On Sunday January 15, Jenny Paton-Williams was licensed by the Bishop as
a Lay Reader in the Diocese of Edinburgh. Since she and David moved up
from Leeds, Jenny has quietly and sensitively sought the form her Lay
Ministry might take up here, and it is great that she has been affirmed
in her calling. The Bishop charged us: “Will you, the people of God in
this place, support Jenny with your prayers and encouragement for her
ministry among you and in the wider community?” With the help of God, of
course we will, Jenny. You’ll work with grace and care and we are
delighted to welcome you!
That same day we had a different but very welcome cause for celebration.
Depending on how the calendar falls, the second Sunday after Epiphany is
sometimes the Birthday of Gilbert Clark, MBE, a person who doesn’t
believe that he is extraordinary, but who is much treasured both within
the Columban community and further afield. We celebrated his 95th
birthday, which had actually occurred two days earlier. Gilbert’s still
cultivating his allotment, still bringing vegetables to sell to raise
funds for Christian Aid, still haranguing us if we allow ourselves a
short break from singing carols (“they won’t give us any money if we’re
silent”), still attending many meetings, still protesting at injustices.
He keeps us on our toes and it’s hard to keep up with him, bless him.
Words: Val Bland
Pictures: (c) Katherine McHale
Last Friday we held a ceilidh for St Andrewstide. What made it different was that residents from the local homeless hostel were invited as well. Over the years, we have supported the hostel, giving presents at Christmas and Easter, but this was the first time that members of the church and members of the hostel had met together.
We shared music, dancing and food. It wasn’t ‘us’ helping ‘them’ but all of us meeting as equals, and seeing each other as people, with names and stories, rather than just as labels. Hopefully we were all enriched a little by it – as well as having a great evening.
Doors Open weekend saw around 350 people visit our church and garden. In church people could watch a video on the life of Columba, while children (and adults) shared in activities based on the life of St Columba: making coracles out of walnut shells; decorating illuminated letters in a Scriptorium; and making a mural of Columba banishing the monster in the River Ness.
Many people had shared in Doors Open for several years and were keen to visit a new place, and they commented on the simple beauty of the church or the wonderful surprise that is the church garden. Countless conversations with the team of welcomers were shared and refreshments enjoyed.
It has sometimes seemed a long time since we had the quiet pleasure of knowing that Revd Canon David Paton-Williams had been offered, and had accepted, the Rectorship of St Columba’s. However, on Monday April 25th, the day of his Institution finally arrived. The large congregation included visiting clergy, coming to support a fellow priest and also have a gander at him (David’s words). Columbans and lovely friendly folk from Leeds and other places afar off, gathered to give him a heartfelt welcome. The legalities were solemnly pronounced. David was presented with Bible, stole, oil, bread and wine, hymnbook and keys, weighty symbols of our invitation to be proclaimer of the Word, pastor, priest, healer, reconciler, celebrant at the Eucharist, sharer in praising God and extending hospitality. He seemed to undertake this extraordinary job-description with equanimity!
Bishop John uttered thoughtful words in which John Knox was invoked, reminding Scots and English of their similarities and differences of churchmanship. We prayed, exchanged Peace, shared Eucharist – which is surely the point of it all – and were blessed. The music was wonderful: the final verse of the first hymn, accompanied by organ and piano, threatened to raise the roof. The well-rehearsed anthems went well, the words of the David Ogden anthem, “Christ has no Body now but yours”, reminding us all of our vocation.
David and Jenny had been warmly welcomed and the event celebrated with a great party after the service. The was a wonderful beginning, full of joy and hope. Now, continuing in this spirit, we have the task of getting to know each other. We have among us new eyes and ears, insights and experience, to bring us encouragement, to help us move forward and serve God in Edinburgh and the world.
Words: Val Bland
Pictures: (c) Katherine McHale
Last Sunday we said a fond farewell to Mike Fuller, our Interim Pastor, who has guided us through our period of Vacancy with much wisdom and good humour. Mike was presented with a stole featuring the new Columban dove and there was a celebration of Mike’s ministry among us in the hall after the service, aided by delicious home-made cake and a glass of bubbly. Although this was Mike’s last Sunday with us, he remains our Interim Pastor until the Institution of our new Rector, David-Paton Williams on Monday, when we start a new chapter in the life of St. Columba’s by the Castle.
St. Columba’s was transformed into an art gallery on 9th April as we held a picture sale in aid of the Refresh appeal to improve the interior of our church building. A large number of pictures was donated and the sale raised over £600. It was great to have the church open during the day on a Saturday and a steady stream of visitors came in, both to browse the pictures and to find out more about the church. Thanks to all the volunteers who helped to make the event happen.