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.
Young people all over the Scottish Episcopal Church have been eagerly awaiting news of this year’s Provincial Youth Week, and it can now be confirmed that Glen 21 will take place in two ways: both online and in person across Scotland (as restrictions allow).
Glen 21 is open to young people of high school age in the Scottish Episcopal Church. They can join in wherever they are – at home, on holiday, shielding with their families or staying with friends. As the group will not be meeting at Glenalmond College, participation is free of charge and this year participants will be offered even more to do than usual. ‘Blended’ Glen will combine interactive activities on Zoom, online content to engage with any time and (as restrictions allow) meeting face-to-face in regional groups for some outdoor activities.
The week, which takes place from 1 to 7 August, will end with a special in-person gathering for the final worship of Glen. This will follow all the latest Covid security guidelines from the Government and the Scottish Episcopal Church.
Booking for Glen 21 has been extended, and is open to anyone in the Scottish Episcopal Church who is in secondary education and those under 18 years old who have left full-time education. Full information and booking details can be found at Glen21.online
Primus joins call for global vaccine justice
The Most Rev Mark Strange, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, joined faith leaders across the world in signing a statement calling for an end to vaccine injustice, which says: “The same spirit of unity and common purpose that has driven scientists to develop Covid-19 vaccines at breathtaking speed, that drives the care of those tending to the sick, must also inspire the leaders of government, civil society and the private sector to massively ramp up vaccine production so there are sufficient doses for every person in the world to be vaccinated.”
The full statement can be found here and a short video, produced by Christian Aid, on the call to end vaccine injustice can be watched here.
Anyone wishing to give their support to the People’s Vaccine campaign can do so here.
General Synod 2021 to take place over two days
General Synod will again take place online this year, as it did in 2020. However, the schedule will cover two days on Thursday 10 and Friday 11 June, instead of the single day event that was held last December.
Business will start at 9am each day and is expected to run until approximately mid to late afternoon.
There will be breaks during the course of each day including a substantial lunchtime break, and Synod members will participate in a number of breakout groups for discussion and debate.
The General Synod agenda and papers will be issued in mid-May. The agenda is expected to include matters such as future vision and strategy for the church as we emerge from the pandemic, the approval of liturgies which have been subject to experimental use in recent years, ecumenical relations, a report on the triennial valuation of the Pension Fund, consideration of resources to assist the church in working towards carbon neutrality by 2030, debate about the church’s process for electing bishops (Canon 4), a range of clergy personnel matters including stipend, and ethical investment.
Further information about the meeting will be issued to Synod members in the coming weeks, including instructions about how the virtual aspects of the meeting will be handled but they will be broadly similar to last year. Feedback from the first virtual hosting has been considered carefully, to find ways to improve the event.
Those who are not Synod members will be able to watch a live stream of the meeting.
Meanwhile, the postponed Diocesan Synod in Argyll & The Isles is expected to go ahead on 19 May.
Strong presence on TV and radio
The commissioning of a new series of BBC Scotland worship programme The Service was very welcome news at St Paul’s Cathedral in Dundee, which hosted the edition broadcast on 18 April.
The Right Rev Andrew Swift, Bishop of Brechin, led the service, with readings from Catriona Robertson, prayers from Alice Simpson. Tricia Paton acted as sacristan and Bob Main hosted the filming as cathedral administrator.
The Service is available to watch again on the BBC website, here.
The SEC also featured twice recently on BBC Scotland’s weekly programme Reflections at the Quay. The Rev Sarah Shaw of Christ Church, Falkirk, was a co-host in February, followed a couple of weeks later by Professor Nicholas Price, a lay reader at St Saviour’s in Bridge of Allan.
Bishop Andrew was also a guest on BBC Radio Scotland programme Sunday Morning following the death of HRH The Prince Philip, where he joined a discussion about the legacy of the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme. Bishop Andrew recalled his own memories of achieving the gold award back in 1990 and then helping others to reach their goals.
The interview can be heard at the 1hr10min mark at this link.
Meanwhile, The Rev Philip Blackledge, pictured above, appeared on BBC Radio 4 programme Walking Together on Sunday 18 April. The Rector of Holy Trinity Scottish Episcopal Church, Melrose, was joined by ordinand Claire Nicholson and The Rev Grace Redpath of St Andrew, Kelso, to explore the rich story of the Road to Emmaus. The programme can be heard here.
Still on radio broadcasts, the Primus was a guest on Premier Christian Radio in March, when he was interviewed on the Inspirational Breakfast’show.
In a ten-minute discussion with presenter Esther Higham, the Most Rev Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness, highlighted the coming of spring in the Highlands, our responsibility to look after the world we have inherited, and the significance of the forthcoming UN Climate Change Conference – COP26 – in Glasgow.
He also gave his thoughts on why people should not panic as the Church looks to a net zero carbon emissions future, raised the difficult issue of heating and maintaining old buildings and questioned the need for travel to return to pre-lockdown levels.
And away from environmental matters, he discussed preaching in an empty cathedral, the need to maintain the connections we have built or rediscovered in lockdown, and the scriptures that are inspiring him at the moment.
The Primus was again on Premier Christian Radio following the death of Prince Philip, when he expressed condolences on behalf of the SEC, and read the Church’s prayer of commemoration prepared on behalf of the Liturgy Committee.
Children’s Chapel builds on success
Since its introduction in December, the weekly online broadcast of Children’s Chapel has attracted a significant audience, and has on at least one occasion been the most-viewed provincial broadcast of the week.
The Rev Canon Audrey O’Brien Stewart started the broadcasts at a time when there was no province-wide offering for children, and after sustaining the significant commitment of producing a broadcast every week, she has recently been able to call on the help of others across the province as hosts.
Perhaps as we might expect, the highest audience so far was on Easter Sunday, at just under 2500 views – helped by the inclusion of a fabulous sea shanty from the Rev Diana Hall of St Anne’s in Dunbar. Ms Hall wrote and performed the shanty to tell the Easter story, to the tune of Wellerman, at the Dunbar Primary School Easter assembly. Ms Hall’s sea shanty can be watched here.
Survey shows how churches adapted to pandemic
Church leaders across Scotland have made “remarkable adaptations” during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep worship going and serve their communities in new ways, a survey has found.
A new study records that 96 per cent of 369 congregational leaders spanning 27 different denominations continued with ministry and mission work despite restrictions on movement and the closure of church buildings.
Lockdown resulted in a dramatic rise in online worship and other content. Increased online and social media activity has allowed congregations and Church leaders to reach substantially more people than they did prior to the pandemic.
The report titled Adapt and be Flexible – the Mission Doesn’t Stop: The Scottish Church and the COVID-19 Pandemic concludes that leaders have been faithful to their calling, preaching the Word in season and out of season and witnessing to the love and faithfulness of God at a time of “unprecedented disruption and suffering.”
The report has made five recommendations to the Scottish Church.
Online worship is here to stay, and must be adequately resourced
Online worship must be adequately reflected upon
The Scottish Church should not rush back to pre-lockdown ministry and mission
Cross-denominational partnership in mission should be better understood and extended
Further research into the social capital generated by the churches should be undertaken
The 46-page study is the product of a research partnership between Action of Churches Together in Scotland, Brendan Research and the Scottish Church Leaders’ Forum.
The Scottish Episcopal Church provided the second biggest number of responses to the survey, after the Church of Scotland, with a total of 46 submissions.
A more detailed summary of the report is available here on the SEC website, and the full study report can be accessed here.
SEC produces online worship support guides
The Scottish Episcopal Church has created two new documents which are designed to provide support and guidance to those involved in delivering online worship, from those who might be starting out for the first time to those who are well-practiced in this area but would like to consider further development of their offering.
The two-part guide does not provide a definitive summary of all aspects of live or pre-recorded worship, but instead addresses many of the commonly asked questions and offers guidance on what type of online worship might best suit a congregations’ circumstances.
For some, the guides might not be detailed enough in some areas, and further external research might be required. For others, the guides will look daunting and complex, but it should be stressed that not all sections will be applicable to the average reader, who can take from the guide whatever information they find useful and leave the rest.
It is hoped that the guides will be useful as churches prepare for a future which embraces and utilises digital technology like never before. If you have any comments or suggestions to make, please contact Aidan Strange, Digital Communications Co-ordinator, at email@example.com or Donald Walker, Director of Communications, at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Diocese of Argyll & The Isles put its digital skills to good use with the creation of a video to explore vocation, which was released to mark Vocations Sunday.
The thought-provoking 15-minute video, collated by the Diocese’s Mission Enablers, Ros and Chris Brett, features several people talking about their own sense of vocation and how they fulfil those callings in the church and in their lives.
Church in Society awards, Part 1: Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office
Every year, the Church in Society Committee of the Scottish Episcopal Church invites grant applications from organisations working on a variety of issues in Scottish society, and includes projects from the local, such as providing school uniforms for a local primary school, to the national, such as a third sector coalition combating climate change.
Starting from this edition, Inspires Online will focus on one of the award recipients every month, to highlight their award and the work that the SEC’s support allows them to pursue.
The series begins with the Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office – frequently referred to as SCPO – which was set up in 1999 as a response to the opening of the Scottish Parliament, with the vision of building a fruitful relationship between the Churches in Scotland and the new Parliament, and helping them to relate and respond effectively in the political process.
Twenty-two years later, some of those objectives are achieved through activities such as the annual Church Leaders’ meeting with the First Minister, and projects such as ‘Meet your MSP/MP’, which are both SCPO initiatives. The SCPO also provides a place for different churches to come together to discuss their shared approach to government work, such as responding to consultations or bills.
If the Churches want more information on a particular topic, the SCPO can arrange briefings on particular topics with the civil service or members of the Government. For example, in 2019 a small group from SCPO was able to meet civil servants involved in rolling out new Social Security payments to discuss how faith communities could help with spreading information and awareness about the new payments, as well as feeding back any issues that had been raised locally.
The Scottish Episcopal Church is a founding member of the SCPO, which is one of our strategic partners and as such receives core funding. Last year, Church in Society and the SEC Standing Committee took the decision to make a significant increase in SEC funding, and the SCPO is now the largest of our grant recipients and one of our longest and most established partnerships.
In common with many organisations, the SCPO experienced significant disruption during 2020, and after a review, work began to re-establish some activities and functions of the SCPO. There was little time to spare as the Scottish Parliamentary elections on 6 May drew ever closer, and the SCPO quickly made resources available under the ‘Issues for Scottish Churches’ banner including
• A Just and Green Future Beyond Covid-19
• Adult Social Care
• Alcohol, Drugs and Substance Abuse
• Constitution and Independence Referendum
Information and advice was also made available for churches looking to host and arrange hustings meetings for candidates. The full set of resources can be found here.
“It is imperative that the work of the SCPO continues to be a sign of ecumenical commitment and to enable ecumenical co-operation,” says David Bradwell, who was appointed Scottish Churches Parliamentary Officer last year. “This is both an essential characteristic of the Churches’ life and work together, as well as being a more effective way to relate to decision-makers.
“The work of the Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office should underline the Churches’ commitment to the common good, the role of churches and congregations in communities, prayer and pastoral support for Parliamentarians, and the Churches’ multiple roles as a prophetic voice, as a candid friend, and as a promoter of respectful dialogue and informed debate on national political issues.”
The SCPO aims to achieve the objectives of its post-review vision through building effective relationships between Church leaders and politicians, civil servants and parliamentary figures, to allow the exchange of ideas; facilitating and enabling Church representation on legislation and political developments; and by providing strong communication through the sharing of news of parliamentary and political developments with the key people in all Churches. To those ends, a new monthly meeting has been set up for church staff and volunteers in Scotland working on Holyrood issues to meet and exchange ideas and information.
“I look forward to continuing to work closely with the Scottish Episcopal Church and other denominations in this new role,” said David.
Death of HRH The Prince Philip
The Scottish Episcopal Church was deeply saddened this month by news of the death of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, at the age of 99.
On behalf of the College of Bishops and the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Most Rev Mark Strange, Primus, said: “We send our love and prayers to Her Majesty and her family on this sad occasion, as they mourn the loss of such a significant figure who has been at the heart of the British Royal Family for more than seven decades.
“We give thanks for the Duke of Edinburgh’s long and faithful role as consort to the monarch, and for his steadfast love of his Scottish home at Balmoral as well as Scottish traditions.
“He leaves behind a tremendous legacy in the shape of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, the youth development programme he founded which has made an enormous difference to the lives of millions of young people here and around the world.”
The Primus also sent a message of condolence to Her Majesty The Queen, on behalf of the Church, and a Prayer of Commemoration was offered on behalf of the Liturgy Committee.
Some SEC churches, including St John’s on Princes Street, Edinburgh, flew flags at half mast in line with national mourning protocol. In Inverness, the Primus and Provost Sarah Murray represented the Scottish Episcopal Church at an ecumenical service for the city’s church leaders, which was reported in the Inverness Courierhere.
Primus offers Tartan Day greetings to Massachusetts
At the invitation of the St. Andrew’s Society of Massachusetts, the Primus sent a video greeting to the online gathering of Scots in Massachusetts who are devoted to the preservation of Scottish culture and heritage.
Bishop Mark highlighted the links between the Scottish Episcopal Church and The Episcopal Church in the USA, and was well received by members at their celebration of Tartan Day on 6 April.
Bishop Anne: ‘Older generation has key role post-pandemic’
In her latest column in the Press & Journal newspaper, the Rt Rev Anne Dyer, Bishop of Aberdeen & Orkney, says that older generations can make a major contribution to society in a post-pandemic future.
Bishop Anne believes that people are too quick to reach for the old saying that ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ and instead she points to the way that older people have adapted to and embraced digital technology over the past year, as evidence of their ability and potential.
“During the pandemic, there have been many folk of my age who have been concerned about the care of very elderly parents, and at the same time been involved in supporting those in younger generations who have been struggling to continue to work or be schooled,” wrote Bishop Anne.
“These experiences highlight the need for careful decision making. If we have only so much of any resource, not just money but also time, then how should we use what we have? There is important understanding that comes with age, if decisions have to be made about who or what must come first.”
The next Provost of St Paul’s Cathedral in Dundee is to be the Rev Canon Dr Elizabeth Thomson.
Canon Thomson is currently Sub-Dean and Canon Missioner of Derby Cathedral, a post she has held since 2014. There, she is responsible for helping the cathedral connect with the city and community, for communications, and for a wide range of duties as part of the cathedral clergy team. During a recent vacancy she led the cathedral as Acting Dean.
The Rt Rev Andrew Swift, Bishop of Brechin, said: “We are all delighted that Elizabeth will be joining the diocese and the cathedral this summer. In the blended recruitment process we created she came over both online and in person as a person with great spiritual depth and the capacity to find a fresh vision for the cathedral and its community. She will be coming to Dundee as, hopefully, the pandemic begins to have less impact on church and city – the opportunities that this time will present are an exciting time for this new ministry to begin.”
Canon Thomson studied English at the University of Oxford, graduating MA and then as a Doctor of Philosophy. She was a teacher of English in Edinburgh and Somerset, before training for ministry at Westcott House in Cambridge. She was ordained in 2003 and served her curacy in Somerset, after which she became team vicar of St Mary’s, Witney, in Oxfordshire.
She said: “I am delighted and honoured to have been appointed Rector and Provost of St Paul’s. I am very much looking forward to meeting the Cathedral’s congregation and community, working with new colleagues in the Diocese of Brechin, and engaging with all those connected with the Cathedral in Dundee.
“There is no need to say that the past year has been difficult for everyone. It has meant re-imagining how we live and how we worship. I hope we will be able to draw on what we have learned and take it with us, so that as we are able to gather again we can also serve our community in new ways. My hope and prayer is that the life of the Cathedral will flourish and that its roots in love and service will be strengthened.”
Canon Thomson grew up in Edinburgh; she has been working her way steadily north again and is looking forward to being closer to family and friends in Scotland. In her spare time she is an extensive reader, a keen walker, and a bad gardener.
In the Press
The Church Times has reported on several issues covered elsewhere in Inspires Online, including the SEC’s response to the death of HRH The Prince Philip. It also featured the publication of the ‘Adapt and be Flexible’ study by Brendan Research, highlighting the SEC Virtual Choir as a strong example of how churches have responded to lockdown circumstances here. The research was also picked up by The Scotsman, Herald, Press & Journal, The Courier, Evening Express, Evening Telegraph, STV Online and Christian Today.
Following the newspaper’s publication of Christmas messages from faith leaders, The Herald again asked leaders for their messages at Easter, and published the contribution submitted by the Primus.
In the Diocese of Brechin, the announcement that the Rev Canon Dr Elizabeth Thomson will be the new Provost of St Paul’s Cathedral, Dundee, received good coverage in The Courier. The appointment is covered in detail elsewhere in Inspires Online and The Courier’s report can be found here.
The Courier also published an obituary of the Rev David Shepherd, Rector of St Mary Magdalene’s in Dundee for over 40 years, available here. The full obituary appears elsewhere in this edition of Inspires Online.
Still in the Diocese of Brechin, the Scottish Legal News website carried an interview with the Rev Canon Dr Joe Morrow, in which the Lord Lyon talks about a life which seemed destined to be spent with the Scottish Episcopal Church, but was drawn towards the development of mental health law and practice in Scotland, and now the preservation of Scotland’s ancient heraldic law. The full interview can be read here.
In Edinburgh, the retirement of the Rev Canon Malcolm Round at St Mungo’s in Balerno was marked by a report and two fine photographs in the Currie & Balerno News magazine. One photo shows the fresh-faced young Rector upon his arrival at St Mungo’s in 1988, alongside Bishop Richard Holloway, and the other is of more recent vintage, with wife Sue. “We have grown to love this pony-tailed, cowboy-boot-wearing, leather-jacket-clad Rector with a love of fly fishing, Dr Who and Nerf guns!” wrote the report’s joint authors Eric Adair and Alison Wilson. “Malcolm has had a huge impact not only in St Mungo’s but also within the Scottish Episcopal Church, as well as within the wider church in Scotland, where he has supported other leaders – particularly of larger churches within Edinburgh and further afield.”
Elsewhere in the Diocese of Edinburgh, the East Lothian Courier reports that “congregation members [at St Anne’s in Dunbar] are being urged to swap four wheels for two when attending services and events.”
A request has been made to East Lothian Council to allow St Anne’s to install a bicycle rack, as part of the community’s action on climate change, with the aim of reducing carbon emissions to Net Zero by 2030.
“One way to help the environment is walk or cycle to Church rather than driving,” reports the St Anne’s Vestry. “A number of the congregation already do this, and last year St Anne’s received a Bronze Award from Cycling Scotland for its commitment to making it easier for people to get on their bikes.
“Now we’re working on a project to increase bike parking, making it easier for church users (and other High Street users) to swap cars for bikes. We hope to install four bike racks to accommodate at least seven bikes.” Story here.
Just north of the Forth in the Diocese of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, the Glenrothes Gazette reported on St Luke’s Episcopal Church support for the local YMCA’s initiative to provide bikes and equipment for homeless people in the area to improve their mental and physical health. It is also hoped the project will deliver other benefits such as regular exercise, increased confidence, decreased social isolation, and reduced transportation poverty.
The Rev Gerry Dillon said: “It is our privilege to work and learn from all at YMCA Glenrothes. This opportunity for young people to support their mental and physical wellbeing will prove invaluable as we emerge from the present Covid-19 situation.
“Hopefully, this project will be such a success that the partnership between St Luke’s and YMCA Glenrothes will grow for the benefit of all residents of Auchmuty and Glenrothes.”
In the Diocese of Moray, Ross and Caithness, the Rev Ellie Charman of St John’s in Wick and St Peter’s in Thurso has been in print twice recently in the Food For Thought column of the John O’Groat Journal and Caithness Courier – firstly on why Mothering Sunday is not just about her relationship with her mother, but about our nurturing of each other. In her second article, she writes about compassion. The articles can be read here and here.
Queen awards Maundy money to three Episcopalians
Three long-serving and highly respected members of the Scottish Episcopal Church enjoyed a surprise arrival in the post as recipients of this year’s Maundy money from The Queen.
David Kenvyn and Jill Cunningham from the Diocese of Glasgow & Galloway, and Dr David Bertie from the Diocese of Brechin, were among the 190 people nominated for 2021.
Mr Kenvyn is convener of the Provincial Global Partnerships Committee and verger at St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow, Mrs Cunningham is a long-time member of St Mary the Virgin in Hamilton and a driving force behind Hamilton Churches Drop-In Centre to support those in crisis, and Dr Bertie is Archivist for the Diocese of Brechin and an author of several historical reference books.
All three were delighted with the delivery to their homes. “I was gobsmacked!” admitted Mrs Cunningham. This was a reaction shared by Dr Bertie, who said: “It was most unexpected, and I feel really honoured.”
Mr Kenvyn said: “I blame it on the Global Partnerships Committee!” But he added: “In small ways, our grants through the Church have helped to change the world for the better.”
The Royal Maundy Service commemorates Jesus washing the feet of the Apostles at the Last Supper, and takes place annually on the Thursday before Easter Sunday. Traditionally The Queen has travelled to various cathedrals and abbey, distributing gifts to local people for their service to church and community.
Given the current circumstances created by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Royal Maundy Service scheduled for Westminster Abbey had to be cancelled, as also happened last year. Instead the Maundy money was blessed at the Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, before being posted to recipients alongside a letter from The Queen.
Each recipient of Maundy money is given two small leather purses by The Queen, one red and one white. The first contains a small amount of ordinary coinage, traditionally £5.50, which symbolises the Sovereign’s gift for food and clothing. The sum is made up of a £5 coin to commemorate Her Majesty’s 95th birthday, and a 50 pence coin to mark the 50th anniversary of Decimal Day in 1971.
The second purse contains Maundy coins up to the value of the Sovereign’s age. This year, 95 pence worth of Maundy coins – silver pennies, twopences, threepences and fourpences – has been distributed to 95 men and 95 women.
(Photograph courtesy of Royal Communications)
Come, let us worship
‘O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker’, sings the Psalmist, reminding us of our need to worship God (95.6; cf. Philippians 2.10) writes Rev Dr Michael Hull, Director of Studies at the Scottish Episcopal Institute. We Christians are especially conscious of that need given God’s own Commandment to keep holy the sabbath (Exodus 20.2–17 and Deuteronomy 5.6–21). Among the privations of the Covid-19 pandemic are the limitations imposed on our worship of God. There is hope that we will return to worship as we did before March 2020, but that return will neither annul the trials of the past year nor conclude the lessons to be learned. A year and a bit into lockdown is an auspicious time to begin theological reflection about how we gather and worship as God’s people.
Part of that theological reflection will inevitably include the efficacy of online worship. Online worship has burgeoned since March 2020, but in what ways, if any, can it replace onsite worship? Prior to the pandemic, the question would have been moot because there was relatively little online worship. Onsite worship was de rigueur and part of the fabric of Christian life. Restrictions like social distancing, masks and the dearth of singing are difficult enough. However, with the closing of churches by the state, even to the point of criminalising onsite gathering for worship, our theological reflection is perforce jumpstarted.
In late March a number of Scottish Christians challenged by judicial review the unilateral closing of places of worship from January 2021 by Scottish Ministers. The petitioners were from a diversity of Reformed churches, with a Roman Catholic as a supporting party; Episcopalians were not among them. Their petition was taken in the Court of Session where Lord Braid deemed the closing of places of worship unlawful in his Opinion. Lord Braid accepted the petitioners’ claim that central to their faith ‘is the importance of physically congregating to undertake corporate worship’ (para 60) and that the Regulations, which simply closed churches and forbade onsite gathering for worship entirely ‘went further than they were lawfully able to do’ (para 129). The petitioners, in other words, should not have been prevented from gathering for corporate worship in their churches when other premises were in use for services deemed essential, for example bicycle shops, notwithstanding lawful restrictions in use elsewhere.
The Opinion, specifically the petitioners’ emphasis on the importance of onsite, corporate worship in church, is food for thought. On the one hand, Jesus was clear in saying that we may pray alone, even in secret (Matthew 6.6). Private prayer and worship are staples of the spiritual life. Jesus often took time to pray alone, for example getting up in the morning to pray in a lonely place (Mark 1.35). Jesus taught his disciples how to pray, particularly with the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6.9–13 and Luke 11.1–4). Jesus assured us of his presence when we congregate: ‘For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them’ (Matthew 18.20). Praying alone (or with others at home) and praying together online are moments of worship, even corporate worship, for the Lord Jesus is present with us.
On the other hand, there are acts of worship, like the Lord’s Supper, that cannot be replicated online. That is not to say that one could not share parts of the Communion Office virtually, say, with livestreaming; but it is to say that it is not the same as experiencing the Holy Eucharist. As the Gospels recount (Matthew 26.17–30; Mark 14.12–26; Luke 22.7–39; John 13.1–17.26), the receiving of the consecrated bread and wine in a communal context are fundamental to the Last Supper. St Paul, likewise, emphasises eating and drinking together at the Eucharist (1 Corinthians 11.17–34). The Eucharist underscores the reality of our existential experience: we are incarnate spirits. Our present being is embodied as is our future being (1 Corinthians 15.35–54), for that is how God made us and redeemed us.
Our post-pandemic theological reflection, then, will take into account the extraordinary ways we have worshipped and prayed, especially online, during the lockdowns, and the suitability of continued worship online after we return to church without restrictions in due course. Yet, reflection is also needed on what we have endured vis-à-vis this captivity wherein we have been deprived of our sacred spaces, our sacraments and ourselves. As we return from our exile, it will surely not be ‘church as usual’. Good will surely come from evil, nonetheless the process may be slow. We are in a position now to pause and to reflect. Most importantly, though, let us be thankful to return to church, to bow down in worship and to kneel before the Lord our maker.
Obituary: The Reverend David Shepherd
The Reverend David Shepherd, who died on 27 March, was one of the diminishing number of Scottish clergy to serve their whole ministry in the same diocese, writes Bishop Ted Luscombe, retired Primus and Bishop of Brechin.
He was born in Bolton-le-Sands in 1942. On leaving Abottsholme School, he spent three years at Saint John’s College, Durham, graduating in 1965. He later added an M.A., and then an M.Litt. for a thesis on the Jugoslav Royal Family. After a gap year in the Probation Service, he joined Edinburgh Theological College, where the Principal was Kenneth Woollcombe, later Bishop of Oxford.
David arrived in Dundee in the Diocese of Brechin in 1968 to serve a title as curate of Saint Paul’s Cathedral, Dundee (the accompanying photograph is from his ordination). Several of his maternal forebears had ministered in the Diocese, including a bishop, a dean and a former Provost of Saint Paul’s. He remained at the Cathedral for 11 years, during which he exercised a remarkable ministry amongst young people both in the Cathedral and in his Chaplaincy to Anglican students in the University of Dundee.
In June 1979, he was appointed as Rector of Saint Mary Magdalene’s in the city of Dundee. This was a large building that had formerly been a Catholic Apostolic Church. In 1954, an Episcopalian congregation had moved from Hawkhill, at one time reputed to be the most over-crowded area in Europe. Over the years the building had become rather forlorn and a recommendation was made that it should be closed. His appointment was an act of faith.
I remember clearly the evening of his Institution. The church was dark and dismal, and many of the lights were not working. Under David’s guidance, the building was transformed into a place of beauty – including the replacement of the windows with stained glass. But important as that was, the building was not the church, but the people, and it was to their care that he was being Instituted.
As a Rector, David received the same commission as that given to Saint Peter – ‘Feed my lambs, tend my shearings, tend my sheep’.
During his Rectorship, the Baptismal Register showed no less than 850 lambs nurtured and in their baptism given grace to live Christian lives.
And the shearlings, those young and sometimes wayward members of the flock. In the halcyon days of the sixties at Saint Paul’s Cathedral, his Sixty-Nine Club had to be restricted to 150 members meeting regularly in the halls. He spent six fruitful years as Chaplain to Anglican Students at Dundee University, some of whom stayed in contact for the rest of his life. Four ordinands came from those years.
Then – ‘Feed my sheep’. The ordinary, routine day-to-day care of the flock – visiting, preaching, teaching, comforting and ministering to them to the end. Some thirteen hundred funerals, nearly all of them loved by their shepherd and loving in return.
Beyond St Mary Magdalene’s, David’s hospital chaplaincy was exemplary. His 16 years as Chairman of Saint Serf’s Retirement Home saw a major extension completed, the books balanced and a facility of which the Church was proud. He was of great assistance in Chaplaincy to the Burma Star Association.
He had a particular interest in lists and tables and would have made a good statistician. The beginning of Advent always saw him producing for the ensuing year a table of lessons, readers, hymns and music. Although not musical himself, he appreciated good music and loved listening to the Mahler symphonies and classical liturgical music.
His principal recreation was in writing detective novels – 15 of them altogether. He produced four very interesting and well-illustrated books for the Sunday School. In 2018, he published the first of three volumes of autobiography, entitled “Shepherd’s Delight”. He left the other two volumes almost ready to go to print.
David’s letters are never likely to be forgotten, and would on occasion have been better written on asbestos paper. The seven bishops under whom he served were not exempt from what he euphemistically described as “constructive criticism”.
In 1986, he married Patricia, who was a constant, yet unobtrusive, support and mainstay throughout his ministry.
Sadly his last few years were dogged by a progressively disabling cancer, through which he was devotedly nursed by Patricia.
He retired on Easter Day 2020, after forty years at Saint Mary Magdalene’s. He was 78 years old at the time of his death and had been a priest for more than fifty years. He leaves a wide circle of grateful Episcopalians.
SEI Newsletter highlights families
The April edition of the Scottish Episcopal Institute Newsletter leads on how the Institute is committed to serving students’ families better.
Marianne Lucchesi, wife of first year Argyll and The Isles ordinand Tony Clapham, writes about how she has felt included in her husband’s studies as part of the SEI community, and how her own studies have allowed the couple of share their learning experiences and grow more close in their relationship with one another and God.
The newsletter also details a range of pioneering courses being made available by the Rev Dr Richard Tiplady, Director of Mixed Mode Training at the SEI, while a report from the recent Staff Conference highlights a session from Dr Sanjee Perera, the Church of England Archbishops’ Adviser on Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns, on The Pedagogy of Theological Education: Inclusion and Critical Whiteness in Theology.
The SEI Newsletter for April is available here and the May edition is imminent.
‘Made in the Image of God’
Several members of the Doctrine Committee have contributed to a new book edited by Michael Fuller and David Jasper titled Made in the Image of God: Being Human in the Christian Tradition.
The synopsis from publishers Sacristy Press says: “The question of our humanity has never been more pressing or uncertain. As human beings, is our nature simply biological? What is the place of philosophy and theology in determining our self-understanding? Are we dependent on our relationships with one another? Are we creatures created by God? Is our physical death an end of our being?
“Essays written by twelve leading scholars in fields such as biblical studies, theology and science address the question of what it is to be human, made in the image of God, and thereby make a wide-ranging contribution to the field of theological anthropology.”
Pre-orders, at £24.99 per copy, can be placed here.
Minecraft makeover for Cathedral of the Isles
Here is The Cathedral of The Isles as never seen before … recreated in the video game Minecraft to help engage young people with the Isle of Cumbrae’s heritage.
Students from Abertay University in Dundee built Cumbraecraft, a heritage-themed game for primary school children as part of the Millport Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme which is being delivered by North Ayrshire Council and Historic Environment Scotland.
Housed on the Minecraft education platform, Cumbraecraft is designed to allow children to explore local heritage landmarks and learn more about their history. As well as the Scottish Episcopal Church’s Cathedral of The Isles, the game also features local landmarks Garrison House, Lion Rock and Crocodile Rock.
The Cathedral of The Isles in Millport was built in 1849 and opened in 1851 as a collegiate church, rising to the status of cathedral in 1876. It is one of two cathedrals in the Diocese of Argyll & The Isles, the other being St John the Divine in Oban.
The Cumbraecraft game is under development, but a trailer can be viewed on YouTube here (warning – intense music alert).
Table: a participatory resource for pioneers
As part of his commitment to resourcing those who have attended his courses in the past, SEI Director of Mixed Mode Training Dr Richard Tiplady is keen to offer materials that would help participants to host pioneer-related discussions within their church and community. He has recently become aware of a new resource called Table, which he reckons would be very useful.
Produced by Paul Bradbury, Table is designed for use by small groups sitting around a table and having discussions over a meal. There are both physical and online versions available soon, and the physical version includes five beautifully-designed A0 tablecloths that are intended to be drawn on, chatted over, debated and discussed while eating together, and then kept as a record of those conversations as the group moves forward. More information is available here.
Richard is offering a free one-hour introductory session to Table on 6 May (2-3pm) using Zoom and an interactive online whiteboard called Miro. This is for anyone who would like to know more about the resource and explore its use before deciding whether to buy a copy themselves (it’s not cheap – £50 for the online version of Table and £80 for the physical one).
Further details, including how to book, can be found here.
Administration Board report
The Administration Board was pleased to welcome three new members to its meeting in March and to make various appointments to its pendant committees.
Much of the discussion at the meeting was focused on issues relating to clergy wellbeing. In addition to discussing in detail the Clergy Remuneration Package Interim Review Group’s Report the Board received reports from the Personnel Committee on its continuing work in relation the development of a Bullying and Harassment Policy and related Complaints Procedure. The Board was happy to endorse the policies and procedures developed by the Committee in conjunction with the College of Bishops and will propose their adoption to General Synod later this year. The Board also agreed to bring proposals to General Synod to revise the guidance on clergy time off with a view to seeking to ensure that clergy are encouraged to work five rather than six days a week.
The majority of the meeting was spent discussing the 14 recommendations made by the Clergy Remuneration Package Interim Review Group in their Report which the Board had also discussed at its previous meeting. The Board is grateful to the Group for its detailed work and, broadly, accepted most of its recommendations. The recommendations cover a number of areas impacting on the clergy remuneration package including stipend and clergy housing. The Board heard that the Buildings Committee had already started working on some of the recommendations relating to housing issues.
The Board noted the Group’s comments regarding the extent to which SEC Standard Stipend had failed to keep pace with inflation since 2006 and endorsed its aim of seeking to increase stipend over a short period to address this issue. The Board agreed to make specific recommendations to General Synod to change the SEC’s Stipend Policy to ensure that stipend rates were restored to 2006 levels adjusted for inflation.
Reports from recent meetings of Standing Committee and Mission Board will appear in next month’s edition of Inspires Online.
Rev David Higgon retired as Associate Priest from St Boniface of Ross, Achiltibuie; St Gilbert, Lochinver; St Gilbert’s Mission, Kinlochbervie and St Mary the Virgin, Ullapool on 24 April 2021
Rev Kim Lafferty will be appointed Rector at St Ninian, Altyh; St Michael and All Angels, Ballintuim; St Catharine, Blairgowrie and St Anne, Coupar Angus on 20 June 2021.
Mrs Isla Shanks, Lay Reader at Collegiate Church of St Matthew, Roslin died on 16 April 2021.
Dr Jaime Wright will be Ordained Deacon by the Rt Rev Dr John Armes, Bishop of Edinburgh at Old Saint Paul’s, Edinburgh on 2 May 2021. She will be appointed Curate at Old Saint Paul’s, Edinburgh.