Updated: Apr 9


Lent: give or give up?

A preacher at our church recently pointed out that the 10 Commandments give Christians bad press.

For years, those who do not attend worship have heard only “DON’T”. A much clearer message is given in the Beatitudes: blessed are you if you DO! Blessed just the way you are. A way to live your life and all the blessings for those who mourn, who are hungry, who show mercy to others, are pure in heart, even pray for those who persecute them, the peace-makers and many more blessings. You can study them yourself in Matthew Chapter 5.

For years I believed I should give something up for Lent, because of the suffering of Jesus for 40 days and nights. But I cannot pretend that giving up chocolate was really suffering. Yes, it was hard, but I always knew I could make up for it at Easter.

However, a few years ago. I started to follow 40 Acts (which is the 40 day Lent generosity challenge from Stewardship). This gives you actions to do every day during Lent. Kindnesses like putting wee pots of flowers on doorsteps with no note, so you got no thanks or recognition. Reading parts of the Bible I wouldn’t normally choose. Maybe I was asked to pray for folk I didn’t normally pray for and perhaps didn’t really like. One day, I was asked to give out chocolate randomly to folk I passed in the street. As I was in Edinburgh for a meeting, I gave it to those homeless people around the train station and Princes Street. A simple “God Bless you” was met by a smile; very rewarding, though a very small gesture in their circumstances.

However you choose to mark Lent, we always enjoy saying “Hallelujah He is risen!” on Easter morning.

I love the Townend and Getty hymn 'See what a morning'.

Verse 3 ends with:

“And we are raised with Him

Death is dead, love has won

Christ has conquered

And we shall reign with Him

For He lives

Christ is risen from the dead.”

God bless you,

Helen Banks

National Vice Convener

National Conference Update

We were delighted that over 80 people, representing Guilds the length and breadth of Scotland, were able to join us for our National Visioning Conference. The event was facilitated by Ishbel Smith and used the story of Israelites as its basis.

The day was full of energy, ideas and enthusiasm. There was also an opportunity for a Q&A with Karen which raised lots of important issues.

From here, the plan is to put together a workshop that will be used by Guilds over the summer and autumn and then bring representatives together in regional areas to reach some consensus as to how we best enable the Guild to thrive in the years ahead. We hope that you will engage with us over the coming months. From wee seeds grow big trees, and that has been true in the past and will be true in the future.

Christmas lunch at last

Due to Covid restrictions, Ruthrieston West Church Aberdeen Guild had to cancel their planned Christmas lunch. As the restrictions were lifted they enjoyed a lovely lunch at the Gordon Highlanders' Museum Restaurant in Aberdeen, where they were made very welcome. Great to see everyone looking so happy.

Say hello to some new members

It is so encouraging to hear about Guilds welcoming new members. Two of our new members at Duntocher Trinity are Margo and Margaret who are spotted enjoying the Guild Afternoon Tea after their AGM.

Why not take a photo of new members who have joined you this year and email them to us using the link below so we can welcome them to our Guild family?

Send us your photographs

Chicks by the dozen in Freuchie

The members of the Guild spent the winter knitting and produced about 100 charming Easter chicks all with a chocolate egg inside. These chicks will be displayed in local businesses all over Freuchie and will be available to purchase for a donation. All money raised will be donated to the Guild projects which help people all over Scotland and beyond.

Past Guild Convener Margaret Hill and her husband Everett are helping to get the chicks to their new homes.

Coffee, cake and a chat at Forfar

Forfar East & Old Parish Guild were delighted to finally be able to hold their annual coffee morning recently. There were the usual stalls and £354 was raised. Thanks to everyone who made it a success, it's good to be getting almost back to normal!

Stamp appeal 2022-23

This year's stamp appeal, run by the Faith Impact Forum, will go to support the work of the church in Lebanon.

In Lebanon, and in response to the financial collapse in the country, the pastors in Syria and Lebanon initiated a scheme in 2021 where they gave half of their salary to establish a relief programme as an expression of support to the neediest families around their congregations.

The National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon employs more than 1,000 people including their pastors. The economic crisis in the country and the consequences of the huge explosion in Beirut have struck hard and the Synod is struggling to pay salaries for pastors which range between £100 to £150 per month. Some pastors have left their vocation to take other jobs as they are unable to provide for their families. Others are really struggling to make ends meet. Pastors are key people supporting the spiritual and institutional life and ministry of the Synod and deserve to be supported.

The Stamp Appeal is a really easy way of raising money for a good cause. For more information visit the Church of Scotland website.

Download a Stamp Appeal poster

A four-legged visitor!

Cupar Old Guild had a fabulous meeting recently with Margaret, a speaker from Guide Dogs for the Blind. She brought along Chris and his guide dog Ian. Here is Ian, a golden retriever, proving that once he is off his harness and not working he is like any other dog and looking for any titbits.

See what a morning

We hope that you are uplifted and inspired by listening to this hymn from Kristyn Getty. We hope it helps you focus on the journey to the resurrection of Jesus and the hope it gives us as Christians.

Listen now

Pray this month

April 8: for Guild members everywhere. Those who reside in Scotland, but also those who may live in England or other parts of the world. May they enjoy fellowship, worship and social events together once more.

April 9: for Christian Aid whose project Caring for Mother Earth in Bolivia provides solar ovens in rural communities which continue to improve the lives and health of women and their families.

April 10: for all those who are finding it difficult to attend meetings. Maybe they are no longer mobile or just are not well enough. May we try and include them in our communication and visits. Many have served the Guild loyally and still want to be part of our Guild. Help them, although they may no longer contribute as they used to, know that they are still valued.

April 11: thinking of those who are suffering ill-health and for those who have been given a prognosis that requires further treatment. We give thanks for the professionals who administer treatment.

April 12: for A Home for Good. Pray that all children needing to be loved and cared for can find their new homes, and pray that they all have peace and enjoyment in their lives.

April 13: for our National Convener, Margaret, as she starts to prepare her speech for the General Assembly. Pray that she will be given wisdom and guidance as to what to say to share the news of the Guild to all those taking part.

April 14: for the young mothers in the Journeying Together project in Kanyama in Zambia, that their confidence will grow as they learn how to make a life for themselves and their children.

April 15: for Starchild, especially the work in Uganda. Pray that every child can be treated with love and respect. Pray that each child will get a chance to shine, and know what love is.

April 16: for Karen as she begins her journey as General Secretary. May she feel the support of the National Leadership Team and Guild members across Scotland.

April 17: as Covid-19 continues to affect the mental health of so many of all ages, we give thanks for the people who work tirelessly to provide support and comfort to those who are suffering the loneliness it brings.

April 18: for the recently bereaved, we pray that they will find comfort and support from family and friends as the Lord enfolds them in His loving arms.

April 19: for the Vine Trust project, The Kazunzu Village of Hope. Pray that with our help we can help those living in poverty in Tanzania. Pray that families can have homes, a school, and a medical centre. Pray that God can give those working to make this possible strength and faith to build this village of hope.

April 20: for those who work in the Guild office or work from home, to keep the wheels of the Guild going.

April 21: for the girls of secondary school age in Afghanistan who are being denied an education as a human right, leaving them open to exploitation.

April 22: for the Heart For Art project run by CrossReach, that it will continue to provide support for people living with dementia and their carers.

April 23: for Guild members in the West of Scotland region who meet today to share in fellowship and to encourage each other. May they be blessed and leave with a spring in their step and excitement to go forward.

April 24: we give thanks for those who provide food and shelter to people who, perhaps through no fault of their own, find themselves homeless and without jobs

April 25: for all those who have lost someone during the pandemic and need our support to return to our Guilds. May we be sympathetic to their position and recognise that everyone goes through grief at a different pace.

April 26: as austerity continues to affect families around the country and the use of food banks increases, we would ask that those who are able, donate to help others less fortunate than themselves.

April 27: for the adults supported by the Prospects charity, that they will be able to achieve their full potential in the community.

April 28: for everyone who is involved in the Guild projects. Pray that our Lord will guide them and help them to fulfil their commitment to each and every one of them. Pray that we, as members of the Guild, can do our part in enabling that all our projects are as successful as our other Guild projects of the past.

April 29: for the Pioneer project, Chocolate Heaven. Pray that this tiny island in South Asia can learn how to manufacture chocolate, to give them all a brighter future, a sense of hope and a greater understanding of God’s love for them.

April 30: for the Free to Live Trust, which continues to support street children in Pune in India by providing them with a safe place to live.

May 1: for those with responsibilities as Conveners of their Guild, of their Guilds Together and National Council. Those with responsibility for the projects, resources, treasurers, secretaries, and all roles that are so important to the running of our Guilds and plan for the next session.

May 2: for the chaplains of the Sailors’ Society who offer spiritual and practical support in Scottish ports to sailors often far from home.

Planning and delivering

Are you so well organised that you always plan extra time in a journey, in case of unexpected delays, like roadworks, temporary traffic lights, or trains cancelled, to name just a few? It is frustrating when we are late and every traffic light between here and our destination is red, or when we are driving along the motorway on a carefully planned journey and the overhead signs say 'Delays Ahead' and the traffic begins to slow down. We expect things to work on our timeline but that does not always happen.

On a spiritual level, most of us do not plan delays or crises that slow us down or change the course of our lives, but they happen. It may be illness or loss of employment. Think about a time when circumstances changed the road we had planned to take, either in a small way or a big way.

Solomon never saw a road sign which said 'Delays Ahead' but in Proverbs 16:9, he says, “In their hearts, humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Solomon compares our man-made plans with God’s good guidance. The Message translates this verse as "Mortals make elaborate plans, but God has the last word." We might make plans, but God directs our steps. In other words, we have ideas about what we want to happen, but sometimes God has another path for us.

We get frustrated when things do not go according to plan, but we should not make plans without asking God what His plans for us are. If we want to avoid frustration and disappointment, we need to allow God to continually direct us. We need to do as Solomon teaches and trust that God will guide us step by step, and prayerfully wait for God to lead us.

This month, we look forward to our conference in Perth, 'A Vision for the Future', to think about the journey ahead for the Guild. Our plans have been delayed by two years because of the pandemic, from which the Guild has emerged in a good position, and we are now ready to rebuild. We can do no better than go forward, remembering the words of Archibald Charteris: “It is they who dream bright dreams that in the end deliver … do not be afraid or ashamed to announce splendid hopes. It is enthusiasts the world needs, and I pray you to be enthusiastic.” So, let us be positive, brave, and enthusiastic, with the plans we make which will take the Guild forward in faith, along the right path, led by God — whose we are and whom we serve.

Safe journey to Perth.

Helen Eckford,

National Vice Convener

It's love that makes the world go round. It was lovely to see this photo of some members from Port Glasgow, New Parish Church, sharing fellowship and love on St Valentine's Day. After some "heart-shaped" crafts, they enjoyed wrapped chocolates and Valentine's cupcakes. Sounds like a great day

Urgent support for Ukraine

Very Rev Dr Susan Brown, Convener of the Church of Scotland's Faith Impact Forum, sent a letter to all our presbyteries with information about the situation in Ukraine and particularly about the support of our partners there. We are fortunate to have good links with the Reformed Church in Hungary and a way in which we can support the congregations in Ukraine.

Susan writes: “As I write to you it is with a heavy heart, hearing the news and speaking directly to partners in Ukraine about the dreadful situation there. It would be easy to feel powerless but there are several things we can do to help.”

We suggest that you might share the opportunity to give, via the Church of Scotland, to Reformed Church in Hungary Aid (RCHA), which is run by our partner, the Reformed Church of Hungary.

Through RCHA you can support those fleeing from the east and coming to the west of Ukraine where they can be helped through the churches there; and those in the west already who don’t have access to their money when the banks run out and who will need food/help; and those who cross the borders into Hungary, Slovakia or Romania.

Read Susan's letter here

Chick, chick, chick, chick, chicken

The sale of these lovely Easter chicks knitted by Guild member Betty Caldwell from Cupar Old has meant a fabulous donation being able to be sent to help those struggling to survive in Ukraine. Sometimes we can feel so helpless but this act of kindness will certainly be doing some practical good in the days ahead

'Wee Seeds, Big Trees' theme and discussion guide

Guilds should by now have received a copy of our new Theme and Discussion Guide. The guide is also available as an online copy. Please pass it on to anyone who would like it in this format.

Read the new guide

Monday memory

Our memory this month takes us back to the 2015 Annual Gathering in Dundee. It is great to see so many familiar faces. Plans are now in place for our 2022 Annual Gathering at the Assembly Hall when we hope as many of you as possible will be able to join us in person or via a live link.

125 years of Kilbowie St Andrew's, Clydebank

National Convener, Margaret Muir, was delighted to be able to join with members and friends of Kilbowie St Andrew's Guild in Clydebank to celebrate their 125th anniversary. It was a wonderful occasion and a real celebration of all that God has done in and through the Guild in Kilbowie St Andrew's over the last 125 years particularly. There was worship, there was cake and the day ended with Guild members being presented with 'party bags' from the Sunday School. A great day.

As a Fire Is Meant for Burning

Our General Secretary knows that every day is a school day! And after being introduced to this hymn at Appin Guild and then again at Kilbowie St Andrew's she has become a real fan. The words are a great fit to our theme 'lights and bushels'. In this time of continued conflict in Ukraine, the line "we join hands across the nations, finding neighbours everywhere" is especially poignant.

Listen now

Pray this month

Thursday 10: giving thanks to Rev Geza Kacso, his wife Dora, and their four children who continue to live and work in Batyu in Ukraine. Pray especially for their protection from harm.

Friday 11: for the people of Russia; for those who fear for their lives, for soldiers involved in a war not of their making, and for those who try to help.

Saturday 12: for the church in Brazil and for the women who are the future leaders, studying with our partner, the Unida project.

Sunday 13: for our brothers and sisters in the Guild in Malawi. Giving thanks for our friendship and mutual support.

Monday 14: giving thanks for the work we are supporting in Uganda, helping children with special needs.

Tuesday 15: remembering especially people in Poland who are working so hard to welcome and look after refugees from Ukraine.

Wednesday 16: for the people of Yemen, who live day-to-day with the conflict of a war that began in 2014 and where 8 million people are reliant on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for support.

Thursday 17: thinking of the young women and their children in Zambia who continue to be supported by the 'Journeying Together' project to have access to education and training.

Friday 18: for Guild members in England, thinking particularly of the Guild at Crown Court in London.

Saturday 19: giving thanks for the work of Pioneers in South East Asia, thinking particularly of our partners Chocolate Heaven.

Sunday 20: thinking particularly of the church in Hungary, especially our partners the Reformed Church in Hungary, who are working tirelessly to support refugees arriving from Ukraine.

Monday 21: remembering friends in Papua New Guinea, who first learned about the love of God for them as a result of the work of the Mission Aviation Fellowship and the Guild.

Tuesday 22: giving thanks for the Free to Live Trust in India and remembering particularly the children living at the home in Bori.

Wednesday 23: for the people of Afghanistan, particularly women and girls, who face reduced freedoms following the return of the Taliban.

Thursday 24: remembering the people of the USA, praying especially for President Biden.

Friday 25: giving thanks for the work of the Vine Trust in Tanzania, and especially all involved in developing the Kazunzu Village of Hope.

Saturday 26: continuing to remember the people of Syria and particularly Rev Ibrahim Nseir and his congregation in Aleppo.

Sunday 27: thinking especially of the people of Myanmar, where any opposition to the military coup is met with extreme violence.

Monday 28: for our partners here in Scotland, BEAT and Home for Good. Giving thanks for the work that they are doing to improve the lives of vulnerable children and adults.

Tuesday 29: giving thanks to the church in South Africa, particularly for the work they do to support people infected and affected by HIV.

Wednesday 30: remembering before God, family and friends, and fellow Christians living in Northern Ireland, praying that the peace will not be lost in the midst of political turmoil.

Thursday 31: giving thanks for the work of Feed the Minds in Kenya, and remembering all those whose lives have been changed by our project tackling female genital mutilation.

Friday 1: for the church in Pakistan, living with the regular threat of violence simply for being a Christian.

Saturday 2: giving thanks for the continued peace and rebuilding of communities in Rwanda and for the role that the Guild played in helping to rebuild homes.

Sunday 3: for the people of Occupied Palestinian Territories and of Israel, asking for God to intervene and a peaceful solution to be found in this complex situation.


February newsletter

Welcome to our first monthly newsletter. As Guild meetings start to resume in person, we hope that this new monthly format will be helpful for you. Is your Guild group up to anything you'd like us to share in next month's newsletter? Get in touch with us and let us know.

Email us

Faithful friends

In 1850 a gardener called John Gray, together with his wife Jess and son John, arrived in Edinburgh. Unable to find work as a gardener, he avoided the workhouse by joining the Edinburgh Police Force as a night watchman.

To keep him company through the long winter nights John took on a partner, a diminutive Skye Terrier, his ‘watchdog’ called Bobby. Together, John and Bobby became a familiar sight trudging through the old cobbled streets of Edinburgh. Through thick and thin, winter and summer, they were faithful friends.

John eventually died of tuberculosis on 15 February 1858 and was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard. Bobby stayed by his master’s grave from the day he was buried. Every day he went to the place where he and his master had lunch and was fed, then he returned to the Kirkyard.

Bobby eventually died 14 years after his owner, on 14 January 1872, 150 years ago. The people of Edinburgh were so touched by his devotion that they had a statue placed by the graveyard. Bobby’s headstone reads: "Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all."

That type of loyalty you would think was rare, but we all know of carers: husbands, wives, sons, daughters, neighbours and friends, who give up so much to care for someone they love. Some give up their jobs to spend valuable time with them, but to a lesser extent, people do their neighbours' shopping, when it takes so much longer than just shopping for themselves, or take out someone with dementia when they know the conversation will be repeated many times.

I love the story of Ruth and her loyalty to Naomi, her mother-in-law, whose husband had died. When she urged her to go home Ruth says: “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”

The early Christians had such faith, they suffered terrible torture and slow death. We know that in some countries, Christians can only worship in hidden rooms. Yet some are brave enough to pronounce their faith even though they know they could be arrested. We do not know if we could be so brave. However, we do sometimes have to face teasing and nasty remarks when people know we attend church and have faith.

In Christ alone, my hope is found;

He is my light, my strength, my song.

This cornerstone, this solid ground;

Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.

- Getty/Townend

So be strong and loyal in your faith. Know that you are doing the best you can. God knows how hard you try. God loves you.

God bless you.

Helen Banks

National Guild Vice-Convener

Christian Aid Supporter Gathering

For the second year in a row, Christian Aid Scotland's Gathering  will be an online event. It is being held on Tuesday 22 February from 10am until 12pm.

Guest speakers this year include two of Christian Aid’s Africa team, who will talk about South Sudan. South Sudan, the world’s newest country, is being hard hit by climate change and conflict, but Christian Aid are grateful to their supporters and the Scottish Government for providing support to the most vulnerable countries.

The Gathering will look ahead to Christian Aid Week 2022 (15-21 May) which focuses on their partners’ work in Zimbabwe.

There will also be an update on the work Christian Aid Scotland is doing with the Disasters Emergency Committee and the Scottish Government in Afghanistan.

The event is open to anyone who is interested in the work of Christian Aid.

Register for the event

Join in the celebration

It is quite remarkable that it is now 70 years since the Queen began her reign. The Queen is certainly a woman of deep personal faith and we are encouraging Guilds to get involved in holding a special event on Sunday 5 June in your own congregation. It might be an afternoon tea or a soup and sandwich lunch — the format is up to you. It might just be for the congregation or you may decide to open it up to the wider community and have your event as part of the Big Jubilee Lunch being held across the country.

And, as well as celebrating the Jubilee, you could use it as a fundraiser for Guild projects with a donation plate available. Why not have a think about if and how your Guild might get involved?

Find out more about the Big Jubilee Lunch

Monday memory

Our memory this month takes us back to 2016 and a Guilds Together rally in Kincardine and Deeside. By all accounts it was a great event and we are looking forward to lots more of these events in the coming months.

Helen is 100

Huge congratulations to Helen Love of Calderbank Guild who recently celebrated her 100th birthday and received these beautiful flowers from her Guild friends. It is lovely to see you looking so well, Helen. We hope you enjoyed your celebration.

Online Guild Service

St Andrew's Blackadder Guild has once again put together an online meeting for folks to enjoy. This meeting features a probationer minister, Douglas Hamilton, sharing his experiences as he explored his calling to the ministry.

Watch their service

Understanding mental health illness for faith communities

Through Faith In Older People, Dr Gill Yellowlees, a trained doctor and psychiatrist, is leading a Zoom session on Tuesday 8 March from 1:30pm-4:30pm to help people think about how we talk about mental illness and how we can best offer friendship and support to people who are experiencing mental health challenges, within a church or pastoral care setting. The focus will primarily be on the needs of people experiencing mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety and psychotic illness, and particularly thinking about older people.

Dr Yellowlees retired seven years ago from working as a Consultant in Mental Health for Older People in the Scottish Borders. She trained in Spiritual Accompaniment and, amongst other things, over the past four years has led workshops on mental illness for people involved in pastoral care.

Registration fee: £30 (please note, this registration fee goes to Faith In Older People)

The workshop has limited numbers.

A few concessionary places have also become available. Please email to enquire.

Register now

There is a hope

As we look forward in faith, this hymn by Stuart Townend, 'There Is A Hope', confirms to us where the certainty comes from and gives us hope that stands the test of time. We hope that listening to this hymn is a source of encouragement.

Listen now

February prayers

Wednesday 9: thinking especially of Christians in Pakistan, still coming to terms with another attack on worshippers.

Thursday 10: particularly for our National Convener, Margaret Muir, giving thanks for all that she is doing to promote the Guild across Scotland.

Friday 11: thinking especially of Guilds and congregations who have lost members over the past few months and whose passing will leave a huge hole in the group.

Saturday 12: remembering all who are struggling with the uncertainty of ill health, asking for peace and a speedy resolution to the issues they face.

Sunday 13: giving thanks for new ministers who have recently been inducted into new congregations. Pray that they will be a blessing.

Monday 14: asking for guidance for our project partner, Pioneers, as they contemplate opening a coffee shop to support the work of the project.

Tuesday 15: giving thanks for our partnership with the Guilds in the Synod of Livingstonia and for all that we are able to share with and learn from each other.

Wednesday 16: thinking particularly of our project partner, Beat, and for all they are doing to support individuals and families living with an eating disorder.

Thursday 17: remembering our four National Vice Conveners as they work to support the work of the Guild at a regional level.

Friday 18: giving thanks for our project partners, Home for Good, and all that they are doing to support children who need to find a new home through fostering or adoption.

Saturday 19: thinking especially of our Guild administrator, Mandy, and giving thanks for all that she does to support the Guild.

Sunday 20: giving thanks for the Guild in Kilbowie St Andrew's who celebrate their 125th anniversary.

Monday 21: remembering our friends who live in and around the village of Kazunzu, supported through our partnership with the Vine Trust.

Tuesday 22: giving thanks for the work and witness of previous national Guild leaders and for the legacy they have left the Guild as a result of their work.

Wednesday 23: thinking especially of the members of the National Council as they meet online to take forward the work of the Guild.

Thursday 24: remembering families in Uganda who support their children with special educational needs and who in turn are supported by our project partner, Starchild.

Friday 25: giving thanks for our finance assistant, Alice Finlayson, as she retires from her role with the Guild, asking that God will bless her in the months ahead.

Saturday 26: thinking especially of all who have joined the Guild this year, giving thanks that they have decided to be part of our Guild family.

Sunday 27: giving thanks for our project partner, Unida, as they help young women in Brazil to find their voice and for that voice to be heard.

A light to my path

As we enter a new year and look forward to brighter, lighter days I wonder how many of us have been hiding our lights; our God-given gifts and talents. We all have them. Perhaps they are skills we learned a long time ago, some learned as we have progressed through life, some we have learned through necessity, and some because we have a particular interest.

Whatever skills we have, we have them thanks to God’s good Grace and He wants us to use them. When we light a lamp, we do not hide it away — we put it on a stand and the light is shared by all. In Matthew 5:16 we are encouraged to let our light shine before others so that they may see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven. The essence of light is embodied in Jesus who said “I AM the light of the world”.

Can you let your light shine? In a quiet moment, we could ask God how we could let His light through us. During the course of the pandemic, many people have found life quite difficult, living with lockdowns and unable to meet with friends and family, and would perhaps welcome someone to sit with them, have a cup of tea and a chat. Are you a good listener? Perhaps your talent could shine a light into someone’s life! If you are able to drive, would you be willing to take someone to an appointment, fetch some shopping or pick up prescriptions?

Kindnesses are always appreciated and benefit not only the recipient but can also lift the spirits of the giver. There are different kinds of gifts but the same Spirit gives them. Faith is another precious gift given by God to enable us to trust in Him and to go forward with confidence in His word and promises and to learn that He will never forsake us. The nature of God’s love and faithfulness is declared throughout the Bible and is the lamp that provides the light helping us through darkness and doubts, giving us strength and encouragement, especially through our prayers.

May we go forward into this new year with our gifts of giving and sharing to the best of our ability and rejoice that we do this in God’s name.

Flora Buthlay,

National Vice Convener

July 2021

Last week, we saw how Guilds kept in touch during the first half of 2021. This week, we look at what happened in the second half of the year.

In July, we heard about Guilds taking the opportunity to meet, like the Guild of New Monklands and Greengairs who had a picnic in June, while enjoying the Big Sing. Guilds continued to move forward, like the Guilds of Northfield Parish (pictured) and Summerhill and Mastrick Parish in Aberdeen whose congregations have united, and the Guilds planned to unite too.

August 2021

In August, many Guilds took advantage of the summer weather to meet outside as well as inside. The Guild in Dalgety Bay enjoyed their first outing since March. Afternoon teas were popular and were enjoyed by Crown Church Guild in Inverness, the Guild in Stevenston High Kirk and the Guild in Cults Parish Church, Aberdeen, who enjoyed afternoon tea and celebrated a total of 846 years of service.

The Guild of Boghall Parish Church in Bathgate changed to a summer Guild as a way of moving forward and helping their Guild to grow.

Congratulations again go to Guild member, Tom Thomas (pictured) of Ferintosh Parish Church in Conan Bridge. Tom, a retired gardener, was awarded the British Empire Medal for voluntary work in the community.

September 2021

September was a busy month. The Guild was back and looking forward in faith.

At the beginning of September, we were delighted to meet in person, although socially distanced, to have our Annual Gathering in the Assembly Hall in Edinburgh. Margaret Muir, our new National Convener, started her role immediately, speaking to the congregation in Auchterarder the following day. Pictured is Mabel Wallace, Lord Wallace and Margaret Muir.

Also in September, the winner of the outgoing Convener’s challenge was announced. Mabel Wallace’s challenge was a photo of trees and rainbows. The winner was Sheila Wallace of Dundee Guilds Together.

October 2021

Our new theme, Lights and Bushels, started and Guilds were shining their lights. The Guild in Liberton planned a cookery course for students. The Guild in Carrbridge enjoyed afternoon tea and raised money for our projects. The Guild of Grahamston United in Falkirk made blankets to support children in Eastern Europe.

The Guild in St Andrews, Arbroath, restarted with a service of dedication and Communion with their minister, the Very Reverend Dr Martin Fair.

Guilds in Edinburgh from Marchmont St Giles, Craigmillar Park, St Catherine’s Argyll and Mayfield Salisbury to Priestfield and Reid Memorial met and planned ways of working and meeting together.

Inverness and Nairn Guilds Together enjoyed afternoon tea and Iain Whyte was delighted to see the enthusiasm when he visited Larbert East.

Where Guilds were still not able to meet, members found ways to stay connected, like the Guild of St Anne’s Parish Church in Edinburgh kept their noticeboard up to date with information for members.

Congratulations went to sisters Irene Walker and Margaret Dundas of Cadder Parish Church in Bishopbriggs, who celebrated 50 and 40 years of Guild membership respectively.

The Guilds of Clark Memorial, St Columba’s and St John’s churches in Largs became Largs United Guild. Margaret Muir, National Convener, and Iain Whyte and Karen Gillon joined them in their celebration (pictured).

November 2021

There was a lot to celebrate in November with special birthdays and anniversaries.

The Guild of Banchory Ternan East celebrated 135 years. Maxwelltown West Guild in Dumfries celebrated 90 years as did New Monklands who were joined in the celebration by their former minister, the Rev Alan Ford, and his wife Mary, one of our past National Conveners.

We had two 100th birthday celebrations. Miss Marjory Dick of Monifieth and Nan Hill of Renfrew North, who was also presented with a certificate for 76 years as a member.

The Guild in St Mungo’s Parish Church in Alloa highlighted our Starchild Project by decorating the church Christmas tree with sunflowers.

December 2021

And so, we reached the end of 2021 — a year like no other.

We said goodbye to Iain Whyte, our General Secretary of 10 years. We wish Iain and Elaine a long and happy retirement.

Cadder Guild in Bishopbriggs and Barnhill St Margaret’s in Broughty Ferry both celebrated 100 years.

Congratulations to bowler Moira McKay (pictured) of Faifley Guild in Clydebank for her success in the Special Olympics.

Elsewhere, Cockpen and Carrington Guild in Midlothian are trying a change the pattern of their meetings to encourage more members and the Guild of Leven in Fife started meetings after 18 months and with seven new members.

A positive end to 2021 with the Guild 'Looking Forward in Faith'.

Hymn of the week

This week, our thoughts turn to Robert Burns. John Bell’s hymn, 'We cannot measure how you heal', sung to the tune of 'Ye Banks and Braes' is a constant reminder of God’s healing power at all times in life, in faith, and in times of doubt

Listen now

Monday memories

Our Monday memory this week is of friends from Malawi who were able to visit us in 2019. We look forward to being able to welcome visitors before too long.

Pray this week

Monday: remembering the people of Tonga after the recent volcanic eruption and tsunami.

Tuesday: asking for guidance for leaders in local, national and international government in these different times.

Wednesday: giving thanks for Guild and congregational treasurers as they complete their accounts for the year.

Thursday: remembering staff in hospitals, hospices, care homes and in the community who care for people who are unwell, elderly or vulnerable — asking for patience, compassion and a generosity of spirit.

Friday: giving thanks for those who organise and help with food banks and other services that support people in need of food, clothes or a warm place to stay.

Saturday: remembering Church of Scotland mission partners serving in various roles throughout the world supporting those around them.

Sunday: asking God to develop spiritual growth within churches and Guilds and a willingness to serve in whatever way possible as we look to the future.


Christmas traditions

I was taking my Christmas tree and decorations down the other week, and I was thinking to myself, 'that’s it away for another year'. I often think January can be a bleak month, not just weather-wise, but in our lives too. Most of us have all had the wonderful feeling of Christmas, the run-up to the special day, having family with us, the shopping for that gift for someone special.

I always cook my turkey on Christmas Eve. When my daughters were younger, we had a Christmas tradition that we would have a takeaway, then all go to the church at 7pm. When we came home, another tradition was the girls would put on their Christmas pyjamas ready for Santa. I remember one year we came back from the church and Leigh said excitedly, "doesn’t it smell like Christmas?" (It was the turkey cooking).

Then, about four years ago, we as a family decided we would go out for Christmas dinner. By this time the Christmas Eve traditions were passed on to my grandchildren; the takeaway, going to church, and Christmas Eve pyjamas. But that evening, for the first time in about twenty five years, there was no "Christmas smell" as Leigh called it — there was no turkey cooking. Although we all enjoyed our Christmas dinner out the next day, when we came back there was no cooking smell, no turkey to pick at, and often we had our desserts later because we had eaten too much turkey.

In my mind, these are all material things in life. We still have the reason for Christmas and that is our wonderful saviour Jesus Christ. When I really thought about it, we don’t really need all these traditions that we have, and another benefit is that we have Christ in our lives not just for one day but for 365 days a year. We have Christ with us as we progress through life — even when the time comes, I believe that Christ is there with us to take us to our final resting place. Yes, it’s lovely to have all these nice traditions in our family life, but sometimes we are all too engrossed in making Christmas dinner, buying presents, Santa jammies, etc, that we forget Jesus is the reason for this season.

I remember one Christmas we had our usual Kirkmichael, Tinwald and Torthorwald (or as we are affectionately known: 'KTT') coffee morning. I was on the stall selling Christmas cards, and I remember one lady coming up to me and, having looked through the Christmas cards, which were all Christmas scenes (e.g. Jesus in the manger, the kings following the star, the shepherds round the manger), she turned to me and said: “I like the more traditional cards.” I said, "how do you mean?" She said, "you know, robins and snowmen, Christmas trees and wintery scenes". She actually left me speechless, which I can say never really happens to me. Yes, my Christmas tree and decorations are packed away for another year, and yes we will have our family traditions next year on Christmas Eve. But I’m sure you will all agree with me: Jesus is for life, not just for Christmas.

Blessings to you all as we start another year and another chapter in our lives.

Andrea Houston, National Vice Convener

Review of the year

Although 2021 was a hard year for Guilds across Scotland, as we were unable to meet for large parts of the year, there was still so much good going on. People supported and encouraged each other. Over the next two newsletters, we are going to review 2021 and we hope this review of the year will sum up that amazing sense of belonging we have through our membership of the Guild as we move into 2022

January 2021

When the newsletter returned in the second half of January 2021, we learned that the Guilds in Cumbrae, North Ayrshire and in Brightons Parish Church in Falkirk had stayed in touch by delivering gifts to each member. They also had time for a socially distanced chat, too, which provided a welcome boost to Guild members.

February 2021

North Ayrshire Guilds Together, twinned with Milala Presbytery in Malawi, were delighted to hear that solar lights had been installed in 24 schools.

Duntocher Trinity Guild in Clydebank cared for members in both body and soul when they sent everyone a Guild blessing and a Guild tartan face mask. In Aberdeenshire, members of Skene Guild received a hand-knitted prayer square with their Guild magazine, and members of Trinity Guild in Alford got flowers and chocolate with their magazine.

Money was raised for our Guild projects with our virtual soup lunch on Valentine’s Day and Carrbridge Guild’s Zoom Burns Night.

March 2021

Our online presence continued to grow in March last year. We held a successful National Council meeting online and Guilds around the country came together online to take part in the Moderator’s Quiz.

A huge thank you to Very Rev Dr Martin Fair for bringing us together and raising money for the Guild projects. Now, sadly, it was time to say goodbye to our 2018–2021 projects with an online Lenten event. We wish them well for the future.

Guilds in Carnoustie, Glencorse in Esk Valley and New Monkland and Greengairs in Lanarkshire kept in touch with members and sent gifts of chocolate and sweets

April 2021

Guild members of Friockheim and Kinnell in Angus, Westburn Parish in Inverclyde, and Relief Parish in Irvine all received homemade cards and gifts. A special well done to the Guilds in Faifley Parish Church in Clydebank and St Mungo’s Parish Church in Alloa who found so many wonderful ways to stay connected with their members.

The Guild of St Andrew Blackadder in North Berwick recorded their sixth virtual Guild meeting for their own members and, because it was on YouTube, members around the country were able to share too.

May 2021

We heard from the Guild in Dundee Meadowside St Paul’s that Margaret Ingram, a long-standing member, was honoured to receive Maundy Money for a lifetime of Christian service.

Better weather meant that Guilds like the Guild in Dull and Weem in Perthshire could meet outside.

We were delighted that the Guild Report could be given in person to the General Assembly by National Convener, Mabel Wallace.

June 2021

At last, the news we had all been waiting for – Guilds could meet again in person, safely by following Covid guidelines.

We welcomed our six new projects with our virtual Big Sing. A well done to Peterhead New Parish Guild who were already raising money for the projects by supporting member, Hazel Ross, in her sponsored walk and by Guessing the Doll’s Birthday with a doll knitted by one of their members.

Finally, thanks to Liz McVicar from Orkney for sharing her oystercatcher photos with us. The bird looks forward in faith to the birth of her chicks, despite the challenges of nature. Faith rewarded – mother and chicks doing well. We look forward in faith, too, to whatever lies ahead.

Great is thy faithfulness

Our hymn this week is Great is Thy Faithfulness. Whatever challenges we might be facing, God’s promises are true and His faithfulness to us never fails. In times of uncertainty, we can take comfort from the words in verse three, that God gives us, “Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.”

Listen now

Monday memories

Our Monday memory this week takes us to Dundee and a local resource day organised in April 2019. Resource days are a great way to find out more about what is happening in the Guild, the wider church and within other Christian organisations. We know that in Perth and in Inverurie there will be resource days this year and if you would like further information, then please get in touch.

Get more information

Pray this week

Monday: remembering women and girls in Afghanistan who are being denied an education or even being forcibly taken from their homes.

Tuesday: thinking of young people as they start the new term. We pray they will be able to enjoy a full education curriculum. We pray for the teachers as they have had to adapt to the extra work involved with the Covid-19 disruption.

Wednesday: remembering the recently bereaved and the lonely. May they feel the comfort of God’s love and the support of friends.

Thursday: thinking of those struggling to pay bills for heating and food as prices rise. May they be guided to places where they can get help.

Friday: remembering Mission Aviation Fellowship who fly medicine, vaccines and medical staff in over 20 countries through jungles, swamps, mountains, deserts and difficult to reach communities. Thinking particularly of the areas where they have taken PPE and other supplies to remote and isolated communities. Giving thanks that they pray before every flight.

Saturday: thinking especially of the Street Pastors who work on our streets at night, offering assistance to anyone in trouble or who needs someone to talk to.

Sunday: giving thanks to all the members of congregations who work behind the scenes to enable the church services to go ahead: welcomers, cleaners, flower arrangers, gardeners, plus organists, readers, youth leaders and lots more tasks that often go unrecognised. Also, ministers and service leaders as they adapt to the restrictions, yet still offer God’s Word and teaching every Sunday.


Christmas is coming

Christmas is coming!

the Church is glad to sing,

and let the Advent candles

brightly burn in a ring.

We have travelled through Advent and, although still slightly different, the candles of Peace, Hope, Joy and Love have been lit and we await the birth of a special baby, who came as God’s gift to show us the way, the truth and the life.

Christmas is so much more than presents. It is a time when our baby Jesus was born to be the Light of the world. It is a time when God shows up in the middle of the mess to bring us a message of hope.

Over the past nearly two years, we have become aware of ‘doing things differently’, and just when we thought things were getting better, here we are again but… Christmas is happening. We can be with our families and join in worship to celebrate Jesus’ birth.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” - John 1:5

Let us be thankful for what we will share this Christmas Day and also take the time to think of those who do not have anyone or anything to share. Let us also think of those who prepare meals to share with the homeless and give of their time freely in helping others.

“Do not be afraid, I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” - Luke 2:10

This message of great joy came not for the rich and the privileged but for the poor shepherds, so no matter the situation let us spread the joy of Christmas.

May God’s love be with you all this Christmas and in the days ahead as we Look Forward in Faith.

Christ is among us

The candles in the ring

remind us that our Saviour

will light up everything.

Christmas Blessings,

Margaret Muir

National Convener

Cockpen and Carrington Christingle

Cockpen and Carrington Guild have moved to a hybrid set-up, with a new monthly afternoon meeting once a month to run alongside their usual evening meetings. They held a pilot meeting on 13 December and 30 Guild members came along. They had worship, musical entertainment and even made a Christingle to take home.

It looks like everyone had a great time and this new pattern of meetings allows everyone to take part at a time that suits them whilst also enabling them to still be able to recruit new members.