The Parish Magazine of St Faith`s Church, Great Crosby
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O Christ the same through all our story‘s pages,
Our loves and hopes, our failures and our fears;
Eternal Lord, the King of all the ages,
Unchanging still, amid the passing years:
O living Word, the source of all creation,
Who spread the skies, and set the stars ablaze,
O Christ the same, who wrought our whole salvation,
We bring our thanks for all our yesterdays.
O Christ the same, the friend of sinners, sharing
Our inmost thoughts, the secrets none can hide,
Still as of old upon your body bearing
The marks of love, in triumph glorified:
O Son of Man, who stooped to us from heaven,
O Prince of life, in all your saving power,
O Christ the same, to whom our hearts are given,
We bring our thanks for this the present hour.
O Christ the same, secure within whose keeping
Our lives and loves, our days and years remain,
Our work and rest, our waking and our sleeping,
Our calm and storm, our pleasure and our pain:
O Lord of love, for all our joys and sorrows,
For all our hopes, when earth shall fade and flee,
O Christ the same, for all our brief tomorrows,
We bring our thanks for all that is to be.
As I write we are preparing for the great festival of the Epiphany, and the old year is ebbing to its close. As 2003 approaches our country is poised again on the brink of war, a war which nobody wants and whose outcome and consequences cannot be foreseen. It is a time for looking back and a time for looking forward.
Two thousand years ago St. Matthew wrote about a despotic ruler so desperate to cling on to power that he was prepared to slaughter his own people rather than risk defeat. When he heard of the birth of Christ, King Herod was terrified that here at last was the long promised Messiah who would eventually overthrow him and seize power. Herod could not have known how wrong he was, or how right he was; for the One he feared would seek neither political or military power. The Messiah was to ride into Jerusalem not at the head of an army, but riding on a donkey. In his triumph he was to look down on his people not from a throne, but from a cross. But triumph it was, the triumph of vulnerable love, the love that in death gives all and so wins all.
The Messiah had little recognition in his lifetime. From his birth his mission was misunderstood and misinterpreted. Only astrologers from the East, untrustworthy foreigners with strange manners and customs who knew nothing of the Jewish religion, sensed the significance of his birth. They seem to have recognised something miraculous in the baby of Bethlehem: perhaps it was the strange power of His vulnerability, the power of One who in giving all had nothing else to lose. Certainly the gifts they gave were puzzling and paradoxical: gold for a king, yes, but a king who would offer his life to God like the burning of incense, a king whose victory would be gained only through the myrrh of bitter defeat and death.
Every Christmas and Epiphany, every New Year, brings the hope of a new world order, the hope of peace on earth to men and women of goodwill. Whether we go to war or not. I hope that as Christians we can carry into the new year the hope and promise of the Epiphany. Political power and military might can never bring into being the Kingdom of Heaven. In the story of the Epiphany our Lord reveals to us His alternative: it is the beauty and the power of vulnerability. In the child of Bethlehem we have both an example and a challenge. As an example He calls us to follow Him along the path of self-giving and reconciliation.
The defeat of a despot in Baghdad will be a hollow victory for the world and for history if the lasting outcome is an irreversible increase in hatred between Moslem and Christian, Moslem and Jew. Unless it is already too late we should start, now, along the painful and risky path of reconciliation. And his challenge is this: it is to see, in the weak and the vulnerable, His own image. We must try to see the suffering people of Iraq in the light of the Epiphany. It would be a terrible and ironic tragedy if by going to war we were to create our own Slaughter of the Innocents.
Stop Press: Oh No It Isn‘t!
We are very sorry to have to announce that the United Benefice Dramatic Society‘s production of `Cinderella‘ will not now be taking place at the end of this month.
A number of illnesses and withdrawals by key member of the cast and production team, together with other production problems, have led to the decision to postpone the pantomime. Rather than risk putting on a show that might fall below the high standards of our two previous productions, it was felt better to wait until we could again do justice to everybody‘s high expectations. Watch this space for announcements in due course! Meanwhile, those seeking refunds (and we won‘t force anyone!) should contact Chris Price (0151-924 1938) if they haven‘t already done so.
Never once since the world began
Has the sun ever stopped shining.
His face very often we could not see,
And we grumbled at his inconsistency.
But the clouds were really to blame, not he:
For, behind them, he was shining.
And so ... behind life‘s darkest clouds,
God‘s love is always shining.
We veil it at times with our faithless fears,
And darken our sight with our foolish tears;
But in time the atmosphere always clears,
For His love is always shining.
The Two Wolves
An old Cherokee Indian was teaching his grandson about life. `A fight is going on inside me?, he said to the boy. `It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil: he is anger, greed, envy, sorrow, regret, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride.‘
`The other is good: he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. The same fight is going on inside you ... and inside every other person too.‘
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: ?Which wolf will win?‘
The old Cherokee simply replied: `The one you feed.‘
(Both items from the magazine
St John the Baptist, Meols.)
All the Best Tunes? Chris Price
Did you know that a British rock music band called `Delirious?‘ has sold more albums in America than Robbie Williams, but can‘t get airtime on the BBC? Even stranger, did you know that they are committed Christians? A recent article by Richard Grant in the Sunday Telegraph surprised me with these and other revelations.
It appears that Christian rock music is the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. market, with American bands with such fetching names as `Payable on Death‘ (`tattooed, abrasive, grunge metal with overtly Christian lyrics and snarled rapping‘), and `Jars of Clay‘ (who have sold five million albums). Delirious? — the leading British exponents — regularly sell out 10,000-seater arenas in America. Interviewed before a concert in Dallas, their lead singer and songwriter calls the band together. `All right, let‘s have a quick prayer and get together, yeah? Thank you, God, for getting us over to America again… and, uh, give us a good night and everything. Amen.‘
Their music is far away from what Grant calls the ?schmaltzy, happy-clappy folk pop‘ of the Christian radio stations of the U.S. Rousing rock anthems alternate with soft, ethereal, hypnotic synthesizer patterns; they play to audiences of ecstatic teenagers whose T-shirts bear slogans like ?Rejoice for He is Risen‘ and ?Jesus is Lord‘, and who greet their idols with whoops, coyote howls and cries of `Go with God!‘ and ?Jesus rocks!‘ They know the words of the songs band member Martin Smith has written and sing along to ?We‘ll see your glory here‘ ™ he wrote it in his English bedroom and now people sing it back to him in churches and stadiums all over the world.
The band come from the staid English south coast retirement town of Littlehampton, grew up in Christian families, and were steeped in the `youth culture‘ of the Eighties. But they grew to be embarrassed by what one calls the `Arran-sweater-wearing, rainbow-strap-on-the-guitar, socks-and-sandals, tambourine-shaking‘ style of evangelical Christianity. Starting out as `Cutting Edge‘, they aimed instead to produce the same emotional and musical intensity as their favourite secular bands. Soon, giving up their existing jobs, they rebranded themselves as `Delirious?‘ and headed for fame.
Their penetration of the British market, we are told, is ?far more extensive than most Britons realise.‘ They have sold out Wembley stadium, get their singles into the Top 20 and their albums into the Top 40 but despite their efforts, Radio 1 won‘t play their numbers. Whether this is because of the Christian message, or the Christian stigma, or the fact that they are white boys from Littlehampton is unclear: the BBC‘s trendy prejudice against Christianity (headed by an agnostic Head of Religious Broadcasting! Ed.) doubtless doesn‘t help.
They are frustrated about this, naturally enough, but their international growth continues, especially in America, where you can talk about Christianity without sacrificing credibility. In the past year they have played live to one million people in 10 different countries and sold two million albums. Their hectic life exposes them to culture shock in a country where `They love their guns but freak out if you have a beer‘. They have to be very careful about their lyrics: the line ?She‘s as pretty as hell‘ in one of their songs led to a boycott of their records in Christian bookstores! Now they refuse to be drawn on Christian political controversies and politely skirt around questions about abortion, homosexuality, evolution and pre-marital sex. Martin Smith says: `We‘d probably agree with some but not all of it.‘ And ?Stu G.‘ adds: ?We‘re religious, right, but sometimes the religiosity of America freaks us out.‘
After the concert, it‘s back to Littlehampton, the wife and kids and ?back to being an extra-normal bloke‘. A band member says he has to mow the lawn before they fly out to South Africa. Another is still trapped by fans. A man is yelling at him. `Go with God and remember Jesus rocks! Give the devil a bloody nose for us, you hear‘. `Uh yeah, thanks, then‘, is the bemused reply.
The phenomenon is amazing to this writer as well as the Telegraph
We tend to pick up on most things American sooner or later, and I
whether this uninhibited, youthful and astonishingly successful brand
the gospel will ever hit our shores, and I then wonder how the trendy,
scoffing liberal and media establishment who work so hard in Britain to
marginalize Christianity and the Church will cope if and when it
on to our scene. Come to that, how will the Church itself cope? We have
scarcely built ourselves a name for open and ready acceptance of change
after all. But then why should the devil have all the best tunes?
Well, here I am at the beginning of the Spring Term in my final year on the Northern Ordination Course. It really hit me how time had flown when I was browsing through the 2003 Diary of events at St. Faith‘s and I saw June 29th in print for my ordination at Liverpool Cathedral. It is hard to believe that time has flown by so quickly; in fact it is five years since I embarked on the Foundation Course with a wonderful group of people from St. John and St. James in Litherland
So, with just a little less than two terms to go, there really is light at the end of the tunnel in terms of trips to Manchester and the line of essays to be completed. Last term we were studying philosophy and ethics, which proved to be very interesting but we reached no definitive answers, just had loads more questions! As with all modules comes the dreaded essay, so I have spent a good deal of time over the Christmas holidays reading up and writing an essay on ethics. I‘ve still around another two thousand words to go! After that piece of work is handed in I shall then be able to concentrate on my dissertation. Although the final title has not yet been agreed upon, it will be something like `Where is God in a Special School for boys with emotional and behavioural difficulties?‘ (I always did like a good challenge!)
I am delighted to be able to tell you that just before Christmas I received a letter from Chester College (NOC is affiliated to Chester College) congratulating me on gaining my Diploma in Advanced Studies in Applied Theology. The essays that I have been submitting for this part of the course have doubled up with some of essays for the internal part of the Ordination Course as well. Apparently there is a presentation of certificates in Chester Cathedral in March. (Day off school, can‘t be bad!) I didn‘t expect to be saying this but I know that I shall miss the course. The fellowship is wonderful and there have been many highlights.
As most of you now know, I have accepted the curacy offered to me at Christ Church and St. John‘s, Waterloo. It will be very hard leaving St. Faith‘s after all these years but I am confident that Christ Church is most definitely the right place for me to serve my title. I am looking forward to learning from and working alongside the Revd. Gregor Cuff and getting to know the congregation. They have already welcomed Bruce and me very warmly and I think they are really pleased to be having a curate.
Now that I know where I am going I feel really excited by the change and the challenge. I know that I have an enormous amount to learn. I am sure the real training is just beginning but I hope and pray that I will serve the Churches well and my time there will prove to be exciting and fulfilling. I have already enjoyed an Advent Service at Christ Church, which I planned and led for children from William Gladstone School and Newfield, (the school where I teach). I always enjoy seeing churches full of young children, I love their spontaneity and lack of inhibitions. At the end of our Advent Service one young boy, came up to me and said, `If `e‘s the vicar, (Gregor) then what does that make you?‘ (A number of answers spring to mind!)
I know that I have said this many times before but I could not have
got this far without everybody‘s love and prayers. I truly hope that
will continue to pray for me as I focus on my final two terms at
I haven‘t found the demands of the course and the balancing act with my
school and family life easy but I do believe now that I am going to
Thank you all so much and if you can, please do try to keep the 29th June free next year! (this year! Ed.). With my love and prayers always,
A burglar breaks into a house in the middle of the night and sets to work filling his bag with goodies. Suddenly, he hears a voice say, `Jesus is watching you‘, and he quickly looks around, scanning the room with his flash-light. Seeing no one there he thinks he simply imagined it, and continues to stuff his bag with loot.
Suddenly he hears the voice again: `Jesus is watching you‘. This time he‘s sure it comes from within the room, so he slowly shines his flashlight around until he notices a birdcage in the far comer. Moving towards it he sees that there‘s a parrot in the cage. `Did you say something?‘ the burglar asks. `Yes, I said ”Jesus is watching you because I thought you should be warned,‘ replies the parrot. `Who are you to warn me?‘ asks the burglar. 'My name is Moses,‘ says the parrot. The burglar laughs and says, `What kind of people would name their parrot Moses?‘
`The same kind of people who would name their rottweiler Jesus!‘ the parrot replies.
Cars and Computers
Another in our occasional series of entertaining items gleaned from the internet.
At a recent computer expo (COMDEX), Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated: ?If General Motors had kept up with the technology like the computer industry has, we should all be driving $25.00 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon‘.
In response to Bill‘s comments, General Motors issued a press release stating:
If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:
1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash twice a day.
2. Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you would
buy a new car.
3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no
would have to pull over to the side of the road, close all of the
windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before
you could continue. For some reason you would simply accept this.
4. Occasionally, executing a manoeuvre such as a left turn
your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would
have to reinstall the engine.
5. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was
reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive — but would run on only five percent of the roads.
6. The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights
be replaced by a single ?This Car Has Performed An Illegal Operation‘
7. The airbag system would ask, `Are you sure?‘ before deploying.
8. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock
and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle,
turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.
9. Every time a new car was introduced car buyers would have
how to drive all over again, because none of the controls would operate
in the same manner as the old car.
10. You‘d have to press the `Start‘ button to turn the engine off.
We are planning to hold a Flower Festival around the time of our 2003 Patronal festival: 3rd — 6th October or thereabouts. The theme will probably be ?The Church‘s Year‘.
A lot of people will be needed to help in all sorts of ways, arranging flowers, providing refreshments, acting as stewards and general helpers — and clearing away afterwards! So please don‘t suddenly decide you must have a holiday at that time!
St Faith‘s needs you and your ideas. More information will follow from time to time.
From time to time a member of the congregation reaches the grand old age of 80, or even 90. It has become the custom at St Faith‘s to mark this occasion in some small way at the Sunday service.
So, if you are approaching 80, or if you know someone who is and who would appreciate a small token, please let one of the wardens know. On the other hand, you may wish to keep it a secret ...
Some time ago we published a variation of this article, purporting to come from a young American boy. Thanks to MARIE BRAMWELL for providing this version.
One of God‘s main jobs is making people. He makes them to replace the ones that die, so that there will be enough people to take care of people on earth.
He doesn‘t make grown-ups, just babies, I think because they are smaller and easier to make. That way He doesn‘t have to take up His valuable time teaching them to talk and walk. He can just leave that to mothers and fathers. God‘s second most important job is listening to prayers. An awful lot of this goes on, since some people, like preachers and things, pray at times beside bedtime. God doesn‘t have time to listen to the radio or TV because of this. Because He hears everything, there must be a terrible lot of noise in His ears, unless He has thought of a way to turn it off.
Atheists are people who don‘t believe in God. I don‘t think there are any in our town. At least there aren‘t any who come to our church.
Jesus is God‘s Son. He used to do all the hard work like walking on water and performing miracles and trying to teach the people who didn‘t want to learn about God. They finally got tired of Him preaching to them and they crucified Him. But He was good and kind, like His Father and He told His Father that they didn‘t know what they were doing and to forgive them and God said. ?O.K.‘
His Dad (God) appreciated everything that He had done, and all His hard work on earth, so He told Him He didn‘t have to go out on the road anymore. He could stay in heaven. So He did. And now He helps His Dad out by listening to prayers and seeing which things are important for God to take care of and which things he can take care of Himself without having to bother God. Like a secretary, only more important. You can pray anytime you want and they are sure to help you because they got it worked out so one of them is on duty all the time.
You should always go to church on Sunday because it makes God happy, and if there‘s anybody you want to make happy, it‘s God. Don‘t skip church to do something you think will be more fun like going to the beach.
If you don‘t believe in God, besides being an atheist, you will be very lonely, because your parents can‘t go everywhere with you, like to camp, but God can. It is good to know He‘s around you when you‘re scared in the dark or when you can‘t swim and you get thrown into really deep water by big kids.
But you shouldn‘t just always think of what God can do for you. I figure God put me here and He can take me back anytime He pleases. And that‘s why I believe in God.
A February Reflection
from Robert Ellesberg's 'All Saints', supplied by Fr Dennis
Anglican Archbishop of Uganda, Martyr (1924-1977) — February 17th
`Even if I have to die for my convictions, I can never lower the standards God has set me.‘
Uganda was the site of the heroic martyrdom of a number of Christian youths in 1886. Charles Lwanga and his companions, some of them young boys, were cruelly murdered by a wicked ruler for refusing to deny their faith. These celebrated Martyrs of Uganda were canonized in 1964. But the era of martyrdom in Uganda was not then complete. Uganda had yet to experience the notorious reign of General Idi Amin.
In the 1970s, after seizing power from an elected government, Amin in-troduced a reign of terror, dispatching critics and potential enemies with astonishing cruelty. Estimates of the number of his victims range con-servatively in the tens of thousands. Amin was famous for his paranoid wrath, and there were few who dared to provoke him.
Janani Luwum was the Anglican primate of Uganda. He was, by all accounts, a fairly traditional prelate, not by temperament suited to the role of prophet. He had drawn criticism from some members of his church for his efforts to maintain friendly relations with the dictator. Biting his tongue, the archbishop would frequently say, ?We are with you, your Excellency, with all that you do that is good.‘ As Luwum saw it, his job was to steer clear of ?politics‘ and look after the welfare of his church.
By 1977 Luwum could no longer pretend that such a neutral course was possible. Amin himself would not permit it. He began to circulate rumours that the bishops were plotting violence against him. Luwum responded in angry denial and with a demand for proof. In early February, government troops surrounded his residence and searched for ?incriminating evidence‘, while holding the archbishop himself at gunpoint. The bishops responded with their most outspoken denunciation of conditions in the country. If this was how the archbishop was treated, there was clearly no protection for anyone else.
On February 16th the Anglican bishops and other religious leaders were summoned to the presidential palace where Amin unveiled a cache of weapons, supposedly confiscated from the archbishop and his confederates. The charges were clearly absurd, but there was no doubting the likely consequences of this charade. Eventually the bishops were dismissed, all except for Luwum. He was told that the president wanted to speak to him personally. Luwum was never again seen alive.
Early the next morning it was announced that the archbishop had died in a tragic car accident. The government refused to release the body. Later the story was revised: the archbishop had been shot while trying to overcome the soldiers transporting him to detention. Only after some weeks was the bullet-riddled body of Luwum quietly released to his family. According to the later testimony of witnesses, Luwum was shot by Amin himself, after he had refused to sign a confession. Instead, realizing that his hour was at hand, Luwum had proceeded to pray. This, it is said, had provoked Amin to a rage, and he had drawn his pistol and shot him in the mouth.
Before the release of the body and in defiance of government orders, a funeral service for the archbishop was conducted in his cathedral. Standing over an empty grave, Luwum‘s predecessor. Archbishop Erica Sabiti, repeated the message of the angels on Easter Sunday: ?He is not here.... He is risen‘.
Joyce Woods would like to give her grateful thanks to all her many
for their prayers and messages during her recent illness.
From the Registers
18 November 2002 Christopher Paul Durrant
3 December Phyllis Vinson
5 January 2003 Kiera Catherine Peel
daughter of Edward and Donna
By the time you read this, we shall be within weeks of the ceremonious installation of Dr Rowan Williams as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury. Many of us can recall the day our own Robert Runcie was installed, in the presence of the late and beloved Jessie Gale, one of his early mentors in Crosby (she can still be glimpsed on the video of that splendid occasion). Thanks to Fr Dennis, I have been reading a thoughtful article by Mary Ann Sieghart in The Times of December 4th of last year. It makes interesting reading: it is warmly sympathetic to the incoming Primate of All England, while issuing solemn warnings about what he will soon have to face,
She begins by quoting, approvingly, the Archbishop‘s words: ?I know with absolute certainty that there are things at which I shall fail... This is a challenge I face with a sense of inadequacy.‘ She sees him as a man trying neither to impress nor compete: a man who answers questions thoughtfully and candidly and is happy to admit his weaknesses. ?What was on show on TV, for once, was someone‘s full humanity, not a manufactured public persona,‘ she writes, and goes on to say that this is a man to whom people will listen, because he values integrity ?above the usual pretences of public life, even if being honest carries costs‘.
These last words carry the warning that Sieghart expands on later. She worries that, if he remains unprotected, less scrupulous, then more ambitious people will exploit his unwordliness. He must learn, she says, to shrug off criticism if he believes that he is right and not become obsessed with the negative press coverage he is bound to encounter. ?His other weakness, as a vulnerable human being, will be that he lacks deviouslness and conspiratorial skills,‘ she says. What he needs, to help him navigate what she calls ?the treacherous waters of church politics‘ is a clever and worldly cleric to act as his chief of staff and advise him on tactics and strategy, rather as Richard Chartres (and, says Fr Dennis, Graham James) did for Robert Runcie during the latter‘s term of office.
?The more controversial he plans to be, the more important it is
he finds a trustworthy, heavyweight insider to advise him. We already
he is keen to examine the logistics of disestablishment, a course of
that will lead to horrendous ructions,‘ Sieghart continues. She doubts
that he is well-equipped for such battles or has the political skills
plot his way through. Her conclusion is
?The trouble is, we definitely want the
new Archbishop to retain all the warm human attributes that so endear him to us. He can stay that way — but only if he is prepared to hire some cunning to compensate for his lack of it. Dr Williams‘s humanity is wonderful. Sadly, though, naivety will get him nowhere.‘
This writer would go further. Sieghart has rightly identified one issue which, on a national scale, may cause trouble. But there are, within the more limited but equally dangerous confines of specifically Anglican politics, other matters looming just as large. Predictability, and depressingly, ?Reform‘, the ironically-titled Anglican evangelical pressure group, has already denounced him and questioned his right to speak for them. Their main concern is Dr Williams‘s refreshingly liberal views on matters of human sexuality, and they seem likely to be joined by a powerful lobby from the hierarchies of African Anglican churches, reacting to the terrible scourge of AIDS with fundament-alist fervour.
On such issues as homosexuality and the ordination of women, to name but two, then, there is a real danger of schism within the church. There is the extreme likelihood that the message of Christian hope, love and renewal that our new Archbishop is so well-equipped to bring to a country and a world in such desperate need of such a message, will be drowned in a sea of sad controversy, largely stirred up from within the Church itself and fomented by the spin of tabloid sensationalism and the sneers of so-called liberal broadsheets. Rowan Williams, whom God preserve, needs, as does the Church, all our prayers and efforts in the months and years ahead.
(See also Mike Homfray‘s article )
In a recent edition we printed some of the entertaining poems aired by the 'Pru' as part of a commercial campaign. Following several appreciative comments, here are two more that may strike chords with people of a certain age...
And so on ...
As I grow older
and the blood runs colder
and my clothes hang shabbier
and my face looks funnier
and my jowls are flabbier
and my pate shines sunnier
and my knees are creakier
and my bladder‘s leakier
and so on ...
I should be virtuous
and less impetuous
and wink less lustily
and hug less eagerly
and laugh less gustily
and eat more meagrely
and so on ...
Yet still I hunger
as when much younger
for noble feasting
and midnight quaffing
and braggart boasting
and carefree laughing
and first love‘s blisses
and stolen kisses
and so on ...
It is both sad and a relief to fold so carefully
her outgrown clothes and line up the little worn shoes
of childhood, so prudent, scuffed and particular.
It is both happy and horrible to send them galloping
back tappity-tap along the misty chill path into the past.
It is both a freedom and a prison, to be outgrown
by her as she towers over me as thin as a sequin
in her doc martens and her pretty skirt,
because just as I work out how to be a mother
she stops being a child.
Every Sunday a lot of hard work goes into providing us with coffee in the Hall after the service, making it a focal point for us to meet and mix with each other, which is so important. A big thank you to all the coffee teams.
Other members of the catering team in a two and a half week period at Christmas provided everything from full meals to snacks.
In mid-December came the Senior Citizens‘ Christmas lunch: a beautifully prepared and presented meal. A week later came the superb refreshments at the Carol Concert in the Parish Hall these had to be seen to be believed. On St Stephen‘s Day, 24th December, after the service came (hot) mince pies and sherry at the back of Church. Finally on New Year‘s Day after the service for the Day of Prayer for World Peace came delicious filled rolls in the Upper Room.
A big thank you to all the caterers for all your hard work (and
On February 27th, Archbishop Rowan Williams will be enthroned as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury. It was back in June 2002 when a `leak‘ from the selection process indicated that Rowan Williams, then Archbishop of Wales, was the first choice, and the appointment was confirmed in July of that year. Since then, what could be described as the ?extreme right‘ of the Church in the form of conservative evangelical groups Reform and the Church Society, have mounted a campaign against the choice of Rowan, largely due to his views on gay and lesbian issues and his approach to the Bible. Some of us, including myself, see this as a definite plus for the new Archbishop!
So, who is Rowan Williams? He is 50, and was born in Swansea, into a Welsh-speaking family. He is regarded as an excellent theologian, and published his first book at the age of 29, becoming a Professor of Divinity at Oxford at 36 following time at Mirfield and Westcott House amongst others. At the age of 40 he became Bishop of Monmouth, a position he retained when made Archbishop of Wales in 2000. He is married to Jane, also a theologian, and has two children.
Many people strongly welcomed his appointment. Archbishop Desmond
said that he ?towered head and shoulders above all the other
and had an incredible capacity to communicate, as well as a deep
The Independent‘s religious correspondent Paul Vallely stated : ?Rowan
Williams has a rare combination of an unpious personal holiness with an
impressive theological intelligence which does not lose touch with the
reality of everyday life. More than that, he has a personal warmth
enables him to deal easily with people of all backgrounds.‘
He has written many articles and books, including ?Writing in the Dust‘, his reflections on September 2001 (he was in New York on the day of the bombing), and ?Lost Icons‘, where he focused on the inability of contemporary society to hold patterns to help us think about ourselves in areas such as childhood, friendship, remorse, and community. His work is not ?easy‘ but it is certainly stimulating, and Tony Blair has acknowledged that Rowan Williams, whilst his first choice, would not give him an easy ride, saying to the Guardian that: ?People always said to me at the time, ”but isn‘t it going to be difficult if he criticises on Iraq?• But, contrary to what people say, I think it 20
is fine. I think the church should always speak out where it feels strongly about things. I have always thought that.‘
Indeed, whilst politically he is on the Left, and has described himself as a ?hairy lefty‘, every indication will be that he will speak according to his conscience, not to any ?party line‘, with regard to either Church or political matters. His insights on the possibility of war in Iraq, which he has opposed, and his Dimbleby lecture which examined the opportunities for the Church to deliver its message in today‘s market society, demonstrated some creative thinking and some independence of mind.
Theologically, he is also hard to categorise simply. His background is very much high-church and Anglo-catholic, but he eschews much of the everyday ?fripperies‘ of being a Bishop, and has criticised what he views as the Church‘s obsession with status and prestige. He has raised the question of the Church‘s relationship with the State, and it is expected that this may come under greater scrutiny than in recent years. He spoke at the first conference of Affirming Catholicism, and has been a trustee ever since, and his overall position is probably nearer to theirs than any other. However, he also has a great love of patristic spirituality, and is the most ?Orthodox‘ Archbishop the Church has ever seen ™ and whilst he may be viewed as a radical and liberal in issues relating to women in the episcopate, militarism, or same-sex relationships, he is theologically orthodox in terms of the eternal verities of Christian doctrine, and on other ethical or moral issues, he is more conservative ™ he is not in favour of abortion, for example. He is, however, a man of great humility and understanding, who was popular even amongst those evangelicals in Wales who may not have found his theology to their liking.
At a press conference following the announcement of his appointment,
Archbishop Rowan said: ?An enormous trust has been placed in my hands,
and I can only approach it with a degree of awe as well as gratitude
I have been thought worthy of it.‘ I for one feel that he is absolutely
the right man for the job, and I hope that all of us here at St.
will continue to hold him in our prayers as he tackles what is at the
of times, a job of great challenge and importance.