schedule for SEC online worship
The regular Sunday online worship provided by the College of
Bishops is to be supplemented this year by broadcasts to mark many
of the major feasts and festivals in the Calendar, as well as
significant national commemorations.
The weekly Eucharist service has taken on increased importance once
again with the return of lockdown, which has required places of
worship to close their doors until further notice.
Just over one third of the Scottish Episcopal Church’s
congregations can join online worship provided by their own church,
but for others, the provincial broadcast might be their only
opportunity to take part in joint worship.
A schedule of where each broadcast will come from has been planned
for all Sundays from now until Easter 2, as follows (subject to any
Diocese of St Andrews
Diocese of Aberdeen
February: Diocese of
Glasgow & Galloway
February: Diocese of
Moray, Ross & Caithness (Lent 1)
February: Diocese of
Edinburgh (Lent 2)
Diocese of Brechin (Lent 3)
Diocese of St Andrews (Lent 4)
Diocese of Aberdeen & Orkney (Lent 5)
Diocese of Glasgow & Galloway (Palm Sunday)
Diocese of Moray, Ross & Caithness (Easter Day)
Diocese of Edinburgh (Easter 2)
A provisional programme is being prepared for beyond the existing
To accommodate additional broadcasts that fall on significant
midweek calendar dates, it has been decided not to continue with
Service of the Word or Evening Prayer on Thursdays, which ran
weekly from May until it was temporarily suspended in November to
allow resources to switch to Advent and Christmas worship
The effect will be to continue with, on average, one additional
provincial worship broadcast per week, but without the regular
Thursday slot. Some weeks there may be two midweek broadcasts, and
other weeks might have none.
There will also be a full programme of Easter Week broadcasts, as
happened last year shortly after lockdown was announced.
Meanwhile, online worship that was offered over the Christmas
season appears to have been well received. Seven different worship
broadcasts and two video messages from the Primus and the Church
Leaders Forum were delivered over a nine-day period, along with
daily video recordings of the O Antiphons.
Viewers commented on the high quality of contributions from
musicians and singers across the province who participated across
the services. Over 40 people took part, from all seven dioceses.
The highlight was arguably the creation of a provincial online
choir for the Advent Lessons & Carols service. Organising and
delivering the virtual choir service was an ambitious project and
gratitude is due to those who answered late pleas to come on board
and get involved. Feedback from some participants is that they
thoroughly enjoyed being able to sing as a group, albeit at some
distance in both space and time. The venture will be attempted
again – but not every week!
churches offering online worship
As mentioned in the preceding article, around one third of Scottish
Episcopal Churches are offering weekly online worship services.
A list of those that the SEC communications team is aware of is
available here at the provincial
The list was last updated on 30 November 2020, and will be updated
again in early February. Any additions or amendments required
should be sent to email@example.com
makes clear its position on closures
Following media reports that church leaders had threatened legal
action if the Scottish Government does not reverse its recent
decision to close places of worship during the current phase of the
Covid pandemic, the Primus issued a statement to make clear that
the Scottish Episcopal Church was not part of the group seeking
“Having worked closely with the Scottish Government during the
pandemic, alongside the Church of Scotland and many other
denominations, in a bid to protect the vulnerable by stemming the
spread of the virus, I would like to state that we have no part in
the move to take legal action against the Government,” said the
Most Rev Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness and
Primus of the SEC.
A group of 500 church leaders – 200 from Scotland and 300 from
elsewhere in the UK –signed a letter to the First Minister calling
for her to lift the ban on communal worship, stating it would seek
judicial review if the closure of churches is not dropped from
lockdown restrictions. No SEC churches signed the letter.
The Church of Scotland has also distanced itself from the call for
Earlier in the month, the College of Bishops issued a pastoral
message to the Churches and congregations of the Scottish Episcopal
Church, at the onset of the latest lockdown.
“Many of us have watched, with growing concern, the rise in the
number of those testing positive for Coronavirus,” said the Primus,
on behalf of the College of Bishops. “This rise has been seen right
across Scotland during the past few weeks and may get higher still
as the effects of the recent holidays become clearer.
“Many of our churches had already decided to remain closed or to
suspend face to face worship as this situation unfolded, limiting
the numbers to 20 people had given an added headache to our larger
churches while sustaining the weekly opening regime had become
exhausting for some of our smaller congregations. The awareness of
the speed of transmission in the new variant had made it quite
clear that the position of Places of Worship was becoming more and
more difficult to sustain, a situation made clear by the First
“The re-closing of our churches is difficult, especially for those
who have had the privilege of meeting together over the past few
months, yet it is now what we must do. The provision of Provincial
online worship will continue and many of our churches will meet
together via a variety of platforms. We must continue to pray for
each other, for the communities we serve and for the authorities
charged with protecting the nation.
“Please continue to pray for the College of Bishops as we will
continue to pray for you until with the help of science and our
health service we can once again have the freedom to meet
Argyll & The Isles election
the time of writing, the Electoral Synod in the Diocese of Argyll
& The Isles was preparing to meet to consider and vote on the
three candidates who were short-listed for the episcopal vacancy.
The Rt Rev Ian Paton, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane,
has been the acting bishop in the diocese since the translation of
Rt Rev Kevin Pearson from Argyll & The Isles to Glasgow &
Galloway in January 2020.
A report of the outcome of proceedings will appear in the February
edition of Inspires Online.
The annual gathering of clergy who have recently been ordained or
joined the Scottish Episcopal Church from elsewhere, and for new
Lay Readers, normally takes place in February at the General Synod
Office in Edinburgh, as shown in the above photograph
from last year.
This year, of course, a physical gathering is not permitted because
of lockdown restrictions, but the day will still go ahead … drum
roll … online via Zoom.
Around 18 invitations have been accepted for the 23 February event,
to gain an overview of the work of the Province, and a brief overview
of the work of each area of the General Synod. Guest speakers
include the Primus, Rt Rev Ian Paton, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld
& Dunblane, Rev Dr Michael Hull, SEI Director of Studies, and
Mr John Stuart, Secretary General of the GSO.
Ellinah mourned in Scotland
of the death in January of the Bishop of Swaziland, Ellinah
Wamukoya, was received with great sadness in Scotland, where she
was a great friend and a regular visitor thanks to the Diocese of
Brechin’s long-standing relationship with the Diocese of Swaziland.
Bishop Ellinah, who was the first female bishop in the Anglican
Church in Africa, had recently undergone surgery and was
convalescing when she contracted Covid-19. She died in Eswatini on
19 January, aged 69.
She was widely known in the Province of Southern Africa and
throughout the wider Anglican Communion for her advocacy of
environmental issues and the integrity of creation, and in 2016,
she was listed by BBC News as one of the 100 most inspirational and
influential women in the world.
The Diocese of Brechin welcomed Bishop Ellinah to Scotland several
times as part of the three-way relationship formed by the Dioceses
of Brechin, Swaziland and Iowa, and she visited most recently in
2018 when she attended the consecration of Bishop Andrew Swift.
Visits to Swaziland – renamed Eswatini in 2018 – by representatives
of Brechin Diocese have also taken place over years, including a
youth pilgrimage and, in 2019, the installation of Mrs Patricia
Millar (the Companionship Links Officer for the diocese) as a Lay
Canon of All Saints’ Cathedral in the city of Mbabane.
Bishop Andrew said: “It is a devastating news that Bishop Ellinah
has died. She has been a great friend and support of the
Diocese of Brechin for her time as Bishop of Swaziland and I found
her a wise and insightful colleague as I have developed my
understanding of the episcopacy.
“It was a privilege to have her attend my consecration and to visit
her diocese in 2019. She planned to retire later in 2021, so
her death before she was able to end her ministry and spend
retirement with her husband Henry and their family is very cruel.
“Bishop Ellinah was an inspiring bishop with a great and effective
presence in the wider Anglican Communion as well as in her own
province and diocese. She will be greatly, greatly missed by
all who knew and loved her.”
The Primus, the Most Rev Mark Strange, added: “I spent time with
Bishop Ellinah during meetings of the Anglican Bishops In Dialogue,
and her joy in her ministry and her care for us all was wonderful.
“Her evening greeting of ‘Primus Mark have you been good today?’
accompanied by her wonderful smile will be a lasting memory.”
on BBC Scotland
BBC Scotland programme The
Service will feature Scottish Episcopal Church worship
again on Sunday 7 February when it comes from St Mary’s Cathedral,
The Very Rev Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of the
Cathedral, will lead the worship, with intercessions from the Rev
Canon Oliver Brewer-Lennon and music from the BBC archive
of recordings from St Mary’s. The programme will be broadcast at 12
noon and will be available to watch again here shortly after transmission.
The SEC has also been represented twice recently on BBC One
Scotland weekly worship programme Reflections At The Quay.
The Rev Maggie McTernan of St Margaret’s in Newlands, Glasgow, was
one of the two hosts on 27 December. She was joined by the Rev Roy
Henderson of Pollokshaws Parish Church. Music came from archives of
hymns and carols recorded in earlier years, including Hark! The Herald Angels
Sing from Old St Paul’s in Edinburgh.
Then on 24 January, the Rev Diana Hall, Rector of St Anne’s
Scottish Episcopal and Methodist Church in Dunbar, co-presented Reflections
alongside Church of Scotland minister the Rev Anikó Schuetz
Bradwell of Humbie and Yester, Bolton & Saltoun parishes.
Music from archives included footage from St Mary’s Cathedral in
Edinburgh, and there was also music in the studio from renowned
accordion player Gary Innes. The broadcast is available to watch again
online here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000rsby
Ms Hall has also appeared twice on radio recently. On 29 January
she was a guest on the Daily Service programme on BBC Radio 4 LW,
where she explored the theme of ‘Resurrection and the life
everlasting’ as part of a series on the Apostles’ Creed.
The 15-minute programme, which is a mix of Christian reflection,
worship and music, can be listened to again here.
The previous week, Ms Hall was the guest on BBC Radio Scotland’s Thought For The Day
slot on 21 January. She spoke about singing, from sea shanties to
Cat Stevens’ Morning
Has Broken, as she discussed how congregations have
missed being able to sing in churches during the pandemic, while
adding that many of us across the country are still singing at
“Music has the power to reframe how we experience the world,” said
Ms Hall. “When times are hard we might find we can sing of longings
we dare not speak; that melody can give hope we struggle to find;
and that a shared rhythm brings solidarity, helping us to keep on
“We are all learning to sing a new song at the moment. As we do,
may we find encouragement and hope for each new day.”
The programme is available to listen to again at the following
link, with Ms Hall appearing at the 1hr 22 minute mark here.
supports Covid vaccination programme
Primus, the Most Rev Mark Strange, has signed a joint statement
with Faith Leaders from across Scotland in support of the Covid-19
The statement says: “We faith leaders in Scotland understand the
difficulty that our communities are facing during this pandemic. We
urge all faith communities to take measures that will ensure their
safety and the safety of others. Furthermore, we support the
Covid-19 vaccination programme across the community and we
encourage people to be vaccinated so that they keep themselves and
their neighbours safe.”
The full list of signatories can be found here.
Meanwhile, the Primus was also one of the joint signatories to an
interfaith statement in support of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition
of Nuclear Weapons, although this time as the Most Rev Mark
Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness, rather than as Primus
or on behalf of the College of Bishops.
The UN Treaty came into legal force on 22 January 2021. It
prohibits signatories from taking part in any activities involving
nuclear weapons, including possessing, transferring, using, or
encouraging use of nuclear weapons.
As part of the joint statement, Bishop Mark appears in a short
video produced to demonstrate how people of diverse faiths in the
United Kingdom welcome the treaty and share a common goal of a more
peaceful world, which can be viewed here.
Later on the same day, Bishop Mark addressed an online peace vigil
held by Pax Christi Scotland, part of a global movement which
promotes peace, respect of human rights, justice and
He was joined by the Very Rev Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the
Church of Scotland, Bishop William Nolan of the Roman Catholic
Diocese of Galloway, and Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer, a
member of the cross-party anti-nuclear group in the House of Lords.
The vigil contains a powerful personal reflection from Bishop Mark
about his fear of nuclear war as a child and then a teenager, which
starts at the 28-minute mark on this link.
SEC in the
The coming of spring and the hope that it brings during these difficult
days is the theme of the Rt Rev Anne Dyer’s monthly column in the Press & Journal newspaper.
The Bishop of Aberdeen & Orkney talks about green shoots
visible in the frozen ground, and the new life coming that is
entirely beyond our control.
“If ever there was a time when hope is needed, surely it is now,”
writes Bishop Anne. “For those of us for whom belief and
spirituality are important, then our hopes are rooted in the saying
of our prayers and believing in a higher power who loves us.
“For others it might mean looking on the bright side, seeing the
best in any situation, being especially thankful for the words and
actions of others which build harmony and peace.
“Hope is a precious thing, not something that we can grasp with our
hands, but something more ephemeral. It has to be protected and
She concludes: “The tiny green shoots in my garden tell me that
hope starts small and grows. The blossoming of a garden suggests
that lots of tiny hopes build together into a force that moves people
forward towards a better future.
“The occasional blue skies and sun on my face, even in Aberdeen in
January, cause me to look up expectant of good days not too far
“I can’t help it, I am hopeful.”
The full article can be read here.
& Journal also carried a news report update on the
temporary closure of St Andrew’s Cathedral in Aberdeen, which can
be read here.
Elsewhere, the Aberdeen
Evening Express and the Inverness Courier picked up on
the joint call by faith leaders in Scotland, including the SEC, for
people across the country to accept the offer of a coronavirus
vaccine. The story can be read here and here.
Courier also reported on the decision at General
Synod to back a motion which paves the way to a commitment to
achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2030, while also reporting
on the Primus’ charge. The report is here.
In Fife, The Courier reported on St Lukes Scottish Episcopal Church
in Auchmuty, Glenrothes, presenting its local primary school with
50 new computer tablets, as shown above.
“Church elders at St Lukes Scottish Episcopal Church in Auchmuty,
Glenrothes, made the offer to Warout Primary School to help with
blended and home learning for pupils,” said the report.
“The donation is part of a larger partnership planned between the
church and school to support young children’s learning.
“It comes as a £380,000 refurbishment of the church, one of the
oldest in the former New Town, nears completion.”
The full story can be read here.
Committee seeks new recruits
The SEC’s Investment Committee is looking for a convener and two
new members as it seeks to return to full complement in 2021.
The Committee is responsible for overseeing the performance of the
SEC Unit Trust Pool. It meets two or three times a year with the
Church’s Fund Managers to review performance and to discuss matters
of policy. Membership of the Committee is suited to individuals
with an active involvement in the investment industry.
Anyone interested in volunteering, or looking for more details, is
encouraged to contact GSO officer Daphne Audsley by email at DaphneA@scotland.anglican.org
Meanwhile, there are no committee reports to bring to readers in this
edition of Inspires Online, but there will be an account of the
January meeting of Standing Committee in the February edition.
project to give people across Scotland an opportunity to remember,
to tell stories, to celebrate and to reminisce about people we love
who have died led to a creative project in Forfar which culminated
in the production of a short film and a video conference.
The pilot project was part of, and funded by, the To Absent Friends Festival.
St John’s Episcopal Church was approached by Angus Health and
Social Care Partnership (HSCP) to consider becoming involved in a
bid to encourage more openness about death, dying and bereavement.
“Clearly this is shared by faith communities and a range of community
organisations,” says the Rev Elaine Garman, Rector of St John’s.
“As a church community we were really interested and liaised with
the HSCP on behalf of Forfar Action of Churches Together. We
decided to invite people to contribute something in word or voice
as we could not meet face-to-face during the pandemic restrictions.
“But we wanted to add more to it and decided to involve Angus
Creative Minds, a not-for-profit centre with the focus of using
creativity to benefit health and wellbeing. They interpreted the
individual stories in visual form and created a short film. We then
invited the contributors and others to an online video-conference
event, facilitated by the Rector of St John’s, to view and discuss
“The evaluation was extremely positive from participants,
contributors and artists alike. Using local artists and listening
to their feedback on the sense of privilege and responsibility of
interpreting personal stories reinforced for those who were
participating in the video conference a wonderful sense of hope and
community. We plan to extend the event across Angus next year.”
The film produced through the collaboration of Forfar Action of
Churches Together, Angus Health and Social Care Partnership and
Angus Creative Minds can be viewed here.
Our photo shows, left to right, Elaine Colville, Senior Nurse
for Palliative Care, Angus Health and Social Care Partnership,
Sheila Newcombe, Angus Creative Minds, and Rev Elaine Garman,
Rector, St John’s, Forfar.
Liturgy in Conversation
Ian Paton will be one of the guest speakers at an online
conference, ‘Responding to the Sacred: Gender and Liturgy in
Conversation’ in April this year.
The free event on Facebook and YouTube will feature a new panel
discussion each day from 12 to 16 April, culminating in a plenary
session and act of worship on Saturday 17 April.
Organisers say: “Taking in a wide range of perspectives, our
speakers will discuss issues in the field of gender and liturgy, in
the context of liturgical reform beginning within the Scottish
Speakers include: Bishop Ian Paton (SEC), Merete Thommassen
(University of Oslo), Bill Paterson (MindfulnessFife), Leon van
Ommen (SEC, University of Aberdeen), Bridget Nichols (Church of
Ireland Theological Institute, Dublin), David Jasper (SEC,
University of Glasgow), Lisa Isherwood (University of Winchester),
and Beverly Clack (Oxford Brookes University).
For more information visit here.
Covid-19 plague weighs heavy upon us, writes Rev Dr Michael Hull, Director of
Studies at the Scottish Episcopal Institute, pictured right.
As 2020 passed into 2021, New Year’s celebrations, if they occurred
at all, were muted. Many of us had already begun to experience
temporal disorientation: one day rolled into another with little
differentiation. We were caught unawares by this plague last year;
we’d come to think it’d be long over by 2021; but it drags on.
Though an end may be in sight with vaccines, its variants and
mutations push the goal posts farther and farther away. We ask with
the Psalmist: ‘How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?’
It’s been far too long already. Not only has this pandemic cast
into sharp relief the fragility of our lives on earth, but also the
futility of looking to ourselves for relief. As the Psalmist says
‘Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in
whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his
earth; in that very day his thoughts perish’ (146.3–4). The fact is
that, on every level, we are doomed without God’s help. To put our
trust in human leadership or ingenuity, to think that now is the
time for nothing more than scientific research and fearsome
endurance, is to miss the mark. This pandemic is wake-up call. In
all its ugliness, this plague starkly reminds us that God alone is
our salvation, that he alone is our defence, that we should trust
in him at all times, and that we should pour out our hearts before
him in prayer (Psalm 62). Not that it wasn’t the case in 2020, or
at any time past, but 2021 is an opportunity for earnest prayer and
‘Prayer’, says St John Damascene, ‘is the ascent of the mind to God
or the beseeching of good from him.’ Our Scottish Book of Common
Prayer provides a prayer for times of sickness: ‘O Almighty and
merciful God, with whom are the issues of life and death: Grant us,
we beseech thee, help and deliverance in this time of grievous
sickness and mortality, and sanctify to us this affliction, that in
our sore distress we may turn our hearts unto thee; through Jesus
Christ our Lord.’ Note the complexity of this prayer: it
acknowledges that life and death are in God’s hand; and, whilst at
the same time asking for deliverance and acknowledging distress,
the prayer asks God’s help in turning our hearts to him. The
prayer, in other words, recognises that hardship is an occasion for
Were we to make this prayer our own and a staple of our devotions
for 2021, grace would comfort us through the present (and ongoing)
suffering. But there is much more to be had. That self-same grace
will abide with us long after the pandemic has passed. It is grace,
and only grace, that imparts the wisdom we need now and in future,
for as St Paul reminds ‘this world is passing away’ (I Corinthians
7.31) and ‘our true citizenship is in heaven’ (Philippians 3.20).
As the world is passing away, so too the pandemic will pass away;
likewise, we shall be on this earth but a little while before we
pass away. We may or may not be better off in terms of our physical
health or material prosperity in the post-pandemic world. And it
really doesn’t matter, because we were made for eternity
(Ecclesiastes 3.11). Yet, if we are better off in terms of
co-operating with God’s grace and valuing divine wisdom, having
prayed fervently for deliverance from the scourges of Covid-19 and
having put our hope in him, then there will have been a silver
lining to the cloud that now overshadows us.
Our Prayer Book also provides a prayer of thanksgiving from
sickness ‘O Lord God, who dost not willingly afflict the children
of men, and in thy mercy has assuaged the grievous sickness that
hath prevailed amongst us: Accept the praise and thanksgiving which
we now offer unto thee for thy great goodness; through Jesus Christ
our Lord.’ There is intuition in these alpha-and-omega prayers: the
first is surely to be answered, which in turn demands the
thanksgiving of the second. I’ve bookmarked both in my Prayer Book,
anticipating the second every time I say the first.
‘How long, O Lord?’, asks the Psalmist, and so do we. In this New
Year, like in no other year, let us lift our minds to God and
beseech his grace and deliverance, lest us ask good from him, ever
mindful that the greatest good to come after deliverance from this
plague will not be our earthly well-being or a return to normal,
but a renewed turn to God.
The January issue of the SEI Newsletter featured the ordinations of
the Rev Harriet Johnston to the priesthood at St James the Less,
Bishopbriggs, and the Rev Liz Crumlish as deacon at St Oswald’s,
Maybole, both by the Rt Rev Kevin Pearson, Bishop of Glasgow and
Galloway. The newsletter also covered the SEI’s online weekend in
December, and the Periodic External Review report. It can be
The February edition will be published on Monday 1 February.
order 2021 Kalendar and Red Book
The latest version of the annual Kalendar of bible readings from
the Scottish Episcopal Church contains all the references for Daily
Prayer readings through the year along with all the holy days.
Following feedback in recent years, it now also includes the
readings for Sunday Eucharists.
The Kalendar is an easy way of finding out which readings should be
read in church or in private devotions and particularly this year
might be useful to people sustaining their spirituality through
daily prayer and bible readings at home.
In addition to the readings the Kalendar contains the Bishops'
Instructions for Fasting, GMT/BST dates, sunrise and sunset times
for Easter, key interfaith dates, a list of those saints' days next
year which are omitted though falling on Sundays and other feast
days and details of the main movable feasts for twenty years ahead.
Copies of the Kalendar, published by the Provost of St Mary's
Cathedral, Glasgow, the Very Rev Kelvin Holdsworth, can be ordered here. The Kalendar is also
available on kindle from Amazon here. (Works better on a tablet
than a phone due to the tabular nature of the information).
Meanwhile, copies of the 2020/21 edition of the Scottish Episcopal
Church Directory, aka The Red Book, are still available.
Each copy ordered costs £9 plus £3.20 for postage and packaging,
subject to possible delay because of lockdown restrictions.
The book has been an annual fixture for over one hundred years,
providing information and details about our churches, clergy and
Back copies of the 2019-20 version are also still available, at the
discounted rate of £6, which is inclusive of postage.
To place an order, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
event: ‘Acting like a Christian’
is acting like a Christian different from acting like everyone
says that everyone will know his disciples by their love. How are
his disciples known in the twenty-first century by that criterion?
Michael Hull, SEI's Director of Studies, will facilitate a
discussion titled 'What does it mean to love like a Christian (John
13.34–35)?' on Monday 22 February, from 7pm to 8pm, on Zoom.
five Monday evenings in Lent, we will consider these
questions," says Rev Dr Hull. "We will look to the
sources of Christian ethics: to God’s revelation in the Bible and
in the world. We will look to constructively critical voices from
scientists, philosophers and theologians. We will try to articulate
principles to guide Christian behaviour as individuals and
communities, to identify what place such principles have in the
public square as opposed to private life, and to develop some
facility to apply such principles to contemporary ethical