Rector’s Letter – September 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


26th August 2023


Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,


Rector’s letter for September


Following feedback about my monthly letter, I am splitting it up into more discrete sections. After my regular personal notes, the first section will be ‘news’ and will include anything which is new since last month. The second section will contain information about regular activities. The third section will provide the zoom meeting links to our worship and activities.


Personal Notes

The gospel reading for 27th August contains a question that Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do you say I am?”. I will be preaching at St Mungo’s on this subject. As well as Jesus asking his disciples, and by extension us, it is a useful but somewhat daunting question to ask Jesus that question in our prayers.

As a priest, trying (but often failing) to determine the correct prioritisation of the many and differing calls on my time, I often find myself reflecting on my role and how to best respond to the call to be a priest, in this time and in these places. As we recommence our activities and mid-week services, I will seek to maintain these things and continue to watch and listen for where God is working and join in his mission through our services and activities. I hope you may also wish to reflect on what you may be able to offer, to support the work of both our churches.


The question also reminds me of the powerful poem written by Deitrich Bonhoeffer, in July 1944 in his prison cell, called, ‘Who Am I? (from ‘Letters and Papers from Prison’, published by SCM Press). It is well worth reading. The last two lines are:

“Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.

Whoever I am, thou knowest, O God, I am thine.”


News and new things happening


Consultation exercise on permitting same-sex marriages to take place at St James the Less.

On 6th and the 20th of August, I delivered three talks and provided additional documents to support the consultation with the congregation on the above matter. On 3rd September I will ask members of the congregation to indicate their views about allowing same-sex marriages to take place in St James the Less. The Vestry will receive the results of the consultation, and they will decide on whether to allow same-sex marriages to be undertaken in St James. Any member of the congregation who is unable to attend on 3rd September who wants to have their view added, can complete the consultation form and return it to Andy Longmore (

Open Doors Day, St Mungo’s on Sat 2nd September

As part of the Scottish Borders Open Doors Day, St Mungo’s will be open. If you are able to support his day by volunteering to be present during some of the day, please let Ian Kerry know.


RSCM Singing Day, St James the Less on Sat 2nd September

If you wish to join in with this Royal School of Church Music singing day at St James the Less, you can book form this webpage,

It starts at 10:30 and finishes at 16:15, with the last hour being a worship service.


Well Prepared Course, 7.30 pm on Thursdays: 7th Sept to 12th October.

This six-session course called, ‘Well Prepared’, created by the Diocese of Oxford, will be held in the New Church Hall in West Linton. The course will be facilitated by me and Revd Dr Tony Foley (Minister of the West Tweeddale Churches).

The ‘Well Prepared’ course covers (i) making a will and power of attorney document; (ii) exploring the story of our life; (iii) planning my funeral; (iv) the last days; (v) departing in peace; and (vi) what comes next?

The course is not aimed at supporting anyone who is grieving. Of course, talking about death may lead to thoughts of those who we love and see no longer, and we shall all be sensitive to each other’s experiences of bereavement and loss. The course is primarily to help us have conversations about death and to plan for our own death. Please get in contact with me if you wish to attend.


Penicuik Churches Together

The next PCT Sunday evening service to be held at St James will be on Sunday 10th September, at 7.00 pm.


Faith Development ‘Faith Books’

On 30th October at 7.30 pm we will discuss ‘God of Surprises’, by Gerard Hughes, SJ. The list of books for the 2024 programme are given in the ‘Regular Activities’ section below.


Advent Study

Yes, I know! Thinking about Advent already. On Monday evenings on 27th November, 4th, 11th and 18th December, we shall use the first four chapters of ‘The First Christmas: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus’ Birth’ by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan, (published by SPCK, ISBN 978-0-281-06004-7) as our resource. The remaining chapters of the book will form our discussion in our ‘Faith Books’ series on 29th January 2024. This advance notice will give you ample time to buy the book and read the first four chapters.


From the Registers

Interment of Ashes

Jean Wright and Cath Heriot, on 2nd August


Patricia Winkle, on 3rd August


Alice Dickson & Jack Demynn at the Vu, Bathgate, on 9th August

In Other News…

I am heading off to visit the Corrymeela Community, near Ballycastle, in County Antrim later in September, for three days, in my role as a Trustee of the Iona Community. Corrymeela was founded and developed by Ray Davey and others, to help bring reconciliation and peace to communities, especially in the context of Northern Ireland. You can find out more about Corrymeela at Ray had been a prisoner of war near Dresden and watched the bombing raids that turned into a devastating firestorm that destroyed so much  of the old city and killed so many people. Ray realised we can all succumb to hatred and violence when we accept a narrative of ‘them’ versus ‘us’. His response to his experiences and reflections led to creation of the Corrymeela Community. It will be my first visit to Corrymeela, and my first time back in County Antrim since some time spent there on holiday in 2003! Far too long away from such a lovely stretch of coastline.

Corrymeela reminds me of the primary founding objective of the Taizé community in Burgundy, France. It was founded by Brother Roger to bring youth from across Europe on a pilgrimage of hope and reconciliation, believing that coming together and living and worshiping in community together would make future wars so much less likely. Brother Roger was the first prior, and upon his tragic death in August 2005 Brother Alois became prior. Borther Alois has now consulted the brothers in the community and selected his successor, Brother Matthew. Brother Matthew will take up the role on Advent Sunday this year. Brother Matthew is an Anglican and hails from Pudsey. He joined the Taizé community in 1986. Brother Alois played a key part in my time at Taizé in the summer of 2008, although I am sure he is blissfully unaware of the impact of his words to me. The chants of Taizé are simple to learn and become meditative as you let the music and words sink in and become a prayer. I shall be taking some Taizé services on Sunday evenings every now and again. Look out for details in the ‘news’ section and in the monthly lists. Do come along and invite your friends too.


Nick Bowry


Regular Activities

Penicuik Churches Together

We continue to support ‘Gather on the Green’ an initiative to have a visible presence in the new housing development above Mauricewood. Gather on the Green usually takes place on the 2nd Sunday of each month from 2pm to 4pm.


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 visits are on 10th  and 17th 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 13th September.

Whim Hall, Lamancha: We visit Whim Hall Care Centre on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of each month. Our next visit is on 14th September.

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. Our Bible study took a break over the summer. We commenced studying the Book of Daniel on 22nd August through to 3rd October.

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

Our current study uses David Runcorn’s book, ‘Spirituality Workbook: A Guide for Explorers, Pilgrims and Seekers’, published by SPCK in 2006. We will be discussing chapter eleven on 28th August, ‘Flesh and Spirit; Praying in the Body’. It won’t matter if you haven’t read previous chapters, each chapter is standalone.


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 remaining book for 2023, which we will discuss on 30th October is ‘God of Surprises’, by Gerard Hughes, SJ.

In 2024 we shall be discussing:

29th January: ‘The First Christmas: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus’ Birth’ by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan, (published by SPCK, ISBN 978-0-281-06004-7)

29th April: ‘An Other Kingdom: Departing the Consumer Culture’ by Peter Block, Walter Brueggemann and John McKnight, (published by Wiley, ISBN978-1-119-19472-9)

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 6th November 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. 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.


Diocesan and Provincial Activities

There haven’t been any meetings in August.


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

Meeting ID: 925 1096 2481        Passcode: 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.

Meeting ID: 669 139 189             Passcode: 040775