The Diocese of Moray, Ross and Caithness held the annual Diocesan Synod at the Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness. The Hotel had pulled out all the stops for us and we had ample room and first class service for the whole day.
The Synod opened with the Eucharist celebrated around the group tables, the singing was excellent. The agenda for the day included reports of Mission, Finance and a presentation on the issues of homelessness in the Highlands. The Synod was also asked to comment on a number of Canons including the Canon on marriage. This is part of the debate on whether the church should change our marriage canon to enable those who wish to conduct marriages for people of both opposite and same gender partnerships. The response from the diocese was a large majority in favour of making the changes.
I preached at the 11.00am service in the Cathedral the following day and then celebrated the Evening Eucharist using the 1929 Scottish Liturgy, three Eucharist and all very different in style, we really can’t be accused of being dull and boring.
On Tuesday, I had a day of pastoral meetings and it was really good to catch up with a number of people and to listen to what was happening to them. The day concluded with a meeting of the Cathedral Vestry and it was a really positive meeting with lots of fresh confidence and new ideas. That theme continued on Wednesday when I had a planning day with the Vice Provost, we discussed so many things and sorted out many glitches, a really useful day.
Back on the train to Edinburgh, this time for a meeting of the Common Calling group. This was set up between ourselves and the Church of Scotland as a way of restarting serious conversations and study on what we can do together, what is our Common Calling. It was a good meeting with lots of questions, comments, ideas and challenges flying around the room. I had a few minutes away from this conversation as I was need to be checked as a suitable ‘voice’ for a talk over video on the church, it seemed to go okay!
The journey home became yet another meeting as Louise the Diocesan Treasure and Douglas my PA were also on the train and we had lots to talk about, not least the running of our latest building “The Crask Inn”. The train was very late in so it was a very tired bishop who eventually got back to Arpafeelie.
Friday was St Patricks day and I celebrated at both of the Eucharists at the Cathedral. The second service was in the evening and is part of a fresh initiative in the Cathedral. We are marking with a special service all the Saints named in the choir stalls. Each stall for the Canons and others is named after a local saint and it is good to remember them and to pray for those who sit in each of the stalls also.
Saturday was a day the East of the Diocese had been waiting a long time for. I enjoyed going to License a new Priest in Charge for the Isla Deveron Group, which consists of St Marnan’s, Aberchirder, Christchurch, Huntly and Holy Trinity, Keith, and the Charge of Gordon Chapel, Fochabers.
Rev. Michael Last has joined us from the Litchfield Diocese and has also had experience of working in the Anglican Church of Canada. Michael and his wife Rebecca are now settling into the Rectory in Keith after a splendid service and a wonderful buffet.
Jane and myself then headed up to Glenlivet for an evening at Blairfindy before heading back down the glen to Dufftown where I led the worship on Sunday morning. Our tiny church of St Michael’s was warm and inviting and we had visitors from Staffordshire who had come up from Michael’s previous parish. They had been at the service in Keith but were staying in Dufftown and decided to listen to me preach again! fortunately I had a different sermon!!