Bishop Mark's Blog

The latest blog entries from the Right Rev Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness (please see the archive for all past entries). Please use the enquiries form in this section to contact Bishop Mark.

Celebrations

Posted Tuesday 19 August 2014

Old Parish Church , Assynt

Old Parish Church , Assynt

St John's, Inverness

St John's, Inverness

On Saturday we prepared the house for visitors.  This time our visitors came from Worcester, in fact Vicki had been a member of my youth club at St Barnabas, the church I served my curacy in. Vicki was a young teenager full of ideas and activity when I left the parish, now she is a mother of two, with a teenage daughter of her own. Vicki, Autumn and Jimi arrived late afternoon and I discovered a young thirty something full of ideas and activity, the visit was going to be good! In the evening we took the three of them down to Chanonry Point near Fortrose. The dolphins were putting on a very good display for the large crown gathered on the shore and Jimi was enthralled while Autumn spent the time catching the images on film.

On Sunday I was presiding at St John’s, Arpafeelie and we trooped over the lawn and into the church. It was a lovely morning in church, lots of chat over coffee and some fairly serious theological refection as well. In the afternoon I drove down to the Cathedral for an afternoon of WW1 poetry and song. There was a good turnout and everyone joined in the singing and listened carefully to the poems, it was a good afternoon, though the rain had begun to fall like stair rods.

The rain kept on falling all night and by morning we were hearing reports of flooding throughout Moray. I made contact with the Rector of Holy Trinity Elgin to check on the situation and discovered that once again the church hall was flooded and some of the congregation evacuated from their homes. There seemed nothing that was needed so we decided to take our visitors to Fort George. It was blowing a gale but the rain had stopped giving us a great afternoon trying to walk around the walls in the wind. In the evening Vicki asked if she could sing us the songs she had written about her faith we sat in the living room and listened to some very beautiful and powerful music, written by someone with a deep and warm faith, we felt blessed.

Vicki, Autumn and Jimi headed back to Worcester on Tuesday morning and I went over to the office to attend the Ministry and Mission Board, feeling almost ready to return to full duties. Later I headed down to the Cathedral to celebrate the Eucharist and then to meet with the Vestry to begin looking at arrangements for the vacancy when the Provost has moved to his new work in Geneva.

We drove over to Aberdeen on Wednesday to take some essential to Beth’s flat in preparation for her return to University next month. I have to admit that the journey really took the wind out of my sails and I have realised that I really have to be careful about how much I do, even when I am feeling fit.

Jane, Aidan and myself set off for Inchnadamph on Saturday morning, we were to spend the day with the people of the North West and others from across the diocese as we celebrated the 900/150th anniversary of the diocese. This was a day of Iona themed celebrations led by the Revd Joanna Anderson, Islands Centres Director for the Iona Community and Anglican Priest. The venue was Assynt Old Parish Kirk. We heard about the community on Iona, Cootie taught us new songs and I celebrated the Eucharist the first time such a service has taken place in this place since 1724.  In the afternoon we talked about our offerings to the Church of Christ. The whole day was very special in a very special place.

The celebrations continued on Sunday, this time in Inverness itself. The ancient parish church of Inverness is the Old High Kirk in Church Street, and it was from this congregation that those who became the congregation of St John’s, Inverness had left when the office of Bishop was abolished in Scotland. We started our worship in the Old High where we used the first part of the 1637 liturgy as we would have used in this church. We all then walked behind St John’s processional cross to the site of the former St John’s Church on Church Street. Here I led the praying of the Intercessions before we walked down the High Street and up the brae to St John’s present building. Here we continued the service with the 1982 Eucharistic prayer. Throughout the afternoon we were accompanied by Rev Peter Nimmo and members of the Old High congregation. It was a good witness and a good bringing together of two traditions that both started in the same church.

The afternoon ended with a great buffet in the church hall before the Strange clan retreated back over the firth to Arpafeelie.

commemoration

Posted Friday 8 August 2014

Brae Moray

Brae Moray

Glen14

Glen14

I have to say that the combined effect of antibiotics, my usual medication and a house full owf family has made me very keen to snooze at the first opportunity, thankfully the summer makes allowances for this. I must also say that I don’t seem to have been less busy, even though I am supposed to be.

This week found me meeting with a number of my clergy colleagues as we looked towards new ministries and changing responsibilities, we also managed to find time to join Andrew, Caroline and Jessica for afternoon tea and a lovely walk in the woods of Strathspey.

On Sunday we had to get Mara to Grantown On Spey to pick up her lift to Glen14 the annual youth camp for the Scottish Episcopal Church. We arrived in the village in time to join the congregation for morning worship and the pleasure of sitting back and letting Ven Richard get on with the sermon. We had a lovely lunch with Richard and Chloe (sorry Katherine, hope you are feeling better) before driving home over the Dava and Dulsie Bridge.
Monday was the day that we remembered the centenary of the start of the First World War.  I joined the councillors and the congregation of the Old High Church in Inverness for a short service during which the Provost of Inverness lit the candle which will burn in front of the Cathedral War memorial for the next four years. We then formed a procession and walked through the town and over the river to the Cathedral. I thought that I was looking very photogenic as more and more people took pictures as I walked past in my finery, then I realised to beautiful highland ponies were walking behind me!! We entered a full Cathedral for a very powerful service which concluded with the singing of the Kontakion.

I just had time to say hello to a number of the guests at the Cathedral before Jane and myself jumped into the car and drove swiftly to Elgin where I was to address another commemoration service at St Giles Kirk. After this I lit another votive candle and we spent time speaking to many old friends before we headed home.

On Tuesday I had a full day off and we decided to go for a walk, we drove back to Dava and climbed the Knock of BraeMoray, a smallish hill which has stunning views across the Highlands. We then had a small picnic at Lochindorb andl ay back in the warmth of the day and snoozed on the lochside.

Wednesday was our visit to Glen14 day. I set off with mixed feelings, I was looking forward to the day but also aware that this would be the first real visit I had made to the camp since stopped running it. I needn’t have worried, we had a great day and we left after worship and dinner, both of us feeling that things were good. We stopped over night in Dunkeld and had a lovely evening in the town.

Quiet now here at Bishop’s House, Mara is off to Belladrum, Aidan and Beth are reading, Jane and myself sitting watching the television. Just a moments respite as more lovely visitors are arriving tomorrow.

Snaps

Posted Friday 8 August 2014

Yummy

Yummy

Fountains Abbey

Fountains Abbey

Holiday

Holiday Snaps

Posted Friday 8 August 2014

My Girls

My Girls

In the Sea

In the Sea

Some holiday pics

Holiday Onwards

Posted Friday 8 August 2014

Blessing at Tongue

Blessing at Tongue

St Mary's Tongue

St Mary's Tongue

It was now holiday time, the schools closed on the Thursday which allowed Jane to join me on the long road to Tongue. We were heading to St Mary’s congregation to preach at a service celebrating Canon Nicholas’s silver jubilee of Priesting, a very large congregation gathered in the chapel at Fir Clish. The after service lunch was wonderful, many thanks to the people of Tongue and Melness.

The following day we packed the tents, cooker, sleeping bags etc and headed off for a short summer break to the North of England. Jane, Beth, Mara and myself arrived in York to realise that I had completely missed the fact that the Tour de France was starting in the City! Chaos reigned, struggled to get to the Minster on Sunday being told by the local police officer I asked that we weren’t allowed to cross the street so we couldn’t get to church. Needless to say I kept trying and eventually we got across in time for the Eucharist. Walking through York in the afternoon we suddenly bumped into Richard and Pauline Jones from Worcester,  a lovely surprise.

For the next few days we did the tourist thing, Castle Howard, Pickering Castle, Whitby Abbey, Scarborough beach and Betty’s Tearoom in Harrogate. We then set off for Beadnall Bay in Northumberland and another round of local tourist attractions. On the Sunday we joined the congregation at St Aidan’s Church, Bamburgh and I was very pleased to see the recent shrine to St Aidan that has been built in the choir of the church.

We went off on holiday with a 17year old youngest child and returned home with an 18year old, Mara having reached this milestone while we were in York, her first legal drink being a pint in the Old Starre Inn, York.

I had a number of meetings and visits during the following week, then a 70th birthday party in Milton, Drumnadrochit as Rev Christine celebrated her birthday. On Sunday we drove down to Carlisle to pick up Aidan who has joined us at Bishop’s House as he prepares for his new job over in Quebec. All seemed well until I noticed a swelling of the leg and with my history of DVT I rushed off to the doctors, one rash examined and one course of antibiotics delivered, “could be Lymes Disease” I am told. It was all caught early enough but the tablets really messed me up, another holiday illness strikes the Bishop down.

The week ended with a really happy wedding in Elgin as I officiated at Stephanie and Alan’s marriage, the whole day was great and we caught up with lots and lots of friends. The following morning we drove down to Huntly and celebrated the Eucharist with a very happy congregation. The day ended with the visit of friends and drinks in the new summer house.

Filling in the Gaps

Posted Friday 8 August 2014

+Mark at +Petrie's Grave

+Mark at +Petrie's Grave

Petrie Pilgrimage

Petrie Pilgrimage

Well all my good intentions to keep my diary up to date have failed so here is a brief rundown of the past few weeks.  General Synod was the next major event and we were in a new venue at St Paul’s and St George’s.  There are a number of reports on the meeting that are available on the Provincial Website.  The following week we celebrated Corpus Christi with High Mass at St Michael and All Angels, Inverness. The procession and the scattering of rose petals brought about the usual stares of amazement from those passing us in the street.
On the following Sunday I preached and celebrated communion at Gordonstoun School, this was followed by a lively lunch at the headmasters house, good to spend time in good conversation over good food. On Tuesday I attended the annual Presbytery Communion Service. This year the service was at Ness Bank Parish Church and I was confronted by the most remarkable moment of distribution. In front of each person, attached to the pew,  was a small silver topped container with a small glass suspended underneath , we were asked to lift the lid at the communion and inside was a small piece of bread which we all ate, then to the sound of closing lids we took the glass of wine. I was told by Rev Fiona that this was one of the last places still to communicate this way, fascinating.
During the week the first Diocesan Cascade conversation asking people to come and talk about matters of human sexuality took place in Dingwall. We will hold another three across the diocese, finishing before Christmas, all parts of the diocese will be visited and everyone will have the opportunity to speak or to send responses. I have chosen not to attend these sessions in case some felt inhibited by my presence, I think I am right but others may think differently, we shall see.
Off to College of Bishops and the annual meeting with the Roman Catholic Bishops, usual long agenda at the College meeting and then I took the train to Perth where Jane met me after driving down from Inverness, we then drove to +David and Alison house, Blogstead for a lovely meal for bishops and partners .
On Saturday Jane and myself drove over to Huntly for a very special day. This was to hold a pilgrimage to Dunbennan Cemetery and the grave of Bishop Arthur Petrie, Bishop of Moray and one of the consecrators of Samuel Seabury, first Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the USA. +Petrie also worked tirelessly to train priests at his home at Meicklefolla. We walked from Christchurch Huntly, along the River and out to the cemetery, we held a service at the grave before sharing a picnic lunch. The following morning I celebrated the Eucharist in Christchurch, a good weekend!

Lots of Friends

Posted Friday 4 July 2014

Glen Leaders

Glen Leaders

The house was chaotic as this week began, we were to have a large number of extra people with us over the coming week and we needed to sort beds, bunk house and kitchen. The first arrival was Beth, she came home and was immediately recruited into the sorting out brigade, then +Dennis of Quebec arrived closely followed by Aidan, or was it the other way round? +Dennis left to hurry home to care for a sick daughter (all is now well) and Hedge arrived from London.  Then Jane’s parents arrived and we all drove down to St Michael and All Angels for Ascension day. Jane’s parents then left after we had celebrated her dad’s birthday and 27 Glen Almond leaders arrived for a weekend of full board and lodgings.

I managed to escape the madness on Saturday and drove through to Fochabers to speak to a wonderful group of communication fanatics who are also ministers, both lay and ordained. They were a very friendly and cheery lot and I enjoyed my lunchtime with them.

On Saturday night I lit a bonfire in the garden and then had a very happy evening (and early morning) with Glen leaders old and new. We sat and chatted, laughed and told old and embarrassing stories about each other, it was great.

On Sunday morning I was preaching and presiding at both the 9.15 and the 11.00am services at the Cathedral and had the joy of another confirmation service. By the time we got home the youth leaders had packed up, attended St John’s, Arpafeelie and headed home.  We then spent the rest of the day putting everything back where it belonged.

It was almost a relief to get back to a normal on Monday but by the time I had reached Thursday evening and had completed fifteen meetings I was wishing the gang back again. Fortunately the weekend was a bit less hectic. Jane and I drove over to Aberlour for the very happy and relaxed wedding of Charlotte and Andy, the reception was on the lawn at Kininvie House, the sun was shining and the company was good. We then drove up to Glenlivet for the night before heading down to St Michael’s Dufftown for the Sunday Eucharist, the church was very busy and it was good to see a number of children in the congregation.

Following a lovely lunch at the Duncombe residence we then drove over the Cabrach to Aberdeen, picked up Beth and her belongings and drove home to Arpafeelie, tired but content.

Ordination and Confirmation

Posted Friday 4 July 2014

The Road North

The Road North

Evening Contemplation

Evening Contemplation

This was going to be one of those madly chaotic but also wonderfully joyful weeks, it started simply enough with a series of one to one conversations with some of the clergy of the Diocese, then I had a quick drive to Invergordon to tell them that Rev Canon Ian Pallett had agreed to add their care to his ministry in Dingwall and Strathpeffer.

By Thursday things were speeding up, I drove over to Aberlour to meet with a couple whose wedding I am taking, the church looked great until I noticed that the bats were back- piles of bat poo and the unmistakable smell!  So much time and energy has been spent trying to solve the problem without success, it can be very disheartening.

From Aberlour I drove up to Glenlivet and prepared to consecrate the new Graveyard beside Drumin Castle. The local minister, the local Roman Catholic Priest, the Methodist lay Preacher and myself worked out what needed to be done and after prayers I set out across a soaking wet field, with grass about a foot long. I faithfully marked the boundary, leaving a space for non-Christian burials, my crosier drew the crosses and we sang a litany as my feet got wetter and wetter. The service concluded with reading and prayers and then we all drove over to the Croft Inn and enjoyed a wonderful afternoon tea in front of the log fire, needless to say my feet were placed close to the flames.  I then drove down the main road to Elgin for a brief conversation with the Rector and then back to the Black Isle for a business meeting.

Friday started in the usual way, Morning Prayer, time in the office, Eucharist at St Duthac’s and then down to the Station to greet our overnight houseguest.  From there off to the Cathedral for the Ordination rehearsal and home for an evening of planning and chat.

Saturday was a very special day as I ordained Rev Sarah Murray as a priest. The service was in the Cathedral and the atmosphere was wonderful, lots of joy, prayer and a few nerves as well. Sarah was surrounded by friends, family and the family of the church and you can see part of the service elsewhere on this Web Site.

On the Sunday we drove over to Lochinver for the afternoon service.  Once again we had a well filled community building, with people of all ages present, it was really good to hear the children joining in with gusto.  We then drove on up to Kinlochbervie, stopping for a while at the loch side to catch the beauty of the evening. At Kinlochbervie we again had a full church and there in the day room of the Ceilidh Place I confirmed a new member of the family. We drove home over the moors and down to Lairg with the sunset and the joy of a great weekend ministering in this wonderful land.

THE GYM

Posted Wednesday 25 June 2014

Who needs the gym

Who needs the gym

The dreaded day arrived, Jane had got me into the Gym, my Doctor had said it was okay and no excuses would be accepted.  So amidst complicated meetings,  midweek Eucharist , Presbytery meetings, I slouched my way towards the Thistle Hotel in Inverness.  I then cycled 8miles and went nowhere, I walked at speed for 3 miles and kept the same view of a wall the whole way and then swam a number of lengths before collapsing in the Jacuzzi. Now far be it for me to tell lies, but I actually enjoyed it, just don’t tell Jane.

The week ended with the annual Mothers Union quiet day at Arpafeelie, and yes I have heard all the jokes about MU and quiet, the day concluded with a sung Eucharist at St John’s, everyone seemed to have a good time.

On Sunday we had the visit of the Coarb of St Moluag and Dean Emsley of Aberdeen and Orkney ably escorted by Steve. Dean Emsley and Steve were walking and boating from Aberdeen to Lismore raising funds for the restoration of St Andrew’s Cathedral, Aberdeen, and my home church.  The route chosen brought them in contact with a number of places that St Moluag of Lismore had evangelised and so on the Sunday Evening we welcomed them to the Cathedral in Inverness and also welcomed the Bachuil of St Moluag, the pastoral staff of St Moluag. We had a great Evensong with opportunity for people to see the Bachuil and then the Coarb and the rest of the party adjourned to Bishop’s House for dinner and lively conversation.

The following week was a very happy one as we welcomed my Aunt Marion and both of my cousins, Claire and Fiona to the Black Isle. Marion spent three days at my Mothers in Culloden, the cousins drove them around and then collapsed back at Bishop’s House for a restorative glass of wine and lots of chat each evening.  My big brother Greg also turned up one evening and the chat got even louder! It was with a degree of sadness that we waved them all off as they headed south again.

On the Sunday I was preaching and presiding at St John’s Forres, on what has become known as Dibley day, two families had prepared lunch for us and in the true spirit of hospitality we ate them both!! Needless to say it was back to the gym for me!

Cascade and Cairngorms

Posted Wednesday 25 June 2014

The Cairngorms from Ruthven

The Cairngorms from Ruthven

St Columba's Kingussie

St Columba's Kingussie

I had looked ahead to this week with some anxiety and with joy.  That Easter feeling could be so easily high jacked by a series of complicated and potentially difficult meetings yet by the end of the week I had shared a number of experiences which reflected very well on the people of our churches.

The week actually started with the first set of CWOC meetings, that stands for Clergy Without a Charge,  These are meetings which are spread over a number of months when the Dean and myself catch up with the clergy who are retired, or in secular employment or in a resting mode in their ministry. These meetings are usually good occasions as we hear of fascinating insights and reflections and allow the clergy to talk about how they see their ministry for the next few years. The meetings are also at times quite emotional as we deal with those moments of transition in people’s ministry, as we discuss the meaning of retirement for example.

The next two days were taken up with the Cascade Conversations in Pitlochry, these conversations were set up to allow the church to have conversations about any issues that the subject of same sex relationships has raised in our church. The process had brought together people from across the spectrum of our religious life and I found myself talking openly and freely with people who have very different views from my own. To listen to those with deep anxieties who were also prepared to listen to those of us who don’t see these issues as problematic created an atmosphere of trust and respect.  I came away filled with hope and with certain amount of pride at what we can achieve when we stop and listen to each other. The process will now be repeated across this diocese as we give space for peoples voices to be heard.

I drove a number of the Moray Cascaders home and just had time to get to Inverness and do my superman act! I rushed into the vestry at St John’s with my suitcase, changed from civvies into my clerical shirt etc and then emerged ready for the vestry meeting. This was a vestry meeting that was presenting a financial challenge to the congregation, but with good grace, a deal of laughter and good spirits the challenge was accepted and I arrived home exhausted but content with my two days away.

Thursday brought more meetings, a meeting to appoint a new chair of our Mission and Ministry Board, a meeting of the Cathedral Chapter and an evening meeting of the Vestry of St Michael and All Angels, Inverness, who also agreed to pick up the challenge of new ministry.

It was therefore with a deal of relief that I was able to spend Friday afternoon performing a very different type of ministry. I drove over to Dufftown and led assembly for the Primary School; we talked about the Holy Oils and about health. I then visited Alice in her sheltered housing compex and caught up with all her family news and news of the local community before heading over to David’s for a cup of tea and a chat. I then drove up Glen Rinnes stopping to look at the small wood that is growing which departed friends Celia and Miklos planted around their old home. Eventually I arrived in Glenlivet and waited for Jane to arrive.

On Saturday we had a lovely walk around Glen Mhor and then drove down to Kingussie visiting Ruthven Barracks on the way.  I wanted to stop in Kingussie and get a couple of photographs of our old church in the village, one of four congregations closed down in 1966.  They were St Columba’s, Kingussie, now a Community Centre, St Mary’s, Highfield, now a private house, St John’s, Arpafeelie now reopened and active and St Drostan’s, Rothes, now a social club. I will try and get photographs of the others for a future post.

We were up early to drive back to Arpafeelie for the Baptism of young Rory and to pick up Mara who was coming back to Glenlivet with us for the night. We had a really relaxing time on Sunday evening before we drove home on Monday via Cawdor Castle and a welcome cup of tea.

Past blog entries are available in the blog archive →