Despite rail problems affecting some travellers, the annual Pause for Hope service held in Renfield St. Stephen’s church on 25 October for people touched by cancer – whether as sufferers, family, carers or health staff- was lovely, in some parts emotional, but always positive.

Gently reflective music by Dr. Noel Donnelly on harp and the St. Mungo Singers was provided as people gathered. Then the ecumenical service organised by Glasgow Churches Together (GCT) began with the hymn Be Still for the Presence of the Lord with its affirming words “ Be still for the power of the Lord is moving in this place … no work too hard for him”

Fr. David Wallace, chair of GCT, welcomed everyone to the service, reflecting that its name Pause for Hope was a good name, for all of us have been touched by cancer in some way and we need to pause and reflect and experience hope. He then invited everyone to light a candle for someone they knew, to write their name on the little card which had been provided and bring both to the sanctuary.   This action was made simpler and safer by modern technology – battery powered candles which still looked beautiful!  A beautiful prayer followed, part of which said:

“The candles we have lit represent each and everyone of us whose lives have been touched and changed forever by cancer. Their light also reminds us of Jesus Christ, your Son, who is the light of the world and the light in our darkness.”

Scripture readings followed, including the affirming psalm 138 with its opening words O Lord, you search me and you know me. There was also a lovely, honest, poem about the experience of cancer by Stephen Smyth called Feeling your Pain which finished with the verse


Holding hands, we hope.

O so deep in my heart.

One day at a time.

 This year the reflection was given by Professor Jeff Evans of the Beatson Institute in Glasgow, who is among other things a researcher, an oncologist and a member of Hillhead Baptist Church. He began by tracing the history of the Beatson from its inception as the Glasgow Cancer Hospital over a hundred years ago in 1894, and its ground breaking work and research, and methods of treatment at a time when cancer carried a stigma and cancer hospitals tended to be hidden away.

Our instrumentalists for the service: Noel Donnelly and Jane McKenna

He expressed the hope that it would not require another hundred years for cancer to be eliminated. Much progress had been made particularly in recent decades and over 50% of cancer patients can now be treated successfully. The aim is to increase this percentage to 75% in the next 20 years. He reminded people that the work was not just about treating the disease but helping those living with cancer, meeting their emotional, spiritual and psychological needs. As one of his old professors had told him “We can always do something for someone suffering from cancer even if it is only to give them emotional support.”

The congregation reflected on his words while Dr. Donnelly played some quiet harp music, then a collection was taken up for the Beatson Institute and Pause for Hope.

The service concluded with intercessions for children suffering from cancer and their families, carers of those with cancer, all others suffering from cancer, their families, researchers and those in national and local government responsible for health care provision. The congregation then sang the Lord’s Prayer before Fr. David led the clergy present in a blessing and the choir sang the blessing of Night Prayer:

Lord, keep us safe this night, secure from all our fears.

May angels guard us while we sleep, till morning light appears.

There was an opportunity after the service to enjoy refreshments and meet representatives of the Beatson charity