Archive for the ‘A Letter from the Manse’ category

Letter from the Manse

February 13th, 2015


Dear Friends,

“Thank you for your ‘Brave Heart’ Scottish message. We are ready to welcome you on 25th at 8 am”. With these words, received 48 hours before we were due to leave for Bangladesh, the trip was on! For the previous week there had been a real possibility that the work camp might not take place. Political unrest in Bangladesh with opposition parties organising road blockades in Dhaka and other places, 2 and 3 day strikes being called for, and a number of deaths from buses being subjected to arson attacks it seemed our plans would not come to fruition. I had sent an email saying that we were all still willing to come, even if it meant that our original aim to help in a village had to be changed to doing something more local in Dhaka.

We discovered at the farewell session in the village where we were staying that it was this email that initiated the “Brave Heart” response. And so we arrived in Dhaka on Sunday morning 25th January to be met by Jonarson (who was organising the work camp), Daniel and Martin (who had made some of the arrangements for our stay in Dhaka). Instead of staying in Central Dhaka at the Bishop’s House, we were put up in a lovely hotel 5 minutes from the airport and near the road on which we would travel north to the camp. We went for a walk and found a lovely rooftop café with spectacular views over Dhaka where we enjoyed some luxury with Café Lattes and on our final afternoon in Dhaka, after 10 days of rice and curry, Café Lattes with French Fries!

The work camp exceeded our expectations. Together with 12 wonderful young people we built a road in the village of Pirojpur about 45 minutes from where we were based. The land had been gifted in 2009 by an elderly couple who had hoped to build a clinic, but nothing had happened and they had both since died. However, their daughter and her family still hoped that work would start – which is where we came in. While some of the villagers dug holes round the perimeter of the area for concrete posts to support a fence, we and the young folk from Bangladesh worked at moving soil from the field to the side where an earth road was to be made to allow access from the main road to the clinic. Using “kodals” (a type of spade) the soil was put into baskets and working in pairs we moved the soil to make the road.

It was wonderful seeing the road develop, and we were all delighted when on Wednesday 4th February (a day ahead of schedule) the road was completed. During the week, others had helped – the local development workers gave us two days of their time, as did local people, and even school children who had stopped to watch what to them was a strange scene, helped and on one occasion their teacher brought about 60 of them to have a chat with us and some of them helped too.

Each day began and ended with prayers led by different groups, with local visits, games and a few hours at the Annual Revival meeting this year in Katolmari about 4 hours from where we were staying and attended by about 500 people (slightly down because of the strikes) and time spent together with the young people.

There were many tears on our final evening and the following morning as we left for Dhaka, but we left many friendships. One of the hymns we taught the young people during the Bible Study was “I am the Church, you are the Church, we are the Church together”. As we sang that on the final night, and as we linked arms in a circle, and as the tears flowed, never were these words more true and meaningful.

Yours sincerely,


Thank you from the Manse. My family and I would like to thank everyone for cards, flowers and emails sent after the death of my mother on 3rd November just three days short of her 90th birthday. We were touched by the number of people who attended her funeral service at Parkgrove which was conducted by Wilma Pearson, her minister in Cathcart Trinity and grateful to her friends who made the journey from Cathcart. Mum had been baptised in Cathcart South (as it was then) in 1924 and it was so good that Wilma was able to come through and in a sense complete the circle. I have also been moved by the love and concern expressed by members of the congregation in the weeks following which has been of great comfort at what has been a difficult time for us. Thank you one and all. Matthew.

A Letter from the Manse

December 17th, 2014

Dear Friends,

This year has been a year of Anniversaries. Mention has already been made of my 25 years as your minister and elsewhere you can read of the short break in Malmaison Leeds using the Gift Card given to me. Next year the remainder of your gift will be used after Easter for a trip to Rome (to see our good friend Mark Cassidy who is Spiritual Director of the Scots Pontifical College in Rome) as well as have a few days exploring sights outside of the Eternal City.

The recent Harvest Thanksgiving service was based around the theme of Anniversaries where, among others, there were displays marking East Haven 800, the Centenary of the start of World War 1, the laying of the foundation stone of our Newton Church Building 160 years ago, and the 100th birthday of Helen Chalmers, combining that with the baptism of Erin McIntosh the week before – the first baby baptised this year who had been born in 2014.And the Anniversary theme will continue on the First Sunday of Advent (30th November) when an invitation has gone to families who have had children baptised during the last 25 years to return for a special service that day. Over 350 baptisms have taken place so the church could be quite full!  Come early to get a seat at the back! The service will be followed by a Buffet Lunch for everyone in the Halls.I realise that quite a number of those baptised will be elsewhere in the UK or further afield but we have asked those who cannot be with us to send us some information as to what they are doing now so that we can have a “wall” where others can catch up with friends who were baptised around the same time, or who were in Sunday School/FOG Squad/Youth Group at the same time.  Part of the service will include the lighting of candles for those who have been baptised in Carnoustie Panbride.

One of the things I have realised over the years are the number of people who come back to the church of their childhood, or to the church where their parents were married and the sense of “coming home” that this evokes. I hope those who come along in November will also feel that sense of homecoming, and know that regardless of where they are living and working now, there will always be a place for them within our church family.I just hope that some of those I baptised in the early years of my ministry and who are now in the mid-twenties will not come up to me and say (as folk do when I go to Bangladesh) “Do you remember me?”.   I might not have changed (?) – but you certainly will have from the baby I held in my arms!

I am looking forward to this special start to our Advent Season, and look forward to sharing this journey towards Christmas with you.

Yours sincerely


PS Some of you may be reading this “on-line” and wondering why you have not received a letter. This is probably because you have moved away from the address we have in the Baptismal Register. If so, please make contact with us and let us know whether you are able to be with us for the service.

A Letter from the Manse

August 19th, 2014

Dear Friends,

Summer holidays over for another year! However, we still have a week in November when we will be travelling to Somerset where I have been invited to share in the marriage service of Andrew Simpson who was in the Sunday School and Youth Group before joining the Royal Navy. Rather than try to fit everything into a few days and because daylight is shorter I decided to take the last of my holiday entitlement and make a week of it and take our time going and coming – the day after the wedding our grandson has his second birthday, but we are breaking our journey and will head for Edinburgh the following day for that celebration.

Our holiday this year has been spent in Orkney although we had a couple of nights in both Inverness and Golspie on the way to Scrabster, and managed to catch up with friends on the way, before spending a few days on the shores of Loch Eriboll, then heading for Edinburgh to see Alexander (and his parents!).

On Orkney we managed to meet up with Rachael who has been twice to Bangladesh with a workcamp, and to meet her mother and her children Caitlin and Finlay. Chris, her husband had gone offshore the day before. We had a wonderful time on Orkney. The weather was superb and there was plenty of sun! We visited most of the main archaeological sites, such as Skara Brae and Maeshowe and the Italian Chapel built by Italian Prisoners-of-War. We drove across the Churchill Barriers, found some lovely places miles from anywhere for coffee, and had a meal in an Indian Restaurant in Kirkwall, where everyone spoke Bengali – we were given an additional starter – “on the house” as well as an “on the house” take away – just because I chatted to them in Bengali!

The two Sundays we were away, we attended church in two very different surroundings. The first Sunday we went to St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall. The Minister was in Glasgow working as a “Clydesider” during the Commonwealth Games and so the service was conducted by an Ordained Local Minister and included Communion. It was a strange experience waiting for worship to begin with crowds of tourists from the Cruise Ships which were in port that day milling around the cathedral, taking photos in amongst those who had come for Sunday Worship. However about 10 minutes before the service, this ceased and we discovered later that during the main tourist season the tourists are invited to take a hymn book and join worship. Some do, but then leave after the first hymn, and others are a bit mystified as to why they can’t just wander around during the service!

The following Sunday we were back on mainland Scotland, and staying at a lovely B&B on the shores of Loch Eriboll about 7 miles from Durness. This area has spectacular beaches and is a wild rugged landscape. We went to Sunday worship in Durness. There was a notice on the door to say that the service would be held in the small hall to the rear of the church. We got there just as the minister was arriving, having already conducted the service at Kinlochbervie and driven the 20 mile journey on a road with passing places through some stunning scenery.

In the hall were three ladies and a gentleman – and so, with the “visitors” and the minister and his wife, we were eight! Music was supplied from a CD and the singing was great. A lovely intimate service.

In both these very different places of worship we were warmly welcomed. In St Magnus Cathedral we were chatting over coffee to a lady (Rosie) who was just starting out as an Assessor for applicants for the ministry of the Church of Scotland. She introduced us to her husband – Jim – and I realised we were chatting to Lord and Lady Wallace of Tankerness! And, of course, in Durness, every person at worship spoke to us!

“People make Glasgow” is the slogan which has been much in the news in recent weeks – and who am I to disagree with the truth of such a statement! In the same way “People make the Church”. I hope you are as warmly welcomed in churches when you are on holiday, as we were – and I trust that we welcome people just as warmly when they come to Carnoustie Panbride as visitors.

Yours sincerely,

Letter from the Manse

June 9th, 2014


Dear Friends,

It was Harold Wilson who said “A week is a long time in politics”. I wonder what could be said about 25 years in ministry? And in the same congregation! By the time you read this, I shall have been your minister for 25 years, having been ordained and inducted to the charge of Carnoustie Panbride on 20th June 1989.

Where have the years gone!? In looking back to that time, I can remember the excitement when I was able to start looking for a charge. In those days there were a lot of probationers looking for their first charge in parish ministry, compared to the present day. Some of my colleagues took the view that they would apply for everything that came up. I decided to respond only to those which immediately caught my eye. There were two.

Submitting the applications, both congregations responded by saying they wanted to hear me conduct worship in Netherlee, where I was Assistant Minister. Both then wanted me to meet the whole vacancy committee and give them all the opportunity to meet me. So it was that I travelled to Arbroath to preach in Arbroath St Andrew’s for the Vacancy Committee of Carnoustie Panbride, before travelling to “another part of Scotland” the following week.

I can recall the surprise of some of my colleagues when I withdrew my name from the process after meeting the Vacancy Committee in “another part of Scotland” which left me with only one possibility. I can remember saying to them – “well, if it isn’t to be Carnoustie Panbride, then it will be somewhere else!”

However, I can honestly say that the day I met the Vacancy Committee had a good feeling (for me at least!) about it. The day had started off with a lovely surprise. As I walked down the aisle of St Andrew’s Arbroath to meet Ian McLeod, the then minister, I heard him say to someone “Well, is it him?” I looked up and there standing at the organ was someone from my past. I exclaimed “Miss Milne!” who had been my teacher at King’s Park Secondary School in the 1960’s and who had allowed me to accompany some of her choirs. She had also played the piano at the Sunday School in my home congregation. I had not seen her for about 20 years. She was now Mrs Miller, but we both decided that she had been a very young teacher and I had been a very young pupil!

Anyway, I was invited to be Sole Nominee and after conducting worship to a packed church, the day you elected me as your minister was very special. And over the last 25 years I have appreciated the friendship and support which has been given. I have enjoyed our journey together over these years.

There have been the difficult situations, there have been happy times and there have been sad times. Funerals now, more often involve people I have known for 25 years, even with funerals of people not associated with the church. Weddings and baptisms are some of the good times – it is lovely being able to baptise the children of people I have married (I am still waiting to marry someone I have baptised!!) and a recent wedding gave me my first hat trick – officiating over the years at the marriages of all three of the children!

In my very first Letter from the Manse in 1989, referring to the “Church family” I wrote these words:- “A family made up of people of all ages, in which there is a place for everyone. A family which takes care of those who area in need, ensuring that no-one in the family is forgotten or neglected. In the years ahead, may all of us together work for the strengthening of the family of Carnoustie Panbride”.

Times may have changed, but that should still be what we are about. There is still plenty to be done in the years ahead and in thanking you, the congregation, for giving me the great privilege of being your minister these 25 years, I look forward to continuing our journey together.

Yours, with grateful thanks



April 25th, 2014


Friends, even good ones, often can’t resist comments about a minister only working an hour on a Sunday. If I had a £5 note for every time someone has said that to me, I would be rich indeed! Mind you, there are some weeks when it would be wonderful if that was the case – but not really.

Whatever life in the ministry involves, it is never dull. One of my favourite programmes on television is “Rev” the fictional (almost) tale of Adam Smallbone, played by Tom Hollander and his wife Alex, the wonderful Olivia Colman. Adam’s small rundown London Parish has a great deal in the story lines with which many parish ministers would identify.

Recently I have been involved in supplying information about the church to those responsible for the Easthaven 800 celebrations. An information request about the War Memorial reminded me that there were some congregational “supplements” for Life and Work dating from the 1918 to 1938. They make for interesting reading about life in earlier times. Here are some excerpts.

April 1920 – ‘The children will never forget it’ said the father of one of the children who were at the Christmas-tree party in Panbride School on the evening of 10th January. Most of the children had never seen a Christmas tree before and were greatly excited and charmed by the tree, which was so wonderfully beautiful with its lighted candles and many coloured gifts’”

November 1936. “Four Easthaven men have received awards from the RNLI for their brave feat in rescuing the occupants of the distressed boat, Fisher Lass on 23rd August. Three of the men are brothers, the eldest being an octogenarian. They are James, William and Alexander Herd. The fourth member was Robert Ramsay, a railway employee. The event occurred on a wild day when a heavy sea was running. A motor boat, drifting towards the shore, appeared to be in imminent danger of being dashed to pieces against the jagged rocks. The Easthaven men did not need to see the signal of distress that was sent up, they had already seen that the sails were blown away and the engine was out of commission.

Hastily pushing off in a rowing boat, they pulled towards the rapidly approaching craft. They succeeded in bringing it to anchor, and took the three occupants ashore in their own boat. We are proud to be able to claim these heroes as members of Panbride Church”

Even earlier, Rev David Trail wrote in 1833 in the Second Statistical Account of Scotland, about the Parish of Panbride. “The number of families is 300 – 88 are engaged in agriculture, 103 in trade manufactures and handicrafts, and 109 not comprised in either class. The people in general are sober and moral in their habits and regular in their attendance at public ordinances. They are also industrious and frugal and are altogether a very respectable portion of the community”

One of the junior members of the Sunday School wrote an essay in June 1923, entitled “What you should do on Sunday” ‘Sunday is the first day of the week, and it should be carefully observed by everyone because it was the day Jesus rose from the dead. Everyone who can, should go to Church on Sunday, and if he can’t he should read his Bible at home. On Sunday everybody should put away his weekly books and read better ones.’

90 years on, that junior member in 1923 would probably not recognize a Sunday in 2014, but I believe that the church still has an important place in the life of this community. I wonder what someone in another 90 years (2104) will make of us as viewed through recent issues of UPDATE? Hopefully, still “altogether a very respectable portion of the community”.

Yours sincerely,

Letter from the Manse

February 3rd, 2014


Dear Friends,

There are a couple of songs which came into my mind in recent months which I used to enjoy listening to when I was a teenager, and which I have on a couple of CDs which could be classified as “Golden Oldies”. One is “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel and the other is “Silence is Golden”, a cover version of which was sung by The Tremeloes.

Why these came into mind comes from my experience of events where silence should be foremost. It was disappointing standing at the Town War Memorial on Remembrance Sunday last year to be able to hear people chatting during the Two Minute Silence. Disappointment turned to disbelief when someone felt the need to go the Cash Machine to get some money during the Two Minute Silence and the “bleeping” as the machine was activated interrupted the silence. Why was that necessary at such a time?

The same kind of thing happened the following day on 11th November at 11.00am. I happened to be in a supermarket at about 10.45am. There were announcements every few minutes leading up to 11.00am informing shoppers that we would be sharing with people all over the country in Two Minutes Silence, and inviting us to join in. Most folk did, although it was noticeable the number of people (of all ages) who felt the need to push past those of us standing in silence with a loud, rather impatient “Excuse me” and one couple saying to an elderly relative “Granny, the bread’s over there”.

A number of people who were at our service on Remembrance Day remarked how quiet and still the children in the FOG Squad were during the silence. All of them were aware of what we were doing and why we were doing it – they do the same on 11th November in schools – and they learn about the history behind the Act of Remembrance.

A similar situation arose on the evening the Christmas Lights were switched on in Carnoustie. The behaviour of some of the crowd and what was shouted during the prayer, raised many questions about the nature of the event – but why such antagonism? Why could there not be some quietness for 3 – yes, 3 minutes?

Maybe we just have to accept that there will always be people who are unaware of what might be going on around them, and what is an appropriate time to chat to their friends and withdraw money. If so, that is a great pity.

The most moving experiences of the two trips I have made to the Holy Land were crossing the Sea of Galilee in a boat. In the middle of the Sea, we stopped and the engines were switched off. You could literally hear the sound of silence. Worship consisted of silence, and concluded with singing “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind”. The words of the hymn took on a new sense of meaning – O calm of hills above; the silence of eternity; that deep hush subduing all our words; drop thy still dews of quietness; still small voice of calm.

Whenever I sing that hymn, I am immediately transported back to these times on the Sea of Galilee. All of us, wherever we are, can listen for the sound of silence, because in it, we can hear the still small voice of calm.

Yours sincerely,


Letter from The Manse

November 1st, 2013


Dear Friends,

For a variety of reasons this edition of UPDATE is being issued a week earlier than usual. This is to fit in with the schedule for the Christmas message to the town which is being delivered during the last week of November in time for the First Sunday of Advent. Advent is to have an important focus for us this year as you will be aware by the time you are reading this.

However, the phrase “a week earlier than usual” is a modest time scale, and now you might want to picture me wearing a “Bah, humbug” hat!  On 14th October we were in Perth for a family birthday celebration and as we walked to the restaurant, twinkling above George Street – yes, you’ve guessed it – Christmas Lights! Now, I know that it takes time to get the lights ready in towns and cities, but it does seem rather too early to have the lights on in mid-October!

As a family our Christmas decorations never went up until after the 16th December, the date of Andy’s birthday – and this is something we still do even although he has not been living in the Manse for quite some time!

When we lived in Bangladesh, as Christians in a Muslim society, decorations were put up on Christmas Eve in the Churches and homes – and you know, we still managed to get everything done!

As I was reflecting on how Christmas preparations get earlier each year, it struck me that at least in this country we have the freedom to decide when and how we celebrate Christmas.

There are so many countries across the world where Christians worship amidst the very real threat of terror attacks.  Who can forget the film of Rev Aftab Gohar, born in Peshawar in Pakistan and now a Church of Scotland minister in Grangemouth as he comforted relatives and friends in the aftermath of the bomb attacks in the church in which he was baptised, knowing that his mother, uncle, nieces and nephews and many friends had been killed in the attack.

What will Christmas be like for Syrian Christians? A delegate to the General Assembly a few years ago spoke of the difficulties Christians were facing with churches no longer safe places in which to congregate and services having to be held in secret.

Whenever it is that you will put up your Christmas Tree and decorations this year, spare a thought for those Christians who are denied the right to worship freely. We have the freedom to worship where and when we wish, but let’s not take it for granted.  Come along and join in our services – there is something for everyone.

Yours sincerely,


A Letter from the Manse August 2013

August 22nd, 2013

Dear Friends,

Stronchreggan, Trislaig, Camusnagaul Achaphubuil, Blaich and Duisky are probably names which do not mean a lot to you. Add in Conaglen, Drumsallie and Garvan and most of you are probably even more perplexed!

However these are names from my childhood. Achaphubuil was where my maternal grandfather was born in 1893 and where as a child with my mother and father we spent a month each year on the croft – a stone built, two roomed dwelling with a corrugated iron roof, a box room and an outside toilet on the far side of the byre which was some distance away. The place where I as a five year old got his feet stuck in the midden on his way to the toilet and lost a wellington boot!

The place where I have a vivid recollection of riding my tricycle from the croft down through the hay field to get the letters from the postman, and where the old MacBrayne’s buses travelled round Loch Eil from Fort William picking up and dropping off passengers. The place which put me off porridge for life when Aunt Babs, my grandfather’s cousin who farmed the croft, would bring the porridge out of the top drawer of the dresser and expect us to eat it!

Trislaig was where my grandfather went to school, Camusnagaul is where Archie McLean, the boatman would ferry passengers across to Fort William, Conaglen the place my grandfather used to work as a gardener and the other named places I used to be taken when visiting other relatives of my mother’s.

It was to Trislaig Village Hall that we went one afternoon last month for the Church Service. There were three ladies present and the Reader who was conducting the service, Frances and me! The hymns were sung unaccompanied only because there was no musical instrument in the hall, and after the service we all sat round a table filled with home-made scones and cakes.

When I mentioned that my grandfather had come from Achaphubuil one of the ladies asked for more details and to my surprise she knew Aunt Babs and even more surprising could tell me the exact date of her death!

There was also a photograph taken in 1905 of the Village Hall in the days it was a school although the lady who knew our family said that the photo was probably 1910 which would have been too late for my grandfather to have been in the photo.

What struck me during this holiday (we were based on Ardnamurchan for a week, before the delights of Glasgow and a week in Edinburgh doing a lot of grandson doting!) was the sense of community there is (and always has been) in these communities. It is the people in these communities who keep the public toilets open, people who serve morning and afternoon teas in Village Halls during the summer months. The folk at Trislaig are hoping to have a lunch club once a month for elderly people living on the shores of Loch Eil and who are more isolated now because there are no MacBrayne’s buses passing the bottom of the field.

One afternoon we went to the MacMillan Coffee Afternoon in Trislaig Hall and discovered that the boatman was willing to run the ferry outwith the stated times to bring folk from Fort Willam (and take them back!) so they could support the community. Going the second nautical mile!

And so as we look forward to the start of a new Church Year, let’s see how even more than we are already doing, we can become a people who serve the community in which we are placed. Some ideas I gleaned during our holiday are mentioned elsewhere – you may have others. Let us know what they are. Oh, and enjoy your porridge and hang on to your wellies!

Yours sincerely,


A Letter from the Manse

July 2nd, 2013


Dear Friends,

About 2 months ago, I was shopping in Dundee and found myself wandering through the children’s clothes section of a well-known store. My attention was caught by a brightly coloured orange tee-shirt with an embroidered lion motif. Just the thing for, as he was then, my four month old grandson. So I bought it. On the label it said – Made in Bangladesh.

I have clothes myself – shirts and jumpers and tee shirts – bought in a number of different well known stores – which also have labels which say Made in Bangladesh. Good quality, the kind of patterns and designs I would wear. And Alexander looked great in his lion motif tee-shirt!

Since 2009 whenever I have bought clothes in this country with a label which says Made in Bangladesh I have two pictures in my mind. It was in that year that I visited one of my former students who was just a few years younger than me, and met his son whom I had never met. Cyprian told me that he worked in a garment factory in Dhaka and was responsible for a team of about 200 workers, mainly women.

He was not allowed to tell me which firms the factory made clothes for, but he told me it was tee-shirts. The work involved long days – he said it was easier in the winter because it was cooler, but in the summer months it could get very hot in the factory. However, he told me that he enjoyed his work, and as a Christian he took his responsibilities for those for whom he was team leader very seriously. He told me that 95% of those who were in the team were women. I asked him what these women would be doing if they had not managed to get jobs in a garment factory. His answer came back immediately – they would at best be domestic servants in a wealthy home working for a pittance, at worst they would be working as prostitutes. He was able to support his own young wife and also his parents in that isolated village where we met.

The second picture I have in my mind is one which a number of people in Carnoustie Panbride also have. That of travelling through Dhaka and into the suburbs in early morning about 7 or 8 o’clock with the roads thronging with thousands of women going to start their shift in one of the thousands of garment factories which have sprung up in the last 25 or so years. We could see the factories – stark concrete buildings – guards at the gates, sometimes armed. The small row of windows on each floor open to let in fresh air, the ceiling fans whirling the hot air around.

The first picture is why I buy clothes made in Bangladesh because I have seen the difference such work can make to individuals and families.

But the second picture is the one which in recent weeks raises many more questions than it answers. Over 1100 people dead, 2,500 rescued – and hundreds still missing – in the 8 storey building housing garment factories which collapsed in Savar, Dhaka. The Church of Bangladesh which has a large compound in the same area sent bottled water, dry food, air fresheners and masks for those who were trying to rescue people; the young people of the church decided to go to hospitals to donate blood for those injured.

Bishop Paul with the encouragement of UK and European Mission Societies is establishing a group to campaign for improved conditions in factories (an initiative which many clothing companies have signed up to already) but also to look at factory safety, which a number have signed up to, but some are reluctant. Part of the problem seemed to be that the building was only designed for 5 levels but a further 3 were built. It is believed that builders also charged for finest grade steel for the pillars, but actually used cheaper and weaker material, and cut back on the quality and amount of cement used.

John Christie said at the Assembly “Please don’t stop buying clothes from Bangladesh because of what has happened”. Bishop Paul also said in an email – “Don’t stop buying clothes with labels which say Made in Bangladesh.”

A couple of weeks ago I bought two tee shirts for Alexander – both of them have labels which say Made in Bangladesh. I know how important the industry is to the people who work in it – and I know what the alternative is. And I can see the face of Cyprian in that village in 2009 telling me about his work in the garment factories. These workers need us to continue buying what they produce.

Yours sincerely,


Letter from the Manse April 2013

April 15th, 2013


Dear Friends,

Last year is referred to as “The Year of the Olympics” and next year will probably be referred to as “The Year of the Commonwealth Games” and the Year of Homecoming, at least in Scotland. However, this year, 2013 can be referred to as the Year of the Stewardship of Talents, at least by the congregation of Carnoustie Panbride.

As has been reported previously, there is a National Stewardship Campaign which has to be undertaken by all congregations in the Church of Scotland. Last year was our Stewardship of Time in which people were invited to commit themselves to giving an hour of their time each week to attend morning worship. However, you can commit yourselves to doing that at any time, and as I mentioned in my remarks at the Stated Annual Meeting, in light recent events we should remind ourselves of the saying “Use it or lose it” – “it” being the Church.

This year we are looking at the Stewardship of Talents. As part of my contribution, I am embarking on a Piano Playing Marathon on Saturday 8th June from 9am-5pm in the Panbride Hall.

There will be a 5 minute break just before each hour, and a 15 minute break for lunch at 12.45pm. Tea, coffee and “eats” will be available for anyone who wants to come along and show their support and listen to a wide variety of music. There will also be sponsor sheets at the door of the Church from the beginning of May, and there will be baskets in the hall on the day for donations. All money raised will go towards the kitchen appeal.

A wide variety of music will be played ranging from Beethoven to Mozart and Schubert and Chopin, music from the Shows, light classics and The Beatles and many other well-known tunes. I hope you will come along and enjoy the music and the hospitality – I just hope the fingers last out!

What talents would you be willing to offer? A number of people have been asking if there are plans to start the Lunch Club again now that we have the new kitchen up and running. The answer would need to be a qualified “yes” – but we need people to be willing to offer to help – preparing food, setting tables. Doing something like this would be combining two years of stewardship – your talents and also your time. Would you be willing to read the Scripture passages on a Sunday? Many have commented on the variety of accents which enhance the listening experience. Can you help? Do you have a talent for arranging flowers? Are you willing to offer that talent on a Sunday, or at Harvest Thanksgiving?

The Banner group has been on hold in recent years because of other commitments by those who made many of the banners we use in church. However, it would be good if we had some additional banners – we do not have one on the theme of “Pentecost”. It would be good to have banners on the theme of Lent – we have one for Palm Sunday and Easter Day. The runner on the Communion Table could do with some attention. Do you have a talent with needle and thread or a talent in designing banners?

These are just a few examples – I am sure you can think of more. If you have some talent you feel can be used in the Church, let me know, or leave a note in my pigeon hole in the Office, or drop me an email. I’d be delighted to hear from you.

I remember my own minister in Glasgow once saying “It’s not what you do that matters. It’s not what you have that matters. It’s what you do with what you have that matters”. In this Year of the Stewardship of Talents, let us all think about that – but more than just thinking about it – let’s do something about it!