Rector’s Letter – July 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


26th June 2024


Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,


Rector’s letter for July 2024


Personal Notes


In June I had a friend visit me, who lives on Phoenix, Arizona. It was really interesting to ‘see’ our places through someone else’s eyes. Of course, even if we hadn’t experienced such a wet Spring and early summer, it would still have been as verdant countryside putting on its best display of greens. To someone who lives in a desert environment, the colours of the plants, the cloud formations and flowing rivers around Penicuik and West Linton was a particular joy, as was the ever changing views of the Pentland Hills, providing a back drop. I know that in the busyness of our lives, and because it is there for us to see everyday, we can take this beauty for granted, and not really appreciate it. I was thankful for my friend’s joy and appreciation of our little bit of Scotland, and for challenging me to look afresh and with thanksgiving for where we live, and not take it for granted. What part of your everyday life have you not appreciated and given thanks for recently? In these days of long daylight, what do you need to see with new eyes?


You may be aware that Peter Woodifield had a hip replacement operation in April. Most unfortunately there was an infection and Peter was admitted to hospital last week. He had surgery to remove the hip joint and clean out the area, put in a temporary joint, and he is now on an intravenous antibiotics drip for at least a week. It will be a long journey to recovery, including further surgery. Please hold Peter in your prayers.


As you may recall, I am heading off to an Anglican Communion meeting shortly, for some conversations about how we talk about God in relation to issues people face in the 21st century world. I have written and submitted a paper on Assisted Dying. I managed to submit it by the deadline. Now I have been sent the papers written by the people in my conversation group and have started to read them. There are three facilitated groups. I have also prepared a Bible Study on Psalm 34, and have read an article on the ethics of the existence of charities, ready to discuss that too.

I have shown the film about the deeds of Jack Kevorkian, (You Don’t Know Jack) who about 20 years ago helped about 130 people end their lives in the USA. It is on the ‘reading list’ for the St George’s House conversations. If you want to watch it, please let me know and I can lend it out.


The West Linton Whipman week went off very well, with some excellent weather being  great help. I was the officiating minister at the Friday night Whipman and Lass installation which was good fun. Some of my fellow attendees at the Spanish Language class shouted a word of encouragement to me (guapo!) as we walked through West Linton behind the Whipman and Lass. On the following morning several of us set out tables and chairs in the church garden and incited others to watch the ride out from there. It was a warm sunny morning and quite a few folk joined us, and most asked to look around then church- many confessing they lived close by and walked past St Mungo’s often but hadn’t ever been inside. It was an enjoyable morning.

On the Sunday morning we held the Kirking of the Whipman service in the marquee on the Lower Green. This was the first time we had done this in the marquee, and it seemed to go well.


The St James Strawberry tea was great success. It raised £729.50. The food was tasty and the company sociable. The entertainment was fun and most of us joined in the singing. Thanks go to Marion Matter for organising the event, and to all who baked, served the food and drinks, and to the stall-holders.


News and new things happening

The new thing happening is actually a reduction in services and activities in July and August, following our usual pattern for these summer months. So, there isn’t a lot to report this month.

St Mungo’s Congregational Forum – meeting on 31st August

After our two congregational conversations facilitated by Place for Hope, we agreed to hold three meetings a year where we can get together as a congregation to continue to listen to each other and share our faith journeys. The first of these sessions will now be held on Saturday 31st August, as the original date was not convenient for quite a few people. We will meet at 10.00 and finish with lunch at 1 pm.  You do not need to have attended the two congregational conversations held already to join us.


Faith Development and Bible Study Groups – Autumn 2024 programme

These groups were well attended during lockdown and in the year following, but numbers attending have slowly dropped away since then. No doubt some of this is down to people being busy with other commitments they had before lockdown. We have completed numerous short courses and discussed some books in the Faith Development sessions. In the Bible Study we have used videos and commentaries to aid our understanding of Books of the Bible.

I feel it is important to offer both Faith Development and Bible Studies. I would be interested in knowing what material or styles of presentation and discussion would interest you. I mentioned the ‘Immerse’ Bible Study in my In Touch article, as one option. For those that don’t want to read, the Immerse Bible study has an audio Bible you can listen to. You can try out the audio version at

Would that be of interest? If not, what would encourage you to prioritise some time for these activities? And what time or days would suit you best?

I think we will start our Monday night Faith Development sessions by reading and discussing the papers for the Windsor God Conservations. I need to check I can use them in this way.


Recycling Medicine Tablet Blister Packs – At St James the Less

Blister packs are not accepted for recycling with our general household recycling that goes into the blue bins because of the difficulty separating the foil from the plastic. They have to be recycled in special facilities. If you, like many of us, have blister packs for tablets, do bring your empty blister packs and put them in the box in the church hall. They will then be taken to an appropriate Teracycle recycling bin.


St James’ Fellowship Lunches in July and August

In what we hope will be warmer summer months, the Fellowship lunches on the first Sunday of the month in July (7th) and August (4th) will be ‘bring and share’. We shall also invite people to donate to our ‘Penicuik Mission Fund’. This is a restricted fund which from time to time Vestry makes decisions on allocating some of the funds for the benefit of the residents of the district.  During the school summer holidays there is an increased demand for foodbank supplies as school-age children are not getting a free lunch at school. We also support the work of Mid-Aid, that supports the settlement of refugees and others into the district – more families are being resettled into our areas this summer and need support to turn an empty house into a home. A policy decision was taken amongst the people who support resettlement to offer families the chance to buy items they want for their home rather than using donated items that may not be culturally or age appropriate. Having ‘agency’ in setting up a home in a foreign land is a critically important step for refugees.

Vestry wishes to support both of these initiatives this summer, and whilst we do have funds available, we will need to top them up. I ask you to be generous with your giving to our ’Penicuik Mission Fund’, so we can offer support to those in need.


Penicuik High School Breakfast Club

PHS has asked Penicuik Churches Together to support the introduction and running of a breakfast club in the school. Initial discussion took place earlier this week and there will be more in August and September. The hope is to commence offering the breakfast club running each weekday to pupils from sometime in October, if at all possible. Two members of staff will be on duty, and they are hoping that two volunteers will help as well. It will likely involve arriving for 08:00 and leaving by 09:00. It is reasonable to expect that a PVG disclosure will need to be carried out for any volunteer. If you are willing to consider volunteering, please let me know. If amongst the churches we can collect about 60 volunteers then it may only require one session every four weeks.



In Other News…

You may have seen that the wooden fence at the front of the Rectory has now been replaced. We are assured it won’t blow down in the next winter gales.

The wet Spring and early Summer have certainly increased the number of slugs in my garden. I had planted out lettuce, pak choi,  broad bean, cabbage, radish and beetroot. All have suffered from slugs. So most evenings I go out twice and hunt for slugs, often finding half a dozen on my precious plants. I think I have got past ‘peak slug’ for now, but maybe it is just a lull because the weather is drier…

My daughter and son-in-law have a Cocker Spaniel puppy called Maisie, and yesterday she met Misty for the first time. Misty wasn’t too impressed with a puppy climbing all over her, but was very patient.

The General Election is looming. This is a quick reminder that you need to take an approved form of identification with you when you vote. You can see the list here,

On Saturday 22nd June I attended a service at St Giles Cathedral for the Eric Liddell 100 celebrations. It is 100 years since Eric Liddell won the 400m at the Paris Olympics. During the service, the Salvation Army Household Band played superbly, including ‘Be Still My Soul’ to the tune of Finlandia, which the Salvation Army band played under Eric’s window as he lay dying in the Japanese internment camp in China on 21st February 1945. It was quite an emotional moment in the service. Bishop John will be authorising 21st February as a date to add Eric Liddell into our Diocesan Liturgical Calendar, on the back of my proposal that he be added to the Provincial Liturgical Calendar that is working its way through the Committees and Boards before being put to the General Synod at some point in the future.

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 1st September.

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 3rd July.

Whim Hall, Lamancha: We visit Whim Hall Care Centre on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of each month. Our next visit is on 11th July.

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 have a break for July and much of August.

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 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

If you have a subject you would wish us to explore when we resume in mid-August after our break for the summer, please let me know.


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 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. Please do consider joining us.

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.

I circulated the Daily Intercessions booklet we use by email on 26th February. If you would like a paper copy, please let me know.


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 August 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 am attending the Diocesan Personnel Committee meeting in July, finding a date we can all make is tricky.


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