Advent door picture

On every day of Advent, from 1st to 24th December, there was a door, or a gate, hedge or railings, to visit in Wardie Parish where you could find part of the Christmas story and a poem or prayer.

Each part of the Christmas story had a letter on it that you could collect and rearrange to make a Christmas message!

Where were the doors?

Wednesday 1st December: Wardie Church, Netherby Road entrance

Thursday 2nd December: 12 Stirling Road

Friday 3rd December: 4 Primrose Bank Road

Saturday 4th December: 64 East Trinity Road

Sunday 5th December: Wardie Church, entrance to garden railings

Monday 6th December: 12 Afton Terrace

Tuesday 7th December: 21 Netherby Road

Wednesday 8th December: 21 Stirling Road

Thursday 9th December: 10 Russell Place

Friday 10th December: 33 Boswall Road

Saturday 11th December: 3 Wardie Dell

Sunday 12th December: Wardie Church, Netherby Road railings

Monday 13th December: 14 Netherby Road

Tuesday 14th December: 22 Lomond Road

Wednesday 15th December: 102 Netherby Road

Thursday 16th December: 35 Lomond Road

Friday 17th December: 1 East Lillypot

Saturday 18th December: 19 Denham Green Terrace

Sunday 19th December: Wardie Church Garden

Monday 20th December: 1 Bangholm View

Tuesday 21st December: 6 Primose Bank Road

Wednesday 22nd December: 30 Starbank Road

Thursday 23rd December: 102 Trinity Road

Friday 24th December: Wardie Church Main Entrance

Pictures of the doors below.


Our Sunday Services are at 10.30am every Sunday. Just come along – no need to book!

If you have a smartphone you will be asked to scan a QR code to register attendance. If you are unable to use the QR Code, just give your name and contact number to a member of the Welcome Team.

There’s no limit on the number of worshippers we’re allowed, but remember to wear a mask and space out sensibly.

Sunday Services are also offered online via Zoom, if you can’t come along in person.


Rev Dolly Purnell is our minister at Wardie Parish Church. Find out more about Dolly below!

A graduate of Aberdeen University, Rev Dolly Purnell moved in July 2021 to Wardie Parish church from Arbroath Old and Abbey where she spent seven happy years.

Prior to that she was Minister at Kingswells Church to the west of Aberdeen where she was heavily involved in the schools and the community.

Dolly is married to Neil and they have two adult sons, a fabulous daughter-in-law, two grandchildren and a cocker spaniel called Pip. Dolly and Neil were married in Edinburgh over 40 years ago and, though somewhat surprised, are delighted to be back in Neil’s home town.

Pip in the manse garden

When she is not at the church you might find Dolly in the swimming pool or the coffee shop but she is just as likely to be in the church garden or on a street corner listening and talking to those who cross her path.

Dolly and Neil are looking forward to working with the congregation at Wardie and in the wider community as they seek to serve God where he has placed them.

The blessing screenshot

At this unique and challenging time in the United Kingdom over 65 churches and movements, representing hundreds of others, have come together online to sing a blessing over our land. Standing together as one, our desire is that this song will fill you with hope and encourage you. But the church is not simply singing a blessing, each day we’re looking to practically be a blessing. Many of the churches included in this song have assisted with supplying over 400,000 meals to the most vulnerable and isolated in our nation since COVID-19 lockdown began. This alongside phone calls to the isolated, pharmacy delivery drops and hot meals to the NHS frontline hospital staff.

Our buildings may be closed but the church is very much alive!

Listen to the UK Blessing here.


During lockdown we produced a weekly Sunday Service that you can read, which included a sermon, prayers and hymns. Catch up with our written services below.


Sunday 27th June

Sunday 20th June

Sunday 6th June

Sunday 30th May

On Sunday 23rd May 2021, Rev Dolly Purnell conducted worship as Sole Nominee. Access the audio version of this service.

Sunday 16th May

Sunday 9th May

Sunday 2nd May

Sunday 25th April

Sunday 18th April

Sunday 11th April

Easter Sunday, 4th April

Sunday 28th March

Sunday 21st March

Sunday 14th March

Sunday 7th March

Sunday 28th February

Sunday 21st February

Sunday 14th February

Sunday 7th February

Sunday 31st January

Sunday 24th January

Sunday 17th January

Sunday 10th January

Sunday 3rd January


Sunday 13th December

Sunday 6th December

Sunday 29th November

Sunday 22nd November

Sunday 15th November

Sunday 8th November

Sunday 1st November

Sunday 25th October

Sunday 18th October

Sunday 11th October

Sunday 4th October

Sunday 27th September

Sunday 20th September

Sunday 13th September

Sunday 6th September

Sunday 30th August

Sunday 23rd August

Sunday 16th August

Sunday 9th August

Sunday 2nd August

Sunday 26th July

Sunday 19th July

Sunday 12th July

Sunday 5th July

Sunday 28th June

Sunday 21st June

Sunday 14th June

Sunday 7th June

Sunday 24th May

Sunday 17th May

Sunday 10th May

Sunday 3rd May

Sunday 26th April

Sunday 19th April

Sunday 12th April (Easter Sunday)

Sunday 5th April

Sunday 29th March


Dietrich Bonhoeffer Ute letter Twitter

Dear Friends at Wardie Parish Church,

Many apologies for not writing earlier to you. It seems like a very long time ago since we left Wardie. The world we live in has changed dramatically in the space of only three months or so. When we left, we did so with the promise to keep in touch and to build bridges to the continent. What better time than a time of crisis to reassure each other that we are one in prayer, in faith, in hope.

Firstly, Kenneth and I would like to thank you all again for your very generous parting gifts, your extremely kind words and farewell. The love and hospitality you have shown us helped us on our way down South on a very dreich Friday morning. Once we had crossed the tunnel by train early next morning, we took the opportunity to go for a long walk along the beach of Bray-Dunes near the Belgian border. The tide was low as we walked towards Dunkirk. It felt strange just after having left Britain to arrive in a place where so many British people lost their lives to free Europe from the horrors of the totalitarian, racist, antisemitic state Germany had become under Hitler. We didn’t stop again until we arrived at my mum’s where we stayed overnight. The car did well but when we arrived the next day at the new Manse, it refused to budge again. Our first purchase in Germany was a new battery!

We are very lucky to live only 3 minutes’ walk away from the Black Forest. Baden-Baden is nestled along a valley by the river Oos. We both immediately started work in our new parishes – Kenneth in the Luthergemeinde Lichtental, I am ministering in the Paulusgemeinde Baden-Baden. Our offices are only 20 minutes away by bike, 10 min by car. In Germany, elders are elected for a period of six years and not ordained, but inducted. The last election took place last December so that I have a new team of six(!) elders. This is the number given to a congregation of just under 2000 members. Due to a long vacancy, church attendance is very low, between 20–30 people each Sunday. However, there is a very active youth group (around 12–15 young people, similar to Network) and the same is true for the young people preparing for confirmation. There is also a small team in charge of Sunday services for children which take place every so often. There is a lot of work to be done, but there is also a lot of potential and very enthusiastic people. I keep mentioning here all the great work that takes place at Wardie! We could certainly do with a visit from the gardening group as there is a huge meadow right beside the church halls.  They are situated below the sanctuary which is built on a slope.  The church itself is very modern, it just had a very expensive renovation completed on the outside. The concrete had been crumbling. It is a listed building with a very tall – separate – bell tower and five(!) bells as well as beautiful stained glass windows. Thankfully no need to restore them (no secondary glazing). Only the worshippers are still missing.

Wardie Walkers would love the beautiful walks in the Black Forest, too. As soon as you enter the forest, you are immersed in bird song.

I have been told that the members of the congregation like to celebrate a lot and it is true. We had a number of special services this year when good wine and food were served. The recent Lenten Faith studies always began with a meal. Sadly, with all the restrictions placed on us due to the coronavirus, we will have to wait for some time before we can celebrate again.

Kenneth and I were lucky as our ministerial colleagues stood in for us in late January and early February so that we were able to visit our daughter Tamsin in Australia. It seemed a good idea at the time to go before all the church committees on local and presbytery level start back, before the busy time of Lent, Holy Week, Easter vigil and Easter Day. Little did we know at the time that the coronavirus would force churches to cancel all the services (since 16th March). It is especially hard on our young people as they usually organise a sleepover on the night leading up to Easter Day. The special Easter vigil service begins usually on the Saturday of Holy Week at 8.30pm outside the RC Church, where both congregations light their Easter candles in a joint service. This year, we had to cancel everything just as you do at Wardie. But this is not the end of the church. Instead, we are looking for new ways of being church and of worshipping and serving God. Every evening, churches in every town and village in Germany ring their bells, inviting people to join in evening prayers at home.

You will have heard in the news that people are encouraged to observe social distancing. Not more than two people are allowed to meet outside and only if they keep 2 metres’ distance. Shops other than food stores were closed earlier than in Scotland. For 10 days, every day we were faced with new restrictions. We have a huge collection of signs for each new regulation. We are still allowed to keep our churches open for people to come and pray. However, we have to put up signs that visitors must keep a distance of 2 metres and observe the usual hygienic rules.  On the whole, people here are very sensible with the exception of some older people who at first played the severity of the health risk down and felt that they should shake hands (that is how we greet each other in Germany) or even hug, whereas out of care for each other we really need to refrain from doing so for some time.

Of course, one of the major questions here is how to ensure that no one feels lonely or cut off from the community. Within a short time, two people in the congregation agreed to set up an outreach group. It’s called “Paul is helping” as the congregation is named after St. Paul. I have just been served a letter which allows me to go places as part of my work. The restrictions are not as severe as in Britain. People are still encouraged to get plenty of exercise in the fresh air and to take their bike when the go to work or shopping. There is no limit to the times you can go out, but no more than two people of the same household should walk together. Thankfully we have had very sunny spells. Temperatures vary greatly from frosty nights to 19–21 degrees, before dropping again. The climate is very erratic. Climate change clearly is here.

People who engage in helping others are also allowed to go outside. The police only disperses groups of people, but does not stop people as we see on the British news. Of course, nothing keeps us from being in touch with each other by phone, mail or via the website. I’ve had a steep learning curve familiarising myself with the webpage and learning how to upload YouTube videos. Now a small number of parishioners is producing videos to keep in touch with families and children, mostly games or storytelling so far or how to bake banana bread. They will be posted over the coming weeks.

Our young confirmands have been registered for an app which allows the group to stay in touch. It also provides them with input and tasks to prepare for their confirmation. Sadly, this had to be moved from May to October. It is a big feast here with families putting on big celebrations either at home or at a restaurant. Baptisms had to be cancelled, too. They can take place in an emergency, but with no more than five people attending. We don’t expect things to return to normal for some time. However, pupils in their final year have been asked to prepare for their final school exams on 18th May. It is a difficult time for them and for all the people who have been put out of work. Thankfully the German government is stepping in financially, but just like in Britain, there is much uncertainty over how long the crisis will last. There is certainly no monitoring going on via mobile phones; the idea had been put forward but there has been an immediate outcry as it cannot be reconciled with data protection and civil rights. The suggestion is to create a corona-app which people can download voluntarily.

The medical system seems to cope well, whereas the situation in nearby Alsace (15 minutes’ drive by car) is heartbreaking. There usually is much coming and going. Many French people work in Germany and vice versa. All this had to stop to keep the virus from spreading. Germany now has taken in Covid-19 patients from France and Italy.

There are several patients here in Baden-Baden and sadly we had the first death. Funerals can no longer take place inside chapels (most cemeteries have their own chapels), but only outside and with no more than 10 people attending including the minister. This is very difficult as it puts grieving families into a position of deciding who can and who cannot attend the funeral. Now we are given the task of channelling our energies into finding new ways of weeping with those who weep. It is as though we are moving forward in hope, trusting that God will guide us step by step. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said: “I believe that God will give us all the strength we need to help us to resist in all time of distress. But he never gives it in advance, lest we should rely on ourselves and not on him alone.”

Our daughter is still in Australia, it is a very stressful time but she is in good spirits picking jujube fruit at present.  Our son still leaves in Edinburgh, he was due to visit us last week, but his flight was cancelled with the offer to rebook anytime before 30th December. Let’s hope that the restrictions will have ceased to be necessary long before then.

I wonder how you are all coping with the quarantine – especially those of you who have been unstoppable so far. It will be a real challenge and worry to many of you, having to stay inside. At least, I hope you do.

I started with apologies and now I close having written rather a lot.

Kenneth and I think of you often. We hope that before too long, we will be able to meet up again. Until then, may God keep you safe in his great love.

Kenneth & Ute

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Mothering Sunday

A mother’s letter to her son on the occasion of his wedding

I am standing in my mother-of-the-groom shoes in the kitchen. Ever practical, I am practising balancing. And as I am a woman – I am multitasking. I am ironing. And mentally running through a check list of preparations. Taking a group of 19 – including three octogenarians – to a land where none of us can speak the language and only I can read the alphabet is not without its challenges. As my mother has helpfully pointed out.

Unbidden, a question springs into the list. What will I say to you in the card I have bought – the one that’s just between you and me.

“So here we are” – is what my father said to me on the way to church “giving me away” all those years ago. Back last century. No emojis or emoticons to help show people how he was feeling.

He didn’t take our conversation further – I was too excited to pay attention and too young to recognise the emotional journey he was travelling on inside the limousine. This day was, after all, all about me. We arrived at the church in the pouring rain. He got out with an umbrella and opened the door. Quietly. Without fuss.

But standing here now I can feel the resonance of his words. So here we are. I feel the shift that is about to happen in our relationship. The fear of loss. The need to let you go a little bit more.

I’ve just finished ironing a shirt. (The irony is not lost on me – your Papa would instantly say if I was telling him this. And that makes me laugh out loud. He has a wry wit. A clever way with words of that kind.)

I look down at it. Smooth it with my fingers. It is the shirt that you are going to wear for your wedding. I am permitted to be your wardrobe mistress one last time.

I’ve ironed a few of your clothes in my time. I was one of a fifth generation of mothers who carefully ironed the Victorian robe you were baptised in at Wardie Church.

I ironed the shirt for your first day at school, the ones you wore to sit your exams, to pass your driving test. Probably the T-shirt you wore the day we dropped you off at University. Where we unpacked the car loaded with your new life – including photos I had made into an album. reminders of home, to send a bit of me with you.

“Mum – how embarrassing,” you had said.

I don’t want to let you go without me I was silently saying. I don’t think you heard.

The ironing is a part of the love I have always tried to wrap you in. Tough love too. I didn’t always use fabric softener when you rebelled against that starched collar of school. Sometimes if the pile of ironing was bursting out the cupboard the result may have been rough and ready. But whatever time of day, whatever the weather. I plugged the iron in and set to.

Today in the surprising unseasonal heat of a Scottish July, I have turned up the steam. I have taken extra care to press and fold it perfectly.

I stand back and survey my work.

More questions appear. So what happens to me now? When you don’t need me? Who am I? What am I for?

All mothers ask these questions I expect. As our children reach adulthood we have to adjust. Make room. Accept your independence and embrace the choices you make. Even the ones we don’t understand.

No helicopter parenting, as you flew from the nest. Instead I shouted encouragement cheerfully. Listened more than I spoke. Travelled beside you at a discreet distance. But ready to catch you if you need me to.

You are a man now. Taller, and stronger than me with your own voice, your own talents. It is awesome to have watched you unfold to your full potential. In your prime. Like an archangel I once saw painted by Raphael – burning bright. Yet inside this grown man I will always see the little boy that captured my heart the moment I saw your face.

I have taught you to iron your own shirts. But you have taught me things too – helped me find what I am still for. Cared enough to support me with the pain of letting you and then your brothers go.

I am proud of you. So proud of what you have achieved. You have done things I could not have imagined.

Most of them were good. Those that were not we can forget about. But not before they come up in the best man’s speech perhaps! Your partner in crime. He knows them all. You can cope with that though. You will take it on the chin. And return the favour at his wedding.

So – now that we have navigated this transition to our relationship of equals – adult to adult. It’s time for the ultimate test.

It’s time to hand on care of your precious heart to another. The one you have chosen to give it to.

Fathers and daughters. Mothers and sons. They enjoy a special love. But as so often – with something this beautiful – there is a price. There comes a time we have to share it with others to let it flourish. Time to move into the shadow and let your wife stand beside you – both of you burning brightly.

God gave me the gift of you to fill my heart. But he also gave me the gift of Mary’s son. When the nails on the cross pierced her heart it did not perish but opened to accept and love the world. And so neither will mine.

Because I have been given the key to open it as wide as I wish.

And as I have been so lucky – blessed with a full heart. Mother to four sons – it will have to be really big. To hold you all and the people you choose to share your life with. Within it. Whoever and wherever they are.

So next week beside a lake in a foreign land – wearing these shoes and the most fabulous hat, in front of family and friends, old and new – I will open my heart and invite you both in together.

And if my voice cracks just a little when I read of you putting away childish things I hope you are not embarrassed. But know instead that I wish you both faith, hope and love – a love to endure all things.

Now back to that list. I’ve got to iron shirts for your three brothers yet – and your father too. And my feet are killing me.

Judith Morrison


Reflection for Mothering Sunday from Rev. Robert Gemmell, Locum Minister

The sharing of joy and thanksgiving this Mothering Sunday will for most be limited and restrictive due to the difficult situation that surrounds us. Our daughter has already apologised but made it clear that her usual invitation to lunch will be on hold. She did however promise to come across with a present for her mum – but it will be delivered from a safe distance. I expect many of you will find yourselves in a similar situation.

You will recall that here at Wardie in these weeks of Lent we have been focussing on people and events of the Passion. We’ve so far looked at the Anointing of our Lord, Judas and Peter and we now turn our attention on Mothering Sunday to Mary, the mother of Jesus.

I wonder what pictures we have in our minds when we think about Mary. There’s the Mary of our Christmas cards. She is the central figure in many works of art. And she is also a highly significant figure in the history of the Church, particularly the Roman Catholic Church. She has been venerated and prayed to.

We aren’t told much about Mary in the Scriptures but she is certainly in a unique position among all the players in the Gospel narrative because she is there at the very beginning and she is there at the end.  An angel announced to her that she would become pregnant and have a son. The details of what happened up to her giving birth in a stable in the village of Bethlehem are well known to all of us.  Mary however must have been gripped by terror when the family had to flee to the strange land of Egypt as refugees. And how must she have felt when she discovered that the birth of her son had resulted in the death of so many other little boys?

The only other story we have in Scripture about Jesus’ childhood is when his parents couldn’t find him as they returned from their visit to Jerusalem. An incident with which I am sure those of us who are parents can identify.

If we had been meeting together in Church the passages I would have chosen to be read are both from John’s Gospel:  John 2: 1–12  and 19: 25–27 – passages that don’t appear in any other Gospel. I encourage you to read them along with this reflection.

In our first passage – concerning the wedding at Cana where Jesus performed his first sign – Mary had a significant role to play.  She tells Jesus that the wine has run out. Again a familiar narrative to all of us. Is her statement simply referring to the lack of refreshment at the wedding feast – or do her words have a deeper meaning? Is she referring to the real thirst experienced by the people which can only be quenched by the coming of the Messiah, God’s Son? We don’t know.

There must have been many such episodes in Mary’s life when she wondered just what was happening.

And then we turn to the second of our readings. It is just a couple of verses but how poignant it is. We find Mary at the foot of the cross. How often have we as parents, grandparents feared for the safety of members of our immediate or extended family? A relative has gone off to do a dangerous job, or has gone off to war. I well remember my nephew’s time spent in war-torn Afghanistan.  But somehow there seems to be something even worse, if that is possible, about standing at the foot of a cross watching your son hang there dying in agony.

In these couple of verses Jesus is hanging on the cross and Mary and the beloved disciple are standing there. What a different picture this gives us of Mary. She is no longer a pious submissive figure. She is now weeping and grieving the death of her child. The death of a child always feels wrong and unnatural. She must have doubted whether things were really meant to turn out like this.

Jesus however speaks to his mother from the cross and he also speaks to the beloved disciple and puts them in each other’s care. This coming together represents the beginning of the new people of God, the household of love. The mother of Jesus becomes the mother of the beloved disciple and he becomes her son and shows love towards her by receiving her into his home.

In this time of Lent Mary gives us food for thought on the question of discipleship. She reminds us of the importance in faith of waiting. She didn’t immediately understand the truth about her son but she knew implicitly that there was more to him than met the eye. Throughout his years of ministry I think she was waiting through all the fear and hard times for illumination about her son and I believe that came at the cross when she understood the identity of her son. And surely the same is true for us. It is at the foot of the cross as we contemplate Jesus’ passion that our quest for understanding reaches its goal.

I think the exchange between Jesus and his mother is one of the most poignant exchanges in the Bible. Here, as he was dying, Jesus made sure his mother would be cared for. Was he repaying her for her years of care and devotion?  I like to think so.

Mary didn’t always understand him and there must have been times when she was infuriated by him but she loved him with all the fervour of a mother’s love.  And after he was gone she stayed among his friends, praying and hoping and remaining faithful.

In Mary God had chosen well.


Read our written service for Sunday 29th March 2020