Encountering Beauty, Diversity and Community at SCM’s Scotland Gathering 2016

So two weekends ago I went to my first ever SCM event – the Scotland Gathering in Glasgow. I’ve been a member of the SCM Facebook group for a while, but this was my chance to take the plunge and join in properly – and I loved it!

As soon as I arrived I knew I was in for a good time. Everyone was so welcoming, friendly, and accommodating to my support needs which really made me feel at home. I was lucky enough to be on the panel about faith and creativity on Saturday morning, so almost immediately I was pushed out of my cosy shy comfort zone in order to speak up in front of everyone – but I had such a great time listening to the other panellists and answering questions.

I knew going in that my subject matter was a little more ‘boring’ than the others – sewing and card making, as opposed to music, poetry and academia – but I actually think we all complimented each other really well, and some of the points I made seemed to really resonate with others which felt wonderful. I talked about how using creativity to benefit others – making cards or gifts, for example – can be an extremely accessible form of service for disabled people. I also mentioned that for me and my busy overactive brain, cross-stitching is a wonderful way to keep my ‘doing’ thoughts occupied so I can pray or contemplate in peace. I was so anxious about the panel but it turned out to be one of my favourite parts of the weekend – seeing myself being quoted on Twitter was a pretty good boost!

I had to miss a few of the workshops and talks due to much-needed naps, but everything I managed to attend was exceptional. The Unity dinner in particular was a really heart-warming evening (with excellent pizza), and I had so much fun making my pink and moonstone rosary with Caitlin! I really think the stand out points for me though were the worship sessions – as a fairly recent baptised Christian, I’ve pretty much only encountered Anglican services. So the opportunity to try out other types of worship was absolutely amazing, and I was moved to tears during both the Salt & Light morning worship led by Debbie and the Taizé evening worship with Gemma; they were both so beautiful and so different. Even on the Sunday, the service at Wellington Church was again really different but equally as interesting and moving. Over the whole weekend I loved seeing how different people are called to worship God in their own individual ways.

One of the things I really appreciated was how different organisations were part of the weekend too – how well the Wellington staff co-ordinated with SCM (thanks Lizy and Debbie!), the workshop by the Ignatian Spirituality Centre, and the talk by the International Welcome Committee. It really solidified what a community-driven project it was, and how we were (and are!) all joined together by our love for God and our desire to help each other explore and deepen our faith.

I had such a fantastic time. It was a long journey from Dundee with my huge suitcase, but it was so worth it. I think I’ll definitely be taking a much bigger part in SCM from now on – I only wish I’d started sooner!

Written by Emily Wheeler, an SCM member based in Dundee and a graduate from the University of Glasgow.