News Update

Dear friends,
Whenever I visit my mother in Aberystwyth I always try to get to the sea front. It is a place that holds many memories for me of childhood outings, the three years I spent living there as a student and of walks with friends and family in all weathers. Even on dismal winter days there is always something to see and somebody to meet. Last month was no exception as Llys y Brenin Square had become the setting for a visiting sculpture, the National Monument Against Violence and Aggression or ‘The Knife Angel’ as it is more generally known.

I had heard of this figure made from over 100,000 seized blades, which has been touring the UK to raise awareness of knife crime, but I wasn’t prepared for the impact it would make on me.
It is an imposing structure rising 27 feet from the ground. From a distance, there is beauty and elegance to the bronze wings which glint in the sun but as I approached, I shivered as I realised that they were made up of thousands of rusty blades of all shapes and sizes from hatchets and swords to tiny daggers. And the colours on the torso are from the handles of thousands of penknives also seized by the police or yielded in knife amnesties around the country. Some of the blades are inscribed with messages from the families of victims – a chilling reminder of the devastating impact of knife crime. As I stood at the barrier, my eyes were drawn up to the angel’s grim face modelled on that of its sculptor Alfie Bradley. I found it difficult at first to interpret its expression. Was it sorrow, grief or anger or all three? And then I noticed that the angel was looking down at his upturned hands and it dawned on me that the whole sculpture is simply asking the question ‘Why?’.

As I reflected on the experience of visiting the sculpture in the days that followed, I became aware of the frequency of that question in my prayers during the last year as I have shared with God my sorrow, grief and anger about the state our world is in. ‘Why, Lord’, is a frequent question in the Psalms of Lament as the authors, at the end of their tether, turn to God for help. This summer and autumn, during the season of Ordinary Time we will be using the Eucharistic Prayer for Times of Lament in our services from time to time. According to the introduction to this new liturgy, ‘Lament is not only about bemoaning suffering and tragedy in the world, but also about acknowledging God’s sovereignty, remembering God’s saving work in the past, and discerning God’s continuing work in the present and into the future – and committing ourselves to being part of that work of transforming the world, so that humanity may live in justice and peace’.

I hope you will be encouraged  to continue to be part of that work of transforming the world through prayer and action by reading the updates below:

It is a year since Kate Sainsbury came to St Mary’s during Carers’ Week to introduce us to her son Louis and to the Appletree Community near Auchterarder which was to become his home. Much has happened in this time including the completion of the renovation of the steading to accommodate up to three people with profound and complex needs. The main challenge, however, has been the putting together of a team of carers to support Louis and  to prepare and train them for their task.

Thanks to a great deal of prayer and hard work, the stage was reached last month where Louis was able to be discharged from the secure hospital ward where he had been held. For a number of weeks before hand, visits and overnight stays were organised so that Louis  was prepared for a very different way of life from the one he had been used to. The transition hasn’t been easy with Louis showing signs of trauma from his five years in captivity but there have also been moments of great joy and signs of  hope that he will flourish as he settles into his new life with  trusted relationships, in a purpose-built, beautiful place, with routines and regular activities.

The photos show Louis welcoming friends to his new home, crafting with his mother and enjoying a family meal

In the meantime, Kate, who is a Lay Reader,  has been busy raising awareness of the plight of people living with autism and the issue of the lack of adequate pay for support workers, by sharing Louis’ story in conferences and in the media, at meetings with leaders and policy makers and with faith communities. Please continue to pray for the Appletree Community and if you feel you can help in any way, please get in touch. You are also welcome to join Kate, Nerys, Jeanette and other supporters of the community  at the  weekly Appletree on-line prayer meeting at 6 p.m. on Monday evenings

 

Please continue to pray also for our friends who visited from Castlemilk Refugee Project last month. Along with their project leader, Eileen Baxendale, and her husband Keith came twenty mostly young people and children who belong to asylum-seeker families. They had come to thank us for organising the monthly collection of  children and baby items which are distributed to families in need in Castlemilk and to refugee families across the Central Belt. They had also come to worship with us and make friends.  We hope to organise another visit before the end of the summer.

Many of you have been asking how you can support these families further. Eileen has been thinking and praying about this and has  proposed a way of supporting one very gifted young  asylum seeker from Castlemilk who is a member of Cricket Scotland’s National under 15 squad. There is more information on how you can become one of Ali’s sponsors in the summer edition of the St Mary’s magazine or feel free to contact me.  In addition to our usual collection of children’s clothes, shoes, toys and baby equipment we are now looking for back-to-school items – pencil cases, stationery, school bags, white or pale blue polo shirts, pants, socks, vests.

 

I was delighted to catch up with Abby Parkhouse from Aberlour Childcare Trust, to hear how the money from our Christmas Appeal has been spent and to find out about new services which are being developed across Scotland.

To date Aberlour has distributed £1.34m from its Urgent Assistance fund helping 3,195 struggling families, directly supporting 11,000 people across Scotland. In the wider Stirlingshire area, £6,545 was awarded in the Financial year 2020, and a further £11,232.35 has been awarded between April 2021 and May 2022. The majority of the applications are from families living in poverty, as well as from single parents, people who are unemployed and parents with mental or other health issues. They have included requests for money to purchase beds, clothing, bedding, food, a cooker or oven and fridge freezers, amongst other things. Very few ask for help with utilities, as families are spending what little money they do have on their gas and electricity.

Aberlour’s  new Sustain services work with families to prevent their child or children being taken into care. These families may be affected by domestic violence, poor mental health, drug and alcohol use, unemployment, financial stress, disability and autism, housing issues or social isolation.  In Perth and Kinross and in Falkirk,  Aberlour’s  workers spend time with these families  in their homes in order to understand what they  need to thrive. They  work with the whole family to encourage the building of routines and resilience, helping parents, carers, and kinship carers to develop their ability to look after  their children, and to build their ability to engage with the community. The service also provides 24/7 emotional and practical support.

Aberlour is also  working with the Scottish Government to establish two new dedicated Mother and Child Residential Recovery Houses. The houses will be designed to enable children of women with problematic substance use to stay with their mothers as they receive treatment to help them recover from their addiction. The first house will open in Dundee in Autumn 2022. The second house located in Central Scotland will open in 2023. Each house will support four women and their children at any one time.

For more information about these projects and many others and to give regular support to Aberlour visit www.aberlour.org.uk

 

And finally, I would ask for your prayers  following the huge success of the Eco Fest, bringing together many key organisations and making information about sustainable living and care for the environment available to members of our wider community. Where do we go from here with our Environmental Plan? Please pray and get in touch with your ideas.

In the meantime, I look forward to seeing you in church during the Summer.
With love
Nerys

Dunblane Eco Fest, 11th June 2022

So excited about this new initiative!  So many organisations coming to Dunblane on Saturday to share their expertise! Opportunities to learn how to save energy and look after the environment. Fun for all the family!  Come any time between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Stalls in the hall and gazeebos outside. A chance to chat with  local owners of electric and hybrid cars. Meet the Bike Doctor and  Hedgehog Champion, local bee keepers, upcyclers and many more. Refreshments provided by St Mary’s Parents’ Council.

Eco Question Time Wednesday 18th May, 7.30 p.m.

Eco Question Time is an exciting opportunity to come together to listen to  four experts speak on various aspects of the climate crisis and to ask them questions.

It will be held in St Mary’s Church Hall at 7.30 p.m. on Wednesday 18th May but there is an opportunity also to watch it live on the St Mary’s Church Facebook Page.

 

Dr Martin Johnstone has been involved at national level for the last 30 years in tackling social injustice and poverty. He will focus on the overall threat of global warming and the consequences of this for climate change.

Laura Young is a climate activist, environmental scientist, sustainability communicator, and ethical influencer. She will illustrate how the climate crisis is already hitting those living in the poorest countries in the world.

Alasdair Tollemache is the Green councillor for Dunblane and Bridge of Allan. He will talk about issues specific to climate change in Scotland, and what we need to do to preserve the environment  locally.

Malcolm Rooney  is currently co-chair of the UK Branch of the Environmental Sustainability Rotary Action Group [ESRAG] and has recently been appointed Chair of Global ESRAG Groups from July 2022. He will focus on the steps each of us can take to reduce emissions and waste, and the cumulative positive impact these steps can have.

Following the talks, each of which will last for fifteen minutes, there will be an opportunity for members of the audience and those watching the livestream, to ask questions about the issues raised by the speakers. This will be an important opportunity to explore a wide range of issues of relevance to us as we seek to find ways of limiting global warming.

 

Please also remember the next initiative – the Dunblane ECO Fest – that takes place on Saturday 11th June in the Church hall and in the grounds, starting at 11am and lasting until 4pm. There will be exhibitors from regional and local organisations who will be keen to discuss a wide range of topics, including the steps we can all take to reduce consumption, and ways of being more environmentally friendly.

For more information or if you would like to be involved please contact Peter Holmes on hall @ stmarysdunblane.org

Praying for Peace in Eastern Europe

Dear friends,

Just to let you know that space has been set up in the church for you to come and pray about the situation in Eastern Europe.

Also, on Sunday evening, instead of our planned service, we will hold a vigil for peace.

Between 7 and 8 p.m. you are welcome to drop in to listen to some Ukrainian sacred music, light a candle and take away a prayer to use through the week.

The service which starts at 8 p.m. will consist of short chants and silences and also an opportunity for those attending to share Bible readings, poems and prayers. There are plenty available on the internet. You are invited to bring something which speaks to you or to write your own prayer or poem to share.

Please spread the word and invite friends and family to join us in prayer.

In the meantime, here is a prayer by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.

with love

Nerys

 

Letter from the Rector

Dear friends,
Recently I have enjoyed many spectacular skies as I have walked home at sunset. A number of them have been captured and shared on line by local photographers like Raymond Dormer who took this image from his bedroom window.

What I didn’t know until a friend explained it to me, was that these beautiful sights were due to the massive volcanic eruption in the South Pacific on 15th January. They were created when the sun’s rays reflected off the particles of ash thrown up by the Hunga Tonga volcano which has caused thousands of families to be without clean water, food, and shelter. What had brought me pleasure here in Dunblane had caused suffering to many on the other side of our world.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us more than ever how interconnected we are globally. It is becoming clear that the vaccination gap between richer and poorer nations is not only causing devastation the other side of the world but has contributed to the emergence of new variants which are affecting all of us. This interconnection is at the very heart of the message of this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight which starts at the end of this month. Ensuring economic justice for the poor farmers on the other side of the world who produce food we enjoy is crucial in the global fight against climate change. At the UN COP26 summit last year, the richer nations failed to recognise the urgent need to invest in these small farmers, delaying until next year the funding they had promised to the countries most vulnerable to climate disaster. During Fairtrade Fortnight we can help make sure that politicians turn their promises into action at COP27. There will also be opportunities to spread the message that we here in Dunblane have the power to make a difference to the lives of thousands of people simply by the choices we make when we shop.

Our responsibility as people of faith is made very clear in our Gospel for this year, the Gospel of Luke, which has a particular emphasis on Jesus’ compassion towards the poor and oppressed. It is difficult to read its pages without hearing the call of God’s Spirit to respond through prayer and action to their need for justice. I hope that you will join me in taking time to at least think about these things as we approach Lent and Easter.
With love to you all,
Nerys

Letter from the Rector

Dear friends,
I wonder how and with whom you intend to celebrate Christmas 2021? We have more freedom to choose what to do this year but the experiences of the last twenty two months have caused many of us to re-evaluate and re-prioritise. Time spent visiting or receiving family members and friends will be more precious to us, live music, drama and sport will be a special treat, and I hope that the opportunity to worship together in church will also be high on our agenda. We, at St Mary’s, are intending to offer a range of Advent and Christmas services, some of them old favourites and others more recent additions to our calendar. I hope that there will be something to appeal to everyone. Mindful of the fact that some will find the Christmas festivities difficult, we will also hold a Quiet Service on the Sunday evening before Christmas. There will be no carol singing, just time to reflect, recall, regroup in the peaceful, prayerful atmosphere of the church. If you know of anyone who has had a particularly hard year for whatever reason, please let them know about this service, or even better, offer to bring them, and pray that those who come will find the space and hope which the Christmas story offers.
During the year, we have learnt of the appeal of outdoor worship, especially to families with children and young people. We will, therefore, be building an Advent Spiral on the Rectory Lawn as part of the Families Service on 12th December, and inviting folk of all ages to come together after dark during the rest of the month to take turns to prayerfully walk the path marked by evergreen boughs carrying a lantern to light from a central candle. For more information, please contact Liz Owen on events@stmarysdunblane.org. There will also be an opportunity for children of all ages and their families to come to church for the Christingle Service at 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve and also to join with the rest of the congregation for the Eucharist on the second and fourth Sundays of Advent as well as on Christmas morning.
For those who enjoy singing, we will be offering three carol services. The first will be an Advent Carol Service with poems and prayers at 8 p.m. on Sunday, 28th November. The second will be a Christmas Carol Service at 4 p.m. on 19th December for which you are invited to contribute suggestions of carols, poems and readings. Then on 9th January, we will be involved in a Joint Epiphany Carol Service at Holy Trinity Church in Stirling at 6.30 p.m.
At each of our services, there will be an opportunity to contribute towards our Christmas Appeal for Aberlour Childcare Trust. Information about the recent work of the charity and its special relationship to the Scottish Episcopal Church is to be found in this issue of the magazine along with an invitation to support Women’s Aid in Stirling and to get involved in Mothers’ Union’s Christmas Gift Appeal for women in Cornton Vale Prison.
After the sad losses of the last two months, I have some joyful events to look forward to before Christmas. Please pray for Ben and Stefanie and Laura and Gareth whose weddings I’ll be celebrating at Cromlix House Chapel and also for Ian and Kirsty Hamilton who will be affirming their vows before family and friends. I also look forward to being involved in ‘The Christmas Journey’, an ecumenical event for Primary 7 pupils in Dunblane, exploring the story of the first Christmas in a multimedia, hands-on and thought-provoking way.
I would appreciate your prayers for these events and also for my new role as Interim Pastor for St Saviour’s Church, Bridge of Allan who are currently without a Rector. This additional responsibility will only occasionally take me away from you on Sundays as it mostly involves supporting the Vestry and helping the Ministry Team to provide pastoral care to the congregation. Please pray for them and also for our Vestry as they work together to develop the Church Hall and the new website and to implement some of the ideas contained in our Environmental Action Plan. Please consider offering practical support for any of these projects if you are able. Many hands make light work!
Whatever form your Christmas celebrations will take this year, I hope that you will make space for the Christ child and make time during the weeks of Advent to prepare for his coming once more to our world and into our hearts. May this Advent and Christmas be a time of joy and blessing for you and your loved ones.
With love,
Nerys

Materials for Worship on the Third Sunday before Advent

Nerys writes: I wonder what you do to pass the time when you’re sitting amongst strangers in the doctor or dentist’s waiting room perhaps, or on a station platform? Do you like to notice things about those around you and try to guess what kind of people they are and what they do? People-watching is something I do regularly to amuse myself on my long train journeys back and forth to Wales. Jesus was a people-watcher and in our Gospel passages today, Mark 28-34 and 38-44, he uses what he sees to teach his disciples what it really means to love God with all our heart and our neighbour as ourselves.

It was almost time for the feast of Passover and Jesus had come to Jerusalem for the great celebration. He had been teaching in the temple and various religious men had been questioning him, some trying to catch him out, some genuinely wanting to understand. One of these, a teacher of the Law, is commended by Jesus for his wise response. ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart’ was and is the most important rule in Judaism, spoken in prayer every day by the faithful. Jesus joins it with another important rule, ‘love your neighbour as you love yourself’. This is the great commandment of our faith.

Jesus had been people-watching during his time in Jerusalem. He had noticed the way some of the teachers of the Law behaved in the market place and in the synagogues and at feasts. He gives a stern warning about these people who were teaching the law of God to others but weren’t following it themselves. They weren’t loving God with all their heart and loving their neighbour as themselves. Instead, they were putting on a great show of being religious while cheating and stealing from the poor.

A little later, Jesus was people-watching again in the courtyard in the temple where the jars of offering stood – thirteen large trumpet-shaped collection boxes lined up against the wall. He draws a contrast between the rich men who make a show of giving large amounts and a poor widow who has only two small coins, claiming that she put more in the offering box that all the others. What a strange thing to say! But this is not a story of money. ‘It is about what we are willing to give of ourselves,’ said artist James Christensen whose painting ‘The Widow’s Mite’ uses striking light and dark to symbolize spiritual and worldly power. The poor widow, who gave all she had, glows with an inner light. Even her ragged clothing is luminescent. By contrast, the rich men in their expensive robes fade into the shadows behind this woman’s radiance.


Jesus, looking through the eyes of love, saw that the rich were giving just a very small part of what they had whilst the woman gave everything, leaving her with nothing for herself. We are not told why she did it but it certainly wasn’t for show like the rich people. Could it be that she did it out of love for God? The total love that the commandment demands, a love that calls for total trust. The love and trust which Jesus showed when he allowed himself a few days later to be arrested, punished and killed before rising again from the dead. I wonder if this is why Jesus drew his disciples’ attention to what he’d seen in the temple courtyard that day.

What if Jesus was among us today doing his people-watching. What would he see?

What if he was in Glasgow among the delegates of the COP 26 conference, those from the rich countries like the United Kingdom and those from the global south which are already suffering because of the climate crisis. Who would he commend and who would he condemn?

A new giant artwork is hanging from the front columns of St Paul’s Cathedral this week to highlight the disparity between the rich and the poor. It is the image of an ark surrounded by smaller more vulnerable boats. “We’re in the same storm, but different boats,” said Amanda Khozi Mukwashi, the CEO of Christian Aid. “If the UK has an ark, then those on the frontline of the climate crisis don’t even have lifeboats.”

Richer nations are the main contributors to the climate emergency and also have the means to be able to better protect themselves from its effects. Meanwhile, many poorer countries such as Kenya and Bangladesh are already experiencing climate chaos with little means to protect themselves and their communities.

This is deeply unjust but the COP 26 climate summit this week is an opportunity for change. It is an opportunity for our leaders to act justly, to love our global neighbours as they love themselves. You may wish to make this Christian Aid prayer your own:

Loving Lord, we pray for our leaders who gather together at COP26. Bless them with compassion, wisdom, and hope, that they may work together to take action against the climate crisis. Fill their hearts with your love for all of creation. Open their minds to the calls of the people most affected by the climate crisis. Clear their hearts of sinful ways which endanger your creation. Bless their minds with actions so they may be sowers of creation, not destruction. Lead them to be champions for climate justice, both at COP26 and beyond. Amen

Rector’s October Letter

Dear friends,
This month, the Season of Creation comes to an end with our services of thanksgiving for the harvest and we move on to the Season of Remembrance and the end of the Church Year. It is important, however, that we continue to express our concern for the environment in prayer and action.

The gardeners among you have been telling me that it’s been a very good year for some produce and an unexpectedly bad one for others. After a bumper crop of blackcurrants last year, I was disappointed to see the bushes bare this summer. In the world’s poorest communities, most families’ lives depend on growing crops to feed themselves and to earn an income. In order to do so they need a reliable water supply which most of them don’t have, and the changing climate is making things even more unpredictable. Our Harvest Appeal for Water Aid will help make sure that some of these families will be able to produce crops that flourish year after year, whatever the weather. In order to establish a meaningful relationship with the charity which works to provide clean water in 28 countries, from Nepal to Ethiopia, one of Water Aid’s local speakers, Anne Murray, will join us at the 10.30 service on 17th October. There will also be opportunities this month to get involved with Christian Aid in the preparations for the COP 26 Conference in Glasgow in November.

Vestry has been busy putting together an action plan for St Mary’s to ensure that concern for the environment is woven through every aspect of our life as a church. The stimulus was a request by the Diocese’s Climate Change Group to consider how we will play our part in the Scottish Episcopal Church’s quest to reduce our carbon emissions to zero by 2030. Vestry members agreed to undertake an environmental audit which was wider than that required by the diocese, looking at our care for the natural environment and for those worst affected by the Climate Crisis in addition to ways of cutting our carbon emissions. The resulting action plan covers our spiritual living (our worship, prayer and teaching), our practical living (our buildings, grounds and supplies), and our global living (how we influence and learn from the lives of one other, our local community and overseas concerns). Please take some time to read it, to prayerfully consider how you could get involved and to share any thoughts and ideas that come to you with a member of Vestry before our next meeting on 20th October. This is an ambitious plan to be implemented over a period of months and years rather than weeks. For it to succeed, it needs the prayers and involvement of each one of us.

We will also continue to pray for one another and especially those who are frail or unwell, and on Sunday 31st October, All Saints and All Souls Sunday, we will remember those we have loved and lost. As the numbers of those with Covid in the local area remain high, I will not visit you without an invitation but please get in touch on 824225 if you wish for me to come to your home with or without communion, or if you would like a chat on the phone.

With love
Nerys

Message from Castlemilk

The third Castlemilk collection since Covid travel restrictions were lifted was taken away on August 9th – a large van full of donations of second-hand baby items and children’s clothes and toys, bedding and towels from Dunblane families along with a sizeable amount of new ‘Back to School’ items donated by members of the St Mary’s congregation and the wider community. Thank you all for your generosity. The next collection with a focus on warm clothes, winter coats, boots and wellies for children of all ages will happen in mid September.

In the meantime, here is a little of the story of the of our church community which has been working with asylum seekers and refugees in Castlemilk for 20 years now.

The Castlemilk Churches Together Refugee Centre opened in the Baptist Church in response to Gilles from Africa, turning up at the Parish Church to ask for help for him and the other asylum seekers being delivered to our local flats by overnight buses from London.

We started with the practical help asked for: heaters for cold flat, winter clothes, English classes, a safe place to meet, somewhere to play football. We’ve grown and changed over the years but sadly the need for help for new arrivals is a great as ever. Fast forward to 2021 and we are still based in the Baptist Church. We’re now a mixed group of local Scottish people, well established “New Scots” refugees and asylum seekers all working together to help whoever comes in the door in need. Our new asylum seekers “settling in” programme of English classes, discussion and activity groups and international lunches has just been fully funded.


We also help local people who are struggling as well as our international friends, with furniture, household goods, baby/toddler equipment and clothes. It’s amazing that the donations we receive all the time enabled us to help over 350 households last year. For this we thank God and those he uses, such as our long-term supporters in Dunblane, for this generosity.
Two months ago we grieved with Wonder over the death of her brother in Africa. Last Sunday we rejoiced with her as she has now been granted leave to remain in the UK. This means she can start the process to have her 7 year old daughter join her. But we continue to pray for Aruba whose young children are still in Africa. “You don’t understand” she said to us recently “what I’m going though”.

Your prayers and support are appreciated.

Eileen Baxendale
Project Coordinator

Rector’s Letter

Dear friends,
The beginning of Jean Hudson’s poem in Autumn, Ruth Burgess’ latest collection of liturgical resources published by Wild Goose, seems to me to sum up the month ahead for us at St Mary’s.

A month of change as one season dips into another,
never an easy transition.
Misty mornings, occasional frosts,
gleaming sunshine, sharp showers,
rainbows, an Indian summer,
anything is possible
and often we have it all …

It will be a month of change as we respond to the further relaxation of Covid-related restrictions, as we enter into the Season of Creation after the long sequence of Ordinary Time Sundays, and as we are offered more opportunities for social interaction both in person and on line. I hope that in our services and gatherings there will be a great deal of variety with something that will appeal to everyone.

I am delighted that Bishop Ian will join us to lead the 10.30 a.m. service on 12th September followed by coffee in the hall to which you are all invited. I am also looking forward very much to introducing you to Rachael Wright, a ministry student with the Scottish Episcopal Institute who will be undertaking a five-week placement with me from 5th September to 10th October. And it won’t be long now until Ven. Peter Potter returns from Switzerland …

This year, the Season of Creation assumes a greater significance because of the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP 26) held in Glasgow in early November. On the first Sunday of the season, we will join with over a thousand local churches across the United Kingdom and Ireland to hold a climate-focused services to pray and commit to action as individuals and as a church community. During the weeks that follow, our families with children and our young people will meet outside if the weather allows, to worship, and to explore the natural environment and find ways to help make it more wildlife-friendly. Our Night Services will focus on aspects of the natural world that are crucial to the wellbeing of our planet. We will hold a Celebration of Bees and Beekeeping on September 12th and also a reflection on ‘The Water of Life’ on 26th September. The latter will be led by Jeanette whose passion for the work of Water Aid, the UK’s dedicated water charity, is infectious. Its aim is to provide clean water to the 771 million people in the world (one in every ten of us) who don’t have a well or a tap close to home. Without clean water, overcoming poverty is just a dream for them. By supporting their work, our Harvest Appeal this year will help transform the lives of many of these people who are also affected by Climate Change.

Look out for a mischief of mice (yes, that is the correct collective noun!) which will appear in the porch of the church over the next few weeks. They are colourful, cute and knitted and are to be given as a thank-you gift to everyone donating to our Harvest Appeal. Some of these mice are being crafted at the fortnightly Monday Gathering which has been well attended during the last month and is enabling some of you who are unable to come to church services to meet and pray with other members of the congregation. At the first meeting in September, we will be joined by Kate Clement from St Columba’s Church in Crieff, the local organiser of the Christmas Shoe Box Appeal which will be launched in early October. I look forward to finding out who receives our gifts, what they need and how the boxes are transported to them and to having an opportunity to pray with Kate as she and her team start their work.


At least two on-line groups will start this autumn. Liz Owen will organise another opportunity to watch and respond to The Chosen, the acclaimed multi-season TV series about the life of Christ, and Moira Langston has offered to start a quarterly book discussion group. Look out for more information later this month.
Finally, I would like to ask your prayers for another group which will be launched before the end of this year called ‘Living with Loss’. On my way back in the hearse from my first funeral as Rector of St Mary’s, Bob Robertson, the undertaker, asked me if I would consider setting up a bereavement support group as there wasn’t one for the Dunblane area and there was a great need. After a time of prayer and discernment, it became clear to me that this was a project which we at St Mary’s could and should provide. During Lockdown, June Sproston did a great deal of research and planning; recently we met to start the ball rolling. We agreed that the team of coordinator and a pair of facilitators would provide a warm welcome, friendship and support, a listening ear and a good cup of tea or coffee and cake. Information and signposting to more specialised services would be available. Members would be referred to the group by local undertakers and health staff and would also self-refer as the service would be advertised in the local community and on line. There would be supervision and training for the team, including an introductory session by Revd Marion Chatterley, who has worked extensively in bereavement support including people living with HIV, and offers chaplaincy to Marie Curie Hospice in Edinburgh.

With love to you all,
Nerys

News Update

 

 

Dear friends,

I’m sure that many of you will be glad to hear that from Sunday, congregational singing will be allowed at St Mary’s once more. We will still need to wear masks during the service to protect each other but at the 1030 a.m. service we will once more stand for hymns, the Gloria, the Peace and the Blessing. We will continue to keep alternate pews vacant for now but more people can sit in each pew if they wish to do so, so long as a 1 metre space is kept between households. Please let the Welcomer know what you would prefer. This means that you will no longer need to book a place at a service in advance although welcomers will continue to make a note of your name for Contact Tracing. We will be reviewing the arrangements for attending church at our next Vestry meeting on 18th August. Please get in touch with any thoughts.

Our next Monday afternoon gathering will be on 26th July in the church hall. This is open to anybody who would like to meet with other members of the congregation over a cup of tea or coffee between 2.30 and 4 p.m. There will be a short time of prayer and you are welcome to bring a crafting project, a table-top game or just yourselves! Two-metre distancing will be observed in the hall and all other precautions will be in place.

A new way of providing refreshments after the 10.30 service is being explored. The idea is to hold mini coffee mornings so that church members or groups from the wider community can raise money for a charity they support. If you would like to know more, to volunteer or to get involved by ordering supplies or keeping the calendar, please get in touch with me. The scheme will be trialled on a monthly basis from mid August.

The deadline for contributing ‘back to school’ items for needy families in Castlemilk is 30th July. Please bring them to the Rectory or get in touch if you wish for them to be collected. The Rectory garage is starting to fill up once more with donations of children’s clothes, toys and baby equipment kindly donated by Dunblane families.

With love to you all,
Nerys

Rector’s Letter, July 2021

Dear friends,
I wonder how many of you watched Jimmy McGovern’s gritty prison drama starring Sean Bean and Stephen Graham? Its title, ‘Time’, is obviously an allusion to the saying ‘doing time’ but there’s more to it than that. It got me thinking about our attitude to time, especially since our freedom has been curtailed by the pandemic. Then, this graphic appeared on my Facebook feed …


I suppose some people will see the whole of 2020 as a weird loop in the chronology of their lives; a period when time stood still, nothing moved forward, and everything was wasted. For these people, time is measured according to targets met, goals achieved, and life is all about pursuing progress. For people of faith, however, our growth is gauged by the grace we offer and receive. No step is wasted as we walk with Christ the path of prayer that leads us to become more wholly human, more fully faithful. Our aim is not to go further, faster, but to go deeper, dancing to the easy, unforced rhythms of goodness and grace.

The shape of a labyrinth is a visual reminder that the journey of life is rarely linear, and yet as we follow the twists and turns of the path, we are drawn ever nearer to the centre of God’s love.

This summer, I invite you to take time to find a pattern of prayer that suits you and enables you to go deeper with God. You are welcome to walk the labyrinth on the Rectory lawn or to explore the finger labyrinth included in the July-August issue of the St Mary’s magazine.. You may prefer to experiment with the imaginative method of reading scripture called Lectio Divina, to set aside a time to reflect on your day using the Examen as your framework, or to try using set prayers or words to help you connect with God. For guidance visit the ‘Ancient Prayer Rhythms’ page at www.24-7prayer.com or speak to me or another member of the Ministry Team.

With love,
Nerys

Rector’s Letter – June 2021

Dear friends,

By the time you read this, we will be in Ordinary Time, the longest season in the Church Year, stretching from Pentecost to the beginning of Advent. After the extraordinary year we’ve experienced with its great uncertainties and challenges, its many losses and unexpected joys, I for one am looking forward to settling into the rhythm of the tempus ordinarium which literally means ‘measured time’. With the great festivals of the church behind us and the easing of restrictions to our worshiping and our meeting together, my hope is that the summer and autumn months will be a time for us to enjoy some of the ordinary things of church life, things we took for granted before March 2020.

In his poem ‘The Bright Field’, R. S. Thomas recalls his experience of seeing sunlight breaking through onto a small patch of land. It is only later that he realises with regret that the field contained the treasure for which he yearned. I hope that you will join me, if you can, in making the most of any opportunities to worship and meet together in the weeks ahead. It won’t be as it was before the pandemic or as it will be when the danger of the virus has passed, but, in the words of the poet,

Life is not hurrying
on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past.

It’s so easy to miss the pearls of great price that lie along our way because we are too busy looking over our shoulders or scanning the horizon.

It was only when they sat down together with the risen Christ that the two on the road to Emmaus recognised him in their midst. Sometimes it takes a turning aside, an inner shift, to enable us to catch glimpses of the glory of God in the ordinary present of our lives and to become aware of the Spirit of Love at work within us and among us. My prayer for the weeks of Ordinary Time is that despite the limitations imposed on us, we as a congregation would take pleasure from our time together in God’s presence, be that in our Sunday services or when groups gather once more in the hall.

I hope that we will continue to listen deeply to each other as we discern together the way ahead, embracing new initiatives, encouraging and supporting those who ready to work for the future of St Mary’s. Members of the Vestry and others are making great progress on different fronts to ensure that there will be opportunities for growth in the years ahead, Leaders of Young Church are experimenting with new patterns to make our worship more accessible to families with children, and members of the Pastoral Care Team are figuring out ways to better respond to the needs of those in our midst who are lonely or bereaved. Please pray for them and please get involved if you are able.

I hope that we will also listen out for the voices of those in need in our local community and across the world and find ways to respond with compassion. It was a privilege last month to host the service to launch Christian Aid Week in Dunblane and to learn more about the way the charity is helping those living in Climate Chaos and raising a voice on their behalf. Over £6,000 was collected by means of the envelopes and the Just Giving Page. Thank you to everyone involved.

This month we will return to the ‘Faith into Action’ conversation series of previous years, focussing on the way God is calling ordinary people to serve others in extraordinary ways. We will start by marking Carers Week in the company of Kate Sainsbury who has founded the Appletree Community near Auchterarder to provide a home for her son Louis and other young people with profound and complex needs. Look out for an opportunity to add prayers for carers and those who are cared for to a noticeboard in the church porch. These will be read in the services on Sunday 6th June. For more information on Carers Week and to add your voice to the call to Make Carers Visible and Valued, visit www.carersweek.org

Later in the month you will be invited to make ‘people chains’ to help show our readiness as churches to walk alongside all refugees and asylum seekers and their families. On World Refugee Day, 20th June, Hugh Grant will introduce us to Forth Valley Welcome which helps New Scots to integrate into their local community. I hope that this will be the starting point for a conversation about ways in which we at St Mary’s might wish to be involved in supporting displaced people both locally or globally. For more information, visit www.refugeeweek.org.uk

The livestreaming of the 10.30 a.m. eucharist and the distribution of the Materials for Worship at Home will continue for the time being with a review at the end of the month. Please get in touch if you are benefiting from these resources and wish for them to continue.

With my love and prayers,
Nerys

Vocations Sunday – Nerys in conversation with Godwin Chimara

Rev Nerys Brown in conversation with Godwin Chimara from the Diocese of Aberdeen, a student at the Scottish Episcopal Institute:

Stations Of The Cross

During Lent, members of St Mary’s have worked with Revd Jeanette to produce a prayer resource for Holy Week.

Here is Jeanette with a word of explanation:

Those of you who have been to the Holy Land have probably in the course of you trip walked the Via Dolorosa, following in the steps of Jesus as he made his journey to the cross. There is now historical doubt as to whether that actually was the route Jesus took, but that does not make it any less of a journey in faith with Jesus to the pilgrims who walk it. Nor should it.

The Stations of the Cross we have created, replicate that journey remotely, going even further on in the story and ending with Jesus in the tomb. With Bible readings, reflections and prayers, they help us to understand more deeply the agonies Jesus must have suffered as he willingly gave his life for us.

Stations as we know them today developed over the 15th and 16th centuries, with a varied number of Stations, anything from 7 – 30, but the 14 we now have became the standard. They can be found round the walls of many Churches, and different denominations, Methodist, Lutheran, Anglican and Catholic, either pictures or plaques with the number of that particular Station. St Luke’s Glenrothes had a set of embroidered ones, which were simple but lovely. Holy Trinity Stirling also have a set around their walls.

The set of images we have used are paintings by Seiger Koder, a German priest-painter who died in February 2015, shortly after his 90th birthday.

Thanks to the following for taking part: Rob Smallman, Alison Diamond, Peter Holmes, Mary Birch (Readings), Alastair Christmas, Jill Wisher, Martin Wisher (Prayers), Jeanette Allan (Reflections), Moira Langston (Song), and a huge thank you to David Jamieson for putting the video together.