The Parish Magazine
of Saint Faith's Church, Great Crosby
Saint Faith’s Prayer for
Faithful God, in baptism you have adopted us as your children,
made us members of the body of Christ and chosen us as inheritors of your kingdom:
bless our plans for mission and outreach; guide us to seek and do your will;
empower us by your Spirit to share our faith in witness and to serve,
and send us out as disciples of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
From the Ministry Team
As many of you will know, the two PCCs came together on 7th May for what is now a well-established tradition – the joint away day. One of the exercises we did was to look at questions posed by the Archdeacon’s Visitation papers. It was good to share these with the two PCCs – I have to confess they are usually filled in rather hastily by the Incumbent with no consultation!
The question was: What has been the greatest challenge your church has faced this last year? Of the many answers given I found there was one which put a smile on my face: Pleasing everyone! It put me in mind of John Betjeman’s great poem “Blame the Vicar”. Many years ago a priest friend said to me prior to ordination, “don’t try to please everyone because you will fail!”
We live in a consumerist society where it has become natural to “pick and choose”. Woolworths may have started this, years ago, with their selection of “pick and mix” sweets but the church in some areas has adopted the same principle. How often we hear of people who cease going to church because of the Vicar or form of service used. Is that the level of their faith and commitment? “The hymns aren’t my choice – I’ll go elsewhere”. “The service is half an hour too early – I’ll go elsewhere”. Small wonder that attendances in Anglican churches are dwindling! In some parts of the country, churches are being turned into alternative places of worship (mosques or temples) because the Christian commitment is not as strong as the commitment to other faiths. If only nominal Christians were as committed to weekly worship as people of other faiths. We certainly wouldn’t be in the mess we are in if it were the case.
All that said, I hope that one of the strengths of S. Faith’s is the diversity we offer. As I write, tomorrow evening we will be holding a rather formal and traditional service of May Devotions to Our Lady and Benediction. Tomorrow morning some of us will be walking in procession with umbrellas as part of our Christian Aid All Age Eucharist. I am aware that some will stay away tomorrow evening because it is not “their cup of tea”. I am aware that some will stay away tomorrow morning because it is not “their cup of tea”. A serious point needs to be made though: we mustn’t fall into the trap of condemning others because they don’t agree with us or like the things we like. Don’t try to please everyone because you will fail!
I hope though that in the variety and richness of our diverse liturgical pattern there will be something for everyone and that our commitment to serving the Risen Lord will be clearly evidenced by our commitment to worship.
I am sick to my back teeth of listening to clergy moaning on about the ‘difficult and perilous times’ we live in. What a complete and utter pile of rubbish. Have we ever lived in more challenging times? Has there ever been such a need for the Gospel to be preached and taught? There must be both an urgency and immediacy about our mission if we are seriously seeking to engage with 21st century people in a 21st century world. Jesus died on the cross not for a world of yesterday, or make-believe, or fantasy. Jesus died on the cross for the world as it really and truly is. It is that same real world that we are called to serve and minister to. It may be a scary prospect, it may involve us in a change of priorities and attitudes, it may well be the Holy Spirit takes us to places we would rather not be in. But that is our mandate. We are sent out to love and serve the world every time we come to church. The mass is ended - the mission is begun!
As I look back on the last seven years I have been your parish priest I am well aware of mistakes I have made and opportunites I have missed. There must never be a time for any of us when we feel we have got it 100% right. However, I am more and more encouraged and strengthened by the fact that each year the number of passengers gets smaller and the strength of the crew grows. We are truly blessed not just in the diversity of outlooks and opinions, but by the diversity of gifts which people have and give so freely.
We couldn’t wish for better tools with which to do the Lord’s work. As we celebrate in June the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, let us pray that the same Spirit will be poured afresh on us. It may send us out into un-charted waters. But - hey, who knows? When we get there it may even put a smile on our face!
With love and prayers
Away for the Day
Some reflections on the joint PCCs Away Day from Fr. Neil
“It would be nice to have more younger people involved”. This is a regular cry from those who perhaps themselves are no longer physically able to do the things they used to do or from people in general lamenting the lack of young people and families in church. The issue of young people seems to come up at each discussion we have regarding the future of the church. How good it was then that at our Away Day we welcomed not only some new PCC members and churchwardens but some younger ones!
The day began for me as it usually does, asking “why are we giving up a beautiful day when we could be enjoying the sunshine?” And sunshine there was to add to the beauty of the place we regularly meet in, S. Luke’s Formby. Not too far from home but far enough to feel we had left the worries of the day behind.
Linda Jones from the Diocesan Church Growth and Ecumenism kicked us off with a very good picture of the diversity which exists in the Church of England’s worship. She spoke of liturgical growth in her own church (Ormskirk Parish Church) and how the congregation had responded positively to new forms of worship.
After coffee we looked at some questions which form part of the Archdeacon’s Visitation papers. Fr. Mark facilitated this session and it was very informative. We were asked the questions below and people’s responses were varied, as you will read.
Describe briefly a couple of events that have gone really well in your church during this last year.
Holy Week Liturgy, Saturday Recitals, Good Friday Stations of the Cross, Pantomime, All Age Worship, Discussion Groups, Excellent Liturgy, Children’s Holiday Club, Singing at the Metropolitan Cathedral, Pensioners’ Lunch at Christmas, Children’s Pilgrimage to Walsingham - and Cynthia’s Licensing Party.
What has been the greatest challenge your church has faced this last year?
New forms of worship, Outreach, Raising money to keep the church open, ‘Growing’ the congregation, Reaching a wider community, Finding people to help with ‘events’ or ongoing work, Heating, Appointing a suitable Director of Music, Pleasing everyone, Involving younger people, Adapting to change, How to engage with people in the parish who do not understand our religious language and Working out what we need to do to ‘spread the good news’.
What particular gifts or resources are there in your church which could be used more in the Deanery?
Music, Professional organisational skills, Public speaking / leading discussion groups / Bible Study, Preaching, Disseminating good practice to other churches, liturgy and worship, Expertise with young people, Social / Community events, Diversity, Anything that we do well could be ‘opened up’.
What sort of ‘fresh expressions of church’ exist within your parish?
Children’s Holiday Club, Over 65’s Holiday Club, Pilgrimages, Children’s Pilgrimage, Pantomime, All Age Worship Services, ‘Open table’ – not within parish but open to people in the parish, Bible Study, Children’s area and crèche, Varied liturgy, Simpler language used at All Age Worship Services.
There was clearly overlap and, of course, what is seen as something that has gone really well to one person is perhaps perceived as a challenge or difficulty to another. ‘Twas ever thus!
Splitting up into groups for discussion helped the process and we were asked to give our scores out of ten for four specific areas which we reckoned to be the basis of our common life; that is, Worship, Fellowship, Evangelism and Service. We were asked to be as honest as we could be in saying how well we each felt we did in each area. Out of a possible 250 for each, the results were Worship = 220/250, Fellowship = 163/250, Evangelism = 70/250 and Service = 166/250.
So, after a delightful break to enjoy our lunch in the sunshine, we sat down again for the final slot, which was to make a first stab at a five-year development plan. The work done in the morning set the agenda for our conversation and the short, medium and long term plans we mapped out will by the time you read this have been discussed at the PCC meeting.
We realize the almost impossible challenges posed by trying to formulate a five-year plan but one thing was transparently clear: at previous away-days we have only talked about how we will ‘manage’ or ‘survive’ in the forthcoming year. The mood had totally shifted and the focus was entirely different. There was no question of ‘survival’ or ‘crisis-management’. We will be here in five years’ time, we will be vibrant and healthy and we look forward to making that dream a reality for the people of God in Waterloo and Crosby.
Sunday 4th June - PENTECOST SUNDAY
The Birthday of the Church
11.00am FAMILY MASS followed by coffee and birthday cake
7.00pm Compline and Benediction
Sunday 11th June - TRINITY SUNDAY
11.00am Parish Eucharist
Preacher: Fr. Steven Brooks (Priest-in-charge, Our Lady & S. Nicholas, Pier Head)
Thursday 15th June - FEAST OF CORPUS CHRISTI
6.15pm Supper in the Vicarage for those going on pilgrimage to Rome later in the year
8.00pm HIGH MASS with blessing of Eucharistic Ministers.
Preacher: The Right Reverend John Flack (Director of the Anglican Centre, Rome)
Followed by bring-a-bottle party in the Vicarage Garden
Sunday 25th June, 3pm - JOINT SUNDAY SCHOOLS’ PARTY
… picnic and bouncy castle in the Vicarage Garden!
Church and Community at St Faith’s
Each year at the Annual Parochial Church Meeting, those present receive reports from the various grouips and organisations that serve our church, its worship and its mission to the community. This is what was presented at this year’s meeting.
MINISTRY TEAM Fred Nye
At the beginning of the year we were able to thank Dora Whitehead and Margaret Davies for their contribution to the team as they retired as churchwardens in the United Benefice. In their place we welcomed Miriam Jones and Doreen Whitlow. The highlights of the year have undoubtedly been the licensing of Father Mark as NSM to the Benefice last July and the more recent licensing of Cynthia Johnson as Reader. We wish them well in their respective ministries.
The team meets regularly, usually once a month, and we discuss a very wide variety of parish business, including both practical matters and pastoral concerns. We are keen that our two PCCs should also play a full part in responsibility and decision making, and we are looking into the training possibilities for PCC members.
Much of our time has been taken up with outreach initiatives. The new arrangements for baptisms are working well but parish visitors need more support and training in the pastoral and faith-sharing aspects of their role. We are also looking at ministry to the housebound including communion at home: ideally our Eucharistic ministers could take the sacrament to the housebound after Mass on a Sunday morning. We would like to make experience of prayer and bible study more accessible and to increase the opportunities for church members and newcomers to meet one another in the context of Faith. Looking at the formation of new groups for these activities will be part of our task for next year. This year the ‘Walsingham Circle’ which unites both parishes has provided a new focus for prayer and spirituality. Finally, we are looking forward to the PCC Away-day where we will all be considering our strategy for the next five years. Our thanks to Father Neil for his expert chairmanship, and also for entertaining us all so generously with a very convivial Christmas meal at the Red Squirrel back in December!
PREMISES Michael Holland
The Premises Committee met at regular intervals throughout the year. Maintenance work has continued to grounds, church and church hall. The appearance of the grounds is tidy. Security lighting on Vicarage wall facing the church has been mended.
Acts of vandalism this year have been less, but damage to wall outside hall on Milton Rd. needs repairing. Faulty lighting in church has been repaired. New cupboard in Vestry made. Improvements in the church hall are constantly being undertaken. Cleaning of all external guttering and repairing where appropriate. A new dishwasher in the kitchen is
now functioning (cost largely raised by Table Sales). New chairs and tables also purchased in like manner. Heater boiler in old kitchen now partitioned off (fire regulations). Floor surface in upper room improved and room decorated.
Estimates obtained for following major works: New heating in church; Eradication of Dry Rot in Sacristy; New electric switchboard in church. Replacing electric wiring in hall. Other major work to be considered. Disabled access to church and hall and toilet facilities in hall. (Awaiting architect to produce plans.) Repair work required to church roof and above kitchen and toilets in hall.
SERVING TEAM Geoff Moss
Since the last year’s report the serving team now stands at 16 and we will soon be welcoming back Rebecca Waters. We have two new members of the team, Josie Appleton and Emily Lee. 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 younger members who are now undertaking more adult serving roles. I would like to thank all the serving team for all their hard work and dedication.
JUNIOR CHURCH Angie Price
First of all, I would like to thank the small nucleus of regular children who come to Junior Church, and also the equally small and gallant band of helpers who teach and support them. At the moment we have 18 children on the books, but rarely see more than half that number in church on a Sunday. We enjoy showing the congregation our learning and creative work when we come into church. The indoor and outdoor parties as usual attract far more children but are great fun. We would all like to thank Fr Neil for making the Chapel of the Cross such an attractive Children’s Corner where we can hide away. We would as always be very grateful for more helpers to spread the load.
CHURCHES TOGETHER IN WATERLOO Kathleen Zimak
The group has organised inter-church services during the year, a Christian Aid service in May and a service of lessons and carols in December, both at St Faith’s. Representatives from the churches also attended the Merseyside Region ecumenical service at Christ Church, Ellesmere Port to mark the week of prayer for Christian Unity in January. The proposed debate between the local Members of Parliament during One World Week had to be cancelled because of failure to secure the attendance of all the MPs.
The group organised the distribution of leaflets to all houses in the area for Christmas and Easter and was also responsible for the Christian Aid house to house collection throughout the parishes in May. The committee was sorry to lose its chair Mr Joe Kendall, who has begun his training to be a priest away from the area, and are gra,teful for his hard work on behalf of the group.
CATERING TEAM RuthWinder
Events this past year have been very successful despite the reduced numbers in the team, and fewer people available to help on some occasions, for a variety of reasons. With fewer commitments this year hopefully we can re-vitalise for the future. Thanks to all those outside the catering team who gave generously of their time and cooking skills when help was requested. Also to all who helped in any way toward the table sales, which were a great success, and raised enough capital to purchase new chairs for the hall, and a dishwasher for the kitchen. Looking forward to continued success this year and a happy sunny summer.
EUCHARISTIC MINISTERS Eric Salisbury
At the present time we have 16 Eucharistic Ministers, including two Readers, licensed by the Bishop to assist in the Eucharist with the administration of the Host and Chalice. They may also administer the Reserved Sacrament to the sick and house bound.
SANIN FAITH’S BROWNIES Sue Walsh and Mary McFayden
We currently have 13 Brownies registered, with two girls on our waiting list who should be joining us next term and possibly 3 or 4 Rainbows who are now old enough to move up. Last September we visited Crosby Fire Station where the girls were presented with a Fire Safety Badge at the end of a very interesting and informative evening.
In November we welcomed a lady from the Freshfield Animal Rescue Centre who brought along a furry friend. The girls enjoyed the evening and our visitor was delighted with the generous donations of cat and dog food the girls gave as a thank you. We have since been invited to visit the rescue centre.
We made more beautiful hand-made Christmas cards in December with our expert, Jenny Moss; we thank her sincerely for her continued support. We finished the term with an ‘Oscars Night’ which Fr Neil was able to attend and present some awards. The girls thoroughly enjoyed the evening and we thank Fr Neil for his support.
SAINT FAITH’S RAINBOWS Geraldine Forshaw
Numbers are increasing. We currently have 18 Rainbows registered with us but four girls should be moving up to Brownies soon. We have had a busy year continuing the new Rainbow programme. Due to increased work commitments, Claire Hockney has been unable to assist on a regular basis and we are currently depending on the help of Sue Walsh and Mary McFayden; we would welcome any assistance.
10th CROSBY AND DISTRICT SCOUT GROUP
Another full year of activities for our Group! The Scout Section, led by George McInnes, have worked on a series of skills over the year in preparation for weekend challenges – orienteering, map-work, and camp programme/planning etc. They have also taken part in District-led activities such as 5-a-side football, swimming and challenge camps.
The two Cub packs, led by Alan Jones and Mike Carr, continue with badge-work activities and have been on several weekend camps over the year. Camps, well-attended and greatly enjoyed by all, have included themes such as ‘Marooned’ (a desert island survival camp); ‘Who Dares, Wins’ (adventurous activities including canoeing, archery, climbing etc); ‘Hogwarts’ (fun themed camp) and others. This year, Cubs have their 90th anniversary and will be celebrating at District camp in June. Beavers go from strength to strength, have attended sleepovers and day trips and continue with their badge-work.
The Group is strong and all sections are growing – a tribute to the commitment and hard work that is put in by all the leaders who help run the Group.
COMMUNICATIONS REPORT Chris Price
In an age increasingly relying on effective communications, the St Faith’s Communications Department(!) has been kept as busy as ever. Weekly liturgy notices and occasional service orders roll off the presses, with the New Worship booklets in glorious technicolor. Newslink runs to 24 or more pages, with lots of colour photographs. I print 375 copies, over 120 of which go out by post. Photographic displays also add colour to the back of church.
The church website is going strong, with several updates most weeks and lots of photographs and animations. There is now a comprehensive index to keep track of what is effectively a parish archive since 1997, and also a page of religious jokes, many in good taste. The site registers some 40-50 ‘hits’ most days and has had some 52,000 total visits; many visitors are from well beyond the parish confines and some from remote parts of the globe.
MISSION GROUP Fred Nye
This year the Mission group was asked by the PCC to implement some of the suggestions for improved outreach which had been highlighted by the Parish Survey. We met on five occasions. Our work has centred on three aspects of church life: the new ‘all-age’ service, our ministry to newcomers, particularly baptism families, and opportunities for people to meet together to study and share their faith.
A planning sub-group was set up to organise the all-age services. Five services have been held so far: they have been welcomed by many, particularly children. Following criticisms of the ‘Environment’ service in March the planning group membership has been widened and a preparation timetable implemented. We are anxious that the S. Faith’s congregation as a whole should ‘own’ these services, and that the worship should be welcoming and accessible to those who are ‘un-churched’. It would also be good if in future we could take part in the Diocesan ‘Child Friendly Church’ scheme. Baptism visiting is now carried
out entirely by a lay team, and families are welcomed at the all-age service preceding the baptism. Finally, Father Mark organised two highly successful and well attended study groups, one on ‘Questions of Faith’ and a Lent Group on the idea of sacrifice.
WALSINGHAM CIRCLE Miriam Jones
During last year’s Parish Pilgrimage to Walsingham, a group of people from our United Benefice were accepted as new members to the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. As there were 10 of us (5 from S. Faith’s and 5 from S. Mary’s), we were able to form what is termed by the Shrine a ‘Local Cell’, of which Fr Neil is the Local Superior, being a Priest Associate of the Holy House. The requirement for forming a cell is that members meet on a regular basis, observing feast days relating to Our Lady, and the individuals are to say The Angelus each day. An annual membership fee is payable to help support the Shrine. We have named our cell ‘The Walsingham Circle’, indicating by its name that it encompasses all, and everyone is welcome. The mass held on the last Saturday morning of each month and the intercessions offered are dedicated to Our Lady of Walsingham.
From time to time, there are informal meetings held after a mass, for instance, during Lent there was a talk by Fr Robert Hart, who is a member of the Church Liturgical Commission, about some of the history and ritual of Holy Week and Easter, followed by a Lenten Lunch. All services and meetings are open to everyone, and will be publicised on the weekly service sheet accordingly.
100-PLUS CLUB Miriam Jones
The 100 club has continued to be successful for another year, celebrating its 5th birthday in November. Membership has recently dropped slightly, settling at around 140. In the last 12 months, the figure paid to church funds was around £4,500, bring the total raised since it started to about £25,000.
Coming of Age
The other day, my granddaughter asked me how I felt about being old. I was taken aback: I don’t think of myself as old. Seeing my reaction, she was embarrassed, but I explained that it was an interesting question.
Old age, I decided, is a gift. I’m now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I’ve always wanted to be. Not my body - I sometimes despair over that, but I don’t agonise for long. I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life and my loving family for less grey hair or a flatter belly.
As I’ve aged, I’ve become kinder to myself, less critical. I’ve become my own friend. I don’t scold myself for eating that extra biscuit, for not making my bed or for buying that silly cement gnome (which looks so avant garde on my patio).
I’m entitled to overeat, to be messy, to be extravagant. I’ve seen too many friends leave this world too soon, before they understood the great freedom that comes with ageing. Whose business is it if I choose to read until dawn and sleep until noon? I dance by myself to those wonderful tunes of the Fifties and Sixties - and if I wish to weep over a lost love, I will.
I know I’m sometimes forgetful - but some of life is better forgotten, and I eventually remember the important things. Over the years, my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one or when a child suffers? But broken hearts are what give us strength, understanding and compassion.
I’m blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turn grey and to have my youthful laughs forever etched in deep grooves on my face. I can say ‘no’ and mean it. I can say ‘yes’ and mean it.
As you get older, it’s easier to be definite. You care less about what other people think. I don’t question myself any more. I’ve even earned the right to be wrong.
So - I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I’m not going to live for ever, but while I’m still here, I won’t waste time moaning about what might have been or worrying about what will be. For the first time in my life, I don’t have to have a reason to do the things I want to do.
If I want to play games on the computer all day, lie on the settee and watch old films for hours, I have earned that right. I have put in my time doing everything for others, so now I can be a bit selfish without feeling guilty.
I sometimes feel sorry for the young. They face a far different world from the one I knew growing up, where we feared the law, respected the old, the King and Queen, and our country. I never felt the need to use filthy language in order to express myself. And in any case, the young will also grow old someday.
I’m grateful to have been born when I was, into a kinder, gentler world. Yes, I like being old.
supplied by John Chapman
‘A Small Pilgrim Place’
Having a bolt-hole in North Wales provides us with the freedom to get away from busy urban life for a few days – and the leisure when there to seek out remote and beautiful places still undiscovered by us after a lifetime of exploring Gwynedd. Such a place is Llandecwyn.
You head very steeply uphill on narrow lanes from west of Talsarnau to the sanctuary of a small and lovely lake, then take another high lane, marked only as No Through Road, to
end up at a small church perched high on the hillside. This is St Tecwyn’s, vaguely remembered from many years past. It is unremarkable from the exterior – and it was locked – but several things made wandering round its enclosure an unforgettable experience.
The scenery needed no guide on a day of warm sunshine. The mellow slate gravestones and the blazing yellow gorse framed a panorama of the Dwyryd estuary and the high mountains of Eryri – Snowdon and its attendant peaks.
But there was a guide to these land and water marks – in the little lych-gate entrance were piles of leaflets telling the past and present story of St Tecwyn’s. Jim Cotter’s thoughtful and lyrical words described the place:
‘An enclosure for burial and remembrance: a church visible for miles from estuary and hills; a quiet place that draws people to it as a magnet; a breathing space; a still place whose walls are licked by the wind.’
Identifying the points of interest spread out far below, it offers prayers at each point: for example, ‘for those who have died in accidents in these hills and along this coast’… ‘those who enable the Welsh language to flourish’… ‘those who travel in search of meaning in their lives’… ‘those responsible for power supplies and those spreading the use of solar, wind and wave power’… ‘those who walk and climb the mountains and those setting out on pilgrimages’. There are more words and prayers about the as yet unseen interior of the church, including the ancient Cross of St Tecwyn and the Rublev welcoming angels ikon. The church is open, and apparently manned, during high summer, and these delights wait for us and other pilgrims.
The church is apparently part of an experimental project to see if ‘small, little-used churches can come alive again as oases on the pilgrim journey, breathing places for quiet prayer, simple hospitality and thoughtful conversation.’ The church is open during most summer afternoons, and on Sunday evenings in July and August offers candlelit prayer.
All this is beautiful, and heart-warming, and we shall return. And the final revelation and inspration came when the leaflet pointed the visitor to graves near the porch. The visitor is invited to read the inscription on Albert George Lewis’s slab. ‘Not a bad epitaph,’ says Jim Cotter, and he is right indeed. Lewis is commemorated as ‘A True Welshman who loved poetry, music and mankind.’ Next to him lies Margaret Elizabeth, ‘reunited with her beloved husband. And still a garden by the water blows.’ And immediately beneath is a more recent grave, that of Michael Harker Glauert: ‘Mathematician, who loved and walked these hills. He has outsoared the shadow of our night.’
To read these lovely words in this beautiful setting was moving indeed. It is hard to think of a more fitting resting place than this quiet and holy acre far above the busy main road, in an ancient place of sanctuary with only the song of the birds, the distant call of sheep and the drifting clouds around. May they indeed rest in peace.
“And on the Eighth Day . . .”
Rick and Rosie Walker conclude their round-the-world saga
Sadly our week in New Zealand came to an end, but we were not to be disappointed with our next stop which was on the tiny Polynesian island of Rarotonga.
Although it was one o’clock in the morning when we arrived at the airport (a couple of wooden sheds) we were given Lei garlands of gardenias and jasmine and it was very, very warm. A guy in a jazzy shirt with a people carrier with matching jazzy seat covers drove us to the Sunset Beach Resort. It was too dark to look around when we arrived, but we slept well and woke to an odd sort of whooshing sound.
Opening the patio doors we discovered the reason for the noise: the entire Pacific Ocean complete with palm trees, white sand and coral reef was just yards from our room.
We only discovered later that the island had been hit by four cyclones in February last year, which had destroyed our part of the island, and all the buildings were new and built to withstand just about anything. It was remarkable that the island had recovered so well from the disaster which had ruined crops, the tourist trade and damaged just about everyone’s houses. Now, coconuts were growing, pawpaws were being harvested and some very odd looking vegetables were served up. It seems that natural disasters are taken as ‘one of those things’ and the islanders just cleared up and got on with life.
With a maximum speed limit of 25 mph on the island, most transport was by scooter, and with no nanny state laws about seat belts and crash helmets, it was quite usual to see two or three children on the back seat of a little motorbike, hanging on to their mother as she negotiated potholes in the island’s only road. We particularly liked the law which closed all shops, restaurants and services at lunchtime on Saturday until Monday morning. Only hotels were allowed to serve food and everyone (including us) went to church on Sunday. Now we are used to good music, but the entire congregation at Arorangi church sang magically without books or music in wonderful harmony. Their robes? White dresses and straw hats for the ladies and the men wore white suits complete with waistcoats. And in a temperature of over 100 degrees!
Another odd thing we noticed was that every house had a collection of its own family graves in the garden. Not just little marker stones either, but large mausoleums often with canopies and adornments. There were some wonderful inscriptions showing how close they felt they were to their departed relatives.
Swimming in warm crystal clear water teeming with large aquarium quality fish is a must if you’ve not tried it. We had also crossed the International Date Line which had the effect of giving us Friday 3rd March all over again. If only they had a National Lottery we could have made a killing!
But even with an eighth day in the week, our time in Paradise came to an end and we set off for California and the Northern Hemisphere for what was to be a return visit to San Francisco after about 5 years.
The temperature dropped to just above freezing as we landed, and we were glad of the woollies, long trousers and fleece jackets that we had carried laboriously through the tropics. San Francisco was as exciting as ever, with rides on cable cars, buses, a bicycle driven Pedicab, and Taxis as well as lots of Shanks’s Pony. Farmers, Markets, Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39 - even the Hard Rock Café and the Golden Gate Bridge, all took their fair share of our time. Again we had booked a hotel in the middle of the tourist area so spending money was easy.
There was great excitement on our first Internet link from the hotel – our daughter Beckie had been for her first ‘scan’ and had sent us the first picture of our future grand-child. OK, the picture was only the size of a postage stamp and was totally indistinct, but it was the first picture and as such is more precious than any of the 650 pictures we had taken on our trip.
Our last day in San Francisco was the day of the snow in Crosby, and we didn’t miss out. We woke to heavy hail and sleet and news that the Golden Gate Bridge had been closed to traffic because of the heaviest snowfall in 30 years!
The thought of British weather signalled the end to the holiday, and as we flew home we started to think back over the adventures of the previous four weeks. Certainly the holiday of a lifetime, and if we had the opportunity to go again we wouldn’t change a thing. But having said that, there is something comforting about being back in our own home, walking the dog, joining the queue at Sainsbury’s and moaning about the weather and petrol prices, that makes home the best place on earth. But if you hear that Easyjet are planning flights to the Pacific please let us know.
Fr Charles Billington’s
Golden Jubilee Mass of Thanksgiving
Friday, September 22nd at 8.00 pm in Saint Faith’s
followed by a buffet reception in the Church Hall
Anyone travelling to Crosby for this special occasion
who requires help or information regarding accommodation
should contact Fr Dennis (0151-928 5065)
The article that follows, written by the renowned academic and atheist RICHARD DAWKINS, is a clever and disturbing attack on religion in general and Christianity in particular. It deserves to be read and pondered over, if only to work out how best to counter its arguments. The title is an anagram!
It is a highly addictive drug ,but governments everywhere encourage its use.
(Geriniol to give it its scientific name) is a powerful drug which acts directly on the central nervous system to produce a range of characteristic symptoms, often of an antisocial or self-damaging nature. If administered chronically in childhood, Gerin oil can permanently modify the brain to produce adult disorders, including dangerous delusions which have proved very hard to treat. The four doomed flights of 7th September were, in a very real sense, Gerin oil trips: all 19 of the hijackers were high on the drug at the time. Historically, Geriniol intoxication was responsible for atrocities such as the Salem witch hunts and the massacres of native South Americans by conquistadores. Gerin oil fuelled most of the wars of the European middle ages and, in more recent times, the carnage that attended the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent and, on a smaller scale, Ireland.
Gerin oil addiction can drive previously sane individuals to run away from a normally fulfilled human life and retreat to closed communities from which all but confirmed addicts are excluded. These communities are nearly always limited to one sex, and they rigorously, often obsessively, forbid sexual activity. Indeed, a tendency towards agonised sexual prohibition emerges as a drably recurring theme amid all the colourful variations of Gerin oil symptomatology. Gerin oil does not seem to reduce the libido per se, but it frequently leads to a prurient desire to interfere with, and preferably reduce, the sexual pleasure of others. A current example is the horror with which Gerin oil users view homosexuality, even when expressed in long-term loving relationships.
Gerin oil in strong doses can be hallucinogenic. Hardcore mainliners may hear voices in their heads, or see illusions which seem to the sufferers so real that they often succeed in persuading others of their reality. An individual who reports high-grade hallucinogenic experiences may be venerated, and even followed as some kind of leader, by others who regard themselves as less fortunate. Such following-pathology can long postdate the leader’s death, and may expand into bizarre psychedelic forms such as the cannibalistic fantasy of ‘drinking the blood and eating the flesh’ of the leader.
Strong doses of Geriniol can also lead to ‘bad trips’ with morbid delusions and fears, notably fears of being tortured, not in the real world but in a postmortem fantasy world. Bad trips of this kind are bound up with a punishment culture which is as characteristic of this drug as the obsessive fear of sexuality already noted. The punishment culture fostered by Gerin oil culminates in the sinister belief that individuals can and should be punished for the wrongdoings of others (known on the in-group grapevine as ‘redemption’).
Medium doses of Gerin oil, though not in themselves dangerous, can distort perceptions of reality. Beliefs that have no basis in fact are immunised, by the drug’s own direct effects on the nervous system, against evidence from the real world. Oil-heads can be heard talking to thin air or muttering to themselves, apparently in the belief that private wishes so expressed will come true, even at the cost of mild violation of the laws of physics. This autolocutory disorder is often accompanied by weird tics, hand gestures or other stereotypics, for example rhythmic head-nodding towards a wall.
As with many drugs, refined Gerin oil in low doses is largely harmless, and can even serve as a social lubricant on occasions such as marriages, funerals and ceremonies of state. Experts differ over whether such social use, though harmless in itself, is a risk factor for upgrading to harder and more addictive forms of the drug.
Gerin oil acts synergistically with sleep deprivation, self-mutilation and starvation. Addicts have been known to fast, whip their own backs, or perform other painful ‘penances’ as means of enhancing the drug’s potency. Mutilation is not limited to users themselves. Various Gerin oil-based subcultures ritually injure their own children, especially when they are too young to resist. These mutilations usually involve the genitals.
You might think that such a potentially dangerous and addictive drug would top the list of proscribed substances, with exemplary sentences handed out for trafficking in it. But no, it is readily obtainable anywhere in the world and you don’t even need a prescription. Professional pushers are numerous, and organised in hierarchical cartels, openly trading on street corners and even in purpose-made buildings. Some of these cartels are adept at parting clients from their money. Their ‘godfathers’ occupy influential positions in high places, and they have the ear of presidents and prime ministers. Governments don’t just turn a blind eye to the trade, they grant it tax-exempt status. Worse, they subsidise schools with the specific intention of getting children hooked.
I was prompted to write this article by the smiling face of a very happy man in Bali. He was ecstatically greeting the news that he was to be executed by firing squad for the brutal murder of large numbers of innocent holidaymakers whom he had never met. Some people in the court were shocked at his lack of remorse. But far from remorseful, his mood was one of obvious exhilaration. He punched the air, delirious with joy that he was to be ‘martyred,’ to use the jargon of his particular sub-culture of Gerin oil substance-abusers. For, make no mistake about it, this beatific smile, looking forward with unalloyed pleasure to the firing squad, is the smile of a junkie. Here we have the archetypal mainliner, doped up with hard, unrefined, unadulterated, high-octane Gerin oil.
It is easy to regard such people as evil criminals, from whom the rest of us need protection. Indeed, we do need protecting from them. But the problem would not arise in the first place if children were protected from becoming hooked on a drug with such a bad prognosis for their adult minds.
‘They Also Serve’
At the 2006 APCM, the following were elected to office:
Leo Appleton and Kari Dodson
Rosie Walker and Judith Skinner
Parochial Church Council members
Judith Skinner, Julie Voce-Pascoe, Ann Hartley, David Jones and Rosie Walker
We congratulate those who have been elected and wish them every success in their office – and we thank most sincerely those who have served in the past years and who have now left office.
Over the last couple of months I have received some great feedback about our successful United Benefice pantomime, Dick Whittington, which we took to the stage with during February of this year.
I personally had a great time with my involvement in it, especially as we able to get quite a few St Mary’s and St Faith’s children involved this year, and I felt as though we were putting on a truly wonderful community event. But I have to admit to having breathed a very big sigh of relief once the show was over, knowing that I would get my Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons back after the gruelling six month rehearsal schedule!
However, now that I have had time to wind down from the energy and excitement of panto season and reflect upon all the positive impact it has had, I have turned my attention to planning for the next one! Once we had finished Dick Whittington, there was talk of reverting to our biennial staging of the production, but similar discussion took place towards aiming for the next one in February 2007. Everyone in the cast and crew worked extremely hard to put on our show this year, and I think that requesting a similar commitment and the resources of their time and energy is asking rather a lot. I am also conscious that from a technical, front of house and back stage perspective, we were desperately short of volunteers and the brunt of the work fell to just two or three people. If we were to put on a 2007 panto, we would definitely need more technical support (i.e. front of house arrangements, costumes, props, scenery design), and perhaps a reduced rehearsal schedule to entice our actors back to the limelight.
I am more
than happy to aim for a 2007 pantomime, but what I propose is that we
do not start rehearsing until December, and then make use of intensive
weekends during January and February, rather than commencing
proceedings in September! That way we need not think about a script and
casting until Autumn time, although it would also be nice to have more
volunteers for the above mentioned tasks before then.
If those who have been involved, and indeed those who would like to get involved could let me know what they think about this proposal, I will then know whether to start looking for potential Ugly Sisters for the next show. If we have enough enthusiasm from would-be cast and crew then I think we should use our Dick Whittington momentum and take to the stage once more in February!
God grant me the senility to forget the people that I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones that I do like, and the eyesight to tell the difference.
Gordon Slater RIP
The sad death of Gordon left a huge gap in our church family. His funeral was a wonderful occasion in the best tradition of St Faith’s farewells to its own. Many words were spoken then and subsequently, but let these, from the funeral intercessions offered by Fr Dennis, sum up this marvellous man as we extend our love and deep sympathy to Ada and the family.
‘We remember with great thanksgiving and joy Gordon’s warm, welcoming and generous spirit; his exemplary courtesy and engaging charm; his thoughtful and considerate attentiveness to the needs of others; his endearing good cheer, ready wit and impish sense of humour. For the kindly Christian gentleman Gordon was and whom we shall always remember with much love and affection: let us bless the Lord.’
Thank you to everyone for the love, prayers, messages and cards we received during Gordon’s illness and after his death.
Not a lot of people know this – Gordon was an only child and often he was a very lonely child. It was here at St Faith’s Church that he made friends who became the ‘brothers and sisters’ he had always wished for, and he was so happy to be a part of this family.
When the BBC chose our church for the recording of their series ‘Down to Earth’, Gordon was in his element being one of the team of helpers. He was never happier than when he was pottering around doing any jobs.
He always said, ‘We must earn our place in heaven.’ I hope he did.
Ada Slater, Val and Viv
Crisis or Challenge
Everyone agrees that churchgoing in general is in decline, and gloomier folk are increasingly predicting the decline and death of Christianity in its present form. What had been lacking is an objective measure of trends in church attendance and membership – but a recent booklet from Christian Research had provided that yardstick, and its findings make uncomfortable and challenging reading. In this and subsequent articles I will take a look at what it says, and what that might mean for the church in general and therefore us in particular.
First of all the credentials. Christian Research is an official charity founded in 1983, and the booklet takes its figures from its detailed survey: ‘U.K. Christian Handbook – Religious Trends’. It is independent of the C of E, on whose figures and future it reports, but says that its unofficial motto is ‘to do everything we can to ensure that the forecasts we make don’t come true.’ It goes without saying that the forecasts don’t make happy reading, and that they portray a steady decline in organised churchgoing in our Church. They chart trends from 1980 to the present day, and from these they extrapolate probable futures for future years up to 2020.
Their figures paint a kind of ‘inverse-vision’, a future which is nor desired nor wanted. They speak of ‘visibles: the potential closure of many churches, falling finance and the increasing proportion of the elderly in diminishing congregations’, and of ‘invisibles: a future with fewer people motivated to act and speak with integrity, truth and commitment – the building blocks of society upon which England has thrived over past centuries.’ Dr Peter Brierley, Christian Research’s Executive Director, sees this prospect as disastrous for British society and not just for the Church of England, and sees the prime purpose of the survey as that of motivating and energising the people who are the Church to see that the future it predicts does not in fact come to pass.
The first section of the survey is entitled The Christian Community. From it we find that in 2001, 72% of those responding to the National Census claimed to be Christian. On the basis of the numbers of those baptised in our Church, some two-thirds of those claiming then to be at least nominal Christians were C of E: some 48% of the 2001 population. That figure had been dropping slowly since Church House last published figures in1978, when the figure was 58%. On the basis of this hard evidence, together with trends in baptism candidates, the survey sees the figure as likely to be down to 33% by 2020. But this represents nominal allegiance and certainly not churchgoing numbers: by my very broad calculations, based on a presumed parish population of some 7,500, we might, on that basis, expect some 2,500 people in our parish claiming to be C of E! Far fewer nationally sign up to the Electoral Roll, and fewer still darken the doors of their parish churches
The survey deals next with those Electoral Roll figures nationwide. Being on the Roll is a measure of commitment to the Church of England, although in our case, as no doubt is the case in many parishes, our weekly attendance is probably only about half of our Roll number. The national Roll total has declined steadily from 1.8 million in 1978 to a projected figure of some 900,000 by 2020. In 1980 that was 5.0% of the adult (over 16) population, in 2000 it was 3.2% and by 2020 it is likely to be 1.9%. St Faith’s probably fits that pattern, with an Electoral Roll that totals perhaps 2-3% of the presumed parish population.
Of course parish population might be seen as a relatively meaningless yardstick for making comparisons, especially in a church like ours whose appeal lies as much outside as within the parish boundaries. But in urban areas, where churches are still fairly thick on the ground, ‘gathered’ congregations, coming together as much for reasons of churchmanship preference (whether High or Low!) as geographical convenience, are more or less the norm, so that the overall pattern is probably still reasonably accurate.
Before it moves on, the survey makes an interesting point. National Electoral Roll membership, it says, ‘is still half a million more people than the membership of any political party.’ Encouraging in one sense, but also evidence of the parallel decline of commitment to active political participation: in the recent local elections the turnout in one Liverpool ward was a derisory 11%.
The final section I will deal with this month is called The Church of England in context and provides some fascinating statistics of trends in church attendance in the (258!) U.K. Christian denominations. Did you know that in 1980 Roman Catholic mass attendance in Britain was half a million larger than Anglican church attendance – but that by 2005 it was some 400,000 smaller? R.C. numbers have dropped far faster than ours, if that is any comfort; and our churchgoing numbers are currently about 22% of national church attendance.
Decline among the mainstream churches is more or less general, with overall growth only evident in ‘New Churches’ and (the tiny) Orthodox Churches. Interestingly, decline is fastest in rural areas and in churches with congregations between 150 -350 in number (which was what we were in the 1990s). But there has been growth in21% of churches, and that has happened ‘in all denominations, in all churchmanships, in all regions of
England, and across all sizes of churches.’ And a final figure in this section: in 2005 it is estimated that 3.3. million people go to church on a Sunday, some 6.7% of the population (still far more than those attending League Football the day before!).
There is much more to come: ‘Family Changes’ and ‘An Ageing Church’ to name but two. Watch this space – and meanwhile, keep coming to church.
A poem for Corpus Christi, from the writings of Fr Sandys Wason (1867-1950). Supplied by Fr Dennis.
At every doorway of the rose-hung street,
On the stone stair-heads, in the angled shade,
Peasants in old-time festival brocade
Took refuge from the unrelenting heat;
These, all by some Mystery made one
With those who dozed or whispered, kissed or played
As silver trumpets rang through the arcade,
Leaned to the far-off sound like wind-blown wheat.
A dark-haired boy, sandalled and naked save
A shift of came’'s hair, came first as John
The Baptist: in his wake a yearling lamb,
A crucifix, blest incense; next, a score
Of sunburnt singing-boys in lawn and black
Swept gaily on before a company
Of girls in long lace bridal veils and wreaths
Of oleander, telling rosaries,
But none so fervid that she failed to screen
The lighted taper in her small brown hand
Lest any love-lorn breeze mistake and woo
Its flame for some gold flower.
A group of children who from ribboned frails
Unendingly were flinging to the Host
Flowers of genista, poppy, myrtle, bay;
At last, as from a mist of frankincense
And candle-light and waving cypress boughs,
A priest in silver vestments flowered with gold
Came holding, shaded by a baldaquin
Of white and silver tissue, thin with age,
A golden monstrance like an outspread fan,
To which, as by a spell, his eyes were held;
He gazed, as if these transitory things
Were with the earth, all they had been before
They were created; as if our life were but
A greying garland doomed to pass away.
To him, within the pale orb of the Host,
All he had ever dreaded or desired,
Truth, wisdom, power, peace and righteousness,
As in a crystal mirror, stood revealed,
And so, adoring his uplifted God,
Wonder, profoundest wonder filled his soul.
A Thank You Letter
from Cynthia Johnson on the occasion of her Licensing as Reader
To all my friends at St. Faith’s and St. Mary’s: a very big THANK YOU to everyone who sent me cards and gifts, supported me at the Cathedral and/or brought goodies for the marvellous buffet afterwards.
I was overwhelmed by the whole day - I had not expected it to be so big, it was a bit like a wedding! There were 20 of us ‘getting done’ and we had to be at the cathedral for 9.50am for an hour of prayer and meditation in the Lady Chapel with Bishop James. Then there was the Readers’ Annual General Meeting with very interesting speeches; then lunch followed by rehearsals with our Parish Representatives (thanks Mum!), so we all knew where to stand and what to say. Next we had to make legal declarations and sign forms, and finally the Licensing, which thankfully went smoothly as by this time we were all very nervous, in front of a packed cathedral of relations and friends from our parishes.
Back at the Church Hall I was amazed at the wonderful spread laid on, and the generosity of the gifts and flowers. Many thanks to all who contributed and helped.
It has been a difficult but very rewarding three years and I thank everyone for their support and prayers, particularly for Barrie while he has been so ill. I hope I can do justice to everyone’s faith in me.
Yours in prayer,
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