Church Opening for Prayer

From Wednesday 15th July, St Finnbarr’s in Dornoch and St Andrew’s in Tain will be open for for two hours a week for Individual Prayer.

The opening hours will be as follows:

    • St Finnbarr’s – 10:00am -12:00pm
    • St Andrew’s – 2:00pm – 4:00pm

At the moment, we are governed by a strict set of guidelines laid down by the Scottish Government and by our own Church and the Churches are open for your individual prayers and not for communal prayer.

An oft quoted Covid prayer says: “We are not people who protect our own safety: we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety.” However, as our Governments have made clear, an important part of how we protect our neighbour, is through our own behaviour. As our Bishops also pointed out in relation to closing our churches, “we do this not out of fear but out of love”.

Many of the precautions that we need to take as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic, are to protect each other from Seasonal Flu, the Common Cold and other respiratory infections as well as Covid-19, all of which can have a devastating effect on the elderly, the vulnerable and those in poor health.

So out of love for others, if you do wish to spend a little time in St Finnbarr’s or St Andrew’s:

  1. Please wear your face-covering.
  2. Please make use of the hand gel.
  3. Please sit in a seat where there is a Palm Cross and a Prayer Leaflet.
  4. Please try to avoid touching anything that you don’t need to.
  5. Please take both Cross and Leaflet away with you when you leave (so that those coming after you will know to avoid the seat that you have been sitting in).
  6. Please remember that this is a time for Private Prayer and keep a respectful silence whilst in the Church.
  7. If you wish to speak with a member of the clergy, indicate this to either one or the clergy or a steward.

God of all hope we call on you today.
We pray for those who are living in fear:
Fear of illness, fear for loved ones, fear of other’s reactions to them.
May your Spirit give us a sense of calmness and peace.

We pray for your church in this time of uncertainty.
For those people who are worried about attending worship.
For those needing to make decisions in order to care for other
For those who will feel more isolated by not being able to attend.
Grant us your wisdom.

Holy God, we remember that you have promised that
Nothing will separate us from your love – demonstrated to us in Jesus Christ.
Help us turn our eyes, hearts and minds to you.
Amen

Caption Competition Winner

Captions entered for this competition were:

  1. ‘Eye, nose, cheeky cheeky chin, cheeky cheeky chin, eye, nose!’
  2. ‘It’s great to have collared two nice men trained to amuse me!’
  3. ‘Two trained to keep me on the right lines!’
  4. ‘Am I too young to start the discernment process?’
  5. ‘Carry on ‘training’!’
  6. ‘Since those two are Gordon and James, can I be Thomas? Pleeeese!’
  7. ‘Station-ary Vocational Train-ing!’

AND THE WINNER IS…….

Number 6

‘Since those two are Gordon and James, can I be Thomas? Pleeeese!’

Well done to Beatrice Somers – a fitting tribute to the Rev Wilbert Vere Awdry – original author of the Thomas the Tank Engine stories.

 

Today’s Announcements about Church Opening

Today at lunchtime (Thursday 18th June) the First Minister indicated that from Monday 22nd June, “Places of worship may open for individual prayer and contemplation“.

Bishop Mark Strange, Primus, on behalf of the College of Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church subsequently made the following statement :

Today the First Minister of Scotland has announced moving the communities of Scotland into Phase 2 of the Route Map out of Lockdown, with aspects of easing taking place on different dates.

There are many things which people will now need to work on to ensure that these changes are carried through carefully and safely. It is good to be moving forward.

The Scottish Episcopal Church can now plan for some of its churches to open for Individual prayer following the guidelines carefully worked out by our own Advisory Group. Our Phase 2 Guidance, issued last week, now takes effect from Monday 22 June 2020.

We also recognise that in Phase 2 for various reasons some faith groups will still not be able to use any of their places of worship and we will continue to work and walk alongside them at this time. We move forward today in the knowledge that we will together continue to have opportunities to discuss and shape the route back towards the full re-opening of the places of worship of all faith communities in Scotland.

It is also important to recognise the work that has been done throughout the lockdown by the regular meetings of the Scottish Government with faith leaders and the various faith group secretariats. We thank the Government for its commitment to working together with the faith communities of Scotland.

The Advisory Group will continue its work towards the preparation of Phase 3 guidance.

The Phase 2 Guidance referred to by Bishop Mark’s will need careful study to work out if any of our Churches in East Sutherland and Tain could be opened. If we can open, any necessary preparations might well take a wee while to sort out.  Church opening arrangements are subject to approval by Bishop Mark.  It goes without saying that we need to protect both those supervising the opening and those visiting the Churches for Prayer.

In the meantime, the First Minister’s statement doesn’t mean that St Finnbarr’s, St Andrew’s or St Columba’s will be open for Individual Prayer, but that could change later on.

God of compassion,
be close to those who are ill, afraid or in isolation.
In their loneliness, be their consolation;
in their anxiety, be their hope;
in their darkness, be their light;
through him who suffered alone on the cross,
but reigns with you in glory,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Charities Shop – Distribution of Funds 2020

St Finnbarr’s Charities Shop

The first part of the distribution of funds from St Finnbarr’s Charities Shop for this year is now complete. £12,450 will be distributed this year to various groups and charities

So far £10,150 has been disbursed between the following local groups.:

  • Caithness and Sutherland Womens’ Aid
  • CALA
  • Citizens Advice Bureau
  • Dornoch and District Community Association
  • Dornoch BRIG (Dornoch Beach Regeneration Improvement Group)
  • Dornoch Firth Group
  • East Sutherland Rescue Association
  • Friends of Oversteps
  • History Links
  • Lawson Cambusavie Memorial Hospital Friends
  • Maggies Highland
  • Meadows Patient’s Comfort Fund
  • Migdale Hospital Comfort Fund
  • SSAFA
  • Sutherland Care Forum
  • Support in Mind Scotland (Golspie Gatehouse)

£2,300 will be disbursed between the following groups when they are back in operation.

  • Alzheimer Scotland (Dornoch Dementia Cafe
  • Dornoch Academy Additional Support Team
  • Dornoch Academy School Library
  • Dornoch Brownies
  • Dornoch Cathedral Boy’s Brigade/Shipmates
  • Dornoch Flowers and Fairs
  • Dornoch Primary School Additional Support Team
  • Little Lambs (Free Church Playgroup)

A huge thank you to everyone who helped to raise the money by working in the shop or donating goods for sale – the above groups really appreciate your efforts, as do we in St Finnbarr’s.

Holy, Holy, Holy

Sunday is Trinity Sunday, when we give voice to one of the central elements of our understanding of God, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit or to put it another way Creator, Redeemer and Giver of Life.

This year in ‘lockdown‘, we are missing out on singing some of the wonderful hymns which we use on Trinity Sunday, so Simon and Jamie have collaborated using various forms of technological wizardry to help fill the gap.

or with just the audio:

A Growing Family

On Sunday (31st May), which is the Feast of Pentecost, Revd Nicholas Court (above left) who has served the North-West corner of the Diocese (with congregations in Ullapool, Achiltibuie, Lochinver, Kinlochbervie and Tongue) for the last 11 years, retires. I’m sure that you would all join with me in wishing Nicholas and Gilly a long and happy retirement, even though until the end of lock-down Nicholas will still be helping to provide pastoral care in these areas. However from Monday (1st June), the congregation of St Mary-by the-Cross, Tongue will join our family of congregations in East Sutherland and Tain.

For the benefit of those of you who are unfamiliar with the Episcopal arrangements ‘up north’, I have assembled a little history and description, with the help of a number of people, as will become become obvious.

Anna and I have been regular visitors to Tongue for the last 30 or more years, since her parents Alan and Irene bought a house beyond Melness. There was no Episcopal worship for some while and so they (and Anna, the boys and I when we were visiting) made the 120 mile round trip down to the monthly service in Kinlochbervie. The Services there were at first in the Fishermen’s Mission, then the Old School Restaurant and finally in the Community Centre. Over the years, KLB was served by Revd Chris Dormer, who travelled from Ullapool, then Revd Cliff Piper, who travelled from Tain and then Revd Mel Langille, who travelled from Golspie.

From June 2003, Services started at the Fir Chlis, House of Prayer and Retreat, run by Kathleen Pannell, who had found a ‘half built property just outside Tongue village’ overlooking Ben Loyal, a year earlier. Kathleen takes up the story.

We moved in on 24th March 2003 and on June 22nd Fr John Stevenson from St. Peter and the Holy Rood, Thurso celebrated the first Service of Holy Communion with about 20 communicants. I opened Fir Chlis up as a Retreat House, inviting people to ‘Come away to a deserted place, and rest a while’. Fr John continued to come once a month to celebrate Mass and when I was blessed with hosting a priest on retreat, we would be blessed with regular, sometimes daily, Mass.

Fr Len Black took over from Fr. John at some point when the Episcopal church was trying to find its way in a changing world, but the congregation was truly set on a firm footing when I met Fr Nicholas in April 2010. The congregation of St. Mary by the Cross was officially constituted on 5th April 2012 by Bishop Mark and numbers attending have grown significantly since. During 2017/2018 we counted up that more than 75 folk had attended the monthly services here at one time or another, many travelling miles to attend, and folk from several different denominations too. It’s been such a joy to host these services month on month, to witness people growing in their love of the Lord through His gifts of Bread and Wine.

St Mary’s now enters a new phase of its life, at a time when although the future looks very uncertain for us all, it is more important than every that we trust in our faithful and loving God. As St Paul wrote to the Romans:

We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” and:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

On behalf of all of us in East Sutherland and Tain, may I extend a warm welcome from our family in Tain, Dornoch, Lairg, Brora and all the places in between, to ‘our friends at the very top’ in Tongue.

Blessings
James

Say Hello! and help someone feel less lonely today! 

What is it all about?

  • Highland Hello is a multi-lingual project that encourages people to recognise that simple gestures can support us to feel more connected with others during the COVID19 pandemic.
  • Originally launched in 2019 and supported by funding from the Highland Third Sector Interface the initiative has being re-launched to encourage positive connections during this challenging time.
  • The idea is to spread the word and encourage people across the Highlands to say ‘HELLO’ to one another.
  • In recent months, life has change for all of us. This project was originally launched in 2019 but we are re-launching it at a time where we believe saying hello is more important than ever and an essential way to stay connected and lessen feelings of loneliness.

What do we hope to achieve?

  • In recent months, life has changed for all of us and social distancing has meant it is now more important than ever that we find different ways to stay connected with our family, friends and communities.
  • With a view to connecting with those who may be feeling isolated and anxious, the Highland Hello project is asking people to make a small gesture of connection with three other people by saying ‘HELLO’. With staying safe in mind this could be by text, email, telephone, posting a short note or card or a simple smile or wave to someone across the street.
  • Using the power of 3. We challenge you to make contact with 3 people.  If they then make contact with 3 people and they make contact with 3 people and so on, the ‘HELLO‘ spreads out rapidly (at an ‘R’ value of 3).

  • The Highland Hello Project also invites you to make wee a film to say ‘HELLO‘ and share what has made you happy during lockdown (gardening, cooking, music etc).  Post them and tag @HighlandHello on twitter. We will be asking carers to share these films with care home residents and with those who cannot get out.  The Highland Senior Citizens Network has put together a short video in the Black Isle

Who are we?

  • Those involved in the development of this project are Tiffany from Highland Migrant and Refugee Advocacy Project, Holly from the Scottish Recovery Network, Rachael from Fèis Rois, Anne from Highland Senior Citizens Network, Revd James Currall and Gail, formerly of Signpost.
  • You’ll find us on Twitter @HighlandHello and check us out on Facebook at HighlandHello2020

 

Bells, Bells, Bells …

Churches and other buildings in Ross-shire and Sutherland ringing their bells at 11:02 on Friday 8th May 2020 on the 75th Anniversary of VE Day (St Andrew’s, Tain and St Finnbarr’s, Dornoch amongst them).

Audio only version

Bells to Ring Out

This morning, after the two minutes silence, Church bells will ring out at St Finnbarr’s Dornoch, St Andrew’s Tain, St John’s Arpafeelie, Fearn Abbey, Nigg Old Church, Dornoch Cathedral and other Churches across the region, as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

Gethsemane

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’  … Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, ‘So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:36, 40-41)