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T he magazine of Leith Churches For um

December 2012 Vol. 44/12

From the Chair Rev. Iain May First may I say what a privilege it is to take over the Chair of the Leith Churches Forum from the Rev. John Tait who retired at the end of October after 27 years of dedicated service to the church in Leith. John has been committed to the Forum for all his time in Leith and has worked tirelessly to ensure a strong and committed church is present in Leith and beyond. John has on many occasions talked of the strength we have when we work together, not just ministers but Kirk Sessions and congregations. All working to ensure there is a stronger Christian presence, visible to all, in Leith. So I just want to thank John for all his hard work and would like to wish John and Marlyn, on behalf of Leith Churches Forum, a peaceful and long retirement. We must now move forward as I am sure John would want and encourage us to do. There is still a great deal of change occurring here in Leith. Two churches have new ministers and two are vacant. This means that over a period of 18 months or so, it is all change at the ministerial level in Leith. This however, should not halt or delay any new activities or initiatives here in Leith. One thing I want to emphasise is that we all have a role in ensuring the Leith Churches Forum makes a difference and continues to work towards closer relationships between the churches. I want to encourage all members of the four Church of Scotland congregations to look again at their own commitment to the Forum, look again at where they would like to be involved, look again at what they would like the Forum to do and ultimately be! Please feel free to contact me on my e mail if you want to find out more about the work of the Forum and where and when you can be involved. Contact me with any ideas, observations, and comments regarding the work of the Forum. I need your input to gain an insight into where the folk of the Leith Churches think the Forum fits within the Christian presence within Leith. With my blessings to you all E mail: The Forum Focus Team wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a happy New Year


Rev. John Tait: an appreciation John Innes Born in Kirkcaldy in 1946, John Moffat Tait obtained a B.Sc. in chemistry at Heriot Watt and worked for a number of years in the chemical industry before being called to the ministry in the Church of Scotland. In 1985 at the age of 41, John preached as sole nominee for Leith St. Paul’s and took up the charge in September that year. A few years later the St Paul’s church buildings were found to need extensive repairs estimated to cost over £230,000. Consideration was given to redeveloping the site but difficulty in obtaining permission to demolish the existing building meant that the plans were abandoned. When the neighbouring Pilrig & Dalmeny Street Church became vacant in 1998 upon the retiral of Iain Dunn and with St. Paul’s still struggling to raise the funds for much needed repairs, Presbytery proposed that the two congregations should be united to form Pilrig St. Paul’s with John Tait as the minister of the united charge using the Pilrig & Dalmeny Street buildings. The union came into effect on 24 February 1999, a date easy for John to remember as it was his 53rd birthday! John has presided over a very positive union, both sets of Elders and office bearers worked hard to make the union as painless as possible. Since his arrival at Pilrig St. Paul’s, John has been keen to expound his enthusiasms for social justice: the Make Poverty History campaign, Fair Trade and ecumenical relations. Also working in the Open Doorway area opened in 2004 by Very Rev Dr. Andrew McLellan which was partly funded by the proceeds of the sale of the St. Paul’s manse. This realised our vision of opening the church doors more often and providing a place of quiet reflection and a listening ear to those who needed it. John was also the last remaining minister from those who formed the groundbreaking Leith Churches Forum to explore working more closely as a parish grouping, long before the phrase was introduced to Presbytery. John also has served as chair of the ecumenical Leith Churches Together.


The large parish formed by the union of St. Paul’s and Pilrig & Dalmeny Street (9,000 homes – one of the largest in Edinburgh) generates a large amount of pastoral work and many funerals each year, almost one a week. Many people’s only contact the church or a with a minister is during the huge stress and grief of the death of a loved one. John performed many funerals each year and brings his own quiet reflection and a sense of knowing the deceased to that distressing time. John’s pastoral work included chaplaincy at St Columba’s Hospice, Findlay House Nursing Home, Leith Community Treatment Centre and Lorne Primary School. For the last four years John has worked with our Director of Music to support and develop the Vocal Vibes music outreach program for young children which has spawned our junior choristers. The congregation at Pilrig St. Paul’s will miss John’s thoughtful sermons, his singing in the choir, his chaplaincies, his enthusiasm for Leith Churches Forum and Leith Churches Together. We will also remember John’s association with the colourful Ghanaian bursar Sylvanus Tettey who was placed with Pilrig St. Paul’s in 2002. We also need to recognise the enormous contribution made to church life by John’s wife, Marlyn, an Elder, Christian Aid convener, organising Church Flowers, working in the Open Doorway, providing support for John, reading in church, leading prayers. Marlyn really threw herself into church life and will be greatly missed by us all. John and Marlyn have both been an integral part of the life of Pilrig St. Paul’s since 1999 and Leith St. Paul’s since 1985 before that. They exemplify what it is to live a life of Christian service and care. They will be greatly missed. As our congregation moves from more than a decade of stability to a period of uncertainty and change as we seek a new minister, I’d like to thank John for his 27 years of ministry and wish him all the very best for his retirement. Please take the time to enjoy retirement, move into your new home with Marlyn and learn what it is like to enjoy a life without the demands of a parish ministry.


Ministry Team Pauline Rycroft DCS, Leith St Andrew's. As a Leith wide Ministry team, we meet regularly to exchange ideas, share fellowship and update one another on what is happening in and around our parishes. Leith is an ever changing community and this goes for our churches too.Our ministry team has changed once more and indeed it will continue to change into next year. Our most recent change came in the form of saying 'cheerio' to Rev John Tait as he embarks on his retirement. We send him our prayers as this begins. With change come firsts and this Advent and Christmas bring with it a series of firsts: A first Christmas for Rev Iain May and the congregation of South Leith, A first Christmas for Pilrig St Paul's in a time of vacancy, A first Christmas for Leith St Andrew's with Rev. Sara Embelton as Locum. Our first service of the New Year will be our Leith Forum Epiphany Service which will take place in South Leith on 6th January 2013 at 11am to which all are welcome. I take this time to wish the folks of Leith Churches Forum a peaceful and joyful Christmas. Leith St Andrew's Vacancy Joanne Baird The closing date for applications for our vacancy was mid September. After considering the interest, the nominating committee agreed to interview in early November. Confidentiality means we can't say much more but watch this space! We are fortunate to have Rev. Sara Embleton continuing to lead us in worship during our vacancy, helping to ensure that our Church life carries on as normal in what can be a difficult period for any congregation.


Leith Churches Together/Ocean Terminal Jennifer Stark The summer is a quieter time for me in Ocean Terminal – though not for their staff! - as the break in other church-related activities allows me to spend more time there. There have been changes in security staffing and familiar faces have gone, but reassuringly, I have found that most new staff already know about my presence and recognition comes quickly. Early November saw two events within a short space: our Seafarers’ Christmas Parcel event, again with a very special Seafarers’ Christmas Card designed by a local schoolchild. With John Tait’s retirement, I’ve become involved with the chaplaincy work at Lorne Primary School, where he and Marlyn built up a close relationship with staff and children over many years – that was instantly clear on my first visit from the greetings shouted to them in the playground. The school threw themselves into the project with enthusiasm, and the winner was a talented 10-year old, Ryan. He and his mother visited us to write a card and have their picture taken. Our two days in Ocean Terminal went very well, with a good buzz around the stall, and children and parents stopping to write or draw on the cards. Thanks to all who gave donations, came and visited, or helped out – and especially to the core team who sorted and packed in North Leith Session House the day before. The initiative has received funding at national level this year from all three seafaring welfare organisations – Apostleship of the Sea, Mission to Seafarers and Sailors’ Society – and this year we incorporated a special shoulder bag as part of the gift. Altogether, 700 parcels will be given out this year in ports around Scotland – Grangemouth, Greenock, Hound Point, Braefoot Brae, Troon and of course, Leith – all with greetings from Leith enclosed. Remembrance Sunday saw a short Act of Remembrance in the Ocean Terminal mall, honouring all victims of war - and peacemakers too. This built on the ‘Pause for Peace’ for 9/11 last year, and again I had good cooperation from the security and management in arranging a ‘faith moment’ in what can seem like a very secular environment. But the displays and adverts and cash registers are not the whole story. I’ve been struck by how shops support each other – the gym will lend an exercise.


bike for a charity ‘ride’, or one staff member will keep an eye on another shop across the mall. The Seafarers’ Christmas card will be on sale from me or through your churches. Leith Churches Together had its first meeting of the ‘new year’ in September at St Mary’s. This year we are supporting L’Arche, an ecumenical charity (founded by Jean Vanier) which provides community houses for people with learning difficulties. A new house for older members is in the planning. We hope to have a Christmas Carol slot again in Ocean Terminal. Watch your notice boards and service sheets for more information, and start your voice exercises now! Mission Shaped Intro This 6-week course, incorporating discussion, worship, film clips and fun, will run again in January-February. The term ‘mission’ needs unpacking in the 21st century, and the course offers a chance to do this in a supportive space, with materials that are thought-provoking and drawn from a wide range of traditions and contexts. Contact Jennifer Stark if you would like to know more. Bring a friend - the wider the range of backgrounds, the richer the experience will be. Statistics for Mission To understand God's thoughts we must study statistics, for these are the measure of His purpose (Florence Nightingale) If Scotland was a village of 100 people: 20 would claim their pension. 7 would be in primary school. 6 in high school. 48 would be in employment. 4 of these would be in tourism. 9 would have low or no qualifications. 25 would experience mental health problems at some point. 15 would have hearing difficulties. 2 would have learning difficulties. 1 would have a drug misuse problem. 39 would live in cities. 6 live in remote rural locations. 9 would be members of The Church of Scotland. (Church of Scotland Mission and Discipleship Council)


Some services & events in the Forum congregations that you are welcome to attend. Joint LCF Epiphany service on 6 th January at 11am at South Leith. Leith St. Andrew's Messy Church There will be no Messy Church in December but families are invited to join us for the Christingle Service at 6.30pm on Christmas Eve. Messy Church resumes on January 31st then February 28th. Oasis of Peace at Leith St Andrew's. Our quiet reflective prayer services Wednesdays at 10.15am. A time of peace, worshipping, sharing and praying followed by a cuppa and chat. We meet in the church until 12th December, then take a break until Lent. All are welcome. St Andy's Teeny Tots. We meet on Wednesday afternoons in the Easter Road Hall at Leith St Andrew's from 2pm - 3.30pm for fun for babies and toddlers and their parents/carers. Cost is ÂŁ1 per session which includes tea/coffee for parents and a healthy snack for the children. We now have a waiting list so if you want to join the list please email us at Young at Heart Meets on the first and third Tuesdays of each month from 2-4pm. All in receipt of a senior bus pass welcome for fun and fellowship - you don't need to be a member at Leith St Andrew's! Tues 18th Dec. at 7pm: Coffee & Carols - singing songs and carols old and new. Donations welcome for Bethany Care Shelter. Sun 23rd Dec. at11am: 4th Sunday in Advent: Led by the leaders and young people of the Sunday Club Mon 24th Dec. at 6.30pm: Family Christingle Service Mon 24th Dec. at 11.30pm: Christmas Eve Worship Tues 25th Dec. at 11am: Christmas Day Celebration Sunday 27th Jan. at 11am: Communion Service North Leith Sunday 25th November Family service 11 am Christ the King Sunday 2nd December 1st Sunday in Advent Family service 11am; Advent reflections in Session House 1a Madeira Place.


Sunday 9th December 2nd Sunday in Advent Family Service 11am; Advent reflections in Session House 1a Madeira Place Sunday 16th December 3rd Sunday in Advent Family Service; Advent reflections 6.30pm in Session House 1a Madeira Place Sunday 23rd December 4th Sunday in Advent Family service; Advent reflections in Session House 1a Madeira Place Monday 24th December Christmas Eve Watchnight Service 11.15 pm Tuesday 25th December Christmas Day Family service South Leith Worship at One at South Leith church every Thursday at 1pm – prayers for the community and the world. Sunday 2nd December at 11am Advent 1 - all-age worship. Sunday 9th December at 11am Advent 2 – Chuppets ; at 2.30pm afternoon service for older members. Sunday 16th December at 11am Advent 3 – service of Lessons and Carols for all ages. Thursday 20th December at 11am Leith Academy Christmas service; at 7.30pm Service of Nine Lessons and Carols with St. Mary Star of the Sea. Friday 21st December at 1pm Leith Lunchtime Carol Service. Monday 24th December at 6.30pm Family Christingle service; at 11.30pm Watchnight service – join us from 10.45pm for some mince pies and mulled wine and from 11.15pm for community carol singing. Sunday 23rd December at 11am Advent 4 – all-ages – Nativity (a service where all will be involved in the Nativity and not just the children). Tuesday 25th December at 11am short family service. Sunday 30th December at 11am morning worship. Pilrig St. Paul's Open Doorway Following completion of new lighting and redecoration in the sanctuary The Open Doorway is again in operation at Pilrig St. Paul's. Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11a.m to 1 pm. All welcome to pop in. Serving tea / coffee and biscuits.


Cranberry and Chocolate Chip Cookies These cookies are very easy to make and are great for a homemade Christmas gift or just for a tasty treat. You can leave out pecans if you don’t like them and use whatever kind of chocolate chips you prefer. Makes around 30 and will keep for about five days. 150g plain flour ½ tsp baking powder 75g rolled oats 125g butter or spread 175g caster sugar

A Christmas recipe

1 egg 1 tsp vanilla extract 75g dried cranberries 50g chopped pecans 150g chocolate chips Method Preheat oven to 180C/Gas mark 4 Cream butter and sugar Beat in egg and vanilla extract Add flour, baking powder and oats Fold in cranberries, pecans and choc chips Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls then place on greased lined baking tray. Flatten slightly. You might need two baking sheets or to bake in two batches. Cook for 15 mins. Leave to harden for about 10 mins on the tray then carefully move to a wire tray to cool fully. In reply to the teacher's question, “Why was Jesus born in Bethlehem?” One wee girl replied, “because his mother was there.”


A Christmas Creed I believe in Jesus Christ and in the power of the Gospel, which began in Bethlehem. I believe in the one whose Spirit glorified a small village, of whose coming the shepherds saw at the inn. I believe in the one whose life changed the course of history, for whom the rulers of the earth had no power, and who was not understood by the proud. I believe in the one to whom the poor, the oppressed, the discouraged, the afflicted, the sick, the blind, the injured gave welcome, and accepted as Lord and Saviour. I believe in the one who with love changed the heart of the proud and with His life showed that it is more important to serve than to be served and that the greatest joy is giving your life for others. I believe in peace, which is more than the absence of war, but justice among all people and nations and love among all. I believe in reconciliation, for forgiveness, and the transforming power of the gospel. I believe that Christmas is strength and power, and that this world can change if with humility and faith we kneel before the manger. I believe that I must be the first one to do so. Amen. A New View Of Olympic City. Ian Bethune On a recent trip to London I visited The House Of Commons , The Royal Albert Hall tour , Lord's cricket ground and Covent Garden. All very interesting places. A really good experience was sailing up the Thames in a clipper then crossing the river by cable car. From The 02 building to the other side takes a few minutes and gives one the most wonderful view of London. Signs appear on billboards , etc. with the letters TFL. I thought this meant Trams For Leith. In fact it was Transport For London and what a great transport system it is. I did all this and never even met the Queen or Boris.


Operation Christmas Child Joanne Baird Over the past eleven years, Leith St Andrew’s has been involved with Operation Christmas Child. This is an annual appeal run by Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian charity, and is in fact the world’s largest children’s Christmas project. If you have never heard of it before, it is a very simple idea. You get an empty shoebox, wrap it in Christmas paper and fill it with gifts for a boy or a girl. Over the eleven years we have been taking part, we have donated the marvellous total of 2004 Christmas shoe boxes Last year, children and adults from across the UK got involved - including many churches, schools and workplaces wrapping, packing and sending nearly 1.1 million shoe boxes full of gifts to disadvantaged children in Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Last year the 10,674 shoe boxes from across the Lothians went to Belarus, one of the poorest countries in Eastern Europe. The number we sent off to the warehouse this year was 167. The gifts are very simple: toothbrush and toothpaste, soap, a face cloth, a cuddly toy, hat, scarf and gloves, pens and paper, a ball, a skipping rope and sweets. All very basic things to us, but precious to the child who receives them. The wrapped boxes are either taken to a local drop off point or, as in Leith St Andrew’s case, brought to Church for a dedication service. Ours always takes place on the first Sunday in November. All those who attend the dedication service find it quite emotional but very rewarding to see the colourful boxes being brought forward to the front of the church building our ‘wall of love’. The shoe boxes are then taken to a warehouse to be checked to make sure that all items are suitable – sometimes more items are added as we want our shoe boxes to be as full as they can be. Sometimes items have to be taken out as different countries have different rules. For example, no chocolate due to customs regulations or no playing cards due to gambling problems in some countries. Some members from Leith St Andrew’s volunteer at the warehouse to do this checking. After every shoebox has been checked they are all packed into large cartons and eventually loaded onto a lorry for the long trip to Belarus.


Although you are too late to take part in the appeal this year, perhaps it is something you might like to consider for next year, either on an Individual basis or as part of a group. It is never too early to start collecting items to go in next year’s boxes. Many of our congregation keep the Christmas cracker novelties or buy up hats in the January sales to set aside for the following year. One of our members insists she only buys shoes so she can make up more shoe boxes! You will find lots of Information on the website A final word must go to a headmistress in Kosova who said: “The shoe boxes bring kindness and some warm light into the lives of our children. Some of them have huge emotional needs, and who can meet these? They need love so much. This is real friendship, and we appreciate it!” One Christmas a man received a beautifully wrapped packet from his wife. Inside was a home-made gift voucher, which read “ Gift to be delivered on or around 10th August”. He was puzzled by this – the baby duly arrived ! Vocal Vibes will be presenting Mystic Nativity a Christmas Musical on Sunday 9th December at 4 pm in Pilrig St.Paul's Church. Pilrig Chorus will present a Christmas Concert in the Sanctuary at 4 pm. on Sunday 2nd. December. Late one November morning a little girl was taken shopping in Glasgow by her mother and although the Christmas decorations and lights had been erected in George Square the lights were not yet switched on. Her mother explained that soon the Lord Provost would switch them on. A week later they were back in the square and, being daylight, the lights were, naturally, not switched on. The wee girl was very upset. Not only her faith in her mum, but that in God was being sorely tried. “Mummy”, she said, “ you said that the Lord promised to switch the lights on.”


Port Chaplain’s Report Tim Bell Every October the Sailors’ Society holds its annual meeting and service in London. There was a new feel to it this year, as there was a gap where my full-time colleagues in UK would have been – they have all been made redundant in the past twelve months. This was forced by funding shortages, but I believe the Society has re-shaped itself into a good posture for the future. The Society now looks to harnessing local initiatives, and putting into practice its long-standing commitment to ecumenical and interfaith principles. In Leith we are already working along the lines that we hope to see replicated elsewhere. The Society brought two full-time chaplains from the Black Sea to UK for the week of the meeting. Sergey, from Ukraine, and Nikolay from Russia, had a few days in London, then we had the privilege of hosting them here in Leith. We took them to see the Montrose Churches Together initiative, which is a seafarers’ centre and a ship visiting programme. Sergey and Nikolay described how difficult it had been to go to church and develop their Christian faith in the days of the Soviet Union. They both had very moving stories to tell. They went on to tell us about the daily hostility, and corruption and indifference that lies before them in the course of their work. They were astonished at the good relations that exist in Scotland. Here, with the correct ID, access to the docks is not a problem, the agents are friendly and helpful, we went to the Harbour Office and had a nice chat with the Harbour Master, and the state officials are entirely professional. It’s all a far cry from the devious routes they have to travel through to do what I do so easily – go on board ships and try to be friendly and helpful to the seafarers. They went home encouraged by many prayers and expressions of support from Scotland. And we were left inspired by their courage and commitment to live out their faith by supporting the stranger (seafarers) in their country, who are in no position to thank them for what they do. Leith Churches Together, under the able co-ordinating skills of Jennifer Stark, has been making up parcels for seafarers who will be in Leith (and some other ports) over Christmas. They will be far from home when they and their families will be thinking of each other, and this is our little gesture to tell them they are not forgotten.


What children hear in carols and the Nativity story is not always quite accurate! Away in a manger no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus laid down his wee Ted. A little six year old girl was upset that she had not been chosen to be the 'Virgin Fairy' in the school Nativity play. When the pregnant mother was asked by her wee daughter where she was going to lay her baby, she pointed out that mummies were not birds that laid their babies. The girl replied, “But mummy the minister said that Mary laid Jesus in a manager.�


Your Representatives Co-ordinating Team Lily Gilhooly PSt.P Margaret Gray SL Stuart Lithgow Lst.A Valerie McIntosh LSt.A Rev. Alex McAspurren NL Rev Iain May (chair) SL Niall Martin NL Mark Wexelstein PSt.P

Outreach Team Andrew Campbell Colin Cunningham Alex Edington Roy Eprile Ewan Lawson Jennifer Stark


Forum Focus Team Joanne Baird Ian Bethune Stuart Duffus (editor) Isobel Evans Jimmy Hudson Sigrid Lithgow


Information about Leith Churches Forum can be found at our web site at htt:// Feedback or articles and information for the March Focus should be given to your representative by 31st January for the editor. Alternatively e- mail to the editor at


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