Tuesday, 24 January 2012


We are in the midst of great debates about benefits and who should receive them and how much they should reasonably receive. The politicians rant and rave and give us examples. There are people living in multi-million pound houses paid for the State in London, and getting £30k per year. Oh yeah? They don't live in Glasgow or the West of Scotland pal. Not at these prices.

I'll tell you about families who are suffering. I will show you examples.

Here the State is cutting benefits to the poorest folk in my parish. Come and have a walk around. There is an underclass. A section of society where there is no hope. As a church we try to reach out to them, but it is useless, and they are in a cycle of despair. Cut their benefit because we are all in this together. The words are hollow.

Oh yes. The fact is that amongst the poorest, the poor will point the finger at those who haven't 'tried so hard'. The poor will finger the poorest and say that they are loafers! But all these decent people have done is to fall into the trap which says that poverty sharing is acceptable. We have become brainwashed into the acceptability of poverty sharing, and the troops fight each other in the trenches.

The establishment wants this. While the poor fight each other the rich can carry on getting richer! (Now that makes me sound like the radical socialist that you want to dismiss, but there is truth in this.)

However, dismiss this truth at your peril, because there may be trouble ahead.

There is another way. A way where we create jobs in the building and other sectors and pay folk a decent wage for a decent days work. We stop offering crap wages and give people the amount they are due. Invest in roads and housing and infrastructure, and look at ways to stop the poverty sharing which is endemic in our nation.

I will show you countless people in my parish who depend on benefits. The vast majority of them wish this were not so. They want a job. They want to be well enough to work. They will not work for two pounds per hour or be forced into employment which diminishes them as human beings.

But this is the way of it, isn't it?

Get the troops fighting in the trenches and it takes away from the real debate about who is making the money, and where it's going!

But who will listen to me? I'm not a politician, a banker, or whatever.

I am extremely lucky. I get a stipend of £22k and a house. I will be homeless in 8 years. Who will care for me then?

Does it matter? I want someone to care for me. I'd prefer an independent Scottish Government!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Thirty Years On...

It doesn't seem like it, but it was thirty years ago today that I held my newborn son in Rottenrow. I remember the intense feeling of joy, and the day we brought the carry-cot home and laid it in front of the fire in the Rectory of St Matthew's Possilpark.

Poor guy didn't have an easy childhood. Apart from being moved from parish to parish through his childhood, he had to deal with my addiction issues during his growing-up, and being the minister's son in the East End of Glasgow was never the easiest option!

However, he survived it all in spite of me, and last week he held his own firstborn in his arms. All sorts of emotions were flying through my gut as I took the photo here.

Just a few days earlier, Graham, for that is his name, had been made redundant by Harte, a big building firm in Lanarkshire. 700 jobs were lost that day as the firm folded. I thought disaster, but my resilient son just got busy, and has already gotten himself a new job with higher wages and a new Vauxhall Insignia to boot.

I'm proud of him today. 30 years old, and things are looking good! What a lucky man I am.

Happy Birthday, Graham!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Local Talent!

Some years ago, a group of spotty young teenagers asked if they could use St Augustine's for band practice. No problem! Decent teenagers from Dumbarton Academy with lots of talent. They called themselves "Mellifluous", and within the next years they were playing gigs in St Aug's with 'hunners' of local teenagers coming to hear them play.

Now, young Craig White has gone solo and has released an EP, but his first Music Video had to be filmed, where else, in St Augustine's Dumbarton. Made up Stories is a decent song, and some of you will be well acquainted with the surroundings! Good luck, Craig, in your career ahead and don't forget us when you become a millionaire!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The First Visit...

Hello Pappa!

The RW shows her expertise!

Safe in my arms..

Testing the right foot for potential!

Graham, proud dad!

Angela and Graham lookin' smug!

Thank you, Angela, for a beautiful grand-daughter!

We are a Pappa!

Well, here she is at last! Hailey Myra Caroline Macaulay, 8lbs 9oz, born at 11.58pm last night. To say I'm overjoyed, over-the-moon, etc etc would be an injustice to how I'm feeling! It's almost as if I've given birth myself, I'm so chuffed.

It has not been an easy pregnancy, and poor Angela had a rough time of it, but all is well as another Partick Thistle Nil fan is born.

I know everyone thinks that their own child/grandchild is the best looking baby ever, so I curb my response to the Glaswegian, 'She's no' bad eh?'

It is a tradition in the Macaulay clan that the father's father is called "Pappa". Much prefer this to "Grand-dad"! However, no doubt she'll find her own name for me eventually. I only hope it sounds favourable!

Off to festoon her with gifts this afternoon! Parish work can wait!

Big Step

Of course we are all delighted in St Augustine's to be the first parish in the Diocese to complete its Mission Action Plan. The solemn signing took place on Sunday at the 11am. We now have goals to meet in the next 12 months. Achievable, yes, but a bit of work lies ahead of us!

My thanks to the Vestry, and the wee core group who worked with Revd Anne Tomlinson, who all made our speedy response a simple and enjoyable one!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Our Year

Now in circulation. Our Parish Year (click to make big). On Sunday we are due to sign our Mission Action Plan for the Diocese, and we need to continue to grow. However, I look at what's been achieved already and I'm grateful to be leading a congregation that is so outward looking and has great plans for the future mission and ministry.

I am lucky to have such a great group of people who are willing to take chances and who have a tremendous commitment to "outsiders" and "insiders" alike.

I count my blessings today!

Choral Scholar

I guess it all started on Advent 4 when one of my "older lassies" commented after the 9am 1662 Prayer Book Service that she had missed the Gloria during Advent. Not only that, but she sung the Gloria in her heart to the music of her childhood when we came to it in the Liturgy on a Sunday.

On Christmas Day I decided to give her a Christmas present, and after communion I sang the Gloria, solo, and to the astonishment of all. Her comment afterwards was, "Wonderful! But it's not the tune I sing to!"

Then, into the New Year, and she has presented me with this!

"Choral Scholar of 2011", made with her own frail hands.

It's enough to make you weep. Such a simple gesture meant so much to an old lady. Her response means so much to me.

When Liturgy arguments roll on about it being inclusive and the necessity of it all being relevant to the incomer, and politically correct, it's maybe OK to remember those folk in our congregations who find security and heartwarming affirmation of their faith in a Liturgy which brings them closer to God in their latter years, and strengthens their dedication to a Church which nurtured them and gave them something which is eternal.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Not a Good 24 Hours

Family-wise things could be a bit better in the Rectory at the mo! Son Graham was sent home from work today, having been told his Firm is going into receivership. That in the week his first child is due. Although not totally unexpected, it is still a bitter blow, and there are not a lot of jobs around in the Building Trade at present. Anyone need a good QS?

Dad is not good either at the moment, and his dementia is deteriorating. The Care Home staff are terrific, but he is increasingly in need of special attention now, and I fear he's coming to a point where they wil no longer be able to deal with him. What happens after that makes me shudder a little, so Auld Jack is maybe in need of some prayers just now!

On a brighter note, Isla, the RW's grand-daughter is flourishing and rather beautiful, and by next week I should be a proud grand-daddy myself! Now there's a new job from Graham, right away!

Monday, 9 January 2012


And a decree had been sent out by the Diocese that each parish should have a MAP, or a Mission Action Plan to you! And so it came to pass that after much beavering, the Parish of St Augustine's Dumbarton has produced such a plan and is ready to sign it on Sunday before all the congregation, to whom the plan actually belongs!

It's been a long slog, the culmination of two years hard work, with a lot of navel gazing, a lot of affirmation of current ministries, and lots of hopes and dreams for the future. It ensures that we don't stand still, or rest on our laurels, but continue to grow in our witness, ministry and mission.

It can all seem to be a daunting task. The Diocese is asking much, especially of wee parishes who have been struggling to do their best with few resources for years, but the exercise, if done properly should be a positive one which commends, affirms and supports the little parishes who struggle on struggling on!

We have now set goals for the coming year. As long as we are really all in this together, as I said on Sunday, it should be an interesting twelve months in Dumbarton!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all! Wishing you every blessing in 2012!

It bodes well for me that by mid-January I should be a grandfather, and I can't quite see past that at the moment, however my local Morrison's store are well ahead of the game!

The picture on the right is from one of the aisles in their store in Dumbarton yesterday. They seem to have managed to get the whole story of salvation into one bit, with the Easter Eggs underneath the holly wreath! Good for them!

I'm always saying you can't separate the Nativity of Our Lord from his Cross and Resurrection. Part of the one package! Well done Morrisons for spotting this!