Shows the Tolbooth with its tower and mini spire, the old law courts to the left, and houses in the High Street to the right. Ernest Archibald Taylor and Jessie M. King lived in the High Street at the Greengate – see below . . .
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Message from Bishop Kevin to the Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway Dear Friends,
I hope you are all well and that this lockdown is not too difficult for you, your families, and friends.
I am very disappointed and sad that the pandemic means that Elspeth and I have not been able to move to Glasgow and Galloway in May as was planned. As you know, the enthronement service at the cathedral was arranged for 4 July and that too has had to be postponed. I will however take over as Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway as planned on 1 July and we will move to Glasgow as soon as we possibly can. We are so sorry not to be able to meet you all face to face at the moment, and we are very much looking forward to the time when we can do so, and to visiting you all in your churches. I would like to thank everyone in the Diocese who has been so helpful and supportive thus far, especially all the office staff, the Synod Clerk, and the Diocesan Secretary, Treasurer and Surveyor.
I have often been asked what my Strategy for the Diocese and my Mission Plan is. I attach my reflections and thoughts as I move towards the Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway.
After years of putting magazines together for congregations. After years of writing the Rector’s letter and being told my efforts were worthy but a little dull. After years of finding theological articles of real depth and historical articles of real interest. After years I realised as I was leaving my last congregation what the choir really wanted came under the generic heading – Gossip. So here it is…
Having been born and brought up in the North East of England, Sunderland to be precise, I came to Edinburgh Theological College in 1976. My first degree was in
History at Leeds and the attraction of Edinburgh was partly to come North properly, having gone south for my first degree.
During my time at Coates Hall I did get to know a former Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway, Francis Moncrieff, who was later a part of my reason for coming back to exercise ministry in Scotland. After College and the University of Edinburgh, I returned to the Diocese of Durham to serve my curacy in a mining village called Horden, at that time in the middle of the extensive Durham coalfields. I am the only member of the current College of Bishops to have been trained in and by the SEC.
Towards the end of my curacy, I was invited to become Chaplain to the University of Leeds, where one of my next-door neighbours was David Jenkins. As I was beginning to explore returning to a congregational ministry, + Richard Holloway asked me to come to Edinburgh to rescue St Salvador’s Stenhouse, opposite the prison and in the middle of a social housing scheme. The congregation and building had been established by Francis Moncrieff for whom + Richard and myself had enormous respect. Time is too short for me to tell you of the burglaries, bricks though the windows, youth drugs project and endless efforts to raise money through jumble sales, tombolas and fetes. It was all great fun and the Holy Spirit moved among us.
During my time there, I met and married Elspeth at St Salvador’s. We often thank God that the congregation just allowed us to be ourselves and were never intrusive while being totally supportive, the SEC at its best.
At that time, I also became part time Diocesan Director of Ordinands for Edinburgh and then Provincial Director of Ordinands, appointed by the Primus + George Henderson. To illustrate how things have changed, I can tell you that the Primus’s advice was not to put too much effort into selection and recruitment because the SEC ‘is finished’. He was part of a generation who had lost confidence in the church. The situation is now the opposite as many of us realise just how rich the sacramental life of our churches is. We have confidence that God is with us, that the Holy Spirit is moving among us and we are saying by our faithfulness – we have an experience of the living God. That confidence is what I personally know, and experience and it is a confidence shared by the present College of Bishops and I believe, the Province.
Despite being Provincial Director of Ordinands and doing some, what would now be called, transitional ministry, I decided I wanted to return to having my own congregation and so I moved to St Michael and All Saints, Edinburgh. My intention always was to give up the vocational discernment work, but the Vestry were paid for my PDO time and so who would turn down a new Rector with a dowry?
Faithfulness is often interpreted as preservation, as keeping things as they always have been. My first years in the new charge were not always easy as we sought to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit in changing patterns and gender of ministry. I was probably the last Rector in SEC to have to deal with protests in the street. Fortunately, the worst was during an outdoor procession and so we just sang louder!
God is with us in so many ways we do not always realise. The years in Edinburgh, on reflection, were full of interference by the Holy Spirit. Students who were musicians
came to sing with us, then found faith with us, made their home with us. Students came from the Theological Institute, spent time with us – I often wonder what happened to Kelvin Holdsworth…….
When I arrived in the congregation there seemed a lot of elderly people and when I left sixteen years later, there seemed a lot of elderly people and a lot of younger people and children.
And I was still trying to give up vocational discernment work. The regular meetings I had with the College of Bishops on vocation, meant I gained an invaluable sense of the Province and its potential through the Bishops and visiting every Diocese. The visiting was curtailed when I became Dean of Edinburgh but that brought new challenges and new insights into Diocesan and Provincial life.
Then on to Argyll and the Isles. Fortunately, I love the sea and have enjoyed rough crossings in choppy waters. That could be the subject of many a sermon, but it has just been a fact of life for the past decade. It has been such an exciting time working with the Diocesan officers, the clergy and all the people to make real the building of the kingdom of God with limited resources, small scattered congregations, and vast distances. This we did together because of the commitment, energy, enthusiasm and faithfulness of the clergy and laity who recognise and know that God is with us.
Having limited resources I knitted our own Mission programmes: ‘Building the Vision’ was like sending out a knitting pattern for a balaclava, and when we met at the Diocesan Conference Day it was inspirational and great fun seeing what could be done with a balaclava. It is a great privilege to be a bishop and to be a small part of so many congregations where the Holy Spirit moves and encourages and blesses our efforts and vision.
The privilege of being Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway is indeed a challenge, but God is with us. I ask you all to pray for me and for Elspeth as we prepare to move. If you were to ask me what I need most as I become Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway, I would say I stand most in need of God’s gift of Wisdom. Please pray that God will grant me Wisdom.
May God bless and keep you
+ Kevin —————————————————————————————————————
And a message from Elspeth
I am looking forward very much to meeting you all, to joining you in worship and to visiting your churches. I am very sad that the Covid-19 restrictions have delayed our move to Glasgow and Galloway. I hope it will not be too long before we can move house and meet you all, even if we have to keep two metres apart!
I am also looking forward to being back in Glasgow again and to getting to know the Diocese better. I lived and worked in Glasgow for four years after finishing my PhD degree, and again for two years later in my career, and I have very happy memories of my time there. My mother was born and brought up in Helensburgh and throughout my childhood we often visited my Scottish Granny there. It will be good to be back in the West.
I was born and brought up in Durham and then went to University in Edinburgh for my first degree in Planning and my PhD which focussed on the Economic Development of the Scottish Highlands and Islands and on strategic planning. My first job was in Strategic Planning with the City of Glasgow Council. I then moved to the Scottish Development Agency and had several roles with them, first in Glasgow in Corporate planning in Bothwell Street, then in Edinburgh in Business, setting up a regional office in the Borders and then back to Glasgow as Head of Rural Development. When I met and married Kevin, I moved to be Head of Economic Development for the City of Edinburgh Council.
I then had a big career shift as I wanted to use the skills and experience, I had gained in another area that mattered to me more personally. I was Macmillan Cancer Support’s Director for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for 10 years. I then moved to my present role as Chief Operating Officer for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh.
As we begin to meet you all: two quirky things to tell you. Firstly, we decided I would keep my own name when I married Kevin so don’t be confused if you hear someone asking who Dr Atkinson is. Secondly, I have been a vegetarian since I was a student, but Kevin is most definitely not!
As they so often say in the news papers – “you couldn’t make it up” !
The (Government) spokesman said Johnson did not think the UK was a racist country. Asked if the PM thought it was, the spokesman said: The PM doesn’t doubt that there continues to be discrimination and racism but does not agree that this is a racist country.
We have made very significant progress on this issue but there remains more to do and we will not be complacent in our efforts to stamp out racism and discrimination where it happens.
The Guardian, Politics Live, 1.36 pm, 8 June 2020.
In other news our car was started up today – without difficulty – and by inserting a screw driver into the accelerator mechanism the idling speed was raised to approximately 1,200 rpm. 40 minutes later it had increased of its own accord to about 2,200 rpm which should mean the battery has had a good period on charge and the engine will have been thoroughly warmed up.
Today is day 84 of self isolation. When we began it was advised for 12 weeks and we have arrived there today. The Scottish Government (whom I trust more than the Westminster one) advises us to continue. The boss of Ryanair today has said that the British people do not believe in these regulations and that they (the regulations) are rubbish.
After all the demonstrations and venting of anger over the weekend and before I though these words below seemed exceptionally appropriate in the circumstances. The Church HYmnary is a new book to me having beeb used to Hymns A & M, the English Hymnal and the like hitherto . . .
O God, we bear the imprint of your face: the colours of our skin are your design, and what we have of beauty in our race as man or woman, you alone define, who stretched a living fabric on our frame and gave to each a language and a name.
Where we are torn and pulled apart by hate because our race, our skin is not the same; where we are judged unequal by the state and victims made because we own our name – humanity reduced to little worth dishonoured is your living face on earth.
O God, we share the image of your Son whose flesh and blood are ours, whatever skin, in his humanity we find our own, and in his family our proper kin: Christ is the brother we still crucify, his love the language we must learn, or die.
After my little outburst yesterday Andrew Rawnsley of The Guardian reveals that he reads my blog . . .
“Britain, an island state highly dependent on imported food, has been lucky not to go hungry during the coronavirus crisis. At the outset of the emergency, when a loo roll was harder to find than a bar of gold bullion, I detected considerable fear among officials and ministers that panic buying would clean out supermarkets and spark food riots. Some of them remembered the old saw that anarchy is only three missed meals away.” (My underlining).
“That ugly scenario, which would have added civil disorder to killer contagion, was avoided because supply chains have been protected. Cargo ships and lorry drivers have continued to make deliveries from our neighbours in Europe. Even as borders were closed to most other traffic, everyone came to the sensible conclusion that frontiers had to remain open for freight. For the same reason, the new 14-day quarantine rule that the government is imposing on travellers will not be applied to those hauling goods.”
An American blog reader who knows us and where we live comments on Facebook as follows . . .
“I would have that garage wall to wall and floor to ceiling with baked beans and corned beef. Happy to come and eat them all if they prove unnecessary.”
Boris Johnson has said of 40,000 COVID – 19 deaths (remember that the Medical people said it would be good if we were able to keep it down to 20,000) that he thought the Government had done very well and he was proud of its achievements. What will he say to deaths arising from food shortages ? We are indeed in old Scrooge’s world of “keeping down the surplus population”.
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It looks increasingly likely – at least it does to me – that our untrustworthy Government or Kakistocracy intends to renege on the Withdrawal Agreement signed and flourished verbally by Boris Johnson in the House of Commons on 20 Dec 2019. The talks to date have got nowhere and appear to be heading for the same destination and the remarks below by M. Barnier say this, and also set out some concrete points from the Agreement with which the UK Governmental team simply will not engage. Johnson has deliberately filled his Cabinet with zealous, fanatical, Europhobes and I think he wants a “No Deal” situation. This will enable him crow that he has achieved a true and doctrinally pure “Brexit” and he will say that any ensuing difficulties are entirely due to intransigence on the EU side. The media in this country will not analyse or report on this in any detail and he UK public will be expected to follow his statements (and many will too) hook, line and sinker.
“No Deal” means that cross channel traffic will be severely curtailed until some working Customs arrangements can be put in place (how long will that take ?) and since we are not self sufficient in food production there must be food shortages in certain items – and food shortages, historically speaking, have always been a trigger for civil disturbance. The early part of 2021 does not look good to me.
I am happy to be with you again, virtually, at the end of this fourth round of negotiations.
Since the beginning of these negotiations, our objective has been to move forward – in parallel – on all topics of our future relationship – and there are many given that we are aiming for a very ambitious partnership.
To achieve this, as I told you at the end of our last round, we needed to make progress on four big sticking points, namely:
Fisheries, and free and fair competition, the so-called ‘level playing field’ – two essential elements of the new economic partnership we want to build; Guarantees protecting people’s fundamental rights and freedoms needed to underpin a close police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters; And finally, the governance of our future relationship. We therefore decided, with David Frost and the UK delegation, to dedicate time to discussing those four points this week.
And I want to thank David Frost personally, but also the two negotiating teams for the mutual respect that they have shown, for the quality of their work in these difficult circumstances, and for their professionalism.
However, at the end of this week, my responsibility – under the authority of President Ursula von der Leyen – as Union negotiator, is to tell you the truth. And the truth is that there was no substantial progress.
On fisheries, the United Kingdom did not show any real willingness to explore other approaches than zonal attachment on quota sharing. It also continues to condition access to its waters to an annual negotiation – which is technically impossible for us. Whereas the EU wants to build a more stable economic partnership. On the level playing field, we didn’t make any progress on these rules of economic and commercial fair play, despite choosing to focus this week on issues that should have been more consensual, such as non-regression mechanisms on social and environmental standards, climate change, taxation or sustainable development. On the governance of our future relationship, we were unable to make progress on the issue of the single governance framework establishing legal linkages between our different areas of cooperation. Finally, on police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, we had a slightly more constructive discussion on the question of commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights, although important questions remain as to how to reflect this commitment in our agreement. On all these points, we are asking for nothing more than what is in the Political Declaration.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We can only take note that there has been no substantial progress since the beginning of these negotiations, and that we cannot continue like this forever.
Especially given the United Kingdom’s continued refusal to extend the transition period.
On our side, as President Ursula von der Leyen has said, we were always open to the possibility of a one- or two-year extension, as foreseen in the Withdrawal Agreement. Our door remains open. But if there is no joint decision on such an extension – as I understand this to be the case – the UK will leave the Single Market and the Customs Union in less than 7 months. Taking into account the time needed to ratify a deal, we would need a full legal text by 31 October at the latest, i.e. in less than 5 months. We must use this time in the best possible way.
That is why I suggested, last week already, to David Frost, to accompany our negotiation rounds on all topics with more restricted formats so that we can concentrate on the more difficult issues.
I hope that this will help to inject new political dynamism in the 11 negotiating tables, which we hope will be able to meet physically again in the coming weeks and months, as this could help us gain in efficiency.
Of course, in the coming months, I will continue to work in full confidence and transparency with the Member States and the European Parliament.
Ladies and gentlemen,
To be clear: Our lack of progress in this negotiation is not due to our method, but to the substance.
We must stick to our commitments if we want to move forward!
We engaged in this negotiation on the basis of a joint Political Declaration that clearly sets out the terms of our future partnership.
This document is available in all languages, including English. It is a good read, if I may say so. This declaration was negotiated with and approved by Prime Minister Johnson. It was approved by the leaders of the 27 Member States at the European Council in October 2019. It has the backing of the European Parliament. It is – and it will remain for us – the only valid reference, the only relevant precedent in this negotiation, as it was agreed by both sides. Yet, round after round, our British counterparts seek to distance themselves from this common basis.
Let me give you four concrete examples, referring precisely to the text of the Political Declaration:
Prime Minister Johnson agreed, in paragraph 77 of the Political Declaration, that ‘given our geographic proximity and economic interdependence’, our future agreement must encompass robust commitments to prevent distortions of trade and unfair competitive advantages. This is what, together, we chose to call the ‘level playing field’. o In this paragraph, Prime Minister Johnson agreed to uphold the common high standards applicable in the Union and the UK at the end of the transition period in these areas: state aid, competition, social and employment standards, environment, climate change, and relevant tax matters.
o We are today very far from this objective.
Prime Minister Johnson agreed, in paragraph 66 of the Political Declaration on civil nuclear cooperation, to maintain our existing high standards of nuclear safety. o We are very far from this objective.
Prime Minister Johnson agreed, in paragraph 82 of the Political Declaration that our agreement should cover anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing. o We are very far from this objective.
Prime Minister Johnson agreed, in paragraph 118 of the Political Declaration, to base our future relationship on an overarching institutional framework, with links between specific areas of cooperation. o We are, once again, very far from this objective.
In all these areas – and many others – the UK continues to backtrack on the commitments it has undertaken in the Political Declaration.
Including on fisheries, where we committed to use our “best endeavours” to conclude and ratify a new agreement by 1st July 2020.
It seems clear that we will not reach this target considering how the negotiations in this area are going for the moment.
Even in the rare areas where we saw some movement this week, such as the European Convention on Human Rights, we still fall short of what we had agreed in the Political Declaration.
Finally, let me remind you that, since the beginning of these negotiations, the UK has refused to talk about our cooperation on foreign policy, development and defence, even though we agreed this with Boris Johnson in the Political Declaration.
To tell the truth – as a former Minister for Foreign Affairs in my own country – I still don’t understand why.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We cannot accept this backtracking on the Political Declaration.
And we will request the full respect of the Withdrawal Agreement.
On citizens’ rights, we continue to be extremely vigilant.
There have been frequent exchanges of information between Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič and Michael Gove on this topic.
Regarding EU citizens residing in the UK: o We are pleased to hear that 3.1 million EU citizens have already been granted residence status.
o And we are carefully monitoring the situation of more vulnerable citizens that have difficulties applying digitally.
o It is also important that EU citizens residing in the UK have access to social benefits in these difficult times.
As for UK nationals residing in the EU: o In the 13 Member States that – like the UK – have chosen a constitutive system, we are working to ensure that procedures for applying for residence status are simple, easily accessible, and clearly communicated;
o In the 14 Member States that have chosen a declaratory system, UK nationals will receive a physical document enabling them to prove their status.
We also continue to be extremely vigilant with regard to the correct implementation of the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland.
The UK Command Paper published on 20th May is useful. But there are still a lot of details to be settled if we want to move from aspiration to operation, in line with the legal Treaty. Furthermore, some of the objectives set out in this Command Paper – such as avoiding exit declarations on goods moving from Northern Ireland to Great Britain – are incompatible with the legal commitments accepted by the UK in the Protocol. So we really need to work more on the technical details. Only a precise and rigorous implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement can create the confidence we need to build our future partnership.
The 27 Member States and the European Parliament have been very clear about this, including in our negotiating mandate.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In the coming days, the Commission will have the opportunity to take stock with the 27 Member States, the President of the European Council Charles Michel, as well as with the European Parliament, its President David Sassoli, and the coordination group chaired by David McAllister.
The month of June will also see the second meeting of the Joint Committee – on 12 June – and the High Level Meeting that we agreed to in the Political Declaration to take stock of these negotiations.
We still need to decide on the date and the modalities of this meeting. This is also the case for the next rounds – the first of which would probably take place towards the end of June or early July.
But it is clear that we are approaching a moment of truth: We expect the United Kingdom to respect its engagements – both when it comes to our, already ratified, Withdrawal Agreement, and to the precise content of the Political Declaration, which remains and will remain the basis and the framework for our negotiation.
If this is the case, and if we keep our mutual respect, our serenity and our determination, I have no doubt that we will find, in the course of the summer or by early autumn at the latest, a landing zone between the United Kingdom and the European Union. Then, finally, we will reach an agreement on our partnership for the future.”
How M. Barnier keeps his temper and his optimism I just do not know. Other, more temperamental, Ministers might justifiably have walked out of the whole sorry business by now.
“Britain’s top public health leaders and scientists have warned Boris Johnson that trust in the government has been shattered by the Dominic Cummings affair and now poses real danger to life when lockdown measures are lifted this week.”
(The Guardian of Saturday, 30th May 2020)
Surely, surely, surely “trust in the Government” went rapidly downhill from the run up to the EU Referendum and the great red bus. All events since, the recent General Election and the election of an amoral seducer and liar with a 30 year old reputation has eliminated any “trust” and turned it negative – disbelief, distrust, doubt, uncertainty, mistrust are the antonyms suggested by online sources. Hate is a strong word but I have to be honest and say that that is what I have for the whole group of truth twisters and unsuitables that we seem to have at the moment. And, worst of all, where are the superior replacements waiting in the wings ? Keir Starmer seems a competent sort of chap, but to be a good and trustworthy Prime Minister takes more than “competence” and we don’t seem to breed that sort of person in UK now.
Day by day of this curious present existence we see the steady, awful, and dangerous downward slide into governmental chaos here and in America. Incompetent leaders and their appointees seem unable to grasp both what needs to be done, and how to set about doing it. Slowly, it dawns on a patient populace that doctrinaire statements such as those to the effect that – for example – leaving the European Union will bring obvious and immediate benefits, are not true, and are leading to results quite different from those promised. One of the new words I have been taught these last four years is “kakistocracy” and in this Country that is what we now have in charge of us on a day to day basis – “a system of government that is run by the worst, least qualified, and/or most unscrupulous citizens. The word was coined as early as the seventeenth century” and has come back to haunt us.
Two hundred and forty-four years ago, across the Atlantic Ocean a group of men, sensible of the injustice of the rule of their masters in England set about writing out their ideas on human rights and the way Government should be carried out . . .
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.“
and they pondered the rights and wrongs of how a poor system might be changed for a better. They concluded that when all else has failed the existing system must be altered or abolished . . .
“That, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organising its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.“
But being sensible men they foresaw that such changes when attempted might bring worse problems, at least for a while . . .
“Prudence indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and, accordingly, all experience has shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.“
Here and in America these questions are very much alive today. At the present time people seem to be at the stage of thinking that some evils are sufferable, but I fear we are perceptibly closer to the point where some spark to the tinder will start a conflagration that will do a great deal of damage before it is either put out, or burns itself out.
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At the moment social media and the newspapers are seized by the great Cummings affair. Should he have gone out or shouldn’t he? And yet all through this coronavirus crisis Sainsburys have pushed out their regular emails about their weekly offers. No caveats about not going out, or social distancing if you must. Nor any recognition that many of us could not take advantage of these offers if we wanted to because there is not a branch of Sainsburys near enough to get to, or which does deliveries. If someone were to succumb to one of these offers and go out when strictly speaking they shouldn’t, who would be to blame – the individual for giving in to temptation, or Sainsbury’s for putting temptation in people’s way ?
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