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April 2003
In these forty days you lead us into the desert of repentance
 that through a pilgrimage of prayer and discipline
we may grow in grace and learn to be your people once again.
Through fasting, prayer and acts of service
you bring us back to your generous heart.
Through study of your holy word
 you open our eyes to your presence in the world
 and free our hands to welcome others
 into the radiant splendour of your love.
As we prepare to celebrate the Easter feast
with joyful hearts and minds we bless you for your mercy
and join with saints and angels for ever praising you and saying,

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

From the Ministry Team 

‘Why does the Gospel say God has taken away the sins of the world when there is more sin than ever?’ This was perhaps the most important question raised at our ‘Question and Answer Session’ in St. Faith’ on 16th February. It‘s a pity that the question came up last of all, and that Jackie Parry (who had a carefully prepared response ready) didn‘t have the time to reply in detail. For the question is crucial and we should try to spend some time on it, especially as we prepare for Easter. This is, after all, the season of penitence and reflection.

To start with, what is ‘sin’?  It’s an over-worked and ill-used word. Put simply, sin is a falling short from what our Creator intended us to be, a falling short from our full potential as human beings, and a falling short from what we could contribute to a more loving, just and peaceful world. Partly our sin is caused by self-interest and partly, it must be admitted, by a perverse desire to do harm. But often it just seems to emerge from the general mess of life: there is a sort of Murphy’s law which makes us fall short even when we have the best of intentions. We may have eaten from the Tree of Knowledge but we are not ‘like gods’. The very gift of consciousness, of self knowledge and self will, means that we can choose to head off in the wrong direction. And it is what follows that constitutes the real human tragedy. For our fallen nature, what we are and what we do, can sour or even destroy what is most precious to us as human beings: our relationships. Because of our ‘sin’ and the harm it does, we find it painfully difficult to draw close to God and to our neighbour. Because of sin, love becomes stunted and withered.

In Lent, and especially during Holy Week and Easter, we discover that our Lord himself is the ‘answer’ to this impossible human dilemma. May I suggest three ways in which Christ‘s life and death really have made a ‘difference’ to sin?

First, we can now be in no doubt about what is required of us as human   beings. We are certainly not expected to keep a whole lot of rules of behaviour that are impossibly hard for us. We are called instead to follow Jesus and to share in His sort of humanity, the humanity which gives itself willingly and unconditionally to God and to the needs of the world.

Secondly, although we will continue to sin, Jesus has shown us that in Him all the consequences of sin, all the broken relationships, can be reconciled. For in the person of Jesus his Son, God has reached down and united our fallen nature with his own divine nature, by taking up our humanity into the Godhead. By no virtue of our own, but solely through his costly love, God offers to share his very godliness with the likes of you and me. The scale of God’s forgiveness and humility is breathtaking.

And finally the proof of God‘s promises lie within the events of the Crucifixion and Resurrection. There may be no end to sin. But in our Lord’s Passion God shares all the hatred and the pain and the wickedness with us. And in the Resurrection God shows us that He has the ultimate power to redeem and put right all this mess in the context of eternity. He has the power to restore all our broken relationships and to make all things new.
But relationships are two-sided. What makes redemption real for me is that we are offered a choice. As Christians we accept our sinful nature, but we also recognise our hunger for God, and our longing for reconciliation with Him and with our neighbour. All that is necessary for that reconciliation is that we should, somewhere deep down, want to be reconciled. How God accomplishes that seeming impossibility we see re-enacted every year in the events of  Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Day.

Share in the drama of Holy Week and the answer to ‘sin’ will unfold.

                                                                                Fred Nye

Notice Board

Monday 28th April
Feast of S. George Patron of England (transferred from Easter Week)
7.30pm Sung Eucharist  followed by wine and Annual Parochial Church Meeting

Nothing is ever far away....

There will be an open meeting on Monday 1st May at 8pm to make plans for the Autumn Bazaar and Auction. All are welcome. Come along with your suggestions and ideas. New people particularly welcome  please don‘t leave it to the same people each year.  We need  fresh ideas  and fresh offers of help,

Sunday 4th May at 6pm
May Devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary
Festal Evensong, Procession and Benediction Preacher: Fr. Gregor Cuff  (Vicar, S. John’s & Christ Church, Waterloo) followed by refreshments

Fr Dennis

We are delighted to be able to report, at the time of going to press (as they say) that Fr Dennis's hip operation has successfully taken place. His surgeon at Wrightington Hospital is pleased with the outcome, and Dennis is looking forward to a lesiurely period of convalescence in the tender care of the nuns at Ince Blundell. Here he will catch up on his back reading, watch the unfolding saga of ‘Coronation Street’ and, doubtless, consume the odd morsel of tempting food. We wish him well and look forward to him striding painlessly up the aisle at St Faith‘s before too long.

‘The Church may be lost, but save our churches’    Chris Price

Regular readers may welcome a change from extracts from the Telegraph this month, courtesy of GEOFF MOSS, we focus on a recent article by Simon Jenkins in the Times. It marks the enthronement of Archbishop Rowan Williams by declaring the effective death of the C. of E. through falling numbers and failing finances, and suggests a bold strategy for the future - though not one to give any comfort to those of us still sheltering under the Anglican Umbrella.

It is a lengthy and detailed piece, and a few extracts must suffice to give the flavour. Jenkins begins by listing such splendidly archaic heraldic characters as the Searcher of the Sanctuary, Bailiff of Egle, Grand Carver, Cock o‘ the North, Gentilhuomo of the Cardinal (not sure I want to meet him!), Slains Pursuivant and, of course, Black Rod. To this list of colourful but meaningless characters, Jenkins thinks, the title of Archbishop of Canterbury may soon need to be added. Despite owning more territory than the monarch, the army or even Network Rail, ‘his plight is desperate’.

‘If he is as brave as he seems wise,’ says Jenkins, he must immediately propose to disestablish his Church, abolish its diocesan bureaucracy and promise parish sovereignty. ‘therwise his post will soon join Grand Carver and Gold Stick.’ Jenkins castigates the Anglican Church as being ‘over-centralised, overwrought and losing market share’. We now have fewer than a million Sunday worshippers, one third the  size of the National Trust. We have lost 30% in 20 years and are still declining fast. Although Roman Catholics are also in decline, they have more worshippers than us and can thus claim (says Jenkins!) to be the national church. A damning further statistic records that children in our Church have fallen in number from 223,000 in 1991 to a mere 80,000 today. ‘This is hopeless,’ says Jenkins - and you can see his point.

Turning to finance, Jenkins grimly spells out the problem, with a scathing indictment of central church management over recent years. The figures are too complex to permit of easy summary here: but the conclusion is that, in the face of spiralling costs and ‘dud investments’ (yes, I remember those!) the last Archbishop responded by calling for yet more bureaucracy. ‘The only thing the Church of England can now delegate is debt.’

‘A foreign observer of English Christianity would be astonished at the beauty of its buildings and at the fact that so few Christians use them,’ says Jenkins. The demise of the parish church leaves a hole in the heart of communities, he goes on to argue. Anglicans have the land, the buildings and the legal status, yet they throw out schemes to unite with the Methodists and fail to share with local (Roman) Catholics churches originally designed for Catholic worship. ‘Anglicanism seems to want to fail,’ is his gloomy conclusion.

Dr Williams, Simon Jenkins thinks, knows all about this, having seen Welsh nonconformity withering away by ‘refusing to cohabit’. The only growth points in the C. of E.,  he believes are churches where crowds are drawn to talented priests, ‘whether they are Anglo-Catholics, charismatics or so-called ‘livelies’, such as those involved in the Alpha Course. Go to an Anglican service today and you will find anything from crypto-Catholics to rampant holy-rollers.’

Jenkins sees one answer in the ‘congregationalism’ of the current revival of churchgoing in America.  ‘Megachurches’ there cater for all tastes and pull in up to 10,000 worshippers on Sundays. ‘Above all, in suburbs across America, their buildings are a focus of community life. The Church of England has not achieved this in three centuries.’

Postulating a disestablished future C of E, Jenkins can see a role for a spokesman-Archbishop, but it will need bishops and bureaucrats ‘like a hole in the pocket.’ He sees no point now in having dioceses, nor in the costly extravagance of bishops. ‘As congregations are increasingly having to pay their pipers, they will want to call their tunes.’  The way forward for him is clear. Cathedrals are now cultural attractions: if they want bishops and their attendant clergy, they can pay for them, but the parishes shouldn‘t have to. Episcopacy has had its day: what funds the church has to spare should be distributed to parishes and clergy, not to offices and committees.

In his peroration, Jenkins warms up further. ‘There is no greater window of opportunity for a new boss than when the firm faces bankruptcy.’ Dr Williams must dismantle Establishment. ‘He cannot force the nation to pray together — but he can at least encourage all Christians to use the same roof, to pool their resources in one House of God. He can lead them to enjoy the greatest creation of English Christianity, its now desperate parish churches. If Dr Williams cannot revive the Church of England, he can at least revive the churches of England. On that crusade the Archbishop should blow his £4.4 billion (of church capital), and then wind up the fund.’

Naught  for your  comfort  here,  then,  if you are a bishop  or a  Church House bureaucrat. But plenty of food for thought, and some most telling arguments, which are hard indeed to counter. We are getting smaller. We are finding it harder to meet rising costs or staff our  parishes. Many of our churches are facing desperate hardship and the very real fear of closure. Is the answer getting rid of bishops and all they stand for? It would be great not to have to pay the quota (going up steeply yet again at present!) but could we (not to mention St Mary’s) meet the whole cost of paying the clergy, the heating bill, the insurance, the vicarage and still support Medic Malawi and the endless famines and crises of the world? There are no easy answers, and Simon Jenkins is in some places guilty of over-simplification and journalistic sensationalism. But if things are as bad as he says (and if they aren’t, they probably soon will be) it could well be that some drastic measures will need to be taken if our Church is not to become a costly introspective huddle, remote from its communities and incapable of mission. Has Rowan Williams been offered a poisoned chalice?

Now There’s a Thing...

This article, reprinted from Focus, the magazine of St Mary the Virgin, Davyhulme, has appeared before, but is well worth another airing and provides food for thought.

If we could shrink the earth’s population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like the following. There would be in the Global Village:

57 Europeans, 21 Asians, 8 Africans
14 from the Western Hemisphere, both North and South
52 would be female, 48 would be male
70 would be non-white, 3o would be white
70 would be non-Christian, 30 would be Christian
89 would be heterosexual, 11 would be homosexual
6 people would possess 59% of the entire world’s wealth ...
...and all 6 would be from the United States
80 would live in sub-standard housing
70 would be unable to read
50 would suffer from malnutrition
1 would be near death, 1 would be near birth
1 (just one) would have a college education, and 1 would own a computer.

If I Were Twelve   Aidan Clarke

If I were twelve again today
What would I think? What would I say?
Could I stand up against the mugs
Who try to wreck my life through drugs?

What would it take for me to twig
That cigarettes won‘t make me big?
If told to take an honest road,
Would I just laugh or else explode?

Would I be strong enough to say
I want to work as well as play?
Would I join in when others mock
And hurt the weak through vicious talk?

Which of you would be my friend
And stand beside me to the end?
And could I be a friend to you
And give you help in what you do?

If I were twelve again today
How would I ever come to pray?
Who would I love? Would it be odd
To try and find a faith in God?

What would I do with all my fears?
How keep hidden all my tears?
How would I cope with being alone?
How would I speak without a phone?

So I and those like me now grey
Who want to find a better way
All need the world to learn to pray
For those who still are twelve today.

Sermon preached by Fr. Neil on Ash Wednesday

Some of you may have seen the programme on BBC2 each Tuesday night: ‘A Country Parish’. A young priest is taking on a United Benefice with not two but three churches and a parish with all the hunting, shooting and fishing brigade. Doubt whether any of them have every heard of the Labour Party (some might say that’s a good thing!!) and most of them seem wedded to the BCP (don’t worry if you’ve never heard of it). They certainly don‘t want to move out of the 17th Century.

It really is the church at its best (!). The said Vicar organised a special service and had the children involved. Sadly the noise of the children didn‘t go down too well. The sound of life in church is obviously something they don‘t want. But never fear — help is at hand. The wardens take him off for a friendly walk and chat and offer their advice on how the parish really ought to be run.

At first I felt sorry for this man. Now I think he deserves everything he gets: after all, who in their right mind would go to a parish with such ghastly people? Serves him right!

It‘s always fascinating seeing how the church is portrayed. Another wonderful example of this is Alan Bennett’Come to my heart, Lord Jesus. There is room in my heart for thee.‘

No-one is ever beyond the reach of God. No matter how many daft things we have thought, said or done, we are never very far away from God‘s loving mercy. The readings, hymns and prayers we use in Lent cry out with this over-riding theme of reconciliation. Have we room in our hearts for Christ Jesus?

What‘s your Lenten discipline going to be? Anything or nothing? Perhaps begin the day with prayer? Perhaps attend some extra service each week? Let me suggest something.  End the day with a review. On a piece of paper have two columns; in one list each day the good things you’ve done, thought or said. In the other the not-so-good thoughts, words or deeds. I wonder by Easter which would be the longest column?

Lent is not an occasion in itself, as if the church were imposing some period of gloom on us just for the sake if it. The demands of Lent bring us to Holy Week and a journey which ends with the glory and splendour of the resurrection. A reminder that sins are forgiven, life transformed, everything  made new. With that in mind we can begin today a proper ‘celebration’ of Lent.

But we have to face the hard reality: if we were to turn to dust and ashes tomorrow, if our life suddenly ended, would there be unfinished business? Are we ready to meet our maker? Are we reconciled with those around us? Are there people we need to apologise to? Are there people needing your forgiveness but you are withholding it? Why put off until tomorrow what you can do today? The ashes remind us that tomorrow never really existed. ‘Now is the day of salvation’, says S. Paul. O Come to my broken heart, Lord Jesus. There is room in my heart for thee ...  or is there?

There’s only one way to find perfect peace, and the message of the Cross is that pain and suffering are the only ways to peace and reconciliation. The pain of letting ourselves become vulnerable. The pain of risking rejection; the pain of loving, the pain of losing, the pain of having to trust in God and not relying on our own strength. The pain of believing we really are worth loving. There are no short-cuts — but God’s love and forgiveness are unconditional. The strange thing is that we can turn our back on God time after time after time and still he won’t stop loving us.

The reading appointed for Evening Prayer tonight was the story of the Prodigal Son. It‘s a wonderful story and the great thing is, it‘s a story about you and a story about me. We are given gifts and talents from God. But we don‘t always treasure them or use them well. We misuse and abuse what we have been given. We can run off looking for love, affirmation, status and fulfilment in all the wrong places. So much so that it‘s only when we have lost everything (in worldly terms) that we realise the lasting treasure we have. Though miles away from perfection, the prodigal child realised that ultimately lasting happiness was to be found at home. The Father was ready to forgive, embrace and restore. Henri Nouwen in his book ‘The Return of the Prodigal Son’ writes: ‘The Father’s love does not force itself on the beloved. Although he wants to heal us of all our inner darkness, we are still free to make our own choice to stay in the darkness or to step into the light of God’s love. God is there. God’s light is there. God’s forgiveness is there. God’s boundless love is there.’

Yes we are dust. Yes we are sinful. Yes we need to try to do better. Yes God is there just waiting for us to take the first step towards him. To come home. Are we prepared to do just that in this season of Lent?

Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return. Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ.

Let the words we finish with tonight be our prayer during these forty days: ?O come to my heart, Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for thee.‘

Saturday Open Days and Lunchtime Concerts 2003

Mike Broom has put together a varied and exciting programme of recitals beginning after Easter. The support for these recitals grows year by year and it is good to see many new faces coming along ™ it‘s certainly the place to be on a Saturday lunchtime! If you are able to help with the catering please see the list at the back of Church.

April 26th Stephen Hargreaves (Organ)
May 3rd  Neil Preston (Classical Guitar)
May 10th April Johnson (Violin) and Friends
May 17th Tayo Aluka (Bass)
May 24th James Firth (Piano)
May 31st Iain Harvey (Organ)
June 7th  Michael Broom (Baritone) and James Firth (Piano)
June 14th Michael Foy (Organ)
June 21st Gerard Callacher (Piano)
June 28th Colin Porter (Organ)
July 5th  Ranee Seneviratne (Soprano) and Gerard Callacher (Piano)
July 12th Derek Sadler (Organ)
July 19th Judith Barker (Contralto) and Derek Sadler (Piano)
July 26th John Knight (Organ)
August 2nd Ian Dunning (Baritone) and Derek Sadler (Piano)
August 9th Gregor Cuff (Cello) and Neil Kelley (Piano)
August 16th Pat Barrow (Soprano), Brian Williams (Baritone)
  and James Firth (Piano)
August 23rd David Steel (Organ), Edward Steel (Trumpet)
  and Thomas Branton (Trumpet)
August 30th Gerard Callacher  and Neil Kelley (Piano Duet)

Admission to the concerts is free,  with a retiring collection to defray expenses.
The Church is open from11.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. with light refreshments on sale: the recitals start at 12 noon and last for about half an hour.


Preacher for Holy Week: Canon Raymond Lee

Sunday 13th April: PALM SUNDAY

10.30am Blessing of Palms in Merchant Taylors’ School  and Procession to Church for
11.00am  SOLEMN EUCHARIST and Dramatic Reading of the Passion
7.00pm Sung Compline (plainsong) and Benediction


10.00am Morning Prayer
6.00pm Evening Prayer
8.00pm Stations of the Cross and Holy Eucharist


9.00am Morning Prayer
9.30am Holy Eucharist
6.00pm Evening Prayer
8.00pm Churches Together Ecumenical Service at Christ Church, Waterloo


9.00am Morning Prayer
10.30am Holy Eucharist in S. Mary’s
6.00pm Evening Prayer
8.00pm Holy Eucharist and Liturgy of Reconciliation
Following the Eucharist there will be an opportunity for those who wish to make an individual confession and receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Thursday 17th: MAUNDY THURSDAY

9.00am Morning Prayer
10.30am Diocesan Eucharist with Blessing of the Oils in the Cathedral
6.00pm Evening Prayer

Friday 18th: GOOD FRIDAY

9.00am Morning Prayer and Litany
10.00am STATIONS OF THE CROSS (especially for children and families)
11.00am Ecumenical Act of Witness at Crosby Civic Hall

Saturday 19th: HOLY SATURDAY

 AND FIRST MASS OF EASTER  followed by Champagne, Easter biscuits and fireworks!

Sunday 20th: EASTER DAY

10.30am Morning Prayer
11.00am PROCESSION AND SOLEMN EUCHARIST  followed by wine
 AND SOLEMN TE DEUM followed by ‘Country and Western’ Parish Easter Party

Please remember to bring a bell (or something loud) with you for the Easter Vigil Service. There will be an extra glass of champagne for the best celebratory noise!


Humility, the loveliest, sweetest flower
that bloomed in Eden,
and the first that died,
has rarely flourished since
on earthly soil.

It is so rare,
so delicate a thing,
it fades if it but look upon itself;
and they who venture to assume it theirs,
prove by that very act,
they have it not.

Found on the wall of a convent and supplied by Gillian George-Rogers

From the Registers


2 March Tayla Kaitlyn Corris daughter of Stephen and Suxanne

 Jemma Evans daughter of James and Jeanette


Our good wishes and congratulations to Andrea and Andrew Stafford on the birth of their second daughter, Felicity, on March 10th: a sister for Lavinia.

An Easter Reflection
... from the writings of Father Raymond Raynes (1903 ™ 1058),  former Superior of the Community of the Resurrection at Mirfield.
Supplied by Fr Dennis.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant hope has begotten us again into a lively hope by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven, for you.  Peter 1 : 3, 4

The great festival of Easter, the queen of festivals, really speaks for itself. After the gloom of Gethsemane and the darkness of Calvary we burst forth into the light of Easter with a shout of triumph. These words from S. Peter express our feelings and our joy, joy for the realization that the cross is not the end. Christ is risen! Think what that meant to His Blessed Mother, to S. John and the other disciples.

To S. Peter it was a chance to ask forgiveness for his denial — no wonder he can write such words of blessing and praise for the Resurrection, 'begotten us again to a lively hope.'

There is the secret of the Resurrection. It is the source of the great Christian virtue of hope, which has turned the world and its value inside out, by which a Christian faces the terrific problem of life and death. Take away the Resurrection and we are plunged into the darkness of despair. We can only bear to meditate upon the Cross because we know it is not the end.

If, says S. Paul, we have hope of Christ in this life only, then of all men we are most miserable. There is no hope, no salvation. But now Christ has risen from the dead and given us thereby the hope of Resurrection. Now we know that life is not the end of everything, that death has no terrors for those that die in faith. The extraordinary thing is that this belief in our Lord‘s Resurrection, and consequently in our own vocation to eternal life, does not seem to make the vast difference it ought to the lives of members of the Church. We have in all the creeds, 'The Resurrection of the Body,' no mere vague immortality, no partial resurrection, but full and complete as was that of Jesus Christ: briefly put, our faith and hope is that ultimately we shall love nothing but death.

As our souls now are clothed with bodies, by which we express ourselves and by which we are known and recognized, so will it be at the Resurrection: we shall be ourselves and know and recognize those whom we love; we shall see the saints. The fullness of our nature will, without ceasing to be human, be raised to levels far above anything we can know or conceive. Read in the Gospels of our Lord's Resurrection, with all its beauty and power, and you see in fact what is our hope.

Let this Easter fill you anew with joyous hope - hope in God who is alone capable of satisfying the human heart. It is only through lack of hope that we misjudge the ways of God, forgetting that this life is but the smallest portion of life. Real belief in the Resurrection and hope in the Risen Christ give us patient trust and a wider vision; we see that this world is not our true home, and its affairs of only passing importance. Our real home is in heaven; the greater part of the Church is in heaven and our friends, the saints. Our life in the Church is our foretaste of heaven. We have already entered into our inheritance. Here lies true contentment, heavenly joy and the peace that passes understanding. Here in the Mass the gates of heaven are thrown open and we enter heaven. All this springs from the Resurrection — yes, blessed be God. The Resurrection explains this life, which without it would be a mere existence, without purpose, ending in the grave after meaningless trials, suffering and temptations.

In the light of the Resurrection we can see that for them who love Christ all things work together for goodness — through the cross and the grave to the Resurrection lIfe now has an aim or purpose — to fit us for the fuller life beyond. We are citizens of heaven on a pilgrimage; the end is certain if we remain faithful. Lest we should faint by the wayside, we are supplied for the journey with heavenly armour and protection, with healing, with God and the companionship of the saints.

When all is said and done, the whole purpose and joy of life flows from the Resurrection (the Easter Mass speaks for itself). Therefore with joy, triumph and thanksgiving and unquenchable hope we offer the sacrifice to-day for we have all been given an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, that fadeth not away, renewed in heaven for us.

St Elsewhere?

Over the years, we have wondered just how many other churches there are dedicated to Saint Faith. There aren‘t very many, at least not in this country, and details of a few of them may be found our website. Last week we opened a link with one in South Wales, and since then, thanks to PETER KENT, have received an email telling us of three in the Diocese of Portsmouth. Fr Neil tells us that at the shrine of St Faith in Conques there is a map locating them all, and he remembers that there were several in the Midlands. Thanks now to PETER STOKES, we now know about one of these, so it seems time to start a proper list and hope we can add to it as time goes on. We begin with churches, chapels (and a crematorium)  in the U.K.

1  St Faith’s, Great Crosby
2. St Faith’s, Llanishen, Cardiff
3. St Faith’s Chapel, Westminster Abbey
4. St Faith’‘s, Dorstone, Herefordshire
5. The Church at Horsham St Faith, Norwich
6. St Faith’s Crematorium and Chapel, City of Norwich
7. St Faith and St Laurence, Harborne, Birmingham
8. St Faith’s in the Parish of St Mary Alverstoke, Gosport, Hampshire
9. St Faith’s, Lee on Solent, Hampshire
10. St Faith’s, Havant, Hampshire

Dedications outside the U.K.

1. The Abbey Church of St Faith, Conques, France
2. St Faith’s, Ohinemutu, Rotorua, New Zealand

    The good ship St Faith, Portsmouth - Isle of Wight ferry!

Through an enquiry from Peter Stokes, we have been sent the following information about the first of the Midlands churches with our saint’s dedication. Like the Llanishen St Faith’s, it is a relatively modern building, and we look forward to hearing hiw the dedication came about. It would be equally good to know what was the earliest parish dedication to St Faith: the medieval church at the parish of Horsham St Faith leads the field at present, unless, as they used to say, you know different...

St Faith and St Laurence, Harborne, Birmingham

The first building on the present site was a small corrugated structure, founded from St. Peter’s Harborne, and dedicated on 21st September 1904 in honour of St. Faith. Some five years later, the mission church of St. Laurence was built half a mile away in the parish of  The Quinton.
By the early 1930s it became apparent that a new parish would be required to serve the new housing area, and in October 1933, the two mission churches joined forces to become the Parish of St. Faith and St. Laurence.

It was immediately apparent that the existing churches were inadequate. Both had been planned as temporary buildings, and were too small for the growing congregations. The parishioners decided to build the most beautiful church that their means would allow, but it was nearly twenty-five years before it was completed.

The foundation stone of the new church was laid in May 1936, and work went on for two years to complete the nave, aisles and tower. The church was dedicated on 20th November 1937, taking the names of the  patron saints of the two churches it replaced.

The Second World War prevented the building being completed until 1956, but it was found to be too costly to complete it to the original plans. The Lady Chapel and vestries were completed and dedicated in March 1960.

Pevsner, in the ‘Buildings of England’ (1966) wrote: ‘St. Faith and St. Laurence, Balden Road, 1937 by Philip Chatwin. The interior is especially successful, and the proportions are very pleasant, with the contrast between brown brick and whitewashed concrete.’

The chime of eight bells were installed in 1975 after removal from All Saints, Hockley. The original single bell, still in use, was cast from the metal of the bells from the two mission churches, to symbolise the union of the two congregations in the new parish.

The organ was built in 1906 by Henry Willis 11, and was installed in 1980 after renovation by Henry Groves of Nottingham. The organ case was made by students of Warley College of Technology from oak pews obtained from the redundant church of St. Michael in Smethwick.

Hall Redevelopment Report

Many of you will know by now that we heard from the Community Fund at the end of January and sadly our bid for funds to redevelop the Parish Hall was not successful. JOAN TUDHOPE writes the following:

In their recent letter advising of the outcome of the bid for funding for the redevelopment of St. Faith‘s Church Hall the Community Fund suggested that St. Faith’s PCC consider an approach to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant to redevelop the church hall and undertake repairs to the organ and reredos.

After a conversation with the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) the following points should be noted before the PCC make a decision whether or not to go ahead with a bid to the HLF.

 ? The HLF require a pre application form to be submitted.

 ? They will look at the original bid together with the pre application  form and advise us as to whether it is a project they would be willing  to consider making a grant to.

 ? The HLF will talk to our Community Fund Assessor, John Hargreaves, to get a clearer picture.
 ? Following this they would require a formal bid to be submitted.

 ? If an award is made the PCC will be required to find 10% of the
 amount awarded.

 ? This 10% can be in cash or in kind, i.e. professional fees paid, time  taken to prepare the bids, and volunteer time will be counted either in
 part or in whole towards the 10%.

 ? They will not pay for professional fees; however it is possible to seek  funding from other sources to pay for these fees.

 ? The HLF may well decide, and most probably will, that two separate  bids should be put in for the work, i.e. the church hall is treated
 separately to the reredos and organ.  These bids would then be  directed to different funding sources.

Food for Thought: a Brief Response    Mike Homfray

It‘s certainly not difficult to have a go at anything which emanates from Europe, and the various right-wing fundamentalist fringe groups within Christianity have had a field day with the changes proposed in employment legislation mentioned in last month’s Newslink.

However, I welcome the changes. First, the ‘scare-mongering’of the groups involved (mainly the ‘Christian Institute’ who would hardly look upon the theology or churchmanship of S. Faith’s with favour) has not been followed by the mainstream churches at all. This is because the new legislation includes clauses which mean that jobs where religious beliefs are necessary for the job to be undertaken will be exempted. The real agenda of the Christian Institute is that they are not too happy at the thought that gay and lesbian people will also be covered by the new legislation, and their protest is a bit of a smokescreen to hide their real objection. Many jobs within church-based organisations are paid for by public money, and it seems only right to me that churches should wish to ensure that those posts are available to all- given that those jobs do not exist to promote the religious views of the organisation, but provide a service to the public, letting our faith speak through action, not dogma.

Second, because people of minority religions, in particular of the Muslim faith, do face discrimination from some employers. Legislation is no panacea, but it does deter unfair discrimination. Third, whilst religious liberty must always be defended - does anyone seriously think that European, with their large numbers of Christians, is going to enforce legislation which will ‘force’ churches to employ Satanists?

European legislation, by its nature, is there to be tried via test cases. That is the way that good law is made and put into practice. And finally, it is not a choice between ‘religious liberty’ and ‘equality’. If there is one thing Christianity should be about, it is respecting the dignity and basic equality of all God’s children. This law will add to that, not detract from it, which is why the major churches do not oppose this legislation - one could even argue that a religion which does not believe in this very basic principle is hardly worth of the name Christian at all.

The Editor, who enjoys printing controversial and provocative articles, especially from 'right wing' sources, is grateful to Mike for rising to the occasion!

And the Answer is ...  Chris Price

Kindly explain the following: ‘Why don’t we sing the Gloria during Lent?’  ‘Why is there so much sin in the world when Jesus was supposed to take it away?’  ‘Why do we stand rather than kneel at the Eucharistic prayer?’ ‘Is the philosophy of reincarnation compatible with Christianity?’ ‘What did Jesus bend down and write with His finger on the ground?’ ‘Are we joining the Catholic Church?’ ‘Why do some Christians take some parts of the bible so literally?’

The congregation in church on February 16th were cruelly deprived of a sermon, but instead invited (well ordered) to sit matily together in the front pews, where they were confronted by the Ministry Team (Fr Neil, Fr Dennis, Joyce Green, Fred Nye and Jackie Parry). This formidable and authoritative team proceeded by turn to provide the answer to the questions summarised above, and to some other posers. They, and others, had been posted in a box at the back of church over the previous weeks (the questions, not the team!), so that answers could be prepared, pondered and probably prayed over.

Twelve questions were detailed on the day‘s service sheet (and a different set had earlier featured at St Mary’s): time allowed for responses to some eight of them. Some of the answers could be fairly brief. Fred, fielding the reincarnation, just said ‘NO’, but then, to be fair, said why that was the answer. Others took longer and led to supplementaries from the floor, as the roving microphone (doing its familiar trick of the random silencing of key words at unpredictable intervals) went the rounds of those who wanted to know more or who felt there was more to be said.

There is no room here for many details: suffice it to say that the answers were predictably well-researched and delivered and met with general approval. The tone was serious and attentive, although there were some lighter moments, especially in response to a question about the meaning of the text ‘Jesus, as a mother you gather your people’, where topics such as the desirability of women wearing hats in church and (yet more controversially) keeping entirely silent in church were aired.

Those to whom I spoke felt, as I did, that the occasion was unusual, informative and entertaining, which is surely a good enough description of what most worship should be. It may only have scratched the surface of some issues, but it started from where we were, rather than where the church (and its calendar) thinks we should be or presumes that we are: and this seems to this writer a Good Thing. We shared the peace before going back to our immemorial pew locations, and in so doing hugged far more people than usual, far more easily, which was also of course Good.

We were asked to consider our reactions and to say if we would like this to happen again. Definitely, I say.

If you started at the beginning of this issue, you will already have tead Fred Nye‘s wise words on the second question posed at the beginning of this article. Ed.

Changing Attitude       Mike Homfray

Following the notice about the new Diocesan group of Changing Attitude, which has been very well attended from St. Faith’s parishioners, these are the dates which have been confirmed for the forthcoming year. All meetings are held at 7pm for 7.30pm at the Church of Our Lady and S. Nicholas, Pier Head.

All are welcome; for details, see Mike Homfray in church or via 07970 680483, email

 ? Monday 24th March
 ?Wednesday 21st May
 ? Tuesday 15th July
 ? Monday 15th September
 ? Thursday 20th November

Father Gordon‘s Prayer

Be gentle when you touch bread.
Let it not lie uncared for, unwanted.
So often bread is taken for granted.
There is so much beauty in bread;
Beauty of rain and toil,
Beauty of sun and soil.
The winds and the air caressed it.
Christ often blessed it.
Be gentle when you touch bread.

Be loving when you drink wine
So freely received and joyfully shared
In the spirit of him who cared.
Clear as a flowing river,
Shining and bright as the sun;
Deep as the soil of human toil.
The winds and the air caressed it,
Christ often blessed it.
Be loving when you drink wine.

Parish Life

The new vicar was doing the rounds of his new parishioners and called upon an elderly gentleman. After the usual pleasantries, he said: ‘At your age, I expect you are giving a lot of thought to the Hereafter.’

‘Oh yes,’ was the reply. ‘It’s always on my mind. When I am in the kitchen or upstairs, and especially down at the shops, I am always saying to myself... now, what am I here after?’