Volume 58 2023
The minister of Dunkeld Cathedral, Rev Fraser Penny, gives an account of how minister and congregation responded to the lockdown that accompanied the Covid-19 pandemic. Rather than film full services in the church buildings, use was made of the landscape, outdoor imagery, other meeting places in the parish, drawing on the history of the community as well as on talents, which emerged in the congregation in response to the crisis. It led to new approaches in worship, using music differently, and to wider ‘congregations’. Given as a talk at a study day on the subject (above), it raised questions about church practice and presence.
Parish priest in Crieff and Comrie, Fr Tom Shields, another speaker at the study day entitled as above, discusses the theological and liturgiological issues related to worship at which people are not physically present. He reminds us that the resurrection narratives are as full of the disappearances of Christ as of his appearances, explores the relationship between symbol and reality, the significance of the renewed emphasis on the doctrine of the Trinity in our time, and the relationship between the physical aspects, and of the words and formulae, in worship and the person presiding. He suggests that online worship has reaffirmed the fundamental structure and purpose of worship, the giftedness of everything and everyone, and the reality of grace.
Dr Jane Pettegree of the University of St Andrews gives an account of a day when the University joined forces with the Royal School of Church Music to study the psalms in their various types of setting, but doing so not by hearing lectures but by singing. In so doing, differences were uncovered but possibilities in other people’s pratice were revealed. In a ‘participant-led’ process, related issues were explored and the value of the psalms to church and culture was confirmed. A format was also shared which showed how chant could be accessible to worshippers from different backgrounds.
Rev Matthew Ross offers a personal reflection on time recently spent with the WCC leading projects related to diakonia which involved not only clarifying the theology and writing related documents but in developing processes for the furtherance of training for leadership in the Church’s service of the Gospel, which involved travel in many countries working with local churches. The article gives an up-to-date view of the WCC and its work today and confirms the importance of working at ecumenical relations.
Subtitled, ‘A response to the challenge of the Third Declaratory Article’, Rev Nigel Robb reviews the situation with respect to contemporary funerals and the need to provide more support for ministers. Referring back to earlier centuries, he outlines the steps taken to set up, for the presbytery of Glasgow, a pilot course for elders and others in the conduct of funerals. He describes how the course evolved and what matters were covered in each of the two sessions, with a third session which took the form of a visit to a crematorium. Eulogies, members of families taking part, silence, and music are all explored.
The author is a minister of the Church of Scotland and a trained artist. She reviews the history of art in churches and notes some more recent examples before reporting her own experience in using paintings and related examples of artwork in meditation and in worship. She invites an increased awareness of how art can help our spiritual life and our growth in faith.
Rev Dr Conor Fegan has studied aspects of the relationship between LGBT+ people and the church, and here offers a liturgy which can be used now that different branches of the church offer same sex marriage ceremonies. He has opted not to create something experimental or ‘different’ but to craft a liturgy which places the couple seeking union firmly in the succession of marriages through the centuries.
The current interest in pilgrimage is not being seen only as involving long journeys but may take place in small compass, making the ancient practice accessible to all. This order of service was written by Rev David Scott for a retreat for two congregations and involved moving round the local church building, finding significance and insight in the various ‘stops’: the ruins of the old kirk, and in the current the font, a Celtic cross, the door, the inner chamber, and a medieval well. Each station had its own psalm, and Communion was celebrated at the Holy Table.
This was one of five Agape orders prepared with a local Iona Community group as a conclusion of their meeting round the supper table. It is designed for groups whose parent churches are not yet fully in communion and enables a similar sharing and a leadership not from a recognised priest but the group as in turn they give the lead. The theme of this one is ‘Bread’ and it begins with a reading from Scripture from a list relating to bread. The main part is a shared ‘meditation prayer’ which explores different aspects of the theme.
Galbraith, Douglas, Foretaste of a World Remade: Five Orders for an Agape (Wild Goose Publications, 2002 (download from www.ionabooks.com. £3.80, reviewed by Rachel Dobie.
Bradley, Ian, The Coffin Roads: Journeys to the West (Birlinn, 2022), ISBN 978 1 78027 779 0, reviewed by Douglas Galbraith
The author was the Moderator of the General Assembly, the Rt Rev Norman Maclean. It was reproduced both for its reflections on worship and for the fact that it launched the Society’s journal, which has continued until this day. The Editor suggests that members nominate other striking items for reproduction.
The Secretary, Scott McKenna, reports among other things that the Society is pursuing with the Joint Liturgical Group the compilation of an Ecumenical Calendar that may be used across the denominations, a proposal which came out of the address at the Annual Meeting of 2022 by Dr Alan Falconer, formerly of St Machar’s Cathedral and of the WCC.