Members of the Mothers’ Union of St Andrews and Brechin Dioceses came together at St Kessog’s,  Auchterarder on August 9th  to celebrate Mary Sumner Day with a eucharist and an inspiring talk given by Rev Tracy Dowling, the rector of St Kessog’s,  followed by lunch and an opportunity to socialise.  In her homily, Tracy introduced the theme of the day ‘God’s Unruly Women’, by speaking about Mary Sumner and the Canaanite woman of Matthew 15:21–28, two women of great faith who pushed against the cultural norms of their day.

Mary Sumner homily – Tracy Dowling

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28th July,2018, the day of our first Diocesan Pilgrimage to St Andrews, was a day to remember. It was a day of sunshine and showers, a day for prayer and song, conversation and laughter.

Those hardy souls who tramped the first five miles from the picturesque village of Ceres were rather damp when they arrived at Craigtoun Park. It was easy to distinguish between them and those who joined them for the second half of the journey but the excitement grew as we caught a glimpse of the twin towers of the Cathedral of Saint Andrew in the distance. The sun had dried clothes and hair by the time we arrived at Hallow Hill where even more pilgrims were waiting for us.


A long line of about 70 walkers threaded their way along the Lade Braes towards St Andrew’s Church. There were Episcopalians from Newport on Tay and Tayport,  Leven, Glenrothes,  Lochgelly and Kinross, Dunfermline and Rosyth, Aberfoyle, Doune, Dunblane and Dollar, Stirling, Perth, Blairgowrie, Forfar, Cupar, Ladybank and St Andrews. There were Catholics from Tayport and Dundee, Methodists and members of the Church of Scotland, two medievalists from Glasgow University and a couple who live near the Camino in France.


We arrived at our destination in bright sunshine and then made our way to All Saints for a welcome cup of tea and evensong. Thank you, Alasdair Coles and Nick Cooke for organising the pilgrimage, to all who led the reflections along the way and the final worship, including Bishops Bruce and Bob, and to the two churches for their hospitality.

There was talk of another pilgrimage next year and some were even planning a trip to walk the Camino. In the meantime, should any church group like to walk part of the Fife Pilgrim Way in the coming months, Alasdair would be happy to be your guide. He can be contacted at


Nerys Brown

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The Photography as Prayer exhibition will be touring the diocese in September and October. There was an excellent response to the appeal for photographs reflecting the life of the diocese.  All 50 entries will be displayed in each of the six host churches.  There will be a launch event which will include a reflection by photographer and Lay Reader, Ian Scott from St Margaret’s Leven,  and time to pray together.    Thereafter there will be an opportunity to view and respond to the images.  Twelve of the photographs will be selected for our diocesan calendar which can be viewed and ordered at these events.

If you would like to have the exhibition in your church or church hall during November or December, please get in touch with Reverend Nerys Brown on


Photography Exhibition Poster 2018

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St Andrews Diocese Mothers’ Union’s work and involvement in local prisons

A report by Margaret Slater


For many years members of the Mothers’ Union have been involved with HMP Cornton Vale near Stirling.  Every Christmas we have bought presents for each prisoner and given them a Christmas card.  More recently we started to collect knickers for the prisoners and I have taken in hundreds of pairs in  the last few years.  I also take in socks throughout the year.  Last Christmas there were only about 90 prisoners, there are usually approximately 240 prisoners. We had a tremendous response due to information being posted on our Diocesan website.  It meant that every prisoner got at least 3 presents from people in our Diocese.  A big thank you to everyone who kindly donated.  A prisoner made a special card showing their appreciation.

A small group of MU members were invited to visit Cornton Vale prison a few months ago.  We were welcomed by the Staff Training and Development Manager, he explained what was happening at Cornton Vale at present.  They have started the demolition of some of the prison blocks.   We were introduced to the Social Community Development Officer, who told us about his job organising work placements for the prisoners before they leave prison.  He was very passionate about the girls and teaching them life skills .Then we met the assistant governor who also explained about the new prison which is going to be a state-of-the art prison. He is very excited about the future for Cornton Vale. The windows will be huge made from strengthened glass – no bars. The building will be shaped as a crescent overlooking the Fintry Hills and Ben Lomond.  Each room will have ensuite facilities, so different from the existing prison, where because of security, during the night the girls could wait up to 50 minutes to use the bathroom. The girls have very little dignity. These 3 men were so passionate about the future for Cornton Vale prison.

The visit lasted almost 4 hours.  We were shown round the facilities, library, hairdressing, life skills kitchen, Ross House, a special unit for vulnerable females, temporary chapel and the community garden.  All these are going to be pulled down to build this brand new facility which hopefully will  be the start to the rehabilitation of  these girls, giving them the skills, confidence and self-esteem to come out of prison better persons.

In addition, there will be 5 Community Custody Units throughout Scotland which cater for 20 lower risk offenders so that they can be nearer to their families.  Hopefully this will help them to rehabilitate in a less threatening way. To put them in prison can make them more hardened criminals.  Dundee and Maryhill have been identified as suitable places for two of these Units and should be up and running by 2020.

Mothers’ Union are also involved with Glenochil prison.  We go alternate Wednesdays and Saturdays and spend time with the children in the visiting hall.  This means that they get some normality in what could be otherwise a daunting experience.  Very often they have travelled a considerable distance to visit their relative and to sit for 2 hours can also be very boring.  We play and interact with them. It is very worthwhile but we are always looking for new volunteers.

If you are interested in supporting our prison work in any way, please contact me at

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