Holy City 2012-13









Rough guides to contemporary faith… in a small nation and a wee world

In Holy City’s 2012-13 theme, ‘Promising Lands’, we check-out on a pilgrimage to find out where we’re going, as individuals, communities, nations and the planet.Which roads and turnings do we need to take on the journey to desirable social, political, ecological, economical and spiritual destinations?


‘Journey Planner’, Sunday 7th October 2012

Tonight we check out on our ‘Promising Lands’ pilgrimage to find out where we’re going, as individuals, communities, nations and the planet. The economic crisis continues to grip the globe, in the next couple of years Scotland has to work out – pre-referendum – what kind of place it wants to be; and with a summer in which the polar ice-caps have receded to a greater extent than predicted, the challenge to our western lifestyles crystallised by climate change remains urgent. And these are only some of the issues of today. Which roads and turnings do we need to take on the journey to desirable
social, political, ecological, economical and spiritual destinations?

First half

Tonight we spend time ‘preparing’ for these and our Holy City 2012-13 journey, in both light-hearted and more serious modes. For both halves of the evening we’ll be together in plenary and in liturgy.

So all in all, whether you want to use your head, your hands, step up the pace or slow down it down, we hope you’ll find something that matches your inclination.


‘Preparing For The Journey’

Words for the journey, reflections on what to leave behind, what to take and roadmaps. Participative liturgy in word, song, silence, and symbol.

‘Departure Lounge’, Sunday 4th November 2012

In keeping with our 2012-13 ‘Promising Lands’ theme, and following last month’s ‘preparing and planning’ theme, this month’s journey stage is… setting-out, embarking or departing. On offer, a range of workshops and participative liturgy…


Beyond thistles & flowers

A workshop with Phil White which takes a participative look at the symbols and sounds that attempt to define what a nation and nationality are – and in particular Scotland and what being Scottish is. A new national symbol or a new national anthem might well be produced!

An art critic’s pilgrimage to Santiago

Brian Sewell, art critic & historian made a second pilgrimage to Santiago in his 70’s, and caught it on camera. We’ll look at some of the footage and critique why such a journey can be both moving and challenging, with a wee bit about architecture for free. Hil Wood lets us have a peek at some DVD episodes recording Sewell’s pilgrim progress and leads subsequent discussion.

The Glasgow Girls: Scotland 2005

Seven teenagers with a cause. A protest that captured the imagination of a country…. A family is ripped from their home in a high rise flat in Scotstoun, Glasgow and driven away in the middle of the night to be deported. Driven by a fierce sense of injustice, a group of seven teenage girls in a high school in Drumchapel fight for the life of their friend and for the rights of children of asylum-seekers in Scotland. They take on the Scottish Government and the Home Office and succeed where adults and politicians failed. Emma, Amal, Roza, Agnesa and Jennifer are five of the aforementioned and wonderful ‘Glasgow Girls’. They will share their experience as young women in Drumchapel campaigning against state-sponsored dawn raids on their school friends. Their amazing story has now been made into the musical – ‘Glasgow Girls’ – which is currently showing at the Citizen’s Theatre (until to 17 Nov; citz.co.uk/whatson/info/glasgow_girls). Jean Cameron will facilitate a Q&A session.

Out Into The World: Challenges For Concerned Christians

There is a reformation afoot in Christianity – a re-visioning of the traditional understandings of Jesus, the virgin birth, substitutionary atonement, and the Christian life as a whole. Long held ideas of divinity and of faith are changing and evolving to reflect 21st century thought and spirituality. Inspired by these fresh insights, thoughtful Christians can claim a distinctive voice by being in solidarity with poor, countering the idolatry of wealth, practicing nonviolence, and by seeking justice and inclusivity in a culture dominated by fear. In this workshop via a series of DVD excerpts & group discussion, Jane Bentley & Graham Maule lead us in exploring this territory.


‘Ones who left; ones left behind’

Participative liturgy in word, song, silence, and symbol.


‘Passing Places’, Sunday 2nd December 2012

The third Holy City event of the session is a time for stopping… passing places, those points of pause, hesitation, momentary slowing-down, suspended animation where we step aside and let the traffic and travellers pass by in the opposite direction… before setting off again, with renewed momentum. Advent is a time that resembles such a side-step and way-station – a time to reflect on the importance of the overlooked places, people and purposes that are described in the Nativity stories. Of course, rather than be such an antidote to the over-paced, hectic surge of ‘normal’ life, as we all know, Advent itself has been hijacked by consumerist forces. Tonight, we attempt a temporary remedy.


No room in the Stable

Jesus wasn’t born in a stable and there was plenty of welcomes at the inn. This seminar with Pádraig Ó Tuama will reflect on some of the stories of Christmas and reflect on them as stories of hospitality and an invitation to grow (the hell) up. There’ll be poems, there’ll be stories about Pádraig’s mammy, there’ll be scripture, and there may even be lowing and bleating. Pádraig is a poet, theologian and group worker from Cork on the south coast of Ireland. Following a nomadic decade, he settled in Belfast where, for the past nine years he has used elements of faith, poetry, hope and truth-telling for the purpose of helping individuals tell some of their experiences of living through the Irish conflict in a way that builds curiosity and connections through simple story.

What price Christmas?

On this first Sunday of Advent, this reflective ALTERnativity workshop with Leanne Clelland will help you to start thinking about how you spend your money before that Christmas list takes over your life.

The ‘B’ Voyage: A time and place for meditation with music that focuses on evoking a real journey in the past and in the present.


The first Christmas didn’t happen on a screen or inside a proscenium arch, so that the spectators could see and note and weight every detail for its deep meaning. No, for those who witnessed it (and that would have only been extremely partial) it would have beenmuch more chaotic and fragmentary, as if they were a passer-by moving past and glimpsing or missing a detail here or there… A liturgy that will seek to recreate a sense of the first, fugitive Nativity.


Sunday 6th January 2013: ‘Directional Change’



The Three Wise Men Revisited

John L. Bell guides us in a biblical exploration of the from where, where to, whys and whatabouteries of the Magi, those folk from the east (whether they were male or female and whether there were one, two, three or more).

Beats change

A chance to get your groove on and explore the concept of change through the medium of rhythm. Or basically – a thinly disguised drumming workshop… with Jane Bentley.

The Story Of Stuff & Change

Caroline Spratt leads us in this exploration of the materiality of stuff and the material stuff of change.


Epiphany… the revelation of Christ to the Gentiles, but also a foreshadowing for the ‘chosen’ that their Messiah was for everyone. A celebration of our gifts and the generosity to which we’re called, in word, silence, symbol and song.


Sunday 3rd February 2013: ‘Catching Connections’

Tonight we try to link up some loose ends on communities, culture, connections and roots, beliefs, belongings, identities, the ways these intersect and diverge and are experienced, as stages on an incarnational journey.


Aimlessly Adrift or Artfully Letting Go?

Nick Thorpe is an author and travel writer of compellingly tangential insight. In his recent books (‘Adrift in Caledonia: Boat-hitching for the Unenlightened’ and ‘Urban Worrier: Adventures in the Lost Art of Letting Go’) he explores wanderlust both spiritual and physical, journeying through modern Scotland and beyond. Tonight he’ll be sharing traveller’s tales and asking: how do we best keep ourselves open to life, to connections around us, in an often fearful and over-stressed world? Nick is an award-winning writer, journalist and speaker based in Edinburgh. His recent TEDx talk is online at www.nickthorpe.co.uk

Catching Connections Across Traditions: Mutual Enrichment Through Interfaith Encounter 

Can we learn from the teachings, practices, and experiences of fellow pilgrims in other religious traditions as we journey together? Focussing on the encounter with Buddhism, in this workshop we’ll explore the potential spiritual benefits of engaging with other religions and consider how, as Christians, we might best share the riches of our own tradition. Dr Rose Drew is Project Manager of ‘Interfaith Glasgow’ (a new project based at Interfaith Scotland) and former Lecturer in Buddhism and Interfaith Studies at the University of Glasgow. www.interfaithscotland.org

The Poetics of Identity

There is a profound intersection between the storytelling process and the shaping of our self identity. In the end, our stories do become us. A workshop to facilitate a framework for self-discovery using the poetic process. Joel McKerrow is a published writer, performance poet, educator and the founder of, The Centre for Poetics and Justice, in Melbourne, Australia (www.cpj.org.au), a not-for-profit, community arts organisation focused on using poetics as a form of literary education, self-expression and social engagement for marginalised teenagers. www.joelmckerrow.com

Community Plus

Katie Kelly share insight into her work with East Ayrshire Council across council services in developing the principles of co-production and asset-based communities – a more democratic, collaborative relationship between ‘experts’ and ‘users’ – which aims for transformation in services and society.


Word, song, silence & symbol of the body, being embodied, with some body (or is that bawdy’?) humour…?


Sunday 3rd March 2013: ‘Boundary Crossing’

This month’s event falls in the middle of Lent, so making us aware that like that of Jesus’, some journeys cross the line, from safety to danger, from the known to the unknown, from comfort to confrontation…


Music Works

Jane Bentley shares some of her work on making music with people with dementia. Our response to sound and music is one of the first things we experience as humans, and one of the last to leave us. More than simply something pleasant to listen to, music may be the foundation of our human communication and connected-ness. This workshop is an exploration of the way music can act as a ‘boundary crosser’ – from our first infant connections to another, through to the way music can act as a vital ‘key’ to reaching with people with dementia. Jane has been doing this kind of thing for over 10 years, in settings ranging from the community to the maximum-security ward, the incubator, the homeless shelter and the hospice, and has been part of seeding the movement towards dementia-friendly singing groups.

The Camino: Walking the Borderline

In 2008 and 2012 Peter Gardner joined the hundred thousand other pilgrims who were walking the Camino de Santiago. In this workshop we’ll be thinking about pilgrimage, about crossing thresholds, leaving home for the ends of the earth, and walking a path that traces the borderlands between earth and heaven, body and soul, the physical and the spiritual. Peter is minister of Renfield St Stephen’s and a visual artist.

Crossing Boundaries With Jesus

Stephen Smythe leads us in a conversation with scripture and one another – using the CBS / Contextual Bible Study approach – by exploring one incident where Jesus confronts the challenge of traversing boundaries.

Promising iLands iPods OR Desert Island Discs

Fiona Evans in conversation with a notable mystery guest, via their taste of music and musing.


Word, silence, movement and symbol on boundaries that bound… and those to be bounded over.


Sunday 7th April 2013: ‘Dead End’

Tonight, on the Sunday after Easter Day, we’ll be pondering the creative tensions and potentials inherent in the Resurrection – dead end or new life? – and looking for similar signs in some of today’s situations and challenges.


Coming soon to your town…? Anti-human trafficking

Hear facts and individual stories of Human Trafficking in Scotland and explore responses of the churches & ACTS (Action of Churches Together in Scotland ) and others with particular reference to preparations for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Led by Hazel Watson & Stephen Smythe. Hazel is the representative of the Church of Scotland’s Church & Society Council on ACTS Anti-Human Trafficking Working Group. Stephen is General Secretary of ACTS.

Of walls & welcomes

Henry Bell recently spent time living with Palestinians. He shares stories of his experience and the insights gained into the day-to-day realities for one of the most oppressed people in the world.

Promising iLand iPods

It was only in her teens that Eildon Dyer was able to listen to more than the two approved records of her childhood. Gently interrogated by Fiona Evans, she’ll share her story through a desert-island choice of discs, making links between her varied engagement with Glasgow’s longest-extant basic Christian community (as one of the founders), initiatives in local empowerment, a major development organisation and a pioneering project to liberate Christmas from the diktat of commercial consumption.


Unlike the experience of the female disciples, who understood Easter as one of new beginnings, the converse experience of the men was of stalled confusion, depression and loss. The liturgy will draw out four of these stories and allow us to find echoes of our situation and place… in sound, silence, song and symbol.


Sunday 5th May 2013: ‘Arrival’

In tonight’s event we’ll be looking at ‘arriving’, which – if we are to consider T.S.Elliot’s words, ‘We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time’ – could be an end, a mid-point, a beginning or all three. And in a particularly compelling choice of workshops, we feature some remarkable folk at various points of arrival in their journeys…


Writing your way into silence

It has been recognised for centuries that freely-chosen silence and solitude nourish and enhance creative work and spiritual growth. Nonetheless (for obvious reasons) it is very difficult to write about silence. Renowned and award winning novelist, Sara Maitland, has been working on this for some years now and will share her thoughts and experience in a writing workshop; this will include written exercises so please bring pen and paper! (20 maximum) http://www.saramaitland.com

Beyond Crucifixion: a journey in prayer from despair to hope

In her book of the same name (subtitled, ‘Meditations on Surviving Sexual Abuse’), which explored the struggles with self, relationships and God in the aftermath of sexual abuse, Beth Crisp articulates the realisation that the only way of moving on and overcoming a crippling sense of desolation was not to run from God, but to embrace that relationship. In this workshop, Beth talks about this hard road. Beth, a former member of the Holy City planning group, is a professor of social work at Deakin University in Australia who is internationally recognised for her writing about the impact of sexual abuse on spirituality. Her book, Beyond Crucifixion (Darton, Longman & Todd, 2010) contains prayers, which range from the profound to the humorous and touch on the five essential ‘food groups’ of the human soul — love, grace, humour, friendship and forgiveness. http://www.dltbooks.com/books/9780232528435/Beyond-Crucifixion

Promising iLand iPods’/ aka. Desert Island Discs

Fiona Evans’ guest in this month’s Pii is Graeme Duffin, published songwriter, professional musician and internationally known guitar player and producer with 30 years experience in the music industry, not least with Clydebank’s finest aka Wet, Wet. Wet. Graeme is also a director of the studio, Foundry Music Lab’ (which opened in January 2006 in Motherwell) and a coach / instructor for the McGuire Programme which helps people with a stammer. http://graemeduffin.eu/

Caledonian Dreaming

In this workshop, Chris Long & Ben Raw, youth workers with the Iona Community, engage young and older folk, asking what kind of Scotland do we want to arrive in after a certain vote on independence that is scheduled for September 2014.


An embodied, participative time and place exploring the welcome, hospitality and inclusion that can make arrival in either strange or familiar places a profound form of homecoming. In sound, silence, song and symbol.

Holy City is most generously hosted by the congregation and minister (Peter Gardner) of Renfield St Stephen’s Centre in their Centre. We are deeply grateful for their long-standing support and hospitality.

Nor should we forget those other stars and starlettes from RSS, our seductively lovely Tea Team: Sheila, Helen, Graham, Fiona & Alec.