In this, their 50th anniversary year, the St Mungo Singers are at last back singing in person, albeit in masks. With the easing of restrictions, rehearsals started with appropriate distancing, sanitising and recording of attendance, in time to prepare for a significant climate Sunday service in Glasgow Cathedral in the lead up to COP26.
The service on 5th September was attended by representatives of 40 Christian denominations and organisations, and co-hosted by Glasgow Churches Together, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, and the Glasgow Cathedral Community. Before the service itself began, there was an opportunity to watch video inputs from some of the participating organisations.
Due to restrictions in place in the Cathedral, only the choir were allowed to sing during the service and they were required to be positioned away from the congregation, in the seats at the side walls, which felt a bit strange, but with good and active co-operation from the Cathedral organist, Andrew Forbes, it seemed to work well.
The call to the start of the service was made by the ringing of a replica of Adamnan’s bell from Kilmartin and the church and civic leaders were led to the cathedral by piper Willie Park. They and the congregation were warmly welcomed by the Minister Rev Mark Johnstone, and this warmth was continued by the joyful recording of the St Mungo Rhyme by the children of St Denis’s Primary.
Cllr Philp Braat, Lord Provost of Glasgow, added his own words of welcome on behalf of the City Council, acknowledging the work of the churches and their partner organisations in preparing for COP26. He also highlighted the work that the city itself is doing to achieve net zero carbon by 2030. Glasgow looked forward to welcoming the world and the hope must be that the outcome would be to allow all on this earth, to paraphrase the motto of the city, to flourish.
Amanda Khozi Mukwashi, CEO of Christian Aid, gave a moving reflection on relationship – with Christ and each other, and with the earth – and the need for courage, boldness and wisdom. She challenged that people have become rich by destroying the beauty of God’s creation, and a change in behaviour is needed now to mend our broken relationships. It is, she said, a question of life or death. Faith communities need to use their prophetic voices and call out what is happening. They need to come together in Christ and remember the Great Commandment of love for God and for neighbour.