Diocesan News – December 2018

Bishop Mark writes…

DECEMBER 2018

My Dear Friends,

I am delighted that for the first time in a while we have a Diocesan What’s on Leaflet. lt is always so easy for the Charges and Congregations of the Diocese to lose track of what is going on and to miss opportunities to support each other by sharing and visiting each other’s events.

I am always surprised by just how busy you all are and it is good to be able to hold each event in my prayers, no matter how far from home I might be.

May I thank you all for the hard work and dedication you reveal in your service of God, it makes me proud to be Bishop of this Diocese. May I wish you all a joyous Christmas when it arrives. I hope to catch up with many of you in the year ahead.

Blessings

+Mark

Be doers of the word, and not merely hearers.

A stimulating and uplifting St Gilbert and St Boniface Regional Synod yesterday.  For those of you who cannot imagine that those two adjectives can be used in the same sentence as Regional Synod, just look at the expressions on the faces of those who were there.

We started with a celebration of St Michael and All Angels, led for us by Revd Julia, followed by refreshments and a chance to make new friendships and renew old ones.  At the business meeting that followed, once the usual administrative matters were out of the way, Synod discussed two more substantive matters and very much were DOERS as they set up groups to work on motions for Diocesan Synod.  … and that was all before lunch!!

After lunch Ley-Anne Forsyth (in the foreground above) spoke movingly and passionately about Child Poverty in the Highlands and in smaller groups we again looked at what we could DO to help in our communities.  Ley-Anne said that she had hoped that she could set us alight in her session, but found that we were at the very least starting to glow before she started and well ablaze by the time we finished.

St James says in his Epistle:  “Be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. … Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

On the Feast of St Michael and All Angels, this Regional Synod might reasonable be described in these words by Bernard of Clairvaux:

but even if the splendour and glory of the holy angels before God is beyond our comprehension, we can at least reflect upon the loving-kindness they show us. For there is in these heavenly spirits a generosity that merits our love, as well as an honour that evokes our wonder. It is only right that we who cannot comprehend their glory should all the more embrace their loving-kindness in which, as we know, the members of the household of God, the citizens of heaven, the heirs of paradise, are so exceedingly rich.

A New Deacon in the North

On Saturday, Revd Ellie Charman was ordained Deacon by Bishop Mark in Inverness Cathedral (Ellie is in the middle next to +Mark). It was good to have Revd Tembu Rongong from the Edinburgh Diocese (also the Convenor of the Provincial Youth Committee) as preacher.

Ellie will serve her curacy with the congregations in Thurso and Wick guided by Fr Chris and so many of you will get the opportunity to meet Ellie in the next wee while – perhaps at the Regional Synod in Dingwall on 29th September.  In the meantime I am sure that you all join with me in welcoming Ellie to the North and wishing her well as she starts her ordained ministry.

New Priest in the Diocese

This afternoon in St Anne’s Church in Strathpeffer, Revd Julia Boothby was presented to Bishop Mark to be licensed as Priest-in-Charge of Invergordon, Dingwall and Strathpeffer.

A large number of members of the congregations, Julia’s family, some people from her previous parish (North Mymms near Hatfield in Hertfordshire) and clergy and laity from around our Diocese packed into St Anne’s.

It was a lovely service and splendid fellowship (and food) was shared in the Strathpeffer Community Centre afterwards.

Welcome Julia (and David) it’s lovely to have you amongst us and to have another priest in the northern part of the Diocese.

Ordinand Visit

This week, Anna and I have had the privilege of having three Scottish Episcopal Institute ordinands staying with us.  They were visiting as part of their Summer School, when those in training for ministry from all over Scotland (24 in total) descended on the Diocese of Moray, Ross and Caithness, to find out what shape ministry has hereabouts, reflect on what they saw and what they experienced and think about what it might mean for their understanding of ministry.

Harriet, Jenny and Andy stayed with us and we visited Tain, Invergordon (in time to see HMS Elizabeth), Dornoch, Ardgay, The Crask Inn, Lairg and Croick Church.  Along the way we prayed together, celebrated the Eucharist, enjoyed splendid hospitality, dined in the company of people with much experience of ministry in rural areas, met many different people and as our picture shows, sampled cake in Dornoch Market (and to be honest in a variety of other places).  We explored ministry as presence, as hospitality, as listening, as caring and as prayer.

Harriet, Jenny, Andy and James and very grateful for the love, the care, the generosity and the good humour of everyone who help us to learn a lot from them and from each other.

Our Bishop Mark is now the Primus


On Tuesday (27 June) the Episcopal Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church elected the Rt Rev Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness as Primus. Bishop Mark says “I am humbled by the confidence shown in me by my colleagues and I will seek to serve the church as Primus with love and strength.

I am deeply privileged to be the Bishop Moray, Ross and Caithness and am very aware that it has been 82 years since a Bishop of Moray became Primus. I pray that I may be worthy of this trust. I will continue to serve in my beloved highlands while I also step out into new and exciting journeys of faith in both Scotland and the wider international church.

Bishop Mark (56 ), who will now be referred to as The Most Rev Mark Strange, is the youngest member of the College of Bishops and was consecrated Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness in 2007. Bishop Mark succeeds the Most Rev David Chillingworth.

Brought up in Aberdeen, where he was both a choirboy and server at St Andrew’s Cathedral, Bishop Mark studied Divinity at the University of Aberdeen, attended Theological College in Lincoln and has served in both the Diocese of Worcester and in the Diocese of Moray, Ross and Caithness. For a number of years Bishop Mark was also Convener of the church’s Youth Committee and ran the annual summer youth camps at Glenalmond.

Bishop Mark takes up this role as a Primate within the Anglican Communion at a point where the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church has voted to permit same sex marriage, a decision which is expected to be on the agenda of the forthcoming Primates Meeting in Canterbury, a meeting which Bishop Mark will attend.

published in Inspires Online