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The Parish Magazine
of Saint Faith's Church, Great Crosby

JULY 2005

Saint Faith’s Prayer for Mission

Faithful God,
in baptism you have adopted us as your children,
made us members of the body of Christ
and chosen us as inheritors of your kingdom:

bless our plans for mission and outreach;
guide us to seek and do your will;

empower us by your Spirit to share our faith
in witness and to serve,
and send us out as disciples of your Son
Jesus Christ our Lord.


From the Ministry Team

Dear friends,

“Give time to yourself, your family and friends, for rest, recreation and leisure…”

These are words which Bishop David used when he licensed Fr. Mark to ministry in our United Benefice on Corpus Christi. They are words used at the licensing of a new priest or minister and they are important. Important because we can often be aware of “work” that needs to be done and not so aware of “rest” that needs to be taken. Every time I go on retreat I can guarantee that someone will say “did you have a nice holiday?” Yes, such comments don’t come from anyone who has been on retreat, and who has risen at 6am to join a community in prayer and then spent the rest of the day trying to read or reflect or pray!

One thing which has been happening over the past years is that many “religious” retreat houses are catering more and more for people who simply need space and, if you like, want a “secular” retreat. People need time out. Human beings need time for rest, recreation and reflection. Life has never been so pressurised. We live in a fast go-getting, materialistic society where status is linked to money, achievements and successes. Churches face pressure. Can we raise the money required each month to pay the quota? Are we as “successful” as St. so-and-so’s down the road? Their numbers are greater; numbers seem to be all some are obsessed with! Depression and stress are no longer things “others” live with; it can happen to us, our neighbours, our children. All the more reason to take time for retreat.

However there is a danger. There is a danger that we see “retreat” as running away from life and its reality. A retreat is literally that. An opportunity to re-treat, to treat ourselves again, to spoil ourselves and find space and strength. Not to run away from the problems and challenges of life, but to find the strength required to face them. We talk a lot about the Holy Spirit as one who “comforts”. What does that word literally mean? Cum-fortis = with strength. Praying for the comfort of the Holy Spirit is not seeking a blanket to make us feel cosy and protect us from reality. The Holy Spirit is the one who enables us to live with strength – the strength which God alone can provide, and which we all need.

Whether you are going away during the summer months, in this country or abroad, or whether you are just taking time off at home to rest, let us all pray that we will find the time for recreation; to re-create ourselves in God’s strength so that we are fit for His service.

And perhaps this prayer might be one we can all benefit from using as we try and follow those words mentioned above, giving time to ourselves, our family and friends, for rest, recreation and leisure.

Prayer to Achieve Inner Peace  (Richard Cushing)

Slow me down, Lord.
Ease the pounding of my heart
by the quieting of my mind.
Steady my hurried pace
with a vision of the eternal reach of time.
Give me, amid the confusion of the day,
the calmness of the everlasting hills.
Break the tensions of my nerves and muscles
with the soothing music of the singing streams
that live in my memory.

Help me to know
the magical, restoring power of sleep.
Teach me the art of taking minute vacations –
of slowing down to look at a flower,
to chat with a friend,
to pat a dog,
to read a few lines from a good book.

Remind me each day of the fable
of the hare and the tortoise,
that I may know
that the race is not always to the swift –
and there is more to life
than increasing its speed.
Let me look upward
into the branches of the towering oak
and know that it grew great and strong
because it grew slowly and well.

Slow me down, Lord,
and inspire me to send my roots deep
into the soil of life’s enduring values
that I may grow toward the stars
of my greater destiny.

With my love and prayers
Fr. Neil

St. Mary the Virgin: The Co-Patron of Our United Benefice 

The role and place of Mary in the Church of England presents a problem for some. The recently published Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) document “Mary – Grace and Hope in Christ” - is something which has been welcomed by many, especially as it gives some “official teaching” on the Church of England’s understanding of Mary, rather than simply what an individual preacher might think or say in his or her sermon on the subject! This document is the result of a great deal of hard work over many years (it started in 1983!) and the result of a great deal of prayer. Also, such a document can only be produced within the framework of trust, honesty, respect and openness between Christians of different perspectives and persuasions; that in itself is surely a sign of hope and optimism as we journey towards the unity for which Our Lord prayed! The document focuses on the importance of what we share in common with Christians of other traditions, as well as asserting the rightful place of Mary in the life of the Church and of her (that is, the Church’s) worship. At S. Mary’s Patronal Festival Bishop Rupert Hoare made much mention of this new document in his sermon, encouraging us to welcome it as a positive contribution to ecumenical dialogue.

In the agreed statement it says that “The Scriptures lead us together to praise and bless Mary as the handmaid of the Lord, who was providentially prepared by divine grace to be the mother of our redeemer. Her unqualified assent to the fulfillment of God’s saving plan can be seen as the supreme instance of a believer’s ‘Amen’ in response to the ‘yes’ of God.”

The report makes it clear that Mary belongs to the whole Church, not just parts of it! A number of people have expressed an interest in the report so I will be getting some copies which can be available. Please let me know if you would like one. It isn’t expensive! If you do read the report and feel you might be interested in a discussion group on the document, please let me know. Such a discussion might prove very worthwhile for members of our two congregations.

In 1967 a society was formed known as the Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary (ESBVM). The ESBVM exists to advance the study at various levels of the place of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Church, under Christ, and of related theological questions; and in the light of such study to promote ecumenical devotion. Its aim is to show that, in the Blessed Virgin Mary, Christians of many traditions may find a focus in their search for unity.  Details of the ESBVM can be found at The Society is governed by an elected  Council,  which  includes,  besides  representatives

of branches, well-known theologians and ecumenists of various Christian traditions, who advise on the Society’s structure and future programmes; in the past these have included
Dr John Newton (who with the late Bishop David Sheppard and the late Archbishop David Warlock prophetically pioneered the cause of ecumenism here on Merseyside), and former old-boy of S. Faith’s, the late Lord Runcie of Cuddesdon, with many other distinguished names. In fact in 1999 when we included some pages of Marian poetry in Newslink, linked to the celebration of her Feast on August 15th, Lord Runcie wrote to Chris Price saying how much he appreciated reading the poetry we had included, given his strong links with the ESBVM over many years.

With regard to prayer, the Society has its own Ecumenical Office of Mary the Mother of Jesus, with material drawn from many Christian traditions and countries. It is used at meetings of the Society and in members’ personal devotions, as well as being a source-book for wider ecumenical gatherings. Every member is given a copy of this Office. Locally, pilgrimages may be made to Marian shrines. Some members have formed small prayer groups; branches have occasional quiet days or devotional meetings, and our larger conferences always include ecumenical worship, having careful regard to the practice of different traditions. Fellowship is a major part of the pattern of the Society’s life, whether it is just a cup of tea and a chat in someone’s home after a prayer group, a pot-luck supper at a branch meeting, or shared meals and conversations at day conferences or residential International Congresses, where many new friendships are made with members from different countries and traditions; the venue is usually a cathedral/university city, and there are visits to local places of interest or pilgrimage.

For details of subscriptions and information as to how to join the Society, please contact the Associate General Secretary at 11 Belmont Road, Wallington Surrey SM6 8TE, Tel & Fax 020 8647 5992.

Almighty God,
who looked upon the lowliness of the Blessed Virgin Mary
and chose her to be the mother of your only Son:
grant that we who are redeemed by his blood
may share with her in the glory of your eternal kingdom;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.
(the collect in  the Church of England’s “Common Worship”
 for the Feast of Mary, 15th August)

Anglican Outposts
Chris Price

One of the pleasures of holidays, at least for this writer, is coming across unusual and intriguing churches in relatively remote places. I have reported previously from the northernmost outpost of the good old C of E (or at least its Episcopalian alter ego): this time the impressions are of two of our churches on islands very much at the opposite end of Great Britain.

The one furthest to the southwest is to be found on St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall. This beautiful and spectacular crag is offshore from the little town of Marazion, just east of Penzance. A National Trust property, it also houses some of the St Aubyn family, whose patriarch is Lord St Levan: their castle crowns the wooded crag, which you get to either by walking at low tide over the connecting causeway or, if the sea is in, by small boat. After a testing slog up, the castle is a fascinating and romantic building – and it contains the Church of St Michael. The original Benedictine Abbey’s Priory Church, rebuilt after an earthquake in the fourteenth century, is still regularly used for worship, and has features dating back to mediaeval times, as well as some fine later features.

We visited the Mount on a Sunday, making our fittingly damp pilgrimage over the causeway on the one wet day of a fine week, and joined a congregation of some 30 or 40 for a lovely Eucharist, about as near to heaven as this earth perhaps permits. There was a strong sense of spiritual continuity and of union with the countless numbers who have made their pilgrimage  to this English Mont St Michel.

On our way home to Crosby we took the boat from Bideford to Lundy Island for the day. This beautiful, wild island in the Atlantic off the Devon coast is rich with flowers and birds, and boasts a fine, hospitable tavern and wonderful walks on the wide turf above the sea. And it has its own church: a solid, oddly urban-looking Victorian edifice which dominates the tiny village.

Lundy is now also in the benevolent hands of the National Trust, but, like quite a few of the most beautiful places and properties of Britain, owes its survival in no small part to the equally benevolent patronage of Victorian and Edwardian families and gentry. In the case of Lundy, the family’s name was, very appropriately, Heaven! For many years the island was known as the Kingdom of Heaven, and a priest of that name had the church built and maintained. Today it houses exhibitions and is only occasionally used for worship (and for expensive weddings, we gathered!), but it stands foursquare as a witness to the Christian faith – and, like its western counterpart in Cornwall, acts as an Anglican Outpost in the seas of faith.

Words in Memoriam

We can shed tears because they have gone,
Or we can smile because they have lived.

We can close our eyes and pray that they will come back,
Or we can open our eyes and see all that they have left.

Our hearts can be empty because we can’t see them,
Or we can be full of the love that we have shared.

We can turn our back on tomorrow and live for yesterday,
Or we can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

We can remember them and only that they have gone,
Or we can cherish their memory and let it live on.

We can cry and close our minds, be empty and turn our back,
Or we can do what they would want: smile, open our eyes, love, and go on.

Henry Scott Holland

Fund Raising Update

Just a reminder that the Charity Fun Day scheduled for July 9th has sadly had to be cancelled due to lack of support. Please support the series of TABLE TOP SALES being held on Saturdays over the summer. The next two are on July 16th and August 6th, starting at 1.00 pm. Tables may be booked for £7 – see Joan Tudhope for details.

Christian One-Liners
 (borrowed from an edition of S. Mary’s Parish Magazine)

Some people are kind, polite, and sweet-spirited –
 until you try to sit in their place at church.
Many people want to serve God – but only as advisers.
It is easier to preach ten sermons than it is to live one.
The good Lord didn’t create anything without a purpose, but mosquitoes come close.
When you get to your wit’s end, you’ll find God there.
People are funny; they want the front of the bus, the middle of the road –
and the back of the Church.
Opportunity may knock once, but temptation bangs on your front door for ever.
Quit griping about your Church: if it was perfect, you couldn’t belong.
The phrase that is guaranteed to wake an audience: “and in conclusion…”
If the Church wants a better Pastor, it only needs to pray for the one it has!

Holiday Club 2005: August 1st – 5th
Fr. Neil

I’m delighted that for the third year we are running a holiday club at Saint Faith’s and am grateful to Joan Tudhope and all those who are part of the team responsible for making it happen. I’m delighted too that folk from S. Mary’s are helping again especially given the fact that the S. Mary’s Holiday Club is the week before! (what’s the old saying? “you don’t have to be mad to work here…. but it helps!”) Giving up a week to help with Holiday Club is not something to be undertaken lightly! Booking forms will appear soon – if you know people that want to come please fill in the forms as soon as you receive them as we already have a list of people waiting! That is good news. Also, as and when help is required, please give a hand if you can. There really is something for everyone to do.

From the Counting-House

The Treasurer, David Jones, writes …

Last month, I told you about the “Giving in Grace” campaign in the Liverpool Diocese and our response to it. At its meeting last month, the PCC approved the Case Statement and the Finance Committee will now be pursuing the fund-raising initiatives and budget plans, some of which have already been approved.

The Finance Committee has been re-formed and now meets one week before each PCC.  Some of the issues discussed at the May meeting and approved by the PCC include:

Budget Monitoring

Concern had been expressed at our rising costs. There was very good news in that considerable savings have been achieved in telephone costs by switching to another provider and a new supplier for altar consumables (wine, bread and candles) has been appointed.  Standards will be maintained but at a much lower cost.

We still face high costs and £3,400 goes out of our bank each month for the Diocesan Quota and church insurance before anything else is paid!

We are deeply grateful for the generous donations given to the church, particularly for legacies in memory of loved ones.

One of the strengths of St Faith’s that was identified is our excellent musical tradition.  We plan to extend our highly successful Saturday Summer Recitals throughout the year on a monthly or periodic basis and these will replace other fund raising schemes such as the Autumn Bazaar.  Other fund-raising ideas are being actively considered.  Other ideas are most welcome!

New Bank

We have decided to switch our banking arrangements to Lloyds TSB.  This transfer will take a few weeks so please bear with us.  I shall be writing to all those of you who give through a standing order and ask you to take out a new mandate to Lloyds.  The names of our donors is not always clear (is it Mr X, Mrs Y, or both?), particularly where the money comes from a joint account.  The new forms will make it clear but, in the meantime, if I address your letter to the wrong person, please forgive me
Gift Aid

Blue Gift Aid envelopes are now available in church for all donations, whether on the loose plate at services or at special events.  One thoughtful member of the congregation has already gift aided a generous donation.  For every £1 you give, the government will add 28p, so a £10 donation means £12.80 to the church.

Mission Giving

Members of St Faith’s give most generously to charities and special appeals (for example Oxfam, Tsunami Appeal, Sudan) but the figures are not shown in our accounts because the money goes straight in and out.  Did you know that, in 2004, we gave over £5,500 to these appeals?  In future, the gifts will be listed and the PCC re-affirmed its aim to give 10% in mission giving.

Again, thank you for your support.

The people of Saint Faith’s were thrilled and delighted to hear that one of our congregation had just been awarded the MBE. We congratulate Ann Dickinson on her richly-deserved award, and are basking in a little of her reflected glory!

Hilary Pennington has contributed an appreciation of Ann’s work and achievement.

Ann Dickinson

The Queen’s Birthday Honours List this year has recognised Ann Dickinson’s great contribution to the music scene in the Merseyside area, by the award of the MBE for services to the Liverpool Community.

Ann is a long-standing member of Saint Faith’s congregation but somehow finds time in her busy schedule of employment and piano-playing to help with the flowers and the cleaning of the church.

Her employment as a regular accompanist for rehearsals of the Birkenhead Operatic Society, Crosby Gilbert and Sullivan, the Waterloo Theatre Company and pupils of the Elliott-Clarke Dance School stretches back over many years. If not playing the piano she will be found ‘backstage’ with props or ‘front of house’ with sales.

Apart from these commitments, her musical support is always available for fund-raising activities such as the local Carol Concerts at Jospice, the ‘Girls Talk’ productions and of course our own United Benefice pantomimes.

Unable to say ‘no’, Ann is called upon, often at short notice, to help out by providing musical backing for individual performances or exams. At the moment of writing, her time is being spent playing the piano at Our Lady and St Nicholas, Pier Head, as part of the Mersey River Festival.

Always willing to assist and to put herself out for others, Ann is a worthy recipient of this honour, and our love and good wishes are with her.



Saturday 6th August
10.30 am Eucharist with Hymns

Sunday 14th August
4.00 pm BBQ for S. Mary’s and S. Faith’s congregations in the Vicarage Garden
- all profits to Medic Malawi

Monday 15th August
8.00pm  High Mass followed by drinks in the Vicarage Garden
Preacher: Martin Jones (ordinand-in-training)

The Fellowship of Faith

You will remember that when we returned from Conques last year, the Ministry Team
discussed the possibility of a group known as “The Fellowship of Faith” and Fred
Nye wrote about this in the December 2004 Newslink. This group will be open to
all who wish to join. The Parish Pilgrimage to Conques in 2004 was a blessing for all
who went, and I hope for our parish life. It helped us to come closer to our Patron
Saint Faith and to give thanks to God for her inspiration to generations of Christians for 1,700 years.

The purpose of the Fellowship of Faith will be:

To pray for our parish and to thank God regularly for blessings received.
To encourage greater devotion to Saint Faith.
To foster within ourselves and others an awareness of Saint Faith: her life, her witness and her inspiration.
To encourage pilgrimage to holy places as appropriate and when possible.
To remember in our prayers all those churches dedicated to Saint Faith and especially the work of the Abbey and community of Conques.
To attend the Eucharist frequently and to give due time to preparation for receiving Holy Communion.
 To meet occasionally in someone’s home for a celebration of the Eucharist followed by a
 shared meal, and an opportunity to get to know each other better.

The purpose of the group is not to bring into being a secret society or club, which is why I stress it is open to all, regardless of whether you attended the pilgrimage to Conques or not. If you wish to know more about this group, please take a sheet from the back of church giving details.

Those who wish to join the Fellowship of Faith will be ‘admitted’ during a simple ceremony which will be included in our Patronal Festival liturgy, S. Faith’s Day, 6th October at 8pm.

The collect for S. Faith:
Almighty and everlasting God,
who kindled the flame of your love
in the heart of your holy martyr Faith;
give us, your servants,
the same strength and power of love,
that we who rejoice in her triumph
may profit by her example;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Beatitudes for the More Mature Person

Blessed are those who understand
My faltering steps and shaking hand.
Blessed are those who know my ears today
Must strain to catch the things they say.
Blessed are those who look away
When tea is spilt on the cloth today.
Blessed are they with a cheery smile
Who stop to chat for a little while.
Blessed are they who never say
You’ve told that story twice today.
Blessed are they who make it known
That I am loved, respected and not alone.
And blessed are they who ease the days
Of my journey home in loving ways.

From the magazine of Brixham Baptist Church

From the Postbag

A letter to the vicar from the Revd Deb Larkey, thanking Saint Faith’s for the book token we had given her to thank her for preaching to us on Pentecost Sunday.

Dear Neil,

Thank you so much for the kind gift – I was not expecting that at all.

It was a pleasure to come to St Faith’s and it really meant so much to me to be asked to come and preach. It was a wonderful service with the stunning Pentecost balloons. I enjoyed seeing all the children, the worship, the incense, the energetic music and attention to every detail.

I shall remember the warm and encouraging welcome and kindness from so many of your people (I hope they do that for you too!).

It was a joy to have Peter Goodrich there, too. So thank you for a special time that I will not forget.

God bless you,

Deb Larkey

Soaring like Eagles

Sermon preached by Fr. Dennis Smith on 12th June 2005

The eagle is a bird of prey. For the writers of scripture, however, this isn’t the most important wildlife fact for the brain to absorb or the eyes to behold.  The picture we’re presented with is much more domesticated. The eagle is a sign of shelter and a sign of safety. David Attenborough eat your heart out! This may not be as gory but it is filled with glory.  The vision of a bird soaring high above the pine trees, sweeping in wide arcs is purposeful direction; here is strategic movement.  The children of Israel have been plucked out of Egypt and whisked into the wilderness, but not to enjoy the view.  They have been rescued for a purpose: to discover who they are.  And this identity is wrapped up in the mystery of who God is: “I have brought you to myself.” God’s act of redemption is in order that the Israelites can be a holy people, precious to God.

The eagle’s sure and certain hold is a parable of God’s firm grip on history. But it’s not all one way. There is need for children to grow and discover the heart of true living.

This passage in Exodus is a preliminary course to the main one, which is the giving of the Twelve “Words” or commandments. God’s hold on his people is dependent upon their hold on to the worlds of God. When this passage of Exodus was being penned, history had moved on apace. The people had found a new nest and they had experienced many stresses and temptations.

Wealth and prestige had made their eyes widen: should they become golden eagles?  Should power and glory be their goals, and the subjugation of others be their target? So the writer is trying to draw people back to the heart of the covenant faith: the people should learn to live lives of thankfulness for the way they had been led, rather than flaunting their golden dreams by oppressing the poor or making the other nations bring their gold and silver. Remember how you have been carried on eagles’ wings, and then you will be getting back to a proper understanding of who you are and what your purpose is as a people.

Which brings us to Psalm 100,  a Psalm  as filled with greatness as any.  It’s  packed  with

imperatives: “Make a joyful noise to the Lord!”  “Worship the Lord with gladness!  Know the Lord he is God!  Give thanks to him!  Bless his name!”  And why?  Because the Lord is good!  (as the well-known paraphrase says: “For why? the Lord our God is good”)  His steadfast love endures for ever. That’s why you should do all these things.  You should do them out of thankfulness for being carried along on eagles’ wings (or, to use the picture language of the Psalm, for being shepherded in his pasture). So if you’re wondering what the good news is, there should be very little doubt in your mind by now. The good news is that we are held secure on our journey. God’s Kingdom is OK. The news of it can be preached with confidence. And, as that announcement is made, in whatever age and whatever context, there is the promise that God has and will draw near to the world he loves. Throughout the Gospel of Matthew there is this reassurance. At the beginning, God is “Emmanuel”, with us, not away from us. At the end, when the mission into all the world becomes the climax, we receive the joyous promise as the very last words of the Gospel: “Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

So, not surprisingly, when the disciples are called and sent out on their Galilean preaching and healing mission outlined in our Gospel reading today, there’s a similar air of confidence and security. Fledgelings though these disciples are, they become “apostles” sent out like young birds from the nest to set about their life’s work: to proclaim good news and bring healing and restoration to the world.

The resources for the enterprise are meagre: no fancy budget, no mobile phone back-up, no emergency car following behind.  Nor should they expect recompense and they minister: “You received without payment, give without payment”.  But there’s no need for anxiety or fear.  The one who sends them out is alongside them and carrying them along.  It’s as though they were carried on eagle’s wings.  The one who sends out the apostles isn’t some larger than life hero who’s a picture of confidence, glory and power.  Quite the opposite.  Jesus is the vulnerable one.  He is the one who has tasted the bitterness of failure, the opposition of religious people who should have known better, even the desertion of his friends.

The apostles aren’t promised freedom from suffering. They will taste much of what Jesus himself experienced. But, underneath, there will be a feeling of “Shalom” – a great “peace” which cannot be taken away. his is what Paul, the apostle extraordinary, experienced in his own ministry. He put it down to the faith and trust he had in God’s grace, gifted in Jesus Christ.

“Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand.”  Suffering then becomes not a sign of hopelessness. It’s part of the glory of God.  Because Jesus himself was able to reveal the all-embracing, lifting and carrying, love of God through the Cross, the peace of God is now a sure and certain gift. So how can we hide in the Church?  The Church isn’t a cosy refuge from the storm. It’s not like a nest in the branches of a high tree.  Rather it’s a place from which we are sent out to transform the
world. Strengthened in worship, nurtured by the story of faith, the whole sky beckons, urging us to fly. The promise is there. We can leave the nest. We can risk the dangers.  Bearers of good news, we will be borne along, ourselves on eagle’s wings.


New or old way of ‘being Church’ - which is it to be?
An article published recently in “The Times”
Liberal and weak clergy blamed for empty pews

CHURCHGOING is in freefall in Britain because clergy and ministers are failing to stand up for moral values and treasured beliefs, a new survey has found. Churches are being “silent” and “lukewarm” in the face of moral and social collapse, according to the £20,000, year-long study of 14,000 British churchgoers and those who have left the Church.

Researchers found “a widespread sense of anger and frustration” at what was happening to churches in the UK and Ireland. The 42-page report is an indictment of modern preaching and worship, illustrating how excessive liberalism and lack of conviction are driving worshippers from the pews. The report portrays a desire for sermons based on the Bible and traditional teaching, rather than on politics, social affairs or audience-pleasing stunts.

The report calls for better apologetics, or Christian teaching, and claims that many clergy are unable to mount a convincing argument in defence of Christianity and are not interested in trying. When asked to explain why Christianity might be true, the common response is: “It is just a matter of faith.”

The report says: “This has resulted in a growing number of people being left with the false impression that there are no strong reasons for Christian belief. Ultimately they abandon churchgoing and are mystified that Christianity continues to grow elsewhere in the world.”

The report blames the contemporary practice of teaching the universal nature of God’s love. Because people believe God will continue to love them no matter what they do, they no longer see any need to go to church to confess their sins or seek guidance on how to change their lives. The aim was to explore the reasons why Christianity is in decline in Britain and Ireland but thrives in other parts of the world, including prosperous countries such as the US.

Researchers found that the thousands of people who still do go to church do so out of a sense of duty and not because it brings them any fulfilment. They report widespread criticism of the current fashion for “family” or “all age” services for bordering on entertainment rather than worship. One Shropshire churchgoer said: “I’ve seen balloons rising from the pulpit, fake moustaches and all manner of audience appeal . . . but with no real message behind it.”

Instead, churchgoers want to be told how to live a Christian life, and to understand how to evangelise in a society distracted by materialism. The report correlates statistics from the past 150 years showing attendance rising in the last half of the 19th century and peaking around 1905 before going into steady decline, with an inverse trend of crime, drunkenness and illegitimacy falling to a low at the turn of the 19th century and then steadily rising.


Andrea and Isabel join me in thanking all who donated so generously to Medic Malawi, on the occasion of George’s funeral.

Our grateful thanks go to Father Neil for his kind attention and for the inspiring Mass he celebrated for George. We also thank Father Dennis, Father Peter and Father Myles, who gave their time at such short notice, and would like also to express our appreciation to George Gilford, who played the organ, the choir, who sang s well, and all who took part in the service.

Muriel Harrison

The Perfect Church

If you should find the perfect church
Without one fault or smear,
For goodness sake don’t join that church:
You’d spoil the atmosphere.

If you should find the perfect church
Where all anxieties cease,
Then pass it by, lest joining it,
You spoil the masterpiece.

If you should find the perfect church,
Then don’t you ever dare
To tread upon such holy ground:
You’d be a misfit there.

But since no perfect church exists,
Made up of perfect men,
Let’s cease in looking for that church,
And love the church we’re in.

Of course it’s not the perfect church;
That’s simple to discern,
But you and I and all of us
Could cause the tide to turn.

What fools we are to flee the past
In that unfruitful search,
To find at last, where problems loom
God proudly builds his church.

From the magazine of the Parish of Berkswich, Stafford

A West African Waterloo
Kathy Zimak presents her first report on her recent African Safari!

Little did I think at the time of St Faith’s Harvest appeal for Sierra Leone last year that I would be nominated to join a small ecumenical group from Waterloo that would visit the country:  our local MP Claire Curtis Thomas had visited Sierra Leone last year and had decided to  set up links with our community’s namesake about 30 miles from the capital Freetown. I am immensely grateful to the parish for giving me this opportunity as it proved to be one of life’s memorable experiences.

A full report on our visit will follow in due course. At this stage I can only summarise our impressions from a packed programme. We were hosted by the Department of Foreign Affairs and by the High Commissioner to Britain who had flown to Freetown specially to be our host for the five days that we were there. Our group was given a special status because of our leader’s position as the new chair of the All-party Parliamentary Committee on Sierra Leone. We were therefore given an audience by President Kabbah, received by the Vice President, shown around the buildings of Parliament, and given the best chairs behind the speaker at one of the Parliamentary debates. We visited the Special Court for Sierra Leone set up by the United Nations where those responsible for the terrible atrocities committed in the recent war are being tried for war crimes. We were impressed by the dedication and compassion of the Prosecutor, an American lawyer appointed by the UN; he is determined to break the culture of impunity that developed in the period after the Second World War, and to make sure that the war criminals are convicted in a shorter time than in the other war crime trials that are proceeding elsewhere.

The most memorable aspects of our visit was however undoubtedly the time we spent in the town of Waterloo, a community of around 24000 people. This was one of the most war-torn areas in the country, with deaths and atrocities that would have reduced most communities to an abject state.  I was amazed that, only three years after the end of the war and despite the obvious extreme poverty, people had begun to rebuild their lives. In the schools teachers were absolutely committed to their task despite the virtual absence of any real resources, and despite in some cases teaching classes of over a hundred children. On our first visit the whole township turned out to give us a wonderful reception. School children immaculately dressed in colourful school uniform lined the route, and the special meeting called to welcome us began with prayers by Muslim and Christian leaders: religious tolerance is a strength of Sierra Leone.

Amongst our visits to schools we were welcomed by the Rural Institute for whom we had as a parish collected materials and I was privileged to had over these donations on behalf of the church. I also identified the Anglican church with which we could well link in the future. Dedicated to St Michael and All Angels, its incumbent, The Rev Canon Claudius Leighton Davies is the Area Dean and it boasts an all male choir of 45, a Mothers’ Union, 11
A GFS, a men’s group and a group called the Dorcas group which looks after the needy in the local community. Canon Davies was thrilled with the photos of St Faith’s that I took with me and is undoubtedly avidly reading the copies of Newslink.

This was, we hope, the first of a number of visits: we shall as a group be meeting to formulate recommendations as to future strategy.  To help and support this large community will be a tall order, but it will be an exciting challenge for our churches and schools in Waterloo.  We will, I am sure, be enriched by our contacts with this vibrant and beautiful country.

Kathy penned this before leaving the country again! Fuller reports will follow: see elsewhere in this issue, the church website and displays in church for some early photographs. It is marvellous that both civic and church links are being developed with Waterloo in Sierra Leone, and good indeed that we have been in from the start of this imaginative and clearly potentially rewarding enterprise.   Ed.


Build Me a Bridge
(submitted by Fiona Whalley; any complaints of political incorrectness to her, please!)

A man walking along a California beach was deep in prayer. Suddenly the sky clouded above his head and, in a booming voice, the Lord said, "Because you have tried to be faithful to me, I will grant you one wish."

The man said, "Build a bridge to Hawaii so I can drive over anytime I want." The Lord said, "Your request is very materialistic. Think of the enormous challenges for that kind of undertaking. The supports required to reach the bottom of the Pacific! The concrete and steel it would take! It will nearly exhaust several natural resources. I can do it, but
it is hard for me to justify your desire for worldly things. Take a little more time and think of something that would honor and glorify me."

The man thought about it for a long time. Finally he said, "Lord, I wish that I could understand my wife. I want to know how she feels inside, what she's thinking when she gives me the silent treatment, why she cries, what she means when she says 'nothing's wrong,' and how I can make a woman truly happy."

The Lord replied, "You want two lanes or four on that bridge?"

Betty Winsor, R.I.P.
Fr Dennis

As well as relatives, friends from the three parishes of St Mary’s, Waterloo, St Nicholas’, Blundellsands and St Faith’s gathered on Friday, May 27th last, to celebrate the life of our dear departed sister in Christ and, in the great act of Eucharistic thanksgiving, to pray for her soul and commend her to God’s infinite love and mercy.

For many years Betty and her beloved husband Vic had worshipped in St Mary’s and been pillars of the musical and choral tradition there. On moving house they found it more convenient to attend St Faith’s and so, for a number of years in the 1980s and 90s we were fortunate to have their loyal support and dedicated service.

Following another move, this time to ‘Newlands’, the Abbeyfield home in Blundellsands,  St Nicholas’ was only a stone’s throw, and so in their final years they enjoyed membership of yet another part of the Body of Christ.

Betty had been immensely grateful that she had been able to nurse and care for Vic in the final stages of his cancer. In 1999 they had celebrated their Diamond Jubilee of marriage and never was there such a devoted couple! Following a spell in hospital in early 2004, Betty went to live in Warren Park Nursing Home, Blundellsands. She was very happy and contented and greatly enjoyed and appreciated the attention and care she received from the wonderful staff of nurses and care-assistants. She was always delighted to receive visits from friends, and I shall never forget the conversations and banter shared between us over the last eighteen months of her life.

All who came into contact with Betty over the years were aware of what a truly remarkable and magnanimous woman she was. She gave herself to numerous people in a great diversity of ways and will be sorely missed by many. To say that it was an enormous joy and tremendous privilege to have known her is an understatement. She lived to see her 95th birthday. May she rest in God’s peace and be raised in His glory.


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