Greyfriars and St. Mary’s is a linked charge of the Scottish Episcopal Church in the diocese of Glasgow and Galloway. The church in Kirkcudbright dates back to Medieval times, and in Gatehouse of Fleet to 1840. We hope you will find in these pages welcome, inspiration and information.
I have noticed many Christmas cards today do not include a New Year greeting. Maybe we are too fearful of what 2022 may bring! The Church is however in the optimism business. No matter how dark the world is with warfare, hunger, injustice and environmental imbalance, the birth of a baby is still the brightest hope. The best news the world has ever heard came not from a palace but from a stable. I spent my teenage years in a large old rambling Rectory in rural County Tyrone. Our slight claim to fame was that it was the former residence of Cecil Frances Alexander the hymn-writer (her less famous husband had been the bishop of Derry). She may have looked like a large stern Victorian matron, but she had a passionate zeal for caring for poor children especially those castigated by society. One dreich winter’s day she came across a poor girl who had just given birth to a baby in a barn and immediately cared for her and her child. Mrs. Alexander may well have been thinking about the Virgin Mary and her baby born in utter poverty, for she shortly afterwards wrote these words; Once in Royal David’s city stood a lowly cattle shed, where a mother laid her baby in a manger for his bed. These words in this carol have been at the heart of Christmas ever-since. I am DELIGHTED that our beautiful old churches in Kirkcudbright and Gatehouse ARE open for worship over Christmas so that we may share the true meaning of it all. The Wise Men (and we don’t know the number of them) are not just a bit-part in the Christmas story, but a whole life–changing miracle narrative representing the then known world acknowledging that something very special had happened that first Christmas. Indeed the word Epiphany has come into our English language because of this great event of Christ coming into the world AND into our everyday experiences. It means literally a “moment of sudden and great revelation or realisation”. Now there’s a New Year hope!
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11.28
As we approach the second Christmas of this pandemic, the College of Bishops remains committed to supporting and guiding all of the churches of the SEC in their pastoral and liturgical ministry as the pandemic continues. Guidance on the specific actions that apply to use of our buildings continues to be provided by the Advisory Group for the SEC, who have issued guidance as the government responds to the ‘Omicron’ variant of the virus.
Following the encouragement of the Anglican Communion that all provinces give attention to Christian discipleship, the College of Bishops and the Mission Board have decided to promote a Season for Christian Life. The purpose of this initiative is to offer to the church a season which would enliven Christian faith and life, with a broad base of entry points.
Greyfriars and St. Mary’s Joint Climate Sunday service was held in Greyfriars Episcopal church Kirkcudbright on Sunday 31st October. It was organised by the Rector, Canon Stephen Hazlett, and Rachel Inglis, the local churches eco rep. A well- attended ecumenical occasion, the congregation of St. Mary’s Gatehouse of Fleet also attended and participated, as did the local Church of Scotland Minister, Rev. James Gatherer. Those taking part reflected all ages the youngest being Murdo Shaw, aged 13, who read the COP26 prayer. Worshippers added their prayers and environmental commitments to the church prayer tree (pictured) and others planted crocus bulbs”. Photos by Hazel Hazlett.
Greyfriars and St Mary's held a Joint Vestry meeting on Thursday 4th November. At this convivial meeting Gwen Shaw was presented with a card and bunch of flowers by St Mary's Vestry to mark her retirement as Greyfriars secretary after the AGM on Sunday 21st November. Thanks also to St Mary’s Vestry for their hospitality.
Bishop Kevin has just announced that our Rector Rev Stephen Hazlett has been appointed a Canon of St. Mary’s Cathedral Glasgow, largely to reflect on his extra work with vacant churches in the Galloway Region of the diocese of Glasgow. Congratulations to Stephen - this refelects well on Greyfrairs and St. Mary’s and his “other” churches in Challoch, Stranraer, and Portpatrick and certainly does not mean he is moving to Glasgow but that the Galloway region will now have a stronger voice in the diocese and cathedral.
Many Scottish Episcopal Church congregations are providing weekly online worship. The list is arranged diocese-by-diocese in alphabetical order, and provides the name of each church, a link to the broadcast platform, and the church’s website address. The collated information is not exhaustive and is subject to variation in what is a fluid situation.
Aberlour Children’s Charity is supported by our churches, and is this year’s diocesan Lent appeal.
They are calling for the Scottish Government to double the Scottish Child Payment to £20 on a permanent basis. To achieve this would be a massive benefit to many struggling families, given the growing levels of poverty in Scotland.