.

St Mary’s Sunday Service Epiphany 5 for 7th February 2021

St Mary’s Sunday Service Epiphany 5 for 7th February 2021

    Epiphany 5  7th February 2021

Preparation:  Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: the first commandment is this: 
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love 
the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, 
with all your mind and with all Your strength.” The second is this:  “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.

Gloria:   Glory to God in the highest, and peace to God’s people on earth. Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer. For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, 
with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father.    Amen.

Collect:   Merciful Lord, grant to your faithful people pardon and peace, that we may be cleansed from all our sins and serve you with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Reading:  Isaiah 40:21-31
Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning?  Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in; who brings princes to naught, and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing.
Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows upon them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble.
To whom then will you compare me, or who is my equal? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes to the heavens and see:Who created these? He who brings out their starry host and numbers them, calling them all by name; because he is great in strength, mighty in power, not one is missing.
Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God’?  
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for he Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

Gospel:   Mark 1:29-39
As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, ‘Everyone is searching for you.’ He answered, ‘Let us go on to the neighbouring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.’ And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

Reflection:   
Jesus was often found in people’s homes, eating, talking, bringing new life.  Today we have an intimate picture of Peter’s home on the Sabbath – a kind of ‘Sunday lunch’, the centre of the week.  But all was not well as the men returned from synagogue.

Peter’s mother-in-law was sick.  Now dependent on Peter’s fishing and her daughter’s goodwill, was she worried that Peter would leave them in the lurch as he followed Jesus?  Would she be too frail to help out?

Peter’s wife must have been torn between her mother and her husband.  How were both of them to feel fulfilled, and how was she to flourish? Peter’s loyalties would have been divided between his family responsibilities and his new vocation as a ‘fisher of people’.

Relationships can become strained when we fear we will lose our sense of who we are and who we might be. Jesus must have felt the deeper currents of unease when he entered Peter’s house; he knew that real healing of the situation as well as the woman was needed.

Peter’s mother-in-law was enabled to serve – her worth was restored.
Maybe the conversation over the Sabbath meal turned to what following Jesus would mean, and perhaps Peter’s wife was reassured and even inspired.  We hear that she accompanied Peter on his mission trips in due course as a ‘believing wife’.  (1 Cor.9:5)

Healing relationships involves noticing the giftedness of those around us, blessing them, enabling them to bear fruit, without worrying about our own position too much.  Like Peter’s mother-in-law, let’s begin to serve one another, lifting each other up in hope and trust.

Prayers:  
O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom you chose us, before the foundation of the world, and destined us in love to be your own: help us to pray for all your children.

For the life of the world; that your peace may be known and may prevail:  For harmony and generosity between the nations, and an end to oppression and violence, especially in Russia and China.

For all who suffer injury, death or loss; that they may know the hope to which you call us:  For the sick and grieving; for the anxious and fearful; for the bored, lonely and frustrated, young and old.

For all who exercise rule and authority; that they may acknowledge your power: For politicians, scientists, business leaders, educators and judges, as they seek to rebuild society after the pandemic.

For the Church which is Christ’s body; that it may live for the praise of your glory:  For Ian our bishop and Keith, newly-elected bishop of Argyll and the Isles.  For those responding to a call to serve your church in lay and ordained ministry.

For those who are in our thoughts and hearts at this time, especially …

God, you exerted your strength and power when you raised Christ from the dead, putting everything in subjection beneath his feet: accept the prayers which we offer in his name for the world you have created and redeemed; through him in whom you have set forth the mystery of your will, to unite all things in heaven and on earth, your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

The Great Thanksgiving:
             Let us lift up our hearts and give thanks to the Lord our God,
              for it is right to give our thanks and praise.
              Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; 
              Hosanna in the highest!

Worship and praise belong to you, Father, in every place and at all times.  All power is yours. You created the heavens and established 
the earth; you sustain in being all that is.
In Christ your Son our life and yours are brought together in a wonderful exchange. He made his home among us that we might 
for ever dwell in you. Through your Holy Spirit you call us to new birth 
in a creation restored by love.
As children of your redeeming purpose we offer you our praise,
with angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven,
singing the hymn of your unending glory:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.       
Hosanna in the highest.

Glory and thanksgiving be to you, most loving Father, for the gift of your Son born in human flesh. He is the Word existing beyond time, both source and final purpose, bringing to wholeness all that is made.
Obedient to your will he died upon the Cross. By your power 
you raised him from the dead. He broke the bonds of evil and 
set your people free to be his Body in the world.
On the night when he was given up to death, knowing that his hour had come, having loved his own, he loved them to the end. At supper with his disciples he took bread and offered you thanks. He broke the bread, and gave it to them, saying: “Take, eat. This is my Body: it is broken for you.” After supper, he took the cup, he offered you thanks, and gave it to them saying: “Drink this, all of you. This is my Blood of the new covenant; it is poured out for you, and for all, that sins may be forgiven. Do this in remembrance of me.” 

We now obey your Son’s command. We recall his blessed Passion and death, his glorious resurrection and ascension; and we look for the coming of his Kingdom. Made one with him, we offer you ourselves, a single, holy, living sacrifice. Hear us, most merciful Father, and send your Holy Spirit upon us that, overshadowed by his life-giving power, we may be kindled with the fire of your love and renewed for the service of your Kingdom.
Help us, who are baptised into the fellowship of Christ’s Body to live and work to your praise and glory; may we grow together in unity and love until at last, in your new creation, we enter into our heritage in the company of the Virgin Mary, the apostles and prophets, and of all our brothers and sisters living and departed.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory be to you, Lord of all ages, 
world without end. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer:   Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.   Amen.

The Communion:   draw close to Christ in spirit and thanksgiving,
and be nourished by his presence with you and within you.    

Prayer:   Almighty God, by whose grace alone we are accepted and called into your service:  strengthen us by your Holy Spirit and make us worthy of our calling, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

This hymn was written by Timothy Rees, who was a chaplain in World War 1 and Bishop of Llandaff during the Depression, Hear it sung at:

God is love, let heaven adore him;  God is love, let earth rejoice;
let creation sing before him,  and exalt him with one voice.
He who laid the earth’s foundation, He who spread the heavens above,
He who breathes through all creation, He is love, eternal love.

God is love and he enfolding all the world in one embrace;
with unfailing grasp is holding every child of every race.
And when human hearts are breaking under sorrow’s iron rod,
Then they find the self-same aching deep within the heart of God.


God is love, and though with blindness sin afflicts each human soul,
God’s eternal loving-kindness holds and guides and keeps them whole.
Sin and death and hell shall never o’er us final triumph gain;
God is love, so love for ever o’er the universe must reign.

Inspires online January 2021

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 dwalker@scotland.anglican.org, or Aidan Strange, Digital Communications Co-ordinator at aidans@scotland.anglican.org.












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 office@scotland.anglican.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.”
 
On














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.
 

Letter of Thanks and grant funding 29th January 2021

Letter of Thanks and Grant Funding 29th January 2021

29th January 2021

The Vestry of St Mary’s Church – Aberfoyle

I am pleased to report that our application to the SEC Building Grants Fund for a grant of £20,000 towards our Rectory Renovation has been successful.  Our thanks go to Mark Seymour for preparing this application and for all his work on this project.

This gives me the opportunity to express how greatly indebted we are to Mark for his outstanding contribution to the life of St. Mary’s as a member of the Vestry for more than 22 years.  During this time he was Chairman for over 10 years, overseeing the major renovation of the Church building during this period, and Secretary for more than 5 years, designing and maintaining the Church website. He stepped in as Interim Chairman when Revd Canon Richard Grosse retired and with Peter Forrester (St. Andrew’s) has taken us through the discernment process to the point where interviews will soon be taking place for the appointment of a new Rector.

St. Mary’s is in a good place thanks to Mark’s diligence and devotion, and we are extremely grateful to him for all that he has done over all these years.

Yours sincerely,

Interim Chairman

On behalf of the Vestry