St. Columba’s has a long tradition of commitment to our central city area. The founding mission of St. Columba’s in the mid-19th century was to serve the poor in the area and to provide schooling. More recently, with our nearby ecumenical partners, Greyfriars Kirk and Augustine United Church, we support with money and volunteering the major Grassmarket Community Project, which continues the work of the Grassmarket Mission, and aims to nurture self-worth and offer encouragement to those on the fringes of society.
One of the main joint ventures of the three churches of the ecumenical partnership is the weekly offering of soup, sandwiches, and hospitality, something we call Parish Meals.
St. Columba’s maintains a special relationship with Castlecliff Hostel, our close neighbours on Johnston Terrace. Castlecliff provides transitional housing for the homeless as they await permanent housing. St. Columba’s remembers the residents with gifts at Christmas and Easter and provides a practical parting gift to residents as they leave the Hostel for their new permanent home.
Each winter we help prepare and serve food for homeless people at the Bethany Night Shelter. We also provide our Hall free to our local food bank and offer it at reduced rates to others working to support the homeless.
We are an Eco Congregation, having gained a silver award. We see caring for the environment and responding to the climate emergency as an integral part of our life and mission.
We are also a Fair Trade Church, which is expressed in such things as the refreshments we serve and our monthly Trade Craft stall.
The congregation raises funds for Christian Aid with an annual Carol Sing in the Farmers’ Market at Christmas, and volunteering to help with the Central Edinburgh Book Sale.
5% of congregational giving is allocated for grants to local, national or international charities and projects that are close to the heart of the members our congregation.
To make bread or love, to dig in the earth, to feed an animal or cook for a stranger — these activities require no extensive commentary, no lucid theology. All they require is someone willing to bend, reach, chop, stir. Most of these tasks are so full of pleasure that there is no need to complicate things by calling them holy. And yet these are the same activities that change lives, sometimes all at once and sometimes more slowly, the way dripping water changes stone. In a world where faith is often construed as a way of thinking, bodily practices remind the willing that faith is a way of life.
Barbara Brown Taylor – ‘An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith’ (2010)