Newsletter- 16th May 2021
Last week we borrowed thoughts on elections & democracy from Revd Tom Gordon. This week I share some striking photos and accompanying article by another Church of Scotland minister, Revd Neil Urquhart. Neil is the minister of Irvine: Fullarton and back in 2012 he stayed in the church flat, while attending the London Paralympics, as part of the Games’ chaplaincy team. In the days leading up to Pentecost (Sunday 23rd May) and the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland (22nd – 28th May) Neil offers thoughts and images about change and challenge and where perhaps the Spirit of God is moving.
“Victimised by nostalgia and buffeted by fear, the church is focused too much on merely holding the small plot of ground that it currently occupies to confidently reimagine a robust future.” (Michael Frost – Exiles)
But not only churches feel displaced and disorientated by pandemic pressures. In Easter Ross recently I was struck by the view from Nigg Hill, a good steep climb on a bike! Oil rigs being mothballed or decommissioned are many as our dependency on fossil fuels reduces. However, next door, like giant toothbrush holders, windmill stanchions tower, with turbines and propellers, readying for a windy spot to garner wind power for the national grid.
Myriad redundant oil rigs clogging up the Cromarty Firth reminds me of the countless old church buildings no longer fit for purpose. However, the site of so many massive wind-turbines produced where oil rigs were once traditionally made heartened me.
At the annual Church of Scotland (C of S) General Assembly (22nd – 28th May) the Faith Nurture Forum will recommend that presbyteries must reduce allocated ministers and ministry development staff by 20%. (In the Presbytery of England that would mean from 7.1 to 5.)
Essentially, Covid lockdowns have accelerated church decline. But this is not a time to sink into nostalgia treacle: “I remember when there were hundreds coming through our doors!” or be dazzled or frightened into inertia. This is a time to recognise that the same God, who raised Jesus Christ from the grave, is at work in and around us; to confess our utter inadequacies and inability to go forward without God’s Holy Spirit help; and to allow the eternal gifts of faith, hope and love to energise and enable us to celebrate and share the Good News of Jesus Christ in fresh ways.
This is difficult for a Church, which has largely trained ministers as teachers and shepherds, while the other vital roles of pioneer (apostle), prophet and evangelist (cf. Ephesians 4:11-16) were neglected. It’s tough for churches which lean heavily on a paid person to lead and keep the show on the road and can’t imagine church without their 100+ year old building. A consumerist approach to Christianity, which expects to be entertained and fed from the front, doesn’t grow the kind of Jesus follower ready to die for their faith.
Present Moderator Martin Fair warns us that the present trajectory of the Church of Scotland is extinction by 2035 and calls for a radical re-imagining of church and committed expressions of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Indeed, for a brave new Church to emerge we need a similar revolution to the transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy.
Present Scottish targets for 2030 are to “phase out” new petrol and diesel cars and for renewable energy generation to be 50% of energy demand across electricity, heat and transport; and by 2050 to have decarbonised our energy system almost completely. In my presbytery, (Irvine & Kilmarnock) by 2030, with the help of pioneering mission, we aim to establish a loving, worshipping, witnessing ‘Kingdom of Christ’ community in every locality; growing new alongside existing expressions of church. Aim for nothing and you’ll hit it every time. It’s a prayerful move from self dependency to dependency on The Holy Spirit and interdependency upon fellow followers of Christ. New wind turbines or new wine-skins, as someone put it, “Evangelise or Fossilise!” (The above article appears on the Fullerton Connections website https://www.fullartonconnexions.co.uk/)
Neil certainly gives us food for thought. Please keep those who are preparing for the 2021 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in your prayers – grateful for the tenure of outgoing Moderator, Rt Revd Dr Martin Fair and asking blessing for the incoming Moderator, Rt Hon Lord Wallace of Tankerness QC (Jim Wallace.)
Meanwhile, we look forward to welcoming our young people on Sunday, as Sunday School meets during Morning Service. Whether in the sanctuary or watching/listening from home, I look forward to being together with you on Sunday.
St Andrew’s, Newcastle Opening for Worship
We are delighted that we can welcome back worshipers at Sunday Service at St Andrew’s Newcastle beginning from Sunday 23rd of May. The Sunday of Pentecost feels like a great day to mark that moment.
Update from Out of Lockdown Working Group, Tuesday 11th May
- Numbers & Guidance in church From the 17th May, the rule of six applies indoors (This means up to six people from any
number of households, or two households of any size); outdoors the limit is 30. Weddings, funerals and other life events are now capped at 30 people. We are still required to wear face coverings in the building unless exempt, and to maintain social distancing (the worship guidance says 2m; the Prime Minister says 1m plus mitigating measures). This means that the capacity of the Sanctuary remains at 48 for the time being. It remains that we are not permitted to sing.
- Hospitality We plan to offer coffee etc after the services from Sunday 4th July. We hope to be able to offer lunch on two Sundays a month from 19th September.
- Hall hire More hirers will be able to come back from Monday 17th and enquiries and bookings are being made.
- Pew Cushions It is likely that we can put back the pew cushions in the pews for Sunday 23rd May.
- Sunday School Sunday School will meet during worship on Sunday 16th May & Sunday 27th June. It is hoped that we will offer a congregational picnic to follow the service on Sunday 27th June.
Attending Morning Worship
If you would like to “book a pew” for the service at St Columba’s please contact the Church Office either by telephone, 0207 584 2321 or email,
Live Streaming of Worship
Services can be watched via the church website, https://www.stcolumbas.org.uk/live stream. To access the live stream from the homepage (front page) click the Menu button in the top right-hand side of the page and scroll down and click on “Live Stream”. This will bring up the live stream to the church. The act of worship of approximately 60 minutes, includes include prayers, a sermon and music. (Note: This will not be public worship that everyone can attend, but an offering of prayer and praise, on behalf of us all.) The words for the hymns will be on the website.
We believe it is really important to continue to live stream the Morning Service under its current format i.e. for the benefit of those joining worship from afar or those as yet
unable to make the journey to Pont Street. For those without internet, the Dial-In facility continues. Many people comment that they do have a sense of worshipping together, even if invisible to each other. While current regulation forbids singing in the pews, the live stream strongly recommends singing in the sitting room!
Dial into Sunday Service
If you are aware of church members or friends who do not have access to internet please inform them that they can now phone in to join the Sunday service. No visuals clearly, but at least they can hear the service. Those interested should follow:
Step 1: At 10.40am call phone number 0203 051 2874.
Step 2: You will be prompted to enter a meeting ID. Please type (using your telephone keypad) 266 883 5072#
Step 3: You will then be asked for a participant number - simply press the #.
Step 4: Enjoy the service! You will hear Ben's organ music from 10.50am.
Hymns, Music & Readings, 16th May 2021
Hymn 438 The Head that once was crowned with thorns (St Magnus, Nottingham)
Hymn 444 Out of sight, the Lord has gone (Gentle Jesus)
Hymn 436 Christ triumphant, ever reigning (Guiting Power)
Gospel Reading: Luke 24:44-53
New Testament Reading I: Ephesians 1:15-23
New Testament Reading II: Acts 1:1-11
Anthem: O Lord, the maker of all thing (Mundy)
Organ Postlude: Postlude on ‘Miles Lane’ (Willan)
Contact details; Tel: 020 7584 2321
Facebook: @stcolumbaschurchpontstreet. Twitter: @LondonKirk Pastoral Emergency Number (out of office hours): 07591926271
(Please note that the Church Office will be closed from 12pm on Friday the 28th May to Friday 4th June inclusive)
Maintaining Community and Supporting Each Other
Everybody can play a part in maintaining contact with others via telephone, e-mail or letter, especially those who are particularly vulnerable.
Our Elders are encouraged to make contact with those in their districts, and church members are welcome to contact the church office to request a contact from their elder or the Minister.
Details on the many ways you can support St Columba’s can be found here https://www.stcolumbas.org.uk/giving/supporting-st-columbas
Family Sundays, 16th May & 27th June
The Sunday School team are going to hold two family Sundays on 16th May and 27th June 2021. Children will take part in Sunday School Activities and have a get together in the Upper Hall during the Morning Service. If you would like to book a place, please contact the Church Office.
Christian Aid Week – 10th to 16th May 2021
Due to the current Covid 19 restrictions we are unable to do station collections. We can still be involved and support Christian Aid by making a donation directly to them, via their website or by post.
The focus for this year’s Christian Aid Week is on the terrible effect climate change is having in Kenya, causing dreadful droughts and then occasionally severe flooding. Donations will be used to build more earth dams that will capture and retain fresh rainwater. People are walking miles to fetch water in containers. Lives will be transformed if earth dams could be constructed close to local communities, funding is needed to do that.
Water is such a precious commodity: Every Last Drop.
Click on Donate button for card payments.
Alternatively: Cheques payable to Christian Aid (+ note to say it is for Christian Aid Week) Please post direct to:
Christian Aid Week
35 Lower Marsh Street
London SE1 7RL
Celebrating 75 Years Anniversary: Real people. Real Change.
Thank you for helping some of the world’s poorest people.
Moderator of the Church of Scotland
Outgoing Moderator Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair will present a review of his unusual and challenging year in a special event streamed live from the Assembly Hall from 8-9pm on Wednesday 19 May. For further details please use the following link
The Church of Scotland General Assembly 2021
The Church of Scotland General Assembly for 2021 will be held online for a second year. It will open on Saturday 22 May with commissioners and other attendees joining together remotely from across Scotland, England and around the world. St Columba’s commissioners this year are Elizabeth Fox and Peter Mills. Susan Pym will be in the GA Hall all week in her role as Vice Convener of the Procedure Committee.
On Saturday 22 May, there will be an opening session beginning at 10am, which includes the installation of the Moderator. The former Deputy First Minister in the Scottish Executive and church elder, The Rt Hon Lord Wallace of Tankerness QC (Jim Wallace) will begin his year-long role of ambassador for the Church of Scotland, succeeding the 2020-21 Moderator, Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair.
The Lord High Commissioner is the Sovereign's personal representative to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. The Lord High Commissioner's role is to maintain the relationship between the State and the Church. The appointee attends the General Assembly as an observer, makes an address, and reports to Her Majesty on its proceedings. The tradition of appointing a Lord High Commissioner began in the late 16th century. Her Majesty The Queen has appointed Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge and
Earl of Strathearn, as the Lord High Commissioner to the 2021
General Assembly and he will be attending in person.
The proceedings will be live streamed and available for everyone to watch on the Church of Scotland website
St Columba’s Quiz
Due to the COVID 19 restrictions we were not able to get together for the annual St Columba’s Quiz. So, this year we have taken the quiz online. The quiz is available on the website here
https://www.stcolumbas.org.uk/community-life/quiz-2021 - for the answers please email the Church Office.
St Columba’s Book Club
The next meeting of the St Columba’s Book Club will be the 7th June (via Zoom) at 7pm. This month’s book will be Hamnet by Maggie O’ Farrell.
Meditation, Mind & Body
There are currently two opportunities on offer from Church of Scotland ministers, for those seeking a combination of physical, spiritual and mental health. One from Revd Christopher Rowe, minister of Colston Milton Parish Church, Glasgow and one from
Revd Pauline Steenbergen, a member of the Presbytery of England, living in Cumbria.
Tai Chi with Revd Christopher Rowe
St Columba's friend, Reverend Christopher Rowe runs a weekly, 40-minute Capacitar Tai Chi Class by Zoom, usually at 10am on a Wednesday. (If you want to find out more follow this link http://capacitaruk.org/ ).
He has very kindly extended an invitation to anyone from St Columba's or St Andrew’s, Newcastle who is curious about Tai Chi, or wants to try something different, to join his class and have a go. Traditionally, Tai Chi would not have a commentary, it is just about the movement of the body but Christopher adds his own commentary which makes the experience more like a moving meditation. The sessions are gentle and do not involve violent exercise and if necessary can be done sitting down, although the transference of weight helps posture, balance and flexibility. The benefit of Tai Chi is not purely physical though and many find it helpful in boosting mood and mental health. There are claims that it is helpful for those with Parkinson's disease, osteoarthritis etc. - but the main thing is that for many practitioners it simply makes you feel better. For the Zoom Code please contact the Church Office.
Why not try it out and see for yourself? Christopher would love to see you and, if you are struggling with Facebook or the Zoom technology, contact Lucy in the office who is happy to help.
Maranatha Yoga with Revd Pauline Steenbergen
Maranatha Yoga www.maranathayoga.org.uk is for those who want to explore what it means to connect body, mind and spirit through a combination of yoga postures, mantra and meditation. Blended with Christian Spirituality, Maranatha Yoga is accessible to all, no matter what their beliefs or background. It allows space to explore what it means to connect with all parts of our human experience: our bodies, our emotions, our thoughts and our spiritual selves. A typical Maranatha Yoga class begins with words of welcome to help people relax, set aside their daily worries and focus on the aims of the session. This is followed by a warm-up sequence which celebrates the wonder of our creation. Traditional yoga postures are then practised whilst reflecting on key scriptural texts or prayers, thereby familiarising us with the words and creating within us a deeper understanding of their meaning. The session finishes with a time in silent meditation and a closing prayer.
Pauline Steenbergen has been a Church of Scotland minister for 24 years in parishes, team ministries and as a Locum. She was formerly Hospice Chaplain for 5 years in Eden Valley Hospice and Jigsaw, Cumbria’s Children’s Hospice. She is a Spiritual Director in the Diocese of Carlisle since 2013. Pauline is a Non- Stipendiary Pioneer minster with Cumbria Fresh Expressions in the Diocese of Carlisle and is Maranatha Yoga Team Leader. Pauline is scheduled to speak at our Zoom Coffee morning in June. [See www.limegreenyogi.co.uk for Pauline’s classes on Zoom during the week or also Maranatha Yoga Gatherings on 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month 3.30 – 4.30pm. Free or for donations. Health Questionnaires need to be filled in and submitted before Zoom codes are given out for insurance reasons.]
*Thanks to Pam Thompson for our Christian Aid Tree 2021
For Christian Aid Week: A Tea-time prayer
God of all of life,
waiting for the water to boil
we confess and lament the rise of temperature that has led to a climate crisis
across this beautiful planet.
We wait, impatient for change.
Pouring out hot water
on loose-leaf or tea bag,
into teapot or favourite mug,
we pour out our intercessions f
or a change of heart by politicians
to put planet and people first.
Stirring teabag, leaves or sugar
we ask that you would stir in us
a passion to take action,
to do all we can at this critical hour
to take care of our common home
and amplify the call for climate justice.
Drinking that first satisfying sip
we give thanks for the day
when ‘they will hunger no more,
and thirst no more’*
Infuse us with a strongly brewed vision of your creation, healed and restored. Amen