SmARTphone + Nature


An activity to help you engage with the natural world in a mindful way.

1. Find your subject. Be guided to a natural object that catches your eye. Think: what is it about it that I like most? Is it the colour, shape, contrast, texture or the shadows it creates?

2. Observe it from different angles. Take a few photos of your subject from different perspectives. Try to get as close to it as you can. Don’t use zoom as you’ll lose the detail. Instead fill your screen with the subject – you can always crop off parts you don’t want to include later.

3. Edit your image. Use the adjustments and filters available on your mobile’s camera.
First look at the composition. Are you happy with it or would you like to crop it or zoom in on a particular area?
Think about the colour. Changing to black and white highlights contrasts, shadows and textures and patterns. Then play with brightness, contrast, shadows etc.
Or you can play with filters to see if a colour tint enhances the look of the image and then play with the saturation button to exaggerate the colour you were initially drawn to.

4. When you’re happy with your image, email it to Nerys at so that it can be downloaded, printed and displayed at EcoFest in St Mary’s Church on Saturday.

Based on an idea by Gail Neckel,a recent graduate in Fine Art at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design

Eco Fest Swishing Evening

Are you looking for a new-to-you outfit for a night out, a cruise, a party or a wedding? Come to our Swishing Evening to pick up a bargain and support Start-up Stirling in the process.


Donations can be brought to St Mary’s any time before 10th May. Contact Nerys on to make an arrangement.

Christian Aid Supper and Fun Quiz

You are welcome to join us for our fun and friendly quiz night. Book a place or book a table!

Silent Auction for the Bishop’s Lent Appeal

The auction comes to an end on Easter Sunday. Please get your bids in before noon by emailing Nerys on

All proceeds to a women’s empowerment project in the Diocese of Calcutta which offers young women training in business and dressmaking to lift them out of poverty.

Here are the items with reserved price or latest bid.


Charity McArdle cloudscape, 30x40cm oil on canvas,  latest bid £100


   Ken Lochead, small framed watercolour of the Leighton Library 14″ x 12″  Latest bid £60 

Kevin Leary,  large framed limited edition print of Stirling Castle,  22″ x 26″ Reserve Price £30   



Ian McNab, small framed print of Stirling Castle 12″ x 14″  Reserve Price £20

  Mikey Davey, ‘Easter Cross’, oil on canvas, 28″ x 24″  Latest bid, £100



  Book of Kells- style initial q, ink on paper, framed 21″ x 17  Latest bid £35   

Louise Rayner framed print of ? Edinburgh 12″ x 18″   Latest bid £40

erve price £10


Palm Sunday Service for All Ages

Families with children are invited to join us in the hall for our Palm Sunday service, procession and activities.

Holy Week at St Mary’s

Here are the services to be held at St Mary’s during Holy Week.

Change of Venue for World Day of Prayer Service

Because of a beeping smoke alarm high in the rafters of St Mary’s which can’t be replaced until Saturday, the World Day of Prayer Service at 10 a.m. on Friday will now be held at St Blane’s Church.


Lent at St Mary’s


Something for everyone during the season of Lent …

Pancake Events Tuesday 13th February

Everyone is invited to our Shrove Tuesday events. Please get in touch on rector or sign up at the back of church if you would like to attend.

Rector’s Letter

A Happy New Year to you all! Since this is the first magazine of 2024, I assume that it is not too late to use this greeting. I hope that it is not too late either to encourage you to make one more New Year’s resolution and to join me in seeking to try new things this year. I read an article recently claiming that trying new things can transform our lives for the better. It can help us discover our strengths and weaknesses, overcome our fears, build our confidence, boost our creativity and grow as people.

Here at St Mary’s we aim to offer a variety of Sunday services. If you have been attending the morning services regularly for a number of years, the liturgy will be comfortingly familiar. We also seek to provide services that are different and new, particularly at Night Church. We hope that these might teach us new ways of approaching prayer and worship and challenge us to think afresh about our faith and the way we live it out.

This month at Night Church, Ruth Burgess will lead us in a celebration of the ancient festival of Candlemas, Iain Goring, inspired by the author Richard Foster, will reflect on spiritual disciplines, and Kate Sainsbury will share with us a year in the life of the Appletree Community which she has founded to support her son Louis. This month also, we will mark the beginning of Lent with services in the morning and the evening of Ash Wednesday, 14th February. If you haven’t observed Lent before, what about coming to one of these or to the whole church service on the first Sunday of the season to find out more?

You are also invited to come together to mark Shrove Tuesday with pancake events in the church hall on the afternoon or evening of 13th February. These will be the first in a series of social events to which you are encouraged to invite relatives, friends or neighbours. Please consider who you might ask to come with you either to the afternoon gathering or to the supper – details below.

The Gospel we’ll be using in our eucharistic services during 2024 is the Gospel of Mark, the earliest and probably the most puzzling of the four Gospels. It is also the shortest, possibly designed to be read aloud in one sitting of a church community. Some of you have already agreed to meet this month to read the whole of this Gospel together. It is not too late to sign up for a morning, afternoon or evening session in the Rectory or in someone’s home. Hearing the Gospel in this new way can be a powerful experience. It may lead to further gatherings to look in detail at various aspects of Mark and explore its themes. We’ll have to wait and see!

At St Mary’s we also offer opportunities to meet regularly in groups during the week to discuss and pray together and get to know each other. If you would like to find out about the Monday Gathering, the Men’s Group, the Young Adults Group, the Prayer Group, Sensible Shoes and The Chosen, please get in touch with the organisers, some of whose contact details are at the back of the magazine, or with me. A new home group will soon be launched which will hopefully bring together Christians from different churches in Dunblane to pray and learn together and provide support for one another. This may be the new thing for you to try this year! If so, I urge you to come to the introductory meeting or failing that, to contact Martin or Jill Wisher to find out more.

Meeting to worship and to work for good causes along with members of other local churches has always been an important part of the life of St Mary’s. This year, it’s our turn to host the World Day of Prayer in Dunblane. If you haven’t attended this service before, what about coming along to join in the world-wide wave of prayer and to hear a powerful message from the Christian women of Palestine?

St Mary’s is also part of the Diocese of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, a group of about 50 churches under the authority of Bishop Ian Paton. During the year there will be opportunities to meet with members of our sister churches for services and for other activities like the walks detailed below, organised by our Pilgrim Pastor, Duncan Weaver, along the Fife Pilgrim Way.

This month also, there will be a special Diocesan Evensong to welcome Bishop Marinez of Amazonia and celebrate our new link with her diocese in Brazil. This will be a great opportunity for some of you to visit our cathedral in Perth for the first time and to find out about what may turn out to be an exciting new project for our church.

In the meantime, please consider what other new things we could offer this year to build up our church community and strengthen our links with the wider world. I would be delighted to hear from you!
with love,

World Day of Prayer

St Mary’s is hosting the World Day of Prayer for Dunblane this year.


Materials for Worship on the Third Sunday of Advent

Rachael writes: “Who am I?” A philosophical and existential question – one that many of us will have asked ourselves at some point in our lives – that in each of our passages today, receives a concrete answer.

Hearing our passage from Isaiah (61.1-4, 8-11) we might find ourselves transported to the synagogue in Nazareth on the Sabbath day, when Jesus is handed a scroll of scripture and opens it to this passage, reading it before the gathered crowds and essentially saying to them, “This is me”. So, of course, when we read the text in Isaiah we can’t help but think of the narrator as Christ and, in the midst of advent, as we await his arrival, of ourselves as the audience. Jesus is coming to bring me comfort and to turn my mourning into joy.

In the second half of the reading in, this first person speaker takes on another role, becoming an agent for justice. The audience for the speech disappears, and the focus turns to the exaltation of the this paragon of righteousness. The target audience in the final verse is no longer the restored community, but the foreign nations – that is, outsiders.

Our context gives us fixed ideas about where we stand in the text but on its own it doesn’t really lend itself to that. Is the speaker, the “I” of the poem, our avatar, or are we “they” whom the “I” addresses? At first glance, it might seem obvious. The speaker cannot be me, because I could not do the things that God commands the speaker to do. I cannot declare release from suffering or change mourning into joy. It is much easier to be “them,” part of the passive recipients of God’s blessings. My life is hard, I want to yell. I am mourning! I am imprisoned by poverty/poor health/addiction/anxiety. God must surely have finally heard my prayer and come to bring me my just reward!



But note that the workers, the “they” of verse 4, are the oppressed, the brokenhearted, the captives, the prisoners, those who mourn. That is, the subjects and agents of the promised rebuilding are those who have been defeated. It is the “they” who were defeated who will rebuild. The people will take part in their own restoration.


John the Baptist (John 1.6-8, 19-28) is essentially asked three times, “Who are you?”. He begins by making it very clear who he is not: not the Messiah, not Elijah, not the prophet. It’s an important reminder to us, that we are not God. We are not Christ. John says that he is one called to testify to the light. He is the voice crying out in the wilderness. And similarly, the actions that we take and the words that we speak, the restoration that we participate in, must point back toward the light and avoid being so heavily associated with us that the primary star is miscast. In community also, the action that we take as a body of believers must point back toward the light, lest “St Mary’s” become more noteworthy than the Jesus we profess to profess.

But how do we do that? Well, once again Saint Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonians (one of the earliest Christian texts to be written, around 52AD) (1 Thessalonians 5.16-24), gives us a little gem of a mandate. These are the final lines of his letter, his last charge to the church in Thessalonica. His little ten point plan for them – you can feel the urgency! It actually immediately follows verses about Christ coming like a thief in the night, an allegory which we’ve heard twice already this advent. So it’s an answer to the question of, who are we as we await Christ’s return?

We are a people who rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances – not because there are no hardships but because even in the midst of them, God is with us. We are a people who do not quench but rather listen to the Spirit by paying attention to the prophetic, to wisdom and teaching, testing them together and holding onto what is good. In doing so, we abstain from the evil of falsehoods and those who wish to prey on a vibrant community of faith. Then our spirits, souls, and bodies, will be sound and blameless when Jesus gets here. We cannot do this on our own – God will do it in us.

Who are we? Ultimately, we, like the Thessalonians before us, are to live joyfully. Not closed off from the world but part of it, transformed by Christ. We are to be voices in the wilderness, witnesses who testify to the light, bringers of good news, proclaimers of liberty, displaying God’s glory, and building up and repairing the devastations.

And note that the question has changed. Not “who am I?” but “who are we?” for we can do none of this alone, we are united to one another through Christ, and together we joyfully serve him.

Our whole beings shall exult in our God.

Here this verse from Isaiah again:

“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

We wear all of this joy like our best loved outfit. I’m sure you know the one. You can remember the day you bought it – browsing the rails, spotting it and wondering if it might be the one you’ve been looking for. Pulling it out and looking it up and down, trying to picture it on. Getting to the changing room and not daring to hope that your search is over. A quick look over your shoulder in the mirror as you do it up. Do you remember the way the fabric felt, the vibrancy of the colour? Do you remember how you stood when you wore it, the little turn you did to feel the movement of it? Remember how it made you feel, the confidence it gave you – shoulders back, head high, knowing you were beautiful and handsome. And that was before you even got out the door. Then you met with friends or family and, after that initial angst that others wouldn’t see it like you do, your confidence returned and you would tell anyone and everyone that it was a new outfit, from such and such a shop, that you got at this extortionate or bargain price. Everyone, even without you having to say anything can tell that you feel glorious. There’s a light radiating from you. You emanate joy.

If we wear God’s love in the same way, who will ever need to ask, “who are you?”

Christmas Services 2023

From Hurt to Hope

Advent and Christmas Services