Rector’s Letter – March 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


27th February 2024


Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,


Rector’s letter for March 2024


Personal Notes

On Saturday 24th February the Diocesan Synod was held in Edinburgh. At each meeting of the Synod all clergy are expected to attend along with the Lay Representatives of each charge. Peter Woodifield, Ian Kerry, Gillian Little and myself attended the synod, which had an early start of 08:30 for the Eucharist. The main business of the spring Synod is to receive reports of various committees and groups and from the Cathedral, and also to review and comment on any Canons (the church laws and regulations) that received their first reading at General Synod last June and will receive their second reading this June. The synod’s views and indicative voting are communicated to the Committee on Canons who can revise the Canons prior to second reading at the General Synod. If they are passed at second reading they come into effect.

Synod also discussed the liturgies which were introduced three years ago ‘for experimental use’. This is the standard practice of our church. Liturgies are drafted and after initial consultation are authorised for use by the College of Bishops for three years. After that, feedback is requested, and the liturgies may then be revised before being adopted as formally established liturgies for use. The liturgies are said to express the Scottish Episcopal Church’s doctrine, as we do not have any other free-standing doctrinal statements. Luckily there are a few people who really love liturgy and can happily spend a lot of time and energy teasing through the wording and presenting texts for the church to consider and others who are happy to use and comment on the experimental versions. Generally, I like to adopt any new experimental liturgies and provide feedback on them. We have used the Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday liturgies over the last three years.


I see that the Church of Scotland is publishing a new volume of hymns in June. It will be interesting to explore this book and see what it has to offer. The work of bringing this together has been done by Iain McLarty. Their website states:

“God Welcomes All is the first addition to the Church Hymnary since the fourth edition (CH4) was published in 2005. It is a collection of over 200 hymns and songs in a wide range of styles by writers from Scotland and around the world. The majority have been written in the last 20 years, including songs by well-known writers such as John Bell, Getty Music, Phil Wickham, Fischy Music, Shirley Erena Murray, Sinach and Rend Collective.

With a focus on hospitality and welcome, the collection includes songs based on scripture, for different parts of worship, and the Church year, and covering contemporary themes such as creation and the climate crisis, lament, healing, pilgrimage, ageing and dementia, migration, and reconciliation.”


Last Saturday (24th Feb) was the second anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, and it came only a week after the killing of Alexei Navalny, in a Russian penal colony inside the Arctic Circle. These two events speak to me of the so very different choices that can be made by humans. The Russian President chose a route of oppression, corruption, violence and authoritarian and autocratic leadership to serve his own ends. His decisions have led to the deaths of so many Russians and Ukrainians, and misery for so many Ukrainians whose homes and towns have been bombed into uninhabitable ruins and are grieving for those lost in the fighting. No doubt many Russians are also living in misery, grieving for the loss of their sons in this war. Alexei Navalny on the other hand had shown great courage and astonishing bravery and commitment to his cause. He was in opposition to Putin, was a lawyer and anti-corruption activist. He came second in the mayoral contest for Moscow in 2013 and was barred from running in the Presidential elections in 2018. In August 2020 there was an attempt on his life, using the Novochok nerve agent. After recovering in Germany, he chose to return to Russia in January 2021, to continue to be an almost lone voice in opposition to Putin. He fully understood the personal risks but chose to turn his face towards Moscow and return to his country. He was immediately arrested and was given an initial 2.5-year sentence. A further trial saw him found guilty of embezzlement with a nine-year jail sentence. Amnesty International quite rightly said the trial was a sham. We will probably never know if Navalny hoped to survive his prison ordeal and be a rallying point for a free and democratic Russia or whether he knew he would not survive long. His story reminds us of Jesus turning his face towards Jerusalem, telling his disciples that he would suffer, die and be raised after three days. I pray that Navalny’s actions and his death will be an inflection point for many in Russia, and he may be remembered for all the right reasons.


The news is also full of the suffering of Palestinians in the Gaza strip, and particularly in Rafah, the southern most section of Gaza. Pictures from the rest of the Gaza Strip show the results of an endless barrage of artillery and bombs, which have turned most areas into piles of rubble, uninhabitable by the Palestinians. Infrastructure, including university buildings and hospitals, water and electricity supplies, have been obliterated. Of the death toll of c. 30,000 Palestinians since 7th October, almost half have been children. This is not a ‘conflict’ between warring nations. It is asymmetrical. It may be unpopular and it may lead some to make a charge of antisemitism to call the prolonged, ruthless and deadly campaign by the Israeli Defence Force ‘genocide’ or of forcing the Palestinians out of the land, but if Rafah receives the same military action as the other areas of Gaza, there will be nothing left, no safe buildings, no homes or hospitals, or religious buildings. Where can the population be moved to that does not worsen the already dire humanitarian crisis? Where can the population go? How many more will be killed? In the last day or so there has been a faint glimmer of hope. The negotiations to achieve some sort of temporary ceasefire (or whatever politically correct name is applied to a time when there will be no military action) appear promising and include agreement to a massive increase in aid into Gaza required to avoid famine and more deaths in Gaza. The Revd Dr Munther Isaac from the Lutheran Church in Bethlehem is in the UK just now and has and is speaking at a number of events. He is well worth listening to. His address at Bloomsbury Baptist Church in London on 18th February can be found on YouTube,

I hope we can all pray for peace. I pray that the peacemakers will continue to be courageous and push to break through these killing times. For blessed are the peacemakers.



News and new things happening


World Day of Prayer

This ecumenical event takes place on the first Friday in March each year. It used to be called the ‘Women’s World Day of Prayer’, but the title was amended a good few years ago. The word ‘women’ in the title referred to the fact that the material was and is written by women and reflects their lives. Each year a different country or region is the focus. The countries are nominated many years in advance and women from each country then have time to prepare material for publication. The WDP website has some interesting background information. or to look at the Scottish page,   This year the theme is “I beg you… Bear with one another in Love”, written by the WDP Committee of Palestine. The introduction to it states:

“This program calls us to bear with each other in love, despite all difficulties and oppression. The program was written by a group of ecumenical Christian Palestinian women in response to the passage from Ephesians 4:1-7. We reflected collectively on this theme from the context of our suffering as Palestinian Christian women. We hope to inspire other women around the world to bear with one another in love during troubled times.”

It is timely to have Palestinian Christians offering this service given the situation in Palestine just now. I can hear the words of Revd Dr George McLeod (founder of the Iona Community) in my head, “If you believe in coincidences, I wish you a boring life”. He saw the Holy Spirit move and nudge people where those of no faith just saw ‘coincidence’! This year the services are on Friday 1st March, in West Linton at St Andrew’s Church at 2.30 pm, and in Penicuik at the Sacred Heart Church at 7.30 pm.


Taizé services

A reminder that the Sunday service in the style of Taizé at St Mungo’s is now on the 2nd Sunday of each month. The next Taizé service at St Mungo’s will be at 5pm on 10th March. The Taizé service at St James will continue on the 3rd Sunday of each month at 5pm.


Quiet Days

The ‘quiet days’ are planned to be run on a Saturday at both churches during this coming year. 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 and at St James on Saturday 16th March.


Lent Study Course

The Diocesan Lent Course for this year is entitled, ‘The Emotions of Jesus’. We shall meet in St James Church hall except for 19th March when we shall meet at Joy Middleton’s house. The booklet covers material for Holy Week, although we will not meet together on the Tuesday of Holy Week. The second hour of Good Friday, i.e. from 1pm to 2pm will be a time to reflect on the material for Holy Week.


Fundraising Greeting Cards

At St James we shall have a selection of ten different cards for sale, in A6 and A5 sizes. Many thanks to those of you who have bought cards already. Each card purchased raises funds for the church. 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 have now put in place a bank card reader, so individuals can make a donation to the church or towards fundraising for specific church projects or external charitable projects through the card reader. The card reader offers four different donation amounts (£5, £10, £15 and £20) and also an option to enter a different amount. There is also an option to give a description for the donation, which is helpful if it is for a specific fundraising project. In St James the reader is situated on the font by the west door. In St Mungo’s it is on the table in the undercroft.


In Other News…

I had an enjoyable afternoon a few weeks ago planning my summer holiday to Germany with my Iona Community friends. The Iona Community is holding its Community Week in Erfurt, not on the Isle of Iona, this year. Erfurt is where Martin Luther was a Roman Catholic priest and responsible for some monasteries, prior to his excommunication of course. The Community is staying in the original monastery, now owned and run as a conference centre by the Lutheran church in Germany.  In seeking to be as ecologically sound as possible, this trip will be completed by ferry and train, with no flights involved. It will involve a train to Newcastle, overnight ferry to Amsterdam, train to Arnhem for a night, then train to Erfurt via Frankfurt for the Community Week, then train to Leipzig for some days sightseeing, before getting a train back to Amsterdam and the ferry back to Newcastle. The final section will be by train back to Edinburgh. I enjoy the travelling and see it as all part of the holiday. Admittedly, it takes longer and generally costs more than flying, but it feels the right thing to do. I know I am fortunate in that I can afford the extra cost. But is does make me wonder if we have got the costs of different modes of transport right when the most polluting (short-haul flights) are the cheapest.

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 10th March.

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 14th 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 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 5 on 4th March.


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.

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 5th May 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

As mentioned above, the Diocesan Synod was held on 24th February.  I attended a clergy Continuing Ministerial Development Day on 6th February, in Edinburgh.


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