Tracing the rainbow through the rain

orlando-462x300The Rt Rev Dr John Armes, Bishop of Edinburgh, joined hundreds of people last night (15 June)  in a vigil to ‘Stand with Orlando’ held in St Andrew’s Square, Edinburgh.

Bishop John reflects:

“It is hard to estimate numbers. There must have been 500 or more of us, including a redoubtable band of Episcopalians, gathered in the rain in St Andrew’s Square last night. Many more in Scotland and around the world have stated their solidarity with the victims of the outrage at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. It was the worst mass shooting in the USA, a macabre record in that land of the gun. 49 dead, 50 injured, families traumatised. A gunman professing some kind of extremist faith – a depraved sense of ‘divine’ vengeance persuading him to impose death on LGBTI human beings enjoying life.

“Our world feels ugly at the moment. Foul rhetoric demonising difference. Lust for power without responsibility. Tunnel-visioned ignorance masquerading as idealism. Walls dividing ‘us’ from ‘them’; barriers bequeathed to our children and children’s children. Fear on fear; fear breeding fear. None of this peculiar to the USA, even if their daft gun laws seem to invite mayhem.

“All these thoughts weighed me down last night. We sang of solidarity; of not being overcome by evil. Names of the victims were read; silence was kept. Politicians and others spoke of the need to stand together, of love being love, of love always winning in the end. As I looked around at the bedraggled crowd sheltering under hoods and umbrellas, I caught a glimpse of the goodness God saw in creation – the determination and resilience in the human heart made in God’s image.  All ages, all faiths, many nationalities, delighting in our differences as God does, looking each other in the eyes and daring to find hope there.

“Yes, love may win in the end but, as our gospel tells us, it is a costly process. Light can only shine out of darkness, Easter comes only after Good Friday. For oftentimes it is not easy to love; compassion, empathy, forgiveness are hard won in the face of fear. Our love is rarely perfect enough to cast out fear. But God’s love is. And if this love means that God never gives up on us, never accepts the barriers we build, we know what we must do.

“That’s why we stood in the rain last night, making present a world that, in God’s purposes, has yet to be and looking for the rainbow.”
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General Synod 2016


General Synod 2016 took place at St Paul’s & St George’s Church, Edinburgh last week (9-11 June).  You can read reports of the business of Synod (under Synod News) here.

The Most Rev David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church delivered his Primus Charge during the opening Eucharist, which can be viewed on video here.

One of the many presentations given during General Synod, included a report on the recent meeting of the Anglican Communion’s Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) meeting held in Lusaka, Zambia from Mr Alistair Dinnie, the Scottish Episcopal Church’s representative on the ACC.  You can watch the video of his presentation here.

There was a high level of media interest in the debate on the Motion on the First Reading to change the Canon on Marriage.  The BBC recorded the announcement of the vote on this Motion – coverage on BBC Reporting Scotland can be watched here.

The offering (almost £2,000 including prospective Gift Aid reclaim) taken during General Synod was for Christian Aid’s Refugee Crisis work in Greece and Serbia.
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Bishop of Edinburgh supports #Unite4Ramadan initiative

#Unite4Ramadan aims to encourage better understanding of the peaceful message of Islam and give insight into why Muslims fast during the month of Ramadan. Fasting is practiced traditionally in many of the world faiths and spiritual traditions and can encourage a quieting of the spirit, interior contemplation, empathy for those less fortunate and giving praise and thanks. Edinburgh Interfaith Association (EIFA) are encouraging people across Edinburgh and throughout Scotland to join the campaign and pledge support by fasting for one day. The period of the fast is from dawn until sunset.  Those partaking in the fast are then invited to break bread with their Muslim friends at Iftar (evening meal at sunset).

The Rt Rev Dr John Armes, Bishop of Edinburgh says “At a time when Islamophobia is rife and many of my Muslim friends feel under threat I want to offer them my support. Therefore, I shall fast for one day (22 June) during Ramadan this year. Fasting, of course, has a long history in Christian as well as Islamic tradition. It is an opportunity to grow in understanding of our dependence on God, from whom all good things come, and perhaps to discover in a small way what life is like for those who lack basic necessities such as food. Our two faiths also encourage us to give to those in need. I am looking forward to exploring with the people of Islam things we share in common and I invite others to join me in #United4Ramadan.”

Further details of how to join this initiative and Fast for a Day are available on
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Working Together in Faith – Day Conference by Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees

Tuesday 21 June from 10.30am to 3:30pm, St Andrew’s and St George’s West Church, Edinburgh (lunch included).

As part of the Refugee Festival Scotland 2016, leaders, activists and members of Scottish faith communities are invited to participate in this free day conference, which offers information about the current humanitarian refugee catastrophe and explores practical ways in which local groups can make an effective difference in their neighbourhood, across Scotland and supporting crisis places in other parts of the world.

For further information and to book visit the Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees website at
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Queen’s Birthday Honours

Two leading musicians in the Scottish Episcopal Church have been recognised in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours:
Dr John Kitchen, Director of Music at Old St Paul’s Church, Edinburgh and City Organist for Edinburgh has been awarded an MBE for services to music.

Mr Alastair Chisholm, Lay Chaplain and Director of Music at the Cathedral of the Isles in the Diocese of Argyll and The Isles has been awarded the British Empire Medal for services to music and culture on the Isle of Cumbrae.
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The Very Rev Jim Mein has been appointed as Interim Pastor at Christ Church, Falkirk from 2 June 2016.

The Rev Canon Robin Paisley will retire as Rector of St John the Evangelist, Dumfries on 30 June 2016.

Mrs Jacqueline Kemp has received a Diocesan Licence as a Lay Reader  in the Diocese of Moray, Ross & Caithness. Jacqueline is attached to the Isla Deveron Group (Keith, Huntly, Aberchirder).

The Rev David Maybury, Diocese of Edinburgh, died on 28 May 2016.

The Rev John Towers, Diocese of Edinburgh died on 12 June 2016.
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