As I write this, I can see that it is raining outside and that the Rectory garden is in dire need of some TLC. The trouble is, time is an issue for all of us these days. On my one day off per week, I would much rather devote myself to reading and little else, however that is never the case. Having to catch up with all of the little jobs around the house takes up the whole day and there is always something that ‘falls off the edge’ and almost always never ends up getting done. In my case it is the garden. Don’t get me wrong, it just needs a good cut and a lot of weeding, and I will, no doubt, get it done over the next week or so when and if we get a break in the weather.
Anyway, enough about my tribulations. I have been very busy since our last quarterly magazine. As most of you will know, we (St Mary’s Vestry Committee) have been extremely busy in making various grant funding applications to help with the ongoing maintenance work at the Church. One of these applications, with ‘Viridor Credits’, has been successful, and thanks to Mrs Freddie Stephens, we have managed to secure just about enough to help with the completion of said works. Freddie worked very hard on this and I am deeply grateful for her astute attention to detail in submitting the application, together with the follow-up questions that came afterwards.
We are also now waiting on approval from from ‘outside interested parties’ before we submit a Canon 35 application to the Diocese to further our intention to replace the old carpet in the Choir Vestry with engineered wood flooring. For those of you who do not know what a ‘Canon 35’ approval is, in order for any significant changes to be made to the structure/appearance of a Church, and particularly a listed building as St Mary’s is, there are many hoops to be negotiated before work can commence. Once interested parties, and this includes our congregation, have made any submissions, the complete package, which is comprehensive, is submitted to the Diocesan Building Committee who will then approve/disapprove/advise before anything can be done. We are hopeful that we will obtain the necessary permissions and that this work will go ahead as planned later this year.
We are also awaiting news on an application to the Provincial ‘Recovery and Renewal Fund’ before we begin the same process above for a ‘Peace/Theraputic’ garden at the front of the Church. So as you can imagine, this takes up quite a bit of admin time, not to mention the odd meeting or two.
Speaking of meetings, I had my first meeting as a member of the Global Partnerships Committee (GPC) for the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC). I now have the portfolio for Asia and I will be responsible for overseeing applications for small funding grants to support church projects from this region. The GPC is part of the Mission Board of the SEC.
The first semester at Aberdeen University has commenced and in continuance of my History studies, my first course until mid November, is ‘Stewart Scotland 1406-1603’. The reading list is, shall we say, challenging!
It would be naive of me to ignore what has been taking place within our Diocese during the past year, and I am eager to share my views. Bishop Anne has been the subject of some very uncomfortable media attention of late, most, if not all of which, has, in my opinion been totally unjustified. The ‘Torrance Report’ which was supposed to be confidential until an official release was made, was leaked to the press. This resulted in a barrage of media responses both in newspapers and radio. Who leaked the report we may never know, but the damage caused by this action has not only caused great stress to Bishop Anne and her family, it gave rise to our diocese becoming the centre of some very unwanted attention from outside agencies. When the report was released, as was always promised, central figures named within were hounded via the press and social media. Of course, many of those who made the biggest noise remain anonymous and are able to shield themselves from the intrusion that others have been suffering. You will also be aware that the Very Reverend Dr Dennis Berk, has recently tendered his resignation as Dean of this diocese due to the stress and pressure that this matter has brought to his doorstep. This was indeed sad news to hear, but in writing to Dennis, I expressed my full support for the basis of his decision and that his general health should come first. I know you will join me in keeping Fr Dennis in your prayers.
St Mary’s had its first Baptism in a while when young Kevin Abugwu was recently officially welcomed into the Church. It was a joyous occasion for all who attended and Kevin was just absolutely perfect.
During the past few weeks, we have resumed fellowship after our Sunday 10 am services. This has been a welcome return to some state of normality, and it is good to have a sit down and a chat over a cuppa after our services again. Fellowship is also a feature after our 10 am service on Wednesday mornings too.
Dare I say it, but Christmas is fast approaching and we sincerely hope that it will be different from last year, in that everyone will feel more safer and be prepared to relax a little bit more after the necessary restrictions that the Covid pandemic brought to our doorsteps during the past 12-18 months.
My wife Sam and I were having a discussion the other day and realised that in the 3 years we have been in Aberdeen, we have become grandparents to two beautiful girls, Hannah and Harriet in Kettering, and a truly handsome boy, Daniel. In that small space of time our lives have changed considerably. Ok, we haven’t seen much of them for a while, and we have yet to see Daniel at all as he lives in Hamburg, but we are making all the necessary plans to put this right.
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate my gratitude to all at St Mary’s, and that includes our brothers and sisters from St Andrew’s, who work so hard and participate in the life of our Church. The late and great Celtic Football Manager Jock Stein was quoted as saying “football without fans is nothing”. How true and apt is that statement when we look back on what our society has had to endure during Covid. We had church doors being closed and locked for several months, which was unheard of in modern times. We then went through a period of limited numbers allowed to attend, together with stringent measures regarding social distancing. We disinfect our hands and greet each other from behind a face mask still, yet, even during these more relaxed times, we are acutely aware of the heartache and loss many have suffered, and this makes us even more determined to see this through. For those whom we have lost and for those who continue to mourn, I pray for you as I have done from the beginning.
I look forward to seeing many of you returning to our services at St Mary’s and until then, please stay safe, say your prayers, and know that you are loved.
St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral