Rector’s Letter – January 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


3rd January 2023


Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,


Rector’s letter for January,


Yesterday, together with some friends, I went to the Usher Hall to the annual Edinburgh Royal Choral Union performance of The Messiah, by Handel. I was told by someone in the know that there was only one seat left unsold. There were no performances in 2021 or 2022 of course; the performance on 2nd January 2020 was in that time ‘before COVID’, when lockdown was still 11 weeks away, and we had no real idea of what lay in store for us and for others in our country and across the world. I suspect the performance yesterday was so popular because people hadn’t been able to go for the previous two years and had missed this annual event of beautiful music and singing.

It was lovely to bump into old friends as well, after all Edinburgh is really just a large village. The value of meeting up with friends and of sharing experiences together cannot be underestimated, and for many people I have spoken to in the last year, the isolation and inability to meet friends was one of the worst aspects of the lockdown.

The words of the Messiah are all lifted from holy scripture of course, and the message given is uplifting and one that I hope none of us can tire of hearing. In the programme for the Messiah, the words are printed. It rather blandly states the word of the final chorus is ‘Amen’. That maybe factually correct, but in no way describes the stunning delivery by the choir, the orchestra, the organ and the soloists. In our own unique ways, as we seek to live a life that follows the way of Jesus this year, may we each find times when our response is “Amen”, or more colloquially, “So be it”.

RIP Cathie McIlwhan, Alex Barrett and Peter McGavin

Cathie McIlwhan died on 6th December, and her funeral was held on 20th December at Mortonhall Crematorium. Our prayers are with Kath McIlwhan and the wider family. Alex Barrett died on 15th December, and his funeral was held at St James the Less on 23rd December. Our prayers are with Tricia, Melanie, Jacqueline and Sandy and their families. Peter McGavin (David’s uncle) died on 18th December and his funeral will be held at 2.30 pm on 11th January at Mortonhall. Our prayers are with David, Doug and the wider family.


Rest Eternal grant unto them, O Lord,

and let light perpetual shine upon them.



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.


Young People at St Mungo’s

We held the second of a new monthly activity for young people on Sunday 27th November. Feedback was good and I hope the numbers attending will slowly grow. The next event will be on Sunday 22nd January. Please pray for this initiative and encourage and young people you know to come along.


Young People at St James the Less

I have requested help in running activities for a small group of young people to meet during the church service, at least twice a month. An email was sent out in October, and already I have had some positive responses. If you are interested in helping, please get in contact with me.


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.


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 4th January.


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 12th January.


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 have recently completed our study of 1 Peter. On Tuesday 10th January we shall look at Gospel readings each week; not from the Revised Common Lectionary but from ‘The Women’s Lectionary’. Details for each week are given in the monthly listing for January. Using the Women’s Lectionary for our Bible study will run as an experiment up until the start of Lent.

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 shall be following the ‘Church and Kingdom’ Pilgrim course starting on 9th January. You don’t need to have the course booklet to join us, but most people like to have a copy. You can download an epub version of the booklet if you don’t want a booklet cluttering up your bookcase, and it is a bit cheaper. (search for Pilgrim Course ‘Church and Kingdom’ on the Church house Publishing shop website. ). The epub versions of the booklets are £4.99. If you wish to receive the booklet, please let me know by 5th January. The booklet cost is £5.99.

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


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 above books. Our first book for the 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 met recently. Once a month the Penicuik Churches Together (PCT) has a joint Sunday evening service. We held the annual Lessons and Carols service on the Sunday before Christmas. 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…

As you may be aware I don’t normally send out Christmas cards to people I see on a frequent basis, but I do make a donation to a charity or two. In the past few years I have donated to Toilet Twinning. This year I decided to donate to the Aberlour Trust and to World Vision. The former providing much needed support for young people in Scotland and the latter providing support for young people overseas.

I took the week off between Christmas and New Year and for the first time in many years could spend Christmas Day with one of my daughters and her husband. I did manage to finish reading David Copperfield (I started reading it on holiday) and read a new whodunnit, and listen to some music that Santa left for me. I did intend tidying my study, but well, that didn’t quite happen.


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.

Join Zoom Meeting

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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+441314601196,,92002197798#,,#,040775# United Kingdom

+442034815237,,92002197798#,,#,040775# United Kingdom


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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+442080806591,,96303841875#,,1#,040775# United Kingdom

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


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

Join Zoom Meeting

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 Book of 1 Peter. 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