"All Aboard" is a 60ft canal boat which was launched in May at the Polwarth Pontoon. The boat was bought by Polwarth Parish Church (The Kirk on the Canal) and an Edinburgh charity, People Know How. Buying the boat was the realisation of an ambition first mooted by members of Polwarth nearly 10 years ago. The project was launched in 2019.
The boat is intended to be used for spiritual and educational pursuits. When conditions allow, it will serve as a safe place to gather, socialise and improve wellbeing and community cohesion.
The boat will also host People Know How's project supporting children, young people, families, and adults, while providing work or volunteering experience for those who support the charity to maintain the boat. The boat was built by The New and Used Boat Company in Droitwich, Worcestershire, England and craned into the Union Canal at Wester Hailes. The yellow, white and blue wide beam canal boat has been custom designed inside with a galley kitchen, toilet, flexible social space and is wheelchair accessible.
In support, MUC made a donation towards the project.
The boat can either be seen, moored next to Polwarth Parish Church gardens, or from the towpath across the canal. It really is worth a look.
As you may be aware from our Lent edition of Link Magazine, over lockdown we took the opportunity to refresh the Main Hall. It has been painted, the wood sanded on the stage, the parquet floor varnished, and any loose wooden blocks mended.
Unfortunately, over the past few weeks weather conditions and possibly other factors have made the floor move and expand causing it to pop up in various areas. It is such a shame, as a lot of work had gone into renovating the woodwork and it was looking fantastic. The outcome of this is that the Main Hall is not usable for a period of time. We have had contractors come in, but as I’m sure you are aware the trades are extremely busy now and so it could take some time for the work to be carried out.
With so many groups coming back in September, we are doing everything we can to accommodate everyone using the Small Hall, the Church, and the Vestibule. Hopefully, this will only be for a short time, but we will keep everyone informed going forward.
It’s far from being a comfortable read, though it never ceases to be amusing and thoughtful.
Setting the scene for the book, Skinner, an award-winning comedian, television and radio host, explains: “Imagine someone on a pilgrimage, stopping at churches, martyr-related tourist spots and sacred wells, while dressed in a medieval jester outfit.
“The intention is serious and completely devout, but the pilgrim just feels more at home in the motley than in sackcloth and ashes. He feels jest is an integral part of who he is, and it seems wrong to deny that part.”
Skinner sees his role as a comic as integral to this faith, although some ‘fellow pilgrims’ may be uncomfortable with someone who seems to see humour all around him – and can easily make others laugh.
Yet Frank Skinner raises deep issues in the chapters of this slim volume, including questions that will connect with people both within the Christian faith, and those standing outside.
He describes his prayer life as “a telepathic dip into a long, ongoing conversation with thousands of tabs left open and no helpful ‘new readers start here’ summaries or simplifications for the neutral observer.”
Skinner’s ‘prayer book’ is on my bookshelf alongside ’10 Second Sermons,’ (Darton, Longman & Todd) written by fellow comedian Milton Jones in 2011. Again, the comedian’s quirky view on life brings fresh insights and challenges.
Jones, a master of one-line jokes, describes gossip as “bullying people who are not there,” lust as “rehearsing for a play in which you shouldn’t have a part” and salvation as “like being returned to the factory settings – but you have to admit there is a factory, and that there could be some settings.”
One of my favourites is Jones’s description of the Holy Spirit as “a real person you can invite in. But watch out – in time He will go over, pull the fridge from the wall and say, ‘What’s all this mess under here?’ But at least He helps clear up.”
Both Milton Jones and Frank Skinner are comedians of faith – comedic commentators with a gift of making us see the world with fresh insight. And, as importantly, making us laugh.
Revd Peter Crumpler
Associate Minister at St Paul's Church, Hatfield Road, St Albans
This year the displays have been especially lovely, maybe because of the ‘dark’ times that Covid has presented us all with. But have you also noticed the vast array of sunflowers that have greeted shoppers entering Marks and Spencers, Tesco, Waitrose or those gardens touched by warm walls and long exposure to the sun. Now sunflowers have a lovely capacity to delight the eye of adult and child alike. Better still when they are growing in a large field, standing several feet tall, the land, a sea of yellow as far as the eye can see. You will notice that growing sunflowers confidently tilt their heads to always face the sun. Once fully grown they still maintain an eastward facing position.
The Christian church is no stranger to the significance of facing eastward for prayer and worship. It is rooted in ancient tradition—the Garden of Eden planted in the East (Genesis 2:8) and a belief that the Messiah would approach Jerusalem from the East. In the 2nd century, we know that both Syrian and Romanian Orthodox Christians hung a Christian cross on the eastern wall of their house, symbolising ‘their souls facing God, talking with him, and sharing their spirituality with the Lord’.
Perhaps the sunflower models a deep truth for us, that growth into maturity comes through orientation towards the sun’s light and warmth. As Christians we are called to prayerfully orientate our lives in the direction of the Son of God, whatever the weather. Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, has written a recent book entitled ‘Looking East in Winter.’ It’s an evocative title. The winter of covid is not yet past, our lives may have held other ‘wintry moments’ in recent times, but let the sunflowers inspire us to keep ‘looking east’, to keep praying for the transformation of our lives and our world.
Written by an Elder
It is so good to see people able to come back to church for a service and feel safe when they know they can be assured we continue to follow procedures as required. And there is more good news as lockdown eases once more - WE CAN NOW SING!
But you know we have much more to look forward to. We are inviting the Romanian Orthodox community to base themselves at the Church from September onwards. Their priests will share the building rather like the free church from Cornerstone did prior to Covid. This is an exciting venture in ecumenism and no doubt they will bring blessings to us. In other news a new Italian assistant is coming to us in September. He is called Giovanni Bernadini and he is training in Rome for the Waldensian church - the Italian protestant church. He is 28 and very enthusiastic. Another adventure for us is the opportunity to enter into a partnership with Edinburgh Napier University to support our work with the Department of Student Wellbeing and the Chaplaincy team. The chaplaincy team will use our building for student services, counselling and meetings. In the next few weeks we will reshape the children's ministry with the help of the national youth advisor, and in terms of our work with older people, we are now invited by the care homes to resume our services at the start of September.
I know it has been a deeply frustrating time for people at many levels: we have lived with separation, isolation, anxiety and a sense of pessimism, but there are signs of new life and hope emerging as the summer progresses. As we start to see restrictions lifted, which have been in place for 16 months, there will be those among us who will welcome this move and others who won’t. This is a landscape which we will need to live well together as we all make individual choices. What we are not doing is being released to ‘go back’ to what used to be the norm; that is no longer the present and we should not think that we can simply pick up where we left off. Instead, I hope we will commit ourselves to shaping a new future; one which recognises the pain and brokenness that some are feeling, one which respects the exhaustion many are experiencing, one which acknowledges the fear and anxiety in our communities, and one which also sees the joy of those are able to live without restriction once again. Just as at the start of lockdown many people immediately thought of neighbours and those who are vulnerable and sought to offer support, so too we now need to be paying great attention to all those around us with various vulnerabilities and fears, not least in our worshipping communities and local contexts. What does it mean for us to be the body of Christ as we live the weeks ahead? Furthermore, as we saw at the beginning of lockdown, in March 2020, people respond in different ways due to their circumstances, personalities and experiences. There will be those who are longing simply to live as before with no physical distancing or face coverings and who will delight at being in a crowd once again. There will also be those who are anxious, not least those who are still not fully vaccinated, and those with particular personal and family health situations. Whilst it is true that going forward we need to enable one another to live with the realities of a virus which is not going to suddenly disappear, and not be driven by fear, we do also need to be sensible, cautious and compassionate as we continue to live this next season one step at a time. This is the ‘story’ into which we are emerging, and every thread of it is a significant one. Jesus’ focus was always on God and the Kingdom, and his activity rooted in love and prayer. This is a good model for us right now, as we discern our new normal.
With love and blessings,
People were very generous, including the congregation at MUC, and I managed to raise £14265. So, a massive THANK YOU to all of you who supported me.
Other colleagues at SMC participated in the fundraising also, and together we have raised £31328, well on our way to our £42000 goal. This will make a huge difference to all the young people the charity is able to help at this challenging time, and our grateful thanks on behalf of them to all our supporters.
For more information about the charity, you can visit www.mindroom.org.
If you would like to donate https://mindroom-walk-in-my-shoes.raisely.com/judy-wagner
- Judy Wagner
If anyone would like to help do the flowers one weekend, either on Saturday for the service on Sunday or on the Sunday morning itself, please just let me know. Alternatively, anyone who would like to contribute money for someone else to do the arrangements please also get in contact with me. Thank you.
Maggie McKenzie (0131 261 4908)
The Link Magazine is a longstanding publication by the staff members and congregants of Morningside United Church. Articles are published as a newsletter every two months, and discuss a wide range of topics that affect our community and church life. Traditionally, it has been circulated in print and PDF formats - to church goers during service and via email.
In our ongoing efforts to grow and evolve, we have decided to take The Link to the web! Here, The Link articles will be published as a blog. Feel free to comment, share, and get involved!
If you have any questions about The Link, contact Sarah in the church office at 0131 447 3152 or by email at email@example.com.
To explore past articles of The Link, click below:
It seems to me that spring sunshine makes lockdown a little more bearable, and certainly there is a sense of tentative optimism as we look forward to moving into a different level of restriction. The news of vaccination success helps, but I am still conscious that we have just emerged from the most miserable winter on record. Some of you will remember the winter of 1963, and some of you may even remember the winter of 1948. But for me, 2020-21 was just so hard for many - perhaps the worst winter! It’s been about so much more than just the weather. We all know the sort of things we have been struggling with here in Morningside and across Scotland and the world.
Many clergy have used the past few months to preach about hope, which is surely the strongest of human emotions, and in this post Easter time, we can see that spring is emerging - splashing colour and new life around us. This adds to a sense of guarded optimism, and this is a joy! It has been great to meet people rejoicing in family reunions, albeit outside. It’s wonderful our older people in care can be visited. I have been delighted to hear several ladies and men tell me of their relief at being able to visit the hairdresser or to make plans to return to the gym or swimming. There is a palpable sense of hope.
Here in the church, we too are planning to return to life to bring back the normality we can only remember from more than a year ago. It will happen slowly - the gradual return of simple things such as refreshments after services, social groups and even singing. We will keep you all informed as these things become possible. --But even the thought of it feels good.
I am also conscious that in some way and at some point, we shall need to look back in remembrance for those we have lost, and to give thanks for those who have worked so hard to keep us fed and cared for over this unprecedented time. I am conscious too of those who are financially compromised by the economic fallout of the pandemic, those using foodbanks, those exhausted by providing care services or working in the NHS. Even now, in this time of lengthening days and spring warmth, there are those much worse off than us and in much greater need of hope!
Pray for them, pray for the Church and pray above all for those you love best. Might the light and hope of Easter fall upon all of us as we emerge from this lockdown.
- Rev. Steven
The Link is a monthly publication by members and staff of Morningside United Church.