PACT – December update

Many thanks to everyone who was able to join us last night for the PACT Advent catch-up.   We were joined by representatives from 14 different  churches, as well as hearing from the Bield, the Shawl Ministry and Skinnergate.   

Much of what was shared was about the various churches’ plans for Advent and Christmas services , some online and/or pre-recorded,  some in churches and some ‘blended’ services – check out individual websites for more information.   Churches have also been able to continue to support good causes, including – Poppy Scotland, Christian Aid, Crossreach, Blythswood, and Christian Rebuild ( a Congregational Church charity helping rebuilding in Beirut after the explosion.)

We were sorry to hear of the recent death of Rev Bruce Thomson, who had been such a supporter of local ecumenical activity, and the not so recent death (in April) of Monsignor Charles Hendry of St John the Baptist  Church and Mary Magdalene Church.    We were glad to hear that Rev John Murdoch is now out of hospital and recuperating at home – he hopes to resume duties at St John’s and St Leonard’s in the Fields at the end of January.

Other items shared:

(a)  Jean Hendry said that  Starter Packs continue to be busy and are appreciative of all donations.  Jean is also involved with Perth CAB which is also being kept busy in these difficult times.

(b)  Jenny Dawson reported that  St John the Baptist RC Church has welcomed a new Nigerian priest Fr Jude Mukoro

(c)  Rev Maudeen MacDougall of Scone and St Martin’s  has raised £1600  through a sponsored weight loss and has published a  Lockdown Recipe book, now available for sale, cost £7.50.

(d)  Members of the Shawl ministry have been very busy over lockdown – 10 black bags full of knitting were delivered to the Blythswood collection, and donations have also been made to the Salvation Army, CATH, and others.  They are also working with  Rev Anne Stott and the latest initiative at Bertha Park.

(e)  we heard more about the Bertha Park Project – retail premises have been bought by the Church of Scotland which will serve as a much needed community space;  more can be seen at this link:

We were impressed to hear that Rev Anne Stott has delivered over 200 Advent calendars in the Bertha Park community

(f)  Rev Sarah Lawson reported that the Harbour Counselling service has  kept going all through lockdown, and the need for its work is great.  It can be difficult when clients can’t meet face to face.  She reminded us of the appeal for more Board members  which had recently been circulated.  She also spoke about Workplace Chaplaincy, and their aim to be more proactive in the town, especially with the challenges being faced by the retail sector at the moment.

(g)  “Compassionate Christmas”, being spearheaded by Giraffe and supported by local organisations and churches, aims to feed 500 people over Christmas.  St Matthew’s hopes to support this with a retiring collection after Communion in December.   More details about the initiative can be found here:

(h)  The Bield sadly has had to close again because of the current Covid  situation, but they hope to re-open mid-January.   The small-holding however has kept going!

(i)  Letham St Mark’s Community Cafe – renamed LSM Connections – is now open three days a week,  (Tues., Wed and Thurs) and is being well-used.

(j) The Salvation Army thanks all the churches who have donated to their Toy Appeal;  the donations will be distributed to those referred by the Social Work department.   The Salvation Army will be shortly re-advertising for a Community Manager –  their advert will be circulated in due course. 

(k)  We welcomed Lis Burke who is now working at St Ninian’s Cathedral, where services have resumed.  During Advent they are making use of their website and Facebook with daily prayers and an Advent challenge.

(l)  Fraser  Hunter told us about Skinnergate, which thankfully has escaped any Covid outbreak over the last 9 months.  They are hopeful they can provide Christmas dinner this year – probably in three sittings to abide by the Covid rules. He was sad to report the death, after a long illness, of one of their long-serving staff members.

(m)  Stella Cranwell, on behalf of the Prison Chaplain (Rev Margaret Shuttleworth) thanked those who had contributed toiletries for the prisoners – any further donations will be gratefully received by Stella.  (Margaret has been added to our Corresponding members list, and would have joined us last night but had a previous Zoom engagement!)

(n)  Wilma Coleman reported that the City Centre drop in centre based in the Giraffe cafe at Mill Street on Mondays and Thursday has on average 12 – 20 visitors each session, many of whom are regulars who value the chance to chat .  They also come for food – there are many hungry people in Perth.  The North Church volunteers are also involved with this enterprise.

(o)  The North Church are hoping to have messages of hope and faith pinned to thier railings in Mill Street during Advent, there for anyone who wishes to pick one up and take home.

With warm best wishes for a meaningful Advent and a blessed Christmas when it comes.