The Parish Magazine of St Faith`s Church, Great Crosby
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From the Clergy July 1998
For those of us present in church on May 24th, the memory of that great day is still very vivid, and likely to remain so for some time. It was very much a double celebration: it marked the centenary of the laying of the foundation stone of St. Faith‘s, but also the confirmation of candidates who, having had promises made on their behalf at their baptism, were now ready to make those promises themselves, becoming full members of the Body of Christ.
The service was charged with an atmosphere of devotion and a real sense of celebration and joy, aided by a combination of splendid liturgy and music. An extra splash of colour was provided by those breath-taking new High Mass vestments, given to St Faith‘s by Fr. Dennis, in memory of his mother. The service was made extra-special by the presence of Lord Runcie, who was himself confirmed in our Church 62 years ago. His dignity, warmth and humility once again endeared him to all those present on this memorable occasion.
It was a day on which we were able to give thanks to God for our membership of St. Faith‘s, mindful of the great debt of gratitude we owe to those who have gone before us in this community of faith. We owe so much to the generosity of our benefactor Douglas Horsfall, and to the faithfulness of generations of past worshippers who, by their prayers and example, have shaped and sustained the traditions of this church. We have been richly blessed with a whole multitude of people who, over the past hundred years have made such a lasting contribution to the spiritual life of St. Faith‘s.
Traditions rarely remain unchanged; our liturgy has undergone many changes since the church was first built — some of the things we do today would hardly have been recognizable to people who worshipped here in the early years. But we remain true to the aspirations of our founder, and St. Faith‘s continues as a ?thank offering for the revival of Catholic faith and doctrine in the Church of England.‘ Building on the solid foundation we have inherited, we need to continue to develop as a community of faith, reflecting not only on our own needs, but on the needs of the local community.
There are many people who call themselves Christians but who would not dream of entering a church. Such a view fails to appreciate the essential Christian aspect of community. Christianity is not just about believing — it‘s also about belonging. It is about belonging to a community; sharing our faith; worshipping and praying together; showing care and concern for each other; working out together how we can follow the way of Our Lord. The experience we have of God comes mainly through our experience of belonging to a Christian community.
If we are ever going to share our faith with those outside the church, then we need to give ourselves the chance to articulate what it means to be a Christian towards the end of the millenium. This is, in fact, the agenda for a series of reflections led by Fr. Mark Waters, in which we have begun to think of the vast changes which have taken place in our world since St. Faith‘s was consecrated. These changes are quite profound and have serious consequences for us as Christians. By talking openly about what meaning these changes might have for us, we (quote) `might be better equipped as a church to make appropriate challenges to the dominant culture‘.
These meetings, and a whole host of other events planned for next year or so, are an indication of the vitality that is still very much in evidence in St. Faith‘s. Far from being a barren period ?in limbo‘, the interregnum has been a very vibrant period so far — long may it continue ( the vibrancy, that is, not the interregnum ! We need a new vicar NOW!) It has been much more than ?having to get on with it? or ?keeping things going‘. In addition to the normal week-by-week cycle of services, meetings and pastoral visits, the planning of the Centenary events has given us an extra momentum, and a real sense of working together as a team. May God bless us in all our plans worthily to celebrate a hundred years of the church we love.
From the Registers
17 May Natasha Lucy Saunders
daughter of Christopher and Christine
18 May Dorothy Robers
Robert Barnsley, Jennifer Hockney, Thomas Ludlow, Kathryn Macoy, Christopher Parker, Jonathan Parry, William Parry, Christopher Shillitoe, Laura Walsh.
In the century since its foundation, St Faith‘s has seen many splendid occasions and has had much for which to give thanks to Almighty God. But there can have been few, if any, days to surpass or even equal May 24th, 1998.
Its many memories will be enshrined in countless photographs and more than a few video films, some of which will in due course be available for those interested to buy or borrow, and thus relive that most memorable of days. It centred, of course, around Lord Runcie — Bishop Robert — who celebrated, preached, confirmed and reminisced, and who always seemed to find time to meet people, to be photographed with people and to sign things for people.
It was a proud moment for the Wardens to escort him into a packed church and to begin the climax to many months of prayer and preparation. But before that moment there had been press interviews, television crews both announced (the BBC) and unannounced (Granada and Liverpool Live!), the dedication of the new and splendid High Mass vestments (given by Fr Dennis in memory of his mother Marian) and a line-up for the caneras outside church. After all that, it was a relief to get into church spot on time and let the power and beauty of the liturgy carry things along.
Bishop Robert spoke movingly and affectionately of what he owed to St Faith‘s (as indeed he had done earlier on BBC Radio Merseyside‘s ?Daybreak‘ programme) and made us realise once again what a proud inheritance we enjoy and how many people have found their vocations in St Faith‘s. He then proceeded to confirm our candidates, together with three from Christ Church, Waterloo, while the video cameras rolled. Soon it was time for the Thanksgiving and Communion, before a final Act of Affirmation and Rededication heralded the final procession. Throughout the music and the servants of the sanctuary had been as inspiring and as professional as ever, setting the seal on a service in which it was a privilege to partake.
And then it all turned into a happy buzz and mingle, as the protagonists grouped and regrouped in front of the High Altar for every possible combination of group photographs, while visitors and old friends chatted and shared memories, or looked at all their yesterdays in the displays of archive material at the back of church. Lord Runcie patiently endured the TV cameras and the attentions of the gentlemen of the press, before retiring to the hall to meet and greet those who were not going on to the lunch.
The party reconvened at 1 p.m. in the Williams Hall of Merchant Taylors‘, where nearly two hundred of the faithful (perhaps another record?) were wined and dined and duly spoken to. There was just as strong a sense of historical continuity here as there had been in church. It was, of course, a century to the day that Canon Armour, formidable Merchant Taylors‘ pedagogue, had attended the laying of the stone by young Robert Elcum Horsfall, before inviting the attendant clergy (but not, it would appear, anyone else!) back for a meal at the school. At that time, as the photographs show, the area around church and school was largely a `green field site‘. In 1998, surrounded by suburban sprawl, another fine time was had by all. Gardner Merchant, the school caterers, prompted many a comment on the improved standard of modern school dinners, before it was time for speeches.
Bishop Robert reminisced amiably and entertainingly about his past and that of St Faith‘s. Homage was paid to some of the great characters of the past, amusing anecdotes flowed like the wine, and more highly welcome and flattering remarks were made about the current state of play at St Faith‘s.
A few more signatures, photographs and farewells and it was time for a quick dash to Lime Street and a chance at last to relax and look back on a day to remember with pride and affection. There can be no doubt, judging by the many appreciative comments received in the following days, not least from our guest of honour, that there could have been no better launch for our thirty months of centenary celebrations. In his words after dinner, Rick Walker paid proper tribute to all who had worked so hard to make the day such a resounding success. I can only echo those thanks, and pay tribute to Joyce and her team for all her work in preparing the candidates for confirmation (have a look at page 18), say how grateful we are to Lord Runcie for being so willing to be put on show and to share our festivities — and look forward with confidence to the programme of events due to unroll over the months ahead.
It was only fitting that in the midst of our rejoicing, we should spare a thought for those less fortunate than ourselves. A collection taken for those caught up in the terrible suffering in Sudan raised £163.91 and helped to remind us of how much we have to be thankful to God for in this land and this place, and how strong is the call to reach out to those in need.
In conclusion, Rick and I would like to thank all those who helped
make this great day so successful, and acknowledge gratefully those who
have in turn thanked them for their efforts. Modesty forbids printing
letters of praise, but we really do appreciate it!
Where We Started Bob Honner
We were delighted to welcome, at our Foundation Celebrations, Canon R.R.Honner, one-time curate of St Faith‘s. He is the first (and most senior) of the past staff of our church to visit us in our centenary years, and we asked him for some thoughts about the occasion and the past.
Some lines of TS Eliot in `Little Gidding‘ kept echoing through my mind as I shared once again, after so many years, in the worship of St Faith‘s at the wonderful Centenary Festival Eucharist on May 24th:
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started.
`To arrive where we started‘ — for Lord Runcie it was his confirmation and the beginning of the road which would lead to the throne of Canterbury and his years of outstanding service as Archbishop to the Anglican Communion throughout the world. For me it was ordination in 1938 and the beginning of my ministry as a very run-of-the-mill Parish Priest in the Church of England. It was an unforgettable privilege to be able to share with Bishop Robert in the great Centenary Celebration at St Faith‘s where we started together.
When the trumpets sounded and the great procession began the service with ?Christ is made the sure Foundation‘ I could only thank God from the bottom of my heart for the sure foundations for the ministry that St Faith‘s gave me all those years ago and for all that it has meant to me since; for John Schofield, the dear and saintly Vicar; for Eric Beard the Senior Curate and great friend; and for all the kindness and encouragement of a dedicated and welcoming congregation. It would be invidious to mention names — there are so many of them and my ageing memory becomes increasingly unreliable. But if all brought back such happy and grateful memories of St Faith‘s and the inspirations it gave to me as a very young and immature junior curate at the beginning of my ministry nearly 60 years ago.
So much has, of course, changed and so it should be. The rigid Prayer Book Catholic tradition of those days has given way to the informality and flexibility of the contemporary liturgical scene which some of us may still find sometimes rather confusing. Even the then quite new 1928 Prayer Book was used only with considerable caution and the ceremonial at St Faith‘s remained simple and restrained — no incense and just the two candles on the
Altar; but the Seven Sanctuary Lamps were there and the Eucharistic Vestments were worn. The Servers were most carefully trained by Jim Parry, (known, according to Lord Runcie, as `Poo Bah‘ Ed.) the music was superb and the services always prepared with immaculate care. Everything was done `decently and in order‘ and our worship always dignified and reverent. It was later, in the time of Father Hassall I think, that St Faith‘s introduced much of the more elaborate and enriching ceremonies we enjoy today and which marked our Centenary Celebration so gloriously.
It was during the early war years that we were at last allowed to have the Sacrament reserved in the Tabernacle on the Lady Chapel Altar where I celebrated my First Mass in 1939 and at which Robert Runcie was the Server. The disciplined Tractarian tradition of those days had some strange idiosyncrasies quite unacceptable to our present liturgical thinking. The Sung Eucharist on Sunday at 11 am was strictly non-communicating except for the celebrant and a small number of very elderly or incapacitated people who were allowed to receive the Sacrament after giving due notice beforehand. The ?Early Service‘ was the proper time for Communion, which was expected to be received fasting. The daily Mass (although we didn‘t in those days use that word — at least publicly!) and daily Offices were an essential part of the pattern of life — as indeed they still are at St Faith‘s — and I recall with shame an entry somewhere in the old Service Registers which says `No Communion this morning — Priest overslept‘. (Entry duly confirmed! Ed.)
So much has changed, but the basic essentials are all still firmly there. The spontaneous yet unfussy friendship of the congregation — when Alice and I arrived for the Centenary Service, complete strangers to nearly everyone after all these years, we were immediately made to to feel at home and warmly welcome. It was like coming home. There is still the unmistakable atmosphere of prayer and devotion which Lord Runcie noted at the very beginning of his fine and sensitive sermon — `Surely the Lord is in this place .... this is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.‘ The immaculate ordering of the Service and the care for all the details was a model of thoughtful and prayerful preparation. It was wonderful to be part of it again and to share in it with you all. And it was a great joy to have Lord Runcie with us and to share with him our happy and grateful memories of St Faith‘s.
On May 24th in a way we all ?arrived where we started‘ — and not
the young people who were confirmed at the service. It was wonderful
they could share it with us at the beginning of their pilgrimage of
and, please God for us all, however old or young we may be ?we shall
cease from exploration‘.
Odds and Ends
`The service during the Archdeacon of Norfolk‘s visitation to St Mary‘s Church, Martham, recently had to be halted for what must rank as one of the best notices ever. The Vicar stood up and announced: `In the next hymn, please sing ”speaking` rather than ”spanking`.‘ The service sheet read:
Lord your Church on earth is seeking
Power and wisdom from above:
Teach us all the art of spanking
With the accents of your love.
A genuine typographical mistake, we understand. A bit unfortunate, though, that verse two begins:
You release us from our bondage,
Lift the burdens caused by sin...
and verse three mentions
In the streets of every city
Where the bruised and lonely live.‘
Paul Handley, Church Times
A sign found on the wall of a convent in Baltimore:
Trespassers will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. —
Sisters of Mercy.
In many churches throughout Christendom, August 15th is celebrated as the traditional main feast of St Mary, the Mother of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ. The Festival has various names — The Falling-Asleep of Our Lady is the oldest, and used by the Greek Churches still; `Lady-Day in Harvest‘ was the old English name; `Assumption‘ is the current Roman title, a name originally meaning the ?Heavenly Birthday‘ of any saint but now confined to St Mary‘s death and passing to the heavenly world.
Observance of this Feast simply witnesses to belief that the Blessed Virgin Mary has passed to her reward, and is in enjoyment of heavenly bliss. As has been mentioned, in early times the word `assumption‘ was applied to the death of any saint; and, just as we commemorate the passing of other saints — Peter, Paul, James and John and the rest — so surely it is right and reasonable that we should commemorate the Falling-Asleep of Mary, she who is, beyond controversy, the greatest of all Saints. Our devotion to Mary springs naturally from our faith in the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ; it is because of her unique relationship to Jesus that we love and reverence Mary. We worship or Saviour because he is God; we honour Mary because she is his Mother.
It is impossible, for the mortal mind, to understand more than the smallest part of what the Incarnation of Jesus meant, and means. The joining of divine and human in Christ; omnipotence with the weakness and vulnerability of a child; the Creator of the world with a mere creature; the timeless with the mortal. Yet, this is what Incarnation involves, and it was Mary whose flesh took the strange and impossible burden of God. God, who is pure spirit, took on flesh. The Second Person of the Holy Trinity made himself small, a child in Mary‘s womb, in order that he might grow up amidst ?all things made by him‘, and experience their pressures and the strains and stresses of living a human life among humans.
As Mary crouched in the shadows of the stable, a woman suckling her
child, she was a familiar figure of this harsh world. Yet she was more;
there is here a mystery. Soon men — rough shepherds, half-frightened,
— will kneel here. Men will kneel in the shadows of ten thousand caves,
grander, cleaner, higher. There will be caves with other names:
shrines, chapels, churches, basilicas, cathedrals. One and all they
be surrogates of this fetid stable. They will stand more glorious, be
with precious gifts, symbolize cultures, powers,
empires. Not all their choirs, psalm
chants, hymn singing, will capture the sounds of that night — the voice of Mary murmuring, the fretful protest of the child.
Holding her child, this peasant girl from Galilee will change and grow. She will hold him in countless attitudes, gaze upon the world in countless faces, be clothed with countless forms of dress. She will become s lady of Byzantium or of Renaissance Italy, a Chinese princess, a woman of the African veldt. Yet, however she is changed, she will forever continue to do what she is doing in this cave. Forever her arms will encompass the child, forever give him birth, forever nourish him. She is more than Demeter the great Earth Mother; Mary is Theotokos, Mother of God, and Jesus her child is first among the Sons of the Morning.
We can understand how a mother‘s love followed her Son through his life, in good times and in bad times, to the last bitter days of pain and death, when ?there stood by the Cross of Jesus his mother.‘ Every manifestation of his work, many of his words, his way of life — all these were treasured by his mother, who ?kept all these things in her heart.‘
Such a union of love and hope and trust could not be broken by death. As Jesus broke through the bonds of the grave, and again greeted and touched and fed and guided his disciples into new life, so also with his beloved mother, we can have no doubt. And that the reunion persisted and was never broken again, we can surely have no doubt also.
With the angel, we may say, `Hail, highly favoured, the Lord is with
Not exactly! In fact, it is just three hours a week, but that is infinitely better than only being open for services, which has been the case at St Faith‘s for as long as most people can remember.
As we go to press, the first summer Saturday open church session is behind us, and all involved are more than pleased with what happened. Not with the numbers — there were about thirty people present at the first organ recital in the middle of the session, and about half of them were our own people — but with the happy, relaxed atmosphere, and the welcome we were able to give to those who came in from outside.
They were offered refreshments, marmalade, poetry books and
for sale, free guide booklets and the services of a member of the team
to show them round. They asked questions, listened to Ged entertaining
them on the organ, were shown round the organ, ate and drank and went
happy. As the weeks go by, we look forward to welcoming more visitors,
and hope very much that our own people who are not already on one of
teams will drop in for coffee, lunch or music, and help to make people
welcome. We are grateful to the Open Churches Trust for their
in funding these sessions, which are a vital part of what being a
of a Christian community is about.
Painting it Black
Everyone who has seen St Faith‘s lately will know how bright and gleaming it appears, thanks firstly to the efforts of the Merseyside Scrubbers team — definitely a case of money well spent. But the (free!) services of Denis Griffiths deserve our recognition and grateful thanks. His sterling efforts with endless tins of black paint have beautified everything metal within reach both outside and inside church. He works on the principle that if it stands still long enough, he will paint it, so keep an eye open if indulging in lengthy periods of prayer...
There follows the last in the current series of extracts from St Faith‘s `Monthly Leaflet‘, which was published between 1901 and 1910. There is a still-unfilled gap in the archives after this; in due course we will take the story on from a later date.
In January 1909 Mr Baxter is pleased with the attendance and money raised at the recent Sale of Work: only £96 is still owed, and Mr H.Douglas Horsfall has weighed in with a fiver. The Literary Society is still going strong, as is the tireless Mr Elcum (who preached at the stone-laying nine years before): he will be providing `Peeps at Sicily‘. Entertainment of a different kind will be provided in February, when Mrs Langtry Hocter (remember her?) and Miss Ada Whinyates will produce a Dramatic Sketch. It will only cost sixpence, and there are no reserved seats.
Then to more serious matters. `Complaints have been made of bad behaviour amongst young people sitting near the pulpit. Members of the congregation are asked to check any talking or laughing at once, and to report it to the Churchwardens. A word spoken by an older person will nearly always be effective.‘ Thus Mr Baxter, clearly not prepared to suffer the little chldren. Ninety years on, these youngsters‘ successors no longer darken our doors: they wreak havoc outside, and the words of this older person do not always prove as effective.
The organ has been partly rendered inoperative by fine snow having penetrated the roof during a blizzard, and it will cost £12 to put it right. On weightier matters, some months later Mr Baxter is driven to defend such practices as `making an act of reverence towards the altar‘ — he quotes chapter and verse from Church Canons to prove that such behaviour is `in no way disloyal to the reformed position of the Church of England.‘ However, such an act should be `done slowly and reverently‘, he suggests — although whether he is talking of genuflection or merely bowing the head is unclear.
Entertainment soon features again in the leaflet. `The Rev. J.O.Coop‘s Lantern Lecture on Primitive Art was not so well attended as it should have been‘ (now there‘s a surprise). Mr Baxter hopes for better things in December, when The Liverpool Arcadian Concert Party (including Zither Banjo Experts) will be taking part.
Attendance is also criticised in church: that on weekdays is `miserable!‘ Are there not some, the Vicar pleads, who could at least communicate on Saints‘ Days, and who could come, say once a week, to an Evening Service? The Prayer Book makes provision for such offices, and ?it was never intended that the Parish Priest should be left to say the Service alone.‘ Mr Baxter would doubtless be more than pleased with the tally of communicants at our regular weekday eucharists today, and more so with the numbers on High Days: we may often wish they were greater, but these January 1910 comments perhaps put things in a different perspective.
In April of that year, we read that the Church of England Men‘s Society members have ?asked for leave to substitute a Parish Magazine for the Leaflet‘ — and the Vicar thinks on the whole that this is a good idea. The PCC subsequently approved it, complete with ?The Sign‘ insert on a trial basis.
Soon the time of the Dedication Festival comes round. Mr Baxter writes: ?The 10th Anniversary of of the consecration of St Faith Church (sic) falls on Thursday, April 21st; we shall keep our Dedication Festival on Sunday, April 24th.‘ Special preachers are being invited, and the Vicar hopes for good congregations and hearty (still his favourite adjective) Services on that day. Good Friday, he is pleased to say, was well kept in 1910, and Easter even more so. There were 350 communicants, 30 up on 1909, and he is well pleased, but he looks now for ?growth in earnestness and devotion.‘ Some things never seem to change!
The final Monthly Leaflet appeared in June 1910. In it Mr Baxter explains the arrangements for the consecration of the Lady Chapel, the first completed part of the new Cathedral. On the parochial front, the new magazine will be costly, so there will be a charge of 1d (about 2½p today!), although copies outside church will be given away street by street over each year. The vicar hopes for 250 regular subscribers (we print between 300 and 400 today) and Mr Baxter (like the present writer) hopes for regular contributors.
Finally, Mr Baxter talks money. The Curacy Fund raises only £4 18s 9d and they need £8 6s 8d every month! ?Are there only 48 persons in the congregation who recognise the need of more than one Priest for St. Faith‘s?‘ he asks. And he ends this last leaflet commending the new Church Hall extension, which will feature an upstairs room and, behind the stage, `a room for artistes, with lavatory accommodation‘. As the decade ends the accent is on expansion — a note once again echoed as we prepare to end both a decade and a century with our vision for a greatly-expanded hall very much alive.
When we learned that the parish of St Mary Waterloo is now linked with St Faith‘s, Betty and I have recalled some of our memories of our 27 years attending services and the parts we played as members of the choir and other organisations, particularly when the Rev. Charles Pennell was Vicar. Our first contact was made in November 1957 when Betty called me to answer the door in Kinross Road because she saw a bald-headed man who looked to be selling football draw tickets. In fact it was Bill Dale, the organist and choirmaster. We had met previously at St Mary‘s Parish Church, Walton, where that excellent musician, the late George Boyd, was choirmaster and close friend of Bill Dale. Mr Dale also helped Ronnie Woan at Liverpool Cathedral by keeping the copies of music in a tidy condition. From time to time he `borrowed‘ music for St Mary‘s choir and we sang Vivaldi‘s Gloria, Faure‘s Requiem, Stainer‘s Crucifixion and Maunder‘s Stabat Mater several anthems and settings of the Te Deum and Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis. The music is stored in a cupboard, all in folders, and could claim to be the best kept in the diocese.
For a number of years the Dramatic Society flourished when Hubert Taylor directed the productions and later Miss Phyllis Bullen produced some one-act plays. Betty and I both took part and a guest player was the present Mayor of Crosby, Paul McVey. The Lucilla ADS came to entertain on two occasions, as the stage is quite adequate.
A group of us realised that Charles Pennell would not take holidays so we arranged a 5-day tour to Hereford area and his home town. These group holidays continued annually for 25 years and Mr Pennell came each time but would sneak home early to take a wedding or funeral because he made a telephone call each evening to be available. These group holidays gathered together members of the congregation and made new members welcome. At Bournemouth in 1969 we performed an all-male ballet ?the Sleeping Beauty‘. The `evil‘ Dr Wilson injected the poison but the charming Charles Pennell the Fairy Queen waved his wand and ensured that all lived happily ever after. Hugh Bicket and I were the attendants dressed in tu-tus.
The Children‘s Society has been supported by St Mary‘s congregation over many years and we specially remember Mr & Mrs Stafford Taylor and their daughter Mrs Joan Abraham aranging many events to raise money. A children‘s home, ?Elm Lodge‘ in Cambridge Road Waterloo, closed in 1970 but the local Committee continued their work and held an annual sale at St Luke‘s Hall. When that venue was no longer available the local C of E churches organised events and St Mary‘s next Sale and Coffee Morning is on Wednesday 1st July from 10 am - 12 noon.
The present Committee Chairman is Mrs Pat Mumford, St Michael‘s, Mrs
Joan Goodall, Christ Church, is Secretary, St Faith‘s is represented by
Rosie Walker and Fiona Whalley and there are three other church
Please take the opportunity to go along to St Mary‘s Hall on 1st July
if you wish attend the Eucharist at 10.30 am and view the lovely
Look for the mice in the sanctuary carved by Robert Thompson.
Centenary Strawberry Tea
Perhaps not for all of the last 100 years, but certainly for the last decade or so, the annual Parish Strawberry Tea has been a ?MUST‘ on the church calendar.
This year, Rosie and Rick Walker have booked the 12th July at 3.30 pm as the date and the time for enjoying the fruits (and weather) of summer in their garden at 17 Mayfair Avenue. Tickets at £1.50 will be on sale soon, so see Rosie as soon as you can and remember to sharpen your quiz pencils!
The Talents Scheme is still going strong and the funds are flowing
The lovely gentlemen of the Inland Revenue have gladly paid up the tax
rebates on various Gift Aided donations received this year, with the
that the total has now reached over £11,000. Needless to
we are pressing on, with renewed hope of adding at least another
to this total by the end of the year, thus making our Treasurer as
as the Taxman, and, almost as important, avoiding the need for a
A litany of praise in Dewisland:
Beneath the canopied splendour of carved oak
The gathered festive voices buzz and hum
Then break out in concerted joyous chorus;
Elijah sounds resounding round the ancient leaning walls.
Outside, diminished by the spring sunshine,
Echoes hang in the Valley of Roses:
Immaculate grass, graves, the sliding Alun stream,
A praise of circling rooks over the stately stones
Which celebrate still from the ruined Bishop‘s Palace
The power and storied splendour of the past.
Within, votive candles flicker in the gloom:
The saints‘ bones lie casketed behind bars
And the dead sleep beneath their figured stone.
Living and dead, the knowing and unknown,
Are woven in the tapestry at the end of the Pilgrim‘s Way;
In Dewisland a litany of praise.
A litany of flowers in Dewisland:
Lost winding lanes, a stony upland wildness,
Farms in the hollow of weathered outcropped rock —
The the coast‘s sudden surprise:
Folded cliffs at the edge of the uttermost seas,
Looking to the treacherous tides and the ancient bulk
Of Ramsey‘s island, haunted by echoing caves
And the cool chorus of the circling gulls.
Here the Coast Path is a bright ribbon
Edging the flowing vestment of land and water,
Laced with the beauty of unnumbered flowers:
Sea campion, vetch, bluebell, foxglove and glowing gorse;
A springtime unofficial psalmody silently singing
Its patterned harmony from the reborn earth,
Its sanctuary tended by innumerable busy bees
And fluttering fritillaries — the ritual dance
Of brindled butterflies — and scored by the insistent call
Of wheeling seabirds squawking raucous counterpoint,
As the air fills with the first heady incense of summer.
In Dewisland a litany of flowers.
Older members of St Faith‘s whose memories go back to the 1960‘s may remember us. We met on the PCC of St Faith‘s in Father Billington‘s time but followed Russell‘s career and moved successively to Harrogate, London and to Southwell in Nottinghamshire. We retired in 1994 and moved to the Lake District where we settled very happily in Grasmere, a place we had visited on holiday for many years and where we already had many friends. Life in retirement gets very busy and we soon learnt that what everyone said when they retired was true, `How did we find time to go to work?‘
But God often has ideas beyond our own plans. At our Rushbearing Festival Nicholas Frayling (Rector of Liverpool Parish Church) preached a very challenging sermon on a plum: Please Lord Use Me. Don‘t say things like that to God unless you mean it! Russell is now in the final stages of training with the Carlisle and Blackburn Diocesan Training Institute for ordination in September.
The selection process is lengthy, ending with a 3-day residential selection conference run by the C of E‘s Advisory Board for Ministry. At each stage Russell was hoping that he would be turned down and asking God to be reasonable! But now we have accepted that God really does want this and are looking forward to an ordained ministry in the Windermere Deanery and based here in Grasmere. It‘s called the Permanent Non Stipendiary Ministry (Retired) and this is just one example of the way in which a flood of vocations are stretching the Church‘s resources well beyond the rather conservative estimates of the Board of Finance, which have had to be considerably increased this year.
It is good to visit St Faith‘s from time to time and to receive the
spiritual refreshment that it always gives. And in reverse, if you
like to make a pilgrimage to Grasmere (the home and last resting place
of Wordsworth) we would love to see you, show you our beautiful church
and offer you some refreshment here.