inspires online


News from the Scottish Episcopal Church

February 2021

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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or Aidan Strange, Digital Communications Co-ordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Bishop-elect waits for green light to move northOn

After a historic first online episcopal election in which the Diocese of Argyll & The Isles chose a new Bishop, discussions are taking place about when the Rev Canon Dr Keith Riglin might be able to take up his position.

With movement across the UK currently restricted because of Covid-19, the Bishop-elect remains in London, but hopes to be able to move to Argyll & The Isles in April or May, depending on how the easing of restrictions works out in the coming weeks.

Canon Riglin was selected by the Electoral Synod from a short-list of three candidates and will fill the vacancy brought about by the translation of the Rt Rev Kevin Pearson to the Diocese of Glasgow & Galloway last year.

The successful outcome also means that the College of Bishops will now have a full complement of seven Bishops for the first time since 2016.

The Bishop-elect is Vice Dean and Chaplain at King’s College London, where he is also a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies. He also serves as Assistant Priest at St Anne’s Church, Soho and as an Authorised Presbyter at Wesley’s Chapel, London.

After his election, he said: “I am delighted and deeply touched to be elected as Bishop.

“This is such an important time for our communities and churches. I’m humbled by the confidence placed in me, and look forward to all that God may do.”

The Most Rev Mark Strange, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, said: “I am delighted to welcome Rev Canon Keith Riglin to the College of Bishops. Keith has served the diocese of Argyll and The Isles as an encourager and enabler, bring fresh insights that has invigorated the clergy and congregations. May he be blessed in his new ministry.

“My thoughts and prayers are also with the two candidates who were not elected, the Very Rev Margi Campbell and the Rev David Railton. May their ministry continue to flourish as they follow the path of their vocation.”

Ordained in 1983, Canon Riglin has worked in university chaplaincies in Bath and Cambridge, as a Minister in Amersham, and as a lecturer at the United Theological College of the West Indies. After 25 years serving Baptist and Reformed charges, he received Holy Orders in the Church of England in 2008, serving his title in a Notting Hill parish and community development project. Prior to his appointment at King’s in 2012, he served briefly in the Diocese of Argyll and The Isles, where he has had Permission to Officiate since 2012. In March 2020 he was installed as an honorary Canon of St John’s Cathedral, Oban.

He read education and religious studies through the Institute of Education, London, and theology at Oxford, and undertook post-graduate work (MTh) at Heythrop College, London, and completed his ThD thesis, in ecclesiology, at the University of Birmingham. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, an Associate of King’s College, and a Senior Member of Wolfson College, Cambridge. He is Chair of the All Saints Educational Trust, Chairman of the Council and Governing Body of Regent’s Park College, Oxford, and a Director of Ordinands in the Diocese of London.

Canon Riglin is a regular Tutor on the Oxford University Summer Programme in Theology and a frequent visitor to Ghana and the University of Cape Coast.

A long-standing member of the Methodist Sacramental Fellowship, he is particularly interested in ecclesiology and sacramental theology, and the application of theology and religious belief to public thought and practice.

He has two daughters, both graduates of UCL, and lives with his wife Canon Jennifer Smith, a Methodist presbyter and superintendent minister of Wesley’s Chapel, London. He enjoys cinema and contemporary dance, is a passionate fan of the music of the late Beatles member George Harrison, and has been a life-long fan of Doctor Who since watching the first ever episode in 1963, at the age of five.



Healthy turnout at Provincial Welcome Day

Provincial Welcome Day is usually a chance for new clergy and Lay Readers to meet each other for the first time, as well as making acquaintances with staff at the General Synod Office in Edinburgh.

The annual February gathering at Forbes House could not take place this year, but the event went ahead regardless on Zoom, where the formal agenda closely resembled the events that would have taken place at a physical gathering.

Last year’s attendance of 25 was the largest ever assembled at Welcome Day, and this year provided healthy numbers again, with 20 people invited.

Opening worship was led by Rev Canon Dr Anne Tomlinson, before the Primus, Bishop Mark Strange, gave an overview of the Scottish Episcopal Church from its origins to the present day, followed by an overview of the working and structure of the Province, General Synod, Provincial Boards and Committees, and the Canonical framework from John Stuart, Secretary General (pictured above left).

The 18 invitees then split into break-out groups for discussion to round off the morning session.

After lunch, the Rt Rev Ian Paton, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane (pictured above right), provided a guide to the SEC Liturgies, and after a brief address from the Director of Communications, the Rev Dr Michael Hull led a session on Continuing Ministerial Development, assisted by Bishop Ian.

A question and answer session with GSO staff then took attendees to the final part of the day, with Rev Dr Hull leading the closing worship.

Feedback forms have been sent to those who attended, and all views will be taken into consideration during planning for Welcome Day 2022.


Bishop John encourages take-up of vaccination

‘Stay safe – get vaccinated’. That has been the message from the College of Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church as the Covid-19 vaccination programme rolls out across the country.

The Rt Rev Dr John Armes, Bishop of Edinburgh, showed the College’s lead when he received his jab at the NHS Scotland Vaccination Centre in Morrison Street, Edinburgh recently.

Bishop John recorded a short video message of encouragement to others as he entered the Vaccination Centre – better known as the Edinburgh International Conference Centre – and then again as he emerged, post vaccination. You can see it here  


Independent review to be set up

Following a request made by the Bishop of Aberdeen & Orkney, the Rt Rev Anne Dyer, the College of Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church has decided to set up an independent review in the light of difficulties in that Diocese.

The review will provide an opportunity for all relevant parties to make submissions about issues referred to within, leading up to, and arising from recent media coverage, as well as any other related issues.

It will be a confidential process, and at its conclusion a report and any recommendations will be made to the College of Bishops, who will then assess what further action may be required.

The College will now move to appoint an individual, independent of the Scottish Episcopal Church, to conduct the review as soon as possible, with a view to beginning the process at the earliest opportunity.

Bishop Anne made the request for an independent review after being subject to unsubstantiated and anonymous allegations in the national media.

A further announcement will be made when a review head is appointed.


Provincial online worship update

The provincial online worship services continue this Sunday at 11am with a Celebration of the Eucharist by the Rt Rev Dr John Armes for Lent 2. You can find links to the worship and to download the order of service here.

There are also now weekly Sunday Services produced for young children. These short services run at 8am on Sundays and can be found at the same link, and on social media.

In addition to the online resources, there is a telephone service to allow those who do not have internet access to listen to the service of worship by telephone. The facility is free of charge for anyone calling by landline or mobile phone from within the UK. It will be helpful if those who have online access to worship continue to use that method rather than using the telephone line, to avoid unnecessary additional cost incurred by the GSO, and we would also appreciate help in reaching non-internet users who are unable to see this information.

Anyone who would like full details of how to access the telephone line, in order to share them with someone who needs this service should email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Holy Week 2021

Throughout Holy Week there will be a special series of provincial worship services between 1-4 April, on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday.

Full details of these special services will be published soon at this page on our website.



Return of the SEC Virtual Choir

For Easter 2021 there will be a new virtual choir project for the provincial online worship, following on from our successful Advent Lessons and Carols service in December 2020 (found here

As before the system for recording is simple, and is designed to allow a large number of contributors from around the Province to take part. If you love to sing, and wish to be involved in this musical offering for Easter, please get in touch with our Digital Communications Co-ordinator This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for full details and guidance on how to contribute.

We are keen for as many people as possible to be involved in this project to celebrate Easter as a dispersed but still connected community during the pandemic, so if there are people in your circle who love to sing and might be interested in joining in, please share this information with them.

And once again - singing ability is welcome, but enthusiasm is essential!

BBC at St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow

The Very Rev Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow, led a communion service on BBC Scotland’s weekly worship programme ‘The Service’ recently.

Intercessions were from the Rev Canon Oliver Brewer-Lennon, who also delivered the Bible and Gospel readings. Congregational singing and choir performances came from St Mary’s recordings in the BBC archives.

The 30-minute programme can be watched again here.


Bishop Andrew on the lost art of waiting

The Rt Rev Andrew Swift was a recent contributor to the weekly Credo column in The Times newspaper, where he reflected on the celebration of Candlemas, the feast that draws us into waiting.

“We are all waiting,” wrote the Bishop of Brechin. “We are waiting for the roll-out of vaccines to reach our loved ones, our colleagues, maybe even ourselves if we are reasonably young and fit. We are waiting for the graphs of positive cases, the graphs of hospital admissions, the heart-breaking graphs of Covid-related deaths to fall and level out towards zero. We are waiting to be able to greet friends with a hug, to shout to make ourselves heard in the pub, to sing in churches.”

He continued: “Waiting is embedded in being human, whether as portrayed in gospel narratives or being lived out in an uncertain early 2021. From a Christian perspective, we are all waiting for the fulfilment of those kingdom promises that Jesus made to his followers 2,000 years ago.”

For those with a Times subscription, the full article can be read here.

Elsewhere in the media, the election of a new bishop in Argyll & The Isles was covered in the Press & Journal, the Stornoway Gazette, the Church Times and by the Press Association.

As Lent began and the anniversary of lockdown loomed, Bishop Anne Dyer reflected on what this means for a society that has re-considered the value of community over the past year In her regular column in the Press & Journal newspaper.

“In churches, a Lent fast is not just about personal downsizing,” wrote the Bishop of Aberdeen & Orkney. “We are encouraged to look at our behaviours and values. In our prayers and readings we are encouraged to fast from injustice. We are encouraged to fast from, that is give up, those things which lead to the oppression of other people. This kind of fasting is much more difficult.

“Fasting from injustice requires a change of mindset. It requires us to realise how connected to each other we are. This is something that we have been learning in new ways during the pandemic. We now appreciate that what seems like a small activity for me like entering someone else’s home or not keeping proper social distance, can have a great effect on another person.

“We are learning afresh what it means to live in community, that for one person to stay well, everyone has to stay well. If something good is to come out of all of this then maybe this is what we should learn: There is not justice for one unless there is justice for all.”

The full article can be read here.

SEC provides vital support for Gaza hospital

In Gaza City Hospital facilities are at a premium, writes David Kenvyn, Convener of the Global Partnerships Committee. This means that there is a focus on making surgical treatment cost effective and efficient which can be achieved through the reduction of post-operative infections, and also reducing the need for further treatment.

The Gaza Community Ahli Arab Hospital has started an initiative which aims to achieve two things. Firstly, to upgrade operating theatres with minimal invasive surgical equipment. Secondly, to train staff who will be carrying out the operations in how to do this new type of surgery. This means that more surgeries can be carried out in one day, shorter waiting lists and reduced costs.

In 2019, the Ahli Arab Hospital submitted a request to the Global Partnerships Committee for a grant of $6,000 or about £5,000, which the Committee awarded.

As a result of this funding, the hospital was enabled to train 200 doctors in minimal invasive surgical techniques with, 40 of the trainees having advanced training. In addition, the grant enabled the hospital to purchase the equipment required for these new types of operations to be carried out.

There have been a significant number of staff now trained in carrying out or assisting in minimally invasive surgery. The people of Gaza now have access to surgeries that are safer and carry less risk of complications. 

The Global Partnerships Committee continues to hold the staff and patients of Ahli Arab Hospital in its prayers, particularly as the hospital responds to Covid-19 cases in Gaza.

Interested in the life of the global church? Apply here!

The Global Partnerships Committee is responsible for the distribution of approximately £110,000 per year in small grants to projects run by our sister churches within the Anglican Communion or, in co-operation with the churches of other denominations in Scotland, to agreed suitable projects and organisations. In the last year, it has funded projects such as buying hand tools for an agricultural project in South Sudan; tree planting in South Africa; funding a youth advocacy project in Brazil; and supporting a women’s counselling and support service in Bethlehem, as well as setting up a dedicated Covid-19 fund to assist SEC Companion Link Partners during the pandemic.
The Global Partnerships Committee has a few vacancies in its membership, and is actively searching for new people who are interested in the life of the global church to join in enabling the SEC’s many partnerships to flourish. Committee members each take responsibility for a specific area of partnership, with support from the provincial office. These areas include Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Pacific, South America, Education (theological), and projects relating to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Companion Partnerships.

If you are interested in hearing more, please contact Miriam Weibye, Church Relations Officer. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Standing Committee report

Standing Committee had its first meeting of 2021 towards the end of January and welcomed to its membership its new convener, Bridget Campbell, and the new conveners of the Institute Council and Mission Board, Bishop Anne Dyer and Provost Sarah Murray respectively.
The Committee spent time, as it has done throughout the Covid 19 pandemic, continuing to consider and monitor the implications and opportunities presented by the pandemic. Much of this work is the subject of detailed discussion in the Task Group established in the months preceding General Synod 2020. The Committee decided that the Task Group should continue its work for the time being and Bridget Campbell was appointed to succeed Robert Gordon as co-chair of the Group (working with the Primus as the other co-chair). The Standing Committee was, however, delighted to affirm that Robert Gordon should continue as a member of the Task Group. The Committee is also continuing work on the creation of the Recovery and Renewal Fund announced at Synod, with a view to grants being allocated later in the year to assist in recovery from the pandemic and/or take advantage of new opportunities arising from it.
Time was spent considering feedback submitted by General Synod members on the meeting of Synod in December 2020. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive albeit that members inevitably felt the loss of the social interaction and informal sharing of understanding which accompanies a physical meeting and it was recognised that significant time in front of a screen can prove more tiring than being together physically. Such observations were taken into account in the Committee's decision that Synod in 2021 should, once again, be virtual, it being recognised that there was a need for a decision early in the year to enable appropriate planning to be undertaken. Accordingly, Synod members are being asked to keep 10–12 June 2021 in their diaries. The meeting will not last the entirety of two and half days, significant break periods will be incorporated and further information will be issued once specific agenda items have been clarified.

The Committee noted the discussions at Synod regarding ethical investment and also the climate change motion calling for a programme of action to be brought forward this year to resource the church in working towards achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2030. It will receive regular reports on progress on such matters.
The Committee received, as usual, reports on work going on within the provincial Boards and from the College of Bishops, and also received preliminary financial results for the year ended 31 December 2020. The annual audit is currently underway but the expectation is that the overall outcome of 2020 will prove considerably better than budget, for a variety of reasons, and the benefit of the surplus achieved will, in effect, assist in the provision of funds for the Recovery and Renewal Fund. Consideration was also given to the Risk Register of the General Synod, as part of the Committee's ongoing governance responsibilities.

Primus signs leaders’ commitment ahead of CoP26

The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church is one of 28 religious leaders in Scotland to sign a statement of commitment ahead of the CoP26 event in Glasgow this year.

The 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (CoP 26) was scheduled to take place in Scotland last year, but was postponed until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In its statement, the Scottish Religious Leaders’ Forum commits to respond to the challenges of climate change by reflecting deeply in prayer on how to care for the earth and each other, making transformational change in our own lives, and by being advocates for justice.

As well as the Primus, the statement was also signed by the Rev Bonnie Evans Hills, convener Scottish Episcopal Church Interfaith Relations Committee.

Revelation – a text for our times

St Anne’s in Dunbar holds a morning prayer service on Thursday mornings, followed by an informal discussion of the day’s Bible reading, over a cuppa, writes the Rev Diana Hall, Rector of St Anne’s in Dunbar. During lockdown the group has continued to meet on Zoom, and recently the texts under discussion were the Book of Revelation. It’s a book that has a reputation in some quarters as being impenetrable, and it’s a text many people avoid. However as the group delved into it this year they found the striking imagery to be a rich source of reflection on the human condition and our current turmoil, as well as hope for the future.

In order to offer a broad overview of the book to those who were new to it, we spent one week considering the Messages to the Churches, one week on the Whore of Babylon, and one week on the New Heaven and New Earth.

While we were meeting, one of the group began doodling a response to the Whore of Babylon in Revelation 17 and 18. The next week, when we were discussing the New Heaven and New Earth described in chapter 21, we spend time pondering why it might be that “the cowardly” would be included in the list (verse 8) of those who are consigned to the lake that burns with fire. To begin with we thought this seemed a rather harsh judgment. However the conversation soon turned to contemporary politics, and it was felt that cowardice underpins many ills, including the failure to stand up against corruption and injustice, including in politics. The fruit of our reflections is summed up in the attached illustration (approximately A2 in size) by a member of the group, Alison Crowhurst.

Far from politics being distinct from religion, our conclusion was that Revelation speaks a powerful prophetic message into present day concerns, and a reminder that the present brokenness shall not endure.


Mission Board report

Once again, the Mission Board gathered online for its February meeting using Zoom, writes the Rev Dean Norby, which interestingly has a £2,500 saving on the Board’s budget due to limitations on physical meetings and travel expenses! No doubt there has been a saving on our environment too, although it must be said we miss meeting up in person but maybe not the long journeys. 

After formal approvals of minutes, matters arising and introductions we started the meeting with the Discussion Paper on the proposed Local Mission Development Committee (LMDC) which is a relatively new committee, being formed out of the pilot Local Mission Resourcing Group.  Discussion surrounded the exploration of the future board structure and governance to achieve the best effectiveness of its committees including the LMDC.

Secondly, we discussed the Board’s strategy and priorities specifically relating to pioneer ministry and mission in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic. The success of the Introduction of Pioneer Ministry Courses led by Rev Dr Richard Tiplady (Director of Mixed Mode Training) needs to be highlighted. Many throughout the province have been involved in this course already and a course is being run for the Edinburgh diocese in March. There are opportunities for other courses if there is demand.

Regarding mission in the Covid-19 pandemic, a potential research project across the province and carried out in the dioceses was discussed. It was agreed to take this forward and present a proposal to the Standing Committee for the purpose of not only looking at the negative effects on the church but also the positive effects.

We also heard from Donald Walker (Director of Communications) on the Communications Department’s essential work at this time in using social media and online communications effectively. Donald  highlighted the positive response to the online initiative Children’s Chapel which the Rev Canon Audrey O’Brien Stewart is spearheading. It is worth checking out and can be seen on the Scottish Episcopal Church YouTube Channel on this link and is also on Facebook.

After lunch we looked at Intentional Discipleship and the response from the College of Bishops which affirmed the Board’s proposal to hold a Conference on Discipleship across the Province. It was agreed that a steering group would be set up to bring this together for a target date of late 2022 / early 2023.
From there we went on to look at the essential issue of climate change and received an update from the Church in Society Committee (CiSC) and its early response to the General Synod 2020 decision to call the SEC to work towards a 2030 target for net-zero carbon emissions. 

On a similar important issue Rev Tembu Rongong, Convener of the Youth Committee, gave an update on Glen 2021, the Provincial Youth Week gathering normally held at Glenalmond College. It was explained that due to the Covid-19 situation it is difficult at the present time to determine if this event can take place in-person. However, the Committee is asking youth to confirm their interest in either an in-person gathering or an online gathering.

It was acknowledged that if Glen 2021 were to take place at Glenalmond then robust practices and guidelines would be required due to the pandemic. In addition, the Board acknowledged the effect that Covid-19 has had on our youth given the loss of occasions such as youth weeks, school balls, graduations which are often ‘one off events’ and so the Youth Committee is bearing this in mind along with safety in their decision making.

To finish the Mission Board meeting, each diocesan representative gave feedback on what activities are taking place in their diocese, which mainly focused on Lent. We also received a report on Finances, Budgets and Grants and acknowledged the need to consider communications across the diocese on what grants are available, especially the Child Poverty Grants.

The next Mission Board meeting is on Friday 23 April.

Scotland’s Churches Trust seeks survey responses

The Scotland’s Churches Trust is conducting a brief survey to gather opinion on how to better assist churches to maintain our heritage of places of worship.

Many churches already benefit from the Trust’s fabric or organ grants, church recording or simply being able to display information about themselves on the Trust website.

Having supported churches for around 40 years, the Trust has set up a survey to check that its operation still reflects what members want. The Scottish Episcopal Church has been one of the main beneficiaries of support, and member churches are invited to take part in the simple 12-question survey (mostly yes/no responses) which can be accessed here.

Lenten and lifelong staples

We are already well into the Season of Lent, writes the Rev Dr Michael Hull, Director of Studies at the Scottish Episcopal Institute, pictured right. If we have not done so already, there remains ample opportunity to pause and reflect. Lent is a microcosm of our Christian lives. The Lenten liturgical season marks a fixed period to contemplate our need for a Redeemer, that is to acknowledge our need to repent of our sins; and, at the same time, to express our confidence in the Redeemer: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again! Just as Jesus ‘took time out’ for forty days in the wilderness to prepare for his earthly ministry, so we take forty days each year to (re)focus our ministries, whatever they may be, by following Jesus’ example in the wilderness and in his life among us.

As Lancelot Andrewes remarked in a Lenten sermon, ‘Repentance itself is nothing else but a kind of circling: to turn to the One by repentance from whom, by sin, we have turned away.’ What do we find when we look at the Lord’s life? Holy Scripture says that Jesus prayed always, that he fasted in preparation for his public ministry and that the poor were his special concern. These, then, should be our Lenten and lifelong staples: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
During Lent, we ought to inculcate a spirit of prayer both communally and personally. Each one of us ought to consider how it is that we spend our time. For example, we might consider how a lessening of television viewing, internet surfing and self-indulgent activities would allow more time for worthy pursuits such as the reading of Holy Scripture, the lives of the saints, the spiritual masters and Christian literature. The cessation of superfluous diversions during Lent will leave us free to spend more time in prayer. It is an occasion not only to ask for forgiveness for our faults and failures but to pray for others, especially those who are less fortunate than we are spiritually and materially. ‘Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive’ (Matthew 21.22). We ought not to let this Lent pass without praying.
During Lent, we ought to inculcate a spirit of fasting. Our contemporary society is enslaved by its obsession with comfort and ease. In this season of fasting, with our minds turned to the Scourging and Crucifixion, we ought to practise rigorous self-denial. Lent is the ideal time to mortify the flesh by the renunciation of types and amounts of food, by ceasing to smoke, by shunning luxurious ‘creature comforts’, and by any and all acts of penance. Our Lord, when fasting for forty days and tempted by the devil, invoked Moses’ words to God’s elect after forty years of wandering in the desert ‘that he might make you know that one does not live by bread alone, but that one lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord’ (Deuteronomy 8.3; see Matthew 4.4 and Luke 4.4). We ought not to let this Lent pass without fasting.
During Lent, we ought to inculcate a spirit of almsgiving. ‘Do not turn your face away from anyone who is poor, and the face of God will not be turned away from you’ (Tobit 4.7). How many of us have been apprehensive about economic downturns only in terms of ourselves and not in terms of the needy whose plight only worsens in tough times? Recall the words of our Lord to the rich young man who asked, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ Upon hearing that the young man observed the Commandments, Jesus said, ‘One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me’ (Luke 18.22). Unless we have taken pains to provide for the poor among us, we are not true followers of the Lord. We ought not to let this Lent pass without almsgiving.
Indeed, prayer, fasting and almsgiving are hallmarks of Jesus’ life. They have been staples of the Christian faithful who have followed after him for two millennia. We underscore them in Lent because, as Andrewes reminds us, Lent and life are ever a circling back by repentance to the One from whom we too often turn away. In point of fact, we Christians ought not to limit our prayer, fasting and almsgiving to Lent. Whilst they surely are our Lenten staples, they are also our lifelong staples, for the vocation of imitating the Lord is much more than a forty-day probation each liturgical year. It is a lifelong commitment. We ought not to let this Lent pass without prayer, fasting and almsgiving if our goal is to follow the Lord in this life and into the next.

Bumper SEI Newsletter incoming

February might be the shortest month, but there has been plenty to report and reflect on at the Scottish Episcopal Institute, as its forthcoming monthly Newsletter illustrates.

The latest edition is a bumper spring special running to a full 10 (correct – ten) pages.

Included in the contents are details of three new student-led initiatives, a day in the life account of an SEI member of staff, introductions to three guests who will be attending the March Residential Weekend, a focus on diversity and inclusion at the 2021 Staff Conference, and a feature on the resurgence of interest in the MInistry of the Diaconate within the Scottish Episcopal Church. And much more!

Publication is scheduled for Monday 1 March, when the Newsletter will be found here.



Zoom event: ‘Acting like a Christian’

How is acting like a Christian different from acting like everyone else?

Jesus says that everyone will know his disciples by their love. How are his disciples known in the twenty-first century by that criterion?

For Monday evenings in Lent, a five-part discussion series hosted by the Scottish Episcopal Institute will consider these questions in order to articulate principles to guide Christian behaviour, to identify what place such principles have in the public square, and to develop some facility to apply such principles to contemporary ethical questions.

Monday 1 March, 7pm–8pm, the second of the five evenings, will consider how a Christian understanding of love is critiqued today with a discussion about love and justice vis-à-vis a woman caught in adultery (John 8.3–11). The discussion will be facilitated by the Rev Dr Michael Hull, SEI’s Director of Studies.
Register here.

Environmental Chaplain open to invitation for worship

Until Easter last year, life as Environmental Chaplain - preaching, talking and otherwise sharing in the life of local churches - was hectic. We worked hard to be 'geographically transparent’, with Scotland as a whole as our ‘parish’ writes the Rev David Coleman.

Though the embarrassing carbon footprint of my travel for work has now almost vanished, it’s more demanding still, and every collaboration with a congregation, of whatever size, is equally valued.

Gatherings can now be more widely shared via technical means. Local green initiatives, encourage and delight others, or tempt them to give it a go! Though churches are amazingly shy about the good things they do, we like to help your light to shine. In this current situation, our aim: to be wherever and however your church is happening, has become a reality, and sharing with neighbouring churches far easier than before.

Working ecumenically, we encourage and value the existing traditions and practices of local churches, bringing out of our shared resources, treasures new and old. That’s where the challenge lies: countering despair and bringing into a holy place the truth about the state of the planet, as well as the real and beneficial value of a spiritual response, which prepares hearts and minds for spiritual resilience in a way that facts and figures seldom can.

I might pre-record a major reflection for the ’sermon slot’ whilst being present ‘live’ for the liturgy and any online fellowship that follows after. 

As the COP conference in Glasgow approaches, preceded by Creationtide, we are open to creative suggestions and invitations. What is the church we’re called to be in a time of climate emergency?
Rev Coleman can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tribute to Chief Rabbi, The Lord Sacks

The Rev.David Gifford retired recently after a number of years as Team Rector in the Renfrewshire Heartland Group, comprising Port Glasgow, Kilmacolm and  Bridge of Weir. Formerly, David was the Chief Executive of the prestigious Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ) and worked directly with former Chief Rabbi, the Lord Sacks. David writes:

“The Rt. Revd. Lord Harries of Pentregarth, a former Bishop of Oxford under whom I served, began his Church Times obituary for Lord Sacks by saying: ’He was prodigiously talented in two areas that rarely come together. He had a trained and sharply honed philosophical mind and he combined this with superb powers of storytelling and popular communication.’

“I could not agree more, having sat in meetings with Rabbi Lord Sacks at Lambeth Palace and heard him speak many times at synagogues and other gatherings up and down the country. When my father died, Lord Sacks took time out to call on me and bring comfort and consolation. He understood our faith, Christianity, with sensitivity, and many of his very readable books are a testament to this breadth of deep understanding (See particularly The Dignity of Difference, Continuum. 2004).

"Many words have been written of Rabbi Lord Sacks since hie death but I believe one of the most accurate and genuine appraisal of Sacks the Chief Rabbi, and Sacks the Rabbi with a human touch and ability to speak to all faiths, was written in Theos by CCJ Board member Zaki Cooper. This is reprinted in full with the author’s permission here. May I warmly commend it to you.”




Rev Eric Lindsay died 24 January 2021 aged 90.  He served as Curate at  St Cuthbert's, Blaydon-on-Tyne 1957-58; St Aidan's, with Hartlepool 1958-60 and  St George's, Grenada 1960-61. He held Permission to officiate in the  Diocese of  Winchester 1961-65; Rochester 1965-72; Chelmsford 1972-84.He became Curate and Priest-in-Charge at the Local Ecumenical Partnership St Dunstan & All Saints, Stepney 1984-85. He then served as Rector at St Fillan's, Kilmacolm w St Mary, Bridge of Weir 1985-98. He was a member Society of the Holy Cross and he retired in 1998.



Vacancy: Operations Director, St Paul’s & St George’s, Edinburgh

Vacancy: Rector, St Andrew, Callander & St Mary, Aberfoyle

Vacancy: House for Duty Priest, Saint Ninian’s Church, Glen Urquhart

Vacancy: House for Duty Priest: St Mary-the-Virgin, Stromness, Orkney

Vacancy: Christ Church, Kincardine O’Neil


Across the Dioceses

For news of activities and events across the seven dioceses of the Scottish Episcopal Church, check out the diocesan websites:

Aberdeen & Orkney
Argyll & The Isles
Glasgow & Galloway
Moray, Ross & Caithness
St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane


The text in this newsletter can be freely shared. Any photographs can be shared only with permission of the photographer. Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for details of permission.

Please encourage others to sign up for these regular e-mails at

Comments and feedback are always welcome and can be directed to Donald Walker, Director of Communications at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or Aidan Strange, Digital Communications Co-ordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Please note that the views expressed on websites linked in this newsletter do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Published by the General Synod of The Scottish Episcopal Church – Scottish Charity Number SC015962




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Message from Bishop Kevin

To: All Clergy, Lay Readers, Lay Representatives, Alternative Lay Representatives, Vestry Secretaries and Treasurers – and for passing on to your congregations…

From John Mitchell, Diocesan Secretary                                 16th February 2021

Message from Bishop Kevin

Bishop Kevin

Lent – The Season of Hope and Opportunity

Dear Friends,

Hope is much more than mere optimism: that is the lesson of faith and that is why Lent is the Season of Opportunity.

Optimism, that feeling, view of life, that everything will work out well and that things can only get better and we have a right to expect everything to go well.  That view of life offers a fraudulent certainty.  Lent presents us with the God given opportunity to recognise true Christian Hope, which is different from optimism.

Hope, true Christian Hope, is based on the vision that we want to be with God who is already with us in the love we experience; but that love gives us a vision of peace, fulfilment, security that we experience here and now but also teaches us to trust in God.  That trust is the essence of faith – the vision.  In other words, we live in what by tradition we call, ‘the Hope of Heaven’. 

It was the late Lord Jonathon Sacks, who made the distinction between Optimism and Hope.  Lord Sacks, as Chief Rabbi, said that the history of European Jewish community in the twentieth century meant that they could not be optimistic, but they lived in Hope.  Without that Hope in God, their community could not have continued.   Their experience taught them that things do not always just turn out well, but that God is faithful to his people and Hope in God and in God’s faithfulness leads us into a new reality. 

That is the Hope that makes Lent the season of opportunity.  That is the Hope that in Lent 2021 gives to each one of us the opportunity to embrace our own new reality.  In tiny, trivial ways, giving up biscuits for instance. Amidst all that we have been denied, had to give up in these past months, during Lent, as we reach for the biscuit tin, reflect on the many people who have found themselves at food banks for the first time in their lives. 

Take that thought and that reflection into bible reading, prayer, and Zoom worship.  Listen, read, the scriptures assigned for these weeks of Lent.  Notice the optimism of the disciples from the mount of Transfiguration to the glory of Palm Sunday.  On Palm Sunday they felt, they knew, they were on the winning side, but that soon proved to be false optimism.

The desolation of Holy Week and the tomb, but God’s faithfulness, Jesus, with us in the desolation, there is Hope.  Hope of the glory of light and life on Easter Day.  The new reality that God is with us but the excitement that we can be with God, God who is love. 

Hope lives.  The scriptures teach us that, as our communities reflect on the need for food banks, a more just and equitable society must be our hope of the new reality.   The Holy Spirit spoke through Isaiah, the prophets, that justice, peace, security are God’s yearning for us all.

During Lent, there are many opportunities online, in books, in conversations with those leading our congregations, for us all to reflect on scripture in prayer.  Seize the opportunity to embrace the new reality, the journey to and with God, offered this Lent.  To bring to ourselves, to share with others, the Easter new reality of Hope that is eternal. 

I wish you all a happy and Holy Lent

+ Kevin

Glasgow and Galloway   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bishop’s Lent Appeal 2021

Bishop Kevin has chosen Aberlour as the subject of our Lent Appeal this year. Aberlour supports children, young people and families to give them the best chance to flourish, and has been doing so for over 140 years. The origins of the Charity have a fascinating history and explain the strong link with the Scottish Episcopal Church (see the history section on their website, which also tells you much more about the charity:

Normally, we would have had a presentation at Synod to explain the charity’s background; however, this will not be possible in 2021. As an alternative – open to many more than simply those who attend Synod – Aberlour have offered a live Zoom presentation (lasting approximately 30-40 minutes, including time for questions) to anyone across the diocese who is keen to learn more.  If you would be interested in such an event, please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (preferred method) or call me on 07798 662711. Please state your preferences (if you have any) to attend a session on a weekday (daytime or evening) or a Saturday. If demand is sufficient, but split across time preferences, we will organise two events.

See overleaf for details of how to donate to the Lent Appeal…

A New Way to Donate: Bishop’s Lent Appeal JustGiving Page

The preferred and easiest way is to donate electronically and instantly to the appeal, either for individuals or for treasurers sending collected charge donations. For individual donations, it means that Gift Aid can be added to your donation, adding 25p to every pound donated (if you pay tax). Whether donating as an individual or as a Church via your Treasurer, please add the name of your church to the Donation Notes (even if you are an individual who prefers to remain anonymous). Please donate through this page (which donation goes directly to Aberlour) rather than through Aberlour’s own JustGiving page:

For those who prefer to send cheques, they can be sent directly to Aberlour (including details of the church they are sent from), but it will be administratively much simpler – for us and for Aberlour – to send them via the Diocesan Office to ensure they are added to our final total. See below.

Other Ways to Donate

Cheque Payments should be made payable to Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway, Please include a note to confirm the name of your charge and your contact details. Send to:

Diocese of Glasgow & Galloway, Bishop’s Lent Appeal, 5 St Vincent Place, Glasgow G1 2DH

Our post is being redirected to Christine Hughes at home, who will bank cheques and acknowledge receipt by email to your Treasurer, copying in Iolanthe Stack. Money will be transferred to Aberlour on a regular basis, and included in the final JustGiving total. This will also apply to the following method....

Electronic Transfer to the Diocese: although it remains easier to transfer electronically via our own JustGiving page, it remains possible to do so through the Diocesan account. Send by BACS to the following details: Sort code 83-41-00, Account Number 00162089. Account name is GW & GALL GEN FUND 7. Please use the reference Lent21 and your quota number for ID, and also email Iolanthe Stack at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to confirm a donation has been sent, and from which charge it has been sent. Iolanthe will acknowledge receipt by email. If you are sending a personal donation, also use Lent 21 and your surname for ID, again copying in Iolanthe for information, and she will reply to confirm receipt.


People sometimes ask about the fees that are levied by JustGiving, but Aberlour have asked me to point out that any transaction of donations involves a fee of some kind, and that JustGiving is a very easy, time-saving (as well as cost-saving) platform for them to use, meaning these charges are a very effective investment, and cover the varying costs of processing different payment types. JustGiving also gives donors the option to make a voluntary contribution to the cost of maintaining the platform, which enables them to keep charges to all charities low, but this is completely optional.  In short, it should be stressed that the increased donations and smaller administrative costs of using JustGiving far outweigh the small charges that they make.


Diocesan Synod 2021

As previously advised to all clergy and lay representatives, and in common with a number of other dioceses, the decision was taken at the last Diocesan Council meeting to postpone our Synod until later in the year, on a date yet to be advised, when it is hoped that we will be able to host an online virtual event from our new Diocesan Centre.

Having said that, the elections that would have taken place at our March Synod are being conducted throughout February to enable the requisite Diocesan places to be taken for General Synod 2021 (scheduled for June 10th to 12th, another virtual event). The other matter that required a response from our Synod, and to be submitted before 31st March, will therefore have to be considered by vestries and/or individuals rather than through the channels of a Synod response. Please read on…

Canon 4 Discussion and Responses Required by 31st March

Anyone involved in the process during our Episcopal Vacancy over a lengthy period between 2018 and 2020 should be interested to comment on Canon 4, the process by which we elect our Bishops.

Miriam Weibye, our Provincial Church Relations Officer, writes:

At General Synod 2018, the Faith and Order Board brought the following motion: That Canon 4 “Of the Election of Bishops to Vacant Sees” be revised and amended as necessary. This motion having been passed, the Faith and Order Board appointed a small group to review Canon 4, chaired by the Bishop of Edinburgh. The review group have considered the existing Canon 4 in detail, and sought views from around the province. It now presents the attached document (Canon 4: Consultation with Diocesan Synod Members) for detailed consultation with a number of church bodies.

Vestries and/or Individuals are therefore invited to submit responses by clicking on  this Google form by Wednesday 31st March 2021. Although a pdf of the questions is provided (Canon 4 Review Group Consultation – Google form) so that people can see them all at once and read them through before answering online, we would ask people to only respond via the Google form, as the General Synod Office is not in a position to deal with physical responses due to Covid-19 safety precautions. If anyone wishes to make a separate written response, it can be emailed directly to Miriam (address below), again by Wednesday 31st March 2021

 The review group has also provided an example document of what a commentary or guidelines for a revised Canon 4 might look like (Canon 4 Draft Guidelines Commentary Examples) as explained in the final point of the consultation paper. Following this second phase of the consultation, the review group will prepare a report for General Synod 2021, which will be asked to indicate support of the direction of travel with a view to preparing a revised canon for General Synod 2022.  If you have any queries,please contact Miriam Weibye, Church Relations Officer at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

If you would like to have your say about our Episcopal Election process, please do try to respond to this consultation exercise, either as a vestry or as an individual – or even both if you would like to do so…

Children’s Chapel

If you’ve got young children (pre-school to early primary years) anywhere in your church or family, please join in with the enchanting mix of games, activities, songs and Bible teachings that form the 10-15 minute episodes of Children’s Chapel every week, an offering from the Province that’s co-ordinated by our very own Canon Missioner, the Rev Canon Audrey O’Brien Stuart.

This new service came about after Lorraine Darlow, an expert in Christian Formation and member at St. Ninian’s Prestwick, reported to the Mission Board about the unique needs of children and families in lockdown. A rota of leaders from around the province has been assembled and will be sharing in the weekly presentations very soon. Back episodes and new weekly videos can be found at either of the SEC YouTube or Facebook pages, i.e. or

Related to this, Audrey would welcome involvement from others across the Diocese (and Province) to take part in these programmes, or even simply to give feedback: please contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you’d be able to help out in this vital work for the future of our Church – or just to let her know what you think of Children’s Chapel.

New Diocesan Centre

Building works have now begun at 49 Cochrane Street. A progress update should appear in our next Office Update.


Smoke Detectors in Clergy Housing or church-owned properties

Rebecca Cadie, Diocesan Architect, draws attention to forthcoming legislation that is coming in to place for all housing in Scotland, new and existing. It was to be implemented in March 2021, but the government has put the deadline back a year to March 2022. However, vestries should be aware of it and should ensure clergy housing or church owned properties need to have detectors fitted. Here is the link

Church Security

I’ve recently been in in receipt of communications from a Motherwell-based company specialising in building security incorporating bespoke CCTV and alarms, and currently offering churches a reduction of 40% based on an individual site visit.  Please note that we have no diocesan experience of using the company, although I gather they have installed security systems at a number of Roman Catholic churches within the Glasgow area, who may be contacted for referrals. If you would like further details, please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



St Margaret’s, Newlands:  the Rev Canon Gordon Fyfe, was installed as Rector of St Margaret’s on 2nd February, in a ‘first’ for our Diocese: much of the Institution was conducted ‘remotely’ and by recorded contributions on Zoom to enact the Deed of Institution, with no gatherings permissible inside the church except for the new Incumbent being filmed leading prayer.  Subsequently, Gordon met with his new congregation (on Zoom once again) for Evening Prayer and a social gathering.  It was different – but it was enjoyed by all in these difficult times. A similar service will be enacted for Institutions at future times of serious restrictions on gatherings. You can watch the institution on Youtube:

Cathedral News

Our Cathedral hosted a recent BBC broadcast, when The Very Rev Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of the Cathedral, lead a communion service, with intercessions from the Rev Canon Oliver Brewer-Lennon, who also delivered the Bible and Gospel readings. Congregational singing and choir performances came from St Mary’s recordings in the BBC archives. The broadcast can still be viewed until mid-March at

Also of note, the Cathedral is hosting a badge exhibition to celebrate LGBT History month. No travel is necessary to view, as it’s all online…  

New Diocesan Website

The new, redesigned website, should soon be ready to launch, with a significantly more attractive appearance offering intuitive and easier access to the items for which most people launch searches and seek information. Many thanks to Petko Marinov for all of his work on this. The new version will be available at the same address as before,, where you should find an opening page that looks like this…


Kind regards

John Mitchell, Diocesan Secretary (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

inspires on line



Happy Christmas to you all.  Gwen

From: The Scottish Episcopal Church <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Sent: 24 December 2020 13:10
To: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Subject: Inspires Online for December 2020


News from the Scottish Episcopal Church

December 2020

Welcome to this Christmas edition of Inspires Online - the monthly electronic newsletter of the Scottish Episcopal Church. Inspires Online highlights news and events from across the Church and also includes news from organisations related to the Church.

It is good to hear from our readers so please do get in touch with us either by replying to this email or by contacting Donald Walker, Director of Communications at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or Aidan Strange, Digital Communications Co-ordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Christmas message from the Primus

This year's Christmas message from the Primus comes from St John's Church in Arpafeelie, where the Most Rev.Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness, recorded a number of messages during lockdown earlier this year.

The Primus chose the location to reflect the experience of the past year, and to speak directly to the Scottish Episcopal Church community, who have shared challenging circumstances as people did their best to keep in touch by whatever means possible without being able to meet in person.

The video message is available on the usual provincial channels, at facebook and on YouTube. A transcription is reproduced below.

A joyful Christmas to you.

We’re here in St John's, Arpafeelie because I wanted to tell you something of this church, because in a way it mirrors our own Church. Having broadcast in so many places and written so many words for the Press, I wanted to have an opportunity to talk to us, to the Scottish Episcopal Church. To offer Christmas greetings to you who have worked so hard, and have done so much, to enable the life and witness of the church to continue during this most peculiar year; to remind you that we are here to celebrate Christmas in whichever way we can.

This isn’t a time for angst over whether we did it the right way or the wrong way, this is a day of giving thanks for the birth of Christ.

This church was built shortly after the last Jacobite rising and has seen so many changes. It was closed in the 1960s because following the two world wars, the number of people in this community just reduced and reduced. The church itself only survived because local people wanted it to survive. It continues to worship week by week. Sometimes there are small numbers, sometimes there are greater numbers but there is faithfulness in its worship. And yet it too has struggled this year, being unable to open, being unable to worship face to face, but actually sharing with everyone else across our Church, the possibility that we can worship in ways that keep us together even when we can’t be together.

Here in this church there is a depiction of the birth of Jesus, a depiction you will see across so many of our churches. It is the centre and heart of what we are about, that God, through the incarnation came among us, and ultimately through sacrifice offered us the possibility of eternal life.

That’s what this message is about. It’s not about how we get through the next two or three days. It’s not about how we worship in the next two or three months. It’s not about whether we are in face to face with each other or doing it digitally. These are all means of communicating the love of God in the world, and we must use it as an opportunity to compete about who’s better at doing which, and who should be doing what.

Because what I pick up from across Scotland is people just rejoicing that we have said anything, that we have remained there, that we have rung our bells when we can, that we have proclaimed the word of God in so many different ways. There’s not a right and a wrong way of doing this. There is a way which is there to touch the hearts of those who are listening.

I have had do many letters, so many emails, and thankfully the majority of them are letters of thanks.

So on this joyful Christmas Day, as we give thanks for the birth of Jesus, as we remember what those promises are, then help us to be the family of faith; not judging people by their results but judging them by how much they love, how much they have done, how concerned they are about the people they have helped, about all that has happened, new and old, traditional and modern, and let us do it all by genuinely seeking to love one another.

When I sit down for my Christmas dinner, there will be empty spaces at the table as there will be in so many places. But as I sit there, I will remember church after church, Zoom meeting after Zoom meeting, people gathering for a time and then not being able to, but still in contact, still sharing, still loving, still proclaiming Christ. So please, this wonderful Church, let’s not allow ourselves to become argumentative about the right and wrong way of doing things, but to rejoice together.

For unto us, a child is born. Unto us, a son is given, and the path of righteousness is open before us. A very holy and happy Christmas, and I hope, God willing, to meet, to share, and to be with you all in the New Year.

  • The Primus has also written a message for the Christmas Eve edition of The Herald newspaper which can be read here.

Ten church leaders offer joint Christmas message

The Most Rev Mark Strange, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, is one of 10 church leaders who have each recited a line of a heartfelt joint message for Christmas.

The members of the Scottish Church Leaders Forum offer their video message in recognition that many individuals and families are grappling with difficulties and uncertainties due to the impact of Covid-19.

It is hoped that sharing the Good News about the birth of Jesus Christ will bring some comfort, hope and peace to those who are struggling.

You can watch the video message here.

The Scottish Church Leaders Forum was formed in March in response to the pandemic to speak on issues of mutual concern with one voice. The forum is responsible for the ecumenical prayers published for use every Sunday at 7pm.

The text as narrated in the video has been translated into Gaelic here.

Virtual choir assembled for online Christmas worship

To help churches which have been unable to open, and congregation members who have been unable or unwilling to return to physical worship, provincial online services have been enhanced over Christmas to help as many people as possible to worship together at this important time of year.

A number of extra services and offerings have been available via the Scottish Episcopal Church website during December to mark Advent and Christmas, including an online Carol Service, a Crib Service, Midnight Mass and the Christmas Morning Eucharist.

The Advent Lessons and Carols service on Tuesday 22 December was particularly received, as a Scottish Episcopal Choir of over 30 volunteers came together to offer that element of worship so many have been missing – singing. Those following the service at home were encouraged to sing along with the virtual choir.

The choir sang a selection of Carols, and there were also other musical contributions and bible readings. The choir was made up of members from all of the seven dioceses within the province, who raised their voices together from their own homes, with organ accompaniment from Michael Bawtree.

The service can be watched again here

At time of publication of this edition, the following services have still to come:

Thursday 24 December: 11.30pm Midnight Mass;
Friday 25 December: 11am Christmas Morning service
Saturday 26 December: 6.30pm St Stephen’s Day
Sunday 27 December: 11am Eucharist led by Bishop Anne Dyer
Monday 28 December: 6.30pm Holy Innocents

Links to Christmas services can be found here.

BBC worship programme comes from St John’s, Aberdeen

BBC Scotland weekly worship programme The Service will come from St John the Evangelist in Aberdeen on Sunday 27 December.

The Rt Rev Anne Dyer, Bishop of Aberdeen & Orkney, will lead worship (pictured right), assisted by the Rev Jenny Holden (pictured above) and Mr Tom Ferguson.

Filming took place in mid December, and the broadcast will be screened at 12 noon on the 27th on the BBC Scotland channel. Further details are available here and the programme can be watched again online after the initial broadcast. Co-incidentally, Bishop Anne will lead online provincial worship on the same day, starting at 11am.

The SEC was featured by the BBC on several occasions during December. The significance of the nativity was discussed by the Rev Diana Hall on BBC Radio Scotland’s Sunday Morning programme with Sally Magnusson on 20 December. Rev Hall, Rector of St Anne’s in Dunbar, told the programme: “The nativity symbolises one of the most important things about the Christian faith. We hear the word ‘Emmanuel’ at Christmas and Emmanuel means God with us, and so the nativity symbolises this belief that Jesus came to live among us."

She added: “In the end, the story of the nativity is a story of hope in the midst of hard times, a story of light in darkness; it’s the promise that God has come to us to be with us and that God never leaves us, and always offers hope for the future. I think hope is what many people are needing right now, and I hope that’s what the nativity will speak to people this year.”

You can hear Rev Hall’s full interview on the BBC Sounds website here at the 50-minute mark.

Earlier the same day, the Rev Philip Blackledge led worship on BBC Radio Scotland programme New Every Sunday from Holy Trinity in Melrose. The broadcast can be heard on the BBC website, here. New Every Sunday also came from Melrose previous weekend, when Rev Blackledge welcomed Gaudete Sunday, also known as Rejoicing Sunday. You can listen again to that 13 December broadcast here.

BBC One Scotland’s weekly worship television programme Reflections at the Quay featured library footage of Once In Royal David’s City being sung beautifully at St Paul’s Cathedral in Dundee, pictured above, as producers delved into the archives to add music to the programme at a time when we are not able to sing in church. The programme can be seen again here.

And St Moluag’s at Eoropaidh on the Isle of Lewis, featured on BBC One’s Countryfile, pictured right. In a Christmas special of the popular programme, presenter John Craven explored the ancient tradition of Gaelic psalm singing, and as part of the item, renowned Gaelic composer Calum Martin sang inside St Moluag’s and was then interviewed in nearby Ness. Countryfile can be watched again here with St Moluag’s appearing just after the 29-minute mark.

Earlier in the month, American writer Garrison Keillor’s reminiscences of everyday life in the imaginary small town of Lake Wobegon, where the news is usually good, were evoked when Bishop David Chillingworth, former Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, delivered Thought for the Day on BBC Radio Scotland prgramme Good Morning Scotland. Bishop David can be heard here at the 1hr 21min 30sec mark.

Coronavirus update

Information about the availability of Covid vaccines has been welcome news in recent weeks. Details of  the vaccination programme in Scotland can be found here.

Meanwhile, the SEC Advisory Group guidance for churches can be accessed on the provincial website here.

Short list published for Argyll & The Isles episcopal vacancy

Three candidates have been short-listed for election to the office of Bishop of Argyll & The Isles, following the translation of the Rt Rev Kevin Pearson to be Bishop of Glasgow & Galloway in July 2020, having served the Diocese of Argyll & The Isles as Bishop since 2011.

The three candidates have been selected by a Preparatory Committee consisting of clergy and lay church members from the Diocese of Argyll & The Isles and across the wider Scottish Episcopal Church. The next stage in the election process is an online meeting of each of the candidates with an Electoral Synod (representatives of clergy and lay church members from the Diocese of Argyll & The Isles only).  That meeting will take place on Saturday 23 January 2021 with the election of the new Bishop on 30 January 2021.

The candidates are:

The Very Rev Canon Margaret (Margi) Campbell, Provost of St John’s Cathedral, Oban, Rector of St James, Ardbrecknish, and Canon of the Cathedral of the Isles, Cumbrae, all since 2018, and Dean of the Diocese of Argyll & The Isles since 2020.

The Rev David Railton, Rector of the linked charge of Holy Trinity, Dunoon and St Paul, Rothesay, Diocese of Argyll & The Isles, since 2019.

The Rev Canon Dr Keith Riglin, Vice Dean since 2020 and Chaplain since 2012 of King’s College, London, with Permission to Officiate in the Diocese of Argyll & The Isles since 2012.

Commenting on this stage of the process, the Most Rev Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, said: “I am delighted that the Preparatory Committee has completed its task and can now present these three names to the Electoral Synod of Argyll and The Isles. I want to thank the members of the committee for the work they put in to achieve this short list, and I especially want to thank them as we were working under the very different Covid conditions.

“I ask the church to pray for David, Keith and Margi as they continue on this path of discernment and also for the electors of Argyll and The Isles as they prepare to meet digitally in January 2021.”

Pictured above are, from left to right, The Very Rev Canon Margi Campbell, The Rev David Railton, and The Rev Canon Dr Keith Riglin.

Highlights from General Synod 2020

‘We cannot challenge others if we do not challenge ourselves’ was the message from the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church as he gave his charge during the morning session of General Synod 2020 on Saturday 5 December.

The Most Rev Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness and Primus of the SEC, raised the difficult issues of bullying, bias and racism awareness in his opening address, and pointed to the issues that the Church should speak out about, such as international aid, gender violence, modern slavery and climate change.

On a historic occasion at St Paul’s & St George’s Episcopal Church in Edinburgh, with just a handful of core participants present in the church building, the Primus told the first-ever online General Synod: “We have questions of what sort of investments we place our money into but also questions about how we heat our churches, how often and how far we travel, about the resources we use to run this institution.

“We need to get our own house in order if we are to keep putting pressure on the governments and industries of the world. You can’t challenge others if we don’t challenge ourselves.”

His theme echoed throughout the day, most notably when Synod members backed a motion which paves the way to a commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

The motion was carried by 98 votes for, zero against, and five abstentions. It calls on the Church in Society Committee, working in conjunction with other appropriate bodies, to bring forward a programme of actions to General Synod 2021 to resource the SEC in working towards achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

Speaking after the climate change debate, the Primus said: “We are now set for a year of hard work as the committee and others across the church and in our partnership organisations seek to bring to Synod a programme of actions that we know will challenge many of us. Clearly there will be financial implications, implications on how we look after our buildings and how we use the resources of our planet.

“I am very aware of how important this work is going to be as we strive to reach a target that will enable us to move from users of creation towards being custodian of all that the Creator has given us.”

Earlier, the Rev Elaine Garman spoke for the motion, telling Synod members: “During the past nine months we have changed our lives to protect ourselves and others during the pandemic restrictions. Imagine if we had worked on reducing our carbon footprint the same way. Whilst some of the Covid changes have helped reduce our carbon footprint – it shows we can make changes but there is so much more to do. We are in a climate emergency and we need to mobilise like never before.

“For too long the Anglican Communion’s fifth mark of mission: “to safeguard the integrity of creation and to renew and sustain life on earth” has been seen by many as something we’ll get around to at some point or that someone else will deal with. But it doesn’t work that way. We all must act, and act now. As a church, we must lead.”

On a similar theme, Synod discussed an interim report from the Ethical Investment Advisory Group, which was set up after last year’s Synod and tasked with, among other things, achieving fossil fuel divestment in the Unit Trust Pool (UTP). Standing Committee was pleased to note that the UTP no longer has direct investments in companies engaged in fossil fuel extraction, and commended the EIAG report to Synod while acknowledging that the work of the Group has a long way to go in what is a complex landscape to navigate.

Elsewhere during the afternoon session of Synod, a new Safeguarding Policy was adopted, there were discussions on the work of the Administration Board and the progress of the Canon 4 Review Group, and a video from the Provincial Youth Committee which showed what had been achieved during 2020 despite the restrictions of the pandemic.

In the morning session, the main item of business was the passing of a motion to agree a quota figure of £600,000 for the year 2021, representing a 19.1 per cent reduction on the previous year in response to the financial impact on dioceses and charges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Votes for the motion were 100 for, and none against, which followed a half-hour discussion on the pandemic experience in break-out groups.

Earlier motions included a series of elections, which were all passed: Bridget Campbell was appointed convener of Standing Committee, the Very Rev Sarah Murray was appointed Convener of the Mission Board, the Rt Rev Anne Dyer was appointed Convener of the Institute Council, the Rev Marjory McPherson was appointed for a second term on the Institute Council, the Rev Deborah Davidson was appointed a member of the Administration Board, and Fraser Falconer, Susan Horne, Rev Canon Professor John Richardson and John Whittall were all re-appointed for an additional term on the Clergy Discipline Tribunal.

Also passed were ratification of the appointment by Standing Committee of Robert Phillips as a member of the Preliminary Proceedings Committee, continuing his current term of office until General Synod 2024; the extension of the term of office of Richard McIndoe as Chair of the Pension Fund Trustees until General Synod 2021; and the appointment of Robert Gordon, out-going Convener of Standing Committee, as a General Synod Trustee.

Full reports can be found on the provincial website here.

Q&A with Robert Gordon as he stands down from Standing Committee

General Synod marked the end of Robert Gordon’s tenure as Convener of the Provincial Standing Committee.

Robert enjoyed a long and rewarding career in the civil service, with highlights including appointments as Principal Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Scotland, Head of Constitution Group responsible for setting up the Scottish Parliament and Executive, Chief Executive of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, and Head of the Justice Department.

But whether all of that experience is enough to prepare anyone for the particular challenges of Standing Committee is another matter. Nevertheless, Robert can’t have been put off the SEC entirely over the course of his convenership, because he has subsequently been elected as a General Synod Trustee, and continues in his other provincial role as chair of the SEC Advisory Group, which issues guidance for churches on coronavirus implications.

Inspires Online caught up with Robert, pictured below, to reflect on his five years with Standing Committee, and take a look to the future.

Q: How did you become Convener of Standing Committee?
A: Out of the blue a former colleague phoned apparently for no reason. He suggested coffee and disclosed that his term as Convener was ending. He and others were on the lookout for a successor. Would I consider letting my name go forward? Reassuringly he volunteered that other candidates would emerge and it was unlikely that I would have to take on the role! After thought, prayer and discussion with others I agreed to stand, met GSO staff and most of the College. And waited for the other more suitable candidates to appear. They didn’t and so it was that General Synod 2015 approved my appointment. By that stage, I had actually warmed to the possibility of being Convener and hoped I could make a contribution.

Q: Did you have any doubts about taking the role?
A: I had been a member of an SEC congregation for 30 years. I had been involved in the governance of St Paul’s and St George’s in Edinburgh from soon after the arrival of Rev Roger Simpson in the mid 1980s and the beginning of the growth of the “Christ centred, culturally relevant worshipping community” which attracted folk of all ages and a wide range of backgrounds over the early years. We wrestled with massive building issues and the challenges of rapidly growing numbers. I confess that amid all the busyness of York Place I paid very little attention to matters diocesan or provincial. So I did have real doubts about taking over the Convenership of a Committee I hadn’t even known existed! I also lacked much experience and knowledge of traditions within the SEC other than the one I had found so enriching over the years at St Paul’s and St George’s. (That has changed now!)

Q: What were your hopes when you were appointed?
A: My initial hope was that I would be able to Chair the Committee effectively and help it reach decisions that would advance the mission of the SEC. This seemed to mean the wise allocation of financial resources; the effective working of the Provincial deliberative machinery (boards and committees and so on); the thoughtful planning for and assiduous follow up to the annual General Synod and constructive support for the work of the staff in the General Synod Office. Others will judge whether that has been achieved.

Q: What have been the biggest challenges for Standing Committee?
A: Possibly for members of the Committee the challenge has been to cope with my eccentric and demanding Convenership! We have faced and face a range of recurring challenges. For instance for years we have planned for balanced budgets but have repeatedly out-turned surpluses. On the one hand that means we didn’t spend as intended but on the other it does mean at this historically difficult time we have reserves to draw on to see us through. Planning the agenda for General Synod can also be a challenge. There is always a lot to fit in and sometimes it is difficult to predict how sessions will run, the level of demand to speak and so on. As a consequence feedback after Synod can sometimes be a bit prickly.

At a personal level I was over-optimistic in my hope that it would be possible quickly to review, refresh and articulate a clear, concise and compelling vision and strategy that would equip the whole church for the 2020s and would determine priorities for Provincial action and expenditure. To achieve this requires sustained joint working between Standing Committee and College of Bishops which for a variety of reasons - other pressures on diaries, episcopal vacancies and this year the disruption of Covid - has not been possible. That said the work of the Task Group working through our response to the pandemic shows promise.

Q: What has given you satisfaction during your time as Convener?
A: I guess more than anything occasions when the Committee has acted to move issues forward. For instance, by enabling the work on ethical investment following GS 2019 leading to the thoughtful and well received interim report of the Ethical Investment Advisory Group to GS 2020; also the changes to the governance of the communications function and its development particularly in the digital area which has proved so essential over the last year. Another example of the Committee at its best has been the way it has worked through the events of 2020. This included scanning the horizon, taking stock, monitoring action to respond to church closures and re-openings and establishing a task group to plan for the future. This has allowed us to identify a number of areas for action and to bring financial proposals to “virtual” General Synod. These aim to provide early relief to dioceses by reducing Provincial quotas in 2021, maintain spending in all areas in the years 2021-23 and set aside resources for a recovery and renewal fund to prioritise new opportunities for mission and service.

Q: What do you think you will miss?
A: I will miss chairing a thoughtful Committee which works well and where a range of voices and experiences come together to tackle sometimes tricky and challenging issues. I will also miss the opportunity to work closely with members of the GSO staff who are able, professional, experienced and dedicated to serving SEC to the best of their ability.

Q: What are your hopes for the Scottish Episcopal Church as we look ahead?
A: My fervent hope is that we will emerge from this awful season stronger. We will have the courage to identify what is not sustainable and will be prepared to make changes which may be painful and unwelcome but will equip us better for the future. I also hope we will see and seize new opportunities to serve and to welcome those who are seeking “an encounter with the living God” (as Bishop Kevin puts it) either by coming back to engagement or by exploring faith for the first time. Despite the COVID restrictions, many of our churches have been to the fore in meeting needs and providing support over the last year - sometimes in new and unexpected ways.

My prayer for the decade ahead is that, in all our various settings across Scotland, we will be thoughtful, prayerful, imaginative and intentional in sharing the good news of Jesus, building community, showing compassion to those in need and working to protect and restore creation all with a new energy and passion.

SEC in print & digital media

Bishop Anne Dyer's regular column in the Press & Journal newspaper was published on Christmas Eve, headlined 'Christmas is not just a day, it’s a season'.

"Each of the 12 days is an opportunity to give to another person, to do an act of kindness for someone else," writes Bishop Anne. "Sometimes we have to be kind to ourselves, so that we are well enough to give to others.

"This year, when so much is not as we would have it be, might be the best year to recover a habit of 12 days of giving to others. We can do this knowing that small gifts given each day can make all the difference to those who are lonely or struggling."

The full article is available here.

There was substantial coverage of General Synod in the Church Times, which produced four articles about the day’s proceedings, headlining on the 2030 net zero target motion, the Ethical Investment Advisory Group interim report, the cut to annual quota, and the Primus urging the church to hold dear the Advent message. NB: registration to the Church Times website is required if more than two articles are to be viewed in one month.

The Guardian reported that senior faith leaders from around the world came together at an event backed by the UK government to call for an end to the criminalisation of LGBT+ people and a global ban on conversion practices. The newspaper said that more than 370 figures from 35 countries representing 10 religions, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, signed a historic declaration ahead of a conference on 16 December in a move that will highlight divisions within global religions. The declaration was signed by the Most Rev Mark Strange, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, who spoke at the event. The Guardian report is available here and the story was also covered by the BBC, Reuters, Daily Telegraph, Irish Times, Pink News and Church Times.

A joint letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer signed by The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Rt Rev John Armes, Bishop of Edinburgh, along with 500 other church leaders, calling for action to address the rising household debt crisis, was reported by The Observer. You can read the coverage here and the full letter can be read here.

The National featured the initiatives taken by various denominations to include those who are elderly and/or isolated during Christmas, and spoke to Bishop Andrew Swift about how the Scottish Episcopal Church has brought communities together in different ways this year. The article appears here.

On a similar theme, the Press & Journal reported on how churches in Orkney, including the Scottish Episcopal Church, were set to make history as they joined forces for the first time to mark Advent. Story here.

Elsewhere, The Courier reported that St Luke’s in Glenrothes is ensuring youngsters get the best possible access to digital learning after presenting its local primary school with 50 new computer tablets. “The donation is part of a larger partnership planned between the church and school to support young children’s learning,” says the report, which can be read in full here.

Two ordinations in Glasgow & Galloway … and another announced

There have been two ordinations since the last edition of Inspires Online, both in the Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway.

On Sunday 29 November, the Rev Harriet Johnston was ordained by the Rt Rev Kevin Pearson, Bishop of Glasgow & Galloway, at St James the Less, Bishopbriggs, where Rev Johnston is serving her Title.

Despite coronavirus restrictions limiting the number of people who could be present and necessitating social distancing, Rev Johnston was able to be joined at the ceremony by her husband, the Rev Lee Johnston, a Curate serving at Christ Church, Lanark. The couple are picture below.

“Bishop Kevin preached a memorable sermon that he made personal to me,” said Rev Johnston afterwards. “As you might imagine, the moment of ordination was deeply profound for me too. Only 20 people were permitted to be in the church but that made the service intimate and personal. Due to the travel restrictions, my family watched the ordination on Zoom from their kitchen. It was good to know they were there along with many friends and members of St James’ Church.”

The Rev Liz Crumlish, pictured at top of article, was ordained deacon at St Oswald’s Maybole on Sunday 13 December. Rev Crumlish is now serving her Title in that congregation while working for the Church of Scotland as the National Coordinator for Renewal and Pioneering.  She was ordained in the Church of Scotland 25 years ago.

Rev Crumlish’s ordination was filmed, and can be watched in full here on facebook.

More coverage of the two ordinations will appear in the next edition of the Scottish Episcopal Institute Newsletter, which will be published on Monday 5 January. The December edition is available here.

A further ordination has been scheduled for 2021. Dr Lisa Curtice, who has trained with the SEI  for the past three years, is to be ordained to the diaconate in Glasgow & Galloway at Michaelmas 2021. Dr Curtice will be curate in the Renfrewshire Region.

Thanks offered as Rev Cedric Blakey steps down from Interfaith role

The Primus has led grateful thanks offered to the Rev Cedric Blakey as he steps down after five years as Convener of the Interfaith Relations Committee.

Rev Blakey’s role ended formally at General Synod earlier this month, with the Convener’s chair passing to Rev Bonnie Evans Hills.

The Most Rev Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, said: “I want to thank Cedric for his tireless work in encouraging us all to be more aware and involved in interfaith matters. The relationships he has helped forge across Scotland has helped create a more tolerant and understanding community.

“I would also thank him personally for spending time bringing a new Primus up to speed and holding my hand when I was in unknown territory.”

There was a further tribute from Imam Razawi, Director General of the Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society, pictured above with Rev Blakey, who said: “Though part of professional life is retirement and moving on, there are some who make such a profound impact that when they do leave, you cannot help but feel saddened. Friendship of course does not stop at retirement, and is much more than one’s professional interactions.

“The work Cedric has been engaged in from the moment I met him, is an example to me of what Jesus would have wanted. It is the work of God. What does the work of God mean to me, you may ask? The work of God is bringing people together, bridging hearts and not just closing distances - it is loving thy neighbour, and so Cedric will be missed for all of these admirable virtues.

“Speaking on behalf of my community, we are closer as two faiths than ever before in Scotland’s history and I commend Cedric for much of that hard work. On behalf of myself and my community, we wish Cedric all the very best in all of his future endeavours. With God’s blessings.”

Rev Blakey joined the Committee for Relations with Peoples of Other Faiths (CRPOF) in 2013, becoming convener in 2015, where he has overseen the process of that sub-committee of the Church in Society becoming a pendent committee of the Faith and Order Board in its own right and being renamed the Interfaith Relations Committee.

After retiring in 2018 as Vice-Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow, he has been able to dedicate much of his time to encouraging interfaith work in the SEC, and to raising the profile of the SEC in the interfaith communities of Scotland and beyond.

Although Rev Blakey will remain as a member of the IFRC for a few months to help ease the transition to a new convener, he will now have more time to properly enjoy his retirement in the Scottish Borders.

Members of the IFRC wish him every blessing going forward.

Rev Blakey’s successor, the Rev Evans Hills, came to Scotland after several years as interfaith adviser in the dioceses of Chichester, Leicester and St Albans and has made significant contributions to Churches Together in Britain and Ireland interfaith theological advisory group, the European Council of Religious Leaders, the World Council of Churches and the UN office for the prevention of genocide.

Rev Evans Hills, who is priest in charge of St Margaret's, Leven, in the diocese of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane, is a speaker and published writer on interfaith dialogue, ethics, migration and refugees, Christian ministry, women's grassroot engagement and Christian activism. She is also proficient in Persian and Quranic Arabic, is a musician and keen walker.

“I am thrilled that the Faith and Order Board have approved the nomination of the Rev Bonnie Evans Hills as my successor as convener of the provincial Interfaith Relations Committee,” said Rev Blakey.

“I know Interfaith Committee members are looking forward to working with her at a time when there continues much to be done to promote effective interfaith relations and dialogue in Scotland and the world at large.”

Worship for children added to online offerings

Provincial online worship has been dominated this month by Advent and Christmas, with O'Brien-Stewart Thursday’s Evening Prayer slot taking a break to allow us to accommodate additional broadcasts during December.

Advent Sundays have been marked with services from St Columba in Nairn, St John’s on Princes Street in St Ternan’s in Muchalls, and St John’s in Perth. There have also been daily video recordings of the O Antiphons, as well as an Advent Lessons and Carols Service (the latter is detailed elsewhere in this edition).

The communications team is delighted to have been able to welcome an additional offering on Sundays, thanks to an initiative driven by the Rev Canon Audrey O'Brien-Stewart, Canon Missioner in the Diocese of Glasgow & Galloway.

Rev O'Brien-Stewart was keen to address a gap in online worship, by offering something for children, recognising that the existing provincial broadcasts are aimed at adults.

On Sunday 20 December, Advent 4, she led a short act of worship for young children on facebook, a scene from which is pictured above. The full video can be viewed here.

The response to the 12-minute video was good, with a very encouraging number of views and positive feedback left as comments. It is hoped that a short act of worship for young children can become a regular offering.

Periodic Review declares confidence in SEI’s Common Awards Programme

The Scottish Episcopal Institute underwent a Periodic External Review (PER) in January/February 2020.

The PER described the overall outcome as one of confidence. In the report there were many commendations, describing the SEI as having high standards in its operation. Many aspects of the Institute’s life show good or best practice. The review involved a wide range of stakeholders, from the core staff team and present student body, through to all involved in support and governance. It is very good that the Scottish Episcopal Church can have confidence in the ministerial training given to those in the care of the Institute.

On behalf of the Institute Council, who was itself part of the PER, I want to commend the four members of the staff team for all of their hard work, that is Revd Canon Dr Anne Tomlinson, Revd Dr Mike Hull, Revd Dr Richard Tiplady, and Linda Harrison (all pictured above). They will rightly describe this outcome as a team effort. Nevertheless, their leadership and vision has been essential in establishing a high standard Institute in Scotland.

The Rt Revd Anne Dyer, Convenor of the Scottish Episcopal Institute Council

How the PER was conducted
The six-yearly Review is an evaluation of those Theological Education Institutions (TEIs) which are part of the Common Awards family, conducted by the Quality Assurance (QA) division of the Church of England’s National Ministry Team in conjunction with staff from the Common Awards team, Durham University. It thus brings together under one evaluatory process both academic and formational quality assurance.

The Scottish Episcopal Institute was inspected in January-February 2020 by a team of reviewers, led by Dr Sally Buck (pictured left), Warden of Lay Ministry, Diocese of Lincoln, which comprised the Rt Revd Dr Brian Smith, former Bishop of Edinburgh, the Revd Dr Kevin Francis, Rector of St Bride’s, Glasgow, and the Revd Dr Jack Dyce, Emeritus Research Professor, Scottish United Reformed and Congregational College. Team members consulted with a wide range of stakeholders in the months leading up to their three-day stay in Scotland, the latter comprising meetings with teaching staff and student supervisors, as well as attendance at a meeting of the Institute Council and a residential weekend in Perth.

Quotes from PER Report
“Our conclusion is that the Scottish Episcopal Institute continues to provide an appropriate environment for ministerial formation and is fit for purpose for preparing candidates for ordained and licensed ministry within the Scottish Episcopal Church. We say this in respect of the SEI’s teaching and learning, its worship and spirituality, its staff team and leadership, its community life and its contextual learning opportunities.

“We commend the way in which the whole SEI body is permeated by formational and community values and, in particular, the way in which this is made possible by clear leadership and trust in others to inhabit these values in a variety of personally authentic ways.”

“Students spoke of the value of placements and context-based learning. There was a sense that all aspects of formation are approached by staff with a deeply prayerful and supportive attitude towards the planning. One person wrote of being ‘stretched, disturbed and rewarded’.”

SEI response
On receipt of the Report the Principal of SEI, Anne Tomlinson, said: “The SEI staff team is delighted by the Team’s response which captures beautifully what we have tried to do in the first five years of the Institute’s life; namely place ‘formation’ at the heart of the task of shaping vibrant missional ministers for today’s world.

“We were pleased by the Team’s appreciation of the ethos of prayerful reflective practice and contextual training which underpins all we try to do, and of the high academic standards encouraged by the teaching staff and the Journal.

“The Recommendations have challenged us appropriately to create a detailed Action Plan for the next five years, spurring us on to creative conversations with the College of Bishops and others as we seek to shape the next generation of such missional leaders for our church and the URC.

The full Periodic External Review report can be read here.

Winter edition of SEI Journal published

The Winter 2020 issue of the Scottish Episcopal Institute Journal has just been published online, and offers a rich and varied mix of content. In addition to an article by John N. Collins, an international scholar of the diaconate, there are six articles on the vocational diaconate by authors linked to the Scottish Episcopal Church: John Reuben Davies, Norma Higgott, Stephen Mark Holmes, Harriet Johnston, Richard Tiplady and Anne Tomlinson; the Scottish Episcopal Institute Annual Lecture 2020 by the missiologist Cathy Ross entitled ‘Mission and Formation in a Time of Lament and Hope: Reflections after Covid-19’; a response to the Doctrine Committee’s ‘Theology of Authority in the Ministry of the Church’ (Grosvenor Essay no. 13) by John Hind; an article about pilgrimage and running by Mark Calder; an informal reflection on ministerial practice by Gregor Duncan; and, finally, five book reviews.

The Journal can be accessed here.

Huw Edwards announces award for Port Glasgow church

St Mary the Virgin Episcopal Church in Port Glasgow has been awarded £15,000 by the National Churches Trust to help fix its roof.

Broadcaster Huw Edwards, vice president of The National Churches Trust, said: “The UK's historic churches and chapels are a vital part of our national heritage and have done so much to help local people during the Covid-19 lockdown. But to survive, many need to carry out urgent repairs and install modern facilities. The cost of this work is far beyond what most congregations can pay for themselves.

“So I’m delighted that St Mary's Scottish Episcopal Church in Port Glasgow is being helped with a £15,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant. The repairs are an early Christmas present for this important church and will facilitate the project and will help secure the future of this much-used building.”

The good news came a week after St Mary’s won the Marsh Church and Community Heroes Awards from the National Churches Trust, in recognition of the outstanding volunteer services the church provides to the community.

Meanwhile, St Cuthbert’s in Edinburgh used some of their prize money from coming third in the Ecclesiastical Insurance’s Parish Pixels photographic competition – reported here in The National - to install an illuminated depiction of the nativity in the church grounds, which is being enjoyed by the congregation and the local community in Colinton. (With thanks to Rev Nicki McNelly for supply of photograph).

2021 Kalendar now available

The latest version of the annual Kalendar of bible readings from the Scottish Episcopal Church has now been published for 2021.

The Kalendar contains all the references for Daily Prayer readings through the year along with all the holy days. Following some feedback a couple of years ago it now includes the readings for Sunday Eucharists too.

The Kalendar is an easy way of finding out which readings should be read in church or in private devotions and particularly this year might be useful to people sustaining their spirituality through daily prayer and bible readings at home.

In addition to the readings the Kalendar contains the Bishops' Instructions for Fasting, GMT/BST dates, sunrise and sunset times for Easter, key interfaith dates, a list of those saints' days next year which are omitted though falling on Sundays and other feast days and details of the main moveable feasts for twenty years ahead.

The Kalendar used to be published annually by the General Synod Office but following a gap of some years is now published annually by the Provost of St Mary's Cathedral, Glasgow, the Very Rev Kelvin Holdsworth.

Copies of the Kalendar can be ordered here.The Kalendar is also available on kindle from Amazon here. (Works better on a tablet than a phone due to the tabular nature of the information).

Mission Board report

The Board held its final meeting for 2020 a few days after General Synod in December. The Very Revd Sarah Murray was officially welcomed as the Board's Convener. It was also noted that the Revd Liz O'Ryan has been appointed by the Diocese of Edinburgh as the Diocesan Representative to the Board and we look forward to welcoming Liz to her first meeting in the New Year. The Revd Canon Audrey O'Brien Stewart was welcomed back to the Board following her maternity, and the Revd Reuben Preston was thanked for representing Audrey over the last year.

Amongst the reports received from the various pendant committees, the Board received reports on Intentional Discipleship and how a Season of Discipleship could follow on from the Season of Pilgrimage.

The main update from the Church in Society Committee followed on the from successful motion brought to General Synod 2020, regarding Climate Crisis and the churches decision to work towards achieving net zero carbon emission by 2030. It is acknowledged that there is much work to do in relation to this generally and also to bring a wider piece of work to General Synod in 2021. This work will be carried out and will engage across the breadth of other groups and committees across the church.

The Provincial Youth Committee updated the Board on both the virtual activities that have taken place and the impact the pandemic has had on young people and the way in which the church engages with young people. Lorraine Darlow attended to bring a report on Work with Children and this also highlighted some of the challenges and also opportunities that the pandemic has offered.

A number of items relating to the pandemic, Mission in Light of Covid-19 and Work with Children raised questions around research; looking at the impact and what might be learnt from this time and how it might inform the church moving forward. A number of pieces of research were highlighted to the Board as well as the possibility of undertaking our own research. It was generally considered that the time was too early to begin the work as the full picture is still unfolding, however the Board didn't wish to lose any of the immediate responses. This topic will form part of the agenda at the Board’s next meeting in February 2021.

Christmas: A family affair

Christmas is a family affair, writes the Rev Dr Michael Hull, Director of Studies at the Scottish Episcopal Institute, pictured right. My parents went to great lengths to ensure that Christmas was thrilling for my siblings and me.

They stayed up through the night each Christmas Eve — decorating the house, wrapping presents and hanging stockings — so that everything would be ‘perfect’ on Christmas morning. Christmas Day, church included, was spent with relatives, friends and neighbours, and anyone who stopped-by.

My siblings and I relished (re)arranging the nativity scene: the magi, who started at a distance and were placed closer and closer as the Epiphany neared; the shepherds, who were with their sheep; and, of course, Mary and Joseph, with Baby Jesus. Those Christmases past imbued within us with an awareness of the Holy Family and all who gathered with them as an ideal. With the newborn Christ Child surrounded by loving parents and everyone else described by St Matthew (1.18–2.23) and St Luke (2.1–20), we saw the significance of the nuclear family as well as the extended family, including those who came from next door, like the shepherds, and those who came from afar, like Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar.

In a way, my memories are akin to those in Dylan Thomas’s ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’, his autobiographical story wherein he describes how our minds often blend memories: ‘One Christmas was so much like another . . . that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.’ Thomas recounts family and lots of folk who come and go. He writes, ‘“Were there Uncles, like in our house?” ‘There are always Uncles at Christmas.’” As I have grown older and memories of Christmases past flood my mind, I too cannot remember who was six and twelve or how many nights it may have snowed, but I have no memories that do not involve family, friends, neighbors and erstwhile strangers.

My memories are no doubt melded with the amazing first-Christmas scenes as recorded by St Luke (2.1–20) and St Matthew (1.18–2.23) wherein there are no strangers, no outsiders. Everyone assembled around the gift of God in the Christ Child. In God’s Providence, there was no room for Mary and Joseph in the inn (Luke 2.7). There was no fixed place for the Messiah. Jesus came to us not in private for a select few, but in public for all. The stable had room for everyone: room for the poor nomadic shepherds, room for the rich stargazers from the East, even room for the animals. Jesus was at home with everyone and everything in God’s Creation. His Holy Family was never a closed circle, but a focal point around which all are welcome.

Jesus’ earthly life was marked by itinerancy. In a time of great disregard for women’s well-being, Mary was forced to travel at great risk (Joseph’s help notwithstanding) to her and Jesus’s health from Nazareth to Bethlehem for a headcount, whereupon they had to flee to Egypt lest a murderous despot have his way. As Jesus said of himself, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head’ (Luke 9.58). Jesus was, now and again, a migrant, a refugee, ‘a man without a country’, a sojourner over whom God watched (Psalm 146.9), mindful of the fact that his Hebrew forbears were once sojourners in Egypt (Exodus 22.21–24) before him. Jesus’ family has always extended outward from his manger.

If Christmas 2020 is to be a family affair, we ought not to let that aspect of the nativity scene escape us: there are no outsiders at Jesus’ birth. Our families are different in shapes and sizes; our circumstances and contexts are dissimilar; yet one thing remains the same: the Jesus who came for all. Those of us who would identify as his followers, as Christians, need to be sure that our family extends outwards from our home to migrants, to refugees, to those without countries, to the sojourners among whom Jesus feels most at home.

Thomas concludes his story noting the sound of music, the warmth of the fire, the taste of wine and, most importantly, I think, the laughter of others. If we share our music, warmth, wine and laughter with our extended family, with erstwhile strangers, as God shares his Son with us, we may end our Christmas Day with the sense of peace suggested by Thomas’s final sentence: ‘I turned the gas down, I got into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept.’

Death of Mrs Mary Haggart OBE

We are sad to report that Mary Haggart, the widow of former Primus Alastair Haggart, passed away at Ellen’s Glen House in Edinburgh earlier this month, at the age of 96.

Born Mary Elizabeth Scholes, she trained as a nurse in Leicaster Royal Infirmary and Guy's Hospital in London. She moved to Dundee in 1963, becoming a member of the congregation at St Paul's Cathedral.

Mary became Matron of Dundee Royal Infirmary and Matron Designate of Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, and from 1973 to 1983 she was Chief Area Nursing Officer for Tayside Health Board.

She chaired or sat on several boards including the Royal College of Nursing and the General Nursing Council for Scotland, the Board of Management of Carstairs State Hospital, and Action on Smoking and Heath Scotland.

In 1983, Mary married Alastair, the Bishop of Edinburgh, and shared Bishop Alastair’s retirement for 15 years until his death in 1998.

She was awarded the OBE for services to nursing.

Mrs Lissa Smith, wife of another former Bishop of Edinburgh, the Rt Rev Brian Smith, paid tribute to her friend.

“Mary was very widely read, and I would say that reading was one of her greatest loves before, sadly, her sight deteriorated,” said Mrs Smith. “She was a well-known figure at a huge number of book festival events, which she really enjoyed.

“She also maintained a great personal interest in the church, both the wider Anglican Communion, and the goings-on of the Scottish Episcopal Church – the personalities, what they were saying or doing, who was the favourite to go to which charge or diocese, and why or why not! She usually seemed more informed than many, and obviously had interesting sources! She held strong opinions but was open to other views, and had a great sense of humour.”

Mary oversaw the family discussions annually to allocate the Alastair Haggart Bursary, an award made every year to help fund a sabbatical or similar leave of absence for someone in authorized ministry within the Scottish Episcopal Church.

The Bursary will continue to be awarded each year thanks to the kindness of Mary's family, although it had been agreed already that no award will be made in 2021 because travel plans cannot be made under the current Covid-19 restrictions.

Rev Gerald Mungavin, 1927 to 2020

It is with regret that we report the death of the Rev Canon Gerald Mungavin, who passed away on 17 December 2020.

Canon Mungavin retired in 1992, and thereafter held a warrant in the Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway.

He was born in 1927, studied at Edinburgh Theological College from 1951 to 1954, and was ordained a deacon in 1954 and a priest the following year. He became a curate at Holy Trinity, Dunfermline, in 1954 then at the Good Shepherd, Hillington, from 1955 to 1957, followed by three years as Chaplain to the Forces.

From 1960, he was a curate at Stanwix in Cumbria for two years, before returning to ‘military service’ as Chaplain to the RAF for 13 years, spending time living in Germany. In 1975 he became rector of St Congan’s in Turiff for six years, followed by 11 years as rector of St Ternan’s in Banchory and Christ Church in Kincardine O’Neil. He was also an honorary Canon in the Diocese of Aberdeen.

Rev Mungavin’s son David was ordained a deacon in 1990 and then a priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, and was Rector of St Ninian’s in Troon before moving to Ireland to become Rector of Greystones, Co Wicklow in the Diocese of Glendalough in 2009.

Zoom event: ‘Christian belief and everyday habit’

Christians have been formulating 'rules of life' at least as far back as the fourth century. The sixth-century Rule of St Benedict is probably the most widely known Christian rule of life, but a lot has changed since then! Is there scope for a Christian rule of life in the twenty-first century?

Advances in technology and communication, particularly social media, enrich our present-day lives whilst at the same time driving us to distraction. A cacophony of voices vies for our attention: How do we hear the Gospel above them all?

The Rev Dr Michael Hull, Director of Studies at the Scottish Episcopal Institute, will facilitate an online discussion of issues about belief and habit, faith and practice, with insights from Justin Whitmel Earley's The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2019) available at

The discussion will be held on Wednesday 20 January 2021 from 7pm to 8pm, on Zoom. Register here.



Very Rev Reuben Preston has been appointed Dean of the Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway from 22 November 2020

Rev E Peter Mosley died on 11 October 2020 aged 82. He served as Assistant Curate at St Andrew, Mirehouse, Carlisle 1967-69. He then served as Assistant Curate at St Paul, Barrow-in-Furness Carlisle 1969-72. He then became Rector at Aikton & Great Orton, Carlisle 1972-77. He was Vicar at Christ Church, Silloth with St Paul 1977-78. He was Chaplain to HM Forces (Army) 1978-94. He served as Priest at St Paul, Strathnairn 2003-09. He retired 2009.

Rev Canon Gordon Fyfe will resign as rector St Columba, Largs on 1 Feb 2021. He will be appointed Rector at St Margaret of Scotland, Newlands, Glasgow on 2 Feb 2021.

Rev Lynn Davidson will be appointed Rector Christ Church, Morningside Edinburgh on 12 Jan 2021.



Vacancy: Rector, St Andrew, Callander & St Mary, Aberfoyle

Vacancy: House for Duty Priest, Saint Ninian’s Church, Glen Urquhart

Vacancy: House for Duty Priest: St Mary-the-Virgin, Stromness, Orkney

Vacancy: Christ Church, Kincardine O’Neil

Vacancy: Rector Of St Ninian’s, Troon


Across the Dioceses

For news of activities and events across the seven dioceses of the Scottish Episcopal Church, check out the diocesan websites:

Aberdeen & Orkney
Argyll & The Isles
Glasgow & Galloway
Moray, Ross & Caithness
St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane


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Why Christian Unity Matters

Gordon Mursell summarises the talk given by the Rev'd Dr John McPake in February 2017 at the 'Church & the Academy' series of lectures held at St Peter's RC church, Dalbeattie. If you would like to find out more about this ecumenical event, please contact Bishop Gordon Mursell, Father William McFadden or the Rev'd Sally Russell.

Published in the April-May 2017 issue of the LINK Magazine.

Why Christian Unity Matters