Tight budget…tasty food

By Pat Tweedie (From Seeds September – October 2022)

Private chef, cookery campaigner and AUC member Pat Tweedie is passionate about eating well even when money is tight. Pat is going to share some of her best ideas for budget-friendly meals here in Seeds, including tips for making the most of your food. This month, it’s all about courgettes.

Courgette Fritters

(makes 6)

  • 1 tin of tuna in sunflower oil
  • 1 courgette grated
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 2 measures of bread crumbs (see tips below)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Drain the oil from the tuna and reserve.
  2. Put the tuna a medium sized bowl; add courgette, egg and breadcrumbs.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Mix.
  5. With your hands, separate the mixture into 6 equal parts. Shape into rounds then flatten.
  6. Heat the reserved oil from the tuna and cook gently for 4 mins each side.
  7. Serve with a simple salad in a bun.


Approximate £1.40


If the mix is too wet add some more breadcrumbs; if too dry, add some more egg.

Breadcrumbs. I freeze individual slices of leftover bread. This makes it easier to defrost for toast etc., Frozen bread is easy to grate or to blitz in a food processor. Measures for this recipe are done by using the clean tuna can as a measuring device.

If you are not a fan of courgettes, replace with a grated carrot or some sweetcorn.

This recipe works very well for bulk preparation. Make up batches and then freeze with greaseproof paper separating the layers. These can be cooked in the oven but only if you are using the oven for something else. The most energy efficient method is on the hob.

Batch cooking is a great way to save time and money especially as tins of tuna are regularly on special offer.

Black History Month

By Hannah Albrecht (From Seeds September – October 2022)

On Sundays I walk to Augustine United Church from my little flat by Easter Road.

My route takes me past countless historic buildings and stately monuments, breath-taking views of the Old Town from Regent Road, and along the beauty and grandeur of the Royal Mile.

I’ve walked this way hundreds of times, but it’s not become old yet, after five years of living in Edinburgh, this city, these views. But my thoughts on it have become more complicated, more reflective, more critical.

It was along those streets that Lisa Williams led a dozen of us after a Sunday service in early June. We spent two hours on the Edinburgh Caribbean Association’s ‘Black History Walking Tour’ – two hours that weren’t nearly enough time to cover Edinburgh’s complicated, ugly history with the transatlantic slave trade and abolitionism, and at the same time, the powerful lives that People of Colour have been living here, to this day.

We learnt about the bitter history of Sugarhouse Close, a sugar emporium that was built on the work of slaves. We passed monuments to influential people whose riches and power came from the oppression of people of colour, such as tobacco merchant James Gillespie, or who further cemented racial injustice by endorsing slavery, such as David Hume. We heard hopeful stories of activist and reformer Frederick Douglass and his connections to abolitionist groups in Edinburgh.

Some people like to declare, dangerously, that the transatlantic slave trade is in the past and its effects are no longer felt. Lisa’s expertly woven stories and incredible knowledge of Edinburgh’s rich and painful history, however, showed us how wrong such a declaration would be. Hundreds of years of systematic oppression are not undone in a few decades. Slavery is indivisibly connected to the landscape of our city, the power it has given some people over others still felt today.

Lisa, whose own existence is inextricably connected to this history and its present consequences, offers these walks as part of a larger mission of ‘healing’. Her focus is on educating, on closing the gaping wounds that the long-term oppression of people of colour has created. And she is graciously inviting and powerfully urging us to join her.

As we in the URC explore the legacies of slavery, the ‘Black History Walk’ opens the conversation up even wider. What can we do to contribute to this healing process? How can we support the work of people like Lisa? What can we do to name and acknowledge the racial injustice in our society at large (and our city specifically) and, at the same time, work to actively abolish it? There is a long road ahead of us.

The path to healing is a difficult, complicated, stony one. But it is a walk we have to undertake if we want to create a city, a world in which there is equity for all.

Making apology – calling for reparations

Revd Dr Tessa Henry-Robinson has became the first woman from an ethnic minority background to be made Moderator-Elect of the United Reformed Church.

In the same week, the URC’s General Assembly made a confession and apology for the role of its antecedents in transatlantic slavery and its continuing complicity in the legacies of the trade today.

The Church also made a commitment to undertake practical actions to address ‘the continuing negative impacts of the legacies of transatlantic slavery on black communities in the UK, the Caribbean and Africa’.

As her first act as the Moderator for 2022-23, the Revd Fiona Bennett, with the Revd Adrian Bulley, Deputy General Secretary (Discipleship), declared that the confession and apology ‘is firmly rooted in the gospel call to repentance and gives life to the commitment in our Basis of Union to be “formed in obedience to the call to repent of what has been amiss in the past and to be reconciled.”’

They said: ‘We have heard the pain of sisters and brothers who have been hurt, and are still being hurt, by these legacies, including the continuing scourge of racism … In a spirit of humility and vulnerability, we are urged on by a movement of God’s Spirit, calling us for a journey of words and actions towards a future built on equity, justice, and love.’

Do we know?

The resolutions calling for both apology and practical actions in relation to the legacies of slavery have been introduced.

Karen Campbell, Secretary for Global and Intercultural Ministries (pictured) said: ‘The hurt of slavery is still real for millions of people. You may not see the wounds bleeding, but they are still not healed. I was born in Britain, but I stand before you as someone who belongs nowhere. I’m cut off from my history, with no way of knowing something as basic as my true family name, and this is a legacy of transatlantic slavery.’

She said the Legacies of Slavery Task Group has heard many testimonies and been asked many questions.

Karen has captured some of these in this poem.

Do they know, Karen,
Does the URC know
All that we face, day out and day in
What we see, what we hear
What we take in our stride
What it means
How it feels
To walk in our skin?

Can they imagine the sting,
Standing fresh in the church,
Offering gifts of talents and time,
And much more,
To be told, ‘You’re not needed
For this, nor for that –
We’ve called a white colleague
We knew from before’?

Do they know how it burns
When the message is shared
‘She says she’s not coming on any such day
That you lead, that you preach,
Because she insists
She can’t understand a word that you say’?

Do they have any idea
Just how much it smarts
When a colleague, in collar,
Seeks to keep me in check –
Says I welcome ‘your folks’ in the pews, but cannot
Accept a white collar
Around a Black neck?

Do they know, Karen,
Does the URC know
Just what we encounter
While they say we ‘belong’;
What it means to be Black in this Church –
Our Church?
Please, hear what we see –
See that something is wrong.

Karen Campbell, June 2022

Dealing with corruption on a global scale

By Rev Fiona Bennett (From Seeds September – October 2022)

The season of Creationtide draws to a close on the Sunday closest to the Feast of St Francis, on Tuesday 4 October.

St Francis was an Italian Catholic Friar who lived in the 12th century. He proposed that creation was God’s first incarnation and Christ the second. In this, he was not trying to undermine Jesus’ significance but to make the point that the whole of creation is an expression of who God is; all life’s source, creator and parent.

This led Francis to value all aspects of this earth as precious and imbued with divine artistry and love; and to understand the interaction, interdependence and balance of all the life which makes up the earth as an expression of the mind of God.

This year, as we approach Creationtide, in the midst of record summer temperatures, droughts and floods, I am amazed at myself and the whole of our world at how apathetic we seem to be to take significant action to protect ourselves and the many life forms we are dependent upon.

As one of the richest nations in the world, why are so many houses still poorly insulated and carbon clean sustainable energy sources not our sole sources of power? I feel this frustration as someone whose loft is not as well insulated as it could be, but who finds the thought and cost of clearing it and relaying the floor very overwhelming.

I am part of the problem, but there are also much bigger forces at play which are making sustainable choices inaccessible to people who are unable to cover the basic costs of life.

“While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.”

St. Francis of Assisi

The words of St Francis above challenge me that talk about environmental justice without action is meaningless, hollow. In fact, in our current situation, it is worse than hollow; it is corrupt, as it is destroying God’s world.

As I face this season of Creationtide, I am challenged to take more action in my own life and to campaign for much more action by the human powers which influence our world.

However, another quote from St Francis leads my mind to hope. St Francis also said: ‘A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.’

One sunbeam which I have encountered during my travels as Moderator has been to meet with some people in the URC who are 25 years and under.

In them I have met people who are willing and ready to back up their words with actions – and not just one-off actions, but the willingness to accept that less obvious and sometimes less comfortable and convenient ways of living are what they choose, so that other life can live.

In January, eco church organisation A Rocha commended the URC’s Youth Executive for the leadership that URC Youth Assembly and its Executive have shown in encouraging the whole Church to act swiftly to develop how it cares for the environment

They are challenging themselves to make choices which are less driven by how much they earn or how much power they gain over others, but by what they can give and create and what balance they can find.

Sunbeams which refresh me with the potential in our humanity for goodness.

If Francis is correct and creation is God’s first incarnation, then it shouts at us about the importance of interdependence and the inbuilt realities of resurrection and evolution. The brief lull in travel during the pandemic showed how extraordinarily quickly the earth seeks to restore its health when it is permitted; another sunbeam which drove away many shadows, born from the tragedy of Covid.

God has built perpetual hope into this world and in Jesus has shown us how to live that Way of hope. The Good News is all around us. Our challenge is to live in it, to act and not just talk about it, and in our action to be amazed at the transformation and joy God can grow.

Freeing Jesus

By David Townsend (From Seeds June 2022)

Do you ever read a book that resonates with your own experience? Freeing Jesus by Diana Butler Bass is, for me, just such a book.

“the book is a rediscovery of Jesus as Friend, Teacher, Saviour, Lord, Way, and Presence”

Freeing Jesus is strongly autobiographical whilst, at the same time, presenting a clear articulation of a renewed faith and theology that has moved away from fundamentalist evangelical notions of ‘salvation’.

Like me, Diana Butler Bass discovered fundamentalist evangelicalism in Providence Doucet on Unsplash her teens but, after giving it her all, found herself in mid-life questioning the journey she’d undertaken thus far. As the subtitle suggests, the book is a rediscovery of Jesus as Friend, Teacher, Saviour, Lord, Way, and Presence.

I know that I am not alone in having moved beyond the fundamentalism of my earlier years and, if that is your journey too, I think you will also find that this book resonates. On the other hand, if you never experienced aspects of evangelical fundamentalism, this book will help you to understand the faith journey of those of us who have.

And I suspect that it may help all of us to better articulate aspects of our own faith journey and understanding. As writer Anne Lamott says in her commendation: ‘Diana Butler Bass is one of only a few modern Christian writers who can absolutely blow me away with both spiritual insight and beautiful writing.’

2022: a patchwork legacy

By Rev Fiona Bennett (From Seeds June 2022)

The 2’s seem quite significant in AUC’s history.

2022 marks 220 years since the congregation of what was then called the North College Street Chapel was founded in 1802.

2022 marks 30 years since this congregation became part of the URC, through its union with Dalkeith Road URC. The name Augustine United Church was born in 1992 through this union – so we have been ‘AUC’ for 30 years.

2022 also marks 50 years of the wider United Reformed Church, which was formed in 1972 when the Congregational Churches in Wales and England united with the Presbyterian Church in England.

Both the URC and AUC are patchwork quilts composed of the legacies of several denominations and local churches.

For AUC, apart from Dalkeith Rd URC, there were joinings with Bristo Place church in 1941; Hope Park and Buccleuch Congregational church in 1979; Dalry Congregational in 2005; and the Metropolitan Community Church of Edinburgh in 2009. Of course, each of these local churches also has their own patchwork legacy of congregations who have been birthed from, or who have joined with, them.

It is sometimes cleaner to think about our patchwork heritage through the structure of organisation, but that’s like looking at a photo of a quilt rather than feeling it around you or hearing what other people felt when they had that quilt around them.

People: the Church is about a community of people supporting and challenging each other to live Jesus’ good news and to share it with the world. AUC itself is full of people who are wrestling with how to build bridges and community throughout our society and world. I wonder, as you think back over your time in AUC, or as part of other churches, who are the people and the stories that have stuck with you and shaped you? Who has supported and challenged you to live out and share the message of acceptance, abundance and hope which Jesus came to bring?

“AUC is still full of people wrestling with how to build bridges and community”

These people are the many threads that make up the patches in the quilt of our history.

As we celebrate many 2’s in 2022, I would encourage us to remember and share these thread stories of people and the legacy they have left us.

Friendship in plain sight

From Seeds June 2022

The United Reformed Church was formed 50 years ago with a passion for ecumenical conversation and church union.

Some hoped that the fledgling denomination would itself only have a shelf life long enough to see the union of multiple Churches across the UK. That vision hasn’t yet come to pass, but during the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in May commissioners welcomed the second historic agreement with a sister denomination in six months.

The Saint Margaret Declaration is a declaration of friendship between the Kirk and the Catholic Church in Scotland, offering ‘a decisive and irrevocable statement of our friendship with one another, based on our shared faith in Christ’.

It has been described as ‘the culmination of more than 100 years of dialogue, [emphasising] the shared faith and common ground that unites the Churches’.

Named after the 11th century Scottish Queen, the Saint Margaret Declaration follows on from a similar statement of understanding signed last November between the Church of Scotland and the Scottish Episcopal Church: the Saint Andrew Declaration. The Revd Alexander Horsburgh, Convener of the Kirk’s Ecumenical Relations Committee, said that ‘we are declaring a friendship which already exists, which has existed for a long time, and we want everyone to know about it and understand it’.

He described this as a friendship ‘in which individuality is respected and there is room for disagreement, but a relationship in which we stand alongside one another, support one another, rejoice together and weep together, pray for and with each other, and do things together.

‘By saying out loud that the Church of Scotland and the Catholic Church in Scotland are friends, we contribute to changing not only the narrative of our churches but the narrative of our country too.’

In these days of multiple pressures on all our mainstream Christian denominations, ecumenical friendships have pragmatic value. However, they also reflect gospel values.

‘Do I expect our two old institutions to be perfectly aligned and united any time soon?’, Mr Horsburgh asked. ‘I suspect that may be a task for another generation. Nevertheless, I believe that by acknowledging all the good that we hold in common, we can walk and pray together as friends, deepen our affective unity, and be a more authentic Christian witness in the land. The rest will come in God’s good time.’

Refugees – Ukraine and beyond

From Seeds June 2022

The lead image for this year’s Refugee Week has been inspired by the theme of ‘Healing’.

Pictured above, the image was commissioned from Nima Javan, a painter specialising in traditional Persian art and contemporary abstract art. Originally from Quchan in North East Iran, Nima sought refuge in the UK in 2019.


In response to government plans to send some asylum seekers arriving in the UK to Rwanda, and its refusal to implement changes to the Nationality and Borders Bill, the Revd Clare Downing, Moderator of the United Reformed Church General Assembly, issued a statement, saying: ‘to fail to speak out would be a denial of our gospel calling’.

Ms Downing said: ‘Church leaders have been criticised for joining the debate about asylum and immigration plans. But in the face of unfair and cruel proposals, to fail to speak out would be a denial of our gospel calling. The Biblical mandate is that righteous nations “welcome the stranger”.

‘. . . We are clear that every individual, whatever their status, should be treated by the state with humanity, dignity, respect and fairness . . . To export some of those seeking asylum to Rwanda is a denial of the UK’s responsibilities and of the rights and dignity of refugees. Questions have rightly been raised about Rwanda’s record on human rights and the treatment of LGBT people in particular.

‘There are many more suitable options open to the government that would save lives in the Channel and tackle people-smuggling, including the establishment of new safe and legal routes for people to come to the UK, allowing refugees to reunite with their families, and providing increased international development assistance to countries that neighbour conflict and crisis.’


‘Ukraine is undoubtably diverting attention from others who need help – geographically distant, but in equally dire straits.’

“to fail to speak out would be a denial of our gospel calling. The Biblical mandate is that righteous nations ‘welcome the stranger’”

In a recent Guardian editorial, Global development editor Tracy McVeigh noted ‘a feeling that people and politicians show support for only the “right” type of refugee. A European with pets that could be our pets and children who wear similar clothes to ours. More neighbour than stranger. More white than black.’

A recent study by Christian Aid revealed that 91% of Britons knew about Vladimir Putin’s war, but only 23% knew of drought and impending famine in east Africa. Christian Aid said the finding is ‘deeply concerning’. In another recent press release, Oxfam and Save the Children have estimated that someone died of hunger in East Africa every 48 seconds. Tracy McVeigh calls this ‘an overwhelming statistic. But people can’t put a face to that one person.’ Compare that to Ukraine news coverage in which reporters have given voice to refugees themselves, making the resultant stories particularly resonant.

Distance disconnects us, she writes, and there is a ‘reluctance to feel the weight of our impotence in the face of disaster. But there is also the issue of understanding. . . ‘No one need feel angry that Britain is “too focused” on Ukrainians – we just need to recognise ourselves in east Africans too.’


Down the road run refugees, a child and father and mother; scared by what they’ve left behind and what they fear to discover.

John Bell and Graham Maule wrote this ‘carol is in the form of a protestsong’ in 1992. Thirty years on, the anger and shame they expressed are as precisely relevant today. Their words sit in the tradition of songs that not only protest but make us ask ourselves questions. We don’t let ourselves off the hook when we sing these words:

Who will help the refugees to cease their endless walking, while the ones who claim to care continue endless talking?

(From the Wild Goose publication Innkeepers & Light Sleepers)

“no one need feel angry that Britain is ‘too focused’ on Ukrainians – we just need to recognise ourselves in East Africans too.”


There are dangers in drawing too close parallels between what we read in the Bible about refugees and those we read about in our newspapers. Each person’s story is different. Nevertheless, the lessons that people of Biblical times learnt from their ancestors’ experiences are an important thread through the teaching of their community leaders, prophets, and of Jesus himself. The histories of Abraham, Jacob and Moses hold powerful memories and the people of Israel are often reminded that, with God, ‘you are but aliens and tenants’. From their own experience, in other words, they should know how to treat strangers.

It wasn’t always that simple – but the theme continues in the New Testament where, as one writer puts it, we continue to ‘find God amidst those who are uprooted’. As a small child, this was Jesus’ own experience, as we are reminded every Christmas, and we have to wonder whether the formative escape into Egypt, away from the despotic King Herod, helped inform his message of good news to the poor and freedom for the oppressed.

Journalist and Baptist minister Mark Woods writes: ‘Christians have no special insight into the details of security, immigration and asylum policies.’ He says ‘We have a duty to call those responsible for these policies to account: to tell them when not just their actions, but the fundamental attitudes that guide those attitudes are wrong.’

More about Refugee Week at www.refugeeweek.org.uk

Resurrection Hope

By Rev Fiona Bennett (From Seeds April 2022)

We are about to move from the Season of Lent into the Season of Easter.

Easter is the time we celebrate that from death, new life is born; that from suffering, goodness can emerge; that hope cannot be ended.

It may seem, though, that at times reality has not caught up with the calendar. Just as in Narnia there was a time of winter but never Christmas, so the suffering and injustice in our lives and world may seem like Lent and never Easter.

In those times, this song from Natalie Sleeth holds hope for us, reminding us that every moment and situation in life contains potential for new life. It may not follow the shape or timing we think is a good idea, but it is there in God’s mind, unshakably real, shaped in love
and for love.

Throughout Jesus’ life many things did not turn out to be smooth, comfortable or pain free, but through it all he showed us what it is, in the midst of challenges and suffering, to trust in
God and to have faith in God’s justice and love.

This Easter, whether it brings experiences of new life or experiences which seem stuck in Lent, may we too find strength and courage in the hope of resurrection.

In the bulb there is a flower;
in the seed, an apple tree;
in cocoons, a hidden promise:
butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter
there’s a spring that waits to be,
unrevealed until its season,
something God alone can see.

There’s a song in every silence,
seeking word and melody;
there’s a dawn in every darkness
bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future;
what it holds, a mystery,
unrevealed until its season,
something God alone can see.

In our end is our beginning;
in our time, infinity;
in our doubt there is believing;
in our life, eternity.
In our death, a resurrection;
at the last, a victory,
unrevealed until its season,
something God alone can see

Hymn by Natalie Sleeth, an American composer and hymn writer, Church Hymnary 4 #727

Our Tribe, breaking the bias

From Seeds March 2022

The next Our Tribe online gathering will be on Thursday 3 March, 7.30pm, where Carol will lead a session inspired by International Women’s Day. The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day (8 March 2022) is ‘Break the Bias’.

In Our Tribe, we’ll be considering some of the biases around what it means to be a woman. We’ll be looking at the horizontal oppression experienced by LGBT+ women from their own gender and deciding what a truly inclusive Bias-busting International Women’s Day might look like!

Lent Reflections

From Seeds March 2022

A range of opportunities are being made available to spend time in quiet reflection and discussion with
others during Lent.


St Columba’s by the Castle, one of AUC’s ecumenical partners, is going to be running a Lent course on the theme of pilgrimage (6, 13, 20 & 27 March; 3 & 10 April). It will be based around relatively local Scottish destinations, scripture and our own experiences of the journey.

The series is going to be on Zoom on Sunday nights, 7-8pm, and will be followed (for those who wish) by a short service of Compline.

We have been invited to join in. The Zoom details are available in AUC’s regular Friday email.


Junior Church is bringing an outdoor ‘Time for All Ages’ to our worship during Lent. Susan Murray explains. ‘This year in that time we are using material from “Sparkhouse” in which we journey from the Wilderness to a Garden, by building a garden from a tray of sand. The material is designed so families can do it over 12 stages as set out in 12 cards but we are adapting it somewhat.’


David Townsend is offering to run an online Lent Group using material produced by the Ignatian Spirituality Centre in Glasgow. David has done their training and would offer a weekly online group (probably early Sunday evenings starting 6 March) to share insights from the daily reflections, which are all available online.

Contact him direct at david.townsend@augustine.org.uk, or the church office, if you are interested.


For those currently joining David for the study on Julian of Norwich, the final session will take place on 7 March.

Following on from the Julian explorations, the group has discussed exploring The Divine Dance by Richard Rohr, beginning those sessions in May (16 May, continuing on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month).

As a ‘bridge’ between these two studies, David is offering a reflection on Rublev’s Icon of The Trinity on 4 April. Contact him direct at david.townsend@augustine.org.uk, or the church office, if you are interested in the Book Group or simply to attend the evening reflecting on Rublev’s icon.