Monday 17th June, 2013
* Work continues most satisfactorily on the north side of the Cathedral. On the north east side (Manor Place) of the Walpole Hall the foundations for the new medical centre and Cathedral Workshop have been laid. On the north west side (Palmerston Place) the new paths are nearing completion, most of the ground has been levelled, beautiful stone slabs now set off the Walpole Hall (the same will happen to Old Coates House) and some sowing is expected in the very near future. Interestingly what looked like the remains of a wall was found to the east of Old Coates House. All worked stopped, the City Archaeologist was alerted, and the wall carefully excavated. Photographs were taken, and then work was allowed to continue.
* Tribute must be paid to James Mckay. A condition of the granting of planning permission for the medical centre and new stonemasons’ workshop required that the entire north side of the Cathedral be seen as a single entity (and not simply the NE corner where the medical centre is being built). This in turn meant that the area to the west of the Walpole Hall (the old playground) had to be landscaped with paths allowing disabled access as well. NHS Lothian made a contribution to this work, but Jim by his own fund raising efforts has more than doubled the amount we can spend on this work.
* In partnership with the National Trust for Scotland this month sees the arrival of The Bannockburn Heraldic Banners which will hang in the Cathedral Nave throughout June, July and August. It will be wonderful to have the Cathedral for a short time as home to part of our history and for this to be done with the National Trust.
Thursday 25th April, 2013
* Congratulations to Cathedral member and author John Gifford MBE on the award of an Honorary Fellowship of RIAS (The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland). John has written many of the Pevsner Architectural Guides: ‘Buildings of Scotland’, and all of us share in the joy of this richly deserved honour.
* Work is progressing on the north side of the Cathedral. Bulldozers have been bulldozing, and foundations are about to start.
* Richard Pankhurst was a much loved and respected member of the Cathedral. At his Service I said:
“It’s right that a service take place in this Cathedral, the church Richard most faithfully attended and served. Others will pay tribute to him as a scholar and botanist; let me say just a word about Richard the pilgrim. He faced his diagnosis by looking death in the eye. “Graham, you’re meant to know about these things, help me prepare.” And that’s precisely what we did. And in that strange irony it emerged that I was the one being fed rather than doing the feeding; I the one whose faith was strengthened by Richard’s obvious courage.
On Palm Sunday evening I took communion to Richard and Anne in the Royal. The makeshift altar at his bedside contained his laptop and a USB stick to ensure that his botanical database was up-to-date, a palm cross, the bread and the wine of the Eucharist, eaten and drunk in memory of him whose holy week was beginning and good Friday looming. Unlike his Lord, although that Holy Week was his last week, Richard did not last until Good Friday, but died peacefully with wife and daughter at his side. I will give thanks not simply for his friendship, for his contribution to scholarship and to the life of this Cathedral, for being the lovely person he was, but also for leaving me an icon of faith and of faithful acceptance and of trust in God’s love, for himself and for Anne.”
Friday 22nd March, 2013
On Wednesday 13 March Philip Crosfield died, and his funeral was in the Cathedral on 22 March. His passing marks the end of an era. Philip (or The Revd Canon GPC Crosfield OBE) was Provost from 1970 – 1990 and Vice-Provost for two years before that.
My predecessor’s contribution to the life and witness of the Cathedral was simply immense. So many speak so movingly and appreciatively of his pastoral care. To me he was a shining example of being a visionary. Two aspects of his work bear witness to this. Philip could not see why the obvious advantages of a chorister’s education be restricted to choristers and not to a wider circle of young musicians: thus our Choir School was transformed into St Mary’s Music School, Scotland’s specialist music school, with instrumentalist pupils joining and the educational provision being extended to the age of 18. The fact that the Music School has gone from strength to strength (as instanced by glowing HMIE reports and excellent exam results) is indicative of the firm musical and educational foundations given to the School by Philip and his fellow founders. The other example of his vision and commitment to young people was the creation of St Mary’s stone masonry Workshop: “putting old skills into young hands” meant that in the then period of high youth unemployment the cohort of 6 apprentices did indeed acquire skills after their 4 year apprenticeship to enable them to move into secure employment.
Philip has always been a good friend to me: supportive, appreciative, generous. To Sue and their children and grandchildren we extend our love and prayers; and to God we commend a faithful pastor, priest and Provost. a man of vision, a man of music.
On 8 March in the Cathedral a different farewell took place as through words and music all gathered to celebrate Jennifer Rimer’s seventeen years as Head Teacher of St Mary’s Music School.
Finally March has also seen work start on our Medical Centre and landscaping. These works will last one year. It will bring to fruition one of Philip’s dreams by creating a purpose-built permanent home for our stone masons’ workshop. It will mean once more the Cathedral using its resources to help the community.
We witness the Easter Story of resurrection all around us.
Friday 22nd February, 2013
News – Update
On 18 February work began on the redevelopment of the north side of the Cathedral. This falls into 2 phases, and phase one has begun. Phase One is basically essential preparatory work for the landscaping of the area in front of Old Coates House and the playground. This area will be fenced off until 15 March and access prohibited whilst this work is taking place. Phase Two starts on Monday 18 March and is scheduled to last 51 weeks. The Cathedral car park will be closed, and there will be no access from Manor Place past Old Coates House to Palmerston Place. From Manor Place to get to the Cathedral’s west door go either via Bishop’s Walk or along Chester St to the traffic lights and turn left into Palmerston Place or enter the Cathedral by the Manor Place door. Substantial grants from NHS Lothian, the Scottish Government and Wren, as well as a number of individual donations, have enabled us to begin the landscaping now. The north west side of the Cathedral grounds will look magnificent when the work is done: the landscaping is so designed to complement the buildings on the site – the Walpole Hall, the Song School, Old Coates House, and the Cathedral itself.
1. With this month’s magazine you should have received the 2013 Cathedral Stewardship material. All we ask is that you read it carefully and respond. You should also have received our Lent, Holy Week and Easter card which gives details of some of the special services and events as we approach this holy season. Additional copies of the card (and indeed the stewardship material) are available on request from the Cathedral office.
2. A new face arrives in the Cathedral office in March. Oliver Brewer (whom many will know as one of our tenor lay clerks) joins the Cathedral office team and will be doing the work Sarah Grotrian has been doing so lovingly for the last 5 years. Sarah herself will be concentrating on Cathedral exhibitions and on her work as Appeal Secretary of the Cathedral Workshop.
3. Sundays in March offer something for everyone! Prof John Riches speaks on Fair Trade (3rd March); 10th March is Mothering Sunday, so all are invited to treat their mums to a Mothering Sunday special of croissants and coffee in the Chapter House from 9.30am; “Dr Livingstone, I presume” must be one of the best sounds bytes ever and, in celebration of the bicentenary of Livingstone’s birth, the Right Revd James Tengatenga, Bishop of Southern Malawi and Chair of the Anglican Communion Council, will be preaching on 17th March.
4. Margaret Gibbs, a great supporter and organiser of the Mothers’ Union within the Cathedral and the Diocese, died peacefully at home this month. Margaret’s energy and commitment were exemplary, and she will be greatly missed by all of us who were privileged to know her.
5. Jennifer Rimer retires as Head Teacher of St Mary’s Music School at the end of March after 17 years of distinguished service. In honour of all Jennifer has given to young people the Cathedral and the Music School join forces on Friday 8 March at 5pm for an hour of music and words followed by a reception in the Resurrection Chapel. Everyone is invited to come along and acknowledge all she has given us: in the Cathedral generations of choristers owe her a special debt of gratitude. There will be no Choral Evensong that day.
Holy Week and Easter beckon when cries of “Hosanna” will become shouts of “Crucify him!” The Liturgy of Holy Week helps us enter into that most precious journey, so that on Easter Day we too can greet the Risen Lord.
Tuesday 29th January, 2013
THE main news item for February should be the start of work on the redevelopment of the north side of the Cathedral. The actual timing remains somewhat elastic, but work should begin soon. The first piece of activity will be the removal of the concrete play ground on the north west (Palmerston Place) side of the Cathedral as preparatory work for that entire area to be completely landscaped. The car park will be closed, and the Workshop (temporarily) moved into the car park. It is anticipated that the building of the new medical centre, stonemasons’ workshop, renovation of the Walpole Hall and the landscaping will take some 12 months to complete from start to finish. That’s what I have been told: “famous last words!” I hear you reply …..
Lent offers us a time of reflection. In this month’s Magazine you will find special activities to help or indeed challenge you as we journey towards the events of Holy Week and Easter. May God bestow upon us the spirit of holy discipline that we may deny ourselves and take up our cross this Lent.
Friday 23rd November, 2012
In ADVENT the Church changes gear, as once again we hear the Baptist’s cry of “repent” and the message of the angel to Mary and we look to the birth of the Christ Child. As at that first Advent, so now the Holy Land is in the midst of turbulent times with Isaiah’s vision and prophecy of peace seemingly as distant as ever. The journey to Bethlehem is a journey of discovery as we make room for him for whom there was indeed no room, either in the inn or in our world. Proclaimed by angels as the Prince of Peace; found by shepherds who left their flocks by night; worshipped by star-led magi from the east with gifts for the new born king; the Christ Child seeks our response on that holy night when we see God in human form.
This month’s Magazine includes all the details of our Christmas services. There are two additional special services this year.
Choral Evensong on Sunday 9 December will also celebrate the life of the painter A E Borthwick. You can see two of his paintings in the north choir aisle. “The Presence” is probably our most famous painting and visitors come from all over the world to see it. The artist painted this work in the Cathedral, where he and his wife were married, and it shows a kneeling figure with the Risen Christ behind her with his hand raised to bless or to absolve, and with the High Altar in the distance. A E Borthwick was born in 1871 and died on 7th December 1955 and there will be some appropriate music of his period for Evensong. After Choral Evensong there will be a Reception in the Resurrection Chapel. A E Borthwick’s great-nephew Henry Borthwick and his wife Elspeth will be joining us for the occasion. They have kindly lent us some previously unexhibited Borthwick family drawings and preliminary sketches which will be on display.
Christmas and Cathedrals and carols all go hand in hand. In addition to our two Services of Nine Lessons and Carols (22 and 24 December at 7.30pm), this year Christian Aid has asked us to host their ‘Big Christmas Sing’ on Sunday 16 December at 3.30pm as part of its UK-wide campaign to stamp out world poverty. We are privileged to do so. The Cathedral Choir will be joined by choirs and congregations from other churches in town: afterwards there will be mince pies in the Resurrection Chapel.
The Cathedral’s AGM was on the last Sunday in November. The reports from all our committees and groups revealed just how much activity is going on in and around the Cathedral. AGMs are always interested in finance. I was able to report on a most welcome increase in income, but price increases have more than wiped out that increase. The Cathedral remains in a healthy state, generous legacies this past year have certainly helped, but as always our largest single and most robust source of income is what individual members give to the Cathedral, week in week out. Work on the new medical centre is scheduled to begin in January and to last 12 months. Income from this in due course will be used to fund capital projects for the Cathedral.
Bethlehem and 2013 beckon. Exactly as in that stable so the Cathedral’s doors will remain open, so that all, including shepherds and wise men and women, may come and kneel at his crib.
Friday 26th October, 2012
Work on the north east corner of the Cathedral grounds as part of the medical centre development will begin in early January, and it is anticipated that this will last for 12 months. The Walpole Hall will be out of action during this time, but the final results will be amazing. Once work starts, the Cathedral car park will be unavailable.
George Scott has been a pillar of strength as the person in charge of the Cathedral stewards for many, many years. With a congregation of 2 dozen or 200 or 2000, George quietly and beautifully has masterminded his teams of stewards to ensure that whatever the service everything works like clockwork. So ably supported by Margaret, he makes a Provost’s life so much easier, because I always know that one of George’s teams will steward the service sensitively and lovingly. The Cathedral owes George a huge debt of gratitude. George’s successor is Iain Morrison who I know will continue the excellent work.
The delights of public transport from North Berwick on Sundays have made it increasingly difficult for Precentor Mark Harris to get to the Cathedral. Mark will sing a farewell Evensong on Sunday 4 November at 3.30pm, but I do know he is most willing to help out whenever he can. We wish him and Harriet and the children every happiness in their new home in East Lothian.
Work on the upper floor (north end) of Old Coates House is well under way and should be finished before Christmas.
November is also month for AGMs. The first AGM is that of The Friends of St Mary’s Cathedral and takes place on Remembrance Sunday at 2pm, followed by a devotional performance of Duruflé Requiem, and a Reception hosted by the Friends in the Resurrection Chapel immediately afterwards. The Cathedral’s AGM follows our Eucharist on Sun 25th November when Cathedral Council reports will be submitted, the year’s audited accounts presented, and I will give an overview of the last 12 months. All of us are well aware of the current economic climate with its combination of very low interest rates, poor dividends, increasing costs and with not too many signs of recovery over the horizon: against that kind of backdrop 2012’s overall increase in Cathedral income and giving represents a substantial achievement. In 2012 the Cathedral has also benefited from some most generous legacies.
Finally it is a great joy to have Vice-Provost John McLuckie and Chaplain Willie Shaw as members of the Clergy team and beginning to make their own distinctive contributions to our life and witness.
Thursday 27th September, 2012
October sees the Cathedral clergy team restored to full strength.
Willie Shaw’s deaconing at the end of September means the safe arrival of Nicki’s replacement.
John McLuckie, in case you have missed the weekly service sheet, has been appointed Vice-Provost. Currently a Chaplain at the Royal Marsden, John has served at St Ninian’s Cathedral, Perth; King’s College, Cambridge; and churches in Edinburgh and Glasgow. John has many gifts and I am delighted that he and Sarah will be joining us in the Cathedral.
The funeral of Doris Smith saw us giving thanks for the life of the person who was the longest serving member of the Cathedral’s congregation. Bishop Brian paid warm tribute to his Mum, as did the bell ringers as they honoured one of their number.
The news of the sudden death of Geoff Millard caused many tears to be shed. Hundreds gathered in the Cathedral to give thanks for this loving and lovely man and to hold Jane and their family in our thoughts and prayers. Rest in peace, dear friend.
Thursday 30th August, 2012
August sees two of our dedicated servants move: one heads west to Oban, one heads south to London.
Nicky McNelly has served the Cathedral with love and care and I know how many of you have valued her ministry. What is clearly our loss is a big gain for St John’s Cathedral, Oban. We wish her and Iain every happiness in Oban. A presentation was made to Nicki on her last Sunday, and we hope she will treasure what we gave her as we most certainly treasure all she has given us.
Assistant Organist Nicholas Wearne has through his playing brought beauty and inspiration to our music and worship. He now heads to St Martin-in-the-Fields, and all of us wish him every success in London.
New faces and new duties: Willie Shaw (who will be ordained at the end of the month) and Assistant Organist Donald Hunt now join the team, and I am delighted to welcome them. On a personal note I have been appointed Chair of Court at Edinburgh Napier University. The Chairman of Court is responsible for leadership of the university’s governing body.
The news of the sudden death of Geoffrey Millard made many hearts ache. There will be a Service of Thanksgiving for Geoff’s life at 3.30pm on Sunday 23rd September for this loving and lovely man. I know all of us are keeping Jane and their family in our thoughts and prayers. Rest in peace, dear friend.
Monday 2nd July, 2012
The summer months will witness a number of changes, as some familiar faces move on and new faces arrive. We say farewell to two well-known and loved faces and extend a warm welcome to their successors.
* Our Chaplain, Nicki McNelly, as previously announced, heads west to St John’s Cathedral, Oban and the Diocese of Argyll and the Isles. St John’s Cathedral will be richly blessed in having at its helm a fine and faithful priest with strong pastoral skills who leaves behind in Edinburgh many who have greatly benefitted from her ministry. Nicki will celebrate for the last time at 10.30am on Sunday 26 August, after which a presentation will be made to her in gratitude for all that she has given to us. We wish her and Iain and the girls every happiness in their new home in Oban.
* Willie Shaw completes his ordination training this summer and then joins us as Chaplain. Willie has been combining his theological studies with working with children with special needs. I am delighted that he is coming to the Cathedral and know that we will benefit from his gifts.
* Assistant Organist Nick Wearne is heading south after the Edinburgh Festival to London’s famous St Martin-in-the-Fields. All of us at the Cathedral have valued his sensitive accompaniments and wonderful concerts and voluntaries. We wish him every success in his playing career in London.
* Donald Hunt, former Organ Scholar at St Paul’s Cathedral, London and Assistant Organist at St Mary’s, Newark, succeeds Nick as Assistant Organist at the Cathedral. At audition Donald impressed the panel, and everyone who met him is delighted that he is coming north to work here at the Cathedral and at Fettes College.
* On both the General Synod and Diocesan web sites can be seen the beginnings of our search for a new Vice-Provost.
The Prestonpans Tapestry makes a return visit this summer; and you will see from the Cathedral’s 2012 Festival Leaflet (included in the magazine) the amazing range of activities going on in the Cathedral this August. All of this happens because of the huge commitment of a relatively small number of people to whom I owe a great debt of gratitude.
Behind the scenes this summer will be the on-going detailed work on the development and landscaping of the north side of the Cathedral, and we are still on schedule for an October start date.
During July and August the leaders of our Sunday Club and Junior Youth Group have a well-deserved rest: the library will be there on Sunday mornings in the summer months for our younger members. I am delighted to report that on the first Sunday of each month from now on there will be a crèche in the Chapter House, run by mums (and dads), for our increasing number of babies and toddlers.
The summer months see a large number of visitors to the Cathedral, especially on Sunday mornings. Coffee on Sunday mornings is now served in the Resurrection Chapel, where a warm welcome awaits everyone.
Enjoy the summer!
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