Supporting Ukrainians in Scotland
The war in Ukraine has seen many Scottish families open their doors to refugees who have fled their homeland in the face of Russian aggression.
One of those who stepped forward to offer a home to a displaced family is Father Gary Clink, Curate at St Mary’s in Arbroath, Diocese of Brechin.
Fr Clink found the Sapiha family, pcitured, through a Facebook group and offered to sponsor them via the Homes for Ukranians scheme, and they arrived at his home after a ten-day journey from Melitopol in the south east of Ukraine, in what is now Russian-occupied territory.
Ruslan, 35, his wife Anna, and their 12-year-old son Kiril had to drive through Crimea, cross the Kerch Bridge that was partially blown up recently, head up through Russia, endure a two-day wait at the border to get into Latvia, then down through Lithuanian, Poland, Germany and the Netherlands where they boarded a ferry to Newcastle and then drove up to Montrose.
“The family have settled in exceptionally well,” says Fr Clink. “Kiril is now attending Montrose Academy and plays football at the Montrose FC ground through the Montrose Community Trust. Ruslan is looking for work as a welder, and Anna is after some temporary work – possible as a cleaner or work on a farm, though she is open to ideas.”
Language has turned out to be a difficulty for the family, because although Ruslan was able to get an interview with a welding company in Scotland, he didn’t get the job because he did not have the technical vocabulary to be able to carry out the required tasks.
"What we've found is that although the council is supportive in giving people English, it's a one-hour lesson per week," said Fr Clink.
"You're not going to learn English in one hour. There needs to be a more intensive, immersive English course for people because without it, they're not going to be able to find jobs.
“Intensive English language courses would be most useful in providing essential skills to be able to get by.”
The family’s experiences, and those of other refugees among the 20,000 who have come to Scotland since the war started, have been featured by BBC Scotland.
Meanwhile, Fr Clink has also been involved with the Vestry at St Mary’s in the setting up of an ‘Orthodox space’ in the church. It consists of icons and candles to provide a space for the Orthodox community to be able to offer devotions and prayer.
“We felt that this was needed as we respond to being ‘one holy catholic and apostolic church’ as the nearest Orthodox church is in Dundee, which is not easy to get to when you have limited funds or access to transport,” explained Fr Clink. “It’s still early days with this project, but I have been in contact with Fr Avraamy Neyman, an Orthodox priest, who looks after both Dundee and St Andrew’s University Orthodox communities. He has visited us in Arbroath, led Orthodox prayer with some of the Ukranians, and said he would be willing to celebrate an Orthodox Christmas liturgy at St Mary’s, if we can get enough interest; ideally though we need the Ukrainians to form a choir to help sing the liturgy.
“There is a lot going on and I hope we can continue to do more to welcome our guests.”
A video of the Orthodox space can be viewed here.
Further examples of support being given to the Ukrainian community will be featured on the SEC website and on social media.
Porvoo Communion leaders urge action to stop Ukraine war
At an October meeting of the Primates and Presiding Bishops of the Porvoo Communion, the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church was one of 14 signatories to a letter urging the head of the Russian Orthodox Church to persuade the Russian President to stop the war in Ukraine.
The Porvoo Communion, which unites the Anglican Churches in Great Britain, Ireland, and the Iberian Peninsula and Lutheran Churches in Nordic countries, the Baltic, and Great Britain, met in Tampere, Finland, to mark the 25th anniversary of the communion. The Primates’ Meeting usually takes place every four years and should have taken place in 2021, but due to the pandemic had been postponed for a year.
A session consisting of presentations and discussions was devoted to each of the three themes of portrait, unity, and vulnerability.
In the session on unity, participants shared their horror at the Russian war in Ukraine. All continue to pray for peace and for a just outcome for the people of Ukraine, and for the return of stability to the whole region. At a separate session, the primates and presiding bishops agreed to send a letter to His Holiness Kirill, the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, which says:
“Together we want to express our horror at the war in Ukraine, particularly how deeply concerned we are at the renewed systematic targeting of civilians and local infrastructure in your neighbouring country of Ukraine by Russian military. These are acts against humanity, violating the principles of the Geneva conventions, and they bring the war into another level of cruelty and death for the Ukrainian people.
“At this moment, together we call upon you, Your Holiness, to do your utmost to convince the Russian President to immediately halt these attacks and end this war. We as churches should share the joint ecumenical commitments to follow Christ’s commission to love and to protect those most vulnerable, and to demonstrate that we all, including Your Holiness, should be peacemakers wherever we are.
“We assure you of our prayers and trust that you will do everything in your power to influence those making these decisions that escalate the war and other decisions made to destabilize Ukraine. For the sake of all, including the soldiers and their families in Russia, we urge your Holiness to do whatever is in your power to bring this war to an end.”
For the first theme of the meeting, papers tracing a portrait of the Porvoo Common Statement had been prepared, and there was discussion about whether the original intentions should be developed by exploring further forms and expressions of communion.
On the theme of vulnerability, the experiences of the churches during the Covid-19 pandemic and what they have learned for the future were the subject of presentations which reflected on new and sometimes challenging ways of being church discovered during the pandemic, and on how different ways of deepening spiritual life had to be sought.
Miriam Weibye, the Provincial Church Relations Officer, also attended the meeting as a member of the Porvoo Contact Group.
The full official communiqué from the meeting can be read here, along with the full text of the letter to His Holiness Kirill.
‘And praise Him Who did make and mend our eyes’. - the SEI Lecture 2022
‘Wow! oh wow!’ ‘What a brilliant lecture!’ ‘Great speaker, great clarity in an incredibly complex topic.’ Just some of the responses that have come flooding in following the Revd Professor Sarah Coakley’s SEI Lecture on 20 October, attended by around a hundred people and garnering numerous views subsequently.
Desire, a category of core human selfhood, is a topic which lies crucially at the intersection of human sin and salvation, and Professor Coakley held both in tension throughout her 50-minute lecture, offering a sparkling excursus on the unification of desire and its relation to God in prayer and praise. From a beginning which looked at the centrality of desire in the biblical witness, she moved to a consideration of the topic in relation to our longing for God in Godself, and the distortions of the desiring faculty in our propulsion towards sin. Along the way she urged us to think afresh about the ways in which we collude with the blandishments of the hidden secular persuaders of contemporary culture, and ended with directing us to ponder the dangerous but creative task which ministerial leaders have, especially in worship, of educing and directing desire towards God, a task which brings both moral danger and spiritual opportunity.
Throughout it all, Professor Coakley evinced that special trait which is present in all her writing and teaching, the art of holding the contemplative and the scholarly together. This was a lecture which addressed challenging theological concepts with rigour, drawing upon a wide range of published resources, and yet blended that seamlessly with the heart of a priest and a pastor; a lecture which was above all about the spiritual task of learning to see afresh, as Herbert puts it so beautifully in Love II.
You can read more about the Lecture at the SEI website here.
The lecture is available to watch again here.
At St Ninian's Cathedral in Perth on 2 October, Rachael Wright was ordained Deacon by Rt Rev Ian Paton, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane.
Our photo, kindly provided by final year ordinand Godwin Chimara, shows from left to right Rachael, Bishop Ian, Rev Dr Nerys Brown, Rector of St Mary’s Dunblane where Rachael will serve as Assistant Curate, and Rev Canon Liz Baker, Rector of Highland Perthshire Linked Charge, where Rachael served her Mixed Mode three-year training.
Bishop Ian summed up the day: "The Church of God has been changed… we have a new Deacon!"
On the same day, the Rev Dr Claire Nicholson was ordained Priest in a service at Holy Trinity Melrose, Diocese of Edinburgh. In a thank-you message posted on the Holy Trinity Facebook page, Rev Dr Nicholson said: "I am very grateful for all the effort, prayer and love that went into the day. I should say a special thank you to Pip [Fr Blackledge], who did so much work behind the scenes, and who has played such an important part in my formation for ministry.
"In the ordination liturgy we are reminded that a priest must pray and care for those committed to their charge. I will continue to pray every day for the congregation of Holy Trinity and I ask you to pray for me as I begin this new phase in my ministry."
Lay Readers Conference
This year’s provincial conference for Lay Readers of the Scottish Episcopal Church took place at St Ninian’s Cathedral, Perth from 28 to 30 October 2022.
The main speaker was Rt Revd Martyn Snow, Bishop of Leicester, with a talk on the topic “Lay Readers: A Prophetic Voice?”
It is the first non-residential holding of the Lay Readers’ Conference, and the programme included the opportunity to worship together and a choice of workshops covering aspects of Lay Reader ministry, plus the chance to meet socially.
Autumn Synod in Diocese of Brechin
The Autumn Synod of the Diocese of Brechin was held at St Ninian’s church in Dundee on 1 October, reports the Brechin Bulletin. This was the second Autumn synod of recent years: the spring Synod is canonically required, but other synods can be called for extra business.
This Synod received the annual report and accounts for the Diocese for 2020-2021, business that had been delayed by the need for a full audit of the accounts (rather than independent examination) as the capital assets of the diocese had passed the appropriate threshold.
The Synod then expressed its thanks to Allan Duffus, the retiring Diocesan Treasurer. Bishop Andrew gave him a presentation (pictured) and announced, once the cathedral statutes had been amended as planned to allow it, that he would recommend Allan as a lay canon of the cathedral. Allan was warmly thanked by the collective Synod’s applause.
The new Treasurer, Bob Main, then presented a revised scheme for the timing of quota and budget calculations, to give earlier information to diocese and charges. This was approved.
The Synod then focused on the SEC Net Zero environmental target, set for 2030 by General Synod. The Rev Willie Shaw, Rector of Grangemouth and Bo’ness and a member of the Provincial Environmental Group (PEG), spoke to the Synod. A video from PEG’s presentation to General Synod in 2022 was shared, giving detail of what the Net Zero target actually meant. Willie then talked about the discipleship that underpins this target. The Synod buzzed in small groups, then Willie received questions and comments from the floor. He was warmly thanked by the Synod for his help and support.
The Bishop confirmed the Acts of Synod and the delegates broke for lunch as the Synod concluded.
Next month's edition of Inspires Online will carry a report from the Diocesan Synod in Edinburgh, held on 27 October.
All Saints Challoch praised by National Churches Trust
All Saints Episcopal Church at Challoch is celebrating after being named runner-up In the Tourism category of the annual National Churches Trust Awards.
The church near Newton Stewart in the Diocese of Glasgow & Galloway, which is 150 years old this year, came top against stiff competition from entries across the UK.
The judges recognised the initiatives at All Saints to attract visitors to the building, including a more proactive approach to promote the church and its attributes via print and social media which has led to a substantial upturn in footfall.
Lay representative Gerry Ewan said: “We’re absolutely over the moon to be shortlisted for this Award. It’s especially fitting as we approach our 150th anniversary next month.
“We are reaching out to our local community and beyond to ensure All Saints remains relevant and welcoming to all visitors so we’re delighted the Trust has recognised our efforts”
“Thanks to our volunteers we’ve taken an part in national, regional and local events, rebranded and promoted our facilities, and continue to actively network with other organisations for the general good of all."
The Trust said All Saints’ entry was “of extremely high quality and there was very strong competition for the finalist places”.
More information can be found on the NCT’s website.
The winners of the Awards were announced on Monday 24th October at an event which was livestreamed. It also featured both long and shortlisted entries in all categories of tourism, maintenance, volunteers, friends, architecture and church of the year.
Around the Province
Aberdeen & Orkney
The Rt Rev Dr John Armes has issued a letter to the Diocese of Aberdeen & Orkney, following his appointment as Acting Bishop.
Bishop John spent two days in the diocese following his appointment and met a variety of people who briefed him about the life of the diocese and various ongoing initiatives. Further visits have been scheduled, and Bishop John will also be available by telephone and Zoom call while in Edinburgh.
Argyll & The Isles
• Mission Enablers Ros & Chris Brett are organising two events in the diocese in November. The first is an online event: Ways of Personal Prayer, to be held on Saturday 5 November from 10am to 3pm. This is a Zoom version of an in-person Lay Development Day which took place at Christchurch, Lochgilphead in August.
• A further in-person Lay Development Day, ‘Praying the Palms’, is scheduled for Saturday 19 November at St Mun’s Church Hall, Dunoon, from 10am to 3pm. For further information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
• A workshop for children and families in church was scheduled to take place at St Mary Magdalene's, Dundee on 29 October. Claire Benton-Evans, the diocese’s Children and Youth Officer, offered an interactive half-day workshop of fresh ideas, recommended resources and new things to try for Advent and Christmas.
• A range of excellent musical offerings of interest to all take place in the Diocese this autumn. St. Paul’s Cathedral in Dundee is hosting Friday lunchtime concerts again, following a pause during the pandemic. Details here. On Friday 4 November at 6pm, All Saints, Glencarse holds its annual All Saints-tide musical recital, and on Wednesday 9 November, St Mary Magdalene’s Dundee is hosting an informal lunchtime organ recital with Geoff Bolton, director of music from St Ninian’s Cathedral in Perth playing music by J.S. Bach.
• Still at St Mary Magdalene’s, donations of warm winter jackets and coats are needed the church’s 'Big Coat' Project over the winter months, while St James The Great in Stonehaven is celebrating the 10th year of its big book browse on 5&6 November.
• The Diocesan Environment Group has launched its website, packed with ideas and resources to help the SEC become carbon neutral by 2030 and including sections on Sharing Stories, Resources and Funding. The site can be found here. Meanwhile, ‘On The Road Together’ at St Mary’s Cathedral on 22 October, alongside Green Christian, saw participants come together as Christians to explore our calling to respond to the climate crisis.
• The Reverend Aaron Moffat-Jackman (Priest-in-Charge, St Peter's Episcopal Church, Musselburgh, pictured) presented two episodes of New Every Sunday on BBC Radio Scotland for Black History Month. They were aired on 2 and 9 October and are available here.
• Renowned organist Dr John Kitchen MBE will lead a celebration of the newly restored organ at the Church of the Good Shepherd at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Murrayfield, on Saturday 12 November at 5pm. The programme will range from Bach and Elgar to Gilbert & Sullivan, followed by refreshments. Admission by donation, email email@example.com to book a place.
• St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh is offering a 'Come and sing' day on Saturday 10 December where participants will perform Handel's Messiah (Choruses from part 1) and Christmas Carols with the cathedral choir 'in a rehearsal and concert experience'. The rehearsal is from 1.30pm to 4.30pm and the performance is 6pm to 7.30pm. Tickets are £15.
Glasgow & Galloway
• People from across the diocese came together for a service of Renewal of the Ministry of Lay Readers, Worship Leaders and Pastoral Assistants on 8 October, led by Bishop Kevin at St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Glasgow. During the service, Bishop Kevin thanked lay leaders, saying: "On behalf of the diocese, thank you all for your work. You hold licences and authorisations given by me and thus represent me and my ministry in your congregations for which I personally thank you. You enhance the ministry of the bishop and you help this little light of mine shine!" A full report is available on the Diocese's website here.
• The following weekend, the Diocese held a three-day Clergy Conference (pictured above, from the Diocese of Glasgow & Galloway Facebook page). Clerics prayed and studied together on the theme of Spirituality for Mission with the Rev Prof June Boyce-Tillman. The clergy also visited the charges of Hamilton, Motherwell, and Lanark and prayed together in the churches. New members to the diocese since the last conference were warmly welcomed and invited to share and participate in the life and witness of Glasgow and Galloway. Bishop Kevin and Dean Reuben led the closing session considering how the group would evaluate the spiritual vitality of the diocese's charges when planning the use of resources for the work of Christ's Church.
Moray, Ross & Caithness
• The feast of St Francis the patron saint of animals was celebrated with a Pet Blessings Service at St Andrews's cathedral in Inverness on 2 October. Rev Margaret Massey led the service along with Rev Don Grant, and dogs of all sizes and breeds were among those welcomed, along with their owners (picture courtesy of the Diocese's Facebook page).
• The Third Order of St Francis in association with the Community of the Cross of Nails hosted a Service of Reconciliation, Peace and Justice at St Andrew’s Cathedral in Inverness on Thursday 27 October. Bishop Mark took part in the service. The Cross was then put on public exposition in the Cathedral for reflection and prayer in the following days.
St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane
• Thursday 20 October marked the fourth anniversary of Bishop Ian’s consecration. After a short service of thanksgiving in St Ninian’s Cathedral, Perth, he was presented with a gift by the Dean to mark the event. “I value the prayers of every congregation whenever you pray ‘for the Bishop,’ and want you to know how much they have been appreciated, and needed, over the last four years,” said Bishop Ian. “With my thanks for all your support and encouragement since 20 October 2018, and for the joy of serving as your Bishop.”
• During the recent hosting of the Royal National Mòd in Perth, an ecumenical service of Celtic Praise was held on Sunday 16 October in St Matthew's Church, on Tay Street.
Glasgow and Bethlehem host Joint Advent Service
A joint Advent Service between Glasgow and Bethlehem is to be held on 3 December.
The ecumenical service at Glasgow Cathedral (St Mungo’s or High) will have a simultaneous link to the same service in the Church of St Catherine, Bethlehem.
The Christian communities in the two cities of Bethlehem and Glasgow, have enjoyed a Municipal Twinning Agreement since 2007.
The combined service of Readings and Carols will be led by local leaders from the Church of Scotland, the Catholic Church and the Scottish Episcopal Church in Glasgow and the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem in Bethlehem.
There will be a reception in the Cathedral supported by the Lord Provost’s Office after the service along with a chance to see the ’50 Faces of the Holy Land’ exhibition.
The service is free to attend and walk-ins on the day are most welcome, however, to assist with planning for the reception catering, those intending to attend are asked to register here.
New Convener sought for Ethical Investment Advisory Group
A convener for the reconstituted Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) is being sought, and any lay or ordained members of the SEC who are interested in the position are being encouraged to get in touch.
In June this year General Synod adopted the revised Ethical Investment Policy Statement for the SEC Unit Trust Pool (UTP). Drafting this was the final part of the remit of the EIAG which had been set up to look at specific issues relating to the UTP arising from General Synod 2019.
Standing Committee has agreed that EIAG should be reconstituted with a new remit, and is now seeking someone to convene the new group for the next five years. An interest in Christian ethics and a basic knowledge of investments is essential. The ethics of investments are complex and the convener will have oversight of a group where differing views are held in tension. The group will work closely with Investment Committee and report to Standing Committee.
The focus of the new group will be to provide advice to Investment Committee on matters relating to ethical investment, principally to consider how the broad aspirations in the Ethical Investment Policy Statement and the associated Policy on the use of Pooled Funds (2019) can be put into practice for the UTP. It is envisaged that the work will include discussion of topics recommended and requested by Standing Committee and other committees, as well as responding to concerns raised by members of the SEC in relation to the implications of current events.
The overarching aim will be to provide advice that is grounded in Christian theology, but practicable for Investment Committee to implement.
It is anticipated that the group will meet twice a year either online or in person at the General Synod Office.
If you would like to register an interest in the Convenership post or would like more information about it please contact Malcolm Bett (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Daphne Audsley (DaphneA@scotland.anglican.org).
St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh to host performance of The Covid Requiem
in a new partnership between St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh and the Traverse Theatre, playwright Jo Clifford and historian and activist Lesley Orr's Covid Requiem will be performed at St Mary's on Thursday 10 – Friday 11 November at 7pm.
According to a report on Broadwayworld.com, the piece was "inspired by Clifford's realisation of the scale of unresolved loss caused by the pandemic - those who could not be with loved ones as they passed, those who had to pass alone, and all who were denied the traditional mourning rituals - and the lasting impact of this particular type of grief on those still living, The Covid Requiem offers a much-needed chance for communal reflection on and remembrance of lives lost to a disease that is still with us, and a step towards healing."
The production includes excerpts from Fauré's Requiem, sung by the Cathedral Choir under the direction of Master of the Music Duncan Ferguson.
More information on the performances, and booking details are available at the Traverse website here.
Alastair Haggart Bursary applications invited
Applications are invited by the Alastair Haggart Bursary Fund Committee for the 2023 award. The Bursary is awarded annually in memory of Bishop Haggart, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church (1977-85). It aims to help finance sabbaticals or other similar leave of absence on the part of full-time ministers at a stage in the person’s life when such an experience will significantly enhance his or her development. The outcomes of the project should also be of benefit to the wider Church.
Due to the recent generous legacy received from the estate of the late Mrs Mary Haggart, awards totalling up to £2,500 will be made in 2023. The Committee will convene in mid-January 2023 to make the adjudication and the winner/s will be notified by the end of that month.
More details, including how to apply, are available here.
Personnel Committee: Convener vacancy
A vacancy will arise in the convenership of the provincial Personnel Committee in June 2023 and expressions of interest are sought.
The Committee works on policy development in relation to clergy personnel matters generally. It does not handle individual cases. A particular focus for the Committee in recent years has been that of clergy well-being and its work has included the development of a bullying and harassment policy for the church, the preparation of a complaints procedure, guidance on clergy time off and, in conjunction with Place for Hope it has promoted a training course "Living with Differences".
The Committee benefits from external support from an HR agency and meets four or five times per annum depending on business. The intention for the future is that some meetings will be held in person, others online.
The convener is a lay person to avoid possible conflict of interest arising. The post holder should have skills in the chairing of meetings. A professional background in HR/personnel matters is not essential but experience of dealing with HR/personnel issues would be of benefit. The Convener is also ex officio a member of the provincial Administration Board, which meets twice yearly.
The current convener is very willing to speak to any person who may be interested in the position. Whilst the vacancy does not arise until June 2023 an incoming convener would find it helpful to attend at least one meeting of the Committee before taking up office.
Vacancies in the membership of the Committee are also expected to arise in the coming year and expressions of interest are encouraged from any person (lay or ordained) with a background or experience in HR matters.
Expressions of interest in either the convenership or membership are invited and should be sent to John Stuart, Secretary General, on email@example.com by no later than 31 December 2022.
Kalendar for 2023 available for free download
The Very Rev Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St Mary's Cathedral in Glasgow compiles an annual Kalendar for the Scottish Episcopal Church containing all the readings for Daily Prayer and for the Sunday Lectionary along with a host of other information. This year, for the first time, the Kalendar is available as a free download. It can be accessed here.
Two ministers, two mountain accidents, two helicopter rides.
The Rev Dr Richard Tiplady (pictured) was recently a guest on the Very Rev Dr Martin Fair's podcast, To Be Fair. On the episode Rev Dr Richard compares notes with the former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland about their love for Scotland's mountains and finding themselves and God there. And making friends with members of the Mountain Rescue Teams.
You can listen to the episode, title A Real Life Cliffhanger here.
Advent Course: People of Bethlehem in Scripture
To Christians, Bethlehem is best known as the birthplace of Jesus, and perhaps secondly as the hometown of David, the founder of the royal dynasty from which he was descended. Bethlehem occurs very much earlier in the Bible, and in the first two occurrences the central characters are women. Their stories also concern issues relevant to Christian faith and life, not least during the season of Advent.
The Reverend Canon Dr Nicholas Taylor, Convenor of the SEC Liturgy Committee and a biblical scholar, will be joined by members of the Church from across Scotland, with varied experience of Christian life and witness in the Middle East, in presenting a series of four studies based on the figures of Rachel, Ruth, David, and Jesus. Sessions will be delivered via Zoom on the Wednesday evenings of Advent (30 November, 7, 14, 21 December), and will include questions for discussion and points for prayer. There will also be a concluding reflection, drawing together the threads of the four studies, on the Wednesday after Epiphany (11 January). All will be welcome to participate, and a recording of the presentation will be available for use at other times. Sessions will begin at 7.30 pm.
This course is complementary to, and not in competition with, that to be offered by the Reverend Dr Michael Hull, Director of Studies in the Scottish Episcopal Institute, on the Monday evenings of Advent.
To receive the Zoom link for sessions, or if you have any enquiries, please contact Nicholas Taylor firstname.lastname@example.org or Jan Benvie email@example.com
‘Anglican’ Christianity: A four-part series in Advent 2022
What does it mean to be an ‘Anglican’ Christian?
Over 40 Churches around the globe, consisting of no less than 85 million people, identify themselves as ‘Anglican’. Yet, Anglicans are divided among themselves in terms of doctrine and practice as was demonstrated in the most recent Lambeth Conference (Summer 2022). This Series looks to four staples that Anglicans have classically identified as the bases of their doctrine and practice to highlight harmony rather than discord.
The Series will be offered on the Mondays of Advent 2022 at 7pm (Edinburgh time) in four 30-minute webinars, each of which will be posted on YouTube. The Series is meant to be a resource for Anglicans/Episcopalians to use creatively during the Season of Advent, for example as a refresher course for individuals or a conversation starter for church groups, with discussion questions at the end of each webinar.
1. Holy Scripture: ‘all things necessary to salvation’ and the rule of faith (Monday 28 November)
2. The Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds: symbols and statements of faith (Monday 5 December)
3. The Dominical Sacraments: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Monday 12 December)
4. The historic Episcopate: a universal and locally adopted means of unity (Monday 19 December)
Presenter: Revd Dr Michael Hull, Director of Studies and Tutor, Scottish Episcopal Institute. Time: 7pm to 7.30pm (Edinburgh time) on Monday evenings in Advent 2022.
Registration is free. All are welcome. The link to register is here.
The SEI Journal: Autumn edition
The Autumn edition of the Journal is about Christian funerals. Funerals form a significant part of the liturgical life of any religious community, and the Scottish Episcopal Church is no exception. It is not so much the inevitability of death, and the challenges and opportunities of exercising Christian ministry to bereaved families and friends whose contact with the Church may otherwise be tenuous, as that what we believe and profess about death effectively defines our purpose in life. As the apostle Paul observed, without resurrection — however understood — there is no meaning at all to the Gospel. As the Liturgy Committee of the Faith and Order Board begins its task of renewing and expanding the SEC’s provision for Christian funerals and seeks to draft rites which are both true to our Christian heritage and speak meaningfully to the culture in which ministry is to be offered, this number reflects on some theological and pastoral issues.
The new edition can be read here.
Out of the mouths of babes
As I steer my young children to and from school, shop, sport and, of course, church, they ask me about those who beg on the streets of Edinburgh, writes the Rev Dr Michael Hull, Director of Studies at the Scottish Episcopal Institute, pictured
. I do my best to explain. My explanations aren’t too shabby, for my wee ones demand I put something in every outstretched palm or cup. If I demur, I encounter their candour: ‘Daddy, you can’t forget them! You’re a priest!’ As the Psalmist says, and Jesus repeats, ‘Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast brought perfect praise’ (Psalm 8.2; Matthew 21.16).
A hazard of being a priest’s child is hearing lots of preaching about helping others, especially the poor, but seeing too little actual helping. It gives me pause that we Christians, myself more than anyone, so often fail to match words to deeds. Even more disturbing is when we mistake our words for deeds, that is when we deceive ourselves into thinking that we’re doing good when we’re telling others to do good.
Take the homeless crisis. More Christians and church leaders than I’m able to count are telling others what to do in terms of caring for the homeless. We are remarkably fond of telling the Government what it ought to do. Yet far too few of us have taken in a homeless person or contributed in any meaningful way of our own time, talent or treasure to solve the crisis. What’s even worse is that so many Christians these days publicly lament that no one seems to be listening to us about the homeless crisis — or about anything for that matter. Whether a church-manufactured metanarrative of a secular zeitgeist refusing to hear us, or a delusion of grandeur in terms of thinking ourselves speaking truth to power, it seems to me that no one is listening because, as St Paul reminds us, no matter how well we speak, if we have not love, we are sounding brass, clanging cymbals, empty noise (1 Corinthians 13.1). What sort of love? Well, Jesus tells us that it is the sort of love he not only taught but exemplified when he laid down his life for us: for you, for me, for everyone (John 15.12–13). It is love in action.
No one needs Christians to tell them what to do. Everyone needs Christians to show them what to do. We Christians would have much more influence in the twenty-first century public square if we had more good works than good words to support what we have to say.
Besides, the stakes for us Christians are much higher than being ignored or suffering derision in this world. It’s a matter of eternal life and death. Jesus tells us that at the Last Judgment there will be a separation between sheep and goats (Matthew 25.31–46). Jesus tells us that our places in the next world will have little to do with our bleating; our fates have to do with our behaviour. ‘Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in.’
My children do no formal theological reflection about acting in persona Christi at the altar, but they sure do seem to understand when they say, ‘Daddy, you’re a priest!’, that talking in Jesus’s name should mean acting like Jesus, that being a priest, if it means anything at all, means being a Christian. Jesus did not pass by people who cried out for help as he walked the streets of first-century Jerusalem. There is a striking scene in St Luke’s gospel that casts in relief the meaning of love in action. St John the Baptist sends two of his disciples to enquire of Jesus if he is the Christ. Jesus doesn’t bleat an affirmation or get on a soap box. Instead, Jesus says, ‘Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them’ (Luke 7.22). In other words, if you want to know who I am, look at what I do, says Jesus.
Thank God for the candour of the young. Out of the mouths of babes God brings perfect praise. If we want to be Christians and if we want to share the Good News with others, the place to start is on the street by showing others and ourselves who we are by what we do, by putting something in every outstretched arm or cup, and by preaching with deeds rather than words to a world that needs love in action.