Full Body... half year

Holy City returns on Sunday 6th October, with the 2013-14 session being one of two halves... or nearly halves!

For the months October to December 2013, our theme will be ‘Body: flesh and bones and earthy faith’. The programme will explore and celebrate ways that flesh, bone, spirit, senses, head and heart are understood in historical and contemporary, biblical and church experience.

In the new year, we will switch to ‘Tartan Jesus: discerning distinctive patterns for the fabric of a nation”... which not unsurprisingly, will focus on the kinds of issues and values that we think Scotland should have, whether the Referendum in September returns a ‘Yes’ or a No’ verdict.

Each evening consists of participative, reflective workshops and liturgy engaging body, mind and spirit.

HOLY CITY is a monthly event, a rendezvous of faithful folk, curious enquirers and compelling doubters, drawn from the whole, glorious spectrum of Christian traditions, their edges and beyond. All are welcome, irrespective of creed, practice or preference.

HOLY CITY is organised by the Wild Goose Resource Group of the Iona Community - John L. Bell, Jo Love and Graham Maule and a fine and motley crew of citizens - the immaculate Holy City Planning Group.

Sundays 6th October/ 3rd November/ 1st December 2013 @ 6.30-9.30pm

Renfield St Stephen’s, 260 Bath Street, Glasgow

T: 0141 332 6343
E: [email protected]
Web: www.holycity-glasgow.co.uk
Facebook: Holy City Glasgow
Twitter: HolyCityGlasgow

Big licks for Greenbelt Communion service

As previously intimated, we (Holy City & Wild Goose) were at Greenbelt 2013 ‘Life Begins’.

GB’s general worship programmers had decided not to ask us to do worship as part of the day-to-day programme back at the beginning of the year, for the first time since John & Graham were initially invited to take part in the same over a quarter of a century ago. However, 2 months before the event, from the another part and in fact, higher echelons of GB, came a request for the WGRG to design and lead the Sunday morning set-piece.

It can be revealed that the Wild Goosers and Holy Citizens pulled it off to - at the very least in the eyes of The Church Times, tho’ we also have to report, in the eyes of other sources and blessed punters.

Here’s the opinion...

“Greenbelt, it seems, has broken with at least one tradition - the suc­cession of earnest but confusing communion services on Sunday morning. For the second year run­ning, this was in the assured hands of John Bell and the Iona Com­munity. It was varied, but never chaotic.

The 40th-birthday theme was prominent. It began with vintage worship songs from Greenbelt's first years (most of which, of course, are still thought of as new in many churches): "Give me oil in my lamp" given the Caribbean treatment, and "Our God Reigns" to a fetching banjo accompaniment.

There followed a set of responses split between the under-40s and the 40-and-overs - which divided the 15,000-strong congregation about 50:50. The next part of the service was split into three sections, each comparing life in 1974 and now, in the areas of female equality, a global perspective, and ecology.

The same pattern was followed in each: a short introduction to remind the congregation of how people talked about these themes 40 years ago, a list of people and movements that have made a difference (this was how Germaine Greer got a mention in a religious service), a biblical reading, a one-minute "talk to your neighbour about" session on an inspiring woman/favourite fair­trade product/creative bit of re­­cycling, and a two-to-three-minute related talk, these in place of a conventional sermon.

Thus Mary Grey spoke about the barriers in her journey towards becoming a theology professor; MacDuff Phiri touched on the plight of the Congo, suggesting that, like illegal diamonds, electronic devices be relabelled "Blood Black­berries" or "Blood iPods"; and Barbara Brown Taylor described the steady progress being made by the organic-food movement in the United States.

Then, after the collection (taken, as usual in the champagne buckets of which the Cheltenham Race Course has far too many), some more songs, including a swoopy 1980s-style version of "The Servant King", all with electric piano and saxophone.

The bread and wine were dis­tributed, once again, in small groups of about 12, and the members of these then held hands and celebrated the peace: the service booklet suggested 40 differ­ent languages:vaka'equ,tsum­u­ki­kiatu,uxolo,soksang, and so on.

A 2013 song (by John L. Bell) followed: 
"You could have honoured better singers than children shouting in the street.  You could have chosen safer diners than those with whom you chose to eat."

Finally, a pantomime blessing, with the alternative responses "Oh, yes he did!" and "Oh, no he didn't!" Thus: "Jesus said, if a man slaps you on the right cheek, kick him in the goolies." "Oh, yes he did!" Scrip­tural accuracy sometimes takes second place to adolescent devil­ment.”



Holy City & Wild Goose @ Greenbelt, 23-26 August 2013

Friday 23rd - Mon 26th August 2013

The Wild Goose Resource Group and the Holy City team will be at Greenbelt 13, 'Life Begins' at Cheltenham Racecourse.

We will be collaborating in the wonderful Northern Lights Tent (along with fellow northern leeries and lichties, Fischy Music, Iona Community, Corrymeela Community, Church Action On Poverty - and incognito guest stars, Spill The Beans). Much music, workshopping, stalls and inspiration will be happening therein, so please drop by.

In addition, we will be enlisting a couple of thousand voices in the inimitable Big Sing... oor very ain Long John Bell, will be delivering several talks and contributions to whet the appetite and stir the theological mix for the multitudes... AND... having been responsible for designing the Sunday morning Communion, we will be leading that very same excellent and celebratory event on Sunday morning, on this, the occasion of Greenbelt's 40th anniversary!

More info: www.greenbelt.org.uk

Holy City & Wild Goose eNews, June 2013

The latest on upcoming Holy City & Wild Goose events; intimation of the Wild Goose Collective’s latest CD, ‘Enemy of Apathy’; a St Columba Of Iona Anniversary liturgy; and some WGRG Shop special offers of Bernadette Farrell music...


In Defence of Doubt, Saturday, 22 June 2013 @ 7.30pm

Val Webb, theologian, progressive Christian and author, will speak in Dundee as guest of Dundee PCN, on the themes from her latest book, 'In Defence of Doubt' (2012 revised and extended second edition)

What folk have said about the book:

“In Defence of Doubt is a lifeline to those trapped in obscure doctrines”; “Doubts are tantalizing carrots enticing us into new territory”; “Few theologians can weave together history, theology and biblical studies with such playful clarity and worldly wisdom.”

Val will also be speaking in Belfast, Dublin, Harrogate, Kendal, Sheffield, Manchester (Stockport), Cardiff (Barry), London and then in Germany.


Friendship Hall, Dundee West Parish Church of Scotland, 132 Perth Road, Dundee DD1 4JW (opposite Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design)

Tickets £5 each to include light refreshments (students free)

Further information available from:

Gordon Sharp, [email protected] (01382 643002) or Angela Smith, [email protected] pcnbritain.org.uk (01382 524273)