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 Newslink                March 1999

From the Clergy

One of the early names given to Christianity was The Way. It is a significant name, implying, among other things, that the Christian life is a pilgrimage, or journey  a journey of faith towards God and towards the realisation of his ultimate purpose for us. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of pilgrimage for many Christians is that of change, of moving on. One of the characteristics of ancient organisations, anxious to preserve their identity, is that they resist change and cling desperately to the familiar. This is certainly true of the Church, where innovation is often met with fear and hostility.

Yet, whether we like it or not, all institutions are subject to the process of change. For example, patterns of marriage and family life have not remained the same over the last few decades. There have been some dramatic changes in how we view relationships in our society, whether or inside or outside the family. It is only dying institutions which do not change.

We as Christians follow a faith which has at its heart a belief in resurrection  after death, and we should expect to belong to a community in which there is a constant dying of outworn concepts and a continual renewal of life and faith. In all this, of course, God remains the same, but it is our perception of him that may need to change. Recalling my student days, I remember well the enormous impact of Bishop John Robinson’s book Honest to God in the sixties. The bishop’s crime was not in writing a radical book about how our image must go, but rather in making his views available to the public in a readable form, instead of keeping it strictly for academic circles. The truth was that John Robinson, and others like him, were merely expressing what theologians and lay people had thought for some time. Thank God that we have seen in our time a readiness to examine carefully the heritage of our past with intellectual honesty and integrity.

The history of the Church shows that it is, in fact, continually involved in an evolutionary process. Of course, it would be foolish to say that all change is for the best, but to believe in a static Church is to believe in a dead God.

Very soon we at St Faith’s will see the beginnings of change. At the end of April we will be welcoming Fr Neil as our new Vicar. Coming initially from the outside, he will be able to see things from a new perspective, and I have no doubt that he may want eventually to bring about some change. In the area of liturgy, the Church of England has a new lectionary, based on a three-year cycle of readings, instead of the present two-year one. The Alternative Service Book, with its themes for each Sunday of the year, will soon disappear.  Many churches have been using

the new lectionary for some time, and we have decided to begin using it soon after Fr Neil’s arrival. Once we have got used to it, I am certain  we will come to appreciate its richness and variety. Meanwhile we look forward, with Christians throughout the world, to our annual celebration of the death and resurrection of Our Lord. Holy Week, beginning with Palm Sunday (March 30) provides us with the most profound and moving religious experience the Church can provide.

Through our dramatic liturgy of words and music, movement and symbolism, we are enable to enter so fully into the experience of Christ that something of his saving passion rubs off on us as we journey through Holy Week with Him. Holy Week is a reliving of the events of the last days of Our Lord’s earthly life, making it part of the present, and finding ourselves changed by it.

If we are to appreciate the full power of what Holy Week offers and, indeed, what Easter really means, we need to give ourselves time to come to all the principal services from Palm Sunday to Easter Day. We all have many demands on our time, but it is surely right that we should all give the observance of Easter and Holy Week absolute priority. All the services in Holy Week have their own particular ethos: at the Palm Sunday Eucharist we enter church as a crowd, following Our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. However, we soon leave behind the Hosannas and move immediately into the crucify of the Passion narrative, read in dramatic form. On the Monday of Holy Week we have the Stations of the Cross, followed by a short Eucharist. During this service we follow Jesus as he carries His cross to Calvary. We do this by moving slowly around the church, pausing briefly at each station to reflect on the events of his journey. I would urge anyone who has not experienced this moving service to give it a try.

Then on Maundy Thursday we recall the events of the night before the crucifixion. At the Offertory the whole congregation stands round the Nave Altar as the priest repeats the words and actions of Jesus at the Last Supper with His disciples. During the Gospel the priest washes feet, repeating Our Lord`s example. The service ends abruptly after communion, when the church is stripped, to the accompaniment of solemn plainsong, preparing us for the desolation of Good Friday. Choir and servers leave in disarray, symbolising the desertion of Jesus by His disciples. For those who wish to stay for a while, there is a watch in the Garden of Gethsemane  the Lady Chapel beautifully arrayed as the Garden. The Maundy Thursday Solemn Eucharist is powerfully moving: not to be missed.

These Holy Week services, together with the Liturgy of the Cross on Good Friday, give us the chance really to enter into the Passion of Our Lord, and to be moved by his self-giving love. We are given the yearly opportunity of increasing our faith and devotion to Jesus, who gave up His life for us. It is only by experiencing something of the sufferings of Christ, that we can fully appreciate the joy of Easter Day.

Fr George

From the Registers

Holy Baptism
January 17         Alexander Ellis Smith, son of Adam and Susan

Introducing the Thursday 7.30pm Eucharists in Lent  ·
Ten minute talks by Fr. Dennis on The Signs of John’s Gospel

In looking at the signs in John’s Gospel (as with the miracles in the other Gospels) we are not seeing simply historical records of events. Questions of precise historicity are perhaps not the first questions we should even be asking of them. Rather we are in the presence of theological reflection on Jesus’ life and His significance in the light of His glorification on the cross, which for John especially is the focus of all history. The particular value of the signs in John is not that they are theological whereas the stories of the other evangelists are not. More it is that John in his distinctive way draws out what he believes is going on behind and within the events he describes. By meditating on them, we may be in a position to recognise more of what is really going on in the accounts of Jesus’ ministry told by the other New Testament writers who didn’t share in his very particular perspective and insights.

Q.E.D. - Coda!     Jean Price

A further postscript to  Jean Price’s recent series of articles. Copies of the video of the original BBC programme may be obtained by contacting Jean or the Editor.

In talking to Dr Walker recently I heard something rather interesting.

Becky (Rebecca Howells), who appeared in the programme as a victim of E.L. who had recovered, rang Emma to tell her that she had been contacted by a couple whose daughter had been taken into hospital with a mysterious illness, tentatively diagnosed as a nervous breakdown.

In watching Victims of the Forgotten Plague, they recognised in Becky symptoms similar to those experienced by their daughter. They mentioned this at the hospital and were told that E.L. had been one of the possibilities considered. It was agreed to try out the treatment which had been so successful in Becky’s case. The happy ending of this story was that the patient recovered and is now well and back at home again. It is good to know that something so worthwhile happened as a result of this programme.


Read all about it       Jackie Parry

It seems like only yesterday that I was attending my first Day Conference for Reader training. The forthcoming three years and all the study seemed like such a mammoth task, but here we are, three years later, projects written. endless books borrowed and read, sermons filmed and fieldwork placement finished. The time has simply flown by!

My third year was mainly taken up  by my fieldwork placement. I was based with Janet Arnold, Diocesan Children’s Evangelist, between August and November. My work involved a variety of tasks but mainly concerned children’s ministry  holiday clubs, family services etc, but also tutoring at workshops, attending school worker meetings and visiting different churches throughout the Diocese. In fact I had a great time, especially at the holiday clubs: watching children have such fun learning about God and the Bible was so rewarding  and exhausting! Their interest and innocent enthusiasm was quite astounding.

December saw the completion of my written work. This involved an exegesis, diary, essay and notes on my fieldwork placement, an essay entitled The Reader in the Community, and my Reader work file, in which I had been collating all my notes and various articles over the past three years. All this work, including my two filmed sermons, were assessed and graded as usual. My grades are two As, one A/B, three B+s and two Bs (A = Excellent; D = Unacceptable). As you can imagine, I’m really pleased with these results.

The last part of my training is attending a six week Spirituality Course. It covers many aspects of spirituality, including Celtic, Jesuit, Franciscan and Cistercian meditations. It involves quite a bit of role play, meditation and prayer, as well as learning about ancient forms of spirituality and their origins. Fascinating!

During my training I have met lots of people and made many new friends, studied the origins of the Church and the Bible, and looked in depth at my own faith. It has been hard work, but extremely rewarding. I still occasionally work with Janet Arnold and my study group intend to keep in touch. But what I’m really looking forward to now is actually putting into practice what I have been taught: serving God in the ministry he has called me to do, which officially begins with my licensing by Bishop James at the Cathedral on March 20th.

At this point I would like to say a massive thank you to everybody who has helped and supported me during my training. I have been given so much support, love and encouragement from so many people at St Faith’s that I don’t know where to begin to say thank you. Bless you all.

So who’s going to become St Faith’s Reader number 6 ...?

A Reflection for Passiontide          Fr Dennis

It has sometimes been remarked that Christians, in areas of acute famine in those parts of the world where hardship and oppression are most deeply experienced, find a special kind of spiritual comfort in the days of the Holy Week leading up to Good Friday. They feel less enthusiastic about the celebration of Christmas or the great festivals which bring us joy and happiness.

The passion is the kind of good news they can understand; we find much to perplex us in the drama of the cross; many sufferers, on the other hand, have much to teach us out of their understanding of what took place. Those who are already in a predicament of loneliness and agony find themselves more fully in tune with the Christ who endured the cross and gave uniquely to the despairing on an interpretation of life’s meaning and purpose that had the marks of credibility.

The cross is a symbol of every Christian, no matter what the circumstances may be. A symbol invites a thought. Furthermore, it invites a change of mind and stimulates some action; it also points beyond itself to a future. Holy Week is a time to remember that those who are signed with the sign of the cross are committed to struggle with difficulties and problems. Courageous faith is needed, for it is never easy to enter into the spirit of Passiontide. Some have admitted that they have not suffered enough; they find that consequently there is much in life all around them that they do not yet understand.

The days of Holy Week bring to our attention the need to be ready for the unexpected which comes upon us with little notice. In the events of the passion, also, we glimpse the presence of the contradictory in our lives. We see the  good  rejected  and  despised,  the  bad  news  dominating,  the  lonely figure in the drama creating a new and warm kind of fellowship among the poor and deprived. The silence of Jesus, at a crucial moment of trial and decision, had with hindsight a special eloquence. The accused appeared to be the judge. There are more ways than we can properly appreciate of overcoming evil.

The events of that week may not have displayed the power of Jesus but they certainly disclosed his influence. Weaponry, violence and physical strength were in the scenes of the passion, but love, forgiveness and long-suffering met the onslaught with unparalleled justice. The story of the passion speaks for itself and provides telling arguments in the face of all the opposition.

It is said that when the actor, Alec McCowen, with dramatic skill and rare sensitivity, delivered from the stage the whole of St. Mark’s gospel to an audience gripped by his presentation, he often varied the tone and added action to suit the words. When, however, he presented the passion narrative, he spoke without emphasis, impassively handling the great drama of the crucifixion, allowing the facts to speak for themselves, with the least possible intrusion.

At this point, Jesus is undoubtedly the message, and also the medium. Just as his silences were eloquent, so also his love increases in an atmosphere of hate. Lonely and abandoned, he forgives his accusers; they are mindless, they know not what they do. The poor and the destitute saw there was good news in love like this.

Home and Overseas Mission Committee? Reporting Back
Edwina Harding and Margaret Jones

In 1997, due to the financial circumstances at the time, we were unable to fulfil our usual 10% giving, but managed to honour our annual commitments.
Last year due to the sustained efforts and hard work on the part of so many people, finances were once more in a healthy state and we were once again able to meet our full commitment.

We began as usual with the annual donations:  St. Paul’s Croxteth; Mersey Mission to Seamen; Mission in the Economy; Church Urban Fund; British and Foreign Bible Society; St. Luke’s Resource Centre; Crosby Children’s Holiday Fund; U.S.P.G.; C.M.S.; Board of Social Responsibility.

Fr. Ian Brookes (St. Paul’s Croxteth, our twinned parish) in his acknowledgement of our donations mentioned that some of it helps towards taking children of the church to a pantomime and also subsidises some people to go on their annual pilgrimage to Walsingham. Without this help they wouldn’t be able to afford to go.

The donation to the Board of Social Responsibility helps to maintain the Deanery Social Worker and her office. All churches contribute to this.

Our next step is to set a sum of money aside to be kept in case of sudden emergencies at home or abroad. If this money is not needed, it is distributed in December to charities who have not received a donation during the year. In 1998 we were able to make a substantial and much-needed donation (þ500) to the Honduras Relief Fund, a country so badly devastated by Hurricane Mitch.

The remainder of the money was then distributed between the Children’s Adventure Farm Trust, The Leprosy Mission, Sefton Women’s and Children’s Aid and  Fr. Cristian Stefan in Romania.

The Children’s Adventure Farm Trust, based in Cheshire, is a converted farm, serving children throughout the North West, providing holidays and respite to the disabled, disadvantaged and young carers. A variety of activities and outings are provided and we were able to send a donation which would cover the cost of a week’s holiday for one child.

Fr. Stefan visited St. Faith’s a couple of years ago and he and his parishioners are building a new church and community centre to serve all local people. They started from nothing and have very limited resources. Our donation was sent in sterling rather than dollars as the rate of exchange was more beneficial to them that way. We hope eventually to hear from Fr. Stefan and news of their progress.

All letters received to date are displayed on a board at the back of the church. Please do have a look at them.

Our thanks as usual to the members of the committee for their time, ideas and continued support.

Making a Stand

We acknowledge with many thanks the provision of a piano stool and a handsome music stand for St Faith’s, given by Ranee and Steve Seneviratne in memory of Pearl Seneviratne: a plaque to this effect has been placed on the stand. They were in use in time for a recent and most entertaining concert by Associated Board finalists for Grade 1 to 8 music exams, sponsored by the Incorporated Society of Musicians (some of the children were so small they could scarcely see over the top of the stand!), and it was dedicated the next day by Fr George before the 10.30 Sung Eucharist.

Would you believe it?

Norway has just issued a series of postage stamps proudly commemorating the invention of the paper clip, exactly a century ago. Presumably the paper clip was a Norwegian invention. Who ever said Norwegians were boring?

From the Archives: The Coronation Bazaar          Chris Price

As St Faith’s moves on through its Centenary Festival, we continue to look back from time to time at people and events of the past. One of the most entertaining and revealing glimpses of our church in years gone by can be seen in the Souvenir Handbook published for the Coronation Bazaar. This extravaganza took place on the weekend of May 28th and 29th, 1937 (when even this writer was barely ten months old), and the handbook runs to some fifty pages. A large list of supporting firms, and a plethora of adverts, show how it was financed, as well as giving an insight into the world of the time. A local Wine Stores boasts of holding a Magistrates Licence for Ale and Stout and being able to supply the same in single bottles. Passmore`s will sell you Women’s Washable Goatskin Gloves for as little as 8/11 a pair. Crosby Wine Stores urge you to Run no Risks and Consult them Beforehand, because Your guests will judge you on the Wines you provided. Chisnall`s of Crosby Road North serve Ices in their Saloon during the Season, and carry a Complete stock of up-to-date literature through the well-known LYNX LIBRARIES. Thompson`s Funeral Directors were in business, and also offered an Ambulance Service with Trained Attendants (bad for business, one would have thought?). And at the new Unity House in town, Liverpool Co-op boast of two very modern, comfortable, noiseless electric lifts to carry you swiftly to all the new parts of their store, including their beautifully equipped Cafe where you may partake of a dainty tea in light, airy and comfortable surroundings.

There is a potted history of St Faith’s in the Handbook, which claims proudly that from practically every seat in the nave it is possible to get a full and uninterrupted view of the Altar. It describes a church built amongst corn fields but now anxious to serve its great surrounding population  and to carry the work of the Church forward a Bazaar is needed at least triennially, despite additional endowments secured in past years. The aim was to raise þ500: split between the Assistant Curacy Fund, the Vicarage Dilapidation’s Fund and the Parish Hall Fund.

On the first day, Miss E. Fordham, Headmistress of Merchant Taylors` School for Girls, was to open the event; the next day she was replaced by Alderman H.T. Hancock, C.C., Charter Mayor Elect of the proposed new Borough of Crosby. There follow pages, each dedicated to the individual stalls, and listing  their  Stallholders  and  Assistants.  There  is  to  be a   Vicarage Stall,  a Women’s Guild Stall, A Men’s Stall (manned by the Members of St Faith’s Branch of the Church of England Men’s Society and their Ladies (!), a Fruit and Flower Stall, a Miscellaneous Stall, a Handkerchief Stall, a Glass and China Stall, A Handicraft Stall (the uniformed organisations ran this); a Refreshment Buffet (In the Upper Room), run by the Mothers` Union, and another Handicraft Stall run by other uniformed organisations, which boasted a Parcelling Department.

Are you Feeling Funny? enquired the next page. If So - Visit the FUN FAIR. If Not - Come just the Same. The organisers were The Young Men’s Bible Class Under the Direction of the Rev. D. Ford. Finally there was to be The Bazaar Bank, Under the Direction of Mrs Pratt, Assisted by Miss Holden and the Lady Collectors (who presumably were ladies, rather than merely seeking to collect them). Finally, a long list of thanks and acknowledgements ends with a heartfelt plea from the Bazaar Committee. We earnestly request all our friends who read this handbook to patronise our Advertisers.

Entry to the event was One Shilling each day (2.5p!) There are photos of the church, inside and outside, and a list of services  still Sunday Mattins at 10.15 preceding the 10.45 Sung Eucharist and Sermon; a daily Holy Communion (at various morning hours)  and the offer of Churchings after any Service. The Parish Magazine may be obtained from the case in Church, or ordered from the Editor, S. Faith’s Clergy House, Annual Subscription 2/-± (a mere 5p!)

This latter address is the only, oblique reference to the then Vicar, Fr John Schofield, although he may have provided some of the many short quotations which pepper the pages and form a unique feature of this intriguing archive. Most have clearly been dredged up to accompany the stalls etc. on whose pages they appear: here are few in conclusion  unattributed but fairly easy to match up to their stalls or other locations in the Handbook..

· The clergyman walks from house to house, all day, all the year, to give people the comfort of good talk.(Emerson)
· Sat up late spending my thoughts on how to get money to bear me out in my great expense at the Coronation (Pepys)
· Philosophers and clergymen are always discussing why we should be good  as if anyone doubted that we should be (Trevelyan)
· I would not say that old men grow wise, for men never grow wise ... (Chesterton)
· Sure there’s some wonder in this handkerchief, I am most unhappy in the loss of it (Shakespeare)
· I have an almost feminine partiality for old china. I am not conscious of a time when china jars and saucers were introduced into my imagination (Lamb)
· I avoid tapioca pudding, parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes and hake. Otherwise my main preoccupation is to see that whatever may be going, I get enough of it (Knox)
· Important as money is, it is a means and not an end (Hobson).
· It has been said in the praise of some men, that they could talk whole hours together upon anything; but it must be owned to the honour of the other sex, that there are many among them who can talk whole hours together upon nothing (Addison)

Schools Praise       Denise McDougall

Please remember to tune in to BBC Radio Merseyside on Mothering Sunday, March 14th at 8.30 am.

We hope to have nearly 200 children taking part in our Centenary Celebrations Schools Praise. There are seven local schools taking part and practising the hymns ready for the recording session on Thursday 25th February. There will be individual items from St Faith’s Choir, Merchant Taylors` Junior Boys` School, Newfield and St Nicholas` School. Other schools taking part are Rawson Road, Ronald House, Crosby Road North and English Martyrs. We will also be joined by St Jerome`s 10th Beavers and St Faith’s Brownies, Rainbows and Cub Scouts.

Many thanks to all the teachers and children who have put so much effort into such a wonderful celebration of a mother’s love. I hope all those taking part and listening will find it a truly enriching experience.

Tesco Voucher Appeal       Kathy Zimak

Archbishop Blanch School is participating again in the Tesco Computers for Schools scheme. Until April 11 shoppers will receive one voucher for every £10 spent at any Tesco store or petrol station. This year Ariel, Coca-Cola, Febreze, Nestle Ice Cream, Pringles, Shape, Sunny Delight and Utterly Butterly are supporting this scheme and extra vouchers can be collected on purchasing a selection of their products during the promotion. Our 1999 target is 15,000 vouchers which, with last year’s vouchers, would obtain two multi-media computers for the school library. Please support us by shopping at Tesco and asking your friends everywhere to post their vouchers to you. Many thanks for your support for this scheme and for the Free Books for Schools Campaign.

 Three Trees

Once upon a time in a forest in Palestine there were three young trees. These trees had been planted at the same time and grew next to each other, and as they grew they used to share their hopes and their dreams for the future. Although they had seen nothing of the world, they knew from deep within themselves that something special and wonderful was planned for each one of them.

I know what I shall be, said the first tree. I shall be made into a king’s furniture. I can just see myself as a great throne covered in gold. A great king will sit in me when he receives all his courtiers and subjects and ambassadors. I can’t wait for this to happen. I also know what will become of me, said the second tree.  I shall be used to make a great ship. I will travel all over the world seeing wonderful exciting peoples, carrying rich passengers and splendid cargoes. I can’t wait to grow up so that I can be cut down and begin this great journey.

But the third tree was different. I don’t want to be cut down, he said. I want to stay here and provide shade for people to sit in and shelter from the heat. I shall then be a sign pointing them up to heaven and giving them protection from the bad weather on earth.

The day came when the woodcutters arrived in the forest. When they reached the three trees the first two trees were excited. Hooray, cried the first tree as he fell. Now I shall go to become a throne for a great king. Hooray, cried the second as he fell. Now I shall become a ship to carry great people. No, no! screamed the third tree, as the woodcutters started on him. I want to stay here and be a protection for families and a sign pointing to God. But  woodcutters do not listen to trees, and he fell too.

Unfortunately when the trees were chopped up they turned out not to be very good wood. The first tree did not become a throne in a great palace. But a farmer took parts of his wood and made them into rough farmyard furniture. The tree was ashamed to find himself carrying hay for animals to eat, stuck in the corner of a dirty stable, until one cold night a small baby was placed in the hay and he found himself bearing the King of all Kings, the Lord of Lords.

And the second tree did not turn out to be a great ship. He was right, though, that he would become a boat, a small, dirty, fishing boat on a small lake. And he began to smell of the fisherman’s feet that walked over him, and of fishscales and other filth. He too was deeply ashamed until one day he realised that a new pair of feet were standing on him as the greatest teacher of all time stood in this boat to speak to the crowds of people.

But the third tree had the worst time of it. No one wanted him. Not even the firewood sellers. He lay somehow forgotten in a corner of the yard, hoping someone would notice him and use him. And then when someone did take him he wished they hadn’t. To his terrible shame and grief he found soldiers nailing a man to him to hang him up until he died. But as the man hung there the tree realised that after all his great dream had come true. He would stand there for ever casting a shade to shelter people from the storms of life and pointing upwards to heaven and God.

 Medic – Malawi Appeal      Edwina Harding

We have always asked members of the congregation to approach us if they hear of any charities, projects etc that we could consider. Last year we learned that Margaret Houghton’s brother, Mac Forsyth, is living in Malawi and has become involved with a clinic and orphanage. As a result of what he and his wife have seen first hand, he set up a fund known a the Medic-Malawi Fund and has been working hard to alleviate the desperate circumstances both the Clinic and Orphanage are in. He has kindly responded to a request to provide some details for us, which we print at the end of this appeal.

It is some time since we organised a project, the last one being for Farm-Africa. We are proposing to organise one for Malawi, and not asking for money but a collection of much-needed goods.

THE APPEAL  7 March to 18 April

There will be a box at the back of church from March 7th. It will be emptied each week, and goods stored by one of our members in their attic.


Baby food (dried); nappies; disposable gloves; plasters; bandages (gauze and crepe); rubber gloves; antibiotic creams; paper hankies; kitchen roll; toilet paper; soap; toothbrushes; toothpaste; flannels; sponges; Paracetamol; cough syrups; children’s clothing (in good condition, please). To any doctors or nurses amongst us, there is also a need for sutures, needles, syringes, forceps and masks.

We have always been well-supported in our projects in the past and we hope you will continue that support in this new venture. On Sunday March 7th videos of the Clinic and Orphanage will be shown in the hall. Do come and have a look over coffee. They leave one in no doubt as to the need that is there. Please help us to help them.


In the following paragraphs you can read something of what Mac Forsyth has told us of the Clinic and Orphanage, their services and their needs. He tells usthat the Clinic serves not only patients who visit it for treatment but also several villages over a wide area. The Clinic itself is in a poor state of repair and is short of everything. Tablets often have to be dispensed in envelopes (if there are any) and at one time the lighting system consisted of one bulb which had to be moved from place to place where the need was most urgent.

Patients have to supply their own food and have a carer who can cook for them and look after them during their stay: carers have to sleep under patient’s bed as there is nowhere else for them. When visiting villages to hold clinics, staff travel many miles by bicycle carrying their supplies with them. Patients needing further treatment are taken to hospital by minibus ambulance (if it is available) and have to bear the cost themselves. Operations, baby deliveries etc take place without antiseptics, masks and gloves as such things are just not available.

Since establishing the Medic Malawi Fund a significant amount of money has been given by friends in the UK, saving many lives last year. But there is still much work to be done and a constant need for basic drugs and baby food.


As a result of his work with the clinic Mac Forsyth was contacted by the Revd T. Chipeta, who hoped he might be able to help him with a scheme to establish a much-needed  orphanage for the area. The idea was to build unit houses, each to house 25 children with an adoptive mother to care for them within a home environment. Mac writes a child who has lost both parents needs the love of a mother where both physical and spiritual needs are met. Mr Chipeta received the support of the Nkona Synod for the project, and the land on which to build the orphanage was donated by the church.

Construction on the first unit house began despite an acute shortage of materials, and was completed by March of last year. A second house was begun and by last November the third completed. A Skills Centre will be built to help children learn suitable skills to maintain themselves when they eventually leave the orphanage.

The cost of looking after each child is about þ10 a month for food, clothing and basic requirements. It is possible to sponsor a child by regular monthly payments: see Margaret Houghton if you are interested. The orphanage, like the clinic, is also in need of clothes, medical supplies and the like, so we will be supporting both establishments in our St Faith’s Malawi Appeal Project.

Searching for Truth     John Ashcroft

The third in an occasional series of reprints of assemblies delivered by a member of staff at Merchant Taylors` School.

The great classical, orchestral conductor, Sir George Solti, who died recently at the age of 82, said that two things make him certain of the existence of God  one was whenever he listened to the music of Mozart, the other was witnessing the birth of his daughter. Such moments of revelation of truth are given to us very rarely, however, and most of us, I suspect, pass our lives far more uncertain about what truth really is. For the believer, truth means the existence of a loving and personal God, for the atheist, truth means the opposite, the complete absence of such a being. Obviously, both things cannot be true, so perhaps we need to ask ourselves what we mean when we say that something is true.

Philosophers, artists, scientists, theologians and prophets throughout the ages have provided us with their thoughts and feelings about the nature of truth. To at least one poet, beauty is truth; to a scientist, there is great truth in the discovery of the workings of sub-atomic particles (God does not play dice said Einstein). To the film-maker Jean-Luc Godard, photography is truth, the film camera is truth, thirty two times a second. The philosopher, Descartes, in his search for truth, sought a view of existence which was reduced to what he knew to be certain. The only thing, he decided, that he could be certain of was his own existence  I think, therefore I am  but from this base he constructed a philosophy which made it for him clear that there was a God responsible for creating the world and that we have a relationship with him. Jesus, of course, said I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me. A recent documentary about the Catholic Church was entitled Absolute Truth, suggesting that church’s claim to have a monopoly on the truth about the nature of creation and God’s revelation to, and relationship with man. Where does that leave other denominations and religions? And where does this leave us? Is there such a thing as absolute truth? Can it be revealed to us, by faith or reason? Do we only see it partially or can we get, as it were, the full picture? Is it open to interpretation? Is truth just whatever turns you on? Is there truth in art, poetry, nature or indeed moments of revelation, like George Solti`s listening to Mozart, or Pascal`s night of fire or Thomas Aquinas`s visions?

These, I suspect, are not questions that we bother with very much in our daily lives, when we are far too busy to consider such matters. But on a much more mundane level, we are confronted every day with experiences which call upon us to make judgements about truth. As a teacher, I might have to decide whether or not someone truly did forget to do his homework last night or not. If you are ever called to serve on a jury, you will need to decide on whether witnesses are telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, as they swear to, i.e. that they are not only not telling lies, but that they are not telling half-truths or leaving something out.

In our relationships with our friends we expect them to be truthful with us, to be loyal  there is a linguistic connection between the two words  and nothing is more hurtful to us than when friends let us down by being untruthful or disloyal. Not a day, I suspect, and certainly not a week, goes by without our attitude to the truth being tested in some way. We have to make judgements about what people say is true or not, and when we do judge, we often do it on the flimsiest of evidence, or worse still, we base our judgements on prejudice. There is also consolation in knowing the truth  ask the relatives of victims of tragedies such as Hillsborough. We are also called upon to be truthful ourselves, to be people of integrity, not only towards others but within our own hearts. In South Africa, the Truth and Reconciliation Committee has grasped the difficult and painful problem of discovering the truth about what happened during the Apartheid regime, and is trying at the same time to rebuild a society based on reconciling former enemies. This struggle to be true, to recognise truth and to seek out a greater understanding of greater truths is an everyday test which lasts a lifetime and is harder than any GCSEs or A± levels, and it is perhaps only in moments of reflection that we ask ourselves difficult questions about whether we’ve got it right or not. The truth is not, as the X Files claim, out there, but within ourselves. The greatest test and search in life is for that inner certainty, the capacity to judge and act based upon what we know, think or, at worst, hope is true. We need a great deal of luck in this search and the chances are, we get it right relatively rarely.

From the Pulpit: Coathangers and Compassion         Fred Nye

Falling in love and getting married is an awesome experience. You can’t go through the process without your life being altered, as the wedding service says, for better or worse. I can safely say that of all the changes brought about by my marriage, there is one of crucial and permanent importance. It started when Linda and I returned from our honeymoon to a new flat in London. I was helpfully putting our clothes on hangers in the wardrobe when I made my first disastrous mistake: to Linda’s utter horror I put the clothes away at random. I quickly realised that to save the marriage I had to place them all facing to the right, and with the hooks of the coat hangers facing away from you. I have since learnt that similar considerations of geometry apply to the orientation of curtains, toilet seats and many other common household objects!

To be serious, though, it’s hard to overestimate the effect that other people’s choices and lifestyles have on us as individuals. Sometimes some quite trivial incident or throw-away remark changes totally the way we think about things. While Linda and I were in Malawi I had the great privilege of working with a young British doctor called Nicky. Like all the ex-patriates she had a local Malawian house servant. Nicky was very concerned about this man who was very poor and had a family to support. He had managed to learn to drive a car, although his standard of driving was absolutely diabolical. As he didn’t have a car himself, Nicky decided she would lend him her car so that he could become a more competent driver, and thus be able to earn a little more money working as a tax driver. In vain we pointed out that he would crash the car the first time out, that the car was essential for her work and that without it she wouldn’t be safe travelling at night. But Nicky`s values were very different: to us a car was a possession to be used: to her a resource to be shared. She taught us a lot about human values.

Nowadays there’s an awful lot of talk about freedom of choice, independence and self-determination. We forget that we are tremendously influenced by other people’s choices and behaviour. If you don’t believe me, just think for a moment about the pressure on our children to wear the right trendy clothes and the right brand of trainers. For better or worse we are influenced by those whom we meet and know. You might like to think about the people who have influenced  your  life,  who have changed  the way you look at things.  For my part, I go back to my childhood in Devon and to our parish priest Father Pat. His was a lovely, radiant personality, full of human kindness. He wasn’t much of a preacher and not into middle management, so he was never going to be a Bishop. But by his warm simple compassion for people he set an example I shall never forget.

And so it was with Jesus. When He called his disciples they responded to his example; they felt drawn to Him by the magnetism of all that was good and loving in his life and personality. Jesus called them to join Him in a journey, a pilgrimage. Travelling with Jesus, the disciples would learn from Him something of God’s love for the sick, the stranger and the sinner. They would also learn, from His example, something about God’s courage. For there is no doubt that Jesus was given the courage to break the rules, to challenge public opinion and custom, to take on the religious and secular establishment wherever the needs of ordinary people were at risk.

From our Baptism onwards we too share a journey with Jesus: learning from His example and surrendering our own personal values and self-interest to the influence of His courage and compassion. During this journey we allow ourselves to be influenced more and more by His life, and by all the other lives that Jesus has himself touched for good. As I grow older it seems to me that the Christian life is not really about believing  it is all to do with loving, with our relationship with God, with Jesus our Saviour and with our fellow-travellers on the pilgrimage. Apparently the word believe in Greek and Latin really means to give your heart to  so to believe really means to love. As we travel on our common journey our faith should mature and grow. But I pray that we may never grow up in the sense that we become too adult to learn, or to change, or to be humbled by the lessons of the Christian life. For we are all of us children of the same heavenly Father and brothers and sisters with Our Lord, whose influence and example we both seek and treasure.

‘Kneeling for Prayer’       Edwina Harding

During a late autumn break to the Lake District last year, a friend and I stopped to spend some time in Cartmel village, including a look around the lovely old Priory that dominates the area.

As we walked around, we came across a small side chapel to the right of the High Altar, which had recently been refurbished and set aside for regular worshippers and visitors to sit in quietly or to use for private prayer. Furnished with chairs similar to those in our Chapel of the Cross, thoughts quickly turned to home and to St Faith’s. For there, hanging on the back of each chair, was a tapestry kneeler woven in cross-stitch. We then noticed a booklet on each chair and, being my usual nosey self, I picked one up and began leafing through it. It was entitled Kneeling for Prayer, and on each page a prayer was printed, each one numbered, and the name of the lady who had contributed it.

Turning to the front, we found an introduction (the best place to start!) which gave an explanation. The kneelers had been worked by a small group of ladies who worship regularly at the Priory. Each lady had placed inside her kneeler a copy of her favourite prayer, and these had then been compiled into the booklet for people to use if they so wished.

Making our way to the car park to drive on to our hotel, on a somewhat dull, soggy afternoon, we were just about to set off when I spotted two people, well wrapped up, walking briskly towards the village  another reminder of St Faith’s, for who should it be but Susie and Roger Greenwood. Small world!

Editorial Postscript ...

The St Faith’s kneelers are slowly but surely materialising and brightening the pews in strategic positions up and down church. They look lovely, and are a fitting tribute to Audrey Dawson and the pleasingly large band of women and men who have filled their idle days stitching them. A further batch is waiting for a few more volunteers either to fund or agree to make (or both) a kneeler; if you would like to help, or to help again, please contact Audrey.

From the Back Pew:  the Induction and After            Chris Price

By the time you read this, Fr Neil will already have met, however briefly, quite a number of people at St Faith’s: the members of the PCC, the clergy and readers among others, and we can at last really begin to believe in the existence of the next Vicar of St Faith’s and St Mary’s. Belief will finally become reality, of course, on the evening of Thursday, March 29th, when at 7.30 pm the processions enter St Faith’s and what we are sure will be a very  full house welcomes Fr Neil to the Service of Induction and Installation.

Quite a few readers will remember at least one previous Induction (the writer can remember three, and there may be one or two who can go back further!). This one will be special, however, in a number of ways, and not just because it will end what is almost certainly the longest induction in our century of clergy movements. This will be an official welcoming to two churches, parishes and congregations  and it will be one of the first uses of the new service order for the Liverpool Diocese. In due course, all will be revealed: but, as in times past, our new Vicar will be licensed to and inducted to the benefices of the parishes by Bishop John Packer, Bishop of Warrington (who has been active on our behalf throughout the last two years, and who will preach the sermon) and installed (a different process) by the Archdeacon of Liverpool, Bob Metcalf. He will have been presented formally to us by a representative of St Chad’s College, Durham, the Patrons of St Faith’s living, and their opposite numbers for St Mary’s, and will be greeted by the four Wardens and various religious and civic figures. Prayers will be offered (with young people prominent in the offering), various parts of the church will be processionally visited, there will be a grand anthem (Parry`s I was Glad), and much dressing up, walking about, reading of documents, singing, signing  and acclamations.

Following the service, and in view of the strategic problems involved in squeezing what may well be upward of three hundred people into our hall, we shall adjourn to the larger Williams Hall at Merchant Taylors` for the usual bean-feast, wine-supping and the odd speech. There will  be an appeal for financial contributions (from both churches) towards the cost of this extravaganza.

Since Fr Neil is being inducted at our place it is only right and proper that his first big Sunday service should be down the road. He will thus be at St Mary’s for the following Sunday morning, and then preside at Festal Evensong at St Faiths, after which there will be yet more eating and, doubtless, a little drinking.

Which makes the ideal link into a few further words about the future for our two churches. As everyone should know, the pattern is for two distinct and separate churches, continuing with their worship, their traditions and their church lives, but sharing a Vicar. So, apart from one or two initial strategic moves (Sunday Evensong at 6 pm alternate weeks at the two churches), there will be no major upheavals or attempts to bring either church into line with the other.

What there will be is the emerging concept of a team of clergy (four) and readers (five) serving two churches and their congregations between them all. And at grass roots level, the four wardens have already met, and will continue to meet, to plan a joint strategy for doing together as many things as possible, and supporting each other in as many ways as can be devised. It makes sense for social activities, working groups, talk-shops, financial strategies and, indeed, lots of other things we haven’t yet got round to thinking about, to be done together  or at least to be planned together.

St Faith’s and St Mary’s have got much to give one another, and much to learn one from another  opportunities to be grasped together, and problems to be shared together. Together, and guided by Fr Neil, we want to learn to work and to pray together for the coming of the Kingdom in our part of Crosby and Waterloo, and we warmly welcome all who seek to share this vision for our future. When the processions leave church on April 29th, the future will just be beginning ...