Category Archives: Beginnings

Head above the pulpit…

So. Here I am back again writing my blog after a wee break. Of about 2 years or more, but life has been rather hectic. But no doubt I will be telling you all what has happened in my life and the Ferguson clan over the last few years in various blogs in the days, weeks and months to come. Suffice to say I am still here, still a priest and still in Aberdeen. But not for much longer!

God has plans for us it seems and so it is off to the the southern realms of Angus as I have been appointed Rector of Montrose and Inverbervie from September. So the next couple of months will be spent resting, packing, finishing and getting excited about my new charges whilst saying fond farewells to the old.

Change is good and change is coming. But for some of us change doesn’t happen quick enough. This past week I have been in Edinburgh at our Church’s General Synod. It was the usual state of play. Lots of talk, lots of coffee, lots of meeting old friends and lots of behind the scenes chat.

There was also a lot of listening happening. Listening in our new venue P&Gs church, on our round tables of fellow pilgrims. So what did we hear?

Let me tell you a story…

Once upon a time, a long long time ago, in the age when no one knew whether Boy George was male or female (especially my mother), when the most important item in my wardrobe was my white stilettos, when all I ever aspired to was to bear the offspring of either Harrison Ford or Michael J Fox (either would have done), I met a boy. This boy was part of a group of young adults attending a trip to Taize.

I fell madly in love with this boy but alas it was not to be. For after a wild unsuccessful teenage love affair, this boy and I decided overwhelmingly that he was gay. I shall spare you the details. But this wonderful boy and I remained good and close friends for many years.

So it was with joy that in 1990 I attended his Ordination to the Diaconate at Winchester Cathedral. But. Two years on after my friend had to leave his beloved church after being bullied and hounded out of his curacy. All because he is gay. I watched the church I love destroy my friend. And my heart broke.

Now many many years later I am in a position to heal that hurt. For many of my lesbian and gay friends this is far too little far too late. But.

Last week what we did at General Synod was finally acknowledge in public and aloud and on record that our bijou Church is now ready and willing to talk about these issues. To debate them and to potentially change our canonical rules to finally grant equality and justice to those for whom it has been a long time coming.

Many many friends out there are angry right now that our church was not brave enough to take matters further last week. To them anything I try to say to justify our synodical processes will seem trite and patronising so I won’t even enter into debate. For I hold them in high esteem and can see the genuine pain they are in. But.

All I would say is that we forget that we live in a democracy. We take it all for granted. We forget how far we have actually come in society and in our churches. Thirty years ago it would never have occurred to me that I could be a priest. Thirty years ago my gay friend lost more than just his faith when the people he served hounded him out of his vocation all because he fell in love with a man. It may not be working the way many people wish, but it is the only process we have.

We have begun. We have begun to catch up with God. We will get there, together, as a whole church and we are doing it the best way we can. There is no happy ending, there is no magic wand to wave it all and make it so. The law of the land is changing and the church will too whilst keeping to the Gospel and affirming that everyone is equal and fully loved by God, just as they are. Thirty years too late for some. But for others the hope that wasn’t even a possibility is now a reality. Stay with us, stay close and let us keep moving forward together.

Blessings

Unholy Holy Week

I woke up early on Palm Sunday morning, (after being up twice with the puppy from hell during the night), with Jesus’ words in the Garden ‘Lord, Let this cup pass by me’.  I was profoundly miserable and tired.  Holy Week and all that it brings with it – the mammoth services, the intricate details of the liturgy, the making sure that all is done correctly and smoothly – lay before me like a huge unwanted behemoth.

So I began Passiontide with unholy thoughts of pulling the duvet over my head, staying in bed, eating chocolate and pretending to ignore the world for the whole week.  But when you are the Priest that is simply not an option for Easter or for Christmas.  I often joke that I didn’t read the small print on my ordination Licence about having to work over Easter and Christmas.  That secular sense of unfairness that I have to work very hard while the whole world basks in Bank Holiday sunshine and merriment had overwhelmed me once again.

And then.  And then, I remembered that I had to be there.  So I got out of bed and began my day.  From the moment I got to the Church I was hit by signs of God and his sense of Humour.  ‘Yes, Samantha. This is why I have called you to do this job.’  I felt Him laughing at me.  The warmth of my Congregation who are so grateful to be doing Holy Week properly again, combined with the most amazing unrehearsed Dramatic Reading of the Gospel (where I only had to read Judas as people where falling over themselves to offer to read parts AND we had a female Jesus!), reminded me why I do what I do and who I do it for. 

There was a moment in the reading of the Gospel when Jesus died.  The whole church was still, even Baby Elizabeth.  My heart stopped.  I breathed again and the narrator carried on with her story that never becomes old by its retelling. God was present and with us.

The day carried on.  Lunch out with Robina and Scott across the road, gazing at the Sunshine and, again, wishing I was on the beach.  And so we moved on to the climax of our Palm Sunday at St Ninians and for Seaton.  As part of my efforts to make our Episcopal voice heard in Seaton and Donside, we have entered into joining the Ecumenical Donside Christian Partnership of churches with aplomb!  

So on that afternoon 10 local churches and their representatives began a Palm Sunday afternoon walk from The Mission Church.  Waving branches we walked through Old Aberdeen to St Machar’s Cathedral  for prayers and then on through the stunning Seaton Park.  Up to the walled garden for a brief meditation and then down to St Ninians for a short service and bun fight. 

From the astonishment that so many people had turned up, to the symbolic and moving moment when the Roman Catholic Priest said prayers at the foot of the Nave in a Church of Scotland ‘Cathedral’, God endlessly surprised me that afternoon.  Then we walked back to St Ninians to find my lovely ladies furiously buttering hot cross buns as more and more people began to fill our Church.

I stood at the lectern that afternoon and looked out at a full Church.  Full of many different people, with different ethnic backgrounds, of different ages and having different ways of loving our Lord.  And my heart sang and gave thanks.  I retold the Palm Sunday story through our own eyes and prayed for Seaton.  God was present and with us.

There is hope in this part of Aberdeen.  In amongst the deprivation, the drug abuse, the feral kids and the unemployed/unemployable despair.  There is hope.  There is hope because the Churches can come together and find a meeting point in order to build the Kingdom of God here in this place and this time.  We have begun. God is present and with us.

So my Holy Week began with unholy thoughts, but, my goodness me, I am ready for some Holy ones now.

Blessings

In the Beginning…

Dear Reader

Good Morning World.

My name is Samantha and I have finally begun to fulfill a promise to blog that I made to myself on my 40th birthday in January and to my congregation in March.

I have no idea what I will be sharing with you all over the coming days, weeks and months as I reflect and laugh at the world around us. 

If you want to know more about me look at my profile as it says it all.

Happily married with one daughter and two doggies, my life as a priest and chaplain, wife and mother is varied, challenging, exciting, tiring and inspiring.  I hope to share some of my frustrations, my loves and my faith with you all.  The fact that you are reading this post is great otherwise I will be typing to myself.  So thank you.  At the beginning of this journey, thank you for reading and for putting up with my little frustrating habits.

Speaking of habits, this year for my Lenten penitence I decided to give up consumerism.  Usually, I give up something nice and tasty (one of my main food groups), something beginning with C – cheese, cake, chocolate, crisps, curry, cola, etc, you get the idea.  This year my C was Consumerism.  But, dear reader, what a disaster that choice has been. 

Giving up buying stuff has been much, much harder than I ever imagined.  And I have totally failed even though we still have a few days of Lent left.  From buying a very expensive Puppy (Mungo) who was instead of a family holiday this year, to buying the latest Nora Roberts, Chasing Fire, (and I will review that at some point), I love to read complete nonsense, it has been a Lenten disaster!

But do you know, I am not really that concerned.  The object of this exercise was one not only of restraint (which has been moderately successful) but one also of breaking habits.  Why do we buy the things we do?  Why do we waste our money on unnecessary items?  Now, I know all my girlfriends out there will laugh out loud and insist that handbags and shoes ARE necessary and I wholeheartedly concur.  BUT I have actually begun to feel guilt again at wasting my money on things I don’t really need but merely want. 

I had fallen into that numbness trap of thinking that frittering my money didn’t really matter.  I know there are starving peeps in this world, I know there is despair and hopelessness and war and poverty.  I know this.  But I hadn’t FELT it in a long time.  This Lent I have begun to feel again.

Perhaps a lesson has been learnt.

That’s all for now folks, I have puppy to feed, a daughter to wake, Easter plans to finish and a bank account to balance, life is full and for that I give thanks.

Blessings

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