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.

A Prayer for Our Beloved Queen Elizabeth II

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

Almighty and eternal God,
you uphold and govern all things
both in heaven and on earth,
and by your grace alone kings and queens do reign.

We thank you for all the blessings which you have bestowed upon us through our late sovereign lady, Queen Elizabeth, whom you have called from this life today.

We thank you for the wisdom of her guidance and her love of peace, for the care and devotion with which she served her people, for the example of her gracious life.

We pray that you would fill our hearts with gratitude for all these good things, and give us grace that we may use the memory of them as a perpetual call to live according to your will, for the good of all the world, and the glory of your great name, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Listen to the Quiet Voices

Bishop Mark looks at the hopes and expectations around COP26 as we seek to care for God’s creation

As I write this, I’m sitting watching the leaves changing colour outside my office window. There’s a tree which is just at the corner of the churchyard at Arpafeelie which always begins to turn first, its leaves slowly, then quickly, becoming golden before plunging to a striking mix of reds then browns.

As I have watched the autumn begin, the plants begin to bed down for the winter in this changing of the season; I remember that once the bare winter is over then the cycle will come round again. We will have the cool, clear spring and then the joyful warmth of summer. So it has been for much of my life. Yet as we have stayed at home over these past months because of the pandemic, I have appreciated the slow but ever-moving changing of the seasons in a new way.

But just as I can anticipate the leaves coming back on that tree, it is becoming clear that in other places around the world many others no longer know what their seasons will hold. People can’t be confident that the rains will come, or know if their land will flood. People can no longer be confident that their crops will grow, or know if they will have the time and energy to harvest. People and places are struggling and dying now because of the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss. People are increasingly anxious and increasingly fearful, and there is growing anger and concern for the future.

In Scotland we have a stable climate. As is so often the case, the worst affects of climate crisis will be felt that much more strongly in places where their climate is not so stable. So the changes that I can see, and the emotions which flow through me as I know they flow through many in our Church, are much more pressing in other parts of our world.

I’ve been thinking about those emotions and reactions as we all prepare for COP26 in Glasgow. The hopes and expectations of so many people are that political leaders will listen to the voices of people around the world who are simply frightened for the very ground they stand on and the lives around them. The Scottish Episcopal Church has put in place and will continue to develop processes which enable us to have a much lighter footprint on the ground, and will enable us to make a better use of the resource we have so that we don’t contribute to stripping the environment of those things which produce the very air that we breathe.

There will be moments of tears, moments of anger, and moments of laughter in Glasgow, but I hope there will be moments of prayer. Why are we going? Why is our Anglican Communion delegation gathering? It is because as a church, and as people of faith, that’s what we do: we pray. Our prayers are to God who created this beautiful little planet we all live on. Our prayers are that God will help us to do everything in our power to protect the environment we live in.

With prayer, with conversation and simply by being visibly present, we can use the time to push home the point to political leaders that this crisis is real and that people of the world, especially those with the least ability to affect change, are being impacted by our continual drive for greater consumption, greater profits, and greater power.

We will try and insist that they listen to the quiet voices, voices that might not be physically present, and we will pray again that world leaders make the right decisions for our planet.

The Scottish Episcopal Church will be there along with old friends and hopefully new friends. We will spend our time carefully encouraging, noisily supporting and – I suspect – sometimes loudly reacting to what is happening because to honour God means caring for God’s creation, not simply for what it gives us but so that we can pass it on, healing and restoring, to those who will come after us.

Please pray for all who will gather in Glasgow, for the leaders of the nations and those of us who will bring hope and prayer.

Ordination of Gordonstoun Chaplain

Philip cutting his ‘ordination’ cake

Yesterday in Inverness Cathedral, Philip Schonken (who is Chaplain at Gordonstoun School) was ordained Deacon by Bishop Mark.

Philip brought with him the school choir who sang the Eucharist, led the hymns and also gave us this wonderful short piece to honour the fact that Philip comes from South Africa.

A joyous occasion finished off with cake and fizz.

Diocesan Prayer Cycle for October

 

Until 4th October
The Season of Creation
For our World, all of God’s Creation and for Climate Justice

1 October 2021
On the International Day of Older Persons, for the elderly who struggle with their health or loneliness.

2 October 2021
For Mark, our Bishop.

3 October 2021
Thanksgiving for Harvest and Pentecost 19
For the congregation of St. Margaret of Scotland, Aberlour

4 October 2021
For our link Diocese of Quebec.

5 October 2021
For couples who have lost a child through miscarriage or stillbirth.

6 October 2021
In Challenge Poverty Week, for those in Scotland who struggle to make ends meet.

7 October 2021
For the 5 million people in Tigray, Ethiopia in need of humanitarian assistance.

8 October 2021
For Diocesan staff.

9 October 2021
On World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, for medics offering end of life care.

10 October 2021
Pentecost 20
For the congregations of Holy Trinity, Elgin; Burghead Mission; St. Margaret, Lossiemouth: Tembu Rongong, Jenny Sclater.

11 October 2021
For preparations for the UN climate conference to take place in Glasgow in November.

12 October 2021
For those who live and work in local prisons.

13 October 2021
For the 702,200 children who attend 2476 schools in Scotland.

14 October 2021
For our local politicians and councillors.

15 October 2021
For retired clergy assisting in the Diocese.

16 October 2021
On World Food Day, for those who today will go hungry.

17 October 2021
Pentecost 21
For the congregation of St. John, Forres: Hamilton Inbadas, Anthony Matchwick.

18 October 2021
Luke, Evangelist
For surgeons and anaesthetists trying to catch up with surgery waiting lists.

19 October 2021
For bold steps to reduce emissions in response to the climate emergency.

20 October 2021
For economists and bankers.

21 October 2021
For children who have additional support needs.

22 October 2021
For those who suffer domestic abuse.

23 October 2021
James of Jerusalem, Martyr
For those who are persecuted for their faith.

24 October 2021
Pentecost 22
For the congregations of St. John, Rothiemurchus; St Columba, Grantown on Spey: Richard Gillings, Jenny Jones, Alison Hart, Tony Sparham. Lay Readers: Deborah Munday, Judith Page and Christine Burry.

25 October 2021
For the people and leaders of Afghanistan.

26 October 2021
For the 37,000 young carers in Scotland looking after dependent family members.

27 October 2021
For those responsible for growing our food.

28 October 2021
Simon and Jude, Apostles
For those pioneering new evangelism initiatives.

29 October 2021
For the Queen and members of the Royal Family.

30 October 2021
For those who are overworked and exhausted.

31 October 2021
Pentecost 23
For the congregation of St. Ninian, Glenurquhart.

Chess, Coventry and Thanks at Evensong

A splendid service of choral evensong in St Finnbarr’s this evening, when Simon was licensed as Priest in Charge at St Finnbarr’s and Lizzie given her warrant as Assistant Priest in Sutherland and Tain.

In his address Bishop Mark thanked everyone for keeping going over the last 18 months and for caring for one another. He said it was lovely to be back in St Finnbarr’s and to enjoy his first service of choral evensong since March 2020. In responding to the New Testament reading from Revelation, he spoke of Coventry Cathedral and its role as a centre for reconciliation giving hope against the forces of darkness.

Addressing Simon and his new role, he likened what he was doing to moving chess pieces around and mentioned that today he had found a large chess set in the boot of his car,

The choir of four (including Simon and Lizzie) were superb and the congregation also were in good voice. Suffice to say that a good time was had by all and we all look forward to another evensong in the not too distant future.

Our prayers and good wishes are with Simon and Lizzie as they share in ministry in this part of our beautiful diocese.

The collection taken at the service will go to the Scottish Episcopal Institute to help in the training of future clergy and lay readers.

Northern Pilgrims’ Way launched

Service of Dedication in St Duthac’s Collegiate Church in Tain

Today the Northern Pilgrims’ Way was launched with a dedication service in St Duthac’s Collegiate Church in Tain. Bishop Mark led the service, Jamie Campbell was at the organ and Rev Lizzie Campbell sang the hymns and an anthem and Rev James Currall read the lessons. The Lord’s Lieutenants of Ross-shire (Joanie Whiteford) and Sutherland (Monica Main) were in attendance along with a number of representatives of the Churches.

During the service, an information board was dedicated and the members of the congregations were given blessed cockle shells and candles as symbols of the pilgrimage, but in his address Bishop Mark gave strict instructions that the shells were to be given to pilgrims on the way, that those present encountered in the coming months. He also warned that launching the Way was only the beginning of something and not the end.

You can watch the service on Youtube below:

The original pilgrims were not just trying to get from A to B. The trials and tribulations of the journey were part of the experience, as was calling at recognised holy sites along the way. Modern pilgrims want to feel that they are following in the footsteps of these previous generations. So re-creating a pilgrimage route is not as simple as looking at a map and working out the shortest way from one place to another.

The Northern Pilgrims’ Way is what is known in the trade as a braided route. In other words, it offers the pilgrim alternative tracks between the start and end points. While some routes have more history attached to them than others, all are genuine pilgrimage ways through the North of Scotland.

Map of the Northern Pilgrim’s Way

In our time, pilgrimage is being revived in many denominations. Indeed, it is a feature of most main religions and seems to answer a deep-seated need within us to re-connect with the creator of our world and to work out our own place in this creation.

Further events are planned in the coming months at Thurso and at Kirkwall where the route ends.

  • 3rd July 2021 in Old St Peter’s Kirk, Thurso at 12:30pm
  • 20th August 2021 in East Church, Kirkwall at 12:00noon
Church and State ready for Pilgrimage

Our Brothers and Sisters in India

The Christian Medical College in Vellore, South India

Dear Friends

A number of you have asked about charity support for India.

Rev Dr Hamilton Inbadas has written this piece for your information 

Situation in India

As you are aware the situation in India continues to be worrying. When you hear journalists say that the real number of infections and deaths are far higher than shown, that is not an exaggeration. The past few weeks have been difficult for us too. Almost daily we kept hearing about hospitalisations, ICU admissions and deaths of people we have studied/worked with and those whom we know.

Our parents on both sides managed to get the second doses of the Oxford vaccines just before our villages hit an acute shortage of vaccines. That is a relief. The number of infection seems to be stabilizing. But as we well know even if this signals the turn of the tide, there is still a lot to deal with for the next few months, at least. Please continue to pray.

Several of you have asked if there is a charity I could recommend for making a donation. The Christian Medical College in Vellore, South India is a teaching hospital that provides excellent care for anyone regardless of religion or caste. CMC also has clinics in rural areas where otherwise there would be no access to medical care. Grace and I had the privilege of working as palliative care chaplains there for several years.

If you wish to make a donation, please follow this link. Donations are received through Friends of Vellore UK, which makes transferring funds easier: 

https://givecmc.org/covid-19/?fbclid=IwAR0IdQpxcAoLJcbSFLRWm9yU1ghMu5ymaAp6pXfPi4Fn6Jc1THhqSF_4bJM

Blessings
+Mark

Making a Canon

On the Feast of St Andrew (30th November 2020) James was Installed as a Canon of The Cathedral Church of St Andrew, Inverness.

James makes his declaration before +Mark

I, James Edward Patrick Currall, appointed to a Canonry in the Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew, Inverness, do solemnly promise, as in the sight of God and God’s elect Angels, that I will diligently and faithfully fulfil the duties of the same, and sedulously observe the Statutes and cause them to be observed by others.

We all ask for God’s help

O Lord, save this your servant
Who puts their trust in you.
Send them help from your holy place.
And evermore mightily defend him.
Let the enemy have no advantage over them.
Nor the wicked approach to hurt them.
Be unto them a strong tower.
From the face of their enemy.
O Lord, hear our prayer.
And let our cry come unto you.
The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit.

+Mark calls on the Holy Spirit

O Lord, of your mercy stretch forth the right hand of your Majesty over your servant James, that he may seek thee with his whole heart, and that those things which he asks faithfully he may obtain effectually through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

James is led to his Stall by Provost Sarah

A new chapter in the North West

Where do you suppose the geographic centre of the North West Charges is?

My guess is that it would be somewhere on the shore of Loch Assynt near Ardvreck Castle. … and that is exactly where +Mark chose to License Revd Dr Clare Caley as the new Priest in Charge of the North West Charge (St Mary Ullapool, St Boniface Achiltibuie, St Gilbert Lochinver, St Gilbert Kinlochbervie).

19 people gathered in a natural amphitheatre, seated 2m apart for a celebration of the Eucharist on a perfect afternoon; sun shining, little wind, no rain and only a little chilly.

What a lovely occasion and what a wonderful way to embark on a new ministry in a really beautiful part of the world.

The timing was perfect. As +Mark gave us his blessing, the sun slid down behind the hill and we all knew it was time to go (partly because +Mark said it was:-)