Fellowship and Community at St Mark’s

St Mark’s is a vibrant, evolving community, committed to making our unique contribution to liberal religion. Our approach respects different theologies, and supports the freedom to explore according to reason and conscience. It offers us space to reflect, to gather strength and to renew our commitment to building a world where origins are respected, where difference and diversity are celebrated, and where we embrace change and trust that we can build a better future.

Flower Communion - 3 June

Photographs by Sara Robertson and Peter Fairbrother

The flower communion service, led by Lynsey Bailey and Jane Aaronson that we celebrated on 3 June, was first led by Dr Norbert Capek, almost exactly 95 years ago, on 4 June 1923. He was the founder of the modem Unitarian movement in Czechoslovakia.

Rev Petr Samojský (our guest minister in November 2016) writes that the tradition of Flower Communion had its roots in Capek’s ideal of harmony among people – learning “the great art of living” and living together in their fellowships. In this regard, fellowships are seen ‘as the same thing for a city as conscience is for a person.’

Taking inspiration from what Petr told us, this year, instead of members of the congregation choosing a flower, we asked members of our children’s programme to hand out the individual flowers. They did a grand job. Thank you. Members of the congregation were encouraged to carefully handle the flower they had been given, noting its particular shape and beauty. They were asked to remember that it was a gift that someone else has chosen for them, representing that person's unique humanity.

16 and 17 June Pride and Joy

Jane Aaronson reports

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On 16 June along with our minister, Rev Peter Fairbrother, members and friends of St Mark’s took part in the Edinburgh Pride March.

On the following day, Peter led a rainbow-infused celebration service of diversity. We were pleased to welcome some members of the Edinburgh branch of The Order of Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence who took part in our worship and shared their individual stories.

During coffee hour we enjoyed chatting with them and I was glad to have the opportunity to learn more about the Order. Their website explains that..... "By eradicating guilt and promoting universal joy, we aim to end prejudice and intolerance towards those who 'dare to be different'. By manifesting in habit, the Sisters and Brothers challenge gender stereotypes and the oppression of organised religious orthodoxy, which still refuses to accept queers (or, indeed, anyone living an 'unacceptable' lifestyle) as being equal members of society with a right to their sexuality”. This was an inspiring, spiritual and educational service. I am very pleased that our community had the chance to meet with the members of the Perpetual Indulgence community.

1 July

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It was a pleasure to welcome Joan Cook, in her capacity as President of both the General Assembly and the Scottish Unitarian Association, and Susan Frederick-Gray, President of the Unitarian Universalist Association, to our service on 1 July. Joan became President of the GA for one year in April. It is a voluntary position. Susan became the first woman President of the UUA in 2017 and will be serving for six years. She brought us a message of greetings from the UUA. After the service Susan and her family joined us for coffee.

In the picture, above, our minister, Rev Peter Fairbrother, is seen speaking with Joan and Susan. Later that week, Joan and Susan, together with Derek McAuley, Chief Officer of our General Assembly, attended the 450 years celebration of the Edict of Torda in Transylvania. This took place in the Hungarian Unitarian Church in Kolozvar. The actual anniversary occurred earlier this year.