St Mary’s welcomes new Priest-in-Charge
On Tuesday 8 th November, a number of people from around Orkney gathered at Stromness Town
Hall to welcome Revd. Brenda Dowie. She is the new Priest-in-charge at St Mary’s Episcopal Church,
There was a very real sense of welcoming Brenda home to the community, because she was brought
up in Stromness. After studying south, she taught at Papdale Primary in Kirkwall for five years during
which time, she was an active member of the Church of Scotland in Stromness. In 1983 with the
support of her church she left for Tanzania to be a missionary teacher at Canon Andrea Mwaka
School in Dodoma in the Diocese of Central Tanganyika, and it was at this time that she experienced
episcopal worship and liturgical services as a home coming.
On returning to the UK in 1988, she read theology at Trinity Bristol with a view of returning to
Tanzania. But God had other plans and, after selection and a year's further study, she was ordained
deacon in 1992 and then priest with the first of the first women in England in Bristol Cathedral on
March 12th, 1994.
After her curacy, her call and vocation has predominantly been in healthcare chaplaincy, particularly
specialising in the pastoral and spiritual care of those with life limiting diagnosis. She spent many
years as the lead chaplain at St Peters Hospice in Bristol and for this work she was made an honorary
canon of Bristol Cathedral 2002. In 2012 her only journey out of Bristol Diocese was to Gloucester
Diocese to a specialist chaplaincy end of life post at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. For her last post
she returned to Bristol Diocese, as she was appointed the lead for chaplaincy and bereavement
services at North Bristol NHS Trust, the largest hospital in the south west of England. She was also
the spiritual and pastoral care lead for Nightingale Bristol during the pandemic.
Brenda began contemplating and exploring coming home years ago. She had throughout all her time
away visited home every year and for a period three or four times a year. In January she decided the
time was right and she would retire at the end of July. Brenda thought about some part time work
but had no idea that St Mary’s was vacant and looking for a priest. However an introductory email
to Bishop Anne Dyer saw the hand of the God of surprises begin to unfold the process and eventual
appointment after interview to St Marys on May 11 th this year.
We at St Marys are very much looking forward to having Brenda working with us.