Rector’s Letter – February 2023

St James the Less Penicuik and St Mungo West Linton

Scottish Episcopal Churches


The Rectory

23 Broomhill Road


EH26 9EE

01968 678254

07950 607574


28th January 2023


Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,


Rector’s letter for February,


Last month in my letter I mentioned the Messiah and the final chorus of ‘Amen’. In subsequent days I found myself listening to the four songs I have in my music collection with Amen in the title. Excluding the Messiah’s ‘Amen’, two of the other three come from South Africa and one from the exotic West End of Glasgow!

The easiest to sing, in my opinion, is a song known as ‘The Themba Amen’, named after the Sunrise Day Hospice in Temba, north of Pretoria in South Africa. The music is a South African traditional tune.

Another South African song (in the Xhosa language), ‘Amen Siakudumisa’ (Amen, we praise your name, O God) is a bit more complex to sing (especially the Xhosa words), and has a great 1,2,3,1,2,3,1,2 lively rhythm. If you’re interested, ‘Siakudumisa’ is pronounced see-a-koo-doo-mee-sa.

The third ‘Amen’ in my collection was written by John Bell and the late and much missed Graham Maule, collectively known as the ‘Wild Goose Resource Group’. It can be sung as a canon in four parts, either in unison or in harmony. It is part of their ‘Come All You People: Shorter Songs for Worship’ CD. We usually sing the Themba Amen at the end of our Wednesday lunchtime communion service, and we sang it at the end of the service in St Mungo’s on Sunday 22nd January as part of the final dismissal and I plan that we will sing it again there soon.

A quick search on YouTube or Spotify (I am sure there are other platforms and sources as well) will allow you to listen to these songs. I do like listening to music from different cultures. It opens up some quite different musical experiences and feelings.

And in searching my musical collection I found a band with ‘Amen’ in their title. Any guesses what the band’s full name was and their one hit single?


Our Priestly Team: Peter and Neville

Peter is recovering well from his hip replacement operation and his progress has been so good that Peter will shortly be returning to celebrate communion once more with us.

Neville was diagnosed with cancer of the bladder a few weeks ago, and a recent CT scan has confirmed the need for chemotherapy. He will start a course of dual-chemotherapy treatment in a fortnight’s time. Tilly, Neville’s wife, was admitted to hospital earlier today, and will be assessed after experiencing increased discomfort and pain. Please hold Neville and Tilly in your prayers.


Intercessions Workshop – Saturday 4th February at 10 am

On Saturday 4th February from 10:00 to 12:30 I shall be leading a participative and experiential workshop on writing intercessory prayer. It will be held in St James the Less church hall, to which anyone from both St James and St Mungo’s who is interested in leading the prayers for the people, or who is doing it now but would like to refresh their skills and share their experiences with others. To book a space, please let me know. We shall have soup and a roll at 12:30 and should finish by 1 pm.


Fellowship Lunches at St James the Less – 1st Sundays of the month

On Sunday 5th February, we shall recommence having a fellowship lunch after quite a few years of not being able to hold them. The lunch will be a simple ‘soup and a roll’ affair, normally with a vegetarian soup on offer. Please let Nick or Marion Mather know if you wish to attend, so we have an idea of how many to cater for.


Music Lovers: The Old Grey Thistle Test on 18th February at 7 pm

Before COVID there had been plans to initiate an occasional series of social evenings where we could share our musical loves and inspirations, picking any particular theme we wanted to explore. Alan Murray is going to be the presenter at our inaugural session on Saturday 18th February at 7pm in St James the Less church hall.

Alan will take you through the history of folk music, its link to classical and church music, and where it’s got to now. There will be lots of examples to listen to, but not from Alan himself. It’s not a concert.  He’ll be playing you some of his favourite recorded folk songs and tunes with images and some videos. There will be time for questions and discussion. Crisps, etc will be provided (not a meal), but it’ll be a bring-your-own-bottle do. This won’t be an academic lecture … just Alan sharing his love of folk songs and talking about why they mean so much to him.

I foolishly volunteered to lead an evening, on a date to be decided, probably in April. It has the working title ‘Inheritance Tracks’, and it will be a trip down memory lane to the music my parents listened to and that had an influence on my musical tastes. Be prepared for some Ella Fitzgerald, Glen Miller, Count Basie, Ink spots, etc. I might even include some of the music my grandfather sang to us kids, but I had better find cleaner versions of some of words to ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’ first!

If you fancy sharing your passion for Gregorian chant, Wagnerian Opera, Peruvian pan pipes, Lieder song cycles, flamenco, blues, or whatever, please let me know and we can find a suitable date to explore your musical interests.


Shrove Tuesday & Ash Wednesday

Shrove Tuesday will be on 21st February this year. Pancakes will be cooked in the undercroft at St Mungo’s for all who are young or young at heart, from 6 to 7.30 pm.

On Ash Wednesday there will be Imposition of Ashes at the 12.30 pm communion service at St James the Less and at the 7.30 pm communion service at St Mungo’s.


Well Prepared?

In September 2021, we ran a course called ‘Well Prepared’ about preparing for our own end of life, including discussions about Power of Attorney, wills, anticipatory care plans, palliative care and funeral arrangements.

If you missed this and would like to participate in a repeat course, please let me know.

Those that attended felt it would be useful to have a form to help think through their wishes for their funeral and to record them for those who would be responsible for organizing it.

Also, in the discussions it was felt sensible that if something were to happen to us, it was important for those in our community to know how to reach our emergency contacts. You may wish to consider providing me with information on how to contact the people who know you best.

A form for each of these (funeral wishes and emergency contacts) is attached. Paper copies will be available in both churches shortly.

A Piskie and a Presbyterian Go On Pilgrimage. Saturday 18th March at 7 pm

You are invited to a talk by Nick and Revd John Urquhart (Penicuik Trinity Community Church) about their experiences as pilgrims walking el Camino de Santiago. John walked his first camino in May 2022 as part of a group of twelve walking el Camino Ingles. Nick walked his first camino in 2007 and led the May 2022 pilgrimage, his sixth one. So, expect to hear different perceptions, experiences, and reflections.

It goes without saying that there will be some pictures to illustrate the talk, and a chance to look at maps, guide books, and the contents of a rucksack to sustain a pilgrim.

There will be suitable refreshments with a Spanish influence. There will be no charge for tickets, but as this is a fundraiser for St James’ church funds, we shall invite donations. Tickets to help catering numbers are available from Marion Mather or by emailing Nick.


Contemplative Prayer at St Mungo’s: Wednesday Lunchtime

The Contemplative Prayer sessions held at St Mungo’s are on Wednesday lunchtimes at 12.30 pm. Many thanks to Ben Haynes for organising and leading these sessions. They are a time to be still and come into the presence of God, using some different styles, such as centring prayer, Christian meditation following the World Community of Christian Meditation model of John Main, and Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. It would be lovely to see you, so you can experience the richness of this form of Christian prayer too.


Ministry in Care and Nursing Homes

Cowan Court, Penicuik: We have been part of a rota with the other Penicuik churches, visiting Cowan Court on a Sunday afternoon for the last year. We visit Cowan Court about once every 5 or 6 weeks. Our next visit is on 19th February.

Aaron House, Penicuik: We are part of a new rota with the other Penicuik churches, visiting Aaron House on a Wednesday afternoon at 2pm. As with Cowan Court we will visit once every 5 or 6 weeks. Our next visit is on 15th February.

Whim Hall, Lamancha: We started visiting Whim Hall in September and our pattern of visits is on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of each month. Our next visit is on 23rd February (no visit on 9th Feb).


If you are interested in supporting this rewarding ministry by being part of the visiting teams then please let me know. Normally three of us attend each time, so we can support and guide people through the service and have a chat afterwards with whoever attends. We use the Liturgy for Reserved Sacrament and sing a few well-known hymns. Your prayers are welcome for this increased activity in and for members of our local communities.


Faith Development for all

We hold our weekly Bible study at 2pm on a Tuesday afternoon, online, for up to an hour and a half. We are currently exploring the gospel readings from ‘The Women’s Lectionary’. Details for each week are given in the monthly listing for February. Using the Women’s Lectionary for our Bible study will run as an experiment up until the start of Lent. During Lent we shall explore the gospel readings from the previous Sunday.

We are a mixed group that comes together, often including some folk from much further afield than Penicuik and West Linton. We come together with the common aim of exploring the texts, understanding their context, and just as importantly, exploring how it speaks to us and how it informs us today. We enjoy exploring our different understandings and learning from each other. Please do join us, we are always happy to include more people.


Monday Study Night: ‘Church and Kingdom’.

We are currently following the ‘Church and Kingdom’ Pilgrim course which started on 9th January and runs to 20th February. You don’t need to have the course booklet to join us, and you can dip in for a single session if you wish.

If you have ideas for what we can study on a Monday evening in future weeks, please let me know.


Monday Study Night in Lent: ‘Faith is a Verb’.

This diocesan course will provide a range of resources to help us explore what it means to be, and grow as, people of faith. It hinges on the understanding that faith in Christ “is not primarily a matter of doctrinal or intellectual belief, but a way of life, a following, an allegiance” (attributed to Antarctica explorer Edward Wilson).

Each week, starting from 27th February, we will concentrate on a verb (Belonging, Learning, Listening, Giving, Hoping) and reflect on Scripture and art, on how these verbs are important in our faith journey. Each week will also provide a challenge, or reflection point for the rest of the week. This is a five-week course. There is an optional sixth session called ‘Dying’, which will be part of our Holy Week activities, possibly part of the Three Hours on Good Friday.




Faith Development ‘Faith Books’

When we have a fifth Monday in the month, I lead a discussion at 7.30 pm about a book as a way of introducing people to different authors which may pique an interest to read more of their work (or not!). In looking for new or used books, I have often used I am sure there are other search sites that will help people find the books on our reading list. Our first book for this year has chapters written by mainly ‘twenty-something’ Christians, mostly studying for their doctorates (many at New College) or otherwise engaged in ministry in a variety of settings. I met many of the contributors on Iona in August this year. It is a good way to engage with what young active Christians have to say, even if you don’t like or agree with all their viewpoints.

The books for 2023 are:

30th January: Young, Woke and Christian: Words from a Missing Generation, (editor) Victoria Turner.

29th May: Unapologetic: Why Despite Everything, Christianity can still make Surprising Emotional Sense, by Francis Spufford

31st July: Your God is Too Small, by J B Phillips

30th October: God of Surprises, by Gerard Hughes


Mid-week evening services on Zoom

Our services on a Wednesday evening at 7.30 pm follow the regular pattern of services set out below. The monthly pattern is:

  • 1st Wed of the month: Healing service (if you wish someone or a situation to be prayed for send an email to me or Marion Mather)
  • 2nd Wed of the month: Christian Meditation (a time to settle, a short line of scripture, 15 minutes of silence, and a closing prayer).
  • 3rd Wed of the month: Iona Abbey evening service liturgy
  • 4th Wed of the month: service in the style of Taizé

At 9pm every Wednesday evening we hold the service of Compline. Please do join us for this short service of calm and settling prayers before sleep.

Continuing our Mission: Leading Your Church Into Growth Prayer

Each weekday morning, we pray for growth in our church. If you are not able to join us online for Morning Prayer at 9 am, can I encourage you to pray this once a day. The prayer is given below.

God of Mission, who alone brings growth to your Church,

send your Holy Spirit to give:

vision to our planning, wisdom to our actions, and power to our witness.

Help our church to grow:

in numbers, in spiritual commitment to you, and in service to our local

community, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Morning and Evening Prayer

We meet online Monday to Friday at 9.00 am and at 5.30 pm. It is a good way to start and end our day, coming together for worship, with daily readings including the psalms; a good rhythm for worship in the Anglican tradition of saying the Daily Offices.

If you wish to access the Daily Office liturgy with the daily scripture readings, go to the Provincial Website, and place your cursor on the ‘Spirituality’ heading. A submenu appears and you can select the appropriate Daily Office from the right-hand side of the page.


In Touch Magazine for St James the Less and St Mungo’s

In Touch has just been circulated to all on email and is issued in paper format to those who do not have email. The cost of a paper copy is £2 for an A4 version, and about £1.50 for an A5 version. We print a very limited number of paper copies to keep out costs down, and to reduce our consumption of paper. If you receive an email version but would also like a paper copy, please let Sue Owen know and we invite you to make a suitable donation (preferably by bank transfer rather than in cash) to cover the cost. The deadline for content to be submitted for the next issue is 5th February 2023. I would like to encourage you to submit something for inclusion in the magazine, a poem, a review of a book or a film, an article on a subject of interest. If you wish to submit an article, please send them to


Financial giving to St James the Less or to St Mungo’s

If you are able, can I ask you to prayerfully consider setting up a recurring monthly payment to the church via on-line banking, to contribute financially on a regular basis. Details of the bank accounts are given below for each of the churches.

St James the Less:

Monthly donation by bank transfer (include your name in the reference line when setting this up – only the Treasurer knows the name of the donor). Bank details are: St James Episcopal Church Penicuik, acct no 17117264, sort code 80-22-60.

St Mungo:

Monthly donation by bank transfer (include your name in the reference line when setting this up – only the Treasurer knows the name of the donor). Bank details are: St Mungo’s Vestry, acct no 00817851, sort code 80-09-39.

Regular Weekday Services

Morning and Evening Prayer and the Wednesday evening services are online using Zoom. Sharing the Daily Offices each weekday with others is a wonderful way of connecting, praying, and praising together with a natural rhythm of the week. It is also one of the few times we can hear the psalms being read more than just a few verses at a time. Please do consider joining us at 9 am and or 5.30 pm for about half an hour, whenever you are able.

Ecumenical Relations and Community Involvement Work

The Penicuik Ministers continue to meet every month in the Storehouse for a chat. Revd Dr Tony Foley (Church of Scotland West Tweeddale churches) and I aim to meet soon to plan our ecumenical activities for the year. Once a month the Penicuik Churches Together (PCT) has a joint Sunday evening service. The schedule detailing where the services are each month is on the PCT website.

The EH26 Resilience Group continues to meet occasionally. It remains a good way to connect in with the needs of our community and support how those needs are met. I am also still attending the Midlothian Health and Social Care Partnership ‘Care for People Planning Group’ Zoom meetings, and both the Afghan Resettlement Programme meetings and Ukrainian Refugee scheme meetings.

I attend the West Linton and District Sustainable Group and the discussions are always worthwhile, and it is good to see so many people in the area concerned about the environment and the climate emergency.

The Ministry Team

We continue to meet monthly to plan for the coming months; planning services and faith development activities as well as exploring other aspects of what is offered to the congregations and to our local communities.


In Other News…

I did get to tidy my study last week, when I realised I was spending more time hunting for a book than was really sensible. I also managed, after much deep breathing, to give away some of my books. Mind you this last week I have bought several really interesting books, and I am in danger of creating another pile on the study carpet if I am not careful.

I had been planning to get a ‘new’ dog in the summer, after my holidays, but… a local farmer has a twelve-year-old sheepdog that she is retiring and I went to see her (the sheepdog) yesterday. Not surprisingly, I was smitten, and will be collecting her in the next few days. She will need a good shower/bath to be more presentable, and I will see how she settles in. I suspect she will soon join me in our church services together. Her name is ‘Mist’.

In February I am having a few days off to attend a gathering of Iona Community members who live in the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Austria, in my role as a trustee of the Iona Community. I am praying for smooth seas for the overnight ferry from Newcastle to IJmuiden, and then for all the train connections to work.


Nick Bowry





We have a regular pattern of services. Details of these are set out below. You can access them by computer, tablet or smart phone, as well as by phoning in from your house phone to the numbers given below.


Morning Prayer at 9 am, and Evening Prayer at 5.30 pm, Monday to Friday. (Zoom only)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 628 956 1588

Password: 040775

One tap mobile

+442034815240,,6289561588#,,#,040775# United Kingdom

+442080806591,,6289561588#,,#,040775# United Kingdom


St Mungo, Holy Communion at 10.30 am on Sunday.

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Meeting ID: 934 1719 0423

Passcode: 062021

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+442039017895,,93417190423#,,,,*062021# The United Kingdom

+442080806591,,93417190423#,,,,*062021# The United Kingdom


St James the Less, Holy Communion at 10.30 am on Sunday.

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Meeting ID: 920 0219 7798  Password: 040775

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Wednesday Evening Services at 7.30 pm (not July or August) (Zoom only)

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Meeting ID: 963 0384 1875 Password: 040775

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+442080806592,,96303841875#,,1#,040775# United Kingdom


Wednesday Evening Compline at 9 pm (all year) (Zoom only)

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Meeting ID: 953 4545 7224 Password: 040775

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Church life continues in a variety of forms online. Several groups and sessions have been set up. Details of the existing groups and sessions being run are given below.

‘Monday Evening Studies’ at 7.30 pm (Zoom only)

This is a series of studies and discussions, open to all who wish to join us, including anyone you wish to invite – they don’t have to be a member of St James the Less or St Mungo’s. We take a break in July and August.

All of these sessions will use the following link.

Topic: Monday Evening Studies

Meeting ID: 976 7040 6222        Passcode: 202101

One tap mobile

+442039017895,,97670406222#,,,,,,0#,,202101# United Kingdom

+442080806591,,97670406222#,,,,,,0#,,202101# United Kingdom


5th Monday Evenings at 7.30 pm

‘Faith Books’

When we have a fifth Monday there will be a discussion about a book of Nick’s choice, in a series called ‘Faith Books’. The next 5th Monday is on Monday 30th January: ‘Young, Woke and Christian: Words from a Missing Generation’ (editor) Victoria Turner.


The other books for 2023 are:

29th May: Unapologetic: Why Despite Everything, Christianity can still make Surprising Emotional Sense, by Francis Spufford

31st July: Your God is Too Small, by J B Phillips

30th October: God of Surprises, by Gerard Hughes

If people wish to read these books but don’t wish to buy them, I am happy to lend them out. Get in contact with me if you wish to borrow a book.

These sessions are suitable for people at any stage of their faith journey; from those enquiring to those with many years in the faith.



Weekly Bible Study

Tuesdays at 2pm

This is a chance to discover and explore the Bible through reflection and discussion. Join us whenever you can. We are currently studying the gospel readings allocated by the Womens’ Lectionary. Why don’t you join us to explore the texts, understand their context, and just as importantly, explore how they speak to us and how they inform us today.

Meeting ID: 925 1096 2481

Password: 040775


St Mungo’s House Group

Thursdays at 7.30 pm

Contact Markie Woodifield for further information.


Monthly Book Group

The fourth Monday of each month at 2 pm

Contact Angela Sibley for further information.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 669 139 189 Passcode: 040775