Glasgow Churches Together (GCT) wanted their pilgrimage this year to commemorate both David Livingstone on the 200th anniversary of his birth, and St. Columba on the 1450th anniversary of his coming to Iona. But where to go? Iona would really need two days (and Africa was even further!) so a compromise was Culross which has links with St. Mungo and Glasgow. The connection? – St. Columba is recorded as having met St. Mungo and exchanged pastoral staffs with him, and David Livingstone spent much time in Glasgow where he studied.
So a busload of pilgrims met in Glasgow city centre in the pouring rain on Saturday 22 June to travel through to Culross. They did rather wonder about the wisdom of their choice in view of the miserable weather but the warmth of the welcome at Culross Abbey from the minister, the Rev. Jayne Scott, and her parishioners more than made up for the rain. Indeed the rain stopped long enough for the pilgrims to walk up the hill to the Abbey and get ensconced in the Abbey teashop for tea, coffee and homebaking, before making their way into the Abbey for a short service.
Before the service, there was an opportunity to look round the Abbey (and admire the depiction of St. Mungo and St. Serf in the main window of the Abbey) and appreciate the work being put in to a display of the history of the Abbey and the church in Culross and the surrounding area. Then the pilgrims gathered together for a service of readings, music, reflection and prayer. The hymns included the African hymn “Thuma Mina” and one of the hymns ascribed to St. Columba “All Glory to God the Father of All”. Deacon Kevin Kelly sang the Gospel reading beautifully.
At the end of the service, Bill Meldrum on behalf of GCT made a presentation to Rev. Jayne of a plaque of St. Mungo and a bouquet of flowers. GCT also took the opportunity to mark the many years of service to ecumenism of Sr. Maire Gallagher with a presentation to her of an orchid.
There was then time to go down into Culross to enjoy lunch or a walk along the river front or a visit to the National Trust properties. Again the pilgrims were favoured with dry weather and the rain held off until they were boarding the bus to return to Glasgow. It had been a lovely visit to a town which, like Iona, reminds us still of the early days of the church in Scotland.