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 Newslink              June 2000

From the Clergy

Fresh in the memory is the wonderful Holy Week and Easter that we shared together. I have never celebrated the Easter Vigil with nearly 200 people present. It was a thrill and a great privilege. Let’s aim to do it even better next year, and let those who weren’t there know that they certainly missed a great event!

Not too soon after we come down to earth again, on Low Sunday, and we heard in the first reading the record of how the first disciples got on with life after the Resurrection. If you weren’t in church on Low Sunday then read Acts 4: 32-35. It is not too difficult for us to identify ourselves with the first Christians. They had doubts and fears about the future; they experienced problems resulting from growth (nothing new!). But they were committed to proclaiming the Gospel and they were committed to each other.

The PCC spent a day together recently in the very pleasant setting of St Luke’s, Formby. Whilst I think we can say many of us might have preferred to have spent a summer Saturday differently, nevertheless our time together was important. We had much to discuss and briefly, the main points were:

· LAY MINISTRY. Following the request from a number of the congregation, the subject of Lay Ministry was debated, particularly with regard to the distribution of Holy Communion by Eucharistic Ministers. We set this in the context of Lay Ministry as a whole, and recognised that, whether we like it or not, the future growth of the Church of England depends upon taking Lay Ministry seriously. The Vicar cannot be in half a dozen places at one time. On a good Sunday there are over 300 people coming through the doors of both St
Mary’s and St Faith’s. We have to share the work and the responsibility. There are many forms of lay ministry: some obvious and some more subtle. But if we believe in valuing the ministry of the laity then it is only right and proper that we affirm that ministry at the heart of all we do  that is the Eucharist. Without the Ministry of the Laity the Church has no long-term future. What is more, churches which take lay ministry seriously are the ones that get curates!

· SERVICE TIMES. With the departure of Fr. Mark, and with the change of services so that the Clergy can be in both churches each week, the question of the early Sunday Service was raised. It may be that we will alternate the early celebration between the two churches as we do with Evensong. Another suggestion (which was greeted with an almost unanimous yes in a straw-poll) was to move the Sunday 8 am to Saturday evening at 6 pm. What are your thoughts? Please speak to me, or to members of the PCC, so that we can get your feeling and thoughts.

· HALL REDEVELOPMENT. We discussed thoughts and ideas relating to the possible redevelopment of the Hall. We decided to look once again at the plans and to look at the possibility of demolishing the present Hall completely and starting again! We hope to find ways of engaging the local community in the discussions and debates. What do people need in the area? What needs can be met by their local church?

· FINANCE. The picture is gloomy! Our expenditure is far greater than our income each month. The finance committee will meet soon and some serious plans need to be formulated. But the bottom line is that we need more money coming in on the plate each week. If you are in a position to increase your weekly giving, please do so. If you agreed last year to increase giving in some way, but haven’t got round to it, please do so now.

We finished the day in St. Luke’s Church with a celebration of the Eucharist. And it was right that we did so. There was much to be thankful for: new members of the PCC with fresh ideas, and the wisdom and experience of the longer-serving members. We didn’t all agree on everything (what a surprise!), but we are committed to one another and to serving the Church. There was an overwhelming desire to see St. Faith’s continue to grow and to go from strength to strength. You can’t ask for more than that!

Fr Neil

Travels with a Donkey ...            Chris Price


Dateline Palm Sunday
A week to remember began with the promise of not one but two donkeys from Rainhill (following an appeal from Fr Kelley of St Faith’s Catholic Church on Radio Merseyside! Silly mistake: they meant Monsignor Kelley...). The weather gods sent bright sunshine over Crosby as we assembled at Merchant Taylors`, with new vestments (and even the odd biretta), a full robed choir, incense, an improvised loudspeaker van, a Police Presence and, at the eleventh hour, a donkey. (George agreed to come, but Elvis wouldn’t get into the donkey-box!) A splendid procession to church, satisfyingly stopping secular traffic (one bemused motorist was heard muttering into his mobile: You won’t believe what I’m watching...!) A powerful and moving service to follow, with visiting preacher Fr Timothy Raphael, who had earlier dedicated the impressive new red High Mass vestments, delivering another fine address.

Dateline Maundy Thursday
The Palm Sunday numbers had been well up on recent years, and so were those for the following weekdays. They were for Maundy Thursday too, with the congregation three deep round the Nave Altar for the consecration, then joining in for an equally moving candlelight procession to the Altar of Repose.

Dateline Good Friday
Again, more folk than usual for the impromptu Stations of the Cross, with a retinue of small children asking the innocent questions adults would like to ask. Then the walk to the Civic Hall, where the heavens opened and the loudspeakers failed, but neither event seemed capable of shortening the proceedings. Good numbers, too, at the Solemn Liturgy of Good Friday, with the moving rituals of the dramatised passion reading and the veneration of the cross.

Dateline Easter Eve
The Easter Vigil, that beautiful, dramatic service, has not attracted much of a turnout in recent years. All the more satisfying, to be among a congregation almost three times greater than of late. Outside, in mercifully fine weather, the gathered people saw the new fire lit, before the rituals of the word, with lessons in the darkened  building  thrillingly  punctuated  by  the  unexpected,
unaccompanied rich baritone of Paul Keohone singing negro spirituals from the back of church. All this and champagne and easter biscuits after the service, rounded off with a firework display in the vicarage garden.

Dateline Easter Day
All the usual magnificence of Easter morning: but there had to be something new, and it was a tortoise - and a big one at that. Laurie was the focus of the Sunday School’s metaphor for new life and resurrection after sleep/hibernation, and he was duly elevated by the priest. There is no truth in the rumour that he will head next year’s Palm Sunday procession if we can’t get George  back  nor that we are looking for a real Epiphany camel ...

Finally there was Festal Evensong, with nearly 100 instead of the usual thirty or so to round off the week’s liturgical happenings with the Te Deum and yet another fine procession. And then the Easter Party: drinks, a quiz, marvellous food an equally marvellous fellowship in the Hall. The highlight was undoubtedly and hour or so of varied turns by clergy and laity, with songs, instrumental offerings (piano and bagpipes!) and readings. Between 15 and 20 people of all ages (including, to his surprise, this writer!) strutted their stuff before an appreciative audience (nothing to do with the drink, or course) in an impressive display of talent and general goodwill.

And finally
April 29th marks the end of Fr Neil’s first year amongst us. It has been an eventful, even a revolutionary year, and we seem poised for growth and a real strengthening of our church community and fellowship. It is right to pay tribute to those who over the last few years have given, and are continuing to give, such loyal service to St Faith’s; without them we would not have the firm foundations on which we are beginning to build. And it is right to be thankful for those who have joined us, or rejoined us, and those who have begun to join us as crew rather than passengers, and thereby provide the expanded power base we need to build for the future. And it is right, one year on, to pay tribute and to give thanks for the imagination, energy, vision and leadership of Fr Neil, as he continues to show us where and how to build. Happy Anniversary, Neil and many of them!

P.S. Read all about this amazing week from a musical viewpoint elsewhere in this issue in Miriam Jones  Easter Notes from the Choirstalls

Strawberry Tea 2000

After a break of two years, the Strawberry Tea at the home of Rosie and Rick Walker (17 Mayfair Avenue) will take place again this year, with all the traditional features  quiz, cake stall, raffles, strawberries and tea (or coffee). The cost will be held at an amazingly low þ2.00 and the date is Sunday 25th June. See you there!

Coping with Grandpa              Joy Davidman

Once upon a time there was a little old man. His eyes blinked and his hands trembled; when he ate he clattered the silverware distressingly, missed his mouth with the spoon as often as not, and dribbled a bit of his food on the table-cloth. Now he lived with his married son, having nowhere else to live, and his son’s wife was a modern young woman who knew that in-laws should not be tolerated in a woman’s home.

I can’t have this, she said. It interferes with a woman’s right to happiness.

So she and her husband took the little old man gently but firmly by the arm and led him to the corner of the kitchen. There they set him on a stool and gave him his food, what there was of it, in an earthenware bowl. From then on he always ate in the corner, blinking at the table with wistful eyes.

One day his hands trembled rather more than usual, and the earthenware bowl fell and broke. If you are a pig, said the daughter-in-law, you must eat out of a trough. So they made him a little wooden trough, and he got his meals in that.

These people had a four-year-old son of whom they were very fond. One suppertime the young man noticed his boy playing intently with some bits of wood and asked what he was doing.

I’m making a trough, he said, smiling up for approval, to feed you and Mamma out of when I get big.

The man and his wife looked at each other for a while and didn’t say anything. They cried a little. Then they went to the corner and took the little old man by the arm and led him back to the table. They sat him in comfortable chair and give him his food on a plate, and from then on nobody ever scolded when he clattered or spilled or broke things.’

One of Grimm`s fairy tales, this anecdote has the crudity of the old simple days: the modern serpent’s tooth method would be to lead Grandpa gently but firmly to the local asylum, there to tuck him out of sight as a case of senile dementia. But perhaps crudity is what we need to illustrate the naked and crude point of the Fifth Commandment: honour your parents lest your children dishonour you. Or, in other words, a society that destroys the family destroys itself.

A Reflection for Pentecost       Fr Dennis

The gift and the presence of the Holy Spirit is the most magnificent and wonderful thing that can happen to us, the human community, all living beings and this earth. For present in the Holy Spirit is not one of the many good or evil spirits lurking about; rather it is God himself, the God who creates and gives life, who redeems and blesses. In the presence of the Holy Spirit the end of the history of guilt, suffering and death has begun.

And it shall come to pass afterward... says God, we read in Joel 2:28. And what the first Christians experienced at the first Pentecost, according to Acts 2 took place during the first days of the new creation of the world: the pouring out of God’s creative power and spirit that gives life eternally, a stormy wind and tongues of fire with divine breath.

Pentecost, as Christians call this event, is thus not an appendix nor an addition to Good Friday and Easter. It is the goal of Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection by God into the glory to come. Where the Holy Spirit is, God is present in  special way, and we experience God in our lives that are thus quickened by a source out of the depths of our being. We experience life, healed and redeemed, complete and in its entirety, with all of our senses. We feel and taste, we touch and see our life in God and God in our life. There are many names for God the Holy Spirit. Amongst the most beautiful are the names Comforter (Paraclete) and Source of Life (fons vitae).

In praying for the coming of the Spirit, those who pray open themselves for the expectation and let the energy of the Spirit flow into their lives. Even when humans can still only groan for salvation and become silent, God’s Spirit is already groaning in them and interceding for them. Praying and groaning for God’s Spirit to come into this life of imprisonment and this devastated world come itself from the Holy Spirit and are its first signs of life.

The response to the prayer for the Holy Spirit is his coming and staying, his being poured out and indwelling in us. Whoever prays for the holy Spirit to come to us, into our hearts, into our community and to our earth does not want to flee to heaven or be removed to the great beyond. He or she has hope for his or her heart, his or her community and this earth. We do not pray, Let us come into your Kingdom .....± We pray, Your Kingdom come .... on earth as it is in heaven. Magnificent, unbroken affirmation of life lies behind this prayer for the divine Spirit to come to us fragile and earthly human beings.

Sharing Christ’s Spirit              Hubert Richards

Many people think of the Spirit
as a kind of ghostly third person
who, they are told, is of vital importance
to their spiritual lives, but they can’t quite see why.
Perhaps it would help if we realised
that the Holy Spirit is nothing other
than the Spirit of love in which Jesus lived his whole life,
and which he yearned to share with everyone.
He did this when he died.
It was only in his death that Jesus,
whose whole life had spoken of God,
became the Word of God so clearly
that no one could any longer be mistaken
about what God is like.
God is like this figure on the cross;
he totally accepts and suffers
the worst that people can do, and still forgives.
So in death Jesus, the man who is for others,
reveals that God is like that from all eternity,
totally for others, totally on our side
against the forces that would destroy us.
Indeed it is only because of that,
that the forces of evil are neutralised and transformed.
Because life is always stronger than death,
and love has a power that evil cannot match.
It’s in this Spirit that Jesus lived his whole life.
His death meant that, instead of sharing that Spirit
with only the few that spoke to him and heard him,
He as now free of all limitations
and could pour out that Spirit
on all who understood the meaning of his death.
And those who drank of that Spirit
said that they would never thirst for anything else.
It has become like a living fountain of water
in their own hearts  this secret of living in God’s own way.
To share the Spirit of Christ
to live in the way he lived and died,
is to know God as he did.

It wasn’t my fault, honest. I didn’t touch anything,
says Denis Griffiths

Few people can have missed the recent news following the machinery breakdown on board the new PO cruise ship Aurora as she set out on her maiden voyage. The news interested me as, over the Easter holiday period, I had been on board for her shakedown cruise (the breakdown cruise obviously came a week later). Well, somebody had to give up their Easter holiday and I decided to make the sacrifice.

At this point I will add that I was actually working, gathering engineering information for the ship’s technical operating manual which I have been helping to write. Ships today, and particularly large cruise ships, are very complex pieces of machinery and everybody on board has to understand what is expected of him or her and be prepared to tackle any job at any time. When a ship is being built the senior engineers will be appointed before the machinery is installed, and the designated Chief Engineer(s) will usually be part of the team which selects the machinery. This ensures that all of the senior engineers will know what the equipment is, where it is located and how it functions. Junior engineering staff will be appointed before the ship is completed and so will also have a chance to become familiar with the machinery before the ship enters service.

There are, however, some problems and one is that for a large and complex ship there is so much machinery and each item has its own operating and maintenance manuals,  which are also complex (have you looked at your video  recorder  or video camera manual lately?) and crammed with more detail than the average marine engineer needs to sort out most operating problems. The technical operating manual is designed to simplify the situation by explaining the basic operating procedures for the equipment on the ship and link all items of plant together, particularly the pipeline systems which do not have operating manuals. It also enables engineers new to the ship to appreciate the plant without having to wade through forests of paper.

Anyway, that is why I was on the ship gathering information and checking sections  already written. With a colleague I had the run of the ship and thoroughly enjoyed it. The shakedown cruise was a short trip, Good Friday until Easter Monday, the passengers being PO employees and their families. I am sure they enjoyed the trip as everything operated like a normal cruise, with a full entertainment and cabaret programme, full dining arrangements and the usual Captain’s dinners and receptions. Being Easter there were Anglican communion services conducted by Canon Bill Christianson (now there is an appropriate name) and Roman Catholic Masses by Fr Primitivo Viray, as well as an ecumenical service conducted by the Captain.

We left Southampton and on Saturday morning were off Guernsey and from there  cruised across the English Channel, with some full speed runs of 25 knots in order to test the machinery. Sunday morning saw us at anchor in Torbay and that gave an opportunity to test the boats which would carry passengers ashore at ports where the ship could not berth. From there it was a leisurely cruise back to Southampton for a Monday morning arrival. At 25 knots the ship performed very well with no hint of vibration anywhere, and not  many  new  ships  could boast that.  Having been  on board  when Aurora
was put through these high speed tests it came as a surprise when I heard about  the  propulsion  failure.  At this point, I do not  know exactly  what has
failed and cannot even imagine what would have caused it. It seems likely that a stern tube bearing has failed on one of the propeller shafts otherwise the ship would not have needed to go to drydock. If that is what failed I find it surprising in view of the high speed runs when I was on board. All that I can say is that I did not touch anything, so it is not my fault!

Despite this failure, which will be corrected very quickly, the ship is a magnificent piece of engineering, and she is also an exceptionally good hotel, entertainment complex and playground. The accommodation and public rooms are first class as is the food. Although I received invitations to the Captain’s gala events I could not go as I had not taken the mandatory dinner jacket, etc; after all I was on board to work. Afternoon tea in the Orangery was a stylish informal event; sandwiches without crusts and an incredible selection of waist-expanding pastries.

Having spent some years earning a living at sea I am not sure if I could make the most of a 14 day cruise. The call of the engine room would be too great and I would certainly want a regular fix of the hot oil smell, but passengers aren’t allowed in the engine rooms of passenger ships for safety reasons. When I talked to a friend of mine about the trip and my opinion that I could only enjoy a cruise if I could spend time in the engine room he said, You must be a very sad person. I suppose that is true in some respects but I am an engineer, I love machinery, particularly marine engines, and the complex engineering plant on board Aurora is a work of art as well as craftsmanship.

Despite the fact that I missed the Captain’s gala dinner and reception I still feel that I had a better time as I had the run of the engine room and they could not go there. But I really didn’t touch anything, honest, and the breakdown was not my fault. Honest .....

From the Registers

2 April Matthew Harry Ryan
 son of Garry and Janice
 Luke Sean Trodden-Harrison
 son of Sean and Susan
22 April Samuel Joseph Lunt
 son of Peter and Karen
 Sarah Patricia Fletcher
 daughter of Frederick and Bridget

Open on Saturdays

As mentioned in last month’s Newslink, our series of Open Saturdays and recitals has begun  a month earlier than last year. The first session was encouraging, and we are grateful to those who have already helped with catering, welcoming and, of course, with performing. If you would like to help please sign up at the back of church or speak to someone about it. And in any case please turn up and support these Open Saturdays: it is a chance to meet and to greet, to welcome strangers and to enjoy refreshments.

Thanks too to the various helpers who have got church ready for the sessions, with new tables, well-lit displays, publicity material and (especially) an ingenious set-up installed in the north porch providing better facilities for heating, serving and washing up. Come and have a look at it one Saturday!

The Key to Success!       Angela Price

Tuesday rain, Wednesday rain  Thursday a small miracle: it wasn’t raining. Out of the window went the contingency plans (If wet, in the Hall) and a fleet of cars packed with excited children, apprehensive Sunday School teachers from St Faith’s and St Mary’s, drinks, biscuits, wet weather clothes etc set out for Blundellsands Key Park.

We all tumbled out at the Key Park and from then on there was still the excitement but the apprehension vanished and we all had a great time. Prizes were given for Easter bonnets, there were games on the park slides, sand pits and swings, an Easter egg hunt, an adventure walk, parachute games  and the time flew by. At the appointed hour there was a delivery of chips, jacket potatoes, fish fingers, chicken nuggets and sausages from the Bronte chip shop and Fr Neil arrived to join in the fun.

We tucked into the picnic then at 1.30 pm all (yes, all!) the children were rounded up and delivered safely back to St Faith’s, tired but happy. Well, the teachers were tired, anyway!

The End of the Beginning!      Denise McDougall

Where did the beginning start? I think it is fair to say that the beginning took place over fifty years ago when I was baptised into the Christian faith here at St Faith’s. I have to say though that I don’t remember much about that special occasion!

My journey continued  Sunday School, Brownies, Guides, Youth Club  I remember Fr Dennis and I receiving prizes with some regularity for being best Sunday School attenders for the year! St Faith’s, its wonderful people and its glorious tradition have been central to my developing commitment to God over the years. My confirmation, marriage, the baptisms and confirmations of our three daughters have all been significant milestones.

The whole process has developed very slowly but steadily over the years, a development which could not have happened without the very real love and encouragement of my family and close friends.

As many of you may be aware, I followed the Foundation Course in Christian Believing two years ago. God has been nudging me for years to take further steps but each time I tried to resist. Why me? There have to be people out there with far more time, more brains, greater knowledge of the scriptures  the list could go on endlessly.

Finally around 18 months ago I had my first meeting with Fr Myles Davies, the Diocesan Director of Ordinands. Since then I have been interviewed, met for chats and entertained at home various clergy and team members who were to determine that my vocation was genuine and my suitability for being put forward for a selection conference.

In January the letter arrived: I had been given a date for the Archbishops` Selection Conference. Three days at Ecton House, Northampton: three days under the watchful eyes of the six selectors  to say nothing of the cognitive tests, written exercises, group discussions and spiritual, educational and pastoral interviews. Then of course there were mealtimes when you sat with the selectors in a less formal setting. These three days were probably the most intense and nerve-racking of my whole life. A bond very quickly grew between the fifteen candidates. We shared a common purpose and supported each other through the peaks and troughs of the ordeal. It was good to know we weren’t in competition; all fifteen of us might have been selected, or none
at all. The worship both in the house and the church opposite was very special and also humbling. For me it confirmed why I was there and gave me the strength and comfort to be absolutely certain that the selectors with the help of God would reach the decision that was right for me.

It was an anxious wait and although Myles eventually rang to pass on the wonderful news that I had been recommended for training I could not share it until I received the official letter from the Bishop. The letter arrived on Good Friday and Fr Dennis  my Sunday School friend from decades ago  announced the news on Easter Sunday. Such joy and such hope for the future  a real Easter gift.

May I thank all of you who have known of my plans and encouraged and supported me through the lengthy process. Also thanks to the many, many friends who offered their support and prayers after the announcement on Easter Sunday. Your comments, encouragement and offered prayers will be a lifeline during the next three years of part-time training (I shall be teaching as well). I am due to start the Northern Ordination Course (NOC) in September at Luther King House, Manchester. I am overwhelmed by the strength of your support  thank you all so much, and God bless.

P.S. I readily accept and appreciate the opinions of others. If you are not in favour of ordained women in the Anglican Church, please be prepared to talk. I ask that nobody turns and walks away  we could have an interesting discussion instead.

The family of St Faith’s congratulate Denise most warmly on her well-deserved acceptance for training for the priesthood. St Faith’s has a fine tradition over its first century of nurturing vocations to the sacred ministry, but it is nearly a decade since our last candidate and it is wonderful to be starting our second century so promptly with the first St Faith’s ordinand of the new millennium! Our thoughts and prayers will be with her as she goes forward with her training.

Easter Notes from the Choirstalls      Miriam Jones

Holy Week started very well. The sun shone, the music system worked, the traffic stopped and we all awaited the arrival of the central attraction of Palm Sunday  George the donkey! I must say he behaved impeccably, considering he was being followed along Liverpool Road by some very noisy people, a man swinging something smoking and smelly, not to mention various men, women and children wearing strange clothes (and a biretta!). As we have known for at least two millennia, donkeys are made of strong stuff, and all the distractions in the world won’t stop them from carrying out the duties to which they have been assigned. Palm Sunday was brought to life  everyday people going about their usual Sunday business stopped and stared at the unusual happenings, some not really understanding what was going on. Things haven’t changed much over the years, have they? The service that followed at St Faith`s was no less poignant; as usual the reading of the Passion as very moving, with the participation of choir and congregation particularly harrowing at the point where we all had to shout Crucify him! crucify him!  you could almost feel the guilt at having to read the written words.

The choir’s next attendance was on Maundy Thursday. Again, the service was very moving, apart maybe from the hymn during which we all processed to the Altar of Repose. Yes, you’re right: most of the choir didn’t know it very well, and those who thought they did sang it loudly. That wouldn’t have been  problem if it had been at the same speed Ged was playing!

On to Good Friday. Although few in numbers in the choirstalls, the music was lovely. Tchaikovsky`s Crown of Roses has such beautiful words and the harmonies allow them to be painted to produce the whole picture from innocence and simplicity at the beginning, taking us through the pain and passion, then ending with simplicity once more, but this time cruel simplicity.

Easter Vigil on Saturday evening saw a lot of smoke (not seeing much of the congregation through it) and hearing a tremendous lot of noise! Having been instructed to keep the bells, party poppers, organ etc going until ALL the candles were lit, I couldn’t help wishing that Martin, Caroline and all their willing band of helpers would hurry up! Some of the choir have eardrum-piercing whistles! However, the first Mass of Easter, with its two baptisms and a church full of Godparents all renewing their baptismal vows was surely a most memorable time for all concerned.

Easter morning was no less memorable. Good music, and more smells and bells, ensured that Easter joy was indeed in our hearts. Then came Festal Evensong, with Solemn Te Deum and some of the best choral music saved to  last! Evensong included the Hallelujah Chorus, and the service ended with Stanford’s Te Deum: a wonderful way to conclude the Holiest of weeks.

However, it wasn’t quite over! The Easter Party was to follow. A great quiz started the evening; team names such as Kelley’s Heroes and Matthew, tonight we’re gonna be ... made us realise that everyone was ready to enter into the spirit of things. A wonderful buffet followed, a real treat for only £1.50 per head. Then came the entertainment. Many people showed their talents in public, including members of the choir (and the organ department!) displaying virtuoso performances not always seen in church! Personally, I never knew that Ged was such a budding cameraman! Some were singing, playing the piano, telling jokes  others just performing, having entered into the spirit(!) of things with great gusto a little more than others...

All things considered, and putting aside all the camaraderie, jollity, champagne, wine and fireworks (not to mention George the donkey), St Faith’s has had a truly prayerful Easter and will have a very joyful Eastertide.

(Sincere thanks to Ged and all our talented musicians for their marvellous efforts. Ed.)

Partners in Mission - Millennium Exchange    Caroline Whalley

I was slumped in a chair after a long day at school, mindlessly watching whatever was on  television, when the phone rang. Fr. Neil’s cheery voice snapped me out of my lethargy when he asked me what I would be doing next Summer. A-Levels, was my immediate and unenthusiastic reply. Then how would you like to go to Nigeria afterwards?

And so, one Sunday afternoon, a few weeks later, at Mossley Hill Parish Church, I found myself in a room full of 34 strangers, tucking into a traditional Nigerian feast! This was a 7-hour introduction into what Partners in Mission is all about, and what we may expect  from our visit  with our companion diocese  of  Akure,
Nigeria. The preparation has included monthly meetings at St. David’s Childwall, aiming to unite us as a group and deepen our fellowship. We also have talks on cultural taboos, the problems and dangers we are likely to encounter, how to prostrate ourselves to the village leaders (!), and health and disease risks, to name but a few! Half of the group is made up of young people, and of the adults: 1 curate, 3 vicars, Archdeacon David Woodhouse and Bishop James. We have forged a strong sense of togetherness, and certainly weren’t strangers for long!

The purpose of the two exchange visits this year is to further the existing Companion Link, set up in 1993, and to learn from each other about different outlooks and experiences of our Faith. (Please see David Woodhouse`s article in March Newslink for further details.) The visit is neither a holiday, nor an attempt to convert anyone to our way of thinking and believing; more it is a wonderful opportunity to overcome boundaries and differences. I feel genuinely honoured to be representing St. Faith’s and the Bootle Deanery and am grateful for the chance I have been given to do so.

Fundraising kicked off after Bill Clarey, Co-ordinator of the team came to make a presentation after the Ash Wednesday Eucharist. When he was invited to share in our baked bean supper, I don’t suppose for one minute that he expected to be wearing my mum’s, when she managed to drop the contents of her plate down his trousers as she tried to use the plastic cutlery while making polite conversation. It was a priceless moment, which he took in good humour as my mum stood speechless and open-mouthed, unable to believe what she had done!

We were advised, at one meeting to practise eating scrambled egg from our hands, being of the same consistency as Yam, a traditional food served on leaves. Less appealing still, was the prospect of travelling without toilet paper; the less said the better about such hands on experiences..!

A weekend away was arranged in March to Quinta Hall in Shropshire  a Christian complex surrounded by woodland and unspoilt countryside. The purpose of this was to further bond the group and an opportunity for self-sufficiency, good fun, food and fellowship!

Because I was appearing in Images of Faith (my last performance for MTS) I had to come home on Saturday evening, and hadn’t really considered it worth returning for Sunday’s activities as I was also planning to fit in an 18th birthday party after the performance on Saturday night! However, when the time came to catch my train, I couldn’t wait to get back to Quinta, and so my parents found themselves driving me back late that night. En route I received a call informing me to meet everyone in the local pub; I was assured that no one would be going anywhere  for a good few  hours.  And  so it was I found  myself  banging  on the
pub window at 11.15 to be let in. I was welcomed by a cheer from the merry band, and there we remained, dancing and singing along to the live music.

The next day, most were bleary-eyed, but exceedingly happy and during the Eucharist, led by Bishop James, several of the team  appeared to be nodding off, much to our amusement! Afterwards we had the opportunity to talk with the Bishop before he returned home.

For the first time in my life, I experienced the understanding and acceptance of being part of a group of young Christians. Not a cross word was uttered all weekend, we sang whilst making custard and peeling carrots, becoming increasingly excited about the visit. As we sat in the small hours, chatting like old friends about everything and nothing, I realised that for once I talked with ease to people my own age about my faith without being asked why on earth I went to Church and my attempts to explain falling upon deaf ears!

We sang traditional Nigerian hymns in four-part harmony both in preparation for our service at the Cathedral on 4th June (at 3 pm) and to sing on arrival and had immense fun in the process. We thought (though we say so ourselves) that we sounded rather good! All of us had an absolute ball (and have since planned a return visit, to follow our Nigerian Experience, later in the year) and as we exchanged hugs and fond farewells, we wondered how we would get through six weeks without being all together again.

I type this article, having had four injections today, awaiting a further six, including two particularly brutal-sounding ones in my stomach for rabies! All being well none of the group will have to experience hospitalisation in Akure and we will all be able to donate our emergency kits of sterile medical supplies where the need for such basic, cheap necessities is dire in order to prevent the spread of fatal, preventable diseases.

I wish to say a huge thank you for the immense support I have been given. Firstly, my grateful thanks to Fr. Neil, for making it all possible! I won’t name individuals, but thank you to all who have helped so kindly in different ways: made and bought marmalade, bought and sold raffle tickets, given donations, organised fundraising events and assured me of prayers and good wishes, both for myself, and for the PIM groups, both here and in Akure. I am so very grateful and hope that we will learn a great deal from fellow Christians in our Partner diocese. We look forward to welcoming the group from Akure, not just to our Diocese but also to our Parish between 2nd and 16th October.

I will write all about our experiences on my return. Please remember our partnership in your prayers, thank you so much for making it possible.

Visiting                    Chris Price

Attention all web-surfers! The world of the internet is growing every day  and seems increasingly vulnerable to attacks and tampering of one sort and another. It has its unattractive aspects  not just the apparent ease with which malicious young hackers seem able to bring the electronic world to a halt, but also the flood of unpleasant material with which users and websites are bombarded (as we at St Faith’s have recently discovered). The price of (electronic) freedom is eternal vigilance, and a willingness to discriminate and to censor, as well as to protect the vulnerable.

But it is most certainly not all bad news. Our website, and the many other Christian sites that can be found and enjoyed, can be seen as a positive outreach of civilised values into the vast world outside our doors. We continue to receive appreciative comments, sometimes from far-flung parts of the world, and from time to time are able to help with enquiries about St Faith’s, and more particularly its archives and registers.

And there are happy discoveries to be made. From the Parish magazine of Holy Trinity, Wavertree, via the Diocesan magazine Livewire, comes news of thehungersite. If you click on you will get on to a site which invites you to click again to provide a starving person with a meal.

The front page on the site shows a map of the world, with the legend Every 3.6 seconds someone dies of hunger; 75% are children under five. This grim message is underlined by the map’s graphics: every 3.6 seconds a country is highlighted on the map. Beneath is a button: DONATE FREE FOOD.

The donations are paid for by sponsoring firms, which visitors are invited to patronise: each sponsor on the page pays for À cup of food, adding up to 2 cupfuls per page visit. It is made clear that only one donation is counted per day; it therefore makes sense to add the page to your hotlist/favourites page and making a point of visiting it and clicking daily. There are no apparent catches, no commercial strings attached and nothing, it would seem, but good to come from this enterprise, and Newslink commends it without reservation to all its wired readers!