From the Ministry TeamAugust 2003
Writing this enables me to express my grateful thanks for the love and support I have received during my eighteen years of Reader Ministry. So many of you have encouraged me and prayed for me. This awareness of support has often encouraged me when I have felt discouraged or hard-pressed for various reasons, and I hasten to say that everyone, in any kind of ministry feels this way at times. However, these times have been few and far between and the greater part of my ministry has brought me great joy and satisfaction.
It has been a great privilege not only to have the Bishop‘s permission to preach, but also to assist at weddings and baptisms; to take communion out to the sick; to lead Bible studies and Confirmation groups, and especially, to visit the bereaved and to then lead the funeral service for their loved ones. This particular part of my ministry was for me, perhaps the greatest privilege of all: to be of some help to people at such a vulnerable time in their lives was extremely humbling, but strangely fulfilling.
I will of course, not be leaving you all but will simply retire to my place in the pew and leave the pulpit free for others. Perhaps you may feel that’s not a bad thing! Now I‘m off to hang up my scarf, but not to put my feet up completely —there are still lots of things I will be involved with. Meanwhile, thank you all for putting up with me for all these years, and for all you have given me.
With my love and prayers,
What a Day! Denise McDougall
I can’t believe the special day that I’ve been studying and preparing for for so long has happened. I think Sunday 29th June was the most amazing day of my life and to share it with so many of my family and friends from St. Faith’s, St. Mary’s and St. Maelog’s as well as friends from every stage of my life was truly overwhelming.
The retreat at Loyola Hall began on the Thursday after we had been for a practice at the cathedral and the Very Revd Vivienne Faull, Dean of Leicester, led the addresses. Those of you who were at the cathedral I‘m sure will appreciate how inspirational her words were to us all. It was a great privilege and pleasure to talk to and listen to her. Of course there was an element of nervousness amongst us, especially before our interviews with Bishop James, Bishop David and the Archdeacon of Liverpool. We needn‘t have worried because they were all very affirming and Myles Davies our retreat conductor did a wonderful job keeping things relaxed. The grounds at Loyola Hall are absolutely beautiful and if any of you do get the opportunity to spend some retreat time there I could certainly recommend it.
Then of course came the big day; by breakfast time most people were wearing their clerical shirts for the first time! There was a wonderful atmosphere of joy and great expectation. However even in my wildest dreams I couldn‘t have imagined the day that was to follow. The service was over all too quickly, but the power of the love I received from God and the many well-wishers will stay with me for ever
The reception back at St. Faith’s was fantastic and as Bruce and I walked in to Chris Price announcing the bride and groom, it really did feel like our wedding day all over again! The food was terrific and so many people asked who had prepared it. In fact I understand someone had even asked for the name and address of the caterers! Thank you so much to all the catering team for the massive part you played in making the whole day so special. Also thanks to Audrey and Chris Dawson for the cake, not only did it look really wonderful but it tasted great as well and of course I’ve got the lovely stole decoration to keep as a constant reminder of the fantastic reception.
I spent the afternoon quietly with my Anglesey friends before we all went off to my first service as ordained deacon at Christ Church. What a welcome I had, the Church was full and had such a happy atmosphere. Thank you so much Ged and all the choir who so willingly gave their services in the absenceofDavid,theorganist from Christ Church,who was on holiday in Torquay, attending another ordination service. Again followed another wonderful buffet, and a chance to get to meet some of my new congregation.
Finally with buffets over and friends homeward bound to all parts of the country Bruce and I were able to reflect on the day. For both of us it felt truly inspirational and awe-inspiring. All the cards, presents and prayers were totally overwhelming and words cannot begin to express my gratitude to all those who helped make the day so memorable. As I now move on to the next stage of my ministry I hope and pray that I can serve God and His people to the very best of my ability and please all be assured of my prayers always. Thank you all,
God bless. Denise xxx
Saint Faith’s Holiday Club 2003 Fr. Neil
We are very fortunate to be running a Holiday Club for the first time at S. Faith‘s thanks to the willing support of Lynne Connolly and her team from S. Mary‘s together with some (almost) willing help from S. Faith’s! We need all sorts of help at the end of the week - particularly with tidying up the Hall and Church and most certainly the Vicarage Garden after the end of the week. So don’t worry that you couldn’t offer to help run a group - there‘s still something for you to do! More from me shortly!
Silver Jubilee Concert
(not HM but Fr. Dennis!)
Saturday 20th September 2003 at 7.30pm in Saint Mary’s
GED CALLACHER and NEIL KELLEY
will be performing on both organs in S. Mary’s
Lots of popular and patriotic tunes.
Bring along your Union Jacks to wave!
(to include a free glass of champagne during the interval)
A Reflection for the Feast
of the Transfiguration of the Lord
From the writings of the Dominican, Jean Corbon
‘Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother John and led them up a high mountain by themselves. He was transfigured before their eyes. His face became as dazzling as the sun, his clothes as radiant as light.’
What took place in this unexpected event? Why did the Incomprehensible One allow his ‘elusive beauty’ to be glimpsed for a moment in the body of the world? Two certainties can serve us as guides. First, the change, or, to transliterate the Greek word, the ‘metamorphosis’ was not a change in Jesus. The gospel text and the unanimous interpretation of the Fathers are clear: Christ ‘was transfigured, not by acquiring what he was not but by manifesting to his disciples what he in fact was; he opened their eyes and gave these blind men sight.’ The change is on the side of the disciples. The second certainty confirms this point: the purpose of the transfiguration, like everything else in the economy that is revealed in the Bible, is the salvation of human beings. As in the burning bush, so here the Word allows the light of his divinity to be seen in his body, in order to communicate not knowledge but life and salvation; he reveals himself by giving himself and he gives himself in order to transform us into himself.
But if it be permissible to take off the sandals of curiosity and inquisitive gnosis and draw near to the mystery, we may ask: why did Jesus choose this particular moment, these two witnesses and these three apostles? What was he, the Son, so passionately in love with the Father and so passionately concerned for us, experiencing in his heart? A few days before Peter had already been given an interior enlightenment and had acknowledged Jesus as the Christ of God. Jesus had then begun to lift the veil from the not far distant ending of his life: he had to suffer, be put to death, and be raised from the dead. It is between this first prediction and the second that he undertakes to ascend the mountain. The reason for the transfiguration can be glimpsed, therefore, in what the evangelists do not say: having finished the instruction preparatory to his own Pasch, Jesus is determined to advance to its accomplishment. With the whole of his being, the whole of his body, he is committed to the loving will of the Father; he accepts that will without reservation. From now on, everything, up to and including the final struggle at which the same three disciples will be invited to be present, will be an expression of his unconditional ‘Yes’ to the Father's love.
We must certainly enter into this mystery of committed love if we are to understand that the transfiguration is not an impossible unveiling of the light of the Word to the eyes of the apostles, but rather a moment of intensity in which the entire being of Jesus is utterly united with the compassion of the Father. During these decisive days of his life he becomes transparent to the light of the love of the One who gives himself to human beings for their salvation. The radiance of the light in the suffering body of Jesus is as it were the thrill experienced by the Father in response to the total self-giving of his only Son. This explains the voice that pierces through the cloud: ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him’ (Mt 17:5).
From the Registers
Marcie Susanne Appleton
Daughter of Leo and Jan
Felicity Lena Stafford
Daughter of Andrew and Andrea
Daniel Richard Spence-Duggan
Son of Stephen and Helen
Zack Dean Henry
Son of Joanne
St Faith’s 100+ Club Draw Winners
The winners of the draws held on 8th June and 6th July were as follows:
8th June6th July
£165Joe Hedgecock£170Betty Sutcliffe
£120Margaret Hesketh Roberts£120Maurice Noakes
£75Claire Hockmey£75Denis Whalley
£50Joan Tudhope£50Ron and Maud Williams
Congratulations to all the winners, and to those who didn’t win - better luck next time. Remember: you’ve got to be in it to win it...
Pam Clark RIP & Tessa Blackburn, RIPFr Neil
People are often surprised to hear that priests can be bereaved just as they are surprised to hear that their doctor is off work with flu!
By the time you read this I will have conducted funeral services for two very dear friends, both in London. Both people have visited S. Faith’s on a number of occasions and, typically (of them, and of the friendliness of S. Faith’s), friendships have been made.
PAM CLARK first visited Crosby, with her friend Rita, for my induction in 1999. They were ‘put up’ at the MacDougalls’ as the Vicarage was full! Since then they have been regular visitors to our parish, coming up for Patronal Festivals, four Easter festivals, and various other concerts and celebrations. Pam and Rita were christened ‘honorary house-keepers’ when the petrol strike in 2000 kept them from travelling back south. Pam had her regular routine when here, shopping in Southport, a trip to Tony Almond’s (Rita had to get a bigger car in order to take back all the bargains!) and a good hair-do at Jonathan James. ‘I live near Kingston-Upon-Thames,’ said Pam. ‘Oh, do yer?’ said Jonathan. ‘Welcome to Waterloo-Near-Mersey!’ On more than one occasion after Evensong during Holy Week a quick meal was found for me (and Fr. Dennis, no mean feat) before we rushed off to celebrate liturgies between the two churches. She was a good DIY person and regularly came down to breakfast with a screwdriver in her hand, having mended something early in the morning. When Bishop Michael Marshall stayed a couple of years ago for our Patronal Festival, Pam said that she would make his breakfast in the morning, so long as he didn‘t mind us all being in our dressing-gowns!
Pam endeared herself to many people and it was no surprise that when staying here she, and Rita, would be invited out either to afternoon tea, or supper, or both, by parishioners from our two churches.
As a Churchwarden dealing with an interregnum Pam understood the difficulties and complexities of parish life. She and Rita joined us for the retreat at Parcevall Hall during Lent and her last visit to S. Faith‘s was for Holy Week and Easter. She returned to Cranford, Middlesex, in time for her APCM, but things were not right. Only days later it was discovered she had a brain tumour. Apart from being allowed out of hospital for her Patronal Festival (S. Dunstan’s day in May) she never returned home. In one of her last conversations before she died she said how very much she was looking forwardto comingon ourpilgrimage to Walsinghamin the Autumn.Iam glad that Rita and I were able to be with her only a few days before she died. She was a faithful Christian person and I know that the worship and life of S. Faith‘s meant so much to her. It was lovely that Margaret Davies and Joan Tudhope were able to come to London for the funeral and we were so glad to bring Rita back with us for Denise‘s ordination and the Gardens Open Day.
TESSA BLACKBURN’s visit to S. Faith’s was before the induction. She was on one of her many visits to me in Kirkby and came over with me to see how the decorating was getting on. The bright colours were on the walls. ‘Who chose the colours?’ Tessa asked. ‘I did,’ I said. Long pause. ‘Darling…. They are simply wonderful!’ Tessa was a vibrant person and she has touched the lives of so many people. She proudly walked her daughter Olivia up the aisle of S. Nicholas’s Chiswick when Olivia married Vivian Enever in 1997. Olivia sang at my induction in 1999 and she has returned to perform in S. Faith’s. Tessa was narrator for our ‘Gala Night at the Opera’ (Centenary Celebration) and more recently read one of the lessons at last year‘s World Aids Day/Advent Carol Service. She, like Pam, has shared the hospitality of a number of people at S. Faith’s and discussions with Tessa over dinner were never dull! The Dean of Liverpool, Bishop Rupert Hoare, remembers that well. She wasn‘t afraid to take anyone to task!
At Tessa’s 60th Birthday Concert in Chiswick the whole audience (some 300+ friends) joined together at the end to sing the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ from Handel‘s Messiah. No presents - donations to charity. At the time of writing the plan is that at the end of her Funeral Mass everyone sings the same piece! It is a right and fitting tribute to a truly colourful life.
Tessa made many friends and her interests were wide and varied. In her ‘spare time’ since retirement she travelled up and down the country visiting people in prison who otherwise wouldn’t have been visited. She was very involved in political life (her late husband was an MP) and she often championed the cause of the underdog.She had no time for sitting on the fence. Judgement was not a word in her vocabulary (despite the fact it seems so fashionable in certain parts of the Church of England these days). She lived her Christian faith in all she did and her kindness to her friends cannot be measured. Cancer got the better of her last Autumn (as it had done some years ago) though it didn’t stop her passion for life.
Both Tessa and Pam were kept in touch with life here by monthly editions of Newslink. I have lost two very dear friends. We assure their families of our love and prayers. The Church of England has most certainly lost two precious gems. May they rest in peace.
Land’s End to John o’Groat’sPaul Dawson
Fr Paul Dawson recently completed a marathon sponsored cycle ride to raise funds for the church school in his parish. Below he writes to thank those from St Faith’s who sponsored him and to tell the tale of his 1,000-mile hike.
Thank you for your generosity in sponsoring the cycle ride from Land’s End to John o’Groat’s. Despite appalling weather the ride was completed on schedule. We left Land’s End on Monday 28th April; although it was showery the weather wasn‘t as bad as forecast. Cornwall and Devon lived up to their reputation of being the toughest part of the route for hills. To avoid main roads we kept near the coast which meant climbing hills only to descend back to sea level and then climb up all over again. Dartmoor saw us caught in a heavy squall of rain which seemed very fitting for such infamous scenery. In Taunton we found a full scale thunderstorm underway, with the roads so flooded that our feet were under water for miles. It was wet, but spectacular fun as the water was quite mild. Then up across the Severn to ride through Shropshire and Cheshire with more heavy showers. It seemed the clouds were following us.
The hills of Lancashire brought the first dry weather and wonderful scenery as we made our way northwards towards Hadrian’s Wall. A bike is truly the best way to enjoy this lovely part of our country. The ride into Scotland was a brutal struggle against a strong north-west wind, so it was with aching legs that we climbed the hills to Wanlockhead, the highest village in Scotland. The pub was closed which didn‘t go down very well. A better day saw us reach Loch Lomond via Glasgow where the rain graciously held off until the very moment we had reached the hostel. But then came a real fight of a ride, up over Rannoch Moor to Glen Coe. A 60mph wind forecast, with gusts of 85mph. At one stage we were literally blown off the road. The air temperature was 2C and the rain came at us horizontally. Even the 1000-foot descent was made in first gear battling down the hill.
Our next destination was Loch Ness, and though there was snow on the hills and sleet on the roads at least the wind was with us. We raced along, reaching our destination by lunchtime. So we rode on, passing the century (100 miles) near the Muir of Ord, and going even further to Carbisdale Castle for the night. 128 miles in all, and the reward was a hot meal with a bottle of wine and a night in a haunted castle. From there a gentler trip to Tongue, where we reached the north coast.Turning east,we reachedJohn o’Groat’s onSunday 11th May, right on schedule. It was a real sense of achievement, even though it hadn’t really sunk in just how far we‘d come.
Overall we rode 1018 miles: a bit longer than we had expected, but part of that was due to avoiding busy roads in bad weather. In the spray lorries and coaches can't see cyclists so we had to go a bit further for safety. Looking back, it seems unreal that we really did it. Much of the journey is a rather watery blur. But the generosity of so many people has made it a great success. Even now bits of money keep turning up, so we still don‘t have a final total. Speaking to our church treasurer he tells me that we have passed £6,500 so far. So I think I shall pack in the day job and become a professional cyclist.
A coach-load of supporters made the journey to Liverpool Cathedral on Sunday 29th June for the ordination to the diaconate of Denise McDougall. It was in every sense a Great Occasion: the sun shone, the cathedral was packed, the organ thundered and everything and everybody rose to the occasion. The scenes of jubilation in the Cathedral Nave after the service were more than matched in St Faith’s hall an hour later, when Denise was greeted by her many friends and shared in a splendid feast. The day was complete when, that evening, she assisted at her first eucharist just down the road at Christ Church, Waterloo, where her ministry will continue.
Those of us who have watched and encouraged her on her pilgrimage to the priesthood offer her our love and congratulations. It is wonderful that the great tradition of ordinands from St Faith’s is being once again upheld and we wish Denise every happiness and blessing in the years ahead. Elsewhere in this issue you can read Denise’s own thoughts on the day, as well as looking at some of the pictures of the event.
For this writer, the cathedral service brought back memories of past ordinations, of our own candidates and those coming to serve as curates in our parish. As always on such occasions, the proceedings are distanced by the vastness of the cathedral and it is only as the processions pass that you can really see anything much, and then only if you are near the central aisle. Some years ago, this remoteness prompted a poem which I reprint below as a tribute to my old friend the Reverend Denise.
On the floor of this consecrated and cavernous cathedral space
An intricate pattern of worship is laid down.
At eye-level, one of a thousand witnesses,
I peer past hats and hairdos to perceive
A two-dimensional and partial perspective.
Bishops and deacons and servants of the sanctuary
Progress ponderously into and past the eye’s immediate focus
To squat on distant squares of this vast chess-board.
In due course, remote hands are laid on heads
As the blurred word bounces off the unyielding walls,
Arriving sooner, or later, acoustically distorted,
Twice blessed (at least) in my uncomprehending ear.
The choir’s fragmented polyphonic praisings
Skitter around this vast and echoing nave
Until, to the organ’s thunderous proclamations,
The priestly protagonists process again
Back into my view and on and out of sight.
This has all happened to someone else, not me.
Desirous of a decent view for once,
In fantasy now I float free into the third dimension,
Rising slowly above the serried ranks
To hover, bird’s-eyed in the middle air.
No longer depressed by the gravity of the situation,
Powered by my inflated personality,
I swoop weightless over pulpit and organ-pipes,
Pigeon-like, drop in on episcopally mitred heads,
Dispassionately noting receding priestly hairlines.
So that’s what happens. I see it all at last.
Drifting higher, I perceive all this pomp and clerical circumstance
As merely a shifting multi-coloured carpet on a distant floor
From which thin sounds waver up towards the over-arching vault.
Now even the foursquare tower dissolves;
The organ’s utterance diminishes to a murmur,
As my gondola soars past the tower’s topmost pinnacle,
Out and up into the bright, still upper air,
To where cathedral, city, river and shining estuary
Are part of a coloured counterpane laid on the flat earth;
And all things: my empty seat far below,
The songs of praise, the solid statement of the sandstone tower,
Are one with birdsong and the sighing wind.
Is this God’s vision of his diocese?
So minute, so lacking in significance?
Quickly, I pull in the string of my imagination’s balloon
And perch once more, deflated, safely small, anonymous and earthbound.
Time to greet friends and find the lavatories.
Now where did I park the car?
From The Tao of Pooh Benjamin Hoff
In the story of the Ugly Duckling, when did the ugly duckling stop feeling ugly? When he realised that he was a swan. Each of us has something special, a swan of some sort, hidden inside somewhere. But until we recognise that it’s there, what can we do but splash around, treading water? The wise are who they are. They work with what the’ve got and do what they can do.
There are things about ourselves that we need to get rid of, there are things we need to change. But at the same time, we do not need to be too desperate, too ruthless, too combative. Along the way to usefulness and happiness, many of those things will change themselves, and the others can be worked on as we go. The first thing we need to do is recognise and trust our own inner nature, and not lose sight of it. For within the ugly duckling is the swan, inside the bouncy tigger is the rescuer who knows the way, and in each of us is something special, and that we need to keep.
For a long time they looked at the river beneath them, saying nothing, and the river said nothing too, for it felt very quiet and peaceful on that summer afternoon.
is all right really,’ said Piglet lazily. ‘Of course he is’ said
Robin. ‘Everybody is really.’ ‘That’s what I think,’ said Pooh. ‘But I
don’t suppose I’m right.’ ‘Of course you are,’ said Christopher Robin.
Joyce GreenFr Neil
On Sunday 13th July Joyce Green preached her final sermon in her capacity as Reader before she ‘hung up the blue scarf’ and retired officially. I personally have been very grateful to Joycefor her loyalty and support in my four-and-a-bit years here. She has always spoken her mind and there have been times when we as a Ministry Team have had our disagreements (thank the Lord for that!) but her loyalty in her service as Reader and to the parish has been second to none. She has done much to help the ministry of the laity develop even more and her diligent ministry in conducting funerals, visiting the bereaved, preparing couples for marriage and visiting baptism families has been much appreciated. A couple of years ago I opened the door to find a bouquet of flowers delivered in thanks for a funeral. For Joyce, not me!
It is difficult to note the many aspects of Joyce‘s ministry. Suffice it to say that in retirement she will continue to help with the following: co-ordinating baptism visiting in both parishes, arranging the intercessions rota, serving as a Eucharistic Minister and taking Holy Communion to the sick, helping with bible studies and discussion groups… and I dare say a few other things! No-one else has a quiet retirement at S. Faith’s - why should Readers be any different? (Hear, hear! Ed.)
Seriously Joyce, thank you for all you have already given to the family of S. Faith’s and we look forward to continuing to benefit from your service to the Church for many years to come.
Feast Day of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Friday 15th August
8.00pm Festival Eucharist followed by wine in the Vicarage Garden
Preacher: Father Colin Oxenforth
Sunday 17th August at 4pm
BBQ for members of both congregations in the Vicarage Garden. Tickets available soon. Usual excellent food, company and the ever-popular Bouncy Castle for the Children (until it gets dark and the adults can have a go again!). Please support this and pray for good weather!
Letter to the Editor
After reading the long series of articles in your excellent magazine, I feel that I must write on behalf of another minority group who often feel misunderstood and persecuted. This group doesn‘t usually make the national headlines with attention grabbing ‘Shock Horror’ banners in large typeface, neither do they feature in religious newspapers where there are apparently only two topics worth mentioning (gay vicars and women priests).
The minority group to which I belong feels persecuted because we don‘t read about ourselves in the papers and we don‘t receive special funding for any of our idiosyncratic behaviours. We neither protest in Westminster with banner- waving rallies nor (normally) write to editors seeking publicity. Our private behaviour causes offence to no one, nor does it affect the private lives of others. We go to work, pay our taxes, live our lives, enjoy our retirement and (hopefully) help a few people on the way. We seek no publicity, no public office or funding.
Have you guessed who this ‘minority group’ are? We are the majority of your readers who are heterosexuals, many of whom actually live with partners of the opposite sex, and to whom the constant and ‘in your face’ publicity by the gay and lesbian community is quite frankly becoming a pain.
The views I express are personal, and I would hesitate to claim to speak on behalf of the entire heterosexual group. However I am sure that the vast majority of us are firstly supportive of those who wish to live with same sex partners, and secondly fed up to the back teeth with the publicity which surrounds any non-heterosexual action or relationship. Who really gives a fig about the personal lives of others? As individuals we stand or fall in society by our relationship with all of that society — our abilities and talents are God- given and should be accepted and used by society for the common good.
Please bring back newspapers and magazines that don’t seek either to ‘expose’ or ‘justify’. This is not news – it’s ancient history. Let’s open discussion on things that really matter such as poverty, disease, fair trade, man‘s inhumanity to man. Oh dear, I think I’ve just used an inappropriate and politically incorrect phrase!
Name and address supplied.
Are we, really, the Body of Christ?Fr. Neil
Many of you will know that on 22nd June a petition to the Bishop of Liverpool was signed by 107 parishioners. It concerned the current debate within the Church of England. The petition however was not ‘pro-gay’or ‘anti-gay’. It was simply concerned with justice and truth (though truth seems not to be the flavour of the month). The petition stated that:
‘We, the undersigned, as parishioners of St Faith‘s Church, Great Crosby, and St. Mary‘s Church, Waterloo Park, regret the manner in which the appointment of Canon Jeffrey John as Suffragan Bishop of Reading has been publicly opposed in the press. We recognise that there are sincere differences of opinion with regard to such matters as issues of human sexuality, but we believe that the church must aim to be an inclusive, welcoming, and diverse place whilst we continue our conversation. We do not believe that public condemnation in the media will assist this to happen and would wish to offer our public support to Canon Jeffrey John at what must be a difficult time for him as he awaits his consecration later this year. We welcome his appointment and look forward to his consecration.’
Many of us are therefore saddened that Fr. Jeffrey John has withdrawn from the picture - though who could honestly blame him? Perhaps more saddened if the real reasons for the withdrawal are true (like good Anglicans we always believe what we read in the press, especially when from an Episcopal mouth!). We can well wonder what all the fuss is about; after all, S. Faith’s has for many years been a place which is truly inclusive, welcoming, and diverse. That is a great credit to the good folk, clergy and laity, who have worked tirelessly over the decades to make it so. But - I am sad to say - the rest of the Church of England is not quite as tolerant and accepting as S. Faith‘s!
An excellent article in the Independent last month called for an end to this debate. Hear, hear! Well said. There are more important issues at stake. There are more important things for the Church to debate. (That said I think, if truth be told, that we would always be happier skirting around any issue.… We have had ten years of debate about the Church Hall and how it would get us ‘more involved in the community’;… we didn’t get the bid… but not one person has asked with any passion what the future of our community involvement will be!). Gay people might well be the first, I suppose, to say ‘let’s talk about something/someone else’.In my sermon on 22nd June, I said:
‘Just suppose for a moment that Dr Jeffrey John was heterosexual and in his past had enjoyed a relationship with someone of the opposite sex. Would those Bishops who oppose his appointment still take the same line?I don‘t think so.’
I will be the first to crack open a bottle of good champagne and drink a toast to an ‘ending of debating things that don’t matter’. Perhaps when Christians get to that stage the Church of England might start to grow again. Until then I commend to you this excellent article from The Guardian (not my usual paper, but I have found that truth is to be found in such unexpected places if you really trust the Holy Spirit).
Welcome to the Demise of the Church of England‘
Evangelicals have declared war and look like winning...
What a relief it is that Jeffrey John has resigned. He would have spent the next 20 years being pursued every day by curtain-twitching snoopers, being looked at askance by everyone he met, and achieving nothing of any real value. Nobody needs to waste their time and energy like that, especially someone of the calibre of Jeffrey John.
For some reason the evangelicals have declared war on the rest of the Church of England. If they win — and on present form it looks as though they will — they will win control of the Church of England. But they will have destroyed it in the process. They will have gained complete control of a deserted, burnt- out ghost town: a band of slightly freakish obsessives haunted by the ghosts of their own puritanical self-righteousness, and utterly irrelevant to the lives of right-thinking people everywhere.
The open letter from nine diocesan bishops last month expressing concern about the appointment and thus publicly condemning the views of their own archbishop was far more significant than the resignation. They have declared war on their own archbishop. No organisation can survive such blatant and open rebellion in the ranks. Welcome to the demise of the Church of England, led by its own house of evangelical bishops. In this context, the resignation is neither here nor there.
We used to be a broad church, verging on the progressive. ‘Issues in Human Sexuality’, published more than 10 years ago, says that such a large minority of good Christian people now support gay partnerships, that the church must support gay lay people in such relationships. It then says that clergy should not yet ‘claim’ this same ‘liberty’ for themselves, though there will be no questioning of the right of two friends of the same sex to make their home together, and no ‘inquisition’ into the conduct of clergy as this would constitute an unacceptable invasion of their privacy. It was a policy of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’.
We kept our side of the deal: absolute silence, in public and in private, about such an important aspect of our Christian lives. Perhaps the evangelicals never intended to keep their side of the deal. They have certainly abandoned it now.
The best way forward now would be to pull the bully off its victim and then keep the two of them apart: in other words, deliberately divide the church, perhaps into three or four major new groupings. End the establishment once and for all — its bizarre way of appointing bishops got us into this mess — and let each new group rise or fall on the basis of its merits before God, rather than fighting each other, leaving the fiercest triumphant and the gentle-spirited dead. All that anyone has demonstrated in the last few weeks is that this is no way to run a church.
The writer is a gay vicar who prefers to remain anonymous.
THE EDITOR (a byword for balance) is as happy to print Average Parishioner’s letter as he is Fr Neil’s timely comments and the Guardian article, with its thought-provoking conclusion, to which they are a preface. It is Newslink policy to include, space permitting, as much as possible of the material we receive, as well as to try and reflect the issues preoccupying the church, locally and national, at various times.
He nevertheless now hopes that contributors and correspondents will understand if he uses a phrase he has long wanted to employ:
THIS CORRESPONDENCE IS NOW CLOSED. ED.!
Thought for Today
When someone offers help to you
Don’t say with solemn face,
‘Oh I can manage, thank you, dear,’
Accept it with good grace.
That other person needs to give,
And you must learn to take,
For kindness grows by constant use,
A better world to make.
The paradox of our time in history is that...
We have taller buildings but shorter tempers;
Wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints;
We spend more, but have less; we buy more but enjoy it less.
We have bigger houses and smaller families;
More convenience but less time;
We have more degrees, but less sense;
More knowledge, but less judgement;
More experts, but fewer solutions;
More medicine, but less wellness.
We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.
We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.
We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life;
We’ve added years to life, not life to years.
We’ve been all the way to the moon and back,
— but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbour.
We’vee conquered outer space, but not inner space;
We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul;
We’ve split the atom, but not our prejudice.
We’ve higherincomes but lower morals;
We’ve become long on quantity, but short on quality.
These are times of tall men, and short character;
Steep profits, and shallow relationships.
These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare;
More leisure, but less fun;
More kinds of food, but less nutrition.
These are the days of two incomes, but more divorce;
Of fancier houses, but broken homes.
It is a time when there is much in the show window
And nothing in the stock room.
Written by an American student and supplied by Margaret Davies
Open Gardens and Bouncy Castles
Well, the gardens opened but the heavens didn’t, so some prayers were answered that day! It was the ideal day: warm and calm, and ‘bright cloudy’ most of the time, which meant that teas could be served on lawns and no-one got sunstroke.
The Second Annual Saint Faith’s Open Gardens Day (quite obviously, by now, A Tradition!) was a great success and, by all accounts, thoroughly enjoyed by all who opened their gardens and all who visited them. The editorial garden was graced by fifty or more visitors during the course of the afternoon, and the other five hosts reported equal success. The Pimms and Punch flowed and the jazz played in the evening at the Vicarage, and a Good Time was had by All. with some £500 being made for the funds. After days of frantic weeding, dead-heading, mowing and edging, six gardens at least could now relapse into unkempt horticultural abandon, althought the vicarage gardeners had to keep on their toes for the remaining events of the St Faith’s summer season.
The first of these was the Joint Sunday Schools Party, which was blessed with a similar day of benign weather. This involved the traditional Bouncy Castle (this year it was an elephant), Face Painting, Passing the Parcel, Making Masks, Trampling on the Flowerbeds and Eating and Drinking as Much as Possible. On this month‘s cover and elsewhere, enjoy something of the flavour of this event.
The summer used to be a time for quiet reflection and recharging the batteries for the autumn. And the editor had a week or two off with a summer double issue. The long-suffering will realise, and the observant will notice, that neither of these statements holds true in the St Faith‘s of 2003....
Bread of the World
When we are told to go out after Communion it means more than going out from the service and the building. It means — as it meantto the Apostles — going out from the safeness of the church into the dangerousness of the world; from the security of a nice Christian surrounding into the great secular insecurity that surrounds us, where everything will be questioned and nothing taken for granted. And we can, if we like, protect ourselves from that world by remaining in a sort of Christian bubble, filling our lives with church-centred activity, continually reassuring ourselves of the impregnability of our faith, but that will not be mission.
We can indeed make ourselves look very missionary by going all out to serve others or bring them to Christ, but if it is all done from within the bubble and for the sake of the bubble (and always to be talking about Jesus can be an excellent way of insulating ourselves, as well as driving those around us to drink), it is not true mission. Mission means going right out from ‘the physical and spiritual Upper Room’, into the world where no holds are barred. What then is meant by ‘Eucharistic life’? It doesn‘t mean going to church every five minutes and it doesn’t mean walling oneself in with Christian thoughts and Christian friends, important though these are.
Rather it means reproducing in everyday life the pattern of the Eucharist which is the pattern of Christ; living a life in which penitence and forgiveness are integral; open to the glory of God in even the most unexpected settings; listening for his Word in whatever is said and in the space between; testing one‘s belief against the belief and the unbelief of the world; offering oneself for others, and others to God, entering into the darkness, brokenness and bloodiness of things in the nakedness of unprotected faith and enjoying to the full our community with people of every possible kind and with the whole created order.
We pray God to make us a living sacrifice, but by itself that’s too narrow and negative; we must become in fact a living sacrament, giving with love and receiving with thanks.
Newslink ProductionChris Price
From time to time people ask for information about Newslink, so I thought it was about time for a brief account of how the magazine works and how it has developed over the years.
St Faith‘s magazine went ‘in house’ when I took it over in the 1960s: first as a duplicated production and later printed. The production processes over the years have evolved through stencil duplication to (part) letterpress printing, then offset litho and finally by the present combination of digital processes. The current magazines originate as word processor masters. Copy comes mostly these days by email, with some getting on screen by Optical Character recognition scanning of ‘hard copy’ printed originals, and others manually inputted from handwritten originals. The assembled copy is transferred from PC Word format to Archimedes Impression documents at the Image Press at Merchant Taylors’ School, Crosby: an organisation founded and still run in his retirement by the editor. Before going over to PCs and the ubiquitous Microsoft software, all the school‘s computing was run on Acorn Archimedes, and it remains this writer‘s preferred word processing package for three reasons. One of these is familiarity, the second is the availability of a wide range of attractive fonts (type faces), and the third and most important is the facility for paging up and printing out text in booklet format ready to print (something which Impression does far better than does Bill Gates’ Microsoft!)
The pages are printed on a Ricoh digital laser printer, with illustrations added separately in spot colour. These are chosen from my large scrapbooks of religious and secular line drawings, scaled as needed on a photocopier; this latter machine is also used for reproducing photographs. Collation, folding, stapling and trimming are done on appropriate machinery, which is labour-saving when it works!
We produce currently about 365 copies monthly (originally nine issues per year, then ten, and, as you are reading the first-ever August issue, now eleven per year). Of these 60+ copies go out on my postal list, 30+ on Fr Dennis’s, copies go to the Vicarage, to St Mary’s and the back of church for visitors, while the rest are delivered by a gallant team of Parish Visitor distributors (to whom my renewed thanks) to deliver to church members, fringe members, friends and interested parties in the parish and surroundings. All church printing (and believe me, there is a lot more than just the magazine!) is done at school and paid for by an annual charge to the church: thus we are able toprovide Newslink free of charge to everyone, although all donations towards St Faith‘s annual printing budget are always more than welcome.
Older readers may recall that over the years Newslink has twice been voted, in national competitions, best church magazine in the Liverpool Diocese and once best in the country. We entered the equivalent national competition earlier this year and were eventually declared 29th out of over 500 entries overall and 23rd in the ‘Best Print’ category. We must, like Moses, keep taking the tablets! The editor/printer/dogsbody takes this opportunity of thanking our many contributors for filling the pages month by month with varied and interesting material and thereby ensuring that in his retirement he always has something to look forward to...
Mon£y Matt£rs... the Vicar writes
We seem to be doing slightly better than this time last year in terms of finances; however work needs to be done on the gutters of the church and there are other matters needing attention regarding Church security. The PCC will need to discuss soon whether or not we have a CCTV system installed to cover the church and hall. Many churches are subject to vandalism and ours is no exception.
With this in mind please continue to support the fund-raising events. They are not just occasions to make money (though we need to do this) - they actually help to build the community and there is no price which can be put on that. Many thanks to all who supported the Gardens Open Day (read about it elsewhere). Other events coming later in the year are the Summer BBQ and a concert planned for S. Cecilia‘s Day. Not to mention the Pantomime early in 2004!
New people are joining the 100+ Club and we are slowly getting towards 200 members. This undoubtedly helps us, and our grateful thanks to Miriam for the organization of this (and for her patience when, despite month after month of announcements, people still do not pay on time!). AND, if everyone can increase their regular giving by just £1 per week ™ as was suggested by the Diocesan Resources Department at our recent PCC Away-day, we will be in an even stronger position.
Perhaps you do not attend S. Faith’s Church, are reading this article, and would like to contribute regularly to the life and mission of our Church? If so, please let us know!