Dundee Food Bank – toothbrushes

On her recent visit to the FoodBank, Liz topped up donations with more toothpaste (2 tubes already donated) and sets of toothbrushes, having read a newspaper article about families sharing a single brush; Foodbank staff confirmed that this is the case and they have to constantly supply these (ie ‘this is not a newspaper invention’ / ‘fake news’).

We were once again thanked for our continued support.

The need remains:

  • In 2018, 9,500 people in Dundee and surrounding areas were helped with food provision.
  • Currently 180 persons are served every week and can only access this service on three separate occasions over a six month period.

Good News for the Bulgarian Methodist Church

In mid-December Margarita wrote:

“Christmas is approaching and our hearts are burdened with worries. In May, four of the political parties introduced changes to the law on religion that aim to severely restrict all minority religious groups.

Such changes are in direct violation of the Bulgarian Constitution that guarantees separation between Church and State and religious freedom for all citizens. They threaten the existence of all minority groups.

Despite protest letters from religious groups across the country, as well as from outside Bulgaria, Parliament passed all proposed changes. These included an increase in the minimum number of people required for registration from 300 to 3,000.

If accepted, this would threaten the registration of the majority of Protestant denominations, including the Methodist Church.

Politicians here want the law to be passed quickly and implemented immediately.

Despite street protests by Christians, one party leader declared openly that they would fight “with teeth and nails” for the articles to be passed exactly as proposed. Please continue to pray for us.”

Then on 21 December Margarita sent us this update:

“Today, in its final working day for 2018, Parliament passed the new religious law in Bulgaria. We are happy to inform you that to our great relief 95% of the proposed restrictions were dropped.

It has taken a lot of work by many people to reach this outcome. This includes international pressure, as well as seven Sundays of official prayer marches and protests in Sofia and other cities.

It has also involved prayer and fasting, TV interviews, other media activity and discussions with members of the Parliament’s Commission on Religion and Human Rights.

We are grateful to God for all the support that we received. This has shown our politicians that, though we are a minority, we are part of a big worldwide family. We are a force to be reckoned with.

As a representative of the Bulgarian Methodist Church I would like to thank everyone who helped. I’m especially grateful to the World Methodist Council, the European Methodist Council and the World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church women for their support.

We have one more reason to celebrate this Christmas. Our hearts will gladly sing praises to our Lord Jesus for his power and might, love and faithfulness.”

Worship Consultation

This open meeting will take place in Marketgait from 1pm on Wednesday 6thFebruary.  Discussion will include further consideration of points raised in recent Discussion Paper conversations, as well as planning for the observance of Lent (8th March – 14th April) and Easter.  Please give apologies and any feedback, comments, or suggestions for material, to Sue Commander (Convener).  All are welcome to attend or send their views.

Unity Octave: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity


This Week is traditionally observed from 18th to 25th January (the octave between the Feasts of Saints Peter and Paul).  In some areas, however, it is observed at Pentecost or some other convenient time.

Each year the material is prepared by an ecumenical group of Christians from a chosen part of the world, with material then made available to national or equivalent groups to produce and distribute within their areas.  This pattern is also that of the (Women’s) World Day of Prayer.


  • The Octave began in 1908 (as the Octave of Christian Unity) on dates proposed by a Franciscan, Father Paul Wattons, with official blessing by Pope Pius X and encouragement from Pope Benedict XV for “its observance throughout the entire Roman Catholic Church”.
  • In the 1920s Protestant leaders also proposed an annual Octave of Prayer for Unity among Christians, in the weeks leading to Pentecost.
  • In 1935 Abbé Paul Couturier advocated prayer “for the unity of the Church as Christ wills it”, thereby enabling the participation of other Christians; he proposed the name “Universal Week of Prayer for Christian Unity”, a proposal accepted by the Roman Catholic Church in 1966.
  • In 1941 the (Protestant) Faith and Order Conference changed the date to that observed by Catholics.
  • In 1948, with the founding of the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity became increasingly recognised by churches throughout the world.
  • From 1958 representatives of Roman Catholicism and the WCC (including Orthodox churches) began co-operative preparation of material for the Week. From 1968 there has been official use of materials prepared jointly by the Faith and Order Commission and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.


Resources for 2019 have been prepared by Christians of Indonesia (the largest country in South East Asia comprising over 17,000 islands, 1,340 different ethnic groups and over 740 local languages – the “lingua franca” is Bahasa Indonesia.  Indonesia has the largest Islamic population of any country – estimated as being over 86% (pop. 260 million).  About 10% of Indonesians are Christians.

The key text for The Week – “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue” (Deuteronomy 16, 18-20resonates with the reality of life in a country rich in resources but with many people living in poverty, with tensions between rich and poor, a division often exacerbated by differences between particular ethnic and religious groups.

The material emphasises the need for unity alongside this diversity; it also highlights issues of economic injustice and how religious pluralism can meet challenges of radicalisation.

Material for use in the British Isles, made available by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI), includes a leaflet with daily devotions and an Order of Service for united worship. Reflections include ‘Go and Do’ action points provided by Christian Aid.

Refugees crossing the Mediterranean

The Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI) and others involved in support for migrants on land, at sea and in the skies are strengthening their collaboration.

The humanitarian corridors programme, an ecumenical project developed by the FCEI’s Mediterranean Hope team with the Comunità di Sant’Egidio in 2015 is now in its second phase. It has produced legacy corridors enabling over 2,000 migrants to travel safely and legally to Italy, France, Belgium & Andorra from the Middle East & from sub-Saharan Africa.

This pioneering spirit remained in evidence on 20 December as the FCEI unveiled its collaboration with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at work in the Mediterranean and its support for the communities in Calabria which have provided the world with a model for welcoming migrants.

The FCEI, which has already been collaborating for over a year with Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms (POA), will now extend financial, material and logistical support to Sea-Watch and to Pilotes Volontaires.  Support for the communities in Calabria will be more nuanced, taking account of the difficult economic conditions in which these communities find themselves.(World Council of Churches)

(The FCEI, formed in 1967, has members including the Union of Waldensian Churches (Waldensian Evangelical Church and Methodist Evangelical Church) and other historical Protestant Churches.)

Embrace the Middle East

Embrace the Middle East is a Christian charity originally set up in 1854 as The Turkish Mission Society, principally working among Armenian Christians in Turkey.  Its name was changed in 1893 to The Bible Lands Mission Aid Society and in1962 to The Bible Lands Society; further alterations occurred in 1996 to BibleLands and in 2012 to Embrace the Middle East.

Embrace ME works with and to support Christian communities doing life-changing work in countries of the Near and Middle East, including Turkey, Syria, Egypt, the Balkans, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine and Cyprus, with projects currently in Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt and Syria.  It works actively with 16 partners  with focus particularly on education, healthcare, community development, often relating to refugees from with and outwith the area.

During 2019, Mark, one of Embrace ME’s Regional Managers will be running every single pilgrimage route across Scotland and the north of England to raise awareness & funds, including an Edinburgh Fun Run on Sunday 22ndSeptember.

the Connexion magazine Winter 2019

The January 2019 (issue 13) is now available.

This edition has the theme of “journeying”, and includes an article by the past Vice-President of Conference, Jill Baker (Strathclyde Circuit) on “pilgrimage”, an insight into the shared journey of two Methodists with different views on aspects of sexuality, and an exploration of travelling together ecumenically by the new Connexional Ecumenical Officer, Ruth Gee.

Redevelopment meeting postponed

The redevelopment group meeting planned for 15th January has been postponed until after the all-church meeting on 20th January.  It is hoped that the congregation will make progress in considering the shape of its future, and how the building might contribute to that vision.

The Methodist Modern Art Collection

In the early 1906s John Morel Gibbs, a Methodist layman and art collector, became keenly aware that Non-Conformist traditions demonstrated no deep appreciation of insights into the Bible through the works of contemporary artists; he therefore decided to create a collection of original works to tour the country.  In this, he was assisted by the Rev Douglas Wollen, also an art-lover. These works became the nucleus of the now widely-appreciated Methodist Modern Art Collection.

The Collection includes works by artists from over the past 100 years, from within and furth of Great Britain; it is still expanding and now comprises 54 paintings, prints, drawings reliefs and mosaic works.  Although care and maintenance is provided by the Methodist Church, funds from charitable sources are often used for purchases.  The Collection – as originally intended – tours the country; it is also available to view online, with some works also in postcard format.