‘We are co-creatures with the earth itself’ was the refrain of the SEI’s worship through a busy Thursday at Orientation Week. One in which we marked the World Day of Prayer for Creation by using the SEC’s Season of Creation liturgies at Morning and Evening Prayer and at the midday Eucharist, with students offering homilies on creation care through the day. Added to this we had also designated 1 September as ‘a Day of Prayer’ with and for our sisters and brothers in the Theological Education Institute, Centro de Estudos Anglicanos, in Porto Alegre, Brazil, disciples working at the front line of environmental restoration and renewal.
CEA staff and students wrote to us during the day: ‘From here in the Heart of the Amazon, we unite in this time of Creation with our brothers and sisters from the SEI of Scotland, who are praying together with us, in favour of climate justice. But in a very special way our prayer arrives with ardour and confidence for all defenders of Amazon, especially the original and traditional peoples of this Heart of the World.’
The photo below shows the worship focus created by second year ordinand, Laura Symon, a representation of the burning bush.
This symbol of God’s Spirit, chosen as the ecumenical logo of the Season, reminded us ‘that we are called to listen to the voice of creation, to the voices of those who suffer the impacts of climate change, and to the voices of those who hold generational wisdom about how to live gratefully within the limits of the land.’ This we did in prayer and silence, lament and song through the day, both inside and outside St Mary’s.
SEI students also marked Thursdays in Black in the time-honoured way, as the headline photo shows. This was especially powerful for us, coming as it did just the day after Deborah Munday’s presentation on the rising rates of domestic violence in Scotland, a sobering statistic. Deborah, a Lay Reader in the Diocese of Moray, Ross and Caithness, and the Provincial President of the Mothers’ Union, spoke passionately to us about the work the MU does in this vital area of safeguarding, alerting us to the many agencies that offer professional support to those who have been abused.
And so the end of the week nears: some further teaching sessions on liturgy, a ceilidh of gifts, and a closing Praise Service led by Martin Williamson of St Paul’s and St George’s and then it will be time for the newly formed community to embark upon its virtual existence. But only for a brief interlude; we will be back in Kinnoull for the first Residential Weekend in four weeks!
Photographs taken by Richard Tiplady and Ross Stirling-Young