Midweek in St Andrew’s from 16th September

From this Wednesday (16th September), the afternoon arrangements will change (as agreed at a Vestry meeting last week).

St Andrew’s will no longer be open from 2pm until 4pm for Individual Prayer.

It will however be open:

  • from 5pm until 5:45pm for Individual Prayer 
  • from 6pm until 6:40pm for a Midweek Eucharist 

Both will be in the main Church and those arriving should come to the main Church door (unless they have mobility issues that make getting up the steps tricky).

I hope that you will find these new arrangements helpful.

Many Blessings

Caption Competition no. 2 – the result

There were 15 entries for the Caption Competition this time and they were quite a diverse set clustered around themes of Lockdown, Hugs, Dancing, Phones/Tablets and Musical Instruments, so a big thank you to all who entered and came up with this little lot:

Sending a big mobile hug x

“Hello….. can you hear me? I’m on my mobile…”

“…my shield and protector…”

“God is this the only way to get a cuddle in Lockdown??”

“Forget social distancing, let’s just have a good old hug”

Rev Simon was so over Covid 19 he couldn’t wait to have a bear hug – his new prescription from spec savers had been delayed !!!!

“One, two cha cha cha”

Simon was thrilled with his new tablet.

Beach Boy Simon gets ready to ride the next (Covid) wave.

Viewers question Fr Simon’s claim to never being board in Church.

A preview of the new normal for the next series of Strictly?

Um…. BYO referred to bottles, not musical instruments.

“How did you get past Security with that?”

“You really didn’t need to bring your own organ, Simon, we do have one here, you know. In the loft!”

But the one that made Anna and I giggle the most was:

“Do you know this keyboard’s standing on my toes?”
“No, but you hum it and I’m sure we’ll all soon be joining in.”

Well done Nicholas Court for coming up with that one.

James and Anna

Zoom Quiz Night – Thursday 23rd July at 7:30pm

Beatrice and Janet from St. Andrew’s, Tain present

A Grand Quiz Night on Zoom

Prepare to be puzzled, entertained and, perchance, to entertain!

But whatever you do, come prepared!

Folk from any of our congregations (or none) are most welcome to join us

There’ll be three rounds;

for two of them you need only yourselves and a sense of humour!

However …

for the ‘Unbelievable Truths’ round you’ll need to have ready

three startling,


or even outrageous

‘facts’ about yourself, your life, or your family.
(Such as: my dad rode to school on an elephant.)

Only two should be true and the rest of us have to guess which of the three is really ‘unbelievable’ (in other words a lie)! As well as laughing a lot we’ll have the opportunity to get to know one another just a little bit better.

You may also find you’ll need ample refreshments, which could be stronger than usual as we won’t be driving anywhere afterwards…

Zoom joining details are the same as for coffee mornings and will be circulated by email.

Letter from Bishop Mark – 10th July 2020

Dear Friends across the Diocese

As most of you will now know, the Scottish Government has given permission for places of worship to reopen next week as long as those places can be opened safely. This will require much hard work and some difficult decisions. In some cases it will be difficult to open and some cases it might not be right to open just yet. These decisions will be made by your clergy and your vestry with support from myself as bishop.

There is no right answer to this process, each place is different and each church member will be experiencing this situation differently.

Many of your clergy have worked hard in new and unusual ways and are ready for a break, yet we need to work through this next phase.

So can I ask that you hold the diocese, the congregations and the clergy in prayer. Could you remember that rather than expecting your clergy to be there for you, we must also be there for them. Some are shielding, some are as anxious as you and that, as you know, makes us all vulnerable.

My fervent prayer is to be with you all again, but I know that wonderful moment might take longer in some places than others. We are a family of faith, let us hold each other in love.

Prayers Blessings and love

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.

A New but also Old Pilgrimage Route


The Caithness Book Club boasts all of six regular members at its monthly meetings in St Anne’s church hall, Thurso. One of its books was ‘Together in Christ: Following the Northern Saints‘ by John Woodside. From this developed ‘The Northern Saints Trails’, listing 33 names and 32 sites linked to these names. The sites were organised into six circular routes, four starting in Thurso and two in Wick. For more information, see the web site at: www.wickstferguschurch.org.uk/page16 .

The Pilgrimage Trails Project

While doing the research for the Saints Trails, the group realised that there was enough historical evidence to re-create the medieval pilgrimage route linking the shrines of St Duthac in Tain and St Magnus in Kirkwall. So a second project was born. Much of the background work has been done and we are now planning some public events in the hope that this will encourage more people to come forward with offers of practical help and local folklore about the sites along the route.

Pilgrimage Events

We are launching this stage of the project with a ‘Pilgrimage Event’ in Tain on 29th May 2021. There will be an ecumenical service in St Duthac’s chapel followed by refreshments and information on the Northern Pilgrims’ Way.  This event will be jointly led by that the event will be led by our own Bishop Mark Strange and the RC Bishop of Aberdeen Bishop Hugh Gilbert.

Similar events will take place in Old St Peter’s Kirk, Thurso on 3rd July 2021 and in St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall on 20th August 2021.

There will be more information in due course.

The Symbolism of our logo

  • The central cross is from the St Andrew’s cross on the Scottish flag.
  • The two lines represent the two saints – Duthac and Magnus
  • The pointed curves are copied from the Ulbster Stone, a Celtic carved stone originally at the site of an early chapel dedicated to St Martin at Ulbster, on our Braid Three and the John o’ Groat’s Trail. The site is now marked by a mausoleum.

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.