Rector’s Letter – March 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


1st March 2023


Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,


Rector’s letter for March


St David’s Day! No sign of daffodils in bloom here yet…


Diocesan Synod

This time of year is when each diocese holds its Synod meeting to discuss diocesan business and consider various governance issues which will be deliberated at the General Synod in June. The Diocese of Edinburgh synod meeting was held last Saturday (25th February) in Edinburgh. The Lay Representative of each charge and most ordained clergy can vote. Apart from the usual business of receiving and accepting formal reports of the accounts and the work of various committees, it is a time to discuss a range of matters of current interest and allow members to express their views.


This synod included a presentation on the draft Provincial Net Zero Action plan (2023-2030), by Robert Woodford, on behalf of the Provincial Environment Group. If you wish to read the draft, you can access it from


The document is 60 pages long but isn’t hard to read. Even reading the first 20 pages will give you a good insight. I commend it to you.


A 90 minute webinar about the draft plan will be held on 9th March at 11:30, the link to it is on the same webpage given above. You can also watch it on YouTube at a time convenient to you. Again, the link is on the same webpage.


At Synod, the convenor of the Diocesan Mission and Ministry Committee (DMMC) presented a short piece about the Five Marks of Mission: They are:

  • To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  • To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
  • To respond to human need by loving service
  • To transform unjust structures of society, challenging violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation
  • To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth.


The DMMC has decided that to help make the Five Marks of Mission more memorable, they will be summarised as:

Tell the gospel.

Teach the faith.

Tend the people.

Transform our society.

Treasure God’s creation.


I am all in favour of simplifying things, and the five T’s will be easier to remember than the previous Diocesan SEEDS acronym.


The Bishop’s charge to synod was about optimism and hope. The words that I wrote down were, ‘The hope that is ours in Christ… optimism goes up and down, but hope is constant… we are not perfect but through God’s grace we are a work in progress..’


The Bishop’s Lent Appeal is for financial support for a water filtration plant at the St Nicholas Seminary in Cape Coast, Ghana. Cape Coast is a partner diocese to Edinburgh. I hope that both congregations will wish to support this, in all likelihood including collections at the fellowship brunches/lunches in late March and early April. Individuals can donate directly via and this will ensure any gift aid can be added to your donation, giving a valuable 25% increase in its value.





There was a successful pancake party at St Mungo’s on Shrove Tuesday. On Wednesday, we started our forty days of Lent, and at the services at St James the Less and at St Mungo’s twenty-four people received the Imposition of Ashes. As we enter Lent, we don’t sing the Gloria or sing any hymns with Alleluia in them. It makes the words and songs of praise and celebration at Easter all the more joyous to have ‘fasted’ from them. Flowers no longer adorn our altars. As Lent goes in and we reach Passion Sunday, things strip back some more until on Maundy Thursday at the end of the service the church is stripped bare. Lent is a penitential season of reflection and of preparing to journey to the Cross with Jesus.


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

This diocesan course provides 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).

We have held the first session, but you can still join us for any or all of the remaining ones. Each week 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, as part of the Three Hours on Good Friday. If you wish to join us, let me know.


Date Subject Location
27th Feb Belonging Joy Middleton’s house
6th March Learning Chris Shaw’s house
13th March Listening Joy Middleton’s house
20th March Giving St James’ Church hall
27th March Hope Chris Shaw’s house
27th March Hope Evening repeat at 7.30 pm
7th April Death St James’ Church hall


World Day of Prayer 2023 – Friday 3rd March

The first Friday in March each year is designated as the Ecumenical World Day of Prayer. This year there will be a service at St Andrew’s in West Linton at 2.30 pm and in Penicuik North Kirk at 7.30 pm. I hope members of our congregations will wish to attend these services.


Mothers’ Union Diocesan President and Lady Day Service

It is wonderful that Catherine Pow has agreed to take on the role of Diocesan President of the Mothers’ Union. We pray she finds the role rewarding and can help the Mothers’ Union continue to have a positive impact in our diocese.

The Lady Service will be held on Monday 27th March at 2pm, at St James the Less. Bishop John will celebrate Holy Communion, I will be preaching and the Mothers’ Union Chaplain, Revd Jane Green will also be attending. Please do join us at this service, and for refreshments afterwards.


Our Priestly Team: Peter and Neville

Peter has achieved a remarkably speedy recovery from his hip replacement operation and is back in ‘harness’ once more.

Neville hopes to commence a course of chemotherapy in the coming days. Tilly, Neville’s wife, remains in hospital after experiencing increased discomfort and pain. Please continue to hold Neville and Tilly in your prayers.


Music Lovers: The Old Grey Thistle Test on 22nd April at 7 pm

Alan Murray led us in our inaugural session on Saturday 18th February. Alan about the history of folk music, its link to classical and church music, and where it’s got to now. There were lots of examples to listen to as he played some of his favourite folk songs.

I foolishly volunteered to lead an evening, on Saturday 22nd 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.

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.


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. Some of the other peregrinos from our 2022 Camino will be joining us, I hope.

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. This will be a fundraiser for Food Fact Friends, so please be generous with your 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 26th March.

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 29th March.

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 9th March.


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. 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

We have completed the ‘Pilgrim Course’ and will start a new study on 17th April. The study will be using David Runcorn’s book, ‘Spirituality Workbook: A Guide for Explorers, Pilgrims and Seekers’, published by SPCK in 2006. It would be advantageous to have a copy of the book if you wish to join us for these sessions. The book has 23 short chapters, split into five sections; i) Then and Now – insights from Christian history and tradition, ii) Life Together – spiritual life in community, iii) Becoming Who I Am – Identity, personhood and spirituality, iv) When You Pray – Ways and Understandings, and v) In the Midst of Life – spirituality in the real world. is a good site to search for new and second-hand copies of this book. Used copies are available for about £3.


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.

The books for the rest of 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


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 7th May 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) are meeting later this week 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.

Diocesan and Provincial Activities

In the last month I have attended the Provincial Inter-Faith Relations Committee, attended a meeting in Selkirk supporting their local ministry development on behalf of the Bishop, and attended a meeting of the Diocesan Environment Group. I have also attended a Continuing Ministry Development day led by Steve Aisthorpe, using his recent research on church congregations as a basis for our discussions (‘The Invisible Church’ and ‘Rewilding the Church’ are his two books). Tonight I will be in Bathgate to witness the Institution of Revd Rosie Addis as Rector of St Peter’s Linlithgow and St Columba’s Bathgate.


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…

Misty – my new dog, a twelve year old retired sheepdog has settled in well. I collected her at the end of January from a farm near Dunsyre. As I expected, she needed a long shower with plenty of dog shampoo to become clean and to have a pleasing odour. She rapidly became house-trained and now i feel confident she can come into church without causing any puddles. It goes to prove you can teach an old dog new tricks. She has attended a Sunday service at both St Mungo’s and St James the Less and behaved reasonably well. Most importantly, there was no snoring during my sermons. Misty has also helped me lose over 1.5 kg. Getting out walking four times a day is really good for my waistline and health generally.

The training arm of our church, the Scottish Episcopal Institute, recently advertised a new module on preaching, so I decided as part of my continuing development it would be no bad thing to attend the lectures, whilst not needing to do the assignment at the end of the course. So, Wednesday evenings are back in front of my screen on Zoom listening to lectures and reading the material for each week. It is also good to catch up with colleagues from other parts of our Province that I know and some I trained with who are doing the module as part of a master’s course.

Over the weekend of 10th to 13th February I travelled to Herborn in Germany representing the Trustees of the Iona Community at a meeting of German-speaking members, and to hold our own committee meeting. As the Iona Community takes its commitment to its peace and justice and environmental concerns seriously, we travelled by train and ferry. The Newcastle-Ijmuiden overnight ferry was excellent, helped no doubt by some very calm seas and an excellent dinner on board in both directions. It would have been far quicker and I also suspect a lot cheaper to have travelled by air. It shows that there is often a cost to seeking a smaller carbon footprint. However, the travelling time was used productively, reading the meeting papers and building good relations with the other committee members travelling together. We certainly bonded when planning how to sprint with all our luggage from one train to another in Köln station with only three minutes between arrival and departure times.

I pray you travel well through this Lenten season, and hope to see you at one of our services or other activities soon.



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

One tap mobile

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

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


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

Join Zoom Meeting

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)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 963 0384 1875 Password: 040775

One tap mobile

+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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+442080806592,,95345457224#,,1#,040775# United Kingdom

+443300885830,,95345457224#,,1#,040775# United Kingdom



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


The other books for 2023 are:

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 previous Sunday’s gospel reading. 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