Growing Congregations – Celebration Day
In September the congregation gathered together for a special Celebration Day and service with Bishop Bruce Cameron and our Growing Congregations team from the Diocese, the Revd. Nick Green and Morag Buxel.
The day involved prayerful reflection on our strengths as a church, group discussions on what we could do to improve those areas we need to develop, and a time of fellowship over lunch. We ended with plenary feedback and a Eucharist service. The next stage in the process is identifying three areas of action which will help our congregation to grow in faith and numbers.
Many thanks to Jack Wardell, who was on hand with a camera during the course of the day, and Andy Nicoll who recorded the event, both helped to capture us all in action!
Today we throwback to our Harvest Festival and in particular our amazing Floral Displays.
Thank you to Gill Wardell and her team of volunteers for the beautiful flowers that adorned the church for Harvest Festival on 3rd September.
Lay Rep Report and Prayer for a new Bishop
My main activity since the last edition of the magazine was the Diocesan meeting held at St Johns in Perth in August when the selection process was commenced to appoint a new Bishop. The Eucharist was celebrated by Bishop John Armes who is overseeing the process for our Diocese. During the service he introduced the prayer for an Episcopal vacancy, which Rev Alison has used every Sunday at the same time as the collect for the day:
Almighty God, the giver of every good gift, bestow at this time, we pray, your especial blessing upon the clergy and lay representatives of the Diocese of St Andrew’s, Dunkeld and Dunblane, and grant them in their deliberations the spirit of wisdom and understanding, that they may be guided by you to the choice of a chief Pastor who shall minister before you to the glory of your holy name, the good government of your flock and the welfare of your whole church, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
After the service the process was officially started and all the representatives from the charges were reminded that having now started the process their places could not be filled by anybody else – a case of “You’ve started so you have to finish”. Small discussion groups were formed to look at what we wanted in our new Bishop.
Since then, nominations have been sought and it is now up to the Preparatory committee (a Provincial-wide group) to determine whether there are any suitable candidates to make up a short list. Rebecca Cromwell is one of the Diocesan members of this committee.
If things go according to plan and a short list is drawn up, the next step will be on the 27th January 2018 when the Lay Representatives and clergy of the diocese will meet with the candidates. Voting will take place on 3rd February 2018.
Please keep all those involved in the process over the coming months in your prayers.
St Machar, 12th November
For this article we are going back to an early saint of the Celtic church of whom few hard and fast facts are known and we are left relying on legend. Even that fount of knowledge, Wikipedia, is not much help, since a visit to it said that little was known about him and any reliable information would be welcome. Also I could not find any pictures of him. I would suspect therefore that he will be unknown to many members of our congregation unless they come from or have connections with the city of Aberdeen where St Machar’s Cathedral (since the Reformation a Church of Scotland Kirk), a University Hall of Residence, a North Sea Oil Field, and a Coffee Bar are all named after him. Despite the lack of knowledge about him he is named in the Episcopal Church Calendar of Saints as having particular relevance to the Aberdeen and Orkney Diocese as bringing Christianity to that part of Scotland. Anything else about him is based on unsubstantiated and often contradictory legend.
St Machar is alleged to have been the son of Fiachna, a prince of Ulster, and as a young man was baptised by St Colman. At his baptism he was given the baptismal name of Mochumma and appears to have been referred to by both names in the legends passed on by word of mouth – a source of confusion. To fit in with the legends he must have been born about 540AD and lived to about 600AD. In the year 561AD, legend has it that he was one of the Celtic monks who accompanied St Columba into exile in Scotland following a fight between two monasteries over the ownership of an illuminated Bible. From thence he followed Columba to Iona and was part of the community there with Columba as Abbot. Like other monks from Iona he carried out missionary work in the islands in that area preaching and founding churches particularly on Mull where he established a reputation for piety and miracle working. He is said to have cured seven lepers and when faced by a ravening wolf turned it to stone.
The other monks in the abbey at Iona became jealous of his success at conversions and popularity amongst the people of the area and persuaded Columba to order him to go to the land inhabited by the northern Picts and to travel until he came across a river with bends shaped like a bishop’s crozier and there to found a church. Machar went off on his journey, accompanied by St Devenich, and established a church at Old Aberdeen. This eventually became the Cathedral of St Mary and St Machar. The dedication to St Mary was dropped at the Reformation.
It is also alleged that late in his life St Machar travelled with Columba to Rome and was installed by Pope Gregory the Great as Archbishop of Tours. This is unlikely, as no mention is made of any visit to Rome by St Columba, whose life is reasonably well documented, nor is there any reference to the installation as an Archbishop. There is, however, a connection between Tours and the Celtic church, since both St Ninian and St Patrick studied at Tours under St Martin. Alternatively Machar may have been installed as a bishop at Tours to work in Pictland, if such an installation did take place.
On the road to Aberdeen from the west at Aboyne there is a crossing of the River Dee, which St Machar would have had to use on his travels, and where there is archaeological evidence of a fair sized Pictish settlement. Here also is a rock known as Machar’s Chair – and more importantly a stone with a Celtic cross pronounced to be Machar’s Stone. It is probable that St Machar may have founded a church there.
Most of what we know of St. Machar is taken from a Breviary known as the Aberdeen Breviary, but this was not written until the fifteenth century and is largely based on legend.
Fortunately we are not required to believe in St. Machar, but it is safe to say that a Celtic monk whose name may or may not have been Machar or Mochumma preached the gospel and founded a Christian Church in the Aberdeen area. What a pity that no real account was made of his work – but then what is more important: bringing souls to Christianity or keeping records?