Rector’s letter for July 2021

St James the Less Penicuik and St Mungo West Linton Scottish Episcopal Churches

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

As most of you know, my mum, Grace died on 28th May, and we held her funeral in Buxton on 17th June. I would like to express my thanks for the cards, texts, flowers and other messages I received from you, as well as the prayers for my mum and my sisters and myself as we came to terms with her death and planned her funeral. It is always with a mixture of humility and gratefulness that one is buoyed up by the prayers of others in our times of trial and grieving. I am also thankful for the fact that my mum was able to join in via Zoom at our Sunday services, and was always made to feel welcome by others on Zoom, especially in the post-service breakout rooms.

I took the week following my mum’s funeral as annual leave, and it was good to have time to reflect on her life and allow a gentle grieving process to unfold. The pressure to always be busy and be doing something, rather than just ‘being’, is one I have had to learn to fight against, and that week did have sufficient downtime to ‘be’ and to spend time in quiet prayer and have a sense of God’s presence.

Our journey together through this pandemic continues, with many members of both congregations now double vaccinated. As St Mungo’s is in a Level One area, the congregation is allowed to sing whilst wearing a mask. Unfortunately, at St James the Less, being in a Level Two area, singing is still not allowed. Those who have attended the Sunday and weekday Holy Communion services have been comfortable with the arrangements, with good hygiene practices in place. I am aware that within our congregations each individual will make a personal decision about returning to church services. I hope that our weekday lunchtime Holy Communion services may be a useful route back in to in-person attendance for some, as the numbers attending are less than on a Sunday.

We shall continue to provide live access to the Sunday services using Zoom. In fact, we have submitted grant applications to a Provincial Recovery Fund to enable a better quality and a more flexible set up for live-streaming our services on Zoom. We shall not find out if we have been successful for partial or full funding until September.

Our Sunday evening service, which normally has four hymns in it, accessible via Zoom, is at least one place where you can sing away to well-known hymns.

Midweek Communion services

As mentioned above, midweek said Holy Communion services are held at both St James and St Mungo’s. There is a service each Wednesday at 12.30 pm at St James, and on the first and third Thursdays each month at 12.30 pm at St Mungo’s. Prior registration is preferable, but not essential as we are unlikely to reach the capacity of 26 people in either church for a midweek lunchtime service.

Welcoming Reverend Peter Woodifield

Peter will complete the second year of his curacy at Linlithgow and Bathgate and transfer to St James the Less and St Mungo’s in August. I look forward to working with Peter, and I am sure you will all give him a warm welcome. I will be discussing a revised rota for both churches that should mean we no longer need to have a Holy Communion using Reserved Sacrament once a month in both churches, and there should be less disruption during periods of annual leave.

The Labyrinth at St James

The labyrinth continues to be very popular with many people coming in to the church grounds and spending time walking it. When I occasionally walk the labyrinth and have Jep with me, Jep normally faithfully follows me and walks it too. I am not sure what she makes of it, but it is interesting that she tends not to wander off.

Creation-tide and Eco-congregation Membership

The SEC has developed a new Holy Communion liturgy for the season of Creationtide, which runs for five weeks from the first Sunday in September through to the first Sunday in October, around St Francis’ Day (4th October). We shall use the liturgy and will end the season with our Harvest Festival services on Sunday 3rd October.

Susie Compton and Ben Haynes are the eco-congregation ‘leads’ for St Mungo’s, and they are working together to bring forward ideas and proposals for the Vestry to consider. They are looking into the award scheme, to assess what the church and congregation could engage in to achieve an award and help me enlist people to live a greener lifestyle, and make permanent changes for the better, including leading services during Creationtide and for other specific services. They are likely to also work with St James’ eco-congregation lead to help support and lead projects. Alan Murray has taken on this role for St James the Less.

Sustainable West Linton and District

The five fruit trees (four apple and one plum tree) planted at St Mungo’s are all thriving and have only needed some watering during the driest spell since they were planted. With patience, we may see a fruit next year, although it is normally in the second full year that we are likely to see a small harvest.

The Sustainable West Linton and District meets on the last Thursday of each month at 8 pm. Details are on their Facebook page.

Faith Development

We hold our weekly Bible study at 2pm on a Tuesday afternoon. We are currently reading and studying Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians and then from 17th August we shall be start discussing the Book of Nehemiah. On the 12th October we plan to start a study the first three chapters of the Book of the Revelation to John. This initial part of the book focusses on the messages to the seven churches in Asia Minor (modern day western Turkey). Ruth Aird, who lives in Penicuik, has written a book on these three chapters. She will lead us in a discussion and we shall use her book as a study aid.

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?

The ‘Monday Study Night’ sessions finished before a summer break on 28th June. We had been studying the Creeds. The discussions have been really rewarding. We recommence the sessions on 6th September at 7.30 pm. As mentioned in my May letter, I was considering doing a six-session course called, ‘Well Prepared’, using a structure developed by the Diocese of Oxford. Several people contacted me and said they would be interested in doing this course. Therefore, we shall run this from 6th September, on Zoom. 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.

Faith Development ‘Faith Books’

When we have a fifth Monday 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!).

The next 5th Monday is on 30th August 2021. The book to be discussed is ‘Love Wins’ by Rob Bell. I am willing to lend out my copy of this book if you wish to read it. The other books for 2021 are listed below. That should leave plenty of time to get the books or borrow them from someone or from the library.

Monday 29th November: ‘Cranky, Beautiful Faith’, by Nadia Bolz-Weber

Monday 30th January 2022: ‘The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions’ by Marcus Borg and NT Wright.

Diocesan and CJS Pilgrimages

This year was meant to be a year of pilgrimage. It was my intention to offer a led pilgrimage along El Camino Ingles, from the town of Ferrol to Santiago de Compostela, a distance of c.117km (c. 73 miles) over 6 gentle days of walking. The plan is to use a mixture of hostels (refugios or alberges) and hotels, and for people to walk with their rucksack. I plan to take a maximum of a dozen people. If more than a dozen are interested, I may offer a second week, walking from Santiago de Compostela to Finisterre and Muxia (c. 118km in 5 or 6 days). This pilgrimage is now delayed until 2022. I will need to shortly decide whether to plan for a walk in May or in September 2022. If you are interested please let me know.

On Saturday 24th July at 11.00 am, I am leading a walk for the Confraternity of St James (CSJ – the UK charity that supports people walking El Camino) on the footpath from Penicuik to Rosslyn Chapel and back (c. 7 miles). St James (Sant Iago) saint’s day is 25th July, normally a big feast day in Spain. To be COVID- regulation compliant, we shall walk in groups of no more than eight. Let me know if you wish to join us.

I have been exploring an off-road route from Penicuik to West Linton, to link up St Mungo’s Kirk in Penicuik with St Mungo’s Church in West Linton. The route from Amazondean Farm east of Carlops through to West Linton is easily identified, using footpaths and the Old Roman Road. The route from Penicuik through the Clerk Estate is also easy to trace. Work is needed on the gap in between!

Mid-week Services on Zoom

Our services on a Wednesday evening at 7.30 pm follow the regular pattern of services set out below. They are all on Zoom.

• 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

If you would be interested in helping with these services, please let me know.

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: Inviting Someone to ‘Come to Zoom Church’

As mentioned before, I would like to encourage you to invite a neighbour or someone from within our communities to join us for a service or one of our group sessions. It could not be easier to invite someone you know locally to join us at a one of our Zoom-based services. You can send them an email if you want or pass them the Zoom meeting information. If you invite them to attend an online Sunday service, then do please give them a copy of the liturgy. Let me know their name, so we know to admit them to the service from the virtual waiting room.

In these times, when people may well be considering their life’s purpose and meaning, an invitation to attend a church service or to join a group may be well received.

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.

Maintaining Contact – Email, Social media, YouTube, Zoom, In Touch.

If you have not received an email from me and you have an email address, please can you send an email to me, so I can add it to our contact records. In that way you will get more frequent communications and reduce our postage costs.


At present all of our Sunday services and Wednesday evening services are available on Zoom. All of our faith development activities are held on Zoom. It is easy to set up on computer, tablet or smart phone. Even if you don’t have a smart phone, you can phone in and listen to a service. Details of the Zoom- based services and activities are towards the end of this letter. Zoom enables the active participation by members of the congregation, and it is great to be able to see each other’s faces.

Facebook and Website

Information is put on our Facebook pages and is a place to share information too. The St James website now holds the sermon texts and audio recordings of the bible readings and the sermon from each of the recent Sunday services.

We now have our very own YouTube channel.

If you search for ‘St James and St Mungo’, you will find a number of videos. It includes the playlists for our services, so you can go back and listen to the hymns at a later date. Please do visit it and subscribe to it. With 100 subscriptions we get a formal channel name rather than an anonymous url link below.


In Touch Magazine for St James the Less and St Mungo’s

The next issue is due out in August. 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 by 1st August.

Financial giving to St James the Less or to St Mungo’s

Church finances are feeling the effects of the lockdown, as the amounts normally collected in the offertory plate are obviously not currently being collected. 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.

Praying the Daily Offices

In the Daily Offices prayer booklet circulated in July 2020 there are specific prayers for each day of the month. I recommend these to you, as an aid to your prayer life. If you can’t lay your hands on your prayer diary let me know and I will email out or post another one to you.

Regular Services

Morning and Evening Prayer and the Wednesday evening services continue to be led from my study. 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. Please do consider joining us at 9 am and or 5.30 pm for about half an hour.

Ecumenical Relations and Community Involvement Work

The Penicuik Ministers continue to meet on Zoom for coffee and chat and supportive prayers on a roughly monthly basis.

Another joint service between St Mungo’s and St Andrew’s West Linton was held 13th May with the Whipman and Lass and Whipman and Lass Elects in attendance. Revd Nancy Norman who is covering at St Andrew’s during their vacancy and I led the service.

Once a month the Penicuik Churches Together (PCT) has a joint Sunday evening service. On that Sunday our usual schedule will be adapted so that members can attend the PCT service. St James the Less is hosting the service on 28th November (Advent Sunday)!

The EH26 Resilience Group continues to meet regularly on line. 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. They have been a useful forum to know what is going on and how to access resources, and the longer-term strategic planning for the community around Penicuik.

In Other News…

I am still working my way through Tom Holland’s book, ‘Dominion: The Making of the Western Mind’. I have just been reading about Irenaeus and Polycarp, and I am just about to start a section on Origen. Not a fast read, but fascinating when I do manage to pick it up and read more than a few pages at a time.

The Rectory garden is still very much a work in progress. I have just bought two blueberry bushes and two larger planters to put them in. I am hoping that next year they may provide a reasonable crop of blueberries. My early fruiting gooseberries are developing nicely, and I hope I get to pick some before the birds strip the lot off. Like many of you, the hard frosts in May means much of my planting out was late this year. Spinach is starting to grow well, and my mange tout and broad beans are now in flower.

This completes the round up for now. Do get in contact if you have any comments.


Nick Bowry

Zoom-based Services

We have settled into a regular pattern of services. Details of these are set out below. You can access them by computer, table 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.

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
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+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

Sunday Evening Services at 6.30 pm

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Meeting ID: 980 4807 2946 Passcode: 201101
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Wednesday Evening Services at 7.30 pm

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Meeting ID: 963 0384 1875 Password: 040775
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Wednesday Evening Compline at 9 pm

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 953 4545 7224 Password: 040775
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Zoom-based Groups

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’

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.
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

We start these sessions again on 6th September, after the summer break

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’. Nick has intentionally chosen authors whose style of writing is quite different from each other. Some books are classics, some a more modern authors.

The list for 2021 is:
Monday 30th August: ‘Love Wins’ by Rob Bell
Monday 29th November: ‘Cranky, Beautiful Faith’, by Nadia Bolz-Weber Monday 30th January 2022: ‘The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions’ by Marcus Borg and NT Wright.

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 St Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians. 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

Thursdays at 7.30 pm

St Mungo’s House Group

Contact Markie Woodifield for further information.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 853 9671 0553 Passcode: 493913

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