Food Bank – Collection for the Festive Season

As we approach the festive season, St Finnbarr’s Dornoch are organising a collection for our local Food Bank. If you would like to support us, please bring donations to the church on Sunday 4th or Sunday 11th December between 10.30am and 11am or on Wednesday 7th December 10am to 10.30am. We are collecting the usual standard food and toiletry items to support people through the holiday period and you might like to include a few seasonal treats. The Food Bank is particularly short of coffee, sugar and biscuits.  Please can you make sure any perishable items such as prepacked ham or spreads have a long date and it would be helpful to pack these separately so that they can be kept refrigerated. The Food Bank is currently experiencing increased demand, so your support would be much appreciated. Don’t forget that you can also donate money if you feel you would like to help in this way. We know not everyone will feel they can contribute, but thank you in advance for supporting our neighbours most in need.

Looking forwards – Christingle Celebration!

On Sunday 18th December at 4.30pm St Finnbarr’s Dornoch will hold a Christingle Celebration Service in aid of The Children’s Society.

If you’ve never been to a Christingle before, please do come along to this very special, informal service which includes lots of carols and a simple all age Christmas message.

We know there is still a wee while to go before this happens, but wanted to let you know well in advance because part of the service includes making an offering to The Children’s Society. In the next couple of weeks special collecting candles and /or envelopes (like the ones below) will be available for you to collect from church and then slowly fill up during advent to then bring along as your offering to support some of our most vulnerable children and young people.

We look forward to welcoming you and presenting you with your very own Christingle to take home!

We did Remember

In Flanders Fields


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Be the change you want to see in the world

Cute, Alice and Belinda after the presentation

Yesterday evening in the Dornoch Social Club, over 70 people heard about some inspirational work being done by the 36 young women of the Black Mambas anti-poaching unit in South Africa.

The area that they protect is the Balule Private Game Reserve which is home to an many large mammals such as rhino, leopards, lions, elephants, cheetahs and hippos. It’ i’s part of the Greater Kruger National Park, over 2 million hectares of protected areas that’s home to an abundance of birds, impalas, giraffes, wildebeest, buffalos, antelopes, hyenas, crocodiles, fish and zebras.

The unit consists of 36 women, who operate unarmed, as Belinda says “we believe that rhinos shouldn’t be killed, but neither should people“. They point out that there is evidence that going unarmed leads to de-escalation and essentially makes their work safer. They do however have pepper spray which they have found to be very effective in apprehending poachers.

The Mambas are the first line of defence and provide early detection of poaching via the daily patrols. Rhino poachers operate using several methods and the unit has created interventions to help combat them. But it’s not just about stopping the poachers, the unit also operates the Bush Babies Programme at a number of schools around the National Park. In this programme they teach children about wildlife and the environment and how it needs to be protected and through this help to counteract other, exploitative narratives. The programme also helps to present them as role models in their communities.

These women work in and around their communities assisting in whatever ways are necessary. For instance they help to provide food for people in their communities that are struggling, so that they don’t have to resort to peaching just to put food on the table. All in all these women work to improve the lives of all in their communities and take a holistic approach to everything they do. In a very real sense they are the change that they want to see and inspired everyone who attended.

The enthusiastic audience asked some very insightful questions, before enjoying shortbread and tea/coffee. They also did a little to help, by raising somewhere of the order of £500 through donations and a raffle.

By the way, although “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” is often attributed to Mahatma Gandhi. That isn’t actually what he said (however true it might be). What Gandhi actually said is:

We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.

Mahatma Gandhi

These courageous young women are demonstrating that “as they change their own nature, so does the attitude of those around them change (including the poachers)“.

We gave thanks for the Queen’s life

A joyful and uplifting service of Thanksgiving for the Life and Reign of Queen Elizabeth II in St Andrew’s Tain last evening in the presence of His Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for Ross-shire – Mrs Joanie Whiteford.

Folk from a range of different churches and community organisations contributed and local MP the Right Honourable Jamie Stone and Councillor Alasdair Rhind also took part.

The congregation were in fine voice. The Lord Lieutenant offered some personal reflections on the Queen’s life and on the contact that she had had with the Queen in her official role and Canon James Currall preached.

Over £100 was raised in a retiring collection for the Queen’s Green Canopy fund which aims to plant trees across the UK, but especially in urban areas, as a celebration of Her Majesty’s life and reign.

Marking the War Memorial Centenary in Lairg

On Friday on a very wet morning, a group of over 100 people gathered at the Lairg War Memorial to mark it’s 100th anniversary. A cascade of knitted poppies make the memorial a stunning sight and children planted crosses one for each of the 65 names on the memorial (55 from WW1 and 10 from WW2).

Harvest Celebrations

Yesterday we gave thanksgiving for harvest in all our services and James preached at evensong at St John’s in Forres, after some wonderful singing by the Gordonstoun chamber choir and the St John’s Church choir .

A Message from our Primus

Queen Elizabeth II during a visit to the Royal Dockyard Chapel in Pembroke Dock, Wales.

The Scottish Episcopal Church is deeply saddened by the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, at the age of 96 after reigning for 70 years. The Most Rev Mark Strange, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, said:

“Today we will gather in prayer and sorrow as we mark the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. For nearly all of us, she is the only monarch we have known, she has been part of our lives and part of our prayers always.

The Queen came to the throne at a moment of great hope. A time of rebirth following the difficulties of war. She dedicated herself to the service of this country and she has honoured that pledge, especially so when things were difficult. She never wavered from her service.

Queen Elizabeth was steadfast in her faith, in her prayers and worship. She spoke openly and often of her devotion to God, and to the Christian message of respect and the value of people, of all faiths and none.

Here in Scotland we know that the Queen found space to relax and to be amongst family and friends, we cherish the knowledge that she loved this place as much as we do. That knowledge brought a shared connection that many of us felt deeply.

Today we will share memories and sadness. Her Majesty understood and believed in the promises of God. In her many statements over the years she spoke always of moving forward, serving the country that she loved, and giving thanks to God for the life she lived.

“May she rest in peace and rise in glory.”

Go forth upon your journey from this world,
dear child of God,
into the hands of the Father who made you,
to find life in Christ who redeemed you.
to rejoice in the Spirit who renews you.
May the heavenly host sustain you
and the company of the redeemed enfold you;
may peace be yours this day,
and the heavenly city your home.