Dear Members and Friends,
It is lovely to be able to write to you at a time when, all being well, our church building will be open again from Palm Sunday. It has been well looked after when empty. Weekly inspections have taken place and the roof and steeple have been repaired. Physical distancing rules will be in place during the service and we will still listen to hymns instead of singing them. The lack of singing is a loss, I know, for many people and I very much look forward to the time when we can return to singing together as a congregation too.
However, music in worship has continued in other ways over the last months. Iain, our organist, chooses a different piece of music each week to fit with the Bible readings and sends it to me to include as a voluntary in the online service. I have realised that I have time to listen to it at home in a way that I didn’t in church. I have appreciated hearing new music by new composers and with the wonders of technology and YouTube it is then easy to go exploring to discover more. Recently I discovered a song called “Unexpected Places” by Heather Sorenson which touches on the limitations in our lives. The singer is confined to a room, for reasons we don’t know, yet for her this confinement is not time wasted. She sings:-
“But here I am in this unexpected place, a place I did not ask for, but one that’s filled with grace,”
“And in this room You’ll teach me that this time is not in vain, there’s purpose for the pain, beauty still remains”.
She is not alone. Jesus is with her in this unexpected place.
I am not sure that many of us expected to be still living the way we are now, a year on from the first lockdown on 23 March. We have been in this unexpected place for a long time. I hope that you too have found something new in this time, something which has encouraged your faith and has kept you going, perhaps something you can share with others. As a church we have kept going, and have opened ourselves to worship from home in different ways, whether online through the computer or through worship provided by television and radio. We have opened our doors in a new way too when the church building opened for private prayer alongside the food bank on Tuesday and Friday mornings. The One Church for Leith Bible Study Group which was originally only for Lent in 2020 has continued to meet weekly for over a year. Worship is spreading out of the church building in a new way.
Our Easter magazine last year included a knitting pattern to make a daffodil to bring inside the church when the building opened again. Well, unexpectedly this is going to happen this year instead, not to decorate the inside of the church but the outside. We plan to brighten up the church railings with knitted and crocheted flowers from Palm Sunday onwards as a reflection of the new life and happiness of Easter. This is something which can be shared with everybody who walks past the church building. The church bells continue to ring on a Sunday morning too.
We call God our Creator and He keeps on creating, inviting us to change and explore new things. One of the best known verses in the Bible, John 3:16, says:- “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life”.
There is a well-known phrase “seeing is believing” and I think that we are always being led to find new ways of being more visible to others as followers of Jesus.
As we approach Easter, let us go slowly through Holy Week and take time to reflect on the past year. For some of us it has been painful and exhausting. For others it has been a time to retreat and rest.
However we are today, through our reflection, may we find that the light of Christ shines more brightly within us and may we look forward to celebrating Easter Day together, wherever we are, as God’s people, wanted, cherished and loved, remembering the most important thing of all that Jesus is with us.
With love and blessings
One Church for Leith
Holy Week Services
Tuesday 30th March at 2pm – North Leith Parish Church
All are welcome, especially those without internet access and – if you have internet access – pre-recorded worship at 7pm at https://northleithparishchurch.co.uk/
Wednesday 31st March at 7pm – Leith St Andrew’s Parish Church
Zoom Worship Service using the usual invitation link. If you need the link please email email@example.com
or phone Rev Rob Mackenzie on 0131 553 2122
Thursday 1st April at 7pm – South Leith Parish Church
Live streamed service with Communion
For several weeks, some members of North Leith and Leith St Andrew’s congregations have joined together in Zoom Worship by computer at 11am on a Sunday morning. It has been lovely to meet together in this way, not least because peoples’ faces are next to each other on the screen and not two metres apart, there is no need to wear a mask and people can see each other smiling. It is possible to sing along to the hymns too. The services finish with a chance to chat afterwards, pets are very welcome and we hope to build on this new way of getting together in the future.
Dear Members and Friends,
I am pleased to be able to share with you the following message from the chair of the One Church for Leith Steering Group.
This message and the revised Vision statement are, indeed, good news for North Leith where elders and others have known for a while that we just don’t have the leadership and resources to continue as a stand-alone congregation.
I hope that there will be opportunity for fuller discussion at an Annual Stated Meeting which might be held once the most stringent restrictions are lifted.
Thinking of you all and wishing you every blessing for this Easter time.
Russell McLarty, Interim Moderator
One Church for Leith
Update from the Steering Group, Spring 2021
My name is Robin Watson and I was delighted to be invited to act as independent chair of the Steering Group towards the end of 2019.
I am an architect working in Edinburgh and an elder in the Kirk, with extensive experience of church and community enhancement and regeneration project work. My passion is for people and for the creation of sustainable, healthy places.
I am delighted to be writing to you today with some encouraging news for the future of the churches in Leith.
JOINT KIRK SESSION MEETING ONE-CHURCH-FOR-LEITH
It is good to be able to report positive progress following a recent Joint Kirk Sessions’ meeting of the four Leith congregations. 50 elders met by Zoom at the end of February. We had been due to hold this meeting in March 2020 but COVID-19 put paid to these plans. You will appreciate that it has proved difficult to sustain momentum through the past 12 months where so many were struggling with lockdown and adapting to new ways of worship and church life.
OUR SUBMISSION TO EDINBURGH PRESBYTERY
One of the reasons for re-energising discussions at this point is the need to report in March to Edinburgh Presbytery as it prepares its Presbytery Plan for 2022-32. In particular, every parish grouping in Presbytery is being asked for ideas for mission, with the challenges of reaching a younger generation and those currently not engaged with the church. This first stage in the process will be followed by further stages of consultation, with final agreement of the new plan in November 2021.
MISSION IDEAS FOR ONE-CHURCH-FOR-LEITH
To determine the mission focus for Leith, each of the four Kirk Sessions put forward ideas to the joint meeting. Elders discussed these to see what ideas gained the most enthusiastic response. Aspirations included:
- Creating a newCOMMUNITY HUB as an inviting place in the right location accessible to younger ages as well as older people offering a range of different things
- Developing a MOBILE PHONE APP for ‘One Church for Leith’ for anyone to use to watch or listen to well produced pieces and to follow up on links.
- Providing CAFÉ STYLE CHURCH to provide an alternative style of worship that draws on the strengths of the online worship
Elders recognised that there was a real priority to build relationships with the 18-40 age group in Leith. There was also agreement that any mission ideas need to be very well resourced and managed if they are to be as successful as the Joint Food Bank Project, which was established in 2013. We continue to believe that we will be in a better position to serve the people of Leith by pooling our leadership and resources to develop a radical vision for our church.
The meeting also agreed the revised VISION STATEMENT of One Church for Leith and how we look to form a single parish with a strong mission focus, as below.
I look forward to working with you all in the months ahead as we develop our exciting plans for ‘One Church for Leith’.
With best wishes
for the Church of Scotland
Leith is a distinctive community which requires a unique approach from the Church.
Our aim is to become a single, mission-focused, unit which encompasses the present four parishes, and allows us to explore a radical vision to better serve the people of Leith.
We seek to actively engage with all relevant church bodies, both national and local, to develop new structures which will enable us to fulfil this aim.
We seek to make optimum use of our buildings and resources.
We will do this by:
- building on the existing close relationships which have developed over the past 25 years
- exploring creative and effective ways to become a more missional church in order to serve the whole of Leith, and respond to the changing demographics
- fully engaging with our present membership
- embracing the national church’s Radical Action Plan.
We aim to realise this vision by the end of 2022.
Our handyman, Ian Jameson, having a break and enjoying the snow in the church grounds in February, and bringing a smile to the faces of the Foodbank volunteers and visitors
An encouraging comment for these days
There is dignity here – we will exalt it. There is courage here – we will support it. There is humanity here – we will enjoy it. There is a universe in every child – we will share it. There is a voice calling through the chaos of our times; there is a spirit moving across the waters of the world; there is movement, a light, a promise of hope.
Small things really are small,
But to be faithful in small things is a big thing
Attributed to St Augustine
From the Treasurer
Thank you to those who have been able to continue giving their church offerings in this new year despite the church building being again closed for worship. Further contributions brought to the church or sent to the church office, and any more new/updated standing orders, would be very welcome.
There was c£8k of income in Jan/Feb and c£16K of expenditure including work on the church spire/roof/blocked drains.
I am due to make the quarterly Gift Aid claim at the end of March and we rely on the resulting income to support cash flow.
The following gives an update on the 2020 Annual Report and Accounts.
Total income at c£68K was 15% less than 2019, total expenditure was £89K, c£29K less than the previous year, resulting in a deficit for the year of £21K which as usual was met from reserves. Total funds of the church at end December were down on the end of 2019 by c£26K to £590,579.
Many thanks are due to those people who sent in their offerings when the church was closed or set up new bank standing orders; income from offerings, however, was down by 11% on 2019 and Gift Aid tax recovery was down by a similar figure. Income from investments at just under £17K was down on previous years for a number of reasons, including past year sales of investments to increase cash funds to meet ongoing expenses, but continues to be significant. As you would expect, income from use of the hall was low as the hall was closed for a good part of the year except for use by the Foodbank. There was, however, some compensating income as we were able to claim from the government’s jobs scheme when some staff were ‘on furlough’. All staff continued to receive their full salary throughout the year.
Fabric expenditure was less than budgeted for because some non-urgent work was postponed due to the pandemic conditions. The biggest outlay was on church heating, boilers and controls. Also income had to be expended looking after the vacant manse until the manse was finally sold towards the end of the year. The income from the sale (agreed by Session and Presbytery), does not show in our accounts as it is held in the national General Trustees’ funds, but the interim amount shows in an appendix to our accounts. In coming years we shall be able to call on the income from this invested money to help cover fabric and related expenditure. The capital money will also be available in due course for agreed capital projects.
The accounts have recently been reviewed and signed off by the Independent Examiner and are available for anyone wishing a copy – please just ask, and I would be happy to answer any questions. Last year we were not able to hold a Stated Annual Meeting of the congregation; we hope that might be possible later this year.
Thanks again to all for your support. Anne Lamont
From Mark Cooper
Every Week in March I will have walked 30 widths of my lounge on my Zimmer, double what I do normally. I am motivated because I have applied for a dog through Canine Partners; this will make such a difference to my physical and mental wellbeing and independence. This is challenging because I was told 3 years ago it’s not safe for me to be on my feet. I only walk to try and keep a bit fit.
It will help the charity train more dogs so that more disabled people will have the gift of independence and the friendship of a loyal companion.
If you would like to sponsor me you can do so here mark Cooper is fundraising for Canine Partners (justgiving.com)
We are sad to record the following death since our last magazine:
Christina Hellewell of Grandville, Craighall Road on 21 January, 2021.
We wish Margaret and Tom Wood well as they leave us to move to the Borders.
Changes of personal details
Please remember to let us know any changes of address or phone number in order that we can keep the roll up to date. Also we will be pleased to have any new / updated email addresses.
Similarly, for those who give by Gift Aid, please let the treasurer know if your income tax status has changed.
Thank you to those who contributed to this magazine.
Please keep contributions coming in for future publications.
Wishing you many Easter blessings