Resumption of services

Good news from Holyrood – we can resume services from 26th March. Our first service will be on Palm Sunday, 28th March, at 10am. There will be a lay led service on Maundy Thursday at 7pm and An Hour Before the Cross on Good Friday at 2pm. Thereafter all services will be at 10am every Sunday unless the coronavirus regulations change.

We will follow the safety procedures that were put in place last autumn. If you scroll down the NEWS menu you will find them set out under the article ‘Services have resumed’.

We look forward to welcoming everyone back to worship at St Margaret’s but, for those who are unable or nervous about coming back, the Scottish Episcopal Church is offering an online service. This can be accessed via a link on from 11am every Sunday.

Don’t forget that the clocks go forward on 28th March!

Cancellation of services

Sadly, due to new Scottish Government restrictions following the increase of cases of Covid-19, we are unable to hold services for the rest of January 2021. We hope and pray that the situation in the country will soon improve so that we can meet for worship again before too long. In the meantime, the Scottish Episcopal Church will be streaming an online service every Sunday at 11am on its web site

The SERVICES page of this web site will be updated weekly so that those who wish can download the pew slip and follow the lectionary readings.

Christmas 2020

A smaller congregation than usual met for our Christmas Day service. There were 23 in the church, all socially distanced, for a service different from usual. No singing of carols or exchanging greetings with a hug but it was good to be able to meet for worship. Rev Roy Vincent led our worship and music was provided by Nicola Irwin on the organ and Angus Findlay on his accordion. Daphne and Michael Laity provided and decorated a lovely Christmas tree and the church looked suitably festive.

Let’s hope that we will be able to sing our praises for Christmas 2021.

St Margaret’s Whisky

St Margaret’s Church is launching its own limited edition whisky

Just 260 bottles of the cask strength single malt from Auchroisk are available, each signed and numbered.

Members of the church, Angus Findlay (right) and Chris Peel with two of the limited-edition bottles. 

The whisky, chosen unanimously at a blind tasting by a panel of experts, celebrates the life of St Margaret and also honours the church which was once the chapel for Aberlour Orphanage. All profits will go to St Margaret’s, which continues to be a lively place of worship.

Born in about 1043, Margaret married King Malcolm III of Scotland and had considerable religious influence. A Patron Saint of Scotland, she is also the Patron Saint of the homeless, orphans, insane, midwives, penitents, single mothers, reformed prostitutes, step-children and tramps

The orphanage, which was home to some 5000-6000 children, closed in 1967 and all the buildings were pulled down, except the church and clock tower.

Church member Angus Findlay said: “With the departure of the children, the church of course lost most of its congregation. Many old boys and old girls, their relations and descendants visit St Margaret’s, the only part of their childhood home that survives.

“The small congregation believe that they owe it to them to keep this beautiful building in good order. More funds are always required, hence the launch of the whisky.”

 Just 260 bottles of St Margaret’s whisky will be up for grabs.

The tasting notes show luscious fruits on the nose. Hearty Oak spice emerges to balance the initial sweetness, presenting a slowly drying, fruity finish with a hint of dried fruit and nut. Distilled in 2010 and matured in a bourbon cask, it was reracked in a port cask.

The whisky is available to buy from the Highlander Inn in Craigellachie, priced at £85 or direct from either
 Chris Peel (\ 
or Angus Findlay.(

Services have resumed

Church is back!  

You are asked to bring a mask with you which should be worn throughout the service.  There will be a table at the entrance with hand sanitiser and tissues for you to use.  You will pick up an order of service booklet (and pew slip) from the table at the back of the church which you will be asked to take away with you and keep for your own use, bringing it back every time you come to church.  Please take the pew slip home and recycle with you usual paper waste.

There will an indication on the pews as to where you should sit.  These places will be 2 metres apart, staggered through the pews.  Use the centre aisle to find a place to sit and the side aisles to leave.  Only people from the same household should sit in the same pew.  When you go up for communion, you should go in single file up the centre aisle and return to your seat using the side aisles.  Communion will be only the wafer and the priest, wearing a mask, will administer this standing in front of the altar.  Please wear a mask when you go up to receive and only consume the wafer when you have returned to your seat and can safely remove your mask momentarily.

There will be no hymn singing, no physical passing of the peace and no refreshments after the service.  Any social interaction must take place at a social distance outside the building, not inside.  The toilet will only be available for emergency use.

Please don’t come if you have any symptoms of Covid-19 – you all know what they are – or if you are shielding.  Online services will continue to be available on the SEC website for the foreseeable future.

It will be lovely to see you all again in church.  If we do have a problem with keeping a safe distance then we may have to review the arrangements but we are not all that many in number so should be OK.

Revised Guidance for Phase 2 of emerging from lockdown

June 19, 2020 

In the light of the First Minister’s announcement on 18 June 2020 regarding entry into Phase 2 of the Scottish Government’s Route Map, some revisions have been made to the pastoral guidance from the College of Bishops  and the guidance regarding the reopening of church buildings from the Advisory Group issued last week (12 June). Version 2 of each of the above guidance is now available as follows:

  1. Pastoral Guidelines for Phase 2, Version 2
  2. Emerging from Lockdown: Phase 2 Guidance, Version 2

The alterations to the Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance are to remove any reference to undertaking pastoral visiting in homes. When the Route Map was originally published, it was envisaged that Phase 2 would allow two households to meet together in homes but, in fact, the announcement from the First Minister yesterday indicated that any such meeting must for the time being remain outdoors.

The guidance from the Advisory Group regarding the reopening of church buildings has been revised to indicate that weddings in Phase 2 cannot be undertaken in church buildings and can only take place outside (subject to minimal attendees). Section G of the original version of our Phase 2 guidance indicated that members of up to two households could meet in church to undertake live streaming or recording of worship for broadcast. Contrary to our expectation in last night’s direction, further investigation means that members of more than one household may meet in church to livestream worship or record worship for broadcast, provided 2m physical distancing is observed. There is no change to our Phase 2 guidance on funerals in church which are permitted subject to restricted numbers as set out in our guidance.

No change is being made at this time to the Pro forma Phase 2 Plan for Vestries and so Version 1 remains current.

The Advisory Group guidance regarding the reopening of churches for individual prayer takes effect from 22 June 2020. Outdoor weddings are permitted under Government guidance only from 29 June 2020 and the Advisory Group‘s revised guidance regarding live-streaming/broadcasting from churches also takes effect from 29 June (when a variety of non-office workplaces are permitted to re-open). Similarly, the provisions in Section G regarding maintenance, repairs and organ practice should be regarded as taking effect from 29 June.

Guidance for Scottish Episcopal Church released in preparation for Phase 2 of easing lockdown

June 12, 2020 

The College of Bishops and its Advisory Group have issued guidance to the Scottish Episcopal Church on how to prepare for the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions as we approach Phase 2 of the Scottish Government route map through and out of the coronavirus crisis.

Three documents are being made available:

  1. Emerging from Lockdown: Phase 2 Guidance
  2. Pro forma Phase 2 Plan for Vestries
  3. Pastoral Guidelines for Phase 2

The documents can be accessed by clicking on the links above. Two of the documents are in PDF format, and the Pro forma document is in Word format. When clicking on the link above to the Word document, the file will download to your device.

All of the items of documentation relate to Phase 2 of the Scottish Government Route map and are produced to enable churches to prepare for Phase 2. Please note that we are not yet in Phase 2 and cannot yet restart the activities permitted in Phase 2 until the Scottish Government announces a date for this to take place, but the SEC guidance allows churches to prepare for that moment. Phase 2 is not currently expected to start any earlier than 18 June.

At this stage, the guidance provided for the SEC relates only to Phase 2. If any subsequent Scottish Government guidance requires the SEC guidance to be updated, the SEC documents will be revised accordingly and the update will be highlighted via the usual channels i.e. this website and SEC social media platforms.

The Advisory Group will produce further guidance for the SEC in relation to Phase 3 of the Scottish Government route map, which will be issued in due course.

Advisory Group formed to assist College of Bishops

May 22, 2020 

The College of Bishops has previously announced the intention to issue guidance to the Scottish Episcopal Church in connection with the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions.

An Advisory Group has now been established in the province for the purpose of producing guidance for local churches on the implications of the reopening of places of worship. The Group brings together expertise across a range of skills and experience and will be chaired by Robert Gordon, the convener of the Provincial Standing Committee. The other members comprise, Bishop Andrew Swift, the Bishop of Brechin, the Rev Elaine Garman (Rector of St John’s, Forfar and with a background in public health), the Rev Mike Jones (Consultant Advisor, HealthLink 360), and Derek Thomson (Executive Director, St Mungo’s, Balerno). The Group will have its first meeting next week.

The Group will carefully consider all relevant guidance issued by the Scottish Government and Public Health Scotland and, in the light of the phased route map announced by the Scottish Government yesterday, will approach its work on a phase by phase basis in order to follow the Government’s framework for any future easing of restrictions in relation to places of worship. The Group will maintain regular contact and dialogue during the period of its work with the College of Bishops.

The Government route map envisages the possibility of private prayer in churches in Phase 2, “extended groups” meeting in churches in Phase 3 (though the meaning of “extended groups” has not so far been defined) and “mass gatherings” only in Phase 4. It would seem therefore that resumption of full public worship in the form which was “normal” prior to lockdown is not envisaged by the Government until Phase 4 of its route map and is therefore still a long way off.

It is the Group’s intention to ensure that guidance is issued sufficiently early so as to enable churches to prepare adequately to steer a course through the intermediate phases and it is fully aware of the bishops’ statement of 15 May that “there will be no pressure on individual churches to reopen before they feel prepared and safe to do so. We have to protect those who would want to return to worship in our buildings, those who would want to come and join us and especially those who will be asked to manage such a safe return.  The guidance we produce will enable each congregation along with their bishop to look at what is needed to open the church building. The final decision to open or remain closed will be taken by the diocesan bishop.”

Coronavirus update

Bishops plan for eventual easing of lockdown

May 15, 2020 

The message from the Scottish Government remains ‘stay at home’ and our church buildings remain closed to protect the vulnerable, but thinking is underway  to address how the Scottish Episcopal Church will respond to the eventual easing of restrictions on movement.

The First Minister announced last week that lockdown measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus in Scotland have been extended until a further review on 28 May, and the College of Bishops continues to follow this guidance from the Scottish Government.

The College of Bishops will call on expert advisors to assist with planning, and in due course will issue a set of guidelines to support churches as they prepare for what will and will not be possible as government restrictions are eased.

In a joint statement issued today [15 May], the College of Bishops said:

“The College of Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church intends to provide a set of principles which the Church can follow when we are considering the way forward in the coming months. 

“The College has tried to consider what can and cannot happen when we eventually come out of lockdown. We recognise this is a piece of work for which we will need to bring together a group with specialist skills to help us. 

“We are preparing these guidelines for the time when it is clear that returning to our church buildings is possible. We will only put these measures into place after listening to the advice of the Scottish Government and after particular aspects of the worship and practices of our Church are taken into accountWe are reminded that as Bishop Kevin said in his service of the Eucharist recently, we closed our churches out of love, not out of fear, and we must open them again with that same love and not because of external pressure.

“We will continue to ensure that all can worship safely, either at home or in their church building. There will be no pressure on individual churches to reopen before they feel prepared and safe to do so. We have to protect those who would want to return to worship in our buildings, those who would want to come and join us and especially those who will be asked to manage such a safe return. 

The guidance we produce will enable each congregation along with their bishop to look at what is needed to open the church building. The final decision to open or remain closed will be taken by the diocesan bishop.

“The College of Bishops continues to meet on a weekly basis to discuss these matters. We also continue to maintain close communication with our ecumenical partners.”

College of Bishops addresses lockdown debate

May 6, 2020 

The College of Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church has issued a statement today (6 May 2020) to address current debate over how the country emerges from coronavirus lockdown once restrictions on movement are gradually eased by government.

Public debate on this matter includes the churches, where buildings have been closed for several weeks to help protect the vulnerable in society from the spread of Covid-19. Recent reports in the UK and abroad have highlighted a variety of possible approaches from different denominations, and the College of Bishops would like to clarify the position of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

On behalf of the College of Bishops, the Most Rev Mark Strange, Primus, said: “The College of Bishops will be meeting next week following what we expect to be new information from the Scottish Government. We will meet to try and ensure that we remain in step with the government’s position, while beginning to prepare for what might change over the coming weeks and months.

“We were interested to hear comments from the First Minister about regional variety in the easing of lock down, this is a matter which we are very aware of and which we too will be exploring.

“We would also like to thank the people of the Scottish Episcopal Church for the loving and generous way they have looked after others who have struggled with the current situation, and for the way in which the Holy Spirit continues to flow through the worship and prayer of our church.”

Until further notice, coronavirus guidance from the College of Bishops remains as previously set out on the Scottish Episcopal Church website at this page:

Any significant new updates will be posted on the SEC website and on social media channels.

Coronavirus precautions

How to join our online Sunday worship

March 19, 2020 

As part of the ongoing response to the Coronavirus pandemic the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) will this Sunday (22 March) begin broadcasting video coverage of Eucharistic services via its website, social media channels and YouTube channel. The web page for the broadcast is located at

The first service, held in private with no congregation, and led by the Most Rev Mark Strange, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, will be broadcast at 11am on Sunday, to coincide with when many people would normally be worshipping if church services had not been suspended following government guidance.

The website will also contain a downloadable video and audio format of the service. A new service will be broadcast every Sunday on the SEC website, to allow all congregations to worship. We are aware that some congregations will offer their own version of online worship, but others will not have the means or resource to attempt this, hence this province-wide broadcast.

In advance of the broadcast of each provincial service, the Liturgy will be available to download from the SEC website. We are conscious of the need to offer as much assistance as possible to those who have no access to the internet, and we encourage people to distribute the video/audio recordings and the Liturgy widely within their own personal networks. In households with no internet or playback capacity, people who can be helped by others through the provision of printed materials will have the opportunity to read the words of the Liturgy to themselves close to the appointed time, praising God along with others in the Church.

“Prayer is an important part of the tradition and spiritual life of the people of God” said Bishop Mark. “In hard times and good times, quietly being before God with the people we love in our hearts encircles us all in God’s everlasting love and the promise of hope and salvation.”

The service will be available online after its first broadcast, followed by a new one each week, the next at 11am on Sunday 29 March.

Cessation of services

March 18, 2020 

The College of Bishops continues to follow closely the developing situation in relation to coronavirus. The rapidly changing picture brings about changes on an almost daily basis. The College continues to hold in its prayers the clergy and laity of the Scottish Episcopal Church and the people of Scotland and the United Kingdom as a whole. 

The College expresses its thanks to everyone in the Scottish Episcopal Church for all that they are doing to adapt to current circumstances and continue in the provision of care and pastoral support. Clergy and lay readers are encouraged to be in touch with their Diocesan Bishop in connection with any matters of difficulty or concern. 

At this time, the College offers further guidance as follows. It should also be emphasised that in a rapidly changing situation, the guidance that follows must be regarded as subject to any public health guidance or direction, which must take precedence.

1. Advice issued last night by the Scottish Government is to the effect that church services should cease. Consequently, the Bishops ask that all gatherings for worship, including small gatherings such as house groups, should be discontinued until further notice. 

2. Church buildings can be kept open as a place for people to come and pray. However, if a church is open for private prayer, notices should be clearly displayed asking that visitors wash their hands on entry to the church.

3. The province is working on plans to make worship available online. The bishops encourage participation in the broader Eucharistic life of the church in this way and emphasise the such online involvement is a form of participation in the Eucharistic community, even though participants cannot physically partake of the bread or wine. 

4. Clergy and lay leaders must feel free to self-isolate themselves when that is appropriate either to safeguard their own health or the health of others. Again, however, any member of clergy or lay leader needing to self-isolate is asked to discuss the matter with the diocesan Bishop. Where a decision to self-isolate is taken, the bishops expect congregations to be understanding and supportive. Self-isolation, except in the case of illness, does not mean that ministry and pastoral care must cease. Contact and communication can still be maintained over the telephone, by email or other electronic means. 

5. The taking of funerals may give rise to specific concerns. It may simply not be possible for family relatives or friends of the deceased’s to be able to attend a funeral service as usual. However, clergy can still take a funeral at the graveside or crematorium, even if those present are limited to clergy and funeral directors. Again, in cases of difficulty, bishops encourage clergy to discuss such matters with them. 

6. In the light of the public health recommendation that non-essential travel should not be undertaken, it is clearly inappropriate to continue with meetings which would draw people from a wider area – _such as regional gatherings. Institutions, licensings etc will need to be dealt with differently from normal, and, again, such matters should be discussed with the diocesan Bishop. 

7. In some cases, where local income is dependent on regular giving through the weekly collection or giving envelopes, it is possible that congregations might encounter difficulties with cash flow. Churches are encouraged to consider alerting congregations to such potential difficulties and encouraging alternative ways of giving, for example by standing order. In cases where it is thought difficulty might arise, treasurers are encouraged to 

contact their diocesan office at an early stage to discuss whether any form of support can be made available. 

8. Consideration should be given to resilience planning in current circumstances. As a bare minimum, churches are asked to ensure that they have clear records for detailing those who hold keys for access to churches and halls and of the names of bank signatories and payroll officers, as well as plans on how to deal with circumstances if such individuals become ill or have to self-isolate. 

The Most Rev Mark Strange