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 Newslink             July and August 2000

From the Clergy  July 2000

Since January there have been various discussions regarding service times. Finally we have arrived at a common agreement between the Church Councils of St. Mary‘s and St. Faith‘s. The process has taken quite a while. It had to because it was important that as many views as possible were taken into account. In an ideal world each parish would have its own Vicar and own Curate. We know that the world is not ideal ™ why should be church be any different?

I am well aware that the new service times will not please everyone but I hope that we have reached a realistic and workable solution and one which will help our United Benefice to continue to grow in the years ahead. In our discussions and deliberations, it was also important that we reached a solution which could be managed, if necessary, by just one priest. I have also talked about this matter with Bishop John Packer, the Archdeacon of Liverpool and the Area Dean to seek their advice and guidance. In order to achieve the new plan of services times sacrifices have to be made. Both parishes will be losing something (St. Mary‘s the 8.30 am, St. Faith‘s the 6 pm Evensong except on Festivals). However, of the early morning and evening services, both parishes will to some degree be retaining the services which have the greatest support.

These new service times will come into effect from the beginning of September, Sunday 3rd.

SAINT FAITH‘S         8.00 am   Holy Eucharist (2nd and 4th Sundays)
                                   11.00am  SUNG EUCHARIST & Children‘s Church
                                   1.00 pm   Holy Baptism (1st Sunday)
                                                   Evening Services as announced

SAINT MARY‘S 9.30 am   SUNG EUCHARIST & Children‘s Church
                                   1.00 pm   Holy Baptism (3rd Sunday)
                                   6.00 pm   Evensong (1st and 3rd Sundays)

When we are training for the priesthood we are not at College to learn how to go into parishes and spend all our time making changes! I am well aware that we have made some significant changes during the past year. We replaced the ASB Lectionary with the Common Worship Lectionary (most parishes, including St. Mary‘s did this in 1997 ™ the interregnum meant we had to wait at St. Faith‘s); we have begun using the new Eucharistic Rites (all parishes have to move to them by the end of this year). The reason behind the change of service times was primarily one of pastoral care. With the current staffing arrangements no priest or reader is ever in St. Faith‘s or St. Mary‘s on a regular basis. It makes the job of pastoral oversight very difficult for us to manage.

I realise that the new system of service times will take a while before it is in our bloodstream. However I hope that at some point in the future we will look back on this change as one which will have benefited the growth of both our congregations. If you have a busy Sunday, and 11am is too late, then remember that you have a 9.30am at your sister Church! (Also there is an early Service on the First Sunday of the month at St. John‘s and on the Third Sunday of the month at Christ Church, Waterloo.)

Finally can I thank all those who have taken the trouble to speak to me, the Wardens and to members of the PCC about this issue. Your honest comments have been tremendously helpful and very much appreciated.

With my love and prayers

Fr. Neil

Providing for the Homeless and Those in Need

I am very grateful to all those who responded to the call to give money so that we can have a supply of appropriate food and other essential items to give to those in need who call at the Vicarage. Whilst we cannot always meet the requests that are made it is good to be able to offer people something to go away with. I am also grateful to those who have helped by shopping and preparing packs of food. My grateful thanks once again for your kind generosity.

Fr. Neil

Funny You Should Say That ...

Not all readers necessarily share the Daily Telegraph‘s political perspectives, but that august organ still gives a goodly amount of space to religious matters, and its reporters also have a pleasing eye for the absurd. Two reports, one by Tom Leonard and the other by Anton La Guardia, may give pleasure to collectors of the bizarre.

Under the heading `BBC ADMITS CHURCH SKETCH WAS WRONG‘, the first item reports that the BBC governors have upheld a complaint from the good old C of E over a sketch in the (Asian) TV comedy Goodness Gracious Me in which an Asian character goes to a church service and puts chutney on his Holy Communion wafer. In the same sketch, his friend is offered the Communion chalice and asks for ?two bottles of house red‘ instead!

The Church‘s Archbishop‘s Council complained that the BBC had ?caused deep offence to many people‘ in ridiculing the consecration of the body and blood of Christ.

Presumably the Council didn‘t object to the second report, catchily headlined `THE KING‘S MISSING COW DUNG SPARKS CRISIS IN SWAZILAND.‘ Swaziland has apparently been thrown into crisis over allegations that their Speaker of Parliament stole a piece of cattle dung from the king‘s cattle enclosure. Traditionalists believe that the (alleged) thief took the manure to use in a traditional ritual to strengthen his standing with King Mswati III, one of the last absolute monarchs.

The accused maintains that he had indeed taken the manure, but had had no intention of actually stealing it. ?God told me in a dream to do it to prevent something bad happening to the king,‘ he is reported as saying. But parliament nevertheless voted to depose him. One accusing MP said that the errant member had been behaving incompetently for more than a year. The dung incident was the final straw, he maintained...

There appears to be no moral to these edifying tales, unless it is that what is cause for complaint in England seems to be seen as a fit object for satire in deepest Africa. It might be thought that the Archbishop‘s Council is suffering from a sense of humour bypass, but this writer could not possibly comment...

GIFT AID — the New Way of Giving           Chris Dawson

Members of the congregation who pay income tax can now increase the value of what they give through Gift Aid. This has certain advantages over the old method of covenanting.

No longer do you have to sign up for a minimum of 4 years; plus, every penny that you give in the year qualifies, unlike the old system which only allowed the church to claim tax back on the amount covenanted, even if you had given extra amounts during the tax year.

There are however some rules to observe, which are:

1. only tax payers can participate,

2. your giving must be recorded, so that we can prove to the tax office
    that you have actually paid your contribution,

3. you must sign a Gift Aid Declaration which can be back-dated to the
    beginning of the tax year, no matter when you sign it.

4. we cannot claim back more tax than you pay, but contributions from
    people who only pay tax at the lowest rate of 10p in the £ still qualify
   for a refund of 28p in the £ on their contributions up to the full amount
   of tax that they pay. If you need further information about this please
   speak to me.

What about existing Covenants?

These can continue until they expire, but the Diocese advise that it would be advantageous to replace all existing covenants with Gift Aid Declarations before April 2001. If you covenant your giving at present, please help us by completing a Gift Aid Declaration as soon as it is convenient; we will then cancel your covenant.   (You can obtain a form at the back of church.)

How are regular contributions to St Faith‘s recorded

Regular giving can be recorded by giving through the Parish Purse, or by Bankers  Order.  If  you  would  like  to  use  the  Parish  Purse  method  please
contact Joyce Woods  (0151 928 4567);  if  you  wish  to  contribute  by  Bankers Order, please obtain a form from the back of church, or from me, and when complete send it to your Bank.
Remember - if your regular giving is not recorded we cannot claim the tax back!

How can occasional donations be recorded

Donations by tax payers for flowers or other items can qualify for tax refund if they are recorded by using one of the Gift Aid Envelopes that are available from  Mary Crooke or from the back of church.

Remember - if your donations to St Faith‘s are not recorded  we cannot claim the tax back! People who pay tax should not be giving unrecorded amounts of money to St Faith‘s; if you do, you are depriving the tax man of the chance to contribute to the expense of running the church. Is that fair?

Payroll giving

If your employer is participating in this scheme you can arrange for the full amount of your giving, plus the tax, to be paid to the Payroll Agency, who will then pay it direct into St Faith‘s Bank account. The Government will add 10% to this for the first 3 years of the scheme, but the Payroll Agency do make a small charge.

If you wish to discuss Gift Aid please contact me:
CHRIS DAWSON - Gift Aid Secretary at any time (0151-928 2770)

Roll up ... Roll up ... for the BIG TOP BAZAAR

 ... appearing for one day only at St Faith‘s on SATURDAY 21st OCTOBER 2000.  Help and ideas wanted for stalls.  Suggestions so far include:

Bottle Tombola  Cake Stall
Book Stall  White Elephant Stall
Preserves & Jam Factory Lucky Dip
Treasure Map  Car and Golf Games
Bat the Rat  Grocery Stall
Grand Raffle  Car Wash
Name the Doll  Refreshments

Money-spinning and creative input urgently sought. Whether you can perform a creditable cartwheel or your talents lie in persuading people to part with their cash painlessly, the BIG TOP BAZAAR needs YOU!  Please respond to the notices shortly going up at the back of Church.  No reasonable talent turned away ™ all assistance accepted.

The Jam Factory Rides Again!

Mary Crooke, Audrey Dawson, Linda Nye and Angie Price will be running a Preserve and Home-made Stall at the October Bazaar. We would very much appreciate help in making jam, marmalade, pickles or chutney, or donations of sugar, fruit and any other ingredients that go into the making of preserves. We would also like your empty jam jars, and any material suitable for making ?hats‘ for the filled jars. Any of us will be pleased to receive your donations at any time.

George Turner R.I.P.          MiriamJones

George Turner was something to everyone:

To Mona — a devoted husband
To Paul and Miriam — a wonderful father
To Martin — a father-in-law who loved him as a son
To Joshua, Benedict, Charlotte and David — the typical granddad, interested and excited in their different ventures
To Imogen — a bespectacled, and therefore quite interesting great-granddad!

Many people know George as the man who collected Mona from church each Sunday, but not everyone knows how much his life was intertwined with that of the church. There are memories of George‘s parents and sister in the Kingsway gates and two of the altar rails; he was in the Scouts; a chorister, as both boy and man; then during his young adult years, he met the woman with whom he was to spend the rest of his life: 51 years of that time very happily married. Both his children and two of his grandsons were christened here and he proudly walked Miriam down the aisle — twice! The last time he was in church was for the `marriage‘ service back in February, when he renewed his vows with the same tenderness  he had felt all those years before.

In the background he has built footlights and scenery for pantomimes and  social events. The frames used for our bazaar stalls were made with precision.

Any non-drivers at St Faith‘s will possibly at some time have been given a lift to or from a service, meeting or other function by George. Mona and Miriam have always been willing to offer his chauffeuring services in abundance! Truth be known, he had a chauffeur‘s cap bought for him by his grateful family! Many the time Paul uttered the words ?Well, I‘m off to the B/S now — I‘ll get there before the rain gets too heavy‘ — or Miriam, not so subtle, says `Da-a-ad!‘ The response would come: `Would you like a lift?‘ or simply `Where to tonight?‘ Before an answer was given, he was in the hall with his car keys at the ready.

People who spent any time with George will know what a story-teller he could be. Sometimes he would tell and re-tell his favourites, often preceded by ?I‘ve probably told you this ...‘ Even if you agreed, he would tell you anyway! One of his many lovable traits.

Talking of traits, like all of us, he had a few — when he was working he would get up very early in the morning and bestow on his family an alarm call of his very own; rattling a spoon between the cup of tea and the saucer he was bringing to them in bed. The cup of tea was always appreciated, not so the alarm call! And until you‘ve been in the same room as him when he ?sings‘ the signature tune to ?Coronation Street‘ or ?Neighbours‘ completely out of tune (on purpose), you haven‘t lived!

George worked hard at everything he did, whether it be work or at home, as an incredible parent, who, along with Mona gave both of their children the most stable of home lives and the best education possible at considerable personal sacrifice.

He was dedicated to everything in which he was involved, but always in a quiet, unassuming way. He was never in the limelight and was happy with that. He was a man who appreciated everything that was done for him: from his colleagues during the war to the hospital staff who have nursed him over the years, particularly in his recent stay at Fazakerley.

At home, he has been appreciated beyond belief for many years. Apart from being the head of the family and a man totally devoted to his wife, he has also been very useful. Over the years of advancing technology, Mona has often been asked if she has a dishwasher. A question to which she has always answered straight-faced, `of course; he‘s called George!‘

The phone calls, cards, visits and many comments to the family since his death have produced several repeated phrases — a lovely man ... kind ... smiling ... laughing ... joking ... . This was confirmed (as if it needed to be) by the staff at Fazakerley Hospital where he had been cared for over his last weeks. He had all he ever wanted in life, a wonderful wife whom he adored, and a happy, healthy family. All in all, a man who required very little, but gave everything.

Mona and all the family would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their good wishes and prayers during this difficult time, giving them all great support to be part of the larger family of St Faith. Also, thanks to Frs Neil, George and Dennis for helping to make the funeral a true celebration of George‘s life — a lovely tribute for a lovely man.

Lighting a Candle
A prayer used in Salisbury Cathedral

Lighting a candle is a prayer:
 When we have gone, it stays alight,
 Kindling in the hearts and minds of others
 the prayers we have already offered
 for them and for others,
 for the sad, and the sick, and the suffering,
 and prayers of thankfulness too.

Lighting a candle is a parable:
 burning itself out,
 it gives light to others.
 Christ gave himself for others.
 He calls us to give ourselves.

Lighting a candle is a symbol:
 of love and hope,
 of light and warmth.
 Our world needs them all.

Transcribing the Past          Denis Griffiths

Since the beginning of the year I have spent some time making transcripts of the entries in the parish baptism, marriage and confirmation registers and the three volumes of transcripts are on display at the back of church. The actual registers contain more information than the transcripts and they were most interesting to read as they provide a social history of the St Faith‘s community during our first century.

I started with the baptism registers and as I worked back through the volumes a number of family names became regular entries, some of which are still with us today. One point became obvious at an early stage and that was the almost indecipherable writing of some clerics; hopefully I managed to get the names correctly spelt, although on several occasions I had to go back and re-spell names when another family entry was made by a cleric with better handwriting.

The marriage registers were more interesting, as they involved details of two people. The occupations of bride and groom are entered and they show how the work situation has changed over the years. A number of early entries for the groom lists the occupation as Gentleman which has a marvellous ring to it; something most of us males take for granted that we are without the money or land to back up that assumption. There were several soldiers married during WWI and one wonders how many of these actually returned to their brides. In WWII a number of local girls married American servicemen and a few married Norwegian sailors. The Norwegian used the same address in Blundellsands which was used as a residency, as Norway was then occupied by the Germans. In recent years there are entries which indicate ?previous marriage dissolved‘,  showing the compassionate and understanding nature of our church.

The confirmation registers are similarly informative and in the first two decades of the century a large number of candidates had address entries as Merchant Taylors‘ School or just Harrison House: at that time Merchants took boarding pupils in their College Road house. Most of the confirmations were conducted by the Bishops of Liverpool or Warrington although there was the occasional named bishop.  In 1998 we had  Lord Runcie of Cuddesdon  but  in
1945 the Bishop of the Argentine presided. The registers have a space for change of address and these are only very infrequently completed.

Some of the candidates are shown to have subsequently emigrated and others joined the services or the Merchant Navy. An entry for one 18-year old in 1953 is marked Joined Merchant Navy four days later.

Candidates often travelled some distance to the confirmation service to churches in Wigan, Warrington, Garston, Rock Ferry and Southport, and this was at the time before many families would have owned a car. As with the baptism registers the same family names keep appearing. One interesting feature is the confirmation of parents and their children, or child, either at the same service or at services which closely follow. It is easy to read too much into this but it may well be that their children being part of St Faith‘s attracts the parents to become members of our family.

The Secret of a Longer Life: `Go to Church‘

John Chapman has provided us with an entertaining clipping from a recent Daily Mail by journalist James Chapman (presumably no relation) which reports that regular churchgoing is good for your health. Apparently scientists have found that a religious lifestyle dramatically raises your chances of living longer. Churchgoers seemingly have lower blood pressure, suffer less from depression, and have stronger immune systems. 126,000 people were surveyed, and it was discovered that those who regularly attended their church, synagogue, mosque or temple were nearly a third likely to live longer. The results also  indicated that religious people were less obese!

No concrete evidence for these phenomena was offered, but it is suggested that religious people tend to look after themselves better and enjoy greater social support and friendship from regular church attendance. But it may also be down to churchgoers‘ abstemious lifestyles. One scientist said: ?Religion may be preventing people from doing things which may be deemed unhealthy, such as drinking alcohol.‘

Casual research at St Faith‘s isn‘t sure about reduced stress levels and (if the Men‘s Group is anything to go by) even less sure about abstemious lifestyles. But the evidence about obesity can be seen all around the congregation ...Ed.)

Countdown to Akure       Caroline Whalley
Partners In Mission Commissioning Service  4th June 2000

On Sunday 4th June the 34 members of the Liverpool `PIM‘ team gathered in the Cathedral for Choral Evensong with Commissioning of Partners in Mission.

We were joined by the Choir of St John‘s, Broughton and representatives from the Nigerian Communities of both Liverpool and London.  A particularly regal gentleman was sitting next to Father Neil, resplendent in white and gold embroidered national dress (the regal gentleman, not the Vicar! Ed.) and the Nigerian women added a colourful and exotic palette to the Cathedral‘s more subdued tones.

The climax of the service was the commissioning itself, by the Bishop of Warrington. Dr Olojugba, Commissionary for Bishop Emmanuel Gbonigi, Bishop of Akure presented the Team to the Bishop of Warrington.

During the final hymn `Oh Jesus, I have promised‘  we processed out in pairs with arms linked, led by the Bishop of Liverpool to the West end of the Cathedral, to have photos taken and to introduce parents, spouses and children of fellow team members to each  other, although we couldn‘t hope to meet everyone as there was an unexpectedly high turnout of about 400 in the congregation.

With less than two weeks until departure for Akure, I am exceedingly excited. Thank you to all who have given kind words of support and encouragement and for your generosity. As a group we have raised sufficient funds for our trip and also nearly enough to help towards  the cost of the Nigerian party‘s return.

Printed  below is the PIM prayer used to close our meetings:

Almighty Father, we thank you for our partnership with Akure.
Deepen our fellowship we pray, and grant us all who share in it a wider
experience of your world,
a deeper knowledge of Christ,
and a larger vision of His Church.
Help us to help each other in bringing your saving love into all the world;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

St Faith in Gloucestershire      Chris Price

Recently I spent five happy days going back to my roots in rural Gloucestershire. Apart from worshipping in the ancient church where half a century ago I experienced Matins week by week in the company of anything up to twelve other villagers, I did the rounds of a satisfyingly large number of lovely old churches large and small. All but one were open, even when unattended; all were well-maintained and welcoming; all seemed to speak of communities caring for their churches and their faith. The larger buildings were manned: we made pilgrimage to Cirencester Church and to the majestic soaring splendour of Gloucester Cathedral (see my cover photo and the one below).

But it was in Tewkesbury Abbey that I made an interesting discovery. Here, in that beautiful and holy place, glowing with shrines and glass and alight with candles, I found, in a medieval side chapel, two windows dedicated to Saint Faith. One, by Webb, was relatively modern; the other was by Kemp, the famous Victorian stained glass designer whose pupil made our own Saint Faith window. Each bore a representation of our saint, although the Kemp face looked rather more matronly. One carried a large martyr‘s palm branch. Both carried books, and in the Kemp window the book was open, and the contents were clearly the square notes of plain-song musical notation. An explanatory plaque gave brief details of Faith‘s (alleged) short life and martyrdom: burnt and then beheaded, poor girl for, amongst other things,  refusing to deny the doctrine of the Trinity, a symbolic representation of which graced one of the windows. It was strange, but very good, to be linked in image and in prayer with Crosby in that bright and beautiful Abbey.

A Reflection on `Heaven‘       Fr Dennis

`Heaven‘ is not a word that people find it natural to use in religious circles. It has been relegated to the secular and there preserved in order to describe the taste of chocolate or the quality of last summer‘s holiday or the scent of this week‘s bath oils! Within the church we have become embarrassed by it lest others should detect in us an all-too-other-worldly streak, an appetite for pie-in-the-sky (that far too old-fashioned spiritual delicacy) or a willingness to take to opiate religion in order to avoid reality. We are properly reserved in using such a word as heaven; we know enough to know how much it has been used as a means of exploitation in the past. It has dropped out of our vocabulary.

Nonetheless, it is probably true to say that our theology and our religious life have become diminished by the under-use of such a word as `heaven‘. For, when the word is uttered, it still has power to stir some recognition deep within our hearts and to awaken some hankering and some yearning for some state or other that we want most urgently, and want to be sublime.

In our religious teaching we have, however, tended to replace it by another word. The word we tend to use is `Kingdom‘. It is the word which Jesus used as he proclaimed and lived the Gospel, the Good News. It really means the same as heaven for it actually means `God‘s Reign‘, the state of being that the world will one day arrive at when God‘s love will run most freely through the veins of his creation; the point for which everything is being made; the timeless moment when love and peace and justice will inter-mingle, coalesce, and when all people and all things will be brought into a final union with their maker. And it is a good word, this word ?Kingdom‘, for its sound is sufficiently concrete to remind us that we speak of the destiny of this world rather than the attainment of another.

It is, however, that very concrete sound that can, for us, be a kind of handicap. Because of the way in which we ordinarily use the word in our English conversation, it can serve to drag our religious gaze always back towards the present and to mould all our religious yearnings into the shape of present action, soical or political, as we seek (as we say) to make the kingdom a reality today.

But Jesus never told us that we must `make‘ the Kingdom. He simply promised it and made clear it would be a gift. Our task is to wait for it, hope for it, pray for it,  welcome it, live in anticipation of it, and through that anticipation, to taste it now. Nourished by that taste we will, of course, act in this world, just as politically and socially, in conformity with the promise that is offered, but our action will be a response to the promise of Kingdom rather than cause of the Kingdom‘s coming.
Precisely because the word `Kingdom‘ can be so easily misconstrued, can make us think in far too worldly terms of something that we can actually `make‘, we find ourselves, not least in our preaching, qualifying it and refining it with adjectives that try to do some justice to its mystery, to its ultimate ineffability, to its awesomeness and sublimity, to the fact that, so long as we endure the changes and the chances of this fleeting world, it always lies ahead of us. `Here we have no lasting city but we seek the city which is to come.‘ We use words like `glorious‘ and `marvellous‘ and (we cannot avoid it) `heavenly‘. In the end we return to that word `heaven‘ to evoke, if not to describe, what it is we most profoundly hope for.

This is not surprising, for we are inheritors and products of a culture within which the word `heaven‘ has accrued to itself a whole host of associations which are to do with our most profound desires. However much we are told that technically the word might be inadequate, we are left with the knowledge that somehow it still `works‘ for us. It is heaven that we long for, heaven that we yearn for, heaven that we ache for. The desire for heaven is in our blood; the hint of heaven is in our hearts.

What though is the power of this word? Why does it haunt us always? How does it exercise attraction, influence and draw us?

To begin with it speaks of rest, `those endless sabbaths the blessed ones see.‘ This is not the rest of disengagement from the world and from each other. It is rather the rest which comes at the end of work well done, satisfaction and completion. It it the rest of God, the Sabbath at the end of the creation. Such rest we long for, and rightly so. Such rest is the poise, the eternal breathless contentment to be enjoyed at the completion of the travail of the world and at the end of our own travail through it.

Then it speaks to us of the time when there will be release from the constraints and limitations of our bodies. It evokes a sense of the spiritual and the ethereal. Here lies its greatest danger, for it can beguile us into undervaluing the material world which is God‘s good world and for which he has a destiny in mind. Yet it can also remind us of God‘s transforming power, remind us that, in his providence, we shall be changed, and all the world along with us. Everything is made in order to be drawn upwards into an environment that escapes the confines of this present age of death and of decay, and which has been seen by us, so far, in the risen, ascended and glorified body of Christ.

Heaven speaks to us also of community and harmony through its evocation of a sense  of  peace.   And  that  peace  is  not  the  absence  of  conflict  but  rather  the  fulfilment of our wants to be in tune with ourselves, our neighbours, the world of which we are a part, and with God himself. It touches on our need for harmony.

Harmony, in its turn, reminds us of the possibility of worship, the potential for our being lost `in wonder, love, and praise.‘ It reminds us of the music that we have within our hearts and of the desire above all things to express that adoration which we have inside us that, in our giving vent to it, makes us always more truly ourselves.

The word `heaven‘ continues to excite some spiritual nerve. Down through the ages, we have had a way of painting pictures of it. Sometimes we now laugh at them. Choirs of angels, ranks of harps, white robes and crowns and all the rest can sometimes seem a little silly to the literal mind that so often fills our heads. Such pictures, nonetheless, should not be easily abandoned, for it is through the painting of such pictures, the telling of such stories, the creating of music and of metaphor, that we allow our imaginations to search after the truth about ourselves, knowing our imaginations to be delicate instruments in the discerning of reality. We should never underestimate the reliability of our dreams and visions, even though, in reality, they will be translated into a language and a texture that we so far have not imagined.

If, in our imaginations and our hearts and minds, we can ascend to heaven, it is possible that our lives here might be lived within a true perspective. We will not seek to escape from the world about us. Rather we shall seek to draw that world along with us as we wait and hope for all that lies ahead of us. Our action in the so-called real world in which we live will be informed and shaped by the dream of heaven which is harboured in our hearts. Indeed, we shall only be true citizens of earth if we are also citizens of heaven, knowing that ?here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come.‘

Heaven might yet be a well-worn, well-tried word which is not inconsistent with the word `Kingdom‘ but which, because of our history and our culture, still speaks to people (maybe rather more) of what we truly hope for. Of course it needs some checking, but perhaps it should not be too easily relegated to the scrap-heap of religious language. Perhaps we should have greater confidence in using it!

An Epistle from Mark at St.Mark‘s

A 46% unemployment rate (national average 8 %); 73% of people without access to a car; 98% of children at the local primary school on free school meals; crime is a fact of life: just a few of the indicators of what people are struggling with in Northwood in Kirkby.

What does it mean to be church in an area like this? What should we be doing? These are our current questions. Sunday attendance is tiny, the building is good inside but outside is not up to the standard of most public buildings today. We have taped music with our hymns (with what feels like two minute pauses between the verses!). Most people want to go to the parish church for baptisms and weddings because it looks like a ?proper‘ church.

We‘ve just had an away-day to start doing some real thinking about all this. We hope to raise money to rebuild the hall next year and re-clad the church. I‘ve dusted off my guitar and got it electrified to provide some live music. We‘re starting a food co-op, an after-school club, and a lunch club for older people.

But most of all we must pray, and break bread together. Any number of projects will not necessarily answer the question of what it is to be faithful to God in this generation in this place. Estates like Northwood are at the sharp end of a dilemma which is challenging the whole church ™ we are just being faced a little earlier with the reality of a highly secularised, consumer culture.

Despite all this there is no doubting the enormous hunger for God in our society. Our task is to find new ways of allowing people to taste that satisfying bread which comes down from heaven.

Thank you all for allowing me to be such a part of St.Faith‘s, and thank you for my farewell do and your generous gift. I hope to be able to stay in touch and to see you all from time to time.

Fr Mark Waters

Notes from the Choirstalls      Stephanie Dunning

What a strange, mixed month May has been. To my chagrin, I had to miss the sponsored sing which Miriam had organised with her usual quiet efficiency. Ian and David had to take part dozily, after having seen me off at Manchester airport at 5 am on my (business) flight to Norway, but I gather it was a huge success. I was in Oslo for their National Day and the Norwegians are wonderful music-makers — but St Faith‘s would have been better, and, wistfully, I leave Ian to describe it below.

Fortunately, I was back for the big day at St Mary‘s, when Bishop Rupert Hoare, Dean of Liverpool, confirmed nearly 30 candidates. I still couldn‘t sing — a nasty virus this time — but it was an honour to support  Son Number One from the congregation. Do young people grasp something of the event‘s mystic significance? David was unusually serious and aware of his ?rite of passage‘, though he‘s not quite put away childish things, if his comment is anything to go by: `At last I get to eat and drink during the service!‘

We had initially been disappointed that the Cathedral had been unable to accommodate us all, but this was a moving Eucharist during which every candidate must have felt God‘s personal guidance; no conveyor belt here. The choice of the anthem ?Come Holy Ghost, our souls inspire‘ was a happy one, and resident soloist Karen Croll (who has since become Karen Stark — our heartiest congratulations to her and to Nick) sang with her habitual eloquence, before having to dash back to her Rainbows!

I enjoyed the sermon too — or was enjoying it until Son Number Two decided on an embarrassing toilet visit in the middle. Children are a startlingly mixed experience! Sometimes they seem a hotline to the divine, and sometimes ....!  Suffice to say that when this weary maternal mind hears a prayer for ?Bishops James and ...‘ it readily completes the phrase with `the Tar Wagons‘, or, conceivably, ?the Giant Peach‘.

Ascension Day saw a visit from Assistant Bishop of London, Michael Marshall, and a solemn and inspiring service it was. The choir‘s performance did not betray the anxious forty minutes of board-pacing in the vestry as we awaited the arrival of a choirmaster delayed at a cathedral performance of our old friend Langlais‘ Messe Solennelle! `God is gone up‘ is, thank goodness, a familiar anthem (or should that be `Ged is gone up‘?)

During this service and the previous Sunday‘s, I had enjoyed the privilege of singing the responsorial psalm and the Gospel alleluias, but the reason for this was, as we all know, far from pleasant. By now I imagine that most of us, choir and congregation, have conveyed our love and prayers to Miriam, Mona and Martin following the painful loss of father and husband George, but I would like, on behalf  of the choir members, officially to express our sadness on hearing the news. We were sorry that the dignified simple funeral service required no choir, but turned out in force anyway to sing George a joyful farewell. We continue to offer all the support we can to believe in the words we‘ve heard so often: `He has conquered Death, opened heaven to all believers.‘

At the Ascension service, it was somehow comforting to hear Bishop Marshall talking about ?a little bit of earth in heaven‘ and to see George Turner lying peacefully in the Lady Chapel. Reassuring — and appropriate.

Ian Dunning  takes up the story ...

On the weekend of 13/14 May St Faith‘s resounded even more  than usual with the sound of music-making, on account of the eagerly-awaited Sponsored Marathon Choir-Sing. We began in fine style with O Thou the Central Orb just after 1 pm on the Saturday, and over the next two hours the faithful and the curious alike were treated to a mixture of motets, anthems and solo airs as the first shift got going.

My recollections of the event become somewhat shaky after this, as I was unwell before returning for my next stint and unable to continue. It seemed fate was determined I should not take part — originally planning to do most of the 24 hours, I found that my wife‘s absence in Oslo (leaving me with two kids in tow) was going to curtail my attendance. Being taken off the field well before half time put the lid on it! I am reliably informed that the rest of the Marathon went extremely well. There must have been something very atmospheric about singing motets, one or two voices to a part at 3 a.m. when there is little traffic outside and everyone is beyond sleepiness.

Much of the success of the Event is due to the exceptional dedication and organisational abilities of Miriam Jones, who organised the logistics, rotas and sponsor-sheets. Also our thanks to Martin, as ever Miriam‘s right-hand man who, I am reliably informed, cooks a brilliant fried breakfast — another reason I was sorry to miss the `night shift‘! Also, the members and friends of the choir are to be congratulated on an event that has so far raised in excess of £600, with more to come in. Money is still being accepted, so if you feel you would like to add an extra donation, please don‘t be shy: the choir has never been known to refuse money ...
Incidentally, I am getting in training for the next one now. I am taking 3 litres of Vitamin C drink per day, singing through entire Wagner operas single-handed (the neighbours on both sides have suddenly put their houses on the market for some reason): and neither the ?dreaded lurgi‘ nor any conspiracy to send my beloved spouse to the North Pole will stop me this time!

More Web Wanderings.....  Mike Homfray

The last two `Newslinks‘ have touched upon the ever-growing activity of ?surfing the web‘. Given that this is a part of my own daily life which, according to some, borders on obsession,  I thought I would share with you my personal Christian odyssey through the World Wide Web. Naturally, its contents are entirely personal and the Editor should not be held responsible....

Religion of all descriptions and the Internet are big business. Unfortunately, the brand most frequently found amongst the 10 million or so religious websites is somewhat intemperate and fundamentalist evangelicalism. This is particularly the case with regard to Christian chat-rooms where participants can talk in `real-time‘ to others in the `virtual room‘, and message-boards which take the form of ongoing discussions on different ?threads‘ : these are hosted by a number of different Internet service providers  I participate in the Microsoft community `UK Christians‘ where I hope I act as an antidote to fundamentalism!

As far as websites are concerned, there are official websites for the Anglican Communion worldwide - and the Church of England, at, but the best and most comprehensive Anglican website I have come across is a Canadian enterprise run independently of the Anglican Communion which has links to almost anything related to worldwide Anglicanism and is updated each Sunday.  Another interesting Christian `search engine‘ which will link you to many sites of interest is based at St. Martin‘s College, Lancaster, the ChurchNet site at

Anglo-Catholicism is served on the Web, by a number of churches who have their own websites (such as our own) and the discovery of the website `AnglocatholicismUK‘ found at proved immediately interesting. On closer observation St. Faith‘s would not be included given that we do not subscribe to either Forward in Faith or Cost of Conscience! A more inclusive perspective can be gained from, the home of Affirming Catholicism, which contains both insightful and appealing articles and details of events organised by Affirming Catholicism around the UK. Some enterprising individual has devised a `virtual pilgrimage` of Walsingham, well worth looking at if you are attending the Parish pilgrimage in October, at, along with the official site operated jointly by the Anglican and Roman Catholic shrines, at . And if you, like myself, have still not got around to taking out a subscription to the Church Times, try You won‘t find the entire newspaper here but there are the main weekly headlines, and an opportunity for Whinger of Waterloo or Blue-rinse of Blundellsands to send their letters to the editor by e-mail (sadly, there is no on-line letters page).

I sometimes wallow in personal nostalgia by visiting the website of the Britain Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends at and look forward to my treks to Iona via, which gives details of both the Abbey and the radical social ministry of this ecumenical foundation. There are a number of websites I frequently consult which look at the question of sexuality and Christianity : an interesting academic website, the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Sexuality (, and sites for groups such as the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (, AGLO, which campaigns for the ordination of lesbian and gay priests in the Church of England ( and Changing Attitudes, which has recently been established to work towards more open and affirming attitudes on sexuality issues specifically within the Church of England ( No doubt other readers will have their own particular areas of concern and interest and it would be interesting to read about the web presence of some of those.

Of course, we always need an antidote, or to know how those we disagree with are thinking, and the conservative evangelical group Reform acts as that for the writer, given that other than the label Christian, I probably differ from their views about virtually everything ™ have a look for yourself on I shall say no more! Finally, my frequent visits to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland have alerted me to the existence of Calvinist groupings so fervent in their Sabbatarian zeal that the children‘s playground on the Isle of Raasay features not only swings bound together each Sunday but a stern notice that the use of such equipment on the Sabbath is strictly forbidden. The most forbidding of these groupings  the Free Presbyterian Church has a website at which, rumour has it, is disabled at 11.59 pm each Saturday night so to ensure that no-one can access it on a Sunday....  Happy surfing!

Angels Unawares       Linda Nye

An elderly friend of ours, a Bishop‘s widow, used to recall how many years ago her young children would see `tramps‘ standing  waiting  for a cuppa  and a sandwich at the door of the episcopal palace. The children would ask ?Is it an angel, mummy?‘ The socially aware youngsters had of course been taught the text from Hebrews ch. 13:
                       `Let brotherly love continue.
                        Be not forgetful to entertain strangers:
                        for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.‘

Fr. Neil would confirm, I am sure, that many of those who come to the Vicarage asking for material help are `no angels‘! Sadly, some people now live very dislocated and disordered lives, while others simply fail in the struggle to make financial ends meet. Some callers need food, others ask for help with the cost of travel or fuel. There are the desperate, the abusive, and the grateful. Fr. Neil has the difficult and unenviable task of dealing with all these unexpected callers, and he needs practical support in order to respond effectively and compassionately on our behalf.
Thanks to the generous response to Fr. Neil‘s recent appeal, we have been able to buy a small stock of Saveaway  tickets etc., which will be very helpful. Having  suitable food to hand needs rather more planning, because the frequency of requests is unpredictable, and ?out of date‘ goods cannot be used. I believe that to give help which is not appropriate or inadequate is both wasteful and humiliating to the recipient: for example, a tin of stew is no use to someone without fuel or a tin opener! So, after some deliberation, we have decided to keep Fr. Neil provided with a supply of standard packs, which can be given to needy callers on the same principle as used by the aid agencies. With careful shopping £4.50 buys a bag of a dozen items, staples like tea and milk as well as tinned food - enough in fact to feed someone for a couple of days in a crisis. An add-on ?family pack‘ with extra items and a meal for four costs about £2.50.

Thank you very much for your generous response so far. It is impossible to predict when supplies will need to be replenished - but in the meantime, if anyone has an unwanted freezer, which could be used in the garage at the vicarage to store items, please let Fr. Neil know!

From the Registers


7 May Jack Boulton: son of Ian and Deborah
14 May Sophie Randles and Oliver Denham Randles
 children of Kevin and Rachael
28 May Kevin Alan Dieton: son of Carlos and Susan
 Andrew John McCann-Hughes: son of Paul and Gillian
4 June James Michael Price: son of Simon and Lisa
 Helena Kate Preece: daughter of Alan and Amanda
11 June Jon Luke Caffrey-Riley and Alex Caffrey-Riley
 sons of Darren and Gillian
 Liam David Riley and Lauren Beth Hannah Riley
 children of Andrea
 Olivia Saffron Lawson: daughter of Ian and Debra


10 June Dean Levey and Caroline Taylor
16 June Eric Sutton and Fiona McGlone


2 June George Turner
5 June Gary Pitt

Thanks!          KarenLunt

Peter and I would like to thank the family of St Faith‘s for all their love, support and prayers during Peter‘s recent operations and throughout my pregnancy and Sam‘s subsequent arrival.

We found it moving to know we had so much support from so many people, particularly those we did not know that well (but we do now!) For near strangers to come up to me and wish us well say a lot about the family of St Faith‘s.

Special thanks must go to Fr Neil for suggesting that Sam be baptised during the Easter Vigil. It was always our wish for Sam to be baptised at a St Faith‘s service, but to be a part of this special service made us feel honoured. Friends who were staying with us at the time and who came to the service (not regular church-goers) were as moved, not to mention enjoying, the whole service. The party-blowers kept our Number One Son Jamie, as well as our friends‘ youngest, out of mischief (almost) for most of the service, although we were constantly on our guard when they were holding their candles! (Is St Faith‘s insured for fire damage — not to mention the congregation?)

Thank you again for all the cards, gifts and support throughout the last twelve months.

  Curious Epitaphs

  From a tombstone in Leeds:
  Angels, grant a trifling boon
  To our brother who here lies:
  Sound the trumpet after noon,
  Earlier doth he never rise.

From the Back Pew      Chris Price

A rural police officer, writing in the Cheshire weekly  Northwich Guardian, has given vent to his feelings concerning the increasingly unacceptable behaviour of `a generation of yobbish and foul-mouthed teenagers living in a moral vacuum‘. He condemns parents both in towns and villages for concentrating on self-gratification and failing to teach children how to behave.

He describes `a generation of ignorant, insolent, drunken, drug-taking, foul-mouthed, litter-strewing yobs of both sexes ... brought up by their parents to be self-centred. They know everything about their rights, but nothing of responsibilities. The fact that their outrageous behaviour may be making life a misery for other people matters not a damn to them.‘

The (anonymous) policeman believes that the problem is becoming intractable, not merely because of over-stretched police resources, but because of ?irresponsible and negligent parenting, bolstered by ideological and ludicrously liberal teachings on discipline.‘ Many parents, he says are either irresponsible louts themselves, or had wanted children but not responsibility. ?Fathers and mothers alike are enthusiastic only about making money.‘

This impassioned writing has drawn a predicable response from those who wish to point out the good work done voluntarily by many youngsters — a comment that will be enthusiastically echoed by all those of us who teach today or know of the fine things done by so many of our churches‘ young people. No-one would want to tar them all with the same brush. Nevertheless the gulf between such young people and the seemingly far greater number who correspond to the picture drawn by that Cheshire policeman seems to be great and to be growing. This writer, and many more who use our church premises, know only too well of the problems our local youths cause, and of their often quite frightening refusal to respect either church premises or church adults. With the continuing decline in committed church-going and the seeming marginalising of Christian and community values, this is a problem that will not go away. The officer‘s remarks will strike a sympathetic chord with most of us, and the society he so accurately describes is one that, more than ever, needs the civilising teachings of Christianity, and the restoration of family values and disciplines. Our prayers must be with all who seek to uphold these precious things in today‘s disturbing, but still exciting and challenging, world.