Rector’s letter for May 2024

29th April 2024


Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Rector’s letter for May 2024

Personal Notes

My mind is turning to the theme of pilgrimage. Next Monday I head off to walk a section of el Camino del Norte, starting at the French/ Spanish border town of Irun, and hoping to finish in one piece without too many blisters, in Santander thirteen days later. That will complete all of el Camino del Norte for me. In 2016, prior to my ordination I started walking from Santander and headed west to Santiago and then out to the Atlantic coast at Finisterre. The same daily rhythm of walking, companionable silence, meeting a fascinating range of people, eating lovely local food, and sleeping well even in the noisiest of dormitories in a hostel because the kilometres walked each day was good for the mind and soul. It always takes a good few days for the mind to stop its chattering and to be far more present in the moment, and walk with God. The developing cadence of walking and breathing aids meditation and prayer. You may not be surprised to know that sitting still and meditating isn’t quite my thing. I am taking one book to read with me, ‘Water Into Wine’ by Stephen Verney. It is a book that explores John’s Gospel and comes highly recommended to me. I hope it will provide the basis of many hours of reflecting on it as I walk. I will be walking on average about 16 miles a day. Misty isn’t walking with me, about four miles is her limit. She will be residing at home in the Rectory being thoroughly spoilt by my daughter and son-in-law.

And talking of pilgrimage, the latest BBC series following a group of people walking along a pilgrimage route in north Wales finishing at the end of the Llyn Peninsula, near Aberdaron’s St Hywyn’s church was excellent. They could not reach their planned destination of Bardsey Island/ Ynys Enlli, where many Celtic saints are said to be buried, due to rough seas. Several of the pilgrims came out with some deep truths, including one who said that as they cannot reach the destination their pilgrimage will continue. Another noted that it is the journey not the destination that is important. If you wish to view the series of three programmes, you can access them from the link below.

Last week I was privileged to attend my friend Anderson Jeremiah’s consecration as Bishop, in Canterbury Cathedral. Ordained into the Church of South India he came to Edinburgh to study for his PhD. He was the Associate Priest at Christ Church Morningside before going to Lancaster. He is now the Suffragan Bishop of Edmonton in the Diocese of London. It was a lovely celebratory service. The preacher at his consecration, the Very Rev Dr Kelly Brown Douglas is the Canon Theologian of Washington (DC) National Cathedral and Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Seminary. Her sermon was about witness and love and is well worth listening to. The sermon starts at about 41 minutes in. The Archbishop of Canterbury who led the service then travelled on to Rome, where he attended Revd Rob Warren’s church, All Saint’s, on Sunday. The Primates of the Anglican Communion meet in Rome this week.

I led the Mothers’ Union retreat earlier in April on the theme of forgiveness. A book published on Maundy Thursday (‘Unforgiveable? Exploring the Limits of Forgiveness’ by Sue Crosfield’s son-in-law, Stephen Cherry) was one I wanted to include in my preparation. In the week after Easter, I managed to read, and to incorporate some of the issues he raised into the retreat talks. His comments lift the theology of other books I had read into the real-life messiness of most of our lives. I recommend reading it. There is already a waiting list to read my copy. Another book that is very good and also easy to read is ‘The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold path for healing ourselves and our world’ by Desmond and Mpho Tutu.


News and new things happening

The Big Day – Saturday 11th May

Each year there is a diocesan event, held at the Cathedral. The theme of this year’s event is ‘Let Us Pray’.  The idea of the day is for us to pray together as a Diocese and enable people to encounter a range of prayer practices.  As well as prayer and worship altogether, there will be a mix of workshops, alongside individual prayer ‘stations’. If the weather is good, there will be some activities outside in the ground of the cathedral.

Information is available at

Confirmation and Patronal Festival – St James the Less – Sunday 5th May

Bishop John will be coming to St James the Less to confirm Isobel Crease and to share with us in the celebration of our Patronal Festival. Do please come along. It will be a good excuse to invite friends and neighbours to join us. Sandwiches and drinks will be provided. If you are able to come with some fruit or cakes, that would really help. Please pray for Isobel as she prepares for her confirmation.

Whipman and Lass – Sunday 2nd June service

In a break from tradition, rather than holding a service on the afternoon at the end of the week of the West Linton Whipman and Lass, instead, on the opening weekend we shall be holding a joint service with St Andrew’s in the marquee. If you play and instrument, can jiggle a tambourine, or happy to help lead the singing, please let me know.

St Mungo’s Congregational Forum – Saturday 22nd June

After our two congregational conversations facilitated by Place for Hope, we agreed to hold three meetings a year where we can get together as a congregation to continue to listen to each other and share our faith journeys. The first of these sessions will be held on Saturday 22nd June. Please let me know by Friday 24th May if you are able to attend, so we can book an appropriate space. You do not need to have attended the two congregational conversations to join us.

In Other News…

It will be the first anniversary of the death or Rev Dr Neville Suttle on Friday 3rd May. Sometimes it can feel like that was many years ago, and at others it is as if his passing was only yesterday. I am sure that perception of time is not uncommon to others who are grieving the recent loss of a spouse or friend or have a year’s mind or other anniversary related to someone who has died.

In my attempts to get fitter before my pilgrimage I have been getting up earlier, helped by the lighter mornings and on some of them being greeted with dry weather too, to walk four or five miles before Morning Prayer. The hardest part is getting up. Once out, walking, watching and listening the natural world get on with its Spring-like business, makes it all worthwhile. Being in God’s wonderful creation and seeing how it unfolds as the days lengthen is a real privilege and not something to be taken for granted. And in my walking, I have met quite a few people out running, some doing it every day as part of their exercise, but some doing it with the Edinburgh Marathon at the end of May in mind (other distances are available). I have now packed my rucksack ready for next week, and despite using a smaller rucksack there is still some spare space – not that I intend filling it. Keep the weight down is the name of the game.

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 19th May.

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 22nd May.

Whim Hall, Lamancha: We visit Whim Hall Care Centre on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of each month. Our next visit is on 9th May.

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 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 11 on 6th May and will finish the book on 10th June. If you have a subject you would wish us to explore when we resume in mid-August after our break for the summer, please let me know.

 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 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. Please do consider joining us.

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. We are currently planning the Whipman service.

 Diocesan and Provincial Activities

The Provincial Inter-Faith Relations Committee meets on 30th April. I shall be attending via Zoom on this occasion.

 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. Peter is immersed in writing his Master’s dissertation just now, with the submission deadline looming. I am sure we all wish him well in his reading, thinking and writing.


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