The Parish Magazine
of Saint Faith's Church, Great Crosby
Saint Faith’s Prayer for
Faithful God, in baptism you have adopted us as your children,
made us members of the body of Christ and chosen us as inheritors of your kingdom:
bless our plans for mission and outreach; guide us to seek and do your will;
empower us by your Spirit to share our faith in witness and to serve,
and send us out as disciples of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
From the Ministry Team
Spiritual riches are found in the most unexpected places and behind the rough exterior of some rare and refreshing characters. We should not be surprised to discover that there is often gold in the drabbest of scenes in ordinary life, where no glamour or glitter lead us to the genuine treasure.
The vigorous letter-writer, Paul, in correspondence with the faithful Corinthians, among whom he often had a love-despair relationship, reminds us all that we have unrecognised treasure ‘in earthenware vessels’. He was speaking of God’s gifts, his love, his hope, his joy, not buried in the ground for safe-keeping, not paraded in shining caskets for all to see, but discovered while we are about our ordinary work. Serviceable, somewhat plainly and coarsely-produced pots are the instruments which enable much besides cooking and washing up. These articles sometimes have been beautifully decorated and designed. If their colour and appearance have a dull look, the excavator has shown us how dignity and chaste elegance have turned the pottery in full use at meal-time into favourite dishes. Yet, of course, earthenware of any sort becomes worn, chipped and cracked. If we are the ordinary vessels, who share in God’s creative life, we learn from this picture of pottery that our outward nature shows signs of wear and tiredness. At the same time, through the practice and experience of ordinary day-to-day routine our inner life, in its very heart where the spiritual treasure lies and thrives, is constantly being renewed and improved.
Pottery on more than one occasion in the scriptures illustrates what life is like. Those who forget God lose their identity, their whole shape is distorted, ‘they are broken in pieces like a potter’s vessel’. Our lives are brittle and breakable; if we are like clay in the potter’s hands and do not acknowledge our maker, we will lose sight of life’s purpose. Our interest flags when the cracks come and dull exterior bores us. Yet it is in the frailty and fragility of life that we become assured of God’s strength and power at work within us. This is the treasure.
Paul speaks like one of the great writers of Greek tragedy, when he drives home the point that gold is found among the murky dross of life, that, though the rugged heroes of drama are rough diamonds, they are certainly seen to be diamonds ‘troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; cast down, but not destroyed’. The drama of our lives, set on a less spectacular stage, reveals in the little things the greatness of God’s sustaining love.
With my love and prayers,
A New Face
It is always a joy to be asked to have a student on placement. I am delighted to say that for the months of September, October and November we will have another student on placement with us. Gwen Kennedy has just completed her second year of reader training and will be joining us for three months in order to experience a church of a different tradition to her own. Gwen is a member of the Bootle Team of churches, having previously worshipped at S. Mary’s Bootle until it closed.
Gwen will take part in as many aspects of church life in the United Benefice as she can over the time she is with us. Please do look out for her. I know you will make her welcome.
August Dates for the Diary
– the ‘quiet month’!
Sunday 6th THE TRANSFIGURATION OF THE LORD
11am Sung Eucharist
Preacher:Fr. Trevor Critchlow (S. Augustine’s Wembley Park, London)
Sunday 13th 4.00 pm BBQ for S. Mary’s and S. Faith’s congregations
Tuesday 15th THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
8.00pm Sung Eucharist in Saint Faith’s
Preacher: Mrs. Margaret Sadler (Our Lady & S. Nicholas, Pier Head)
Saturday 19th 2.00pm BQ for Holiday Club Helpers in the Vicarage Garden
Saturday 26th 12.00 noon Final Summer Recital in Saint Faith’s
Ged Callacher and Neil Kelley (Piano Duet), followed by a farewell presentation to Ged
Thursday 31st 7.30 pm Healing Service (SM)
Goodbye to Ged
Although Ged’s last Sunday will technically be at the end of July, there will be a proper opportunity for members of both congregations to formally to say farewell to him following the final summer Saturday recital on the 26th of August.
A Message from Bishop John Flack
(our preacher for Corpus Christi)
Just to say a very warm ‘thank you’ to you and everyone at St Faith’s for a wonderful evening last Thursday. I did enjoy it so much and it was lovely to be with such a supportive and participatory congregation. Thank you too for the eats and drinks before and after. And the music and hymns were memorable. ‘Alleluia sing to Jesus’ always reduces me to tears - my mother tried to sing it on her deathbed five years ago.
Much love and many thanks to you, Neil, and to everyone
Dates for the Diary
Monday 7th -
Friday 11th August
ALIVE AGAIN… The Walsingham Youth Pilgrimage
This event for pilgrims aged 11+ is supported by a number of parishes in the Liverpool Diocese. More information available on the website: www.walsinghamanglican.org.uk
This month at Walsingham
Monday 28th August
The Pilgrimage for Healing and Renewal
12 noon Concelebrated Mass
(Principal Celebrant & Preacher: The Bishop of Richborough)
3.00 pm Laying-on of Hands & Anointing, Sprinkling & Benediction
Helping the Children’s Society
Tickets for ‘Girl Talk 3’ which will take place on Saturday September 30th at Blundellsands United Reformed Church are available from Rosie or Fiona in aid of the Children’s Society.
Would everyone who has a Children’s Society Box please bring them to Rosie as soon as possible. New boxes are available for anyone who wants them.
First of all, a big ‘thank you’ to all those people, whether regular planned givers or not, who use Gift Aid to increase the value of their generosity. In 2005, HM Treasury repaid £8,500 in Gift Aid to Saint Faith’s.
A plea, though: when using the blue Gift Aid envelopes, please make sure you complete the details on the front. Without that information, we cannot claim the extra 28p from every £1 you give. There are some churchgoers who do not pay UK income or capital gains tax but almost everyone else could help by using Gift Aid.
Here are the
answers to some frequently asked questions:
I don’t like filling in forms!
All we need is your signature – that’s all you need to do – a very simple one-off form covers all your future donations. If you need help completing the form, please ask. You can cancel your Gift Aid declaration at any time – please just tell us.
I don’t want anyone else to know my income
No-one will – that remains confidential between you and the Revenue. All you are declaring is that you have paid more income tax than we reclaim (approx 28% of your donation).
I don’t pay tax!
Do you have any income from savings or pensions in your name? It may have been taxed before you got it so you could be a taxpayer without realising it, and could therefore make a donation under Gift Aid, increasing its value by 28% — the best possible use of your tax!
I don’t pay tax – my partner does
If your spouse is willing to donate to the church, the declaration should be in their name. If they are not willing to sign it, we quite understand, and want to thank you for the personal support you generously give us from your personal time and money.
My tax and financial situation keep on changing
Simply tell us when you no longer pay tax, and we will not make any future Gift Aid claims on your donations.
There follow two contrasting newspaper articles reflecting different aspects of the church today. The first is a heartwarming account of how a Liverpool Roman Catholic parish is helping refugees, while the second assesses the state of our own Anglican Communion, predicts what it sees as its inevitable break-up – and sees schism as offering the best hope for the future of the Church of England. There is much food for thouight in both pieces.
Shelter from the Storm
Yvonne Roberts (writing in The Tablet, June 24th)
Pregnant teenage refugees, often beaten and raped in their own countries, have turned to a Liverpool parish for help after being spurned by an indifferent public and an ineffective Home Office.
Mary, aged 18, sits in the priest’s house in St Bernard’s, Liverpool, watching her 18-month-old son, Harry, play with Margaret Kane. Margaret, 59, a retired teacher, helped Mary at the birth of her baby, just as she has supported eight other young mothers, all destitute asylum seekers, and all with nowhere else to turn. For the past 20 months, the parish of St Bernard’s, led by Fr Peter Morgan, has provided an unprecedented level of support for asylum seekers. It comes at a time when the climate in Britain has never been more hostile to refugees and immigrants and the Home Office so ineffective and beleaguered. ‘When they hear the words “asylum seekers”, the public think of’ the stereotype of a strapping male milking the system, up to no good,’ Fr Peter says. ‘But when you hear stories of young women treated with great brutality and then abused again by the system here, you learn a different story.’
‘Mary’, from Cameroon, was married at 13. She had a child a year later and then, she says, her husband deserted her. She returned to live with her father. The elderly chief of the village wished to make Mary his eighteenth wife. Her father refused and died in mysterious circumstances soon after. Orphaned, she says she was taken to the chief’s house, beaten and raped repeatedly. After a time, the chief’s first wife helped Mary to escape. Assisted by her aunt, Mary arrived in Britain in 2004.
Through the immigration services’ dispersal system, she was moved to Liverpool knowing nobody, ill and pregnant. Although she is now studying English and IT, she still needs weekly counselling to counter depression. The Home Office has already told her she must return to Cameroon. Her final appeal has been rejected, and an amnesty may be her only hope. ‘The Home Office claims Cameroon is safe’ says an angry Fr Peter. ‘We asked the Red Cross to find Mary’s first child and it told us it was too dangerous to have its officials there.’
Fr Peter and Margaret Kane are a part of MRANG, the Merseyside Refugee and Asylum Seekers Pre- and Post-Natal Support Group, an organisation that grew up around St Bernard’s parish. Since September 2004, MRANG has helped more than 220 women and children, but only 32 have been given refugee status. More than 80 babies have been born, of which 36 were the result of rape and multiple rape – often by soldiers. Their mothers come from more than 35 countries, including Uganda and Zimbabwe.
This week, MRANG launched a campaign to highlight the failure of the British Government
and courts to recognise gender-based persecution in asylum decisions. High on the agenda of its concern is the impact on women and children of state-enforced destitution caused by having to exist on paltry benefits and the damage caused by indefinite detention and deportation. According to Dr Chandra Ghosh, a consultant psychiatrist who, unpaid, prepares psychiatric reports for appeal cases, the majority show symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. ‘Even if the authorities decide an individual should return, why does the process itself have to be so abusive?’ asks Dr Ghosh. Louise Massamba is a qualified social worker and nurse; she is also the unpaid manager of MRANG. She acts as counsellor, and as medical, housing, legal and benefits adviser.
‘We have many women who desperately need help,’ says Fr Peter. ‘But we have only one Louise.’ She also holds a weekly meeting which between 35 and 50 women attend. She is scathing that so little account is taken of what it means to be young, female and without protection in dangerous patriarchal societies. ‘A 17-year-old arrives without money, friends or relatives. She is interviewed by an unfriendly male and she is expected to disclose intimate details. Of course that’s setting women up to fail,’ Louise says.
Under the 1951 Refugee Convention, the term ‘refugee’ applies to any person who, ‘owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality or membership of a particular social group … is unable or unwilling to return to his or her country of origin’. A person may also qualify for humanitarian protection or discretionary leave to remain in this country. The Home Office has gender guidelines that give the right for a woman to be interviewed by a female immigration official. Research by the Refugee Women’s Resource Project shows that the department fails to adhere to its own guidance.
A woman interviewed by males may be reluctant to disclose details of rape – or she may have repressed her memories. If she recalls later, however, this may mark her as a liar. If a woman has agreed to return to her country of origin but is temporarily prevented while, for instance, she gives birth, she is eligible for Section Four support, which means she is expected to live on £35 per week, and £35 for her baby. Once the appeal process is exhausted, all support is withdrawn and babies may be taken into care. Charities largely from the Liverpool Archdiocese provide accommodation for 63 people rendered destitute in this way: numbers of destitute mothers and babies that are rising daily.
Last week, eight police and two immigration officials arrived at 6 a.m. to arrest a teenage mother and her six-week-old baby due to be deported back to Uganda. She wasn’t at home. She had been raped by soldiers guarding her school from the Lord’s Resistance Army. The judge refused to believe her because, he said, her case hadn’t been reported in the local press. ‘I’m concerned that this young woman will slip into the underworld where she will be even more vulnerable,’ says Louise. ‘It makes no sense to take a baby into care at a cost of thousands of pounds a month when investing in proper support for his mother would make so much difference to both their lives.’ Again an amnesty appears the only hope.
‘Elizabeth’ is 17 and has a son, James, who is almost two. Elizabeth is constantly close to tears. Her father was a politician in Uganda. In December 2004, he was killed and Elizabeth, her mother and brother were taken to prison. Elizabeth was separated and, on the first night, repeatedly raped by five soldiers. She was raped daily over several months. At one point, she was taken to see the body of a badly-mutilated woman. The face was covered but she
believes it was her mother. Eventually, an army official arranged for her escape to the UK. ‘Why would a child leave everything she knows to live in what is often dreadful accommodation, unless she was fleeing for her life?’ asks Dr Ghosh. ‘We do have women who are genuinely traumatised, who have genuinely lost entire families, who have genuinely experienced civil war. A number of professionals will be involved: doctors, psychiatrists, lawyers,’ says Lorraine Mensah, a barrister who works ‘pro bono’ for MRANG. ‘We have to work together to ensure that the right information is collected and supplied to immigration judges because, without that detail, a person may be removed.’
In the first quarter of 2006, Britain deported 4,930 people, 43 per cent more than in the same period last year. A report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in March said that ‘serious problems remain both in the quality of individual decisions and the context in which they are made’. The National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns says women and children are being particularly targeted because ‘they are … not likely to put up a fight’.
Mary and Elizabeth are in mourning for lost relatives while caring for sons who are both part of a hated history but are also the only family they have left. At any time immigration officials can give them seven days’ notice to uproot to a different town, carrying only two bags. They have no idea what their future holds.
I ask Fr Peter what motivates him to fight their cause. ‘The injustice,’ he says. ‘It’s self-evident that it’s wrong, wrong, wrong. God champions those who champion the poor – and we will win.’
Anglicans should welcome Schism
Damian Thompson, Daily Telegraph
After a wretched couple of decades for the Church of England - catfights over the ordination of women and homosexuals, the tumbling of weekly church attendance to below a million - there is finally a glimmer of hope in the headlines.
The Anglican Communion seems to be falling apart. As The Daily Telegraph's religion correspondent, Jonathan Petre, reported yesterday, the election of a woman bishop as leader of the American Anglican Church ‘could hasten the break-up’ of the worldwide body. ‘For this relief much thanks’, to quote the sentry in Hamlet. Not only is the Anglican Communion wasteful and self-regarding even by the standards of international quangos; it has also contrived, over the past 30 years, to rip apart the fine theological stitching that has held together the Church of England for centuries.
Its looming demise is excellent news for members of the C of E, irrespective of their ‘churchmanship’. To celebrate, Anglo-Catholic ritualists should pour themselves an even stiffer gin than usual; liberals should break open the organic chardonnay; evangelicals should treat themselves to a nourishing mug of Horlicks. But the people who have most cause to rejoice are those ordinary, middle-of-the-road English worshippers who just wish that fist-shaking Nigerians and politically correct Canadians would shut up.
Archbishop George Carey once described the Anglican Communion as ‘a major player on the international scene’. (I was there when he said it, and even his aides had problems keeping a straight face.) It is routinely described as a ‘worldwide Church’. That, too, is wishful thinking. The Communion is a federation of national churches bound together by British imperial antecedents, strands of Anglican theology and the nominal leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Until a few years ago, these ties just about enabled the Communion to present itself as the Anglican equivalent of the Roman Catholic Church; Archbishop Carey adopted a hilarious quasi-papal manner on his trips abroad.
The reality is, however, that after the American Episcopal Church ordained women priests and then bishops - ignoring pleas for caution from Lambeth Palace - the Anglican Communion ceased to be a ‘Church’ at all.
The lowest common denominator of any mainstream Christian Church is that its ministers accept the validity of each another’s orders and therefore sacraments: that is the essence of ‘communion’. Now that Anglicanism encompasses women and gay bishops (and, come to think of it, gay women bishops), roughly two thirds of its provinces do not recognise the ministry of bishops and priests ordained by the other third. That is not a Church: it is an ecclesiastical car crash.
How should the Church of England respond? The Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester, implies that all the fault lies with one side, the ‘unbiblical’ gay-ordaining American radicals. He is wrong about that. While it is true that some bishops of the Episcopal Church have more in common with a crystal-gazing Californian housewife than with George Herbert, it is also true that Anglican dioceses in the developing world have been hijacked by poisonously bigoted Biblebashers. And not just in the developing world, either: many parishes in Australia have fallen into the hands of Protestant iconoclasts whose hatred of Popish practices makes Ian Paisley look positively ecumenical. None of which would matter very much if it were not for the appalling effect these distant eruptions are having on churches in this country.
Since the 19th century, the Church of England has managed to hold together what might appear to be incompatible Protestant and Catholic conceptions of the Church by allowing carefully limited diversity. High, Broad and Low churchmen took turns to be Archbishop of Canterbury, but representatives of each wing’s militant tendency were rarely promoted. Calvinists, agnostics and Anglo-Papalists knew that if they were to command influence, they would have to tone down their views. Which, of course, they did.
But now, thanks to the Anglican Communion, English extremists - who these days consist of rainbow-coalition activists and hate-filled fundamentalists - are able to draw moral support and large sums of money from Anglicans abroad. Hard-line evangelicals, especially, have exerted terrific pressure on English bishops who, terrified of offending millions of anti-gay Africans, have adjusted their views accordingly.
Unexpectedly, it was the current Archbishop of Canterbury who caved in first. Early in his term of office, Dr Rowan Williams yielded to the African evangelical lobby and forced the resignation of the Bishop-designate of Reading, Canon Jeffrey John, a celibate gay man whose
cause he had previously advanced. Perhaps it was a mistake for Dr Williams to permit Canon
John’s name to go forward to Downing Street; but allow it he did, and his subsequent somersault destroyed his reputation among his natural supporters, while doing nothing to impress his enemies, who still regard Lord Carey of Clifton (as he now is) as the real Archbishop of Canterbury.
Outmanoeuvred by backstabbing colleagues, Dr Williams no longer possesses the time or the confidence to speak directly to the man and woman in the pew. So preoccupied is he by the prospect of ‘schism’ in a nonexistent global Church that his already convoluted discourse has turned into an incomprehensible parody of itself. Meanwhile, the bureaucrats and the ideologues continue with their plans for a Lambeth Conference of the world’s bishops in 2008 that promises to be even more unpleasant than its predecessor in 1998, while sucking a couple of million quid out of the Church’s coffers. Perhaps the conference will bring about the dissolution of the Anglican Communion; perhaps the final collision will be delayed by a few years. Either way, the Church of England must summon up the nerve to pick itself out of the wreckage and walk - if necessary, alone - down its historic via media.
The Editor is encouraged by the messages of support he has received for his campaign to highlight some of the more entertaining and absurd aspects of our P.C. Society and the activities of the Nanny State. He welcomes contributions of this (and indeed every) kind, and is happy to present the latest instalment ….
The Spirit of the Age
Killing the Dragon
A pub landlady was interrogated by the police after using a Welsh flag as target practice. She invited 40 locals, some of them Welsh, to the New Inn at Wedmore in Somerset for a St George’s Day archery competition. But afterwards she was questioned on suspicion of inciting racial hatred. ‘We searched high and low for a dragon to use as the target,’ she later explained, ‘but the only one I could find was on a Welsh flag…’
What the Bard really meant to say
Schoolchildren are studying ‘accessible’ versions of Shakespeare’s plays, says the ‘Daily Mail.’ In one GCSE guide, Lady Macbeth’s rebuke to her husband: ‘Was the hope drunk, wherein you dress’d yourself?’ is succinctly rephrased as ‘Cowardy custard!’ And instead of saying: ‘Turn, hell-hound, turn!’ Macduff says: ‘Prepare to die, squid-for-brains!’
A Load of Rubbish?
The Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides, has experienced its first ever traffic jam. The usually empty roads became gridlocked after the council announced that it was giving away free 330-litre plastic bins to encourage home composting. Within a few hours, all 4,000 bins on offer had been snapped up. The last thing I want this for is composting,’ one islander said. ‘I want mine to store sheep feed.’
Irene and Eric Salisbury
A March Spring break in the Lake District sounded a good idea, and the day we arrived was a bit dull but not too bad. However the following day coincided with Crosby’s ‘Snowy Sunday’, ditto Parcevall Hall (where St Faith’s people were snowed in on retreat! Ed) and ditto, it seems, Rick and Rosie’s wintry day in San Francisco. We woke to seven inches of snow (checked with the car scraper against the scale at the bottom of the map). Radio Cumbria was reporting heavy snowfall throughout South Lakes with roads closed everywhere, church services cancelled, events postponed, and it was clear that nobody was going anywhere.
We got togged up in our walking gear and did the twenty-minute stroll, this time a trudge, into Grasmere; the roads quiet, the car parks deserted and the snow still falling. Luckily we managed to get a meal in a café, whilst outside an adventurous car skidded into an abandoned bus. After a brief mooch round the village we went back to the flat. We thought it might all be gone in a day or two, as it usually does at home.
To cut a long story short, despite the temperature hovering just above freezing the snow got deeper every day. On Wednesday it reached ten inches and was very wet and exhausting to walk through. The main road to Keswick was again closed. On Thursday morning we borrowed a shovel and dug the car out (too old for this game!) so we could at least reverse and face the right direction. We juddered across the virgin snow of the hotel car park, ours the last car there, to the driveway through the trees, then about 100 yards through to the main road which had been cleared.
We headed for home. After living in a monochrome world for four days it was strange to see green fields again. Not quite a holiday, more an experience, and some good photos which we still pore over. People say, ‘I see you were using black and white.’ We may as well have been.
The Numbers Game
The third instalment of my analysis of the Christian Research booklet: ‘The Church of England over the next 15 years’ begins with a look at Rural Church Attendance. There is a predictably gloomy forecast, based on the steep decline in rural church attendance. In 1980 the average rural attendance was 62; in 200 it was 28, and in 2020 it will be (wait for it) just 6. And we think we have problems! Rural parishes are already grouped in clusters of as many as eight parishes, with one harassed priest rushing round his scattered flocks. Without a massive reversal in decline, or equally massive state subsidies, it is hard to see how the many thousand beautiful country churches, jewels in the crown of countless villages, can survive for much longer.
The next section of the report is entitled ‘Largest Anglican Churches’. Briefly, over half of the larger churches (congregations of over 350) are actually growing. They represent only 1%
of Anglican churches, but provide 6% of those attending – and this is likely to rise to over 20% by 2020. Apparently they are predominantly evangelical churches, and in 2005 all their senior ministers were male. The report wonders whether more of them should do what a few are already doing: helping to support, enable and encourage nearby failing churches. This would, of course, strengthen the evangelical influence in Anglicanism.
Next the report asks ‘What makes Churches grow?’ It commends the business model of focusing more on the ‘market’ and on ‘customer satisfaction’ – and while it accepts that this sort of language and approach is anathema to many, it claims that research backs up this approach. When asked what aspects of churches attract newcomers, 81% say it is the warm welcome received, 73% the activities of the church, but only 55% cite the relevance of the teaching. The report’s authors speak of initiatives such as ‘a newcomer strategy’, offering newcomers’ meals and visiting those who move in to the parish with a welcome pack. It has much to say about the importance for what it clumsily describes as ‘the clergy-person’ of being able to preach and teach in a way that listeners find relevant, and reports that from 2006, one criterion for ordinands being accepted is their desire to engage in mission.
Next comes ‘Ministerial Leadership’. The average age of clergy is now 49 (and 47 for women). The latter’s numbers are increasing as the former’s declines: in 1993 women accounted for just 7% of the clergy; in 2007 there will be 16% and as many as 28% by 2020. ‘There are very few Anglo-Catholic female clergy’ the report interestingly tells us, ‘and relatively few evangelical female clergy. Consequently the large majority of female clergy are of broad, or liberal churchmanship, so that, as their number increases, so will the balance of churchmanship change within the ranks of stipendiary clergy’. In other words, more women priests will mean a reduction in the numbers both of Anglo-Catholic and of Evangelical parishes and spheres of influence. And more intriguing facts: twice as many Curates as Vicars resigned in the last four years, and the peak age for giving up was the late 50s.
The last section of the report is entitled ‘Church Buildings’. Our church has just over 16,000 buildings, with one in three parishes having two church buildings. The decline in church buildings is much slower than the decline in stipendiary clergy, Electoral Roll numbers or church attendance: thus inevitably the financial liability per church attender inexorably increases, and does so more rapidly than the increase in per capita giving. The problem is compounded because more than three-quarters of C of E churches are listed buildings. Nearly half of the churches worshipped in today were built before 1400 AD (as many as 30% are over 800 years old): they are mostly located in rural areas with small congregations (see above) and are increasingly costly to maintain and repair. Hence the (unjustified?) criticism of the £150 million spent on buildings each year by the Church of England. The report’s final recommendations are that this should be seen as a problem ‘to be tackled centrally by negotiations with Government, English Heritage or whoever’. The two churches of our United Benefice, of course, are neither ancient nor (relatively speaking) costly to maintain and repair – something for which we can at least be grateful!
The booklet closes with a SWOT Analysis. It explains that what has gone before is quantitative and statistical rather than qualitative (in other words, bare facts rather than opinions). Its final pages list what it sees as the good old C of E’s ‘Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats’. It again makes clear that these are to be seen as a basis for discussion, to encourage strategic thinking and action for the future, so that the trends it has forecast do NOT come true.
‘British society,’ it states convincingly, ‘is rapidly ageing; retirement patterns are changing; there is a flight to the country; ethnicity is increasingly important; families are smaller; there is an influx of immigrants, etc.’ Next month, as a postscript to these highlights from this thought-provoking and fascinating booklet, I will look at these SWOT lists for the Church of England, and see where we at St Faith’s fit in.
This year saw the first Holiday Club and activity week for the older members of the congregations of the United Benefice. As the two contributions below – one from each church – clearly tell, the week was a great success and A Good Time Was Had By All. And so another tradition is born…?
Joining the Club
The week commencing 19th June, 2006, was a really enjoyable experience for those of us who took part in the United Benefice Holiday Club, based in St Mary’s Church Hall, and open to anyone in the over-65 age group.
The whole project was an enormous success, and the happy atmosphere was wonderful throughout the well-planned week: as a group we ‘gelled’ from the start – we were all friends within the first hour!
The programme so carefully prepared covered yoga and relaxation exercises, a hairdressing display by professional stylists, two films (‘Hobson’s Choice’ and ‘The Sound of Music’ – plus sing-along!), a line dancing lesson, a half-day coach trip to breezy Blackpool (including a delicious lunch of fish and chips and mushy peas) and then to the Tower where we were able to visit the Aquarium and the magnificent Ballroom. The final afternoon culminated in an enjoyable organ recital given by Fr Neil, followed by a sumptuous cream tea served by Jeeves (alias Peter Connolly) resplendent in ‘tails’ and white gloves.
Sincere thanks to Lynne Connolly and Joan Tudhope for all their time, thought, organisation and hard work put into this project, and of course to Neil and Peter, and to everyone who helped in any way to ensure the success of this event. We look forward to having the Holiday Club again next year!
‘That Was the Week that Was!’
It all started several weeks ago with a notice on the Sunday Service Sheet – ‘OVER 65's HOLIDAY CLUB starting week/comm. 19th June, see Joan Tudhope’. Laura and I, together with Peggy Mattison, immediately put our names down for this week, whatever surprises it might have in store. We soon became aware of a reticence from some people of both congregations to put their names forward, ‘because we cannot find out what is going to happen’, seemed to give them problems. Well, what did happen, what were the surprises in store, what daunting tasks awaited us?
Full of curiosity we arrived at St. Mary’s Hall on the appointed day, at the specified time, and were given nothing more strenuous than a cup of tea, a funny-looking badge with our name on, and a not too serious quiz paper. There was much talking and laughing over the next two hours, which took us up to lunchtime. After lunch we had a demonstration of Yoga, not the figure-contorting exercises, but breathing correctly and relaxation methods. The relaxation method worked a treat, yours truly went fast asleep.
On Tuesday morning there was a hairdressing demonstration, which I missed, so I cannot pass any comment except to say that it was very popular with the ladies. In the afternoon we went by coach to the Candle Factory near Chester. Father Neil was with us, but I wouldn’t dare ask him what he bought.
Wednesday morning we watched an old film ‘Hobson’s Choice,’ starring, if that is the right word, Charles Laughton, John Mills, and among others Prunella Scales. John Mills looked young but Prunella Scales looked about sixteen. Gives you some idea of the age of the film. Ice-cream cornets were served in the interval. In the afternoon we had Line Dancing, an activity none of us had previously tried. We were first shown a few steps then most of us tried it, with varying degrees of success I might add.
Thursday, and another coach trip, this time to Blackpool. We left at 10.00 a.m., and arrived about 11.00 am, which meant we were rather early for our pre-booked Fish and Chip lunch, but we survived. Arriving for lunch we found ourselves at a very pleasant restaurant away from the sea front, it was called the ‘Cottage’. The quality of the food was excellent and the quantity as much as anyone could want. After lunch it was back on the coach and taken to be dropped off outside the Tower. Most people went into the Tower but a few hardy, or foolhardy take your pick, went for a walk on a very breezy sea front. Lillie went one way and Alan, Laura and I went the other until Alan left us for a nostalgic walk to find a boarding-house once owned by an aunt of his.
Friday, the last day, probably to the relief of Joan & Lynne, and their helpers. After the obligatory cup of tea and biscuits we settled down to watch ‘The Sound of Music’. This was a little different as the words of the songs appeared on the screen so everyone could join in. A little like a mass Karaoke. Lunch today was kept small as we were all looking forward to our Cream Tea. When it came, our tea was served by our very own Jeeves,
complete with tail-coat, pin-stripe trousers and white gloves. Pity about the trainers, Peter.
From all who enjoyed this week - thank-you Joan, Lynne and your many helpers. We appreciate how hard you worked and sincerely hope you have the courage to do it again next year.
Our thanks also go to those people who helped by subsidising the week’s activities. We are intelligent enough to realise that what we paid did not cover all expenses. I do not know names but I know you are there. Thank you.
Ron and Laura Rankin
Unexpurgated extracts from the diaries of Jamie Lunt (whose mother is this month’s cover girl, incidentally!), recording his visits to London and Lansannan.
London: Friday 5th May
I went from my house to St.Faiths church hall where Akele and Baloo had the mini bus. When I got there I gave them my bag so they could put it in the back of the mini bus. While we where waiting for the others, me and the other cubs played a game of tag. Once every one had arrived we waved good buy to our families and drove off. After a while we got bored so I got my top trumps and gave Gary a few games, after that we read some football mags and played Chinese whispers. Soon we stopped at a service station, which just happened to be the one that my dad and me broke down at. So we had a drink and left again. When we got there we unpacked, had some hot dogs for supper and went to bed.
Saturday 5th May
We woke up all exited for the day ahead of us. We were thinking about the London eye, and big Ben and every thing else. So we had breakfast, which was cereal and toast and we got our bags ready and set off around London. First we went to the train station and got a train to Waterloo.
We went to the London Eye and we were allowed on it. All but two, Gary and Matte went on it. The London Eye took a half hour to go all the way round and we took boss photos. After that we went to see Big Ben it was very big [as in the name] then we walked to Downing Street and we got to go on Tony Blair’s door steep. We took pictures with the security guard he was very nice man.
Then we went to find a picnic area and had our lunch by a fountain .The boys needed the toilet and Akele asked George to take us and he couldn’t find them so we asked the security guard and after a while we found them. It cost 20p so we went under the bar! We then went back on the train and then we had shepherds pie for tea before going to bed.
Sunday 7th May
We got up in the morning and we went to the R.A.F museum .It was really fun and we saw some amazing planes. After that we went home and we were all shattered.
Lansannan - Friday 3rd March 2006
On Friday 3rd March 2006 I went with cubs on a camp to Lansannan. We all went to the church to pack all are bags in the mini bus. And took things out of the cub’s room like the ball and ropes and balls like the Wacky warehouse ones we also packed food. And after we finished packing we got buckled in and left around about a Qatar past six it took about 3 hours so to keep is selves amused we where all looking at Toms match magazine. When we got there the snow was 1 foot high it was amazing but we weren’t aloud to play in the snow until tomorrow so we had to unpack the van and I nearly dropped the eggs but don’t tell the leaders shhhhhhh! So after that we had cupa soup and made are beds, we where all on bunks there where three spaces on the top and bottom on my bunk there where me Jack, Tom and the bottom there where Gary, and Matthew.
Saturday 4th March
Got up had breakfast a lovely cooked one as well. After breakfast we went one a hike to a big field it was covered in SNOW!!!!!! So we went into groups and made snow men and Jack lost his hat it was funny. After that we whent back and had dinner which was burgers and we painted some rocks and made them in to paper weights Mine was a ship. And we had a quite time for half an hour. Then we played games and after that we sung songs around the camp fire. And we acted out a play my group did this have you got the bags yes, have you got the bags yes, have you got the firewood yes have you got the car no man I forgot it. And it was really funny After that we went to bed and swapped and scoffed sweets it was the best night ever.
Two contributions to the ongoing debate about new worship forms here at St Faith’s and elsewhere. Apologies to the second writer for postponing publication of his article!
We were delighted to be able to be present at the ‘All Age Service’ in July where it was great to be part of such a diverse but inclusive service.
Without taking the focus away from the Eucharist, all ages and groups were not just included, but involved in the service, and the result was happy and uplifting. Through these pages can we thank Fr Mark and his team for the effort they put into the planning of the service, we look forward to the next one.
Rosie and Rick Walker
Retreat, or Advance?
The debate about communicating the faith to those ‘outside’ of the church and about making liturgy ‘intelligible’ to occasional church visitors has taken place, I’m sure, in countless worship communities across England, across Europe indeed.
Fred Nye’s thoughtful contribution to that debate in a recent Newslink reminded me of my own very limited experience of ‘all-age’ worship here in Durham. At the outset I could never get to grips with the term ‘all-age’. The Eucharist is for EVERYONE anyway irrespective of age, ethnicity etc. Seemingly all-age services are officially targeted (usually) at 4 to 12 year olds. And unofficially targeted at their parents. In our church the result was a sort of ‘Blue Peter’ product in which the presenters were massively condescending to their audience and importantly had to ensure that those children unfortunate enough to be caught up in the experience were seen to have ‘fun’. My suspicion is that the congregation (all ages) was largely alienated. Quite what was achieved in terms of evangelism only God knows. But I’m sure S Faith’s is way better than Durham!
As Fred Nye reminds us, the Gospel has to be passed on without dumbing down its mystery or its message. Sadly, though, a process of dumbing down within Sunday worship seems to have gathered pace, not least around so-called all-age services. Stripping out bits of practice which might make us feel ‘uncomfortable’ (ugh!), ‘simplifying’ language, using ‘modern’ music and ‘tailoring’ liturgy to the ‘needs’ of contemporary metropolitan man/woman appears to be the name of the game. I am being very unfair I’m sure! Yet in my own albeit limited bits of church-hopping what I see increasingly within both the churches of Canterbury and Rome are examples of bland, folksy and ‘respectable’ services which, frankly, do little to inspire either the faithful regulars or the visiting enquirers. Thankfully there are notable exceptions to this trend, S Faith’s being one of course.
For me authentic Catholic worship is first and foremost about adoring Almighty God, my Creator and Heavenly Father. In (good) worship I look to be transformed, to be reshaped from the grotty individual that I am into somebody that can at least attempt to begin to reflect the love of God to my fellow human beings. And that transformation comes from participating in an event in which heaven and earth touch one another and I am lifted briefly above the ways of this world, nine-to-five existence, and somehow (mysteriously) am able to catch a glimpse of the angels in heaven. Fred Nye worries that newcomers to church may not ‘understand’ what is going on or know what to do. But they don’t have to, nor do the regulars. If we engage in the mystery of worship, if we go into the unknown, then God in His infinite love will begin to reveal himself to us, and thereafter understanding will ensue. The secret is I think to get people to taste the worship experience in the first instance. The rest will follow.
‘He’s living in a fantasy world’ - I can hear the words now. Well maybe. But I firmly
believe that the human condition requires us to be ‘taken out of ourselves’ from time to time (like every Sunday!). To that end I suggest our formal worship needs to be inspirational and God-centred to ensure that we can truly participate in the Heavenly Banquet.
By the way, one Sunday morning in 1959 at a certain church in Crosby there was this eighteen year old non-believing guy whose friend had suggested he came along just to ‘take a look’. When he heard the Agnus Dei sung solo by the late John Gerrard, something stirred in the guy and he decided to visit S Faith’s again. The guy (guess who?) became a ‘regular’ and worshipped at S Faith’s until 1970 when he moved to live in Durham. I was drawn in by the mystery of the liturgy and the beauty of John’s voice of course. I still don’t understand what is meant by ‘Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’, but I do still believe and, have I know, experienced God’s wonderful grace in enormous measure. That Eucharist in 1959 brought me to faith, which is why I am biased in favour of inspirational, good quality, non-dumbed-down worship. Possibly clapping in time with ‘Shine Jesus Shine’ at an all-ages service would have set me off along the road of faith as well, but I’m not entirely convinced.
The Saturday Recitals
What a great way to spend your Saturday lunchtimes at our increasingly popular Summer Recitals here at St Faith’s. A very big “Thank You” goes to all the performers who have delighted us with a series of great programmes so far. Thanks, too, to the organisers and the catering team who make it all happen. By the end of June, we had netted over £1000 for church funds from donations and the sale of refreshments.
This year, the recitals run through to the end of August, with the climax being the piano duet recital on Bank Holiday Saturday, 26 August with our own Neil Kelley and Ged Callacher (Ged’s farewell performance and presentation). There are a couple of other late changes to the programme (one is still to be re-arranged):
5 August - Neil Kelley (organ)
12 August - TBA
19 August - Danielle Thomas (soprano)
26 August - Neil Kelley and Gerard Callacher (piano duo)
See you there!
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