Rector’s Letter – January 2019

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.
(Howard Thurman)

Dear friends,

By the time you read this letter, the Christmas festivities will be over and we will be preparing to greet the New Year. In the Church, as you know, we continue to celebrate Christmas until the Epiphany, singing carols and listening to the accounts of the Nativity in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew. The narrative grows darker as the season draws to a close and the cosy stable scene is replaced by the strangely contemporary image of a young family fleeing for their lives to another land. The lesser-known stories of the intrigues of Herod and the massacre of the innocents which throw a dark shadow over the early childhood of Jesus, are a challenge to us to do ‘the work of Christmas’ as outlined in Howard Thurman’s inspiring poem.

Thank you in advance for your generous support of our Advent charity, Aberlour Childcare Trust. I look forward to welcoming Abby Parkhouse, its Regional Fundraiser, to the all-age service on 3rd February to receive our donation and to explore with you how we can further support the work of the charity. We also have an opportunity in January to consider difficult situations facing the world in the company of Christians from Indonesia as we host the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. I hope that you will consider getting involved in this event.

Thank you to everyone who helped prepare the church for Christmas and who took part in the services. As we now look towards Lent and Easter, please speak to me if you would like to give reading in services or leading intercessions a go. We are also always looking for welcomers and tea and coffee makers. If you’re interested in learning how to arrange flowers for the church we have organised a tutorial in January. I am quite keen also to identify a couple of people ready to take photographs at church services and events.

Last month we were mourning the loss of Gerry Goddard. This month we grieve for another faithful servant of the church, Walter Abbott who died on 20th December. I ask for your prayers for Judith and the family. You are all welcome to attend Walter’s funeral on Thursday 10th January at 10:45 (not 10:30 as previously intimated) in Falkirk Crematorium followed by a memorial service at St Mary’s at noon and refreshments in the Golf Club. Towards the end of every January, Walter would bring me packages of used Christmas stamps, meticulously sorted and labelled, to give to charity. As a tribute to Walter, I wonder if we could all bring our used stamps to church this year to donate to the RNIB Stamp Appeal. I ask you also to pray for members of St Mary’s who are unwell and their families. Please be assured of my prayers for you all as we enter into the New Year.

With love,

Nerys

RNIB Stamp Appeal

The RNIB recycles stamps into much-needed funds to help people with sight loss access the information, support and advice they need. Stamps are sold by weight at £20 per kilogram so it is one of the easiest ways for the charity to raise money. You are invited to collect used stamps from your cards and parcels and place them in boxes in the church or the hall. Just be sure to leave one centimetre of envelope or packaging around each stamp!

Youth Group News – January 2019

St Mary’s Youth Group met on the snowy evening of 15th December for the final session of 2018. We enjoyed a Chinese takeaway together and then watched the film “Nativity”. The highlight was our party game finale with an assortment of unusual Christmas gifts that were selected and stolen until everybody had something amazing to take home with them. Thanks to all our young people and helpers for a great year and I look forward to 2019 – a calendar of events will be circulated in early January.

Aberlour Children’s Trust

Aberlour Children’s Trust is the S.E.C.’s Advent charity this year. Collections in church on Sunday 23rd and at the Christingle Service will be for the Trust, which works to support vulnerable children.

Institution of Revd Nerys

The church was packed full last Saturday for the institution of Revd Nerys as our Rector. Members of the congregation, staff and pupils from St Mary’s School and representatives from the other local churches and organisations in Dunblane joined with priests and lay people from churches all around the diocese for a memorable service led by Bishop Ian Paton, the new bishop of St Andrews, Dunblane and Dunkeld. In the church hall afterwards Nerys was greeted in song by members of Young Church and was presented with a celebration cake decorated with Welsh dragons and thistles. Nerys, who has lived in Dunblane for over twenty years and was active in the church and the community as a lay minister before going to St John’s Church in Perth three years ago to train as a priest, was welcomed home to St Mary’s by John Owen on behalf of the Vestry, by Monsignor Basil O’Sullivan on behalf of the Dunblane Churches and by Sam Toop on behalf of St Mary’s School. Nerys responded by expressing her surprise and delight at being called back to St Mary’s as Rector of the congregation.

Rector’s Letter – December 2018

Dear friends,

I am delighted to have this opportunity to write to you just a few days before my institution as your Rector. I would like to thank in advance everyone who is working so hard to prepare for the service and celebration. It promises to be a magnificent and memorable occasion.

Like the Ven. Peter Potter in the last issue of this magazine, experience has taught me to never say ‘never’. When I left St Mary’s for my curacy in Perth three years ago, it was clear to me that my future ministry would be in a community other than Dunblane. I had wholeheartedly accepted the call to ordained ministry and, painful as it was to lift our roots, Davie and I were ready to go wherever God would lead us. Imagine my consternation when, in January, colleagues in the diocese prompted me to consider applying for the post to be vacated by Nick, despite the fact that it is not customary to return to one’s home church as its Rector. I agreed to pray about it and within days I experienced a similar feeling to when I was first called to ordination, a sense of an open door and a choice whether to step through. Six long months of uncertainty followed, which made me feel vulnerable and anxious at times but which also caused me to grow closer to God as I learnt to trust more deeply in his call and in his perfect timing. It was reading the Parish Profile that finally convinced me that I should apply. I was excited by the picture it painted of the outward-looking, missional church you would like to be, where the ministry of all believers is encouraged. It also reminded me why I had enjoyed so much being involved in the life of the community in Dunblane and made me realise the depth of my love for you, the congregation who nurtured me and encouraged my calling to ministry. It was with great humility, gratitude and joy that, on September 4th, I accepted the invitation to become your Rector.

A friend sent me a prayer by St Teresa of Avilla which I have been reading every day, changing every ‘you’ to ‘I’ and ‘your’ to ‘my’. I offer it to you to make your own:

May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts you have received and pass on
the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let His presence settle into your bones and allow your soul
the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.
Amen.

I am looking forward very much to coming home to St Mary’s in my new role. Sadly, some familiar and much-loved faces will be absent, in their midst Gerry Goddard who died on Saturday 10th November. Gerry was one of those who made my family so welcome in St Mary’s when we first came to Dunblane over twenty years ago. She served church and community diligently and cheerfully for so many years and will be greatly missed.

My hope is to accompany each one of you in the sadnesses and joys of your lives and that together we may be drawn closer to Christ. Please be assured of my prayers for you always.

With love,

Nerys

Youth Group News

St Mary’s Youth Group enjoyed their annual ten pin bowling outing on November 3rd, when the boys’ team won the first game, and the girls’ team won the second game once they had commandeered David to play for them! Some highly competitive air hockey matches also took place, fuelled by sweets and slush puppies.

On Saturday 17th November the youth group hosted The Big Quiz Night in aid of Tearfund, joining with over 22,000 people from 498 churches around the UK. Congratulations to our winning team The Young Ones, who won free tickets to the youth group paintballing trip in Spring 2019! We raised £120 which will be sent to Tearfund.

The next youth group event will be their Christmas film and party, which will take place at 6:30pm on Saturday 15th December in the Church Hall.

St Mary’s AGM

The Annual General Meeting of St Mary’s Episcopal Church will take place in the Church Hall at noon on Sunday 9th December 2018.

Nomination forms for new vestry members and other posts can be found at the back of the church. Please ensure anyone nominated has agreed to stand.

Institution of Rev’d Nerys Brown as Rector

The Institution of Rev’d Nerys Brown as Rector of St Mary’s Dunblane by the Right Reverend Ian Paton, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, will take place in St Mary’s Church on Saturday 24th November at 1pm followed by a celebration in the Hall and in a yurt on the Rectory lawn.

Parking will be on the dual carriageway and around the Cathedral. Please email the vestry secretary at vestrysec @ stmarysdunblane.org if you need a disabled parking space. Please be seated by 12.45. In case of large congregation numbers, the service will be relayed to the Church Hall.

A collection will be taken for the Training Fund of the Scottish Episcopal Institute.

Dress for clergy is alb and white stole. Robing will be in the Rectory behind the Hall and Church.

Christmas Shoe Box Appeal – Thank you

Thank you to everyone who filled shoeboxes for the Blythswood Care Christmas Shoe Box Appeal. It is 25 years since Blythswood Care began their Christmas Shoe Box Appeal and, since then, over 2 million gift boxes have been received by young and old, bringing a rare moment of happiness for those in winter poverty. This year, shoeboxes will be distributed to Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Kosovo, Moldova, Romania, Serbia and Ukraine.

November Magazine Foreword

When I retired from full-time ministry in July 2016, I imagined that I would not be writing any more “Rector’s letters” for a church magazine. But, as the saying goes: Never say ‘never’. Even so, I am reasonably certain that this could be the last one.

I have, though, been glad to have had this opportunity to help out during the vacancy. For a priest, it is an enormous joy and privilege to celebrate the Eucharist. That is what we are ordained to do after all. To preside at the Eucharist is no solitary task, however, for the priest does this on behalf of and together with the community, the Church gathered together in this place and on that occasion. It has long been the custom for representatives of the congregation to bring forward the bread, wine and offerings of money, to be presented and offered to God by the priest at the altar. What is going on then is a highly significant and symbolic action. The elements represent what we bring: who we are, the fruits of our labour, which the priest gathers up, presents to God and in what follows presents God to the people.

To give up something in order to gain something greater is a way of describing what a sacrifice is. The word itself means “to make holy”. What the priest is offering at the altar is our poor – yet, paradoxically, precious – gifts, “ourselves, our souls and bodies” as the Prayer Book says. Through the action of the Holy Spirit they are transformed, given new significance, made holy and returned to us, now made infinitely more precious, the Body and Blood of Christ. To be called to play a part in this is a wonderful gift.

That is why I am grateful to God and to yourselves to have been able to fulfil my priestly rôle these past seven months. It has been a way to offer to God, and to give back to you, all the kindness, support and love that we have received at St Mary’s.

Peter

Harvest – Thank You!

The Harvest Supper raised £250 for flood relief in Kerala and the collection at the Harvest Thanksgiving service provided 56.5Kg of goods for Start Up Stirling – Thank you!

October Magazine Foreword

Dear friends,

As the days go by my anticipation level rises. I believe that St Mary’s is about to start a new and exciting chapter in its history. As you all know we have a new Rector, Revd Nerys Brown; she isn’t here yet, but she will be, if all goes well, some time in November. As she comes back to us she will find that the St Mary’s she left is not the St Mary’s she’s coming back to. We have moved on and done some good and exciting things. When she left us, we had no Messy Church, our church building was not the well cared for newly renovated place it is now. Young Church and the Youth Group were not so great in numbers and were not the thriving groups they are now. Many people have worked really hard to make these changes and they are good ones. You may very well be able to add more to my list, I haven’t been comprehensive. Many of these changes are Nick’s legacy to us, and for that we must thank him.

Now it is time for us to move on some more, as Nerys comes to us, for just as we have moved on since Nerys was last with us, so Nerys too has moved on since she was last with us. She left us a Lay Reader, and a very good one at that, who had worked hard with the children in Dunblane, going into the schools, being one of the people behind the development of Radio Rainbow, which has now run for many years. She comes back to us a mature, creative and effective priest, ready, willing and able to lead us to a deeper discipleship and a renewed commitment to our Lord and Saviour and to the tasks he sets before us as we live to bring his kingdom closer in our changing and sometimes frightening world. She also comes to us with a very different kind of authority to share with us than she had before. Then she was our lay reader, under the authority of our Rector. She comes back to us as our Rector, with all the authority her office bestows on her and that is a very different place to be.

Exciting times are ahead, please pray for Nerys as she prepares to come to us, and for St Mary’s that we will welcome and support her and the new things she will help us to see and do.

Love and prayers,

Jeanette

Announcement

Following a meeting of the Vestry of St Mary’s Dunblane the Revd Nerys Brown has been appointed as their new Rector. Details of date of institution will be confirmed when available. Please hold Nerys and the congregation in your prayers.

September Magazine Foreword

This year is the tenth anniversary of the adoption of Creationtide by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland. Running from 1st September to St Francis day on 4th October, it is a time when churches and congregations are called to pay special attention to the responsibility of humanity for the Earth and for all that live upon it.

We enjoyed this summer’s hot, dry weather but we know there is a downside – wildfires in many parts of the world, deaths from heatstroke and no doubt we shall soon be paying more for our food as the drought affects crops. In addition to global warming there is the problem of pollution, the indiscriminate use of plastics being the most recently-raised concern.

Although most Christians share the general concern about these environmental crises, Creationtide draws on much deeper roots in Scripture and in older Christian traditions of the relationship between God, humanity and the created order. When I was preparing an all-age service for Creationtide in my last charge, one of the Junior Church leaders said she thought it was “a distraction”. Perhaps she thought the Church should only preach about our relationship with Jesus as our personal saviour. There is plenty in the Bible, however, about our responsibility for the environment. The opening chapters of Genesis show that God finds his creation very good and that he shares the work of caring for it with us humans. Jesus refers to God’s care for the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, while Cain’s question “Am I my brother’s keeper?” is a clear indication that our personal salvation cannot be divorced from that of our fellow men and women, nor from the well-being (“shalom” is the biblical word) of the whole of creation.

Peter