From the Rector

Dear friends,

I write this with the sun shining and a lot of hope in the air for the Scottish football team in their match against England. Not only by the time you read this, but a few hours after I send it off to Margaret, we will know whether this hope was well placed!

It is a bit like how things are with the current state of Covid-19 restrictions, and the disease itself. It is an ever-changing situation and we are all trying to respond as best we can. The Vestry and I are monitoring things and we will keep you updated on questions like, ‘can we sing?’ or ‘can we have the summer barbeque?’.

One good consequence of the crisis is that a small group of us still meets each week on Zoom to pray together. We pray the psalms and readings of Scottish Episcopal Daily Prayer and have a time of free prayer which sometimes becomes a glorious oasis of silence. It is at 5 p.m. on Thursdays; let me know if you would like to join us.

One thing I will be glad to be rid of is big Church meetings on Zoom. I attended my second online General Synod in June and, while it was good to see old friends on screen, it was not a good way of doing business. However, among the motions passed were: a commitment to making the Church carbon neutral by 2030; the first approval of a new edition of the 1982 Scottish Liturgy which we use for services at Holy Cross; a series of personnel policies including a recommendation that clergy take two days off a week; a document commending friendship with the Church of Scotland, while recognising we are not in full communion; and a decision to elect bishops by a large electoral synod, with representatives from all churches in the diocese rather than by a smaller group. Despite being Zoomed out, it was a privilege to be part of a healthy Church that is responding to the needs of the times.

During the lockdowns, it became clear to me how important our buildings are at Holy Cross. The church speaks of God, of community and of memories, and many of us miss it when we can’t be there. The hall also carries memories, and without the income it generates we could not continue our current way of life as a congregation. As the heart of our faith is God becoming human and giving new value to material things, it is not surprising that buildings are part of our religion – but it is also not surprising that Christianity makes all buildings provisional and secondary to our true home in God’s Temple in heaven.

This congregation must continue to look after our buildings, continuing the good work of the stonework project and installation of the new heating system. We therefore need people to join a small committee to work with someone from the diocesan buildings committee to do this. You don’t need to be an architect, just to have a talent for organisation, and the work will not be burdensome. Let me know if you might be interested – it is a good way of serving our community!

One of the best books I have read this year is Tom Holland’s Dominion, which shows that Christianity is at the root of all the enduring values of Western culture. It also shows that Christianity is not just a ‘Western’ religion – it has roots all over the world. I was thus pleased to see, in the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland’s book on the architecture of Edinburgh, a description of Holy Cross Church as ‘a whiff of Armenia’! A building here, in a rather Scottish Romanesque style, but recalling the Christian East and looking out from Davidson’s Mains to the wider world.

May we be a community that shares the love of Christ with our neighbours, grows in faith and numbers, and reaches out to the wider world as we recently did in raising money for the Christian hospital in India.

Every blessing to you and your family, may you have a happy summer and may our society be able to open up more and more.

With love in Christ,


Photograph, the Oratory at the Rectory.

Read Stephen’s ‘thoughts on liturgy, history and religion’ in his blog

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