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For Sunday 5th September 2021, 16th Sunday after Pentecost

Dear All,

I hope this newsletter finds you well having had a wonderful bank holiday weekend.

I am safely back in the hot seat here at St Columba’s after a wonderful weekend in Pembrokeshire- the final visit before Christmas I should imagine. We enjoyed some fantastic weather, paddle boarding around the coast and eating lots of ice cream.

Back to St Columba’s today and we prepare for the schools restarting next week. Knightsbridge School restart a week today and we have our first Hill House assembly since the start of the pandemic also. We are looking forward to the sounds of school children being back in the building. Along with the schools a lot of the groups start for the Autumn Term. We have baby opera, toddler football and baby ballet all to look forward to!

Angus was incredibly prepared before he headed off on holiday and has written this week’s newsletter (attached). There is plenty to read about and as usual a lot going on.

Sending lots of strength to parents preparing for the schools restarting and getting the kids ready to head back (myself being one of the unorganised ones!!).

Take care



One of the features of the pandemic has been a weekly update written by our Session Clerk, Charlotte Bradford, keeping elders up to date with developments in church life. Very often Charlotte has taken the opportunity to share varied and fascinating bits of St Columba’s history. Below is a great example, telling us about the life of John Macvicar Anderson, our first Session Clerk (his portrait hangs in the Kirk Session Room.) I hope you enjoy.

John Macvicar

John Macvicar Anderson was born in Glasgow in 1835. After graduating from the University of Glasgow he moved to London to complete his articles in his uncle's architectural practice, when he presumably joined Crown Court - perhaps his uncle was already a member. He was ordained Elder in 1869, and in 1879 he became Session Clerk.

At the time of his ordination numbers of worshippers at Crown Court were plummeting, from what had once been a flourishing congregation. The area round Crown Court was now one of London's worst slums and the congregation had mostly moved west. John Macvicar Anderson was appointed Session Clerk at the same time that Crown Court's Minister was retiring after forty-seven years, and as Presbytery was reviewing the health of the four London congregations and their buildings and concluding that only one - in Holloway - was fit to continue. They proposed that the congregations of Crown Court and Swallow Street (by Regent Street) be concentrated elsewhere; the fourth, St Andrews Stepney, they also condemned, though it struggled on for some years longer.

At this difficult time the new Clerk persuaded Presbytery that if 'a good man from Scotland' could be found Crown Court should be allowed to continue for a time, with a view of ultimately transferring to the new church, and that is what happened. The 'good man' was the Revd Donald MacLeod, who had already served as Minister for twenty years in churches in Scotland, who was inducted to the charge in June 1881. Within a year a site in Knightsbridge had been found and John Macvicar Anderson (who had also contributed very generously towards the costs of the new building) had been appointed Honorary Architect. The foundation stone was laid in May 1883 and the new church dedicated in March 1884, the Minister, Session and most of the congregation moving to Knightsbridge.

As for Crown Court, Presbytery agreed that contrary to former plans, it could continue as a Mission Church in connection with St Columba's; there was a single Kirk Session with a Crown Court Management Committee. But the following year St Columba's Assistant Minister the Revd Alfred Philip was ordained and inducted as Minister of Crown Court as a separate charge. St Columba's continued to support Crown Court for some years, and John Macvicar Anderson remained a trustee of that congregation until his death.

John Macvicar Anderson had taken over his uncle's architectural practice in 1870. It largely dealt with country houses, though he also designed the Sailors' Home in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), but he was active in charitable work and later on he accepted a wider range of commercial and ecclesiastical business, especially from Scottish clients. He was architect to the Royal Scottish Hospital and the Royal Caledonian Asylum, among others. Apart from the first St Columba's he also designed Christies in King Street (only the facade now remains) and the headquarters of Lloyd's Bank, Coutts and the British Linen Bank in Threadneedle Street, as well as the Headquarters of the London Scottish Regiment in Horseferry Road. The Drill Hall is his:

drill hall

Not content with all this he was an accomplished painter. There are a lot of paintings of the Houses of Parliament from different angles, for example: they were probably still under construction when he came south (this one's interesting because Victoria Tower Gardens hasn't yet been laid out and the space is occupied by wharves):


Charlotte has found his work on a jigsaw puzzle and on a pack of decaffeinated teabags (!)

He was President of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1891-94, when he was described as ‘a President of great personal charm and keen interest in all institute affairs, he [was] among those elected to the Presidency rather on account of his proved service for the Institute rather than pre-eminence in practice…' (Faint praise! But he is now recognised as having 'solid if very conservative merit'). At St Columba's he was described as 'one of the best Scots and Elders that ever served a Church'.

John Macvicar Anderson remained as Clerk to the Session at St Columba's until 1913 and he died two years later.

A remarkable life. My thanks to Charlotte for bringing it into focus. Have a good week.


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, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 3pm on Friday. Booking a place speeds up the test and trace process as you arrive at Church.

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. 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.

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.

Guest Preacher on Sunday 5th September

This Sunday we give a warm welcome to Rev Nigel Robb who leads worship at St Columba’s on Sunday 5th September (11am) while Angus & William are both on leave.

Nigel was educated in Glasgow University (MA and BD) and in Princeton Theological Seminary, USA (ThM and M Th).

He started his career as a Minister as Associate Chaplain of the University of Edinburgh, then went onto Lecturer in Pastoral Theology in Perth Western Australia (Murdoch University) and Practical Theology and Christian Ethics at St Andrews University. Thereafter he was Director of Educational Services of the Board of Ministry of the Church of Scotland, and then Secretary for Worship Doctrine and Church Art and Architecture of Mission and Discipleship Council. In November 2020 he completed a 6.5 year term as Clerk of the Presbytery of St Andrews and is a Fellow of the College of Preachers & Trustee of the Dementia Services Development Trust.

His interests are in theatre, music and travel. I has completed a study of design for dementia in relation to Church buildings in the University of Stirling.

Hymns, Music & Readings, 5th September 2021

Hymn 127 O worship the King, all glorious above (Hanover)
Hymn 622 We sing a love that sets all people free (Woodlands)
Hymn 738 Glorious things of thee are spoken (Austrian Hymn)

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 35: 4-7a
Gospel Reading: St Mark 7: 24-37

Anthem: Jehovah (Purcell)
Musical Interlude: I was glad (Purcell)
Organ Postlude: Fugue in C (Mendelssohn)

Office Hours

Contact details; Tel: 020 7584 2321
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: www.stcolumbas.org.uk
Facebook: @stcolumbaschurchpontstreet. Twitter: @LondonKirk
Pastoral Emergency Number (out of office hours): 07591926271


Congregational Survey and Congregational Conversations

Many thanks to everyone who took the time to respond to the recent congregational survey; we have had approximately one hundred responses, which represents a very good return. This month we will offer a digest of the information and insights offered. In last week’s newsletter I shared one survey response to the question: What elements in our life together, in worship or other activities, would you like to see, either introduced or prioritised?

“Initially, thanksgiving for God's guidance and blessings as we have sailed these unchartered waters. There needs to be space and time for those of us who have had Covid-19 or who have lost family, friends, colleagues and neighbours to the virus. Their healing will need our understanding and patience. It is important that they are not 'left behind' in the eagerness to begin to live normally again.”

Given the impact of the pandemic, past and ongoing, pastorally, it feels important to allow church members to reflect and share a little on their experience. So, the next step is an invitation to join one of the Congregational Conversation groups scheduled for September. The groups will be convened by one of the ministers, accompanied by a member of the Kirk Session. There will be opportunity to attend either in person or via zoom. While the groups may discuss how best the congregation emerges into our new circumstances and our future priorities, the aim is not to be a “strategy meeting”, but to offer some solidarity and deepen the understanding of how others have experienced some difficult and demanding times. Do please consider being part of these conversations on these dates:

Sunday 12th September, 12.30-1.30pm (In person)
Wednesday 15th September 11.30am – 12.30pm (In person)
Friday 17th September 11.30am – 12.30pm (via Zoom)
Tuesday 21 September 6.30 – 7.30pm (via zoom)
Sign up is via the office.

What is collated from the survey and what is shared in the Congregational Conversations will all feed into the Elders’ Away Day (Saturday 25th September) and also help us prepare for the Local Church Review that takes place on the weekend of Saturday 6th & Sunday 7th November. Hopefully, the combination of these initiatives will help us faithfully and prayerfully, make the next steps along the St Columba’s way. The overall response to the survey has been very positive, although there are criticisms and disappointments also expressed. It will be our collective responsibility to try to respond to those concerns.

Sunday 12th September Return of Sunday School & New Youth Group

The current plan for Sunday School (4-9 year olds) is to restart on a monthly basis, with the first gathering at 11am on Sunday the 12th September. In addition, we hope to start a new group for 10-13years olds. Both groups will meet on the same dates and times.

Sunday 12th September, 11am
Sunday 10th October, 11am
Sunday14th November (Remembrance Sunday) 10.45am
Sunday 12th December (3.30pm, Christingle making, pizza family tea & Carols by Candlelight at 5pm)

We are delighted to welcome the return of Sunday School activities and as September 12th is also a baptismal Sunday, with two children being brought for baptism, it promises to be an exuberant Sunday.

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.

Congregational Offerings

Details on the many ways you can support St Columba’s can be found here https://www.stcolumbas.org.uk/giving/supporting-st-columbas

Would anyone wishing to contribute to St Andrew's, Newcastle please contact the Session Clerk on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for bank details or other means of donating.

Happy Hour

Happy Hour’s next session will take place on Wednesday 8 September in the Upper Hall at St Columba’s 6.30pm - 8.30pm. We’ll be joined by our Associate Minister William McLaren who will talk about the history and present day activities of the Waldensian Church in Italy, the oldest of Italy’s protestant churches and now linked with the Methodist church. Light refreshments available, to celebrate our return to social gathering.

All welcome, especially newcomers.

St Columba’s Book Club

The next meeting of the St Columba’s Book Club will be on the 11th October at 7pm. The book for October is Elena Ferrante’s “The Lying Life of Adults”. The wonderful thing about the St Columba’s Book Club is that it is all done via the amazing power of Zoom so you can be comfy on your couch or at your dining room table- no need to provide food or host the book club (they don’t mind if you attend in your PJ’s ☺) and you don’t even have to be based in London! New members always welcome and very much encouraged.


If you would like to leave stamps for Crossreach, please pop them into the Church Office on Sundays.

St Columba’s Coffee Mornings

We are looking forward to welcoming participants back to the St Columba’s virtual coffee mornings from September (note that is will be Afternoon Tea in November). Please pop the below dates in your diary and do let the Church Office know if you would like to attend.

8th September (10.30am) - TBC

13th October (10.30am) - Revd Bola Adamolekun, Church of England Chaplain at Brixton Prison discusses her role at the Prison in what is Prisons Week. Bola will talk about how COVID has affected support to prisoners, the highs and lows of her role and will give further information on Prisons Week.

17th November (2pm) - Revd Camille Cook, Senior Pastor at Georgetown Presbyterian Church in Washington will discuss Thanksgiving and its role within the Church. Camille will be well known to many at St Columba’s so a nice chance to see her again also!

15th December (10.30am)- Revd Dr John McCulloch, Minister St Andrews, Jerusalem & Tiberias will discuss Christmas in the Holy Land.

Glass Door Sleep Out, Friday 1st October

“Give up your bed for the night and help someone find a route out of homelessness.” Glass Door's annual Sleep Out will be taking place on Friday, 1 October 2021. Participants give up their bed for one night to give someone a chance to leave homelessness behind. Find out more and sign up at www.glassdoor.org.uk

This year, Glass Door (which partners with churches to run the UK’s largest open access homeless support network) is encouraging people either to take part remotely or to sign up for one of the limited spaces available at Duke of York Square in Chelsea. Take part as a church team or by yourself. Sleep on your floor or join 200 others at Duke of York Square. Either way, you will be helping someone find a route off the streets.

The charity is expecting more demand on their services as the furlough scheme ends and evictions begin. Glass Door has ambitious plans in place to support people in need this winter, and the funds raised through the Sleep Out will help to ensure they can open their doors to the large number of people expected to need shelter and support.

Registration is FREE but participants are asked to set an ambitious target for their fundraising goal. Every pound you raise can help someone find safe shelter and support to get off the streets for good. Find out more about Glass Door’s plans and how to get involved at www.glassdoor.org.uk or get in touch with This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

ScotsCare Volunteer for Media Working Group

The charity are looking for new members for ScotsCare's Media Working Group (advert attached to newsletter.) This is a voluntary role. Currently the group meets bi-monthly on Zoom, though this might change in the future. The ideal member would have either some press, tv, film experience (with a solid network of contacts) that could help provide additional advice in relation to the communications the charity produces. ScotsCare would be particularly interested in someone with a social media background and/ or a freelance journalist.

read more

Accommodation Help

A Church of Scotland Army Chaplain has been in touch with the Church Office. His son, a recently graduated Quantity Surveyor (aged 24) is looking for lodgings from September to December in London (he has been let down last minute). Does anyone have a spare room and are looking for a lodger or a flat to rent? POC; Tom Kellock, 07580 130677.

Opening Hours

The office is open from
9.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m,
Monday to Friday.

There is a 24-hour answering machine service.

Connect with us

Find us

St Columba’s is located on Pont Street in Knightsbridge in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The Church is within easy reach of three London Underground stations – Knightsbridge (Piccadilly Line), South Kensington (Piccadilly, Circle and District Lines) and Sloane Square (Circle and District Lines).

St. Columba's
Pont Street
London SW1X 0BD
+44 (0)20-7584-2321

Getting here by tube

Knightsbridge Station

Take the Harrods exit if open (front car if coming from the East, rear car if coming from the West). Come up the stairs to street level, carry on keeping Harrods on your right. Turn right into Basil Street. Carry straight on into Walton Place with St Saviour’s Church on your left. At the traffic lights, St Columba’s is to your left across the street. If the Harrods exit is closed, take the Sloane Street exit, turn right into Basil Street. Carry straight on past Harrods with the shop on your right, into Walton Place as before.

South Kensington Station

Come up the stairs out of the station and turn left into the shopping arcade. Turn left again into Pelham Street. At the traffic lights at the end of Pelham Street cross Brompton Road, turn left then immediately right into the narrow street of Draycott Avenue. After just a few yards turn left into Walton Street. Carry on walking up Walton Street until the traffic lights at the corner of Pont Street. Turn right and after a few steps you will be at St Columba’s!

Sloane Square Station

Cross over the square into Sloane Street. Walk along Sloane Street until the traffic lights at the corner of Pont Street. Turn left into Pont Street. St Columba’s will then be in sight.

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