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November 2017

Moderatorial Visit to Rome

Photo courtesy Vatican News Service


The Rt Rev Dr Derek Browning, accompanied by Anne Mulligan DCS, Dr George Whyte and Dr John L McPake, was invited to attend a Private Audience with his Holiness Pope Francis in the Vatican City on Thursday, 26 October. During the Audience, Pope Francis stated: 


I have learned that the emblem of the Church of Scotland depicts the burning bush before which Moses encountered the living God. I am struck by the fact that in this great biblical text the Lord calls himself by a name that will echo down the centuries: “the God of your fathers” (Ex 3:15). In this way, he calls us too, as sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, to enter into a history of prior relationships and to live the life of faith not as isolated individuals and in theory, but within a concrete community, a “we”. For no one becomes a Christian by himself and no one can live as a Christian without others. We belong to the family of believers, of so many of our brothers and sisters who have begun to walk in newness of life through Baptism (cf. Rm 6: 4) and who accompany us along that same path.  


During the visit to Rome, Dr Browning also met with the St Andrew’s Church of Scotland congregation in the city as well as with representatives of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI). The opportunity to hear something of the work of the “Mediterranean Hope” project supported by the Church of Scotland offered an important insight into the challenge of caring for those whose lives have been endangered in crossing the waters of the Mediterranean to reach Europe.  Alongside this, Dr Browning visited the Scots College where priests for the Catholic Church in Scotland are trained as well as meeting with Sally Axworthy, HM Ambassador to the Holy See. Further, an opportunity to meet with representatives of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity provided a helpful exchange of views on the future shape of ecumenism as did an ecumenical dinner hosted by the Ambassador and attended by Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, Representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome.  


Dr John McPake said:  ‘To meet with Pope Francis is to meet with someone who is profoundly conscious of the challenge that we all face in bearing witness to the Christian faith in our contemporary world.  His words to us, and to the wider membership of the Church of Scotland, are worthy of reflection.’  

Conference of European Churches General Assembly and Stewards Programme

The General Assembly of the Conference of European Churches is to be held in Novi Sad, Serbia, from 31 May to 6 June 2018.  The theme will be reflected through three biblical key words that express CEC's approach to the current economical challenges in Europe:  Witness, Justice, Hospitality.  The Church of Scotland is sending two representatives.


CEC is encouraging young people and there will be a substantial stewards' programme.  Young people are asked to apply for the stewards' programme through CEC's General Assembly web site.

Commemoration of 500 years of Reformation

The Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Protestant Church in Germany (EKD) held an event in he Chapel for Europe, Brussels on 10 October 2017 entitled Europe in troubled waters... Reformation and Reform in Europe today. Mr Jerzy Buzek, MEP and former President of the European Parliament, was the keynote speaker. The Convener of the Ecumenical Relations Committee of the Church of Scotland, and a member of the CEC Governing Board, Rev Alison McDonald (pictured), was a member of the discussion panel. In her speech, she said that "The Reformation was a movement of the Word: the Word of God liberated from ancient language only understood by a few and translated into common speech; the Word preached to people who were expected to listen and engage with its message; the Word no longer the preserve of the ordained but put into the hands of people, educated to read it for themselves."

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

The WPCU material for 2018 ‘That All May Be Free’ has been produced in the Caribbean and uses Exodus 15, a song of triumph over oppression, as the theme of the Week of Prayer which is traditionally observed from 18-25 January.  Resources can be downloaded from the Churches Together in Britain and Ireland web site.

Review of Churches Together in England

CTE’s Board took the decision to fund research by the think tank, Theos, into the current state of ecumenism in England and have now produced a report entitled That they all may be one: Insights into Churches Together in England and contemporary ecumenism.  Further information and a PDF copy of the report can be downloaded from CTE's web site.

Conference - Reform and Unity: An Exploration of Semper Reformanda

The Joint Commission on Doctrine (Church of Scotland/Roman Catholic Church in Scotland) and the Scottish Episcopal Church are hosting a conference on 8 March 2018 in the City of Edinburgh Methodist Church, Nicolson Square, Edinburgh. 


The Conference will focus on the theme of “Reform and Unity” as experienced historically and in the contemporary life of the churches in Scotland. We will begin with the historical perspective on the impact of the Lutheran Reformation in Scotland and then consider how the theme of Semper Reformanda informs the life of the Church today.



Jane Dawson - John Laing Professor Emerita of Reformation History, University of Edinburgh: What was that German heresy anyway? : The Scottish perspective, 1517-60

Rev Dr Stephen Holmes, Associate Rector, St John’s Episcopal Church, Edinburgh: How worship was understood in the 16th century

Rev Canon Ian Paton, Rector, Old St Paul’s, Edinburgh: The future shape of worship

Rev Dr Lindsay Schluter, Parish Minister and member of the Joint Commission on Doctrine: 500 years later in Coatbridge: Justification and Sacramentality - the Christian community as an agent for justice


The Conference is free of charge and registration is through Eventbrite.

Community of Protestant Churches in Europe Song Contest

The Community of Protestant Churches in Europe ran a song contest to commemorate the anniversary of the Reformation.  The top entries have been published (in German and English)  in a special pamphlet which can be downloaded here.

Ballater Churches Together

Churches Together in Ballater comprise of St Kentigern's Scottish Episcopal Church, St Nathalan's Roman Catholic Church, and Glenmuick Parish Church. The Churches have a long history of working together, but as Ballater Churches Together they wanted to take this unity in Christ further than the joint services they held together. To this end, where there was any opportunity to celebrate together, they do.


The first was to come together and provide a community nativity scene for the village. With the three churches coming together, along with the community, the donations soon came in and within two months they had their Nativity scene. Each piece was carved from a 150 year-old birch tree trunk, over 6 feet tall and weighing weight 3/4 ton each. Placed on each statue is a plaque, where every child from the local primary school engraved their names . During the terrible floods of 2015, these statues were proven to be a beacon of hope for the whole community.  

The Rt Rev Dr Robert (Bob) Gillies, with Rev David Barr and Rev Vittoria Hancock after the Ballater Churches Together joint service 2016


Another  Ballater Churches Together initiative is the Ballater Duck Festival Joint Service where, once again, the community and the churches come together to have fun and raise funds for local charities. After a joint service, the Rt Rev Dr Robert Gillies, the Bishop of Aberdeen & Orkney from the Scottish Episcopal Church, started the race, with members of all three churches and the community looking on.


Glenmuick church was blessed to offer up their church to St Nathalan's Roman Catholic Church for the Wedding Mass of Miss Catherine Hazley and Mr Andrew Forbes. In a conversation with Catherine's mum, Josephine, Rev David Barr, found out that a very large number of family members were coming over from Ireland and Josephine was worried that because St Nathalan's Church was small and would not hold everyone.

(Permission to use Photo, courtesy of Logan Sangster Photography)


On consulting with Fr Chris Brannan, Glenmuick Parish Church was pleased to offer the church building to Fr Chris Brannan to hold a full Wedding Mass. Also on the day, the Ecumenical Churches Choir, "The Ballateers", a choir made up of singers from members of all three churches and also non-church members, who go to each church and perform during worship, sang at the wedding.


(Article provided by Rev David Barr of Glenmuick Parish Church)

Reformation Day Service in St Andrews

An Ecumenical Service to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation  was held in Holy Trinity Parish Church in St Andrews on the evening of 31 October 2017. The Right Rev Dr Rowan Williams, former Archbiship of Canterbury, was guest preacher at the Service which was organised by nine local congregations in conjunction with the University of St Andrews. 


St Andrews is the only place in the UK to be officially designated as a “City of the Reformation” by the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe, who are leading the anniversary celebrations. 


Rev Alison McDonald, Convener of the Church of Scotland’s Ecumenical Relations Committee, Rev Dr John McPake, Ecumenical Officer and Rev Dr George Whyte, Principal Clerk, all attended the service.  


Mrs McDonald said: “I'm delighted that this important anniversary is being marked ecumenically in services in Scotland and across Europe. “It is significant that an anniversary of historic church division has become a focus for reconciliation and for affirming our common calling as Christians.” Four early Reformers were put to death for their beliefs in the city. They include the first Scottish Protestant martyr, 24-year-old Patrick Hamilton, in 1527 and the last, 88-year-old Walter Milne, in 1558. They are remembered with the Martyrs’ Monument which overlooks the sea. John Knox was educated at the University of St Andrews and was a preacher to the Protestant nobles who took over the former bishops’ palace in the Castle.

St Andrew's Vigil 2017



Celebrate Scotland’s National Day on Wednesday, 29 November at 7 pm in Our Lady of Lourdes Church, 51 Lourdes Avenue, Cardonald G52 3QU.  Music will be led by the St Mungo singers ensemble and harp with pupils from St Andrew’s Secondary School. Refreshments will be available aftger the event.  All are welcome.