by MARY MCKENNA
Convener of Council
Sometimes I meet people who attended St Mark’s years previously, and I am always impressed by the strength of affection in which these individuals hold our community. I know for myself that there have been key points in my life when Andrew Hill or Maud Robinson have profoundly touched me through their meaningful and inspiring services. We have a history of having visionary leaders at St Mark’s who have not only been able to offer us inspiring worship, but have also have taken the lead in changing the wider community. I am thinking of Andrew Hill’s initiatives in supporting the emergence of the interfaith movement in Edinburgh, Brian Cooper’s longstanding commitment to peace initiatives and Maud Robinson’s promotion of the church’s position on same- sex marriage. We wish to continue this tradition in seeking to find our next minister and the Search Committee continues to work hard on our behalf to continue to find our next spiritual leader.
Delegates to the General Assembly were reminded once more that St Mark’s has been involved in shaping and supporting the leadership of our movement in the UK. This was illustrated in the appointment of the new President, Rev Charles VanDenBroeder. In his early days of ministry training, Charles spent time under the guidance and support of Rev Andrew Hill at St Mark’s. Since then, Charles has had ministries in the Eastern, Yorkshire and Manchester Districts. We are pleased that one of Charles’ early commitments is to attend the Scottish Unitarian Association Annual General Meeting in St Mark’s on the 13 May. (See page 9 for more details). We hope he will be able to join us on 14 May when Rev Andrew Hill will lead worship.
St Mark’s has informed and influenced the wider Unitarian movement over the years. Rev John Clifford, an active member of St Mark’s, was our General Assembly President in recent years and continues to contribute to international developments. Joan Cook has been on the Executive Committee of the National Council for the last eight years. She stepped down at this year’s General Assembly with the honour of being the longest serving member to have been elected to office for two consecutive four year periods. Joan is St Mark’s lay celebrant and preacher, and in this role leads services in Scotland and England.
We are so well connected that gathering people together to take a picture of Edinburgh delegates and friends at the General Assembly becomes a greater challenge each year. This year we had twelve members of St Mark’s in attendance, and lots more friends who have a strong affinity with St Mark’s. A more recent friend of St Mark’s, Rev Petr Samojsky, from the Prague Unitarian Church, also attended the General Assembly. Petr spent the month of November, with us, last year as our visiting preacher. For a small community we do make an impact, locally, nationally and in the wider Unitarian movement.