The Parish Magazine of St Faith`s Church, Great Crosby
Return to St Faith`s Home Page
From the Ministry Team
Writing this on the Feast of Pentecost I am aware that over the past seven weeks since Easter we have been celebrating, in joyful manner, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and recalling his many appearances to the apostles. As they recognised his presence, their hearts burned within them and they were filled with comfort, reassurance, inner peace and strength. The feast of Pentecost (or Whit Sunday) recalls the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles in the form of a roaring wind and tongues of fire.
The first reading appointed for the day (Acts 2:1-11) describes the spectacular baffling effect on the disciples by the coming of the Holy Spirit. The change in their lifestyle was startling, as the Spirit urged them to be their very best selves. They threw aside caution, were no longer afraid and rushed out to begin their mission of preaching the Good News, boldly proclaiming their faith in a crucified Christ. Suddenly there was no longer uncertainty, everything fell into place and made sense. At that moment the church was born. The Spirit of God had filled the disciples with new hope and courage.
New hope, new vision and new courage is something we desperately need as we, along with many other Churches (not only Anglican) face the challenge of witnessing to the Christian Faith in 2003. The first disciples received the power and strength necessary to set off into the world and enthusiastically continue the work which Christ had begun.
They werent concerned with buildings first and foremost as we so often are! Proclaiming and witnessing to the Gospel was their inspiration. The coming of the Spirit on that first day of Pentecost was not a once and for all event, but the beginning of his permanent presence in the church. By virtue of our baptism, the Holy Spirit is closer to us than we dare imagine.
Wherever there are hearts open to receive him, the Spirit of God is poured out, inspiring minds to undertake their mission as Christs representatives. This feast brings home to us that God calls us to a deeper relationship with him and wants us to share in his life. It is an invitation to enkindle the fire of love and to stir up the grace of our baptismal calling.
We do not always know when the Spirit moves us, yet we are frequently surprised by the power that drives us into action. When ever we go beyond our own selfish indifference and reach out in genuine concern for people in trouble, then the Spirit of God is at work guiding us, giving us renewed strength to turn upside down accepted human values and the will to move along in a new direction.
As we celebrate the gift of the Spirit we must pray also with penitence for the divisions we find in the church. Looking at our own Churches Together in Waterloo and Seaforth can we honestly say that five Anglican, two Roman Catholic, and two Free Churches is the best way of displaying Christian Unity? It must pierce the very heart of God himself that there are so many unhappy divisions within the Church of Christ. (Not to mention those who secretly want even more divisions!)
The early church was fraught with tensions and power struggles: people following one leader rather than another one style rather than another. It happens in practically every Church. Yes, it is human nature. But that doesnt mean that divisions are right. Does our vision for the church put our own preferences first, or the greater good? Do we indeed have a vision?
One of the Old Testament writers says: Where there is no vision, the people perish. That could easily be adapted to read Where there is no vision, the church, or parish, perishes. Any Church, our own included, is only as healthy as the people who are 100% committed to it! Half-heartedness and religion-on-our-own-term is not what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is about. Sorry to upset some of you!
Christ has promised that the power of the spirit will come if we ask for him. Its essential that in prayer we leave the door of our hearts open to invite him in. Then we become different persons and changed people to the extent that we allow the Holy Spirit to disturb our complacency, uproot out mediocrity and make way for fresh growth. What the spirit will do, if we permit, is to lead us in joy, peace and love.
On Pentecost Sunday we thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit who works in countless hidden ways to deepen our faith and give us strength to renew our lives and the life of our parish. But do we have the courage to open our hearts to Him? If we do it means being led by God, not ourselves!
With my love and prayers,
who fulfilled the promises of Easter
by sending us your Holy Spirit
and opening to every race and nation
the way of life eternal:
open our lips by your Spirit,
that every tongue may tell of your glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Open Gardens 2003
Last year, in one of those St Faiths experiments that seems likely to become a tradition, Fr Neil persuaded seven households to open their gardens for the afternoon at the end of June so that everyone else could wander round them and marvel at the miracles they beheld. It was cold and wet most of the time, including the evening session at the Vicarage, where Pimms and Punch were imbibed and folk gazed through the window at the glory of the Vicarage Garden.
This year no fewer than four of last years gardens proved unavailable due to strategically-taken holidays, but replacements have been found and on Saturday June 28th, from 2.00 to 6.00 pm, six gardeners are opening their doors (or gates), serving tea and buns and, of course, praying for finer weather. The usual frantic weeding/tidying up/scurrying round garden centres for last-minute instant colour is taking place and, of course, a great time will be enjoyed by all on the day. Tickets are only £5.00, including the evening refreshments, and for a mere £1.00 you make partake of tea on a variety of lawns. Proceeds to church funds: please come and support this rather special event.
Charity Fun Day
Saturday 12th July at 12.30 pm following the lunchtime recital
We reprint the Vicar's words from last year when the first Charity Fun Day was being planned. They are equally appropriate to the 2003 Grand Event. Watch the nptices and local publicity for further details of the activities being planned and the charities which are to benefit this year. Ed.
When Christians consider the way they give financially to the Church, many try to take as their inspiration the Biblical principle of tithing, that is, giving a tenth of what they have to the Church. Often many parishes try to do the same with their money (to give away 10% of what they have) to charities, whether home or overseas.
For many parishes - certainly S. Faiths and S. Marys - that is quite difficult when we are constantly raising money to pay the bills! However, after a few years of not being able to give anything away we managed at S. Faiths 2001 to give away our Christmas collections to Afghanistan and we have raised the best part of £3,000 for Malawi since Easter (2002), so our outside giving is I think back on a healthy and realistic footing we must thank God for that (and of course thank our Treasurer for her diligent book-keeping).
The idea of the CHARITY FUN DAY is that members of both our churches work together towards a day which can be great fun (what could give you more pleasure than a good BBQ hamburger and then throwing a wet sponge at the Vicar? Nothing! Ed.) but would also be an opportunity to give to charity.
All ideas and offers of help gratefully received, whether you come to church regularly or not! This can be and will be a great community event. If you can make something or donate something whatever it is please let us know. Many of the stalls will need prizes raffle, bingo, tombola etc so please do what you can to help. There may be a stall which you can run which isnt yet included. Let me know!
Lastly - please support this event and publicise it as widely as you can.
and the Changing Face of Ordained Ministry
We print below the text of a sermon preached at St Faiths on Vocations Sunday by the Revd MADALAINE BRADY, rector of St Maelogs Church, Llanfaelog on Anglesey.
Economists have been defined as people who tell you tomorrow why what they said yesterday didnt happen today. Unfair maybe, but thats the perception. Sadly, its also some peoples perception of the church. The church is seen by many, many people as an institution set firmly in the distant past that is predicting a future as unlikely as the wildest science fiction an institution with no relevance to the present. Thankfully, we are trying to take a long, hard look at ministry, a look that is careful and prayerful, that asks God to help us discern the way forward and to make us relevant to his world as well as to our heritage and to his kingdom. The God of yesterday, today and tomorrow can have no desire for his church to leave out the today bit. Traditionalists neednt be afraid. Tradition isnt a matter of living in the past. Itsw a matter of building on to the good things of the past, and of adding our part to a growing tradition. The church needs to look at its patterns of ministry to see if they are still relevant, and this can start with a good look at the past. A good look at the early Christian church can teach us a great deal about relevance.
Hands up those who think that collaborative ministry is just a current fad. Other hand up if you think that lay ministry is just a panic measure because of shortage of clergy! If you think either of these things, I suggest you read Corinthians and Ephesians. Its pretty plain from these passages, and from most of the New Testament, that the active ministry of all believers is whats expected. All baptised Christians are called to a ministry, and ordained ministry is one ministry among many. Its an important ministry, and a ministry in which it is a great privilege to serve. If any of you who are contemplating it think it will bring you wealth forget it! If you think it will bring you an easy life forget it! If you think that God is an equal opportunities employer forget it! If you think you will ever join the work force who say Thank God its Friday forget it! If you think that it is a privilege to be servant of Gods people often ungrateful and demanding people then it might be for you. If you think that being part of a team of people who serve, part of a wide group of people of different talents, interests, enthusiasms and skills, part of a group who will never really accomplish their aim but who will know that they are part of something much greater than they can ever be, then maybe its for you. But be aware of this. The days of the mediaeval prince are over. The days of the parson being rated with the village squire and solicitor are over. The days of posh parsonages and doffed caps are over. The days of being the undisputed decider of all parish matters are over. On the other hand, the days of being the jack of all trades are over. The days of leading all services, running jumble sales, teaching Sunday School, doing the accounts, cleaning windows, mending gutters, organising fetes, dishing out advice on every subject and taking tea in seventeen different houses in a week are over or should be!
At last the church has taken stock. At last the church has begun to evaluate. At last the church has begun to realise that clergy arent perfect at everything. At last the church has begun to realise that other people besides clergy can do things. That other people besides clergy can think. That other people can plan. Good heavens, that other people can even do theology. In other words, that other people can even have a ministry. In fact, it goes further than that. The realisation is dawning that other people not only can but do have a ministry, and that the clergy are failing in their duty if they do not help and enable people to fulfil that ministry. Every one of us, as baptised Christians, is called to some kind of ministry in the church, some kind of participation in being the body of Christ. Each of us is unique, and each of us has a unique part to play. Thomas More once said, and I paraphrase a bit, God has committed to me a charge which he has committed to no-one else. If I fail, it is possible that some part of Gods work will go undone. Sobering thought. And so, it follows that if we neglect to encourage the members of the body of Christ to fulfil their ministries, we might be encouraging them to neglect that part of Gods work committed to their charge.
Most of us, when we feel the stirrings of a sense of vocation, feel called to do something dramatic. Becoming a cleric can seem quite dramatic, when placed longside other career choices! Some other Christian ministries can seem equally dramatic and reassuringly valid. Missionary, doctor in Outer Thingummy, nurse under fire, peace negotiator yes, now these are ministries. No, ministry isnt always a big deal. Ministry is doing that to which we are called, whatever it is, and sharing our talents and enthusiasms, as well as our dedication, for the good of the body of Christ and the bringing in of the kingdom. When I was talking to a group from one parish about Lay Ministry Team training, an elderly lady said to me, It sounds great, love, but lass, youre no good to the church when your legs have gone! She went on to explain that ministry was for those with all their faculties questionable on the evidence! but when we unpacked this, her friends were quick to reassure her that she did in fact have a very valuable ministry, a ministry of welcome. She wasnt very mobile, but she faithfully sat near the back of church welcoming everyone who entered, greeting visitors and baptism parties, finding pages, showing children pictures in her old Bible, and generally making everyone feel comfortable. She was delighted to hear this referred to as a ministry, a ministry of welcome. But the point was made.
Everyones ministry counts, and it is only together that we can be the body of Christ. The ordained ministry is a special joy and privilege, but it, like all other ministries, is a ministry of service, and we ought never to forget it. Collaborative ministry means that ordained clergy can be freed up to do more of that to which they are called and trained, to be the spiritual leaders of their communities and to preach, teach and preside at the Eucharist. Clergy are thinner on the ground than they used to be, and we have to face the fact that, even if there were enough clergy to have one priest to every church, we couldnt afford them and their pensions. Sometimes necessity can be God's way of giving us a nudge. Let my people go, he could be saying. Let them be what they can be, and do what they can do. You have plenty to do dont spoil it by wanting to be in on everything, like a spoiled kid at a birthday party. To be an effective priest in todays church requires a sense of vocation, a lot of preparation and training, great dedication, and prayer, and it also requires a great generosity of spirit. Footwashing starts here. But we mustnt make a virtue of it and refuse to let anyone else supply the soap and towel. Were all in this together, clergy and lay. The great collaboration of the Trinity gives us the clue. The incarnation gives us another. The incarnation, wasnt a condescension, it was a collaboration, a collaboration to which Mary said, Yes. Collaboration is at the very heart of God himself, so collaborative ministry must be the way forward for us.
I think this is a most exciting time to be part of the church. Were getting back to Biblical models, were being freed to be what we can be, not to conform to patterns that we can't honestly fit. Were beginning only beginning to get rid of the phrase Im only a lay person, or to realise that. if thats true, then some of us are only clergy. But together we are the body of Christ. Clergy dont have all the answers, but we can encourage people on towards better sets of questions and we can learn in the process. Collaboration, the active ministry of all baptised Christians, is surely the way forward and the way back.
Funny you should say that...
As is probably all too well known, Newslink enjoys printing a wide range of doubtful jokes, occasionally of a vaguely religious nature, from a variety of sources. We are grateful for those who send them to us: this months crop comes from RON CRAWLEY on the Wirral and ANGELA CAPPER at Wakefield, with a more thoughtful contribution from SHEILA BARKER at St Mary's, Davyhulme at the end.
Fishy Footnotes GoodNews, St John the Baptist, Meols, Wirral.
Two fish are in a tank. One says to the other: You drive, Ill fire the guns.
Two fish swim into a concrete wall. One turns to the other and says: Dam.
What do you call a fish with no eyes? A Fsh.
Out of the Mouths... Wakefield Cathedral News
Childrens answers to questions about the Bible.
When Mary heard that she was the mother of Jesus she sang the Magna Carta.
Jesus was born because Mary had an immaculate contraption.
Jesus enunciated the Golden Rule, which says to do one to others before they do one to you.
The great miracle of the bible is when Joshua told his son to stand still and he obeyed him.
The seventh commandment is thou shalt not admit adultery.
Solomon, one of Davids sons, had 300 wives and 700 porcupines.
The Egyptians were all drowned in the dessert.
The people who followed Jesus were called the 12 decibels.
The epistles were the wives of the apostles.
Sitting Target Focus, St Mary the Virgin, Davyhulme
He is always down front near the pulpit, uninspiring, silent, unsupportive in every way - and disturbing. He is the mortal enemy of the preacher. He is a visible testimony that someone doesnt care. He cannot be moved. The only way to get rid of him is to fill him. He is the empty seat.
Scotlands Oldest Christian Town
It is said that seven kingdoms can be seen from the Mull of Galloway: Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales, the Isle of Man, Ayrshire and Heaven!
Whithorn, a small town in Galloway, now quiet and tranquil was centuries ago at a cultural crossroads. Close to the sea, and with sheltered anchorages nearby it was, in the fifth and sixth centuries, involved in trade with other parts of Europe, the Mediterranean and Africa.
The Priory at Whithorn was one of the most holy places in Scotland, having been founded by Saint Ninian in 397AD, the first Christian settlement north of Hadrians Wall. Ninian is thought to have been the son of a Roman soldier stationed on the Wall. Born in Galloway, he went to study in Rome, then on his way back home through France, stayed at Tours for a time with Saint Martin who influenced him greatly.
On his return to Galloway, Ninian, with the help of masons from Tours built a whitewashed stone church (at a time when most buildings were of wood). This became known as Candida Casa (site of the shining bright place), which in the local language became Whithorn. From this church, Saint Ninian and his monks evangelised their neighbours, with much success. He was known for his miracles, once curing a chieftain of blindness and many were converted.
After his death, Christianity continued to flourish in the area. A cathedral was built to house the saint's remains and Whithorn became a centre of pilgrimage until the sixteenth century.
During the Reformation, in 1581, pilgrimages were banned in Scotland. Saint Ninians shrine disappeared and Whithorn became isolated. But pilgrims still visit Whithorn today to see the ruins of the cathedral, treasures such as the 12th century bishops crozier and rings and ancient commemorative stones, including the Latinus Stone which is inscribed Te Domine laudamus (We praise you O Lord). This was found at Whithorn in the 1880s and remains the earliest evidence of Christianity in Scotland.
Many of todays pilgrims walk across the moors from Whithorn to the coast about three miles away. Here there is a cave to which Saint Ninian retreated when he was in need of peace to meditate and to pray.
The editor has explored Galloway and the
ancient sites described above and can recommend a visit to this beautiful, quiet and little-visited corner of south east Scotland.
News from Oz
Last months issue featured a prayer found by Fr Dennis in a drawer at Ince Blundell Convalescent Home (possibly while looking for the Satterthwaites pie cache? Ed.). We have now learnt that the prayer is in fact the Collect of the International Federation of Business and Profesional Women (IFBPW), an organisation founded in 1930 with Great Britain as a founding member. The information comes from Liz (Gale) Prideaux, whose aunt was Jessie Gale (Robert Runcies primary school teacher, and of beloved memory to older St Faiths members).
Liz tells us that she is a church warden at St Peters, Eastern Hill, Melbourne, Australia, an inner-city anglo-catholic church and a member of IFBPW, having held positions in that organisation at State, National and International level. She accesses our website regularly, reading the magazine there, and so is probably our most distant reader! She comes from Liverpool, was taken to St Faiths by Jessie from time to time, and hopes to visit Liverpool and St Faiths when on holiday in Britain next year. Its a small world....
The web address of St Peters is www.stpeters.org.au
It was good recently to welcome back CAPTAIN BRIAN HEATON-JONES, making a return visit to St Faiths to sit in the pew where his family worshipped many years ago, and to the Garden of Remembrance where several members of his family members are at rest. Brian sends his best wishes to all at St Faiths, and we print below one of the poems from his collection Fireside Poems.
The Lords Prayer
Our Father who art in Heaven,
Hallowed be Thy name;
Father as it is in Heavn, may
It be on earth the same.
Pray we may have our daily bread,
Forgive us our mistakes.
May we forgive those who hurt us,
We pray for goodness sake.
O God it is Thy universe,
Thy power and Thy glory.
For all infinity of time,
Thy credit and Thy story.
Pray Father give us strength in faith,
To put our trust in Thee.
And Father, bless the ones we love,
When on a stormy sea.
Youth News Mike Carr
Lets be honest now, an AGM is not generally something to look forward to, is it? Well the Crosby & District Scouts AGM was an exception to this rule, at least for the Cubs and Scouts of St Faiths. The AGM was held at Litherland Town Hall during May and after the mundane business of speeches, accounts and elections, came the presentation of awards for the year.
The Silver Chief Scout Award and the Adventure Crest Award were presented to 11 Cubs from our group. These awards are the highest that a Cub can achieve and are earned over a period of up to three years, by completing a series of activities and challenges to the best of their ability, ranging from first aid skills to back to basics camping.
The Cubs and Scouts from our Group were also presented with the following trophies and awards:
Cubs District Skills day competition Winners certificate
Cubs Rough Rider competition Winners trophy
Scouts Swimming Gala Winners certificate
Scouts Rough Rider competition Winners trophy
The Bobcat Cub Pack (Thursday Cubs) also won the Cub Pack of the Year Award.
But, thats not all! George McInnes was presented with a long service award for 15 years service as a Leader. George has undertaken many roles in the District over the last 15 years, including terms as Assistant District Commissioner for Leader Training and District Commissioner, and is now our Scout Leader. The night was rounded off for us all when Helen Kibbey, Cub Leader with the Bobcats, was presented with her Wood Badge following the completion of her training as a Cub Leader.
A great deal of effort, on the part of the Cubs, Scouts and Leaders of St Faiths Scout Group over the last year is reflected in these awards.
Well done everyone!
The Mayor of Abergele Ron Rankin
About six years ago the Mens Group (a select and devout group formed to enjoy drinking and eating under various covering activities. Ed.) were debating the problem of finding a priest to lead their discussions, prayers and worship at their next weekend in North Yorkshire. I suggested that we ask Fr Charles Billington, a former vicar of St Faiths. I knew he was retired and, though he lived near Abergele, this was not seen as a problem. So it proved, Fr Charles accepted the challenge, there was an instant affinity and he has led every weekend since. In fact he now refers to himself as our Honorary Chaplain.
On the weekend in February 2002 he told us that in May he would become Deputy Mayor of Abergele and, twelve months later, May 2003, be made Mayor. However, later in the year we learnt that he had cancer and would have to have his bladder removed. But Fr Charles is nothing if not resilient and this February he was again in North Yorkshire with the Mens Group. Considering what he had been through he looked extremely well and assured us he was still going to become Mayor. Consequently, on May 22nd, four of us: Denis Griffiths, Kevin Walsh, Geoff Moss and myself, went to Abergele to see it all happen. It was an interesting day and Fr Charles mentioned the Mens Group in his acceptance speech. We now look forward to returning for the Mayoral Civic Church Service on June 22nd.
A Summer Reflection Fr Dennis
Arnold Toynbee, in his study of history, listed a succession of civilisations that had come to an end because the people involved in them had become soft and comfort-loving, and were unable or unwilling to meet the challenges of their respective eras. They had no vision of the future to inspire and sustain them. As one of the Biblical writers says: Where there is no vision, the people perish.
The prophets saw clearly the consequences of present actions and policies and warned people to change their ways while there was still time. They spoke the word of God to their own contemporaries; they had a vision of the divine purpose - an age of rightness and peace, leading to happiness and prosperity.
One of them looked forward to the outpouring of spiritual power, not only on priests and prophets, but on all, young and old, slaves and free, a spiritual democracy. In that great Pentecost your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. One might perhaps wonder about the distinction between a dream and a vision, and about the assignment of dreams to the old and visions to the young.
Dreams, we have been told, often express deep desires, things that one wants to happen. As people grow old, they perhaps lose the opportunity of influencing events, but they dream of hopes being fulfilled, and pray that they shall be. In this way they continue to play an active part in the spiritual dimension, the real sphere of decision and creativity. Younger people see visions, ideals, hopes and goals for which to work, with half a century before them. The dreams of their grandparents can encourage them to hold on to these visions.
It is good occasionally to ask what is the vision which inspires and sustains myself, the dream I want most for the world - a world at peace, abundant life for all, a true democracy in which the majority considers the rights and needs of the minority, an all-embracing humanity which over-rides differences of race, gender, colour, class, sexual orientation, political allegiance and religion in the conviction that we are all children of God, created, valued and loved by Him.
Joint PCCs Away Day
Faithful God, in baptism
you have adopted us as your children,
made us members of the body of Christ
and chosen us as inheritors of your kingdom:
empower us by your Spirit
to witness and to serve,
and send us out as disciples of your Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
On Saturday, 24th May, members of the PCCs of St. Marys and St. Faiths met together for a joint away day to discuss matters and concerns affecting both our churches. The venue for the event was St. Lukes Church in Formby, which is situated on the edge of the pine woods. The day was lovely and sunny and the scene was set for a good debate.
We began the proceedings with a celebration of the Eucharist and an excellent homily given by the Area Dean of Bootle, Canon David Parry.
The first session Mission, maintenance and money matters was led by Ian Leadbetter from the Liverpool Diocesan Resources Department. In his presentation he looked at the weekly planned giving and direct debit/ standing order giving in both churches. He pointed out that if every person in those schemes moved up a step, i.e. gave an extra £1 a week the financial situation would be very much improved Moreover he emphasised that by placing cash on the collection plate, whilst very much appreciated, there was no way of claiming tax relief from those who are tax payers and it was very difficult to forward budget.
It was agreed that the budget setting would be undertaken by the PCCs and that the PCCs would make a presentation to the whole congregation. This would be followed by the setting up of small groups and individuals to undertake work to plan for 2004.
In the second session: Where have all the younger people gone?, Fr. Paul Robinson from St. Thomass Lydiate, gave us a very lively and thought provoking presentation. He said there was no easy answer, but that children needed to be encouraged as much as possible to join in the worship and do things; not be turned away just because adults find them distracting, and that they wanted to be treated as equals and not patronised. A number of suggestions were made as a result of this session. The PCCs agreed that some services each year would be devised and run by young people and that visits to alternative options for worship would be arranged. The PCCs would explore the possibility of sourcing funding for a youth worker.
Following a picnic-style lunch in the grounds of the church Fr. Mark Waters led the final session Where do we go now ? when he brought together the many strands of the morning into a workable format. A Mission audit would be undertaken to ascertain what there is in the community and beyond and that a Mission group would be set up.
The day ended at 2.30 p.m. with closing worship and a thanksgiving for our baptism. Most of us dont relish the idea of giving up a Saturday. However it was a worthwhile time and for those of us on the PCC there is plenty of work ahead. A challenging day and one which we hope will benefit the future growth of our united benefice.
Sermons from St Faiths
A reminder that this new publication is now on sale from the back of church or by post from the editor. It contains the text of thirteen sermons preached at St Faiths: one sequence covering the sacraments of the church, the other being the words preached at Holy Week 2002.
Ar a price of only £2.50, and the proceeds going to Medic Malawi, this is an ideal opportunity both to support our special good cause and to remind ourselves of some of the highlights of the Ministry of the Word at St Faiths in recent years.
Less Sex Please, Guys
MIKE HOMFRAY has submitted this article from a recent issue of The Guardian (partly, he says, to break the Daily Telegraph monopoly in Newslink!) Writer KIRSTIN AUNE wonders why the Anglican church spends more time arguing over gays than spreading the word about God?
If, lets imagine, you were visiting Britain from another planet and came across some cuttings from the Christian press, you would be forgiven for thinking that church had something to do with two things: gay sex and arguing.
A paragraph in Rupert Shortts biography of the Archbishop of Canterbury has Rowan Williams admitting that a small adjustment to the church's teachings on sexuality in order to accept lifelong, monogamous gay relationships might be worthwhile. Such fine-tuning would, says Williams, be akin to allowing church remarriage for divorcees. Grounds for a public lynching? Some Christians seem to think so, and a row has raged since before Williams was appointed.
Back in September Williamss predecessor, George Carey, warned that within the Anglican community the disagreement over whether or not to accept gay relationships could precipitate a schism. The evangelical body Reform issued a pamphlet, Rowan Williams: A Godly Concern, asserting that the archbishop in effect believes in a different God and another gospel than that revealed in scripture. Williams is responsible for the worldwide Anglican division, the pamphlet claimed, and this threatens to exacerbate what is already a troubling situation.
This argument was repeated last week, with the appointment of the so-called gay rights advocate Canon Jeffrey John as Suffragan Bishop of Reading. Johns appointment met with anger from those opposed to gay equality, in particular from evangelical groups, which said it would hasten the collapse of the Church of England.
Then theres what another Christian paper charitably calls the oxymoronic Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) a movement which, because of the strength of opposition, has to campaign on a single-issue platform. The movement has recently been arguing, unsuccessfully, that religious organisations should not be granted exemption from the 2003 employment equality (sexual orientation) regulations. Its next activity is its Halfway to Lambeth conference in the autumn, aimed at persuading Anglican bishops to incorporate the experiences of lesbian and gay Christians in the next Lambeth conference. Good luck to the LGCM, but frankly Is a shame it has to exist.
Ten years ago, the debate over women priests was attracting a similar hullabaloo. Thankfully, at least as far as most of the Christian press is concerned, weve got over the women issue. Those female priests can finally do what they wanted to do in the first place without being caricatured as bra-burning militants every time they open their mouths. Theres nothing wrong with militancy, but sometimes consolidation is just as effective.
Now, it is absorption with sexuality that is giving the church a bad name. If the church really cares about what it is supposed to represent, it should take a look at Jesus. Jesus wasnt unconcerned with sexual ethics. After all, he came down pretty heavily on the bloke who was trying to find an easy way to divorce his wife; he talked about celibacy as a positive option; and he wasn't too keen on adultery. But generally, talking about sex wasnt Jesuss thing. He issued no injunctions about gay sex. Homosexuality, which gets half a dozen verses in the Bible, is really not a big deal.
As for all this bickering, how about turning the other cheek or doing unto others etc? Forgiveness and reconciliation between people, and between people and God, were two of Jesuss strongest themes. If Christians would channel the energy that goes into their sexuality debates into doing something useful, such as working for world peace or the elimination of poverty in the developing world or, even, talking to people about God they might have more credibility among a population increasingly suspicious of the institutional church.
So, guys (since its mostly guys doing the squabbling), cant you agree to differ about sexuality and move on? Lets have less about sex and more about Jesus. (And keep up the good work, Archbishop.)
... for the Feast Day of St Benedict, 11 July
I believe profoundly in academic excellence, and the pursuit of it as important just for its own sake. It will be a sad day if we fall into the trap of assessing the importance of things such as higher education solely in terms of their usefulness. We need men and women to explore the secrets of the universe and to work relentlessly to discover truth.
There is, however, another knowledge, a different wisdom. It comes to those who have glimpsed something of God in prayer. It is a knowledge of him as the ultimate truth; it is a wisdom which gives proper perspective to the created universe. St Benedict once had a vision as he looked out from the tower at the monastery at Monte Cassino. He saw the whole world as if gathered into one sunbeam. St Gregory commented. Animae videnti creatorem, angusta est omnis creatura To the soul which sees the creator, all creation seems small. If we catch a glimpse of the glory of God, we see the world, its peoples and events in their true perspective. We see them as they really are. Alone in his cave, Benedict learned that the prayerful study of God leads to a partial understanding of who and what he is. It is no more than a small shaft of light breaking through the cloud of unknowing. It is an exploration of that Reality which gives meaning to all else.
The call to be a hermit is a rare one; it requires a balanced mind, a tough constitution, an ability to stick at it in moments of darkness. None the less, there is something which we can learn from it. It is that each of us needs an opportunity to be alone and silent, or even, indeed, to find space in the day or in the week, just to reflect and to listen to the voice of God that speaks deep within us. Ours is a noisy and hectic world. There is too much clamour, too many preoccupations and distractions. So much so that God is squeezed out of our lives, if indeed he had ever been admitted into them. Of course, people want to know whether there is a God before they seek to admit him into their lives, where he can be found, what he is like. Oddly enough, it does not always work that way. Very often the starting point is a constant and prayerful search for God. We search precisely because we have not yet discovered the object of our seeking. In fact, our search for God is only our response to his search for us. He knocks at our door, but for many people, their lives are too preoccupied for them to be able to hear.
Cardinal Basil Hume, Address to the Parliamentary Christian Fellowship
A Prayer for the Departed
Following the recent deaths of John Price, Kathleen Vickers sent Jean Price this prayer by John Donne, the 16th century poet and priest. Jean has asked for it to be printed in Newslink, and we do so not only in Johns memory, but as a tribute to Wilf Newton Jones (Susie Greenwoods father), Hazel Sutcliffe (Betty Sutcliffes sister-in-law), Vic Winsor (husband of Betty Winsor) and, most recently, Queenie Goodwin, all of whom have also passed away in the past few weeks. We send our love and prayers to all who mourn their loss.
Bring us, O Lord God, at our last awakening,
into the house and gate of heaven,
to enter into that gate and dwell in that house
where shall be no darkness nor dazzling but one equal light;
no noise nor silence, but one equal music,
no fears nor hopes, but one equal possession;
no ends or beginnings, but one equal eternity;
in the habitations of thy glory and dominion,
world without end. Amen
The programme of concerts for the next few weks is as follows:
June 28 Colin Porter (organ)
July 5 Ranee Seneviratne (soprano)
July 12th James Firth (piano)
July 26th John Knight (organ)
August 2nd Ian Dunning (baritone) and Derek Sadler (piano)
The steady growth in numbers at the Saturday Open Mornings and Recitals is continuing, with numbers sometimes topping 70, enjoying refreshments, food and drink and, of course, top quality entertainment. If you haven't yet sampled these sessions (now in their sixth successful year) why not drop in, have a cup of coffee, and swell the numbers (and the profits)?
Auditions for the 2004 United Benefice Dramatic Society Pantomime will be held at 3.00 pm on Sunday July 13th in St Marys Hall.
Christian Aid Week 2003 Fred Nye
This year the door-to-door Christian Aid collection in the parish raised the magnificent sum of £950. Please could I say a very heart-felt word of thanks to all our faithful band of collectors, some of whom must have volunteered for every Christian Aid week for the last thirty years or more! Believe it or not it is a very rewarding task to witness in this way (although perhaps even more rewarding to count and bank the money when its all been collected!) There is a real commitment to relieving third world poverty among St. Faiths people and the collection is a practical and tangible way of expressing that commitment. Having said that I still wonder every year why it is that more of St. Faiths congregation (and dare I say it, more of the younger members) dont want to get involved. Im obviously rubbish at marketing. Perhaps we should hold an open meeting so that a Christian Aid rep. could talk to us about their work and what it achieves. If you think this might be a good idea, or have any other suggestions, please let me know my e-mail address is at the back of this Newslink). Meanwhile another big thank you to our loyal volunteers.
Flower Festival 2003 Mary Crooke
There will be a meeting for ongoing planning for the October Flower Festival on Thursday 31 July at 8pm in the Upper Room. Please try and be there.
From the Registers
21 May Grace Jones
30 May John Price
6 June Hannah (Queenie) Goodwin
Burial of Ashes
29 May Vernon Ford
The PCC and its Committees 2003/4
Fr Neil Kelley
Fr Dennis Smith
Mrs Margaret Davies (Churchwarden Vice Chair)
Mrs Joan Tudhope (Churchwarden)
Dr Fred Nye (Reader)
Mrs Jackie Parry (Reader)
Mrs Kathleen Zimak (Deputy Churchwarden)
Mr Gordon Slater (Deputy Churchwarden)
Mrs Margaret Houghton (Treasurer)
Mrs Fiona Whalley (Secretary)
Dr Michael Holland
Mr Mike Homfray
Mrs Audrey Dawson
Mrs Ruth Winder
Mrs Caroline Vitty
Mrs Margaret Houghton (Treasurer)
Mr Mike Broom
Dr David Fairclough
Mrs Irene Taylor
Mr Rick Walker
Mrs Sue Walsh (Deanery Synod)
Ms Kari Dodson (Deanery Synod)
Ms Wendy Trussell (Deanery Synod)
Mrs Angela Price
Mrs Elaine Jones
Mrs Mary Crooke
Mrs Maureen Madden
Mr Geoff Moss
Mrs Jill Deeprose
Fr Neil Treasurer
Mike Homfray Mike Holland
Geoff Moss David Fairclough
George Smith Christine Spence
Kevin Walsh Paul Jones
Ken Bramwell Ruth Winder
Dennis Griffiths Mike Holland
Mike Broome Denis Whalley
Gordon Slater Fiona Whalley
Finance and Stewardship Committee
Chris Price David Jones
Mike Holland Margaret Houghton
Ruth Winder Fiona Whalley
Betty Sutcliffe Angela Price
Chris Spence Rosie Walker
Linda Nye Mary Crooke
Ada Slater Irene Taylor
St. Faiths Holiday Club
We are delighted we are now able to run the first St. Faiths Holiday Club which will take place in the week of 4th to 8th August. It will be open to all children with connections with St. Faiths Church, the Uniformed Organisations and children in the surrounding area. It will be operated on a first come, first served basis with a maximum of 60 children.
They will take part in a varied programme of activities and outings during the week. Flyers, information and booking forms will be distributed in the very near future. We already have some helpers but would very much welcome more. Please see Fr. Neil if you would be interested in helping.