Rector’s letter for November 2021

2nd November 2021

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Rector’s letter for November

The clocks have changed to GMT, and this year, I have managed the transition a bit easier than for the last few years, as Jep didn’t understand the change from BST to GMT and wanted out an hour ‘early’ as I saw it. I am sure others with dogs (dogs seem to have an accurate internal clock), will be finding it hard to adjust to the clock change.

As well as the shift to GMT, the end of October ushers in a period of remembrance. Sunday 31st was Halloween, and our churches reflected that by using the All Saints’ Day theme at our holy communion services. All Saints Day is a time to remember those of faith who helped bring us to faith, who passed on to us their love of God and a desire to follow the teachings of Jesus. In the evening we held a service at St James the Less for All Souls’ Day. It was a time to remember and as the Collect for All Souls’ Day states, ‘to pray for those we love but see no longer’. It is a healthy thing to remember, to feel sad, and for those recently bereaved, to be able to grieve. Formally in our church calendar All Souls’ Day is a time for the ‘Commemoration of the Faithful Departed’.  The 16th century Reformation made many people question why churches pray for the dead. There had been corrupt practices of the church accepting money to say masses and offer other prayers for the dead to speed them through purgatory to be with Jesus in heaven. Purgatory was a piece of ‘dodgy theology’; there is no mention in the Bible of a place where the dead go who need a period (determined by how bad one had been) of punishment and reforming before being admitted to heaven. There was a Chantry Chapel in the village next to the one I was brought up in, and it was built and financed by a wealthy family who would have also paid for prayers to be said on a regular basis for their loved ones who had died. Our prayers for the faithful departed are not about asking that they been put in the fast lane through purgatory, but they are prayers of thanks for all they gave us, and prayers that they may be at rest in the presence of our Lord.

After the All Souls’ service we had some refreshments, and fourteen of us gathered back in church for the service of Night Prayer, also called Compline. It was the first time I have offered this in church and also offering this as a sung service rather than the said version we use each Wednesday night online. The immediate feedback I have received was that people enjoyed the service, so it may not surprise you to know that we shall hold another Sung Compline service. It will be on Sunday 12th December at 8pm in St James the Less.

It has been good to see a steady return to church, and a sense of feeling safe with the protocols we have in place for reducing the risk of spreading infections.  I have got more used to singing with a mask on in church, and I know many others have to, even if it isn’t optimal. It is certainly better than not singing at all.  If you would like to attend church but are wary of sitting close to others, be assured we can find you a seat with 1m distancing most of the time. Just let me know so we can plan the seating accordingly.

Some people have naturally got out of the habit of Sunday church attendance after over 18 months of disruption due to lockdown and not wishing to be an unwitting carrier of the COVID virus to others. If you have not made it back so far, be assured of a warm (and safe) welcome if you wish to reconnect with our church community and rebuild your habit of church attendance.

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 without needing to wear a mask.

Revd Dr Tony Foley – Induction at St Andrews, West Linton

On a very damp Monday evening in late October it was good to attend St Andrew’s Church of Scotland in West Linton to witness to and welcome Tony Foley as the new minister, for the ‘West Tweeddale’ grouping of churches. I look forward to working with Tony.

Learning New Worship Songs at St Mungo’s

Are you interested in an opportunity to learn/sing a few of the newer worship songs? Chris Shaw is hoping to lead a session at St Mungo’s on Sunday 21 November at 5.00 p.m. The format would be as follows (approximately):

5.00 to 5.30 p.m.    Tea/coffee/juice and cake

5.30 to 6.00 p.m.    Learning and singing

6.00 to 6.20 p.m.    Interlude (more cake?) with exploration of why

‘sing a new song’

6.20 to 6.45 p.m.     Sung worship using the same songs

Diocesan Communications

I am not sure how many people are directly emailed a link to ‘The Communicant’, the Diocesan magazine, published fortnightly on line. There isn’t a print version. The latest issued was on 22nd September.  It has information about activities across the Diocese. If you wish to read The Communicant, you can access it from the following webpage:

Season of Creation and Blessing of Animals

In our season of creation we explored a range of themes around climate change and our personal response based on the Christian understanding of caring for God’s world. On the last weekend I held a Blessing of Animals in West Linton and in Penicuik. The weather wasn’t very kind in West Linton, but thanks to David King’s efforts we managed to put up a gazebo and offer blessings to several dogs and their cold and wet owners as they walked in the rain around the green. The weather was better for the blessing at St James, and I managed to bless a number of dogs, a lovely Shetland sheep and a frog!

 Faith Development

We hold our weekly Bible study at 2pm on a Tuesday afternoon, online. On the 5th October we started a study the first three chapters of the Book of the Revelation to John. This study will take us through to Christmas. 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? I am starting to think about what books of the Bible we may care to study next year. If you wish to suggest a book, please let me know.

Monday Study Night: World Religions, ‘Journey to the Manger’, ‘Expecting Christ’, and ‘The Meaning of Jesus’

Our ‘Monday Study Night’ sessions at 7.00 pm are currently exploring the major faiths in the world. In preparation for Christmas Peter will commence leading a four-week programme following an Advent theme, called ‘Journey to the Manger’, using a book of that title by Paula Gooder. The first session will actually be on Tuesday 30th November at 7.30 pm, then on the following three Mondays (6th, 13th and 20th December).

Starting on 10th January 2022 and going through to 7th February Joy will lead a four-week programme following the York Course ‘Expecting Jesus’.

Starting on 14th and going through to 28th February 2022, we shall explore in detail three of the chapters of ‘The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions’ by Marcus Borg and Tom Wright, the book that we will have reviewed two weeks earlier.

Faith Development ‘Faith Books’

When we have a fifth Monday in the month 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 29th November 2021. The book to be discussed is ‘Cranky, Beautiful Faith’, by Nadia Bolz-Weber.  The books for 2022 are listed below. That should leave plenty of time to get the books or borrow them from someone (including me) or from the library.

  • Monday 31st January 2022: ‘The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions’, by Marcus Borg and NT Wright.
  • Monday 30th May 2022: ‘Generous Justice, How God’s Grace Makes Us Just’, by Timothy Keller.
  • Monday 29th August 2022: ‘In The Shelter: Finding a Home in the World’, by Patrick O’ Tuama
  • Monday 31st October 2022: ‘Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi’, by Ami-Jill Levine.

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 above books.

Diocesan Pilgrimages

The plans for leading the pilgrimage along El Camino Ingles, leaving here on 15th May 2022, are starting to take shape. After some briefings, fourteen people remain interested walking El Camino Ingles and one or two of the fourteen are interested in walking on from Santiago de Compostela to Finisterre and Muxia.

On Saturday 28th May people will walk from various starting points in the Diocese to St Mary’s cathedral. There is a ‘Big Walk’ starting from Roslin, and it would be good if we had representation from both congregations. Let me know if you are interested in joining the Big Walk.

The Diocese is offering a range of different pilgrimages, some short day walks close to home, others can be done from your armchair. There will also be a Diocesan conference early in 2022 on the subject of pilgrimage. Look out for details. The details of the other pilgrimage activities are given in the Diocesan online magazine, ‘The Communicant’ dated 25th August.

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. This service continues throughout August.


If you have a good crop of apples and want to offload some of them then the Carbon Challenge Project in Penicuik would love to take some off you for their apple press, to make some apple juice. As well as the apple press they have a steriliser, so bottles and juice can be sterilised. You could walk away with some of your own sterilised apple juice.

Afghan Refugees

The Midlothian Care for People meetings I attend is where discussions about supporting Afghan families being settled in the EH26 area take place. The first family has been resettled into Midlothian.

Continuing our Mission: Inviting Someone to ‘Come to 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, or to join us in person in church. 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 morning services and Wednesday evening services are available on Zoom, as well as the Daily Offices on weekdays at 9 am and 5.30 pm. All of our faith development activities are held on Zoom.

 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 deadline for content to be submitted for the next issue is 7th November. 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

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 online using Zoom. 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. It is also one of the few times we can hear the psalms being read in more than just a few verses at a time. Please do consider joining us at 9 am and or 5.30 pm for about half an hour, whenever you are able.

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.

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 occasionally. 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, and the Afghan Resettlement Programme meetings.

In Other News…

I finally finished reading Tom Holland’s book, ‘Dominion: The Making of the Western Mind’. It was an enjoyable read, that benefitted being read in longer sessions than trying to read a few pages every day. The next book I picked up to read was called ‘Exit’ by Belinda Bauer, a quirky and funny ‘whodunit’. A quick read that I finished over two days. I am not sure what to select from my ‘to be read’ pile next…

I am looking forward to seeing my elder daughter next week. She assures me she has filled in all the right forms and has proof of vaccinations, so I hope the journeys go smoothly and she arrives in Edinburgh on schedule. Likewise later in the week I hope to collect my younger daughter as well, and have some great time with us all together in one place for the first time in over three years.

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

Blessings 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

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St Mungo, Holy Communion at 10.30 am on Sunday.

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Meeting ID: 934 1719 0423    Passcode: 062021

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 St James the Less, Holy Communion at 10.30 am on Sunday.

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Meeting ID: 920 0219 7798  Password: 040775

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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

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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

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 next 5th Monday is on 29th November, when we shall discuss ‘Cranky, Beautiful Faith’, by Nadia Bolz-Weber

The list for 2022 is:

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

Monday 30th May 2022: ‘Generous Justice, How God’s Grace Makes Us Just’, by Timothy Keller.

Monday 29th August 2022: ‘In The Shelter: Finding a Home in the World’, by Patrick O’ Tuama

Monday 31st October 2022: ‘Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi’, by Ami-Jill Levine.

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 shall start studying the Book of The Revelation to John (first three chapters) on 5th October. 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

St Mungo’s House Group

Thursdays at 7.30 pm

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