News from the Scottish Episcopal Church
Welcome to 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.
Labyrinth helped Mairi find a path through lockdown
In coming years and perhaps even decades, we will sometimes hear the question: ‘What did you do during lockdown?’
Some will respond that they embraced DIY, or learned a language, or read the pile of books that had sat in the corner, untouched, for years. Many others will say that they fell ill, or tried to stay safe, or struggled to cope with isolation.
Not many will say that they designed and constructed a labyrinth in their garden. But readers of the monthly magazine produced by All Saints Episcopal Church in Bearsden will be familiar with the inspiring story of congregation member Mairi Ross, who has done just that over the past 10 months, using the rocks in her garden to create a very impressive and artistic structure around which plants are now blooming.
“Like so many, I was very frustrated at being unable to worship in church for so long,” says Mairi. “I semi-jokingly said that if it all went on much longer I would build my own church.
“A pause for reflection made me think that was a bit ambitious, but the idea of a labyrinth, as having at least a degree of Christian significance, caught hold.
“There is no way I could have completed this project without the help of my husband Niall, particularly when it came to excavating the enormous rocks lying under the surface of our garden!
“The trick with the really big rocks was: borrowing my husband,a mattock (wonderful tool), two five foot long wrecking bars, and using a strong porter's trolley as an extra leveraging tool. There is a pleasing symmetry about the very first and the very last boulders being the hardest of the lot!”
Mairi’s labour of love was also highlighted recently in a blog post by her neighbour, the designer Kate Davies, describing Mairi’s structure as “an act of personal devotion in the absence of her collective”. Kate’s husband, Tom Barr, took a series of excellent photographs of the creation, which we have been given permission to reproduce here.
Writes Kate: “Mairi began the project on October 1st, and has worked on the labyrinth virtually every day between then and now, in weather fair and foul. On even the most inclement of winter days, blasted by rain and wind, snow and sleet, Mairi laboured on with her mattock, digging out the labyrinth.
“The stones which surround the labyrinth, and mark its inner paths, were all dug from the ground by Mairi (which as owner of the adjacent garden, I can attest to being largely composed of heavy clay, and full of gigantic stones). This labyrinth was formed from really hard, physical work!
“Once the measuring, digging, excavating and wall and path building were complete, Mairi planted the labyrinth’s beds and laid gravel between them. The end result is truly stunning, and will doubtless become more so, as the plants spread to fill the beds in future years.”
Kate added: “I don’t share the same faith as Mairi, but I do appreciate how the construction of her labyrinth represents a significant act of faith and devotion, and how it, as an object and a space, provides opportunities for discipline, practice, and reflection. I also greatly appreciate being able to see it every day – among the many other wonderful things I see and experience daily as I do, living here, in this landscape.
“I think Mairi’s labyrinth just sings of resourcefulness, determination, and creativity – all of which are characteristics of its maker.”
The labyrinth was completed on 13 June this year, when the last layer of gravel was placed on one of the paths.
Mairi wrote in the All Saints magazine: “I have immensely enjoyed creating this, even, up to a point, when it required digging a bottomless pit under water, or hacking through earth fairly literally as hard as iron. It all seems a bit unreal now, looking at the finished product.
“I do occasionally ask myself how long it would have taken if I had just paid someone with rather more manpower and some heavy duty digging equipment, but then it would have cost (I imagine) a small fortune, and I wouldn’t have had the inestimable secondary benefit of it as my ‘sanity project’!”
Development of SEC Provincial Worship
Bishop Andrew writes:
The SEC Communications team has delivered recorded online worship at 11am every Sunday since 22 March 2020, back when we were entering the original lockdown. Many, many people have contributed to this pre-recorded worship over that 16-month period, with one of the College of Bishops leading the service every week.
Midweek and special services have been produced as well, with especial focus on Christmas and Holy Weeks and Easters. The College of Bishops would like to especially thanks Aidan Strange, the digital communications coordinator, who has edited all of these pre-recorded services, and Donald Walker, who took over as Director of Communications just as the lockdown hit. Their efforts have allowed this high grade, well-produced and vital worship lifeline to be offered throughout the times of lockdown and restricted times of the pandemic, reaching many people who were unable to attend in-person worship. The church did not close - we gathered online.
There are issues for the church to reflect upon as we take stock of our experiences in this pandemic. An SEC online conference scheduled for 25 September on online eucharists will be an important reflection on the mixture of necessity, sacramental theology and response to pandemic. Other issues of online community membership, mission and/or evangelism and the identity of online Christian community could also be explored in an SEC context.
Some developments in the Provincial online worship are also going to take place as we take stock of where we now are as the pandemic restrictions ease further. These developments will increase the range of worship options offered and may include potential flexibility in the mode of delivery of worship. The SEC remains committed to offering high-grade worship online every week, for accessibility for all as the pandemic continues and onwards.
One big issue is a change from every week’s offering being the same 1982 (gender inclusive language) ‘spiritual communion’ eucharist. As so many churches are now open and there are many other online offerings, we are proposing a change from this ‘provincially-branded’ standard lockdown eucharist to a potential ’showcase’ of SEC liturgy. A 1982 eucharist with spiritual communion may still be offered, but other liturgical forms (both eucharistic and non-eucharistic) may also be offered Sunday by Sunday. The range of SEC worship-leaders can also be increased with this development. This potential change to format will take place from the beginning of August onwards.
Another possible development is to offer occasional live streaming rather than pre-recorded worship. This will present a big challenge if we are to maintain the quality, stability and reliability of the Sunday-by-Sunday worship. Some pilot work to test streaming from an SEC church will take place in August. If this is successful, then the intention thereafter will be to stream occasional live Sunday worship through SEC channels.
Once again, on behalf of the College of Bishops and the whole SEC, thanks are due to the Provincial communications team and to all who have graciously and prayerfully offered worship recording over the past 16 months. As this work continues, we pray that this will continue to be a sign of God’s grace and love in a world that is, we hope and pray, moving outwards from the pandemic.
Advisory Group updates FAQs
The Advisory Group of the Scottish Episcopal Church has published an updated Frequently Asked Questions document regarding Covid-19 restrictions.
The new document takes into account the changes anticipated on 19th July 2021 when all local authority areas in Scotland are due to change to level 0 of the Scottish Government system. A key change at level 0 is a shift from 2m to 1m physical distancing inside buildings including churches.
The updated FAQs document is available here. When using the index of Advisory Group guidance documents, please always ensure you select the most recent version of each document. All documents are dated and ordered chronologically, with the most recent at the top of the list.
MBE honour for director of music
The Director of Choral and Organ Music at a Scottish Episcopal Church has been awarded the MBE for Services to Music and Education in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
St John’s in Dumfries is delighted to congratulate Jamie Brand, pictured, on the award. As well as a demanding job as Principal Teacher of Expressive Arts, Jamie directs the St John’s choir and oversees all of the church’s more traditional music as well as leading a number of local and regional choirs.
He also somehow finds time to be fully involved in a number of other whole-school activities at Annan Academy, supports other activities at St John’s, and takes an active part in the running of his family’s farm in East Lothian.
“We salute, and are very grateful for, his faithfulness and the skill, good sense and energy he brings to all these activities,” said a statement on behalf of the church.
SEC takes part in Anglican Peacemaking Institute project
Four delegates from around Scotland have been participating in a project about peacemaking with others from around the UK provinces. This project, led by ‘Reconciliation Initiatives’, a charity in partnership with Coventry Cathedral, is called the ‘Anglican Peacemaking Institute’ (API).
In England and Wales teams were drawn from individual dioceses in the Church of England and the Church in Wales. For Scotland, the SEC decided to draw a team from across the whole province and to support the work as a Province. The College of bishops and Standing Committee approved budgets and the recruitment of our delegates.
The SEC delegates are:
Dean Frances Burberry, Diocese of Edinburgh (top left)
Rev David Gordon, Diocese of Brechin (top right)
Rev Simon Metzner, Diocese of Edinburgh (lower left)
Rev Jo Mulliner, Diocese of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane (lower right)
As the delegates prepared to attend the delayed ‘in-person’ elements of the project at Launde Abbey on 27 to 29 July, they have reflected on what the project is about and the experience of participating in API through the months of pandemic. They say:
“I’m not sure if when we signed up for this course, any of us really knew what we were letting ourselves in for…. Trust me, this is a positive experience! For a start, we were off to Coventry Cathedral and onwards to Launde Abbey to enjoy new friendships across the Province and further afield. We were to explore together - some things new, some things different, some things which resonated and some things specific to individual settings which might need some getting used to.
“And then, we were parked in front of our computer screens for a week of online interactive lectures/presentations/activities – never having met our own team, let alone the folk from England and Wales. Whilst initially a challenge, this quickly became something to be explored and embraced – both personally and collectively.
“This became layers of learning that we were not really ready for, and became something really rather special where we were able to be vulnerable, supportive, lost and found all in one bundle of sharing.
“So, what is this all about? What is Reconciling Mission and how might it be relevant to you in your diverse settings?
“Well, the over-riding point is that it is all about becoming more deeply acquainted with our individual settings and finding all of the places where God is already working, already present – even if the people involved would not label their work in this way.
“We’re already doing so much of this stuff – it is intuitive to Christian ministry in all of its varied forms. And this is exciting because just as it is challenging us to think strategically, it is also looking through the lens of what is already present, what is already happening – from the outside in – so to speak. It works from macro to micro, or vice versa. It works and is working. This is simply about working more consciously and being unafraid to seek in differing places and perhaps engage with different people.
“The programme description is quite simply; “resourc[ing] participants with a vision for mission as a journey towards greater reconciliation in the world, marked by deep engagement with local communities, drawing on an asset-based community development approach.” i.e. Looking outward into the world where God is already working and asking how and where we can join in.
“And yes, you would be right if you’re thinking, “isn’t this just normal ministry?” And that is the exact point of this programme that together, we work to consciously think this through, examine ways of approaching parish audits; explore approaches of differing levels of success and take a cool, calm look at prayerfully seeking opportunities in differing settings and circumstances. And, most importantly, we challenge each other to think and explore and to wonder.
“This works through a series of teaching sessions which are presented and reflected upon; and also by ‘action learning’ coaching sessions where questions and observations invite individuals to reflect on where they are within particular situations which they choose to share with the group – teasing out answers and ideas for development from within self. This model of reflective learning can become a way of thinking which strengthens not only the person involved, but also those in their wider environment.
“This whole programme works by being conscious to community and learning what it is that makes each community and ourselves tick – all of community and all of us – not just the pretty, successful bits!
“Put simply; this is not a series of buzzwords and a new ‘initiative’. It is, however, deeply intuitive and operates uniquely to each person and their calling. This is the simple beauty of this programme – it works for you and with you – just where you are.
“This is both challenging and immensely rewarding – and it is certainly something which we as a cohort are keen to share with the rest of the SEC – so watch this space!”
To find our more about the API project, please contact any of the delegates listed above, or Bishops John Armes and Andrew Swift, who have been leading on the coordination of the project for the SEC.
Ordinations of Rev Liz Crumlish and Rev Joanna Twigg
Two ordinations took place earlier this month, one in the Diocese of Glasgow & Galloway and the other in the Diocese of Edinburgh.
On Saturday 3 July, the Rev Liz Crumlish was ordained a priest by Bishop Kevin at St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Glasgow, as pictured below.
Ms Crumlish will continue to serve as Curate at St Oswald's Church, Maybole, where she has been serving as a Deacon since her ordination there last December.
The following day, Rev Joanna Twigg was ordained as Deacon at St Paul’s and St George’s, Edinburgh (main picture).
The service was led by Rt Rev Dr John Armes, Bishop of Edinburgh, and was attended by physically distanced congregation members along with friends and family of Ms Twigg.
Rev Canon Dr Anne Tomlinson, Principal of the Scottish Episcopal Institute, also provided a sermon.
“It was a fantastic service which felt very personal and the sermon by Anne Tomlinson was quite powerful,” said Ms Twigg.
“Also, because there were so many people watching online. I felt so supported by those who couldn’t be there in person.”
The service can be viewed online at the St Paul’s and St George’s Facebook page
SEC in the Media
A high-profile wedding at a Scottish Episcopal Church in Edinburgh attracted a lot of media attention earlier this month, as Army Major General Alasdair Bruce married Stephen Knott at St John’s on Princes Street.
Major General Bruce also happens to be the new Governor of Edinburgh Castle, and a Royal commentator with Sky News and ABC News.
As the official announcement in the Daily Telegraph recorded, “the Bishop of Edinburgh officiated, assisted by the Rev Neil Gardner, Minister of the Canongate, and the Rev Markus Dünzkofer, Rector of St John’s Church”. A flag displaying the happy couple’s combined coats of arms was flown above St John’s to mark the occasion.
News of the marriage was carried in the Pink News, Edinburgh Evening News and Belfast Telegraph (Mr Knott is from Bangor in Northern Ireland), as well as on GB News and BFBS Radio.
After the ceremony, Mr Bruce said on Twitter: “This would not have been possible in the British Army I joined in 1979 and thanks to the Scottish Episcopal Church for making this joy possible in Scotland.
“Attitudes change, but love is constant.”
A couple of weeks later, Major General Bruce was interviewed by the Sunday Post and, as well as again expressing his gratitude to the Scottish Episcopal Church, he told the newspaper that he had needed to hide his sexuality from his colleagues for much of his career, to avoid being dishonourably discharged. The law changed in 2000 to allow members of the LGBTQ+ community to serve, and Major General Bruce is now the highest ranking officer in the British Army to have had a same-sex wedding.
The interview was followed up by The Times and Daily Record.
The Scottish Episcopal Church was also mentioned frequently in the media during recent coverage of the Methodist Church decision to permit same-sex marriage.
Elsewhere in the media, the Rev Diana Hall asked the question ‘What makes a good leader?’ when she delivered Thought for the Day on BBC Radio Scotland show Good Morning Scotland.
The Rector of St Anne’s in Dunbar said that when Christians consider leadership, they look to the example of Jesus of Nazareth.
Describing how Jesus concentrated on serving others, Ms Hall said: “One of the most striking displays of this happened on his final evening with the disciples. Before supper he worked his way around the room. One after another he washed the disciples’ feet. It was a shocking thing to do – a task regarded as dirty, reserved for slaves, certainly not for a wise teacher to do. But after he finished he said to them: ‘I have set out an example; you should do as I have done for you.’
“Leadership is always contextual, and the ingredients for excellent leadership today are unlikely to involve actually washing feet. Nevertheless, humility, loving service, and leading by example are perhaps values we can all seek to cultivate.”
The full version of Ms Hall’s broadcast can be heard here.
The Stirling Observer (now part of the Daily Record group) reported the good news story of the re-opening of St Saviour’s Church in Bridge of Allan, following a £387,000 renovation.
The local paper reported a St Saviour’s spokesperson as saying: “The congregation is at last getting to see the refurbished inside of St Saviour’s, after a long absence during which renovation work was taking place followed by church closures right across the country during lockdown.
“For the past year, church members have only been able to look at photographs of the refurbished interior, but the doors were re-opened for worship three weeks ago and people could at last see for themselves the work that has been completed.”
The full story can be read here.
Church in Society awards, Part 4: Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees
In the fourth part of our series highlighting the work of Scottish Episcopal Church partners, this month we focus on Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees.
Every year, the Church in Society Committee invites grant applications from organisations working on a variety of issues in Scottish society, and includes projects from the local, such as providing school uniforms for a local primary school, to the national, such as a third sector coalition combating climate change.
Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees (SFAR) is a multi-faith partnership project, hosted by the Church of Scotland, which seeks to co-ordinate and promote action by faith communities in Scotland to support asylum seekers and refugees.
The Scottish Episcopal Church has been involved with SFAR since it was established in November 2015, with active representation from Joan Lyon and Nick Bowry on the SFAR Co-ordination Group. SFAR is the main avenue for the SEC’s work with refugees and for refugee, migration and asylum seeker issues, and it receives Church in Society funding annually.
In 2020, before lockdown, SFAR was involved in two major events, in Glasgow on 29 February at St Rollox Church of Scotland, Sighthill and in Edinburgh on 14 March at Central Baptist Church.
The St Rollox Event was organised particularly with Glasgow Churches in mind; Glasgow is a major asylum dispersal centre and churches and communities have considerable experience of work with asylum seekers and refugees.
The Edinburgh event was called Sanctuary in Scotland and was organised with ACTS and CTBI. The conference explored theology and practice of churches’ work with refugees and was the key Scotland event for CTBI’s roll-out of the Church of Sanctuary initiative.
Other initiatives SFAR has been involved in include work around interfaith refugee integration in Edinburgh through the Weekend Club programme, plus the delivery of the New Scots Integration Programme (NSIP), a joint project with the Scottish Refugee Council, WEA Scotland and Bridges Programme to support refugee integration, part funded by the European Union.
NSIP work has included a series of awareness raising activities plus the piloting of a holiday hosting programme for refugees, where churches and church members welcome refugees living in another part of Scotland for a homestay respite visit.
Before lockdown, other key objectives were to:
• Take action relating to the attempted eviction of asylum seekers by SERCO and supported the ‘No Evictions’ campaign.
• Support and connect with partner organisations internationally, including in Calais, search and rescue in the Med., faith-based groups supporting refugees in Syria and Lebanon, and calls for religious freedom in countries where it is under threat
• Supporting the resettlement of refugees into Scotland, especially the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, including additional places via the sponsorship scheme, and learning more about the replacement scheme called the Global Resettlement Scheme.
Inevitably, lockdown affected a lot of the SFAR planning, with staff furloughed or redeployed during the spring and summer. SFAR was able to hold a final Weekend Club event in August before the project end. The NSIP awareness raising has continued, in the autumn moving to online presentations. Plans for refugee holidays had to be cancelled.
Two new resources were also produced over the last year. The first is as part of NSIP, called Sanctuary in Scotland – information for faith groups on refugee issues
Printed copies are available here.
The second is called God With Us and is an ecumenical anthology of worship resources: prayers, bible studies, songs, youth activities etc. on the theme of refugees and migration.
Also, a joint publication with Christian Aid Scotland, ‘Becoming Human Together, continues to be available.
Today, the work of SFAR is as relevant as ever, as the Nationality and Borders Bill makes its way through Parliament and objections are raised to the Government’s New Plan for Immigration.
The Government’s response to Consultation on the New Plan for Immigration was published recently, and it said: “The responses sent into the Government consultation also show that around three quarters of those who responded said they opposed many of the policies set out in the New Plan for Immigration. A similar view was also taken by those with direct experience of the asylum system. Having considered the findings from the consultation, the Government recognises that building a system that is fair but firm will require tough decisions, some of which may be unpopular with certain individuals and/or groups.”
In this knowledge, SFAR continues to highlight the need for “a more humane approach” to immigration and encourages people to sign up to the Together With Refugees Coalition.
Blessings for the birds and the bees
As the Church prepares for the introduction of a Season of Creation to the liturgical calendar, it is timely to note that work on this theme has been taking place ‘in the field’.
Recently, Bishop Mark and Bishop John have given thanks for the gifts that nature brings us each year, as they have blessed conservation initiatives to encourage the flourishing of wildlife that we live alongside.
In the north east of Scotland, the Huntly & District Swift Group was founded in 2017 to survey swift populations, which have been in decline with numbers halving in the past 20 years. A loss of nesting sites in our towns and villages is known to be partly responsible for this situation, in addition to global insect decline and adverse weather conditions caused by the changing climate.
Historically, church towers and other tall buildings have been a favourite nesting place for migratory swifts – clean-living birds which do not make mess at their nesting site – and 12 nesting chambers have been installed behind the louvres at Holy Trinity Church in Keith (pictured above right). There is no access around the boxes for other species to enter, and the swifts will be contained within their nesting chambers.
Attracting swifts to new sites can take a few seasons so patience is required, but once they begin to investigate the provision they should return the following year to roost and/or breed.
The Group is grateful to the Rev Canon Michael last, Rector at Holy Trinity, for his enthusiasm of swifts and for suggesting this project, and a few weeks ago, the initiative was blessed by the Primus on a visit to Holy Trinity (as shown in photograph, above left).
Meanwhile in Edinburgh, the young people of St Cuthbert’s in Colinton have been taking practical action to save the planet, as demonstrated in the Provincial Youth Committee video which was shown at General Synod in June.
The young people built a bee hotel out of a bread bin, hollow sticks and flowers, and Bishop John visited to bless the project, as pictured above. “It’s good as Christians to protect all God’s creatures on the planet,” said one of the team. “The hotel is for bees and butterflies, and they help the plants grow.”
The PYC video can be watched here.
Season of Creation introductory sessions
As reported in the May edition of Inspires Online, the Faith and Order Board and College of Bishops have approved the introduction of a Season of Creation to the liturgical calendar, running from the first Sunday of September for four weeks, concluding with Thanksgiving for Harvest on the fifth Sunday.
This reflects the commitment of the Scottish Episcopal Church to responding appropriately to the global environmental and climate crisis, which has drawn attention to what has perhaps become a neglected aspect of our faith: that God created the world, that it is good, and that we, as human beings created in God’s image, have a particular responsibility for the care of God’s creation. It is right that this be reflected in our worship.
The Liturgy Committee will be offering an introduction to the recently published experimental liturgies for the Season of Creation and to the new on-line form for feedback which will be created.
This introduction will be available on the morning of Friday, 13 August, and the evening of Wednesday, 18 August. In compliance with General Synod Office policy, it will be necessary to register in advance for these events. Please contact Sandra Brindley at firstname.lastname@example.org to register, and you will be supplied with the necessary log-in information.
Welcome to the new GPC Convener, Rev Dr Hamilton Inbadas
Following the General Synod of 2021, we welcome the Rev Dr Hamilton Inbadas to the role of Convenor of the Global Partnership Committee, writes the Very Rev Sarah Murray, Convener of the Mission Board.
Hamilton, who is the Priest-in-charge of St John the Evangelist, Forres in the Diocese of Moray, Ross and Caithness, is no stranger to the work of the GPC, having held the Asia and Companion Partnership Links. When the Covid-19 pandemic struck, he also took on the Covid-19 response of the GPC, but his first contact with the Committee was actually as an unsuccessful applicant for funding for higher education many years before he joined the Scottish Episcopal Church as an incumbent (when the GPC was still called the Provincial Overseas Committee).
Born and brought up in Tamil Nadu, India, Hamilton was ordained in the Church of South India. Having served as palliative care chaplain for several years at the Christian Medical College & Hospital, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, he then moved to Europe for higher education and a PhD at the University of Nottingham brought him to the UK.
His work in the UK included research for the Glasgow End of Life Studies Group at the University of Glasgow, exploring 'interventions at the end of life' globally. He continues to be an Honorary Research Fellow of the university.
"The Global Partnership Committee is a fantastic opportunity we have, to engage with churches around the world to learn about and to share in their aspirations and struggles of being and witnessing a church in different settings,” says Hamilton.
“We do, of course, have a pot of money set aside for the work of the GPC. It is a great asset that enables us to support the ministry of churches, particularly in the global south, to their local communities. However, the GPC is much more than offering funds. It is our opportunity to listen to and understand stories of potentialities and challenges our sisters and brothers across the world experience. It is our arm of companionship offering solidarity, prayer, and support.
“David Kenvyn showed fantastic leadership over the past five years actively interacting with church leaders and encouraging the members of the GPC in our work. I am grateful for all his contributions.
“We also have an enthusiastic and committed team on the committee who tirelessly keep working to maintain our existing international relationships active and to forge new ones.
I very much look forward to working with the team to promote the work of the GPC continuing to build bonds with churches around the world.”
Climate and gender – my broadening horizon
As a member of Christian Aid’s Advisory Committee, I have been well aware of the challenge of climate change in recent years, writes Dr Elaine Cameron. But I have been a slow convert to appreciating the enormity of the crisis, and the critical part we each have to play. Several events jolted my awareness of the need to think globally, while acting locally.
Becoming a grandmother five years ago was life-transforming. It was not just the joy of Maisie, the new baby, but the way it changed my sense of time. I found myself thinking not 10 years, but 100 years ahead.
For the climate challenge impacts us all across the earth, seen in both increasingly unpredictable weather, as well as the coronavirus pandemic. Flooded homes and disrupted transport systems in the UK are inconveniences compared with dying animals and destroyed crops in other countries, leading to starvation and poverty.
Maisie’s birth also reignited my commitment to the empowerment of women. Contrary to what we may think, the climate challenge is not gender neutral. Women make up the majority of the world’s economically poor, often responsible for day to day survival, and at greater risk of being in unsafe overcrowded shelters, for cultural constraints can hinder escape from disasters like floods and cyclones. UN Women Watch estimates that 90% of those killed by the 2004 tsunami were women.
But women are also powerful agents of change – think Malala Yousafzai or Greta Thunberg. Read the excellent article by Rachel Mash, Linking Gender and the Environment in the current newsletter from the International Anglican Women’s Network (IAWN).
The coronavirus pandemic also demonstrates the planet’s interconnectedness, cutting through national boundaries, vividly demonstrating how a local affair may have global consequence. But making us appreciate our finest medical and intellectual gifts in swift vaccine development.
We believe God saw that the world was good, and entrusted the world and its beauty to us.
Two years ago, when, near to tears gazing at Alaska’s Mendenhall Glacier (pictured above), I heard it crack and the ice fall, and I realised that we humans have been too greedy, too profligate in plundering the earth’s resources. As people of faith, we are called to be responsible, for both present and future generations. To try to secure that everyone is born equal in dignity and rights – not least the right to food and shelter.
We, the people of God are called to seek justice. We do this through the way we heat our buildings, how we travel and do business, what we choose to eat, and to wear, whether we recycle, or are wasteful. Our flourishing is not separate from the flourishing of the planet – God’s handiwork is a complex tapestry. Our lifestyles have to change.
Climate justice demands every fibre of our being. This is why I am humbled when I gaze at my granddaughters. This is why the SEC has committed to being carbon neutral by 2030.
Elaine Cameron is a member of the Church in Society's Technical group on Climate Change; a member of Christian Aid’s Scottish Advisory Committee, and a former editor of the IAWN Newsletter. She is currently a member of St John the Baptist Church in the Diocese of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane.
Diocese of Brechin welcomes new faces
Change has been in the air in the Diocese of Brechin this year, with a number of new appointments being made to fill vacancies.
As reported in the June edition of Inspires Online, the Very Rev Dr Elizabeth Thomson has now been installed as Provost at St Paul's Cathedral, Dundee. A video of the service of installation is accessible on the Cathedral Facebook page.
The Provost is now being joined by several new colleagues in the Diocese, the most recent announcement being that the Rev Jim Benton-Evans is to be the next Rector of St Andrew’s Brechin and St Mary’s & St Peter’s Montrose (with Bervie) and will begin this ministry in early October 2021.
Jim and his wife Claire, the Provincial Youth Committee Enabler (both pictured above) will be relocating from the Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway, where Jim is presently priest in charge of the East End Team.
“I am honoured and humbled to have been asked to come, and Claire and I are looking forward impatiently to being with you and continuing the wonderful work of building God’s kingdom in this corner of Angus,” said Jim, who follows John Skinner, the transitional priest in charge of the linked charges of Brechin and Montrose with Inverbervie from 2019 until he stepped down in May this year.
Elsewhere, Fr David Gordon was appointed Rector of St Salvador in Dundee earlier this month, the charge having been vacant since Fr Clive Clapson retired in June 2020. David will continue as the half-time priest in charge of All Soul’s Invergowrie. He was also interim priest for the St Paul’s Cathedral during its recent vacancy.
David, who was an NHS chaplain in Dundee for many years before returning to pastoral ministry in 2020, also has a ‘transitional ministry’ brief for the two churches he will now serve, as they explore what their future ministries may become.
Rev Martin Allwood was licensed as the Priest in Charge of Holy Rood Carnoustie and Holy Trinity Monifieth, having moved to the Diocese from North Yorkshire. Two services were held on 10 July to mark the occasion, one in each of those distinct communities. Like Fr David Gordon, Martin has a transitional ministry remit to work with the churches to develop and explore sustainable future patterns of ministry. Martin and his wife Colleen have moved to the seaside Angus towns and are looking forward to getting their sea kayaks busy soon.
Bishop Andrew Swift said: “It is heartening to be starting more transitional ministries. The Diocese is committed to supporting this new approach for helping churches find a long-term path for ministry, mission and renewal.
“These experienced priests will be welcomed and supported as they get to know their new congregations and work with them over the next few years to find these communities’ gifts and calling from God.”
The Diocese also brings news of departures, with the Rev Dr Francis and Rev Helen Bridger set to leave at the end of September 2021. Francis will be retiring as Rector and Helen finishing her time as priest at St Mary’s Broughty Ferry and St Martin’s Dundee. The Bridgers will have served Broughty Ferry for the past ten years and St Martin’s for seven years, and will be moving nearer to family in England.
The Scottish Episcopal Church uses the strapline ‘evangelical truth, apostolic order’ writes Rev Dr Michael Hull, Director of Studies at the Scottish Episcopal Institute, pictured right. Though each of the words is found in the New Testament, the phrase as such was coined by the American Episcopal priest John Henry Hobart in 1807. He called it his ‘banner’. (He was later consecrated the third Bishop of New York in 1816.) Hobart was keen to accent both evangelical truth and apostolic order in the Christian life.
Evangelical truth summarises a key belief of the early Church that was emphasised anew at the sixteenth-century Reformation in the British Isles, namely that Holy Scripture contains all things necessary to salvation. It is in the Bible and the Bible alone that God reveals truths we could never know by our own power, insight or industry. It is the Bible and the Bible alone that is the ultimate authority for our Christian life both in doctrine and ethics. ‘Evangelical’ as Hobart understands it follows from its Greek root: ‘good news’, ‘gospel’, that is the truth revealed in Jesus that sets us free (John 8.32). The only way to know Jesus, to know of the most profound realities, is to look to Holy Scripture.
It is for that reason that our divine worship, the liturgical life of Episcopalians, is overwhelmingly scriptural. The Scottish Book of Common Prayer, if one looks closely, is about eighty-five percent quotes, references and close paraphrases from the Bible. Likewise, a close look at any of the SEC’s contemporary liturgies shows that when we are at corporate prayer, we immerse ourselves in biblical language, imagery and symbolism. For most of us, though, corporate worship is available only on Sunday (the current pandemic notwithstanding). Yet, on the other six days of the week we have just as much need to be nourished by Holy Scripture. The seventeenth-century priest and poet George Herbert reminds us that worshipping God is not solely for Sundays: ‘Sev’n whole dayes, not one in seven, I will praise thee’. The same, surely, is true of spending time with Holy Scripture.
Because we Episcopalians, like all Reformed Christians, see Holy Scripture as fundamental to our faith and everyday lives, it is important for us to keep our biblical literacy alive. It behoves us to read Holy Scripture daily and to ensure that we study it seriously as lifelong students of God’s Word. The early Christians were wont to read the Bible in the vernacular, as we see in the example of St Jerome, who translated the Bible into Latin, the lingua franca of his day, and to rely on the help of the Holy Spirit in their interpretation. The Reformers, although they read the texts in the original languages and expected ministers to do the same, were lively translators. They wanted the Word of God to nourish each and every one of us spiritually. We have a great legacy of translations of the Bible into English from John Wycliffe’s work in the fourteenth century through the King James Version in the seventeenth century up to twenty-first century translations like the English Standard Version (2001) and the Modern English Version (2014).
We need the Bible’s daily nourishment. It is Jesus himself who reminds us of this in his earthly life. Each of the Synoptic Gospels recounts the Temptation, but Matthew gives us a particular insight. Jesus is preparing to begin his public ministry. He goes into the wilderness to fast and to pray for forty days. The forty days recall the forty years that the Hebrew people were in the desert as they prepared to enter the Promised Land. The Tempter seizes the opportunity to sorely tempt Jesus, who of course in his human body and nature is tired, worn and hungry. ‘If you are the Son of God’, says the Tempter, ‘command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ Jesus, fully aware of the insinuation that he should commit an act of hubris by making his own manna, replies: ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God”’ (Matthew 4.1–4).
The temptation before us today is to forget the wisdom of our strapline taken from Hobart’s banner, ‘evangelical truth’, which provides the nourishment we need in the contemporary worldly wilderness where a cacophony of voices similar to the Tempter’s tell us that the surest guides for our thought and behaviour are found other than in the words that come to us from Holy Scripture as interpreted in the Holy Spirit. It is also Jesus himself who tells us why he came: that we ‘may have life and have it abundantly’ (John 10.10). The life that Jesus brings, here and hereafter, is the Good News that our deepest desires and our spiritual hunger are assuredly met, and that all things necessary to salvation are given us in Holy Scripture.
Tribute to Rev Canon Ken Gordon
A fine tribute to the Rev Canon Ken Gordon was published in the Press & Journal newspaper recently, following his death in June at the age of 85.
Canon Gordon was rector of St Devenick’s in Bieldside for 30 years and gave service to the Diocese of Aberdeen & Orkney for 50 years.
The obituary reported:
"The devoted Christian, who was active in ministry until earlier this year, saw his death not as an occasion for sadness, but as his ‘graduation to Heaven’.
"Born in Edinburgh, Ken was the only child of Alfred and Alexanderina Gordon. His father died when Ken was just 15, and it was with his mother that he first encountered Christian ministry, accompanying her to St Thomas’s.
"Ken attended George Heriot’s School and a love of academic study developed, leading to a place at the University of Edinburgh before moving on to Trinity College Bristol for theological training. He later achieved a master’s degree.
"Although brought up in a church-going family, it would be as a teenager that Ken would feel a call to pursue the things of God more seriously.
"Phil Gordon, Ken’s son,explained: 'He was really influenced by the rector at St Thomas’s who he’d talk to and listen to.'
"On completion of his training in 1960, Ken moved to St Helens in Lancashire, as curate of both St Helen’s Church and St Andrew’s Church.
"In 1964 he married trainee teacher Jessica, and seven years later they moved to Scotland when Ken became rector of St Devenick’s. The couple would give their lives to the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney, serving within St Devenick’s for 30 years, and later at Westhill Community Church.
"In 2001 Ken retired and the couple moved back to Mawdesley in Lancashire but missed the north east so they moved to Drumoak where they remained until Jessica passed away in 2015.
"After the loss of his wife, Ken still served his parish. 'I remember my dad saying, ‘you don’t retire from the ministry’. And he certainly meant that. He was still leading and preaching part-time because a local church didn’t have a rector,' Phil added.
"Indeed he took on the role of priest-in-charge for two years at St Clement’s, Mastrick, and helping at Christ Church, Kincardine O’Neil.
"Ken briefly entered Bellfield Care Home in Banchory before passing away in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary surrounded by his family.
"Phil concluded: 'I feel very privileged to have come from a Christian home. My dad worked hard and it wasn’t always easy but he wasn’t ambitious career wise. His ambition was to promote Jesus, which he did, every day of his life.'
The full Press & Journal obituary, along with photographs from throughout Ken’s life, appears here. Our picture shows Ken with wife Jessica.
Standing Committee report
The provincial Standing Committee met on 1 July.
The Committee was grateful to all members of General Synod who had completed the online feedback questionnaire and it considered a report on those responses. It was pleased to note that over 90% of respondents found the online experience of Synod to be “generally positive” (the remainder were “neutral”).
However, it also recognised that a number of members found meeting virtually a "second best" option. It has not set a formal policy for all future meetings of General Synod but, at the present time, the expectation is that it will be possible for the Synod to meet in person in 2022. Depending on developments, it may also consider the possibility of a hybrid option combining elements of meeting in person with online participation.
Before then the Committee will consider whether some alterations to the Rules of Order would be appropriate to facilitate the conduct of debate at Synod. The draft minutes of the Synod meeting will be available shortly on the provincial website, together with the summary reports received from the breakout group sessions. Dates for Synod 2022 were fixed as 9-11 June and for 2023 as 8-10 June.
Following up on the discussions at General Synod about future vision and strategy, the Committee approved a process for taking matters forward. The Committee Convener, Bridget Campbell, will be undertaking a series of meetings over the course of the summer with bishops and conveners of provincial boards and committees as a first phase in that process.
The Committee discussed and agreed Terms of Reference for the new provincial Environment Group called for by General Synod and is now moving to establish the Group and appoint members. It also took note of preparations towards the COP 26 conference to be held later in the year but recognised that it was difficult to plan in detail owing to the lack of certainty over various aspects of the conference.
The Committee approved specific funding for three stipendiary curacy placements due to commence in 2022 and also for the rolling out in the Province in due course of a virtual training package offered by Place for Hope on how to address conflict which has already been the subject of a well-received pilot exercise in the Diocese of Brechin.
It took note of the ongoing work of the Covid Advisory Group and agreed that the current practice of provincial boards and committees meeting virtually, rather than in person, should continue for the coming months, albeit subject to review as lockdown measures continue to ease. It appointed two new members to the provincial Safeguarding Committee and, as is usual at its meetings, received reports from the Treasurer on the up to date provincial financial position and from the Director of Communications on relevant media and communications issues.
SEI reports biggest student intake in years
The summer edition of the Scottish Episcopal Institute Newsletter reports very good news on the forthcoming academic year, with the biggest intake of new students in many years.
The addition of an extra five Associate Tutors will also enable new courses to be taught, and for the first time the Institute will be able to offer modules in biblical languages.
And in further exciting news, there are details of how the Institute is going to be able to add a Postgraduate Diploma and an MA to its list of awards.
Elsewhere in the Newsletter, you can read about a Day in the Life of the Rev Canon Ian Barcroft, Provincial Director of Ordinands, who describes his involvement in the discernment process while giving a glimpse into how he clears his head away from work as a volunteer at Aberlady Nature Reserve (as pictured).
Canon Barcroft says of his role in the development of those exploring their sense of vocation: “For me, this privilege heightens the responsibility I carry for the SEC, but in order not to feel burdened by this, I offer my daily prayer, and start the day by reminding myself, as I have always done in priestly life, that what I receive comes my way as a gift – even some of those difficult deliveries from the courier of the Holy Spirit left on the doorstep – because the people I relate to through each day are a gift to me, the Church and the world.”
In other news, the Rev Dr Richard Tiplady was recently invited to contribute to an international project set up to help congregations make deliberate connections between the biblical principles of sustainability and daily life today.
In a piece entitled ‘Take nothing but photos; leave nothing but footprints’ which draws deeply upon his love of mountaineering, the SEI’s Director of Mixed Mode Training reflects upon Mark 6:1-13, Jesus’ instruction to the Twelve to travel lightly and live frugally in their work of mission. In a probing reflection, he challenges us to examine the over-consumption in our lives and to focus upon reducing, not simply re-using and re-cycling.
Full details and more SEI news can be found in the joint July-August edition here.
Q&A guide to the Provincial Youth Committee
The latest Provincial Youth Newsletter for the Scottish Episcopal Church is available, featuring Glen 21 news, the climate crisis, Prophetic Activists, a Church of the Future and socially-distanced rounders in the sun with the Fife Cluster Youth Fellowship!
There is also a Q&A guide to the role and functions of the Provincial Youth Committee composed by the Rev Beki Cansdale, the Youth and Children Officer for the Diocese of Argyll and The Isles.
The Summer 2021 Newsletter can be read here.
Christian Aid launches Hunger Appeal
Christian Aid has launched an emergency Hunger Appeal as the combined effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, and continued conflict have worsened global hunger.
“The possibility of starvation threatens many – from South Sudan to Afghanistan – but these deaths are preventable,” says the charity.
“Your support will provide water hygiene kits for clean drinking water, seeds and tools for households to grow vegetables and food for families facing starvation.”
Donations can be made on the Christian Aid website, where emergency church resources can also be found.
Rev Elizabeth Crumlish was Ordained Priest by the Rt Rev Kevin Pearson, Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway at St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow on 3 July 2021. She will continue to serve as Curate at St Oswald’s Church, Maybole.
Rev Donald Strachan died on 3 July 2021 aged 84. He served as Curate at St Mary, Aberdeen 1962-64. He then became Priest in Charge at St Paul, Aberdeen 1964-66. He also served as Chaplain at St Andrew's Cathedral, Aberdeen 1965-68. He was an Itinerant Priest in the Diocese of Moray, Ross and Caithness 1968-73. He became Rector at St John the Evangelist, Glasgow 1973-85. He served as Chaplain at HMP Barlinnie, Glasgow 1984-87. He served as Diocesan Supernumerary for the Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway 1985. He was a Member of Societas Sanctae Crucis. He held Permission to Officiate for the Diocese of Argyll & the Isles 1987-2006 and then a Warrant, Diocese of Argyll & the Isles 2006-21. He retired in 1994.
Rev Andrew Cooper will resign as Priest in Charge at St John the Evangelist, Jedburgh on 18 July 2021.
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