‘And a highway will be there’

Anam Cara, the Small Group responsible for worship at our recent Residential at St Mary’s Kinnoull, led the SEI community gently along the Advent pathway last weekend, weaving silence, song, symbol and prayer throughout our weekend’s programme. True to their title, the four Group members served as spiritual guides and companions, helping us to focus appropriately in this season of expectation. Shown below they are (from right): Blayne Peacock, third year ordinand from the Diocese of Moray, Ross and Caithness and the Group’s leader; Helen Randall, second year ordinand from the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney; first year ordinand Jamie Campbell, a Mixed Mode student working in the Diocese of Brechin; and Camayo Hyde, second year Lay Reader candidate from the Diocese of Edinburgh.

Speaking of the ministry of Lay Readers, we were privileged to be led in A Service of the Word on Sunday by Dr Margaret Williams, Lay Reader from the Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway. For some students this 2015 liturgy, with its rich infusion of scripture, was new but very welcome. One wrote:

Sunday was my first experience of attending ‘A Service of the Word’ service. I enjoyed this style of worship and found the experience beneficial in allowing me to think about ways to use this back in my placement Church and suggest it to members of the lay ministry team. As I continue in my formational journey towards stipendiary ministry, I understand the importance of exploring and enabling the gifts of others. ‘A Service of the Word’ is one way in which lay members can become more involved in leading worship.

The worship was further enhanced by third year diaconal ordinand Jackie Fenton (Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway) offering a dialogical Exposition of the Word. She demonstrated skillfully how this method of engaging in a quasi-contextual bible study in groups midway through the liturgy is well suited to intimate worship settings, helping congregational members to grapple with the Gospel and its application today.

Other highlights included an hour’s conversation with Bishop Andrew, Acting Convenor of Institute Council, and a superb session about charismatic worship from Dean Norby, Priest-in-Charge of the All Souls Fife cluster, the second in this year’s ‘Liturgy and Music’ series. Inspired by the latter’s example and equipped by Jamie’s masterly singing rehearsal on Friday night, we made a joyful noise throughout the weekend, and left after Sunday lunch with the words of the final hymn resounding in our ears:

Shout, as you journey home,
songs be in every mouth,
lo, from the North they come,
from East and West and South:
in Jesus all shall find their rest,
in him the universe be blest.

Photos courtesy of Ross Stirling-Young