Rector’s Letter – February 2024

St James the Less Penicuik and St Mungo West Linton

Scottish Episcopal Churches


The Rectory

23 Broomhill Road


EH26 9EE

01968 678254

07950 607574


31st January 2024


Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,


Rector’s letter for February 2024


Personal Notes

Yesterday, I attended a meeting of the Provincial Inter-Faith Relations Committee (IFRC) of the Scottish Episcopal Church. It is an ecumenical committee comprising representatives of the Methodist Church in Scotland, the United Reformed Church Synod of Scotland, and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland along with and hosted by the Scottish Episcopal Church. The Church of Scotland’s Interfaith and Equality Officer attends as an observer. The IFRC exists to resource and develop engagement of member Churches with people of other faiths and to aid in deepening community relations with faith communities across Scotland.

It is always interesting to discuss and hear reports of work in the area of inter-faith dialogue and understanding, and to see new resources being made available on the SEC website from time to time.

Engaging in the subject matter and with people of other faiths enriches my understanding of my own faith and helps to build trust and mutual support for the good of all humankind.

A recent project between the Church of Scotland and the Jewish communities in Scotland has led to the drafting of a ‘Jewish-Christian Glossary’. It is 85 pages long. I looked briefly at a few of the entries today and it is very interesting. The introduction to the glossary makes clear it is to be used as a reflective and incomplete source of reference, and as a starting point for further dialogue between Jews and Christians. And I know such conversations are already planned and will be good chances to explore so much about our faiths with openness and curiosity.

In these current times of tensions, openness and dialogue are precious and valuable. If anyone would like to have a look at it, it is available from the Church of Scotland website


The quiet day on 27th January, at St James the Less, was based on Holocaust Memorial Day. A booklet of prayers was available to be read individually as people wanted. At midday we held a time of prayer and reflection at the Peace Pole in the church garden. Holocaust Memorial Day is a time to remember the Holocaust in the Second World War plus the genocides since in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Dafur.



News and new things happening


Fr. Norman Wagstaff – A Memorial Service

Father Norman’s funeral was held in Queensland on Wednesday 24th January UK time, Thursday 25th in Queensland. For those who worshipped at St James or St Mungo’s, and who have fond memories of him, we are planning a memorial service for Norma, to be held on Sunday 18th February at St James the Less, at 3.30 pm.

If you have any memories you wish to share, there are two ways to do this.

Firstly you can submit upto 250 words to me, to be said at his memorial (you will be able to offer this yourself). We ask for submission of your words in advance so we can avoid too much repetition.

Secondly, we shall be preparing a short booklet of reminiscences and if you wish to provide a longer written text, then please send it to Val McGavin.

After the memorial service tea and coffee will be served – and most probably some fruit cake to Norman’s recipe.


Taizé services

After a brief consultation at St Mungo’s last week, I shall be changing the Sunday early evening service in the style of Taizé at St Mungo’s to be on the 2nd Sunday of each month, rather than the 4th Sunday. As I had already planned a service for the 2nd Sunday in February based around Racial Justice Sunday, the next Taizé service at St Mungo’s will be on the second Sunday in March. The Taizé service at St James will retain its timing of the 3rd Sunday of each month.


Quiet Days

The ‘quiet days’ are planned to be run on a Saturday at both churches during this coming year. They will normally run from 10.00 am to 2.00 pm. Please feel free to drop in for as long as you wish, to make use of the space and the materials as you wish. The next quiet day will be at St Mungo’s on Saturday 9th March.


Open Space and ‘New World’ services

In addition to ‘quiet days’, I am planning on running an occasional series of ‘Open Space’ sessions in the churches on a Saturday. The idea is for these to be a time for considering an issue of justice, peace, or the environment, to read information and possibly some opinion pieces, and have a discussion about them in a relaxed atmosphere over tea or coffee. I intend using the ‘Learn, Pray, Act’ model, but to engage with people with no faith, I plan to call the stages, ‘Learn, Reflect, Act’. I hope that on some occasions I will follow up the Saturday’s Open Space’ with a service in church the following afternoon that will pick up on the theme of the previous days ‘open space’. For now, my working title for the related church service is ‘New World’.

This year’s theme for Racial Justice Sunday (11th February) from Churches Together in Britain and Ireland is ‘Exodus: Justice for God’s People on the Move’. To fit in with this, the first ‘Open Space’ will be at St Mungo’s on Saturday 10th February on that theme. On Sunday 11th Feb I will hold a ‘New World’ service at 4pm that will include time to explore and reflect on the topic and will include prayers and music. If you would like to support the Open Space and/or New World services, please let me know.


Lent Study Course

The Diocesan Lent Course of this year is entitled, ‘The Emotions of Jesus’. We shall run it on Tuesdays at 2pm, in person, not on Zoom. The course booklet will be emailed out to all who want a copy. If you want a paper copy please let me know. On 20th Feb, 5th and 12th March we shall meet in the Rectory. On 27th February and 19th March we shall meet at Joy Middleton’s house. We shall cover: gratitude, joy, anger, compassion and, weariness. The booklet covers material for Holy Week, although we will not meet together in Holy Week.


AGM Season

Following the AGMs of both churches, Moira Rendall and Cicely McCulloch have joined the Vestry of St James and Carna Hodge has joined the Vestry of St Mungo’s. We thank them for being willing to serve our congregations.


Fundraising Greeting Cards

At St James we shall have a selection of ten different cards for sale, in A6 and A5 sizes. Each card purchased raises funds for the church. A separate note with information about the cards and how to order them will be sent out shortly. If you would like to volunteer to manage this fundraising activity, please let me know.


Cashless Society?

At both St James and St Mungo’s we are planning to provide a way of making a donation to the church or towards fundraising for specific church projects or external charitable projects through a debit/credit card reader. Watch out for developments in the next week or so!



In Other News…

I have started a Spanish language course, having seen several advertised before that were not convenient for me. The course is being run on a Friday evening, so I am able to attend it on my day off. It is good to be able to have some, admittedly haltering, conversations with others rather than just listening to podcasts and repeating phrases to myself as I walk Misty! We will see if any of it sticks in my memory long enough to be of use in Spain.

On 29th January last year I went to a farm in Dunsyre to collect a sheepdog called Mist. That day she started her retirement with a long warm shower with lots of shampoo to get her nice and clean, and a slight change of name to Misty. The year has flown by, and I am glad that I got Misty and I think she is fairly happy to be living in the Rectory rather than a barn. I know she enjoys church services and visits to the various care homes we go to. I made an extra fuss of her on her ‘gotcha’ day; she took it all in her stride.

Nick Bowry


Regular Activities


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 4th February.

Aaron House, Penicuik: We are part of a 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 28th February.

Whim Hall, Lamancha: We visit Whim Hall Care Centre on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of each month. Our next visit is on 8th February.

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 a simplified form of 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 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.

We shall alternate each week between a study of the previous Sunday’s sermon and lectionary readings and in the other week using Lectio Divina to explore scripture from the previous Sunday.


Monday Study Night

In January we commenced reading and discussing Margaret Silf’s ‘Landmarks: An Ignatian Journey’. We shall be discussing chapter 2 on 5th February.


Faith Development ‘Faith Books’

When we have a fifth Monday in the month, we hold 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.

The books we shall be discussing are:

29th April: ‘An Other Kingdom: Departing the Consumer Culture’ by Peter Block, Walter Brueggemann and John McKnight, (published by Wiley, ISBN 978-1-119-19472-9)

29th July: ‘Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World’, by Henri Nouwen (published by Crossroad Pub Co., ISBN978-0-8245-1986-5)

30th Sept: ‘Grounded: Finding God in the World, a Spiritual Revolution’, by Diana Butler Bass (published by Harper One, ISBN 978-0-06-232856-4)


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.


Mid-week evening services on Zoom

On the first Wednesday of each month, at 7.30 pm, we hold a service of Prayers for healing online. If you wish someone or a situation to be prayed for, send an email to me or Marion Mather.

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.


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

In Touch is 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 4th February 2024. 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. If you wish to make a donation by cheque, please make out the cheque to ‘St James Episcopal Church Penicuik’.

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.

Ecumenical Relations and Community Involvement Work

The Penicuik Ministers continue to meet every month in the Storehouse for a chat. 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.   I continue to meet with Revd Dr Tony Foley to discuss joint services and matters of mutual interest.


Diocesan and Provincial Activities

I haven’t had any meetings except for the Clergy Conference mentioned earlier.


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.


Zoom Links for Services


We have a regular pattern of services. Details of these are set out below. You can access them using the Zoom links.


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


St Mungo, Holy Communion at 10.30 am on Sunday.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 934 1719 0423        Passcode: 062021

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

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 920 0219 7798        Passcode: 040775


1st Wednesday Evening Service at 7.30 pm (not July or August) (Zoom only)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 963 0384 1875        Password: 040775


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

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 953 4545 7224        Password: 040775


Zoom Links for Activities

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

Meeting ID: 976 7040 6222        Passcode: 202101

Use this link for Monday Evening Studies and the ‘Faith Book’ discussions.


Weekly Bible Study: Tuesdays at 2pm (Zoom only)

Meeting ID: 925 1096 2481        Passcode: 040775


Monthly Book Group: The fourth Monday of each month at 2 pm

Contact Angela Sibley for further information.

Meeting ID: 669 139 189             Passcode: 040775