Signing Off

When I say that I am taking a blogbreak, I usually don’t
Like when I say ‘more tomorrow’, there usually isn’t

But my real ‘end of term’ was the Royal Garden Party today. And it’s now four weeks in Donegal and back at the beginning of August

I’ve been keeping very well but probably doing more than is wise. So I’m just going to stop for a while.

If you are going away on holiday, have a wonderful time and travel safely.

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I spent this afternoon on the Esplanade at Edinburgh Castle for the firing of the 21 gun salute which marks the arrival of the Queen in Scotland.

The view is remarkable – I never tire of admiring Edinburgh.

I had time during the firing and the staccato shouting of orders to ponder what it would be like if the Scottish Episcopal Church was in charge. No 1 gun would be fine. No 2 would have set up a short-life working party to consider more collaborate ways of working. No 3 would happen but a bit late. No 4 would have decided to be conscientious objectors and would read a lengthy statement to that effect. No 5 would be bang on time as it were. No 6 would have wandered off, etc., etc

But actually these things are really about the networking which goes on before and after.

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Yesterday’s Petertide Ordinations in our Cathedral – Gerry Dillon and Diana Hall with the Rectors with whom they will serve, Revd Thomas Brauer of Central Fife Group and Revd Professor Trevor Hart of St Andrews, St Andrews, and our Dean, Very Revd Kenny Rathband. It was a remarkable evening – one of those moments when we seem to be able to show that we are both serious and passionate about what we do and somewhat bigger than we really are. Diana and Gerry are remarkable people who will make a wonderful contribution to ministry.

That brought to an end a remarkable – and remarkably positive week. Starting in Shetland, it moved through the launch of the Church Graft in the ABI Group. Then there was the appointment of a new Rector in St John’s Perth [to be announced on July 13]. And in between, there was the joy of Sarah and Willie’s wedding, a meeting and dinner for the College of Bishops, a meeting of the Provincial Standing Committee and Glenalmond Commemoration – and Sunday morning in St John’s, Perth.

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Glenalmond Commem

Glenalmond Red Arrows Flypast 2

Commemoration Day at Glenalmond College always gives me that ‘end of term’ feeling. It’s really Speech Day – with Mark Beaumont as the Guest of Honour. And it’s Leavers’s Day. I once described it as Hogwarts meets Glyndbourne – Range Rovers and picnics in wicker baskets. I come and we have a Service which has bits of the Funeral Service from the Book of Common Prayer. Strange really – but that’s the tradition. Glenalmond is an Episcopalian foundation so it’s important for us and I am fairly deeply involved – not just in the ceremonial but also in the management.

I guess that Gladstone, whose statue stands in the Quadrangle, would have covered his ears as the Red Arrows flew over at 1653 precisely – making a slight shimmy to the right on their way from Edinburgh to Armed Forces Day in Stirling. The flypast was arranged by their Manager, Squadron Leader Ruth Shackleton, as a mark of her own time at Glenalmond.

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Grafting at ABI

Dean norby

On Tuesday, we marked the launch of a Church Graft in the ABI [Aberdour, Burntisland and Inverkeithing] group of congregations with the Introduction of Revd Dean Norby as Priest in Charge. At the beginning of the Service, I said that we sometimes have to work very hard to discern what God calls us to – and sometimes it seems to be there in front of us. It’s been like that here – Dean believes that he is called to build up the church in Fife. The three congregations are keen to grow. There is a Fife Connect Group already meeting in the area. The population in Fife just across the Forth Bridge is growing and the new Crossing will increase that growth. St Paul’s and St George’s is keep to develop a church-planting ministry.

So we all came together on Tuesday evening in Inverkeithing Parish Church. Revd David Richards from P’s and G’s was the preacher and we set out in hope together.

There will be challenges and difficulties ahead. But I am fascinated by the amount of interest – and approval – which this move has generated in our own diocese. It’s exciting.

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More from Shetland

The visit to Shetland was to join in the 150th Anniversary of our congregation at St Magnus on Lerwick.


Anniversaries of churches are wonderful moments and I enjoyed this one. This is part of what I said:

Many of you will have come to this service with memories and maybe with photos. Those memories will be of ways in which your story – the important moments of your life – are interwoven with the story of this church. You’ll think of baptisms, weddings and funerals – of Christmas, Easter and Harvest. You may think of people who are no longer with us – but no less deeply loved in our memories and our hearts.

And here is the full script


I also took part in a Confirmation Service at Burravoe on the Island of Yell – it’s the most northerly Anglican Church in the British Isles. The scale of the scenery is wonderful and the light is extraordinary – particularly at this time of year. Here we are – Bishop Bob, Revd Neil Brice and Reverend Mother from the Community of Our Lady of the Isles on Fetlar. If you think we might have centered the photo better, we were just making room for the majesty of God’s creation over my left shoulder

This is part of what I said:

For me this Confirmation Service is about the growth of the church. It’s the church doing what it is called to do – adding to the community of the believers. It’s the church testing that it has at its heart the ability to kindle living faith in the hearts of people. It’s each generation of faith making sure that they are not the last. For if the church loses the will or the ability to bring people to faith, it will die.

Here is the rest of it

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Simmer Dim

We are in Shetland for the 150th Anniversary of our St Magnus’ Church and we have been enjoying a day or two looking around with Bishop Bob and Liz. It is of course mid-summer night here – sunset is nominally around 2230 – but there is very little darkness around


So it’s a great time for festival and lots going on.

We spent a day walking round the island of Noss which is quite close to Lerwick. It was about 9k to do the circuit and we were making good progress until we met the puffins. It was a great experience


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Ordination Retreat

Straight from General Synod to the Society of St Francis at Alnmouth to join our Candidate Deacons on their pre-ordination retreat.

I have a very soft spot for the Franciscans because their house in Belfast was just round the corner from where we lived in North Belfast in the mid-1970′s. It was a strange time. I remember Hubert coming and blessing our cats – which seemed to be an appropriately Franciscan thing to do. Whether that included something to stop them reducing the local bird population or not I don’t remember. The house was made available to the Community by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive as a way of attempting to encourage people to live in what was an area of ‘mixed’ housing close to one of the many Peace Lines in the area – in this case a 20 feet high corrugated iron screen. Unfortunately the local residents decided that they were Catholics and stoned the house as they moved in – so they took refuge with us.

But once things settled down, it was wonderful to have them nearby. Peter Timothy was with us in the parish – his ashes are in the garden at Alnmouth.

So Bishop John and I went to join Diana and Gerry who were there with the ordinands for the Diocese of Edinburgh.

The days of a formal ‘Bishop’s Charge’ may be fading but I offered them this

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General Synod 2014

Here are two pieces of material from General Synod 2014.

First my Primus’ Charge which was delivered in the opening Eucharist

I offered this statement to Synod at the end of the session on Human Sexuality.

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Kindling gets a mention in the Prayer of Thanksgiving in our 1982 Eucharist – and not a bad thing in Pentecost as well.

So we had a morning with clergy colleagues in Perth Presbytery looking at how we experience ministry, stress and all the rest. I think that all this is really about what it takes to keep vocation alive, responsive and dynamic. It’s a rekindling operation. I’ve seen too much of what happens when the fires go out. There’s sadness and tiredness. Sometimes people just give up. And sometimes they become difficult.

But this was one of those events which was almost more important just because it happened. I’m afraid that my hopes for institutional ecumenism are not high. But this kind of thing – small scale and fairly flimsy bits of infrastructure designed to help us meet a common need – I think that’s where the future lies. Relationships with the Presbytery are warm and there is much mutual respect. I think we can find a way forward together ..

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