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

JUNE 2005


Dear Friends,

At the recent away-day our two PCCs came together to look at our future priorities. We had some excellent input from Linda Tiongco from Christian Aid, who talked not only about the issue of using fairly-traded goods (both our parishes have made a commitment to do so at all official church functions) but also some of the wider issues. We also considered the programme “Giving in Grace” which is mentioned further on. During that session we were given the opportunity to hear a little about the recent survey which has been done by the Mission Committee on behalf of the PCC.  There are some excellent suggestions which have come out of this exercise and ideas as to how we, as a parish, might move forward in our plans for mission. I am very grateful to all who took the time to interview folk, and to be interviewed. No small amount of thanks are due to Mike Homfray who had the unenviable task of drawing the whole thing together into a working document for the Mission Committee to grapple with.

Our mission should be rooted in the understating of “being sent out” a command Jesus gave to his first disciples and which is given to each of us at our baptism.

Mission and plans for mission are things which figure on the agenda of many churches at various times. I have heard people say “we’ve tried that before”. This is not a time for being complacent. We need a real sense of urgency for mission in all the churches of our nation. We must make sure that the results of this survey don’t just disappear into oblivion but that our future mission is given some shape and direction. As the report rightly says, “business as usual” is not an option!

The task laid upon us is a weighty one. The total number of our two Electoral Rolls forms only 1.87% of people our Ministry Team have potential pastoral oversight of in our two parishes. Have you ever really considered that fact?

Without losing our heritage and all that S. Faith’s has stood for in the past one hundred years, we do need to communicate the faith in ways that people understand and can relate to. We need to remember that the model of ministry given in the early church was one which all we called to share in by virtue of their baptism. It is the sacrament of Baptism which is the commissioning for ministry, not ordination!

In addition to worship, the church has a duty to stand alongside the poor and needy, the marginalized and neglected. We have a duty to support the work of the church overseas, to celebrate and affirm that abundance of life which Jesus came to bring. We have a duty to proclaim, as the Christian Aid slogan puts it, that we believe in life before death.

Some of the recommendations that will be considered by the PCC may well include

….The introduction of an all-age Family Eucharist at 11.00 am on a Sunday once a month in which baptisms within the service should be encouraged. (This could occasionally be followed by a “bring-and-share” parish lunch in the hall afterwards.)
….The PCC should appoint a Young People’s Activities Group, with a co-coordinator or chair person, to plan, organize and advertise a wide range of activities for children and adolescents. We are aware of many opportunities for young Christians, both locally and nationally, that we should be offering much more effectively.
….St. Faith’s should offer a ‘Christian Basics’ course at least twice a year. The course should be suitable for enquirers and people with little or no experience of church, but should be open to all.
…..St. Faith’s should develop regular opportunities for people to meet together for prayer and Bible study. The present lack of opportunity weakens our corporate spiritual life.

The Mission Group also discussed the strengths and weaknesses of S Faith's and these were then endorsed by the PCC at the Away Day in preparation for the Diocesan "Giving in Grace" initiative. The outcome is as follows:
….We enjoy a high quality of worship with much involvement of church members in liturgy.
….We have a lot of willing and committed church members who give a great deal of their time, and also give ‘in kind’.
….Visitors and newcomers are made to feel at home and included.
….We have a strong tradition of musical excellence.

….We have an ageing congregation which reduces our capabilities and financial strength. There is a lack of active youth involvement in the church.
….Many of our church members are on fixed incomes.
….We have to find a lot of money to maintain our church building and our faulty and inefficient heating system.
….Regular stewardship campaigns are a feature of  St. Faith’s, and may mean that we are now close to our maximum potential for giving.

Provisional plans for ministry and mission
….Increase efforts at fundraising events, particularly musical events.
….Increase visiting, especially follow-up of baptisms, weddings and funerals.
….Work towards holding events to which ‘fringe’ people could be invited.
….Encourage church members to ‘bring a friend’ to special events.

In short, there is plenty for us to get on with!

However, before we try and attempt anything, each one of us needs to look at our own personal commitment to a discipline of prayer. Without prayer, we cannot have any idea how to seek God’s will for us and our United Benefice. If we are serious about a church of the future, if we are serious about the call to make disciples of all nations, then we need to be serious about our own spiritual lives. When we are serious about prayer, we will see a serious growth in our churches.

Faithful God, in baptism
you have adopted us as your children,
made us members of the body of Christ
and chosen us as inheritors of your kingdom:
empower us by your Spirit
to witness and to serve,
and send us out as disciples of your Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

With my love and prayers
Father Neil


Saturday 4th June 2005 at 7.30pm

Admission FREE but retiring collection for CHRISTIAN AID

Sunday 5th June 2005 at 1030
(please note no 11am Eucharist in S. Faith’s)
Preacher: The Right Reverend Rupert Hoare  (Dean of Liverpool Cathedral)

followed by BBQ lunch with Bouncy Castle and games for children

Growing in the Faith
A Sermon preached by Father Mark Waters
…on the occasion of the baptism of Ethan David Voce-Pascoe

When little Ethan was first born, like all new-born babies, he was unable to tell himself apart from his mother for the first few weeks. So the loving presence that surrounded him, and held him, and spoke to him, so many times a day would have seemed part of him, inseparable from himself. The warmth of his mother‘s body was his too, and the smell of her skin. All of his intense feelings and experiences and connections with others he would have interpreted as part of himself.

But over the last few weeks Ethan will have been beginning to separate himself out from July and recognise both her, and himself, as separate beings. From a parents point of view its reminder that our kids begin to move away from us from the very beginning.

Ethan’s next adventure in moving out towards the big wide world will be at about the age of two - when he will become, like most children, a terrible two! Have you experienced a terrible two year old? It’s not to be forgotten! And you might laugh but everyone here has been a terrible two. Yes, all of you, everyone of you!

You won’t remember, but you will have driven your parents to distraction with screaming fits, and throwing yourself down on the floor and going rigid so no-one could pick you up, and flying into an infant rage of absolute fury. And it was all about beginning to assert ourselves and to separate from mum (and dad), and everyone else, in order to become our-selves.

And then the third big stage in kids moving away from parents comes with adolescence - it was my daughter Rebecca’s 18th birthday party last night and we had thirty teenagers in the house - I will say no more!

Those stages in human development are all ways in which as we grow up we steadily say goodbye to comfort and security in order to move outwards towards our own independence and full personhood. We go through one period after another of painful and conflict-full transition on the road to being a human being as we push ourselves out into that big wide world.

And there’s a religious version of that process too, which this morning‘s gospel talks about.

The story is set just after the Last Supper when Peter has just realised that Jesus is not going to be with them for much longer, he’s going away. It’s a story of how the church began to cope with not having Jesus around any more. Of the first Christians trying to work out how they would cope without their Lord and Saviour there anymore.

‘Where are you going?’ Peter says very sadly. And then the beginning of the passage we had this morning – ‘put your troubled hearts at rest’ and then it moves on – ‘in my Father’s house are many dwelling places’ (the older bible versions used to say ‘mansions’) The passages goes on to promise that Jesus will come and take us to himself so that where he is we may be also.

This reading is traditionally read at funerals. It has often been interpreted as referring to a heavenly realm when we will all be our own little habitat in some palatial mansion in the sky with our creator.

But that’s not really what the passage is getting at, nor is it what John is trying to say in his gospel. The original Greek meaning of the word that we translate as dwelling place, or mansion, is not some ‘stopping place’ but the idea is much more of a night-stop or resting place for a traveller on a journey. So we might say something like stations or staging posts on the way to God.

John’s gospel calls us to a very mature faith. A faith which has moved on from infancy, moved on from adolescence, into something very grown up. Meister Eckhart, a great Christian mystic of the 13th century, put it like this. He said:

‘Our last and highest parting occurs when, for God’s sake, we take leave of God.’

In other words, an important part of Christian maturity is moving beyond the parenting image of God to the image of God we see in Jesus.

Our last and highest parting occurs when, for God’s sake, we take leave of God.

And what Ethan has been beginning to do these last few weeks is exactly what the disciples were being asked to do in that gospel reading that we‘ve just heard. To take leave of Jesus. To grow up in the faith. To break out on their own and develop their own spirituality. In the end to become Christ - in the world.

The trouble is we want our independence and our comfort too. We want God to let us get on with living, but we want him there as a backstop too. Well, I don‘t believe God is like that.

Jesus calls us to be one with him, for his spirit to be in us, for us to live like he lived ‘ without any promise of comfort. That’s what faith is all about! If its all about the certainty of some big dividend or pay-off at the end - when we shed this earthly coil - its not really faith is it? Christian Aid gets it right when in their campaigns they use the phrase - -we believe in life before death- - and it is to that life that God calls us.

And it is important for us to move to that sort of faith because if we are stuck in an immature, over-dependent idea of our faith we will have a similarly immature view of our world and what we should be doing in it. The general election campaign is a clear example. Look at the parties acting like over-indulgent and insecure parents trying to promise absolutely everything that people want. And us the punters making our minds up about voting based on what goodies - like lower community charge or no stamp duty on house purchases. It makes a mockery of democracy, and of the real issues that need to be tackled in the real world.

So what is our message for Ethan as we baptise him today? What sort of God do we want him to believe in and what sort of life do we want him to have? - as we set him off on his Christian journey, knowing that at so young an age he has already begun to assert his own independence.

When we’ve had good parenting we don’t every really say goodbye to our parents. What happens is that what they teach us becomes a part of us inside. A presence, or spirit, helping define and shape who are we are when we become adults ourselves. St Paul puts it well, he says that we are called to grow out of being spiritual babes into ‘full personhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ’.

This is what Jesus is promising in this passage this morning. He will return to the disciples, and to us, as a defining presence. And others will be able to see in us that family likeness, the character traits and that will mean, as the passage from John‘s gospel told us at the end, that we will be able to do even greater things than him.

The real promise at the end of the reading this morning is not of a God who does all things for us, but for human beings who through faith in God can do things for themselves. Even so far as being crucified for the truth. It is a faith that our world desperately needs, and something very precious for us to pass on the Ethan today.

From the Registers

Holy Baptism
24 April
Ethan  David  Voce-Pascoe, Son of Julie and David
1 May
Archie Andrew Philip Harris, Son of Andrew and Gillian


Parish Matters

The Church of England, for all its ancient traditions and ceremonies, is basically a democratic instituion. The laity decide what sort of an incumbent they want, interview candidates and have the power to invite or reject them. And although when appointed, vicars rightly 'call the tune' in may areas, notably of course worship, they have to work with the churchwardens of the parish, who are the Bishop’s officers, and also with and through the PCC - the Parochial Church Council.

This body contains some members who are not elected (other clergy in the parish, churchwardens and readers for example), but the majority are voted for annually by the rsgistered members of the congregation, and, although they are representatives rather than delegates, they are there to speak for the people, and have the power to make policy and decisions in many areas.

Every parish has to hold an annual meeting at which those who represent it are elected. There are technically two meetings. At the first, or Vestry Meeting, which exists solely for this purpose, two churchwardens are elected to serve for the following year. They may be re-elected, but by Church regulations for no more than six succesive years. This meeting is open to everyone living in the parish, while at the Parochial Church Meeting which invariably follows it, only those on the Electoral Roll (enrolled regular worshippers and others, worshippers or not, living in the parish and wishing to be on the roll) may vote. This meeting elects PCC members (for a three year stint) and others, approves the church accounts and may hear reports and debate matters. It represents an annual opportunity for those who choose to exercise their democratic rights, question or challenge those who represent them and speak about anything that concerns them.
APCMs are usually held soon after Easter: ours has in recent years been held on or near St George's Day, following a church service and with the provision of a glass of wine to relax and invigorate those who turn up to shape the church’s activity for the year ahead. Below we publish the results of the various elections, the Vicar's traditional address to the meeting, and the brief written reports presented to those attending and which give a snapshot of the life of our church in the year ending on April 22nd, 2005.

Those Elected to Serve
At the Vestry Meeting Michael Holland and Miriam Jones, as the only two candidates for the office of Churchwarden, were duly elected for the year. At the APCM, Leo Appleton and Rosie Walker, the only two candidates for the office of Deputy Churchwarden, were likewise duly elected.

There were six candidates for the three places as Deanery Synod representatives. Ken Bramwell, Margaret Davies and Joan Tudhope were elected by ballot and, as with Churchwardens and Deputy Churchwardens, became ex officio members of the Parochial Church Council. There then remained eleven candidates for the six vacant places on the PCC. Val Broom, Ged Callacher, John Knight, Gordon Slater, Sue Walsh and Ruth Winder were elected by ballot, completing the election process.

Those Thanked for Serving
At the APCM we said thank you to a number of people who had completed a specific term of office in our parish. Thanks to Margaret Davies for her work as Churchwarden
Thanks to Gordon Slater and Denis Griffiths who have served as Deputy Churchwardens; Michael Broom, David Fairclough, Irene Taylor, Rick Walker and Margaret Houghton (who was also thanked for her work as treasurer); Lillie Wilmot and Mike Homfray who have represented S. Faith’s on the Churches Together in Waterloo Committee and Kari Dodson, Sue Walsh and Diana Waters who have represented S. Faith’s on Bootle Deanery Synod

The Chairman's Report

Tonight is our opportunity to give thanks to God for the life of the church in this parish, particularly all that has been achieved in the past year, and to seek his blessing for what we will try and do in the future.

Firstly though, we pause to remember those of our Christian family who have passed away since the last APCM took place: Betty Springett, Alistair Gardler, Aileen Dawber, John Taylor, and George Harrison. We give thanks for their commitment and witness to Christ in this House of Prayer. May they rest in peace.

Since we last met as an APCM we have received various gifts here at S. Faith’s. A set of red concelebration chasubles, worn for the first time on S. Faith‘s Day, in memory of Ann Holland‘s father, John Hargreaves. Also in memory of Aileen Dawber we have been given some new vestments and from the kind legacy given to the church in her memory new surplices for the choir have been ordered. We have received a legacy from the estate of Norah Gilmer and the gift of a new thurible in memory of Ian Ritson. We are at the moment trying to bring up to date a list of all gifts which have been given in memory, and as always are grateful when S. Faith’s is remembered in such a way. Whilst seeking to do this we need also to bear in mind that some people wish gifts to be completely anonymous.

The report which has been put together by the Mission Group will be published shortly we hope and will be a useful tool for looking to the future. Whilst it is important that all people feel they can have their say, such a report shouldn‘t just be about saying what we don’t like about S. Faith’s or indeed the Vicar. We don‘t need a report to tell us that!

It strikes me though that before we can begin to grapple with some of the issues raised we almost need a “back to basics” campaign. For example, some describe how they dislike the term “mass” being used, in a report which claims that S. Faith’s is an Anglo-Catholic parish. I think we need to address and un-pack what we think our identity is first, as I think there are many areas people are uncertain about and we must seek to address them, not so that we all agree, but so that we can come to a common mind about what we think we are doing here, before we commend that faith to others.

Later this year I will be preaching a series of four sermons on the Eucharist. Many have suggested that it would be good from time to time to celebrate the Eucharist in different ways - the weekend school of prayer highlighted that. Before we talk about the different ways it [the Eucharist] can be presented and celebrated, we need first to try and understand what it is we think we are doing when we come to break bread together. The sermons I will preach will be based upon the booklet entitled “The Eucharist: sacrament of Unity” published by the House of Bishops of the Church of England in 2001. These four sermons will be followed by an opportunity, for those who wish, to have a discussion afterwards.

But tonight, thanks are due! It is dangerous to name people because you run the risk of missing someone out! I will take that risk. Thanks are due to Margaret Davies for her service as Warden; Gordon and Denis for their service as deputy warden; Joan Tudhope for her ongoing administrative help; Margaret Houghton for her work as treasurer and George Smith who for many years has acted as Verger, especially for weddings and funerals. Then of course there are our flower ladies, cleaners, printers, refreshment makers, choir, servers and all those who regularly contribute, often in ways which are unseen, to the worship and work of the church.

There is much for us to do here at S. Faith’s. The Mission Group will be giving us much to think about. However, we can devise the most grandiose and exciting schemes, but if our work is not rooted in prayer and in bringing people to salvation through Jesus Christ, then we are not being true disciples.

Much is being said about new ways and fresh expressions of being church. Recently, in the journal called “Theology” the theologian Peter Doll argues that what we need to do is to:  “Re-order People rather than Churches - this is where we need to start.” Once we have our own lives in the right order and our own priorities in place, then, and only then, can we expect to see great things happening. That‘s why prayer and worship has to be a first priority because if we don‘t “plug in” to God in prayer we are fumbling about in the dark with no possible hope of doing His will.

The memorable pilgrimage to Conques last year made a deep and lasting impression on all who went - the benefits of that will stay with us I hope for a long while. Let‘s hope that next year’s pilgrimage to Rome will be equally rewarding and uplifting though of course very different to the peace and quiet of Conques! Good to see so many signed already up for that.

It is a great credit to S. Faith’s that after a long detailed search throughout the churches of the North West the BBC decided to film two services here. We had hardly unpacked our suitcases from Conques when a lot of people were involved in a lot of hard work for a lot of hours. It showed S. Faith’s at its very best in terms of commitment and energy and I think the response we got, quite literally from all over the country, makes us realize that S. Faith’s is an exciting community to belong to and one we can be quite justifiably proud of. An early Lent brought us to an even earlier Easter so there’s not been much time to catch breath!

It is a cause of great rejoicing that so many good and positive things are happening here. I don’t recall a time when we have ever had so many altar servers We have good cross-section of people who have joined the Mission Group We have an excellent number of people volunteering to help run the Holiday Club, now to enter its third year Plans for our next parish pantomime are well underway; this is an event which fosters most importantly a good relationship between our two parishes. We have a Hall whose bookings are now full to overflowing We have a premises group who are finally winning the battle with the repairs and renovations which need to be done to the Church and Hall We have a good number of people offering to serve on the Deanery Synod and PCC. There are so many parishes longing to have enough people to have a vote for anything!

We talk about involvement in the community. The one thing which we all have to take on board is that it is impossible to know the full extent of our influence beyond these four walls. For example, we are receiving more and more requests for prayer through the internet.

We have received a tremendous amount of thanks from people who attended the mass for the Pope. Similar events have been staged after September 11th [and on that first anniversary], after the death of the Queen Mother, when the two young girls Holly and Jessica were murdered. With good publicity, all of these have brought people “in” to S Faith‘s and we have given them something they have appreciated. It is a reminder that pleasing other people is actually more important than pleasing ourselves.

Our Monthly Healing Services are meeting a real need - one young man of 35 started coming to them last summer when he knew he had terminal cancer. As he approached his death in October, he was forever grateful for all that the Ministry of Healing had given to him, and those close to him as he died. We are grateful for a generous donation made to S. Faith’s in thanksgiving for all the care and support he received before he died.

Only the other day, someone from South Liverpool had traveled on the bus to come and collect a poster for our Saturday concerts. He explained to me how his son committed suicide last year; his wife died this year and in the last few years he had also lost his mother and sister. He said that classical music has kept him sane. What a privilege it is to be able to be part of something that can help people like that, without knowing it.

Lastly, thanks to the Ministry Team and to everyone for the support and encouragement people give to me. As I come to the 6th anniversary of my induction next week, I am very conscious of what has been achieved, and even more conscious of work still to be done. But I am deeply grateful to God for the opportunity of serving Him in this place. My thanks to God for the last six years here, and here's to the next six years!

The Reports to the Meeting

Ministry Team The Ministry Team continues to meet on the last Tuesday of each month. Membership of the Team comprises of : Fr. Neil, Fr. Dennis, Fr. Mark, Fr. Peter, Jackie Parry, Fred Nye, Cynthia Johnson and the wardens of St. Faith‘s and St. Mary‘s, which this year have been Jill McElroy, Dora Whitehead, Margaret Davies and Michael Holland.  Worship has been high on the Agenda and this year saw the Pastoral Link scheme put into operation.  At a Team Awayday at CHET he report Mission throughout the church was discussed.  Other items on the agenda have been Eucharistic Ministers, Fair Trade and the possibility of a series of talks on the Eucharist.

Premises The Premises Committee met at regular intervals throughout the year. Maintenance work to both the church and the hall has been carried out. ~ Security and vandalism are constant problems and discussions have taken place with the Police and the Council.  Facilities for disabled people are an urgent requirement and work in this area is ongoing.  The heating system is a constant worry and the lighting and wiring sockets require professional inspection.  The block floor in the church hall has been repaired and new cupboards built.  Thanks to all who give freely of their time and energy in order to maintain the fabric of our premises. Michael Holland

Serving Team Since the last report the serving team has grown to 17 and we have welcomed Paul Jones, Leo Appleton, Judith Skinner, Joan Bowling and Philippa Scott. We are now able to have full teams for Sunday services and enlarged teams for special services. Kevin and I have started to give extended training to Chelsea Jones and Grace Walsh who are preparing to undertake more adult serving roles. I would like to thank all the serving team for all their hard work and dedication and to Martin Jones who, having trained Kevin and myself, is now able to take a back seat from the serving team and concentrate on his studies. Geoff Moss

Sunday School Numbers on the register are much the same as last year‘s total, standing currently at 21. It‘s sad that the number of children actually attending on Sunday is usually in single figures and on occasion no-one turns up at all. The teachers and helpers remain constant and I am very grateful to them for all their hard work. We have had successful summer and Christmas parties and these have been very well attended. Several of us have been to two meetings to hear how to teach children and how not to abuse them, but no-one as yet has been able to tell us how to attract more children to Junior Church. Angie Price

Men's Group The men's group continues to meet at members' houses once a month. Other meetings are also held throughout the year at various locations, places of interest etc. The annual retreat is still held at David’s House, Marske-in-Swaledale, Yorkshire where deceased members are in our thoughts and prayers. Unfortunately we lost another member during the year with the sad demise of John Taylor. Kevin Walsh

Churches Together in Waterloo The past year has seen much the same selection of shared services as the previous year, with events at the major festivals, using a variety of venues, including St. Faith’s. A new Chair of the group has been elected, Joe Kendall, from St. Edmund‘s Roman Catholic Church - the first lay Chair for a while. We have started to look more closely at what response the local Churches can make to the difficulties faced by refugees and asylum seekers. This began with a discussion workshop during last week‘s One World Week where we looked at some of the prevailing myths surrounding this subject and thought about how our own experiences of moving may help us to understand the decisions and experiences of asylum seekers. My own feeling is that ecumenical activity locally has become rather ‘tired’ and predictable, and any suggestions for more lively and impact-making events which local churches could be involved with together would be very welcome. Mike Homfray

Catering Team The Catering Team met during the year to plan the catering requirements for various social events, such as the Easter Party, S. Faith‘s Day Patronal Festival, the Senior Citizens Christmas Lunch and other occasions.  The spirit of the Team is high and thanks to everyone who has played any part in providing fine food and service to members of the congregation and so contributing to the success of our social occasions.  Ruth Winder

Eucharistic Ministers There are 17 Eucharistic Ministers authorized by the Bishop, which includes two Readers.  They assist in church and also in taking sick communions to people in their own homes. Eric Salisbury

Pram Club Pram Club is still open and ticking over.  We have about 10 regular mums this year, although numbers do go up and down. This does mean about 14 children, which is a comfortable number to entertain and run around. Hopefully mums will continue to come and feel comfortable and welcome. Christine Spence

Uniformed Organisations Rainbows continues at St Faith’s despite dwindling numbers last year when we thought the unit might have to close. We currently have 10 Rainbows on our books. We have had a busy year starting the new Rainbows programme. In February both our leaders, Geraldine Forshaw and Claire Hockney, were presented with 10 year, Long Service Awards here at St Faith's during our Thinking Day Service. Geraldine Forshaw & Claire Hockney

St Faith’s Brownies The Brownies have had another busy year. We attended an activity day in Scarisbrick, visited our local Plaza Cinema at Christmas to see 'Polar Express'. We have also managed to do some badge work, including our Craft Badge when a member of our congregation came along and made cards and presents for Mothering Sunday. The girls really enjoyed themselves and our sincere thanks go to Jenny Moss who was also later available to present the girls with their badges. In February we celebrated Thinking Day here at St Faith's and I, Sue Walsh, was presented with 5 and 10 year, Long Service Awards. We currently have 16 girls on our books as several of our older brownies left last summer. We do have some vacancies. Sue Walsh & Mary McFadyen

Sunday Specials The Sunday Specials continue to thrive and as in previous years we have new friends joining in the sharing on Sunday. All  donations  given by each person at a lunch, go towards projects as St. Faith’s, as do the proceeds of the Annual May Coffee Morning.

Communications Report St Faith’s parish magazine ‘Newslink’ is produced every month and has a current print run of 365 copies, of which something over 100 are sent outside the parish by post, with the remainder being delivered to members of the congregation and local friends of the church by a team of magazine deliverers, to whom our thanks are as always due. The magazine is produced and printed by the Image Press at Merchant Taylors’ School and its production is funded as part of St Faith's printing budget arrangement with the school. Recent months have seen the introduction of colour printing and the regular inclusion of pages of photographs. The church website, set up at the end of 1997, continues to expand and is updated regularly, often several times a week. It is an archive of past events in words and pictures, a source of information about the church and its activities and an up-to-date access to what is happening at St Faith's and St Mary’s. The site is now receiving between 30 and 50 ‘hits’ daily; ideas for its further expansion and improvement are always welcome. Chris Price

Religious odds and ends   Chris Price

More food for thought from the newspapers. Thanks to Fr Dennis and The Times, some discouraging statistics. A poll has revealed that nearly 8 out of 10 Brits can‘t name the current Archbishop of Canterbury. Almost one in twenty, moreover, thought the throne was occupied by the late Pope John Paul II! Not surprisingly, the over-65s did much better at recognising or naming Rowan Williams, as did the top social classes.

Interestingly, more older people (60%) thought Britain was no longer a religious country than did those aged 18 to 24 (only 40%). Likewise older people were more worried about the strength of the Muslim faith in our country.

The head of the Church’s media relations managed a good spin on the figures. ‘Some seven million people,’ he said, ‘can name the current Archbishop; that’s about three times the combined circulation of what used to be the three broadsheet papers… and twice that of The Sun.’

Meanwhile, the same edition features the Madonna of the Subway - or Our Lady of the Underpass, an apparition to which thousands of Chicago Roman Catholics are reportedly flocking. Seemingly the result of staining from road salt and rainwater, the life-size image, apparently complete with rosary beads, is fast becoming a shrine.

Such apparitions are nothing new. The report ends with a paragraph which deserves quoting in its entirety.

‘In November an internet casino company paid $28,000 on eBay for a part-eaten, ten-year-old toasted cheese sandwich said to carry an image of the Virgin Mary. It wrapped the sandwich in plastic and sent it on a national tour.’

And there’s more, again from The Times. Reporting on a new edition of the C of E’s publications: ‘The Vicar’s Guide’ and ‘The Curate’s Guide’, it quotes them as telling men and women entering the ordained ministry that they can no longer assume that the public will even know who or what a vicar is. The Chancellor of Exeter Cathedral describes how, in a previous job as vicar, when shopping in full clerical attire in his local supermarket, a woman tapped him on the shoulder. ‘'I assumed she was local, had recognised me and wanted to ask to have the banns read or a child christened. No, for some reason she had the impression that I was the store assistant and she wanted to know where the tomatoes were..’

Secret Overtures?  Chris Price

The big poster for the Crosby Symphony Orchestra had been up outside church for some time before I noticed a splendid large-type signwriter’s error. It advertised the 'Willia Tell Overture'. The only possible response to this request is: ‘I’ll keep quiet if you will...’

The Handmaid of the Lord
A Sermon Preached at St Faith’s by The Reverend Irene Cowell
(Rector of Sefton and Thornton)

‘Be it unto me according to thy word.’ (Luke 1:38)

Mary is a study in contrasts. At times she seems to be portrayed in almost superhuman terms. Her epithets are legion. She has been called Co-Redemptrix, Queen Of Heaven, Mother of God. Our Orthodox brothers and sisters have a special name for her, Theotokos, or God-bearer. In fact, Mary has held such a unique place in Christian theology that our friends in the Roman Catholic Church have promulgated doctrines declaring that she was conceived without sin (the Immaculate Conception) and that she was taken bodily into heaven (the Assumption). Many of the world's faithful believe that she has appeared from time to time to bring special messages to the world. Apparitions at such places as Fatima and Lourdes are perhaps the most famous, but newspapers bring us stories even today of appearances believed to have taken place in an apartment complex in Long Island or in a desert in New Mexico.

But Mary has also been described in the most humble and abject of terms, like "handmaid of the Lord." She has traditionally been depicted as a docile, subservient creature, unwitting, blindly obedient, even mindless. What is worse, it is this image which the church, and, it can be argued, Western culture, has long held up as the best example of womanhood. Our hymnody reinforces such a theology: "Sing of Mary, pure and lowly, Virgin Mother undefiled,"; or "Meekly she bowed her head, to hear the gracious word, Mary, the pure and lowly maid, the favoured of the Lord." As reasonable Anglicans, of course, we aim for the middle ground, between the extremes of virtual deification of Mary on the one hand, and her relegation to the sidelines of history on the other. In this regard, we are on the same page as the seventeenth century Anglican priest poet, John Donne, who wrote, "They hurt religion as much that ascribe too little to the Blessed Virgin as they who ascribe too much."

Tonight, as we, seek to "renew a right spirit within us," I would like us to explore how Mary can help us to do just that. And to assist us in this exercise, I think we should put aside for a moment pious tradition, (as difficult as that can be) apocryphal legends, miraculous apparitions, laudatory epithets, official dogmas, academic Mariology and pietistic Mariolatry, and adopt instead a radical course of action - to look instead to the Mary of Scripture!

I would like to suggest that Mary, first of all, is pragmatic. Imagine the fright, the trepidation, the dread that must have seized Mary that night when the Angel Gabriel first appeared in her bedchamber. She must have known something was up, because, being well versed in the Old Testament, she knew that in the Bible angels only appear to men!

Now in Flemish paintings, Mary is usually found, draped in yards of blue damask, kneeling at her prayer-desk, reading  But we imagine that at that critical moment in history, Mary was probably more likely to be wearing the clothes of a peasant, daydreaming about her impending marriage to Joseph. The appearance of the angel was enough, but his announcement was outrageous: ‘You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.’ Then Gabriel gives a little biographical sketch about this Jesus, making it clear to Mary that he will be no ordinary baby. Mary could have said, "Are you joking?" She could, like Sarah, laughed out loud. But Mary assessed, the situation, and is disposed to accept the offer, but something didn’t add up, so, pragmatic as she is, she asks one clarifying question.  As the King James Version puts it: "How can this be, seeing that I know not a man?" And once she learns that the conception will occur through extraordinary means, Mary accepts the offer. Unlike the prophets when they were called, she didn't offer an excuse - too young, like Jeremiah, or too sinful, like Isaiah. Nor did she have to be dramatically persuaded, as Isaiah had to be, with hot coals on his lips. Mary asks one question of clarification, and puts herself in God’s hands.

We would do well to learn to be pragmatic as we go about our Christian lives. That was certainly Jesus' intention. His advice to his disciples is full of practical advice. He tells us to travel light: "Carry neither purse nor sack nor sandals" [Lk. 10:4]. He tells us to move on if our ministries are not accepted: "Shake the dust off your feet" [Mt. 10:14]. He tells us to be about our wits: "Be as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves"[Mt. 10:16]. He even gives us advice : 'What king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and count the cost? [Lk. 15:31]  The problem with so many of us is that we put church and religion in a sphere of its own, in which common sense and mother wit are left at the door.

Second, Mary is prophetic. Immediately following her Annunciation, Mary rolls up her sleeves and sets out on a mission. She visits her cousin Elizabeth, who is also expecting a child, the one who would be Jesus' Forerunner, John the Baptist. The reading we had this evening. It is on this occasion that she recites the hymn that we now know as the Magnificat. But, unfortunately, the musical settings of that canticle by composers like Dyson, Byrd and Stanford are so beautiful that we run the risk of missing the impact and significance of its words. The Magnificat is nothing short of a cry for justice and liberation

He has shown the strength of his arm, He has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things, And the rich he has sent away empty.

In reciting these words, Mary makes it very clear that she has a full understanding of her son's ministry.  In fact, it even hints at the blueprint which Jesus himself would later give in his first sermon in the synagogue at Nazareth: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor." Despite the words of Mary and Jesus, however, the church in too many places is a "non-prophet" organisation, content on mouthing platitudes, and delivering comfortable words to comfortable pews, often telling the faithful what they want to hear and not what they need to hear, and too often forgetting as Archbishop William Temple said, that the church is the only organisation that exists primarily for the benefit of those not its members.

Third, Mary is powerful. Because we have been so conditioned to look upon Mary as an icon of meekness, the adjective "powerful" doesn't fit at first. But that's exactly what she is. Feminist theologians today describe the "meek and mild" Mary image as a male-invented myth, a product of "male, clerical ascetic culture and theology" concerned with limiting the role and influence of women. With a virginal mother as the quintessence of womanhood, women could choose between being a mother and a nun! Mary's words "Let it be done to me," is not, as some would suggest, humble acquiescence to God's will, but, according to a reading of the Gospel through different lenses, Mary's powerful "Yes" to God. Even when she runs the risk of the stigma of adultery, and of the penalty of stoning by death lurking near, Mary answers God with a resounding "Yes." God empowers Mary by making her the instrument of the Incarnation. Mary is powerful because she is the only one in the Bible whom God deems to be present at both the Manger and the Cross. She is powerful because Jesus on the Cross says to the Beloved Disciple and to us, "Behold your mother." Correctly seen, then, Mary is an icon not of weakness but 0f power, the power with which we are all imbued to proclaim the Gospel.

But, lest we forget, Mary is also pregnant. Her "yes" to God meant that she bore the Christ Child in her womb. And we would do well also to imitate Mary in her pregnancy. We must always be expectant, open to mystery, open to the labour pains to which the Holy Spirit subjects us from time to time.  We must be, to use the second definition of "pregnant" in my dictionary, "rich in significance, meaningful," so that our faith does not become stagnant, unable to give life to others.

May Mary the Mother of Jesus be an inspiration as we seek to "renew a right spirit within us."

Therefore let all faithful peoplesing the honour of her name;
Let the Church, in her foreshadowed, part in her thanksgiving claim;
What Christ's mother sang in gladness let Christ’s people sing the same:
‘Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary full of grace.’

Diary of Events 2006…!    Fr. Neil

It’s not as far away as it sounds! We have a good tradition of celebrating the Holy Days of the Church’s calendar, even when they fall on a weekday, and we are grateful each year to a number of visiting preachers for being with us. One of the things which was noted in the Mission Committee survey was “The use of guest preachers was welcomed, but some respondents said that they would welcome a wider variety of outlooks.”

I will soon be sending invitations to guest preachers for next year, so if you have any suggestions of people you think would like to be invited, or who you think should be invited, please let me know in the next couple of months. Already we’ve booked a retreat conductor for 2006 and two visiting preachers.

Christian Aid, Fair Trade, International Aid and the Tsunami 
Joan Tudhope reports….

At the Awayday those present from both S. Mary’s and S. Faith’s PCC were privileged to hear a talk from Linda Tiongco from Christian Aid.

She began her talk by telling us something about Fair Trade and how we can all help farmers and traders in the poorer countries get a fairer price for their produce and earn more realistic wages.

She explained that fair trade is about giving Third World producers a fair price for their goods and how Christian Aid has been campaigning for fair trade since 1992. They had called on supermarkets to stock fairly traded products which guaranteed fair conditions for overseas producers and had worked hard with other organisations to promote the fair trade cause. There had been some huge successes.

Thanks to Christian Aid campaigners the first fair trade products hit the supermarket shelves in 1992 and  awareness of the fair trade issue has increased year on year. Fair trade sales had increased three-fold and  the availability and range of products has risen each year with over 100 fair trade labelled products available - all guaranteeing producers a fair deal.

What we can do to help is to shop with a conscience and make sure we buy fairly traded products whenever we can.  There are now a range of fairly traded teas and coffees, chocolate, bananas and other products.  We need to make sure our churches workplaces use fairly traded products.

Linda then went on to speak movingly about her experience in Sri Lanka.  She had been asked by Christian Aid to travel to the area which had been affected by the Tsunami.  She said the first impression as she came into Colombo was how normal everything was. The Tsunami did not hit the capital – the sea did come up over the beach and onto the road but when it reached the city its force was already reduced. Some houses and small fishing boats were damaged but no-one was killed.

Listening to people’s stories breaks her heart and the papers were full of obituaries for those who ‘died in tragic circumstances’. The final figure for people killed would be likely to reach more than 50,000 and up to 2 million had been displaced.

There was considerable concern that now the international non-governmental organisations are arriving in such great numbers that the local effort will be overlooked and ignored.

Here was where the strength of Christian Aid lay. By working through local partners and providing staff to work in Trincomalee, Batticoloa and Jaffna, we were helping our partners to represent the needs of the communities they themselves represent.

Her role would be to work with the churches through Action for Churches Together, to help them put together a proposal for a two year programme for long term redevelopment.

In Galle, many of the people who sought refuge in the church and other places after the tsunami had already returned to where their houses once stood, rebuilding and reclaiming what land they can. Sometimes it was hard to work out what has happened – walls have already been rebuilt, hotels are reopening, people need to be doing  things. But many were deeply traumatised.

Linda continued by telling us that the government had stated that no one could rebuild their houses within 100 metres of the sea – so what about the fishers? How could they protect their boats and their nets if they had to live away from the beach?

Linda spoke about visiting Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka to see the extent of the devastation of the tsunami and the work of Christian Aid partners, the Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India and the Jaffna Christian Union. Jaffna, once at the heart of Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict, was now a peaceful and quiet city. Although Jaffna and the surrounding area is controlled by the government, the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) are known to be everywhere.

The Tamil people regard the Sri Lankan army as an occupying force – they could not forget their forced exodus in 1995 when the Sri Lankan army bombed the city, forcing 500,000 people to flee over one small bridge. Many people died drowning in the river.
We visited a small village of 212 families where 76 people died including 40 children. Some of these children were practising outside the Roman Catholic church for the Festival of Lights and the New Year service.

She said the work there would continue and how the local people had very much helped themselves and got to work quickly and efficiently, but how Christian Aid had been able to help to provide finance necessary in finding a way through this terrible disaster.

This made all of us aware of just how we can help. Buying fair trade goods may seem a small matter, but if everyone took such a stand then we would help to make the world a fairer place. On a day when much was said about our own mission, and how much that costs sometimes, it helped to focus our thoughts on what it means to be part of a global church where we really can share in its mission by the decisions we take.

Giving in Grace

“What is it that the Lord asks of you?  Only to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God” Micah 6 v8

‘Giving in Grace’ is the Bishops’ initiative on giving for Autumn 2005.  It is not, however, about fundraising – it is about giving: giving in response to God’s love and His overwhelming generosity; giving as an act of worship and thanksgiving; giving to enable us to share in God’s action in His church and world. Christian giving is not primarily about the needs of the church but our need to give.

All too often, money talk in church is driven by shortage, discussed in a culture of scarcity and fear of causing offence, and focussed on the needs of church buildings.

At its Away Day at the end of April, the Joint PCCs of S Faith’s and S Mary’s  considered the Giving in Grace programme and the Finance Committees will be taking it forward over the next few months.  We shall be talking to our “core” people (the PCC), our congregation (the regular weekly worshippers using the planned giving scheme) and the “fringe” (less committed worshippers).  Not everyone in the church is in the same place on their own spiritual journey or in their relationship with the church.

We are now preparing a draft Case Statement that will be considered by the PCC at its next meeting.  The Case Statement reflects on the current strengths and weaknesses of the church’s ministry and identifies any new plans to develop parish ministry and mission.  The Mission Group’s contribution to the process (reported in Fr Neil’s letter) has been significant.  The financial position of the church is examined and looks at our weekly pattern of giving together with a Parish Plan (or budget) for 2005 and into 2006.

The Parish case Statement provides a simple framework to identify aims and objectives and to set priorities for addressing issues highlighted by the financial analysis.

In 2004, our income ran at approximately £1,502 per week.  Our preliminary budget for 2006 suggests that our ministry will cost £1,674 per week – a shortfall on current income of £172 per week.  A “gift array” is prepared to show how we might meet that challenge by offering a range of possible responses that meets the different circumstances of church members.

Shortly, Gift Aid envelopes will be available in church so that people who give on the loose plate, either at services or special events, can Gift Aid that money to benefit the church.

Once the draft is completed and agreed by the PCC, it is shared with the wider church.  The purpose is to promote consensus, ownership and personal commitment.

In 2006, the Diocese will help parishes with their vision and in 2007 parishes can opt into a three year programme of commitment, vision and engagement to assist their mission and renewal.

I plan to give periodic updates of the Finance Committee’s and PCC’s progress with the Giving in Grace initiative through the columns of Newslink.  As Bishop James says of the initiative, “It will help your church members, wherever they are in their spiritual journeys, show God’s love in action in their giving for His church and His world”.  Thank you for your support.

David Jones

A Letter of Thanks

...from our Holy Week preacher

Dear Fr Neil,
Thank you so much for inviting me to preach during Holy Week. I only hope that my efforts came up to the standard you were expecting!

May I just say how much I enjoyed the opportunity of sharing in the liturgy throughout the week? You have a wonderful flair for presenting good worship
with plenty of oomph! What a change from the bland worship of this diocese. Both Joyce and I will live off it for a long time.

Thank you for your very generous hospitality at the vicarage and please pass on my thanks to the PCC for the very unexpected book tokens. It was a
wonderful surprise and I shall certainly put them to good use.

Joyce is most grateful for the kind bottle she received. She had never before been expected to stand up before a congregation! We both enjoyed our time at St. Faith's and are grateful for the wonderful way we were both made to feel so welcome.

Terry Ranson
King’s Acre, Hereford

Making Poverty History
The Trade Justice campaign

The Big Vote for trade justice
Imagine the impact if every household in the UK and Ireland voted to ask their governments to do something about global poverty.  Already the Trade Justice Campaign has secured the votes of large numbers of people.  Will you vote for trade justice?

WHY?  The UK government is committed to making 2005 a year when poverty is on the international agenda. To tackle poverty it must address the injustices in world trade.

Important dates
2005: Poverty on the agenda
Important international meetings in 2005 will give our government an excellent opportunity to take a lead for trade justice.
July: G8 Summit meeting in the UK
The meeting of the world’s richest eight nations returns to the UK in July. The  UK government wants the agenda to address poverty in Africa.
July 2nd  Mass demonstration in Edinburgh where the summit is taking place
July-December: The UK holds the presidency of the EU.
December: ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation.

Why is there a campaign for changes in world trade ?
These words from two women in Mozambique show what can be done if changes are made:
‘There has been a real change because now we have more of a future. We were not expecting this kind of help, but we did need it. It has brought light back into our lives. It has turned our lives around and I am now able to share my fortune with others. My eldest children go to school and I thank God for this. Everything we have is a grace from God.’
(Antonio Fundice Tomo, whose family has received support from Christian Aid’s partner the Christian Council of Mozambique)

'There are many women working at the sugar plantation. Before the sugar factory opened, we were very poor... Now things are better, we can all earn money and buy food from the markets.’ Louisa Elias Mahahele works on a sugar plantation in Mozambique, earning enough to feed her family. Her job is one of thousands that have been created since the Mozambique government helped its sugar industry by attracting investment to it. It set the price for imported sugar, most of which comes from rich countries where it is subsidised. This set price means that the locally produced sugar is able to compete with imports.

But Mozambique is an exception. Other poor countries are prevented from helping vulnerable industries and farmers. Rich countries and international institutions that lend poor countries money force governments to accept free-trade policies. For example, in Ghana, thousands of farmers have been forced to give up farming because they are no longer able to make a living selling their produce. Kofi Eliasa used to be a tomato farmer. He now works 12 hours a day in a quarry, breaking rocks to make gravel. He struggles to earn enough to feed his family and send his children to school.

In exchange for loans, Ghana was forced to open up its markets to international trade and take away the government help given to farmers such as Kofi. This is the same for other poor countries across the world. The result is that millions of people now face an uncertain future as they lose the means to make a living.

Free trade means that governments may not interfere in the market place, and all traders – from rich and poor countries alike – must face each other in open competition. This gives the poorest no chance. To begin to make a decent living for their families they need some help from their government to support their industries – that is they need trade justice, not free trade. This is why Christian Aid is campaigning for trade justice, not free trade.

The campaign is informed by the biblical vision of a just world where the needs of the poorest people are met. To compete in today’s global marketplace poor farmers and traders need special help from their governments until they are strong enough to manage without it.

Holy Spirit of God, light a flame within me,
burning for justice, glowing with kindness,
shining with hope for the end of poverty
and the peace of all people
in this ever-turning world. Amen.

Heavy Reading

This month’s issue is both bigger than usual and, perhaps, more substantial  in content. It includes a full account of the deliberations of the Annual Parochial Church Meeting, and also the text of not one but two thought-provoking sermons, together with an emphasis on the problems of the wider world..

By way of relief come some of the photos in this month’s centre spread – and two more flippant ‘borrowings’ from other magazines, as printed below. The first is from St Mary the Virgin, Davyhulme, the second from St Mary the Virgin, Waterloo. Who says Our Lady has no sense of humour?


A woman walked into the kitchen to find her husband stalking around with a fly-swatter. ‘What are you doing?’ she asked.

‘Hunting flies,’ he responded.

‘Oh. Killing any?’ she asked. ‘Yes: three males and two females,’ he replied. Intrigued, she asked: ‘How can you tell?’

He responded: ‘Three were on a beer can, two were on the phone!’


The U.S Navy is not known for its sense of humour, but was happy to release this splendid radio exchange to the press.

Please divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid collision.
Reply Recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to the South to avoid collision.
This is the captain of a U.S. Navy ship. I say again, divert your course.
Reply No. I say again, divert your course.
This is the aircraft carrier ‘Enterprise’. We are a large warship of the U.S. Navy. Divert your course NOW!
Reply This is a lighthouse. Your call!!


Lord, make me a means of your peace.
Where there is hatred caused by fear and intolerance,
 let me sow love, in your gentleness.
Where there is vengefulness caused by injustice,
 let me sow forgiveness, which brings reconciliation.
Where there are doubts about the power of love
 over weapons in resolving conflicts,
 let me sow the faith that comes with knowing that you,
 who are mightier than all things, are love itself.
Where there is despair of being able to do anything
 to turn human hearts away from war,
 let me sow the hope that comes
 with realization that we are not alone,
 for you are working with us and through us.
Where there is the darkness caused by the shadow of war,
 let me sow the light of your wisdom
 that illuminates for us the way of peace.
And where there is sadness caused by death
 in violence and conflicts,
 let me sow the joy of your promise
 of new and eternal life.

Father, we can do these things
 if you help us to realize
 that it is in giving them to others
 that we, in turn, receive them too,
 that it is in pardoning others
 who harm or upset us
 that we are pardoned by you.
And that it is in giving our whole lives to you,
 to be spent bringing your message of love and peace
 for all people, and not just our friends -
 in short, dying to ourselves,
 that we are given eternal life in your kingdom.



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