Creationtide at St. Columba’s

Our theme this year is “Places of Enchantment” – places which people experience as sacred, special or as having a sense of God. After reflecting on Oceans, Forests and Deserts, we move on to Gardens and, finally Cities – how we experience God in the place where we live.

“Think global, act local”

So said our local and eminent Victorian thinker, Patrick Geddes.

Right in the midst of Geddes-country, we have following his advice in a small project called Days for Girls. An ex-member of St Columba’s who is now based in York, showed us how to make sustainable cloth Period Protection kits.

Three years on we have been holding sewing workshops, making up kits in attractive fabrics and sending them in colourful homemade drawstring bags to girls in Malawi. The first lot went out with a local social worker and then we discovered that George Watsons College have a link with a Girls High School in Mangocha.

Last year a school-group went out and have brought back this short film of the Malawi girls receiving our kits. They are happy to be able to attend school for more days of each month.

If the embedded video does not play, click or tap the arrow on the top right-hand side of the video, and it will pop out into a separate window.

Mums and students joined our latest workshop , which was another happy day.

Recently the umbrella-organisation Days for Girls has become rather more a business enterprise so our York colleagues and ourselves will no longer be using that name. We are currently open to suggestions…..

“Sing hey, sing ho: Your Climate targets are too low!”

Following our email and letter-writing lobbying, representatives from our church attended the Climate Change Bill Rally at Holyrood on April 2nd.

Speakers included a 9 year old and a Malawian woman, reminding our politicians that they have the power to affect the lives of children and communities both near and far, and the time to act is NOW.

Something to celebrate…

We have recently been awarded Eco-Congregation Scotland’s Silver Award for “incorporating care for creation as an integral part of its work and worship”.

The award reflects the work we have done to :

  • research energy use and take practical action for example, when our church-lighting reached the end of its lifetime last year, we installed lights which use less than half the energy of the old ones.
  • tend our garden in appropriate ways , composting and encouraging butterflies and opening it as a Quiet garden, as a place of renewal for the public.
  • support the education of girls particularly in Malawi, by making re-usable period-protection kits ( Days for Girls)
  • including Creation in our liturgy.

For more info on Eco Congregations go to

Same-sex marriage

At St Columba’s by the Castle we celebrate the historic decision of the Scottish Episcopal Church to allow same-sex marriages to be conducted by those clergy, and in those churches, wishing to do so.  While we are mindful of the hurt some may feel at this decision, we believe that God affirms and delights in all people, including those who find themselves blessed within a life-giving relationship of love and faithfulness.  The clergy at St Columba’s are now licensed to conduct all marriages equally and we welcome enquiries from both same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

Creation Season

It’s Creation season. This Autumn we’re celebrating “Holy Ground”- after all, we are the church on a volcano!

More information…

Festival Open Church

Featuring Amnesty International Exhibition

Until 26th August, Mondays to Fridays, 10am to 12 noon.

You are welcome to use the Church as a quiet refuge from the festivities and view our Amnesty International Exhibition.

As part of Amnesty’s “I welcome” campaign, the exhibition briefly charts the history of refugees since 1948 up to the present and includes some memorable photographic images.

Quiet Garden Open at St. Columba’s

We are now affiliated the worldwide Quiet Garden Movement. On April 28th we celebrated the opening of our south-facing terrace, with children enthusiastically sprinkling it with holy water (much needed in this driest of springs). As we were about to open the gate some tourists who had seen the new signs at the top of the steps looked in. They were called Carlotta and Andreas from Italy and not only did they become our first visitors they ceremonially unlocked the gate for us!

We hope that the gardens will be open on many days though we will not be able to open when we have private Hall users.  During the Festival period the garden will once more become a Fringe ticket office and café.

Our Rector David has written a prayer for this new aspect of our mission:

A blessing in the rain and sun
The goodness of the Three in One.
A blessing in the flower and tree,
The beauty of the One in Three.
A blessing in the living earth,
The knowledge of creation’s worth.
A blessing in this quiet place
The presence of the God of grace.
On all who wander in and stay
To sit, relax or think or pray
To look for stillness or release
A blessing from the God of Peace.

More information about the Quiet Garden

The Lord’s Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic, which people learnt, chanted and danced to, at February’s ‘StC’s@6’ service

Hosting the Bethany night shelter

Our lovely Hall  is used in many different ways, from ceilidhs and  wedding receptions to conferences and theatre space. This February, it became a temporary nightshelter for 5 nights. Here in Edinburgh The Bethany Trust organises safe “bed and breakfast” for 45 – 60 people every night from October to March. They are brilliant. To make it work they need hall space around the city and so many churches help out.

Being so central we are in a prime position to help and we also know as Christians that we are not just giving but receiving. We should expect to see something of the love of God in those to whom we offer hospitality. We enjoyed meeting the men and women who joined us for the night. There was a camaraderie of mutual support amongst the guests and we were touched by the atmosphere of peace which descended by 10.30 as everyone lay down their weary bodies on their beds.

Thank you to the church volunteers who cooked and cleaned, and to Doneil and Samuel for tidying up. Thank you Justin for your administration of the event. Thank you to the Bethany team for your quiet Christian presence and wisdom in this city. Thank you God for caring about each one of us.