Winter and Spring in the Diocese

May 18, 2019

I returned to the Diocese in time to lead the services at the Cathedral on the 16th December, it is always good to be back in the place that does so much to sustain my spiritual life, it is also good to catch up with friends.
The following week found me in a number of places across the Diocese, meetings in Nairn, Dalwhinnie, Inverness and the Blackisle, these were meetings to catch up with people and to call into the local communities. The week ended with the annual Cathedral Christingle Service, this year we also had a pop up nativity, a few very fine costumes were visible in the congregation.
On the 23rd December we joined the congregation at St Columba’s, Nairn for their Carol Service and Eucharist, a whole church full of people in Christmas jumpers, including the choir and the Rector! In the evening the Cathedral was full for the Carol Service with the choir singing beautifully.
We drove through to Elgin on Christmas Eve to join the congregation at Holy Trinity for Midnight Mass, this was exactly ten years since I last celebrated in Elgin at Midnight Mass, it was lovely to be there. On Christmas morning the whole family attended the Cathedral and then joined those who had gathered for the community Christmas Dinner in the Cathedral Hall. On the Sunday I celebrated at Arpafeelie and then invited the congregation back to the house for a festive gathering.
Following the Epiphany I was back on the train to the South but got back in time to be at the Cathedral on Sunday 13th and then spent the whole of the following week in meetings in Elgin, Inverness and Aberlour. On the Sunday we joined the congregation at St Mary In The Fields, Culloden both for the service and for a congregational meeting.
The following week fell into the pattern that seems to develop often, the first part of the week away and then diocesan activities over the 2nd half, this week I returned North in time to attend a funeral in St John’s, Forres, a days meeting with the Incumbents and the Cathedral Burns Supper, the week ended with me driving to an Institution on Lindisfarne where Canon Sarah Hills, one of our Honorary Canons became the Vicar of the Island.
I returned home on the Friday and drove to The Crask on Saturday to preside at the Eucharist, this bishop led service now takes place on a 1st Saturday evening each month at 5.00pm. We often then stay over and join a northern Congregation on the Sunday, but this week I had Confirmations in Elgin, eight young people all making their promises. The following week was complicated, I was in Edinburgh but I returned home in the middle so that I could go to Gordonstoun School for their Confirmation Service, twelve further young people making their promises, excellent. The week finished with a trip to Caithness to lead the worship in both Thurso and Wick and to lead a Eucharistic Ministers meeting on Sunday afternoon.
We have now reached the 11th February and I had some pastoral meetings in the diocese on the 11th and 12th before flying down to London for a day of Provincial meetings and then on the 15th we flew to Kenya for a retreat with the African Primates and their Spouses, but that was provincial business and this is about the Diocese, so look at my Primus page to follow that story. In fact from the 15th February to the 1st March I was on Provincial business in Kenya, Edinburgh, Glasgow and a Regional Primates meeting in Armagh! I got home in time for the Diocesan Synod on the 2nd March.
The first week in March saw me in Elgin for a Baptism and then for two days of interviews, the meetings concluded with a decision of the Vestry to appoint Rev Tembu Rongong as the new Priest in Elgin and Lossiemouth, he will be Licensed in June. On Thursday I caught the train to Aberdeen to attend my first meeting of the University Business Committee, remarkably the man I sat next to turned out to have been brought up in the Rectory at Arpafeelie and to have attended the school next door, he and his sister will come and visit in the summer. I returned home via Glasgow and was in the Cathedral on Sunday for the Confirmation of three Candidates, Kaitlyn, Malachi & Sara.
The 11th March until the 22nd March was hectic, time in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Edinburgh again and then Coatbridge and in the middle a visit to the Highlands by the Our Common Calling group, the conversations that we are having with the Church of Scotland. I drove them all in a minis bus from Inverness and around Ross-Shire and Sutherland , stopping at The Crask for lunch. I love showing people around the Diocese, it helps me realise just how wonderful our land is. I also had the pleasure of spending time with the Diocesan Lay Readers at their quiet day at Arpafeelie.
Jane had also been away during the week, at the Abernethy Centre, she was with her class from Bishop Eden’s Primary School on their activity week, she got home on Friday and slept in the car on Saturday, all the way to Thurso.
The following week was a home week and I visited Huntly and Aberlour, held a meeting in the hall at St Michael’s, Inverness and met in the office with a number of clergy and diocesan officials. I was also delighted to attend the enrolment of the new Cathedral Beaver Scout Colony which led on to me being invited back into uniform as part of the Regional structure. I suspect I will need a new shirt with a bit more room in it!! The following week I had a few days on retreat at The Crask and finished my visit with the monthly Saturday Eucharist and a great Ceilidh. We set off at lunchtime on Sunday and drove to Kishorn for a congregational meeting of the South West Churches concluding with Evensong.
Off to Edinburgh on the 8th April and then we flew out to the Holy Land for a Pre-Easter Visit, again a Provincial Visit during which I preached in St Georges Cathedral, Jerusalem. We returned home in time for the Chrism Mass on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday in St Michael and All Angels, Inverness, Easter Vigil at the Cathedral and Easter services in Inverness and in Lochinver. Easter week saw me in Caithness, leading a memorial service in Inverness and then back down to Glasgow and the beginning of the next Electoral process for the Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway.
This concludes my blog for the period Christmas to Easter. Can I take this opportunity to thank all those who provide sustenance at the many meetings and during our journeys, my thanks especial thanks to those who provided the resources to allow us to attend the meetings across the Communion, faithful friends whose fellowship and support we value.