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,