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 Newslink                May 1999

 A Century of  Parish Priests

Saint Faith’s was consecrated and opened for business on April 21st, 1900. Almost exactly 99 years later, we welcome Fr Neil Kelley as the ninth incumbent and, of course, as the first Vicar of the United Benefice of St Faith, Great Crosby and St Mary the Virgin, Waterloo Park. This (extra) issue of Newslink is published to celebrate this occasion, falling as it does happily in the middle of our ongoing Centenary Celebrations. We welcome, too, visitors to St Faith’s for the Induction and hope that these pages will give them some flavour of our church, its life and its worship.

Those wishing to learn a little more about the past century of St Faith’s are directed (until the updated church history appears next year) to the brief biographies and photographs of the first eight incumbents to be found (together with much more) on the church website (http://www.merseyworld. com/faith). Those who get that far and have the equipment to do so, may even hear the voices of the more recent vicars! Below, as a tribute to their faithful service to St Faith’s during the century, we record the names of the incumbents of our church, thanking God for their witness to the faith and asking his blessing on Fr Neil as he takes up office amongst us.

1900 Thomas Howe Baxter
1915 Harold Bentley Bentley-Smith
1918 John Brierley
1936 John Schofield
1948 William Hassall
1966 Charles Alfred Billington
1972 Peter Goodrich
1983 Richard Capper
1999 Neil George Kelley

From the Vicar        God’s Commission and Dismissal

I am writing this only a couple of days after the service in the Cathedral when Jackie Parry was licensed as the latest reader to serve St Faith’s and St Mary’s. It was very moving and uplifting and I felt very privileged to share the occasion with so many. The service was both a public recognition of what has taken place  her service to date at St Faith’s, her call to serve as a reader, the support and encouragement of parishioners and others  and also a commissioning for what will take place. The service reminded me (as did Fr Gregor Cuff`s recent licensing at Christ Church) that very shortly I will stand before you and before the Bishop to be commissioned and licensed for a new ministry in the Diocese at Crosby and Waterloo. Exciting times  daunting times!

One of the first important Christian Festivals I will share with you is the Feast of the Ascension: a recognition of Christ Risen, Ascended, Glorified as we sing in the hymn. It is also a commissioning of the disciples. Go therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28.19). In the ascended Christ we recognise both what has been achieved and what is to be achieved. We shall celebrate the Ascension with a High Mass at 6.30 am, followed by breakfast in the Vicarage. (There will also be an evening celebration for those who are unable to make the early one!)

It might be said that the Ascension is God’s dismissal. The word mass means just that: to be sent out. We use various words to describe our liturgy and all of them are important  Communion (reminding us of the aspect of being together and the reception of the Sacrament), Eucharist (the importance of giving thanks)  but when we use the word Mass, it reminds us of what we really should be about. We are dismissed. The Mass is ended  the mission is begun. I remember years ago attending a Church in West London and seeing a huge sign over the door as we left the building, saying: GOOD LUCK  YOU ARE NOW ENTERING THE MISSION FIELD! Our worship is not just to make us feel comfortable, smug or pleased with ourselves, we come together to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus so that we might be strengthened to be effective disciples. At the end of the liturgy God sends us out, just as Christ sent out the disciples on that first Ascension Day, to draw all people to himself. In his account of the Ascension St Matthew emphasises the sending out into the world, whereas St Luke records Jesus leading the disciples out as far as Bethany, lifting up his hands and blessing them. While he blessed them, he parted from them. (Luke 24: 50-52)

It is a significant coincidence that both Jackie and myself are commissioned at about the same time. Significant and important because it reminds us that the mission of the Church belongs to the whole people of God, not just the Clergy, not just the laity: we are called to minister together. The commission which Christ gave on the first Ascension Day is the commission which we are given now. We are blessed as the disciples were blessed, we are to be sent out as they were. Together we have the duty and the privilege of service.

 Fr Neil

Christ is the King
to whom all authority has been given
in heaven and on earth.

We own him as our Lord.
We yield him our obedience.
We dedicate our lives to his service.

Come, Lord Christ, and reign in us,
and make us the agents
of your kingdom in the world,
to the honour of your name. Amen.

St Faith’s in the Future       Fred Nye

Throughout Lent and Easter we have been privileged to hear many fine sermons at St Faith’s. Fred Nye`s words on Maundy Thursday must represent them all, and also perhaps, as our long interregnum draws thankfully to its close, serve as something of a state-of-the-nation broadcast and a rallying call for our future.

How can a preacher put into words what happened on that first Maundy Thursday 2000 years ago, or what happened on the Emmaus Road a few days later, or what is happening among us here this evening? All I can do is to pick three words which describe the Eucharist and share with you what they mean to me and what they might mean to St Faith’s in the future.

First of all the Eucharist is a celebration. It is the family meal of all Christians, and it is also a party, a celebration, which looks forward to the heavenly banquet. Our host is the crucified and risen Lord in whose honour the party is held. It may sound strange to speak of a party on this most solemn of nights, the Eve of our Lord’s trial and crucifixion, but his death has given us something to celebrate. Our Lord’s Passion and Resurrection have brought us not a shallow passing happiness but a joy as deep as death and resurrection themselves, containing and surpassing all that we most fear and long for. And so we celebrate, or should celebrate, the mass, with great joy.

At times I do wonder whether recently we have lost something from our worship, whether something has gone out of it  not the joy perhaps, but maybe the expectation of joy. And so I look forward to the opportunities that the centenary, the millennium and a new vicar will bring us: opportunities to develop and enhance our wonderful music and the whole drama and movement of the eucharist, of all our worship. We should not be afraid of drama or of its power to speak to us of the things of God more vividly than mere words. As a Reader I look forward to the new Lectionary and its emphasis on the dramatic events of the Old Testament. I look forward to our baptisms and Parade Services and to a rebirth of the sermon in perhaps a new and dramatised form for these occasions. These are times when we need to share our worship much more effectively with those who do not share our traditions. Our celebration, like any other party will be a dull affair if it is not shared with others  which brings me to the next word: communion.

The nature of the sacrament is hard to put into words. For me, the symbolism of the bread and wine is so very powerful. It reminds me that as we meet around the altar to share the same physical food and drink we are, if you like, one flesh with each other, made of the same physical stuff, and one flesh with Our Lord who shared, and shares, the very staff of life with us. But of course the communion is not just a physical process  in the service our whole lives are joined to each other and to our Saviour, as the leaves of the vine to the main stem. And so we are given new life within the body of Christ.

But look around you and see what is happening to this body. It seems to me that it is beginning to grow older, to diminish in stature, even perhaps to wither a little. And so is it so very wrong to feel that the body would be healthier if our communion could extend to new members of that body? I believe that what is missing from our worship may indeed be people: human souls who should be here but aren’t. Not so much because we need them, or even less that they need us: but that the body of Christ may grow and flourish in this place and that his hands and feet and eyes and heart may be strengthened to do his will here in this town and city.

My last word is offering, which is what Eucharist means. In the eucharist Christ offers us forgiveness and acceptance  an honoured place at his table to share conversation and a meal: word, prayer and sacrament. His welcome for us, with all our faults, is just as warm and accepting as it was for the tax-gatherers and sinners in Palestine 2000 years ago. But this great love demands a response: we too have an offering to make. At school I was taught that with the bread and the wine I was to bring to the altar the whole of my life: with the bread, my physical body and the work of my hands and brain; with the wine, my feelings and emotions, hopes and fears. As Jesus offers his life to us we offer ours to Him, and the mystery is in seeing where one begins and the other ends. Our Lord cannot welcome us unless we accept his invitation.

Perhaps as we gather round the altar this evening we could all offer to our Lord one special gift  the gift of acceptance. Acceptance, first, that the joy of our worship cannot be complete unless we are prepared to share our party, our celebration, more widely  and perhaps a little less grudgingly. Acceptance also that the body of Christ in this place needs strengthening, that there are empty places round the table waiting for new guests. Acceptance above all perhaps, of the need for change. On the night before he died Jesus broke bread, just as next day his body was to be broken on the Cross. Without the crucifixion there can be no Easter, no Ascension, no Pentecost.

Unless the body of Christ is broken, it cannot nourish the world. Change may break us a little but without change we cannot accomplish anything. Change is not something to be feared; it is a gift of grace to be accepted willingly and gladly  change in our worship, change in our relationship with the community we live in, change in ourselves.

These are the gifts which will enable our Eucharist and our Christian life together to become real channels of God’s love and saving power. Tonight and every time we celebrate this Eucharist, this offering, we are not static spectators but part with Christ in the celebration, the communion and the offering.

To paraphrase a little the words of St Augustine: you are to be taken, blessed, broken and distributed, that the work of the Resurrection may go forward.

From The Registers

14 March         Matthew Adam Foy    son of Michael and Sarah

3 April             Daniel McCreith and Angela Court

14 April             Neil Quigley

Of Ritual       Chris Price

On the evening of April 29th, the 7th Vicar of St Faith’s will be formally inducted and installed, according to the rituals of the Church of England. The order of service to be used is in fact a new one, replacing one which Liverpool Diocese has used for many years, but it will contain all the necessary rites and procedures required by the law of the church and the land. The imminence of this event has prompted some thoughts about ritual in life and in the church.

Wherever man has rejected anarchy and adopted life in an ordered society (which probably means everywhere and always since the dawn of time), rituals have evolved. Communal life requires at least some accepted rules of behaviour and agreed patterns of existence, and these have always been marked by some form of ritual. Although such formal rites may range from the simplest and most minimal rituals to vast and elaborate ceremonial, they invariably follow some established pattern. Thus births are registered, marriages celebrated, coming of age is marked and funerals take place with rituals. Sporting events and parliaments have their own rites, and even those who would profess to have no spiritual dimension to their lives will take part, at some stage or other, in a whole range of rites and patterned behaviour.

And within the churches this has always been especially true. Christianity has always recognised the value of rituals: of the formal re-enactment of established forms of worship. From the beginning, the obedience to Christ’s command to do this in remembrance of me has meant the unending repetition of a vast range of Communion rituals, from the simplest celebration of the Lord’s Supper to the full panoply of a Pontifical High Mass. Each stage of the Christian’s pilgrimage through life is marked with rites of passage, and it is all but impossible to imagine a world without them.

But it would be wrong to think that we observe rituals merely because we have always done so. To do this would be to relegate ritual to a mere ossified keeping of tradition for tradition’s sake. There is in man a real and deep need for the observation of rites and patterns of life, and societies and churches which ignore this basic human need do so at their peril. Godless Communist regimes still found the need for May Day parades; atheists still formalise their weddings, even if God doesn’t get much of a look in. All societies feel the need to dispose of their dead with due formality, whether or not they believe in a destination for their souls.

The Christian church, I believe, does itself no favours by purporting to behave as though dignified and formal ritual is an ancient embarrassment and of no relevance to today’s society. We have a rich and long legacy of properly- patterned observation of the climactic moments in human life, and even though the world, and our parishes, may not flock through our doors week by week, they still demand, and value, things done properly at the important moments of their lives and of the life of the nation. The poet Philip Larkin, a sceptic, critical of the church though hovering on the borders of belief, spoke of people as surprising a hunger in themselves/To be more serious  and it is that hunger which the Church must continue to feed.

Within the Anglican community, the tradition that St Faith’s represents is one that especially values the proper performance of ritual. The pattern of the Church’s year, always underscored by the celebration of the Eucharist, and observed with dignity and beauty, has always been our aim and, God willing, will continue so to be. It is not a stultifying, dead hand upon us: liturgy is alive and developing here as everywhere in the Church. Rather it is a means of bringing heaven down to earth, of glorifying the human condition by offering it up to the divine  and we pray that it will always be so, and that we, in common with all who share that vision, may continue to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

And so, as we welcome Fr Neil with ceremony, with rejoicing, with colour and with ritual, we are celebrating both an age-old pattern and marking the beginning of a new era. In a very real sense, it is one of the Rites of Passage of our Church.

From the Archives      Chris Price

In past years, I have featured highlights from two periods in the life of St Faith’s parish magazines: the first decade and, nearer our own time, the eighties. In this and subsequent articles, I will trace something of the history of our church through extracts from magazines of the decade beginning in 1919. The Crosby Library archive has nothing between about 1910 and 1919, and indeed a reference from the 1920s suggests that there may well have been a period, before Canon Brierley`s arrival as Vicar, when there was no regular magazine.

The story that we pick up in 1919 is one of battling for the faith, especially as seen through the eyes of St Faith’s, and of steady growth in many areas: the church we know today was taking shape and establishing patterns of worship, devotion and social life that we can broadly recognise. The first selected extract, however, the April 1919 announcement of the death of the Revd G.A. Studdert Kennedy (Woodbine Willie) certainly retains a period flavour, if only in terms of the attendances it records. It was the sad privilege of the congregation of S. Faith’s, writes Canon Brierley, to hear the last sermon which Geoffrey Studdert-Kennedy preached. He came to us sadly distressed but insisted on preaching, and he left S. Faith’s to go straight to bed. On March 8th he passed beyond the Veil. It is not the time or the place to speak of the remarkable hold that he had on the hearts and minds of men. We know that as he came year after year to S. Faith’s the great church was packed to hear him. Mighty orator, good soldier, true prophet, faithful priest, may the God whom you have served so well purge your soul from earthly imperfections and bring you into the eternal light of His own Presence.

The church was not always as full. In May the Vicar writes: The offer I made to institute a Choral Mattins at 10-15 ahead of the Choral Eucharist met with such a small response that the Wardens and I were unanimous in deciding that this could not be called sufficient support for the venture. We must all then work and pray that more and more will come and worship at the Choral Eucharist. And Canon Brierley had other preoccupations. In July he records When I was away on holidays the Rector of North Berwick asked his congregation to play with old golf balls for one week in order that the cause of Christ in the Mission Field might go forward. And I ask the Congregation of St Faith’s whether it is prepared to limit in some direction one of its pleasures that the cause of Christ in this Diocese may be strengthened.

In September of the same year the Vicar cordially acknowledges a letter: The enclosed 10/ (50p) please add to the collection of last night being a slight appreciation of the splendid sermon by that saintly gentleman, the Lord Bishop. As the year turned, Canon Brierley turned to other concerns. The attempt to place a Cinema in close proximity to the Church did not succeed and the application for a licence was refused by the justices on February 6th. This was largely owing to the readiness with which our opposing petition was signed. In about a week no less than 770 signatures were obtained. It was felt by a far larger circle than the congregation of St Faith’s that to place a large Cinema holding over 1100 people as the next building to a Church such as ours with its daily services, its many organisations and its much-used facilities as a House of Prayer was not a commendable proposition. Presumably this refers to the site where the petrol station now stands.

During 1920 Canon Brierley was much exercised by what he terms the menace of the Matrimonial Bill. Inveighing against it, he protests: It scraps the words of Our Lord on the subject of divorce and calmly proposes divorce for the following causes (1) desertion for a period of at least 3 years (2) cruelty (3) incurable insanity after a period of 5 years (4) incurable drunkenness after a temporary separation order for 3 years. The topic is to recur: meanwhile the Vicar urges readers with all the force I am capable of to write to the Member for Waterloo asking him to represent the Christian feeling of his constituency by voting consistently against this Bill.

Never afraid to be controversial, Mr Brierley writes from the Outer Hebrides, flying the flag from this most Protestant of outposts against dilution of the true faith. I feel more and more the greatness of the opportunity that is afforded to our generation, and the responsibility which lies on all of us that full advantage is taken of it. What we are and do will affect the lives of many generations of our nation. The negations of Protestantism are not sufficient to anchor our souls in these stormy times, and its fast losing grip on its adherents is one of the signs of the times. Character can only be built up on a positive faith, and many there are who journey wearily from one solution to another until in God’s own time they find rest in the full Faith of the Catholic Church.

Further highlights in due course: to conclude, an irresistible advert from a 1920s magazine, (of possible interest to any negative Protestants who were losing their grip?)

Letters to the Editor

Dear Ed

I was somewhat embarrassed to read my article in last month’s magazine. Whatever must our readers think? The wording (this time written  not verbal) had obviously become confused. Please may I take the liberty of re-writing the next to last paragraph of my article? Thanks Miss - That was boss!

I know I shall never forget my small part in St Faiths Centenary Celebrations and those of you there on the night of the recording will know why. How many times did I try to say these words: ST FAITH`S CENTENARY CELEBRATIONS! Four attempts, a nerve-racking experience! I could feel the whole Church willing me to say those three words properly. Afterwards somebody asked me which idiot had actually written that sentence. I had to admit I did!

A couple of changed words has put a totally different emphasis on the message, and therefore hopefully your understanding of the original article.

Denise McDougall

Dear Editor

As a mother of two children who have benefited greatly from their time at St Faith’s, I should like to put on record my thanks to Angie Price, Margaret Jones and Anne Hartley, who do such important work behind the scenes every Sunday morning. Running a crèche and Sunday School is a difficult and skilled job, and the thanks of all mothers are due to those who selflessly give up their attendance at our Sunday morning services to look after our children and teach them the basics of our faith.

Who are we to criticise their efforts, when many of us are only too happy to let other people look after our children to give us a nice quiet service? We should welcome children into our services more and more, encouraging them to feel part of the real life of St Faith’s. We must never forget that without those precious few children and the adults who lead them in our Junior Church, St Faith’s will be an empty shell in thirty or forty years.

Rosie Walker

Dear Chris

Many thanks for the latest copy of Newslink. As usual the content is superbly set out and the material stimulating. I especially like the poetry  but then as an ex-English teacher I would say that, wouldn’t I? My main disagreement, as you might anticipate from my churchmanship perspective, is the article on the Daily Eucharist. Having lived for three years in Leeds a few yards away from the Hostel of the Resurrection, I have profound respect for  and indeed much in common with  the spirituality of the Community of the Resurrection. But I question whether a daily eucharist in a parish church can ever be the equivalent of a monastic community, and while it may have been an ideal of the Tractarians it doesn’t seem to have been the aim of the compilers of the Book of Common Prayer. I fear I have to agree with the Chairman of St Faith’s patrons, Bishop Michael Henshall, who was wont to say that he regarded the eucharist on a par with chips with everything. The finest lay Christians I ever met were a couple of Church of Scotland laddies in my National Service squad in the army, whose observance of the sacrament was limited to four times a year, for which they prepared with enormous care.

I’m sorry to miss Neil’s induction but hope you will have a great day. A truly blessed Easter to you all.

Pat Dearnley

The Revd Pat Dearnley is about to retire from being Vicar of St John’s, Waterloo, one of the parishes involved in the recent reorganisation of Waterloo churches. Despite his Evangelical churchmanship, Pat has always been a great friend of St Faith’s, and we wish him every happiness in a well-earned retirement  and every blessing on the new United Benefice of St John and Christ Church.

A Brush with the Vicarage       Geoff Moss

When I first heard that Father Neil had been appointed as our new Vicar I was delighted. After all the long months of the interregnum we had been waiting for this moment, and like everybody else I was delighted. That was until That Phone Call! It came one evening whilst I was relaxing in my armchair.

Hello, Geoff, said Rick Walker.  I was wondering if you could do me a small favour!  I went cold. OK, Rick, let’s have it! I said. Well, Geoff  is there any chance of doing what you did in the Curate’s house? Thinking back quickly to 31 Allenby Avenue I went even colder. Could you look after the upgrading of the Vicarage?  Rick said  and by the way fit in a new kitchen in your spare time...±  Having always been a sucker for a soft sell I said that I would. Oh, and by the way, said Rick. Could you organise some volunteers to help?

I put a list up in church and it wasn’t long before names started appearing on the list. Got em! I thought as I read the list. This needs tactful handling. We had a meeting at the Vicarage, where I coerced people into doing complete rooms  and that really started it, because signs started appearing in the vicarage:  signs like The Ken Bramwell Study, The George Smith Suite (he decorated the downstairs loo and cloakroom) Geoff`s Kitchen, The Denis Griffiths Lounge and The Chris Dawson Dining Room. Then there were John Taylor’s Hideaway (a small bedroom upstairs) The Duncan Houghton Bedroom and The Ron Rankin Suite (he did the bathroom and upstairs loo). As work got under way my band of helpers would suddenly appear in the morning and then disappear and reappear again, especially around lunchtime. Satterthwaites profits must have trebled  the favourite cakes were Bavarian slices (Father Neil’s hooked on them) and blackcurrant tarts (Ken’s favourite).

I can now say for certain the task is done, the vicarage looks splendid;  all clean and decorated with a nice new kitchen (that’s me!) and all ready for Father Neil to move into.

I would like to thank very much all those people who helped: Denis, George, Ron, Duncan, John, Ken, Chris Dawson, Fiona, Mary Crooke and Audrey Dawson and all those ladies who scrubbed floors and polished, Jackie Parry, who took the net curtains home and laundered them and, along with George, put them back, Angie and Chris Price who stripped wallpaper  and of course a special thanks to Rick Walker for that phone call!

On behalf of everyone at St Faith’s, not to mention its new resident incumbent, we thank Geoff and his hard-working and dedicated team for their sterling efforts at the Vicarage over recent months, and Geoff himself for master-minding the whole operation. We welcome Fr Neil to his bright new residence, with its interesting colour scheme, and hope he will be very happy there.

We remind members of both our churches that the place is no longer St Faith’s Vicarage. We thought about calling it The Vicarage of St Faith’s Church, Great Crosby and St Mary the Virgin, Waterloo Park but we couldn’t afford so big a name-board. And, despite all the new paint, Virgin Vicarage might have been misunderstood ... So please just call it The Vicarage.

Thank You

The family and I are very grateful to the clergy and all the good people of St Faith’s for their kind enquiries and their prayers for Richy. I am glad to say that he is now out of danger. As he grows stronger we hope for some recovery from his stroke.

Thank you to you all.

Margaret Davies

Coming Shortly to this Church        John Bowen

No, it’s not another article about our long-awaited Vicar! The truth is that I was looking for a hook to hang a piece (or unashamed puff) on the forthcoming concert by Crosby Gilbert and Sullivan Amateur Operatic Society, at St Faith’s on May 22nd. There’s certainly an exciting Crosby connection with W.S. Gilbert  you’ll have to attend the concert if you want to discover more about this  and it’s also a fact that Arthur Sullivan composed several of our favourite hymn tunes, as well as a number of mercifully- forgotten oratorios, but in the fourteen Savoy Operas for which they will both be eternally remembered, the Church plays but a scant part.

It started well enough in the early opera The Sorcerer where one of the leading characters is a Rev. Dr Daly D.D., Vicar of Ploverleigh, who’s in love with the 17 year old daughter of Mrs Partlet, a Pew Opener (now there’s an unfilled post at St Faith’s). And in The Pirates of Penzance there’s a great deal of singing about A Doctor of Divinity, who resides in this vicinity not, I assume, the same D.D. as in The Sorcerer.

But apart from Pooh-Bah in The Mikado who, as Lord High Everything Else, claims the title Archbishop of Titipu, and a brief, silent appearance of the ghost of a Bishop in Ruddigore, we have to wait for another seven operas until The Gondoliers and Don Alhambra Del Bolero, the Grand Inquisitor, for the final appearance of a man of the cloth, and not a very nice one at that.

Naturally as one of the singers and indeed one of the organisers of the concert, I`d love to see a full house on Saturday May 22nd, if only to overcome some of the antipathy to G.  S., which seems to affect 50% of the British population. As a nation we seem to distrust success; and Gilbert and Sullivan were extremely successful then, and now. It’s odd that you only have to mention the names Benjamin Britten, Vaughan Williams or even  heaven help him  Andrew Lloyd-Webber, to hear the grinding of teeth and the venting of spleens! Yet they were and are all very successful, and highly respected everywhere, but here!

So do come along on Saturday May 22nd  that date again! Celebrate our Centenary with a smile; you’ll enjoy a lovely selection of songs and choruses from the operas as well as a complete opera Trial by Jury in the second half. Now what more could you ask?

Medic - Malawi Appeal      Edwina Harding and Margaret Jones

Our thanks to everyone who contributed to the above appeal, which was well supported by so many of you. The box for contributions was full to overflowing every week and the goods are ready to be sorted before being transported to the Clinic and Orphanage. The first consignment will  be taken in July by Margaret Houghton and her husband who are visiting Malawi this summer. They will be reporting back to us all on their return home.

After extensive enquiries it became apparent that freight costs were going to be prohibitive and there were risks involved at borders if going overland. However, one airline allows an accompanied package (large!) to be taken at a very economical rate if it is for charity, so the goods are to be taken by this method.

Happily, we have sufficient funds to cover the cost of this, thanks to the money raised at the Pancake Party organised by Audrey Dawson on Shrove Tuesday plus a generous donation of þ100. We know for certain that the goods will arrive intact and be delivered first-hand to both Clinic and Orphanage.

For Margaret and I this project was our Swan Song,  as for differing personal reasons we are both retiring. We are delighted to finish with another successful project and would like to thank you all for your support and interest during the six years we have been involved with the Mission Committee.

The Committee continues with Margaret Houghton at the helm and we wish her and the Committee continuing success.

We send the thanks of the people of St Faith’s to Edwina and Margaret for all they have done on behalf of the Home and Overseas Mission Committee to raise funds for so many good cases and also to raise the profile of mission  and we wish Margaret every success in her visit to Malawi and in her efforts for St Faith’s in the future. Ed.

A Reflection for Ascensiontide
from the writings of Bishop John Robinson

The doctrine of the Ascension is the assertion of the absolute sovereignty of Jesus Christ over every part of this universe, the crowning of the cross, the manifest triumph of his way of love over every other force in the world. Angels and Authorities and Powers have been made subject to him. That is to say, as a result of the Ascension, everything that has domination over the lives of men is ultimately in Christ’s hands, including all the mysterious forces that appear to have our world in their grip, that drive us into wars that nobody wants, that plunge us willy-nilly into economic crises, and bring us to the brink of racial suicide. All the ideologies and -isms and economic bogies, the dark surging forces which work below the surface of our conscious lives, which possess men in crowds, and set class against class, black against white  these are the Angels, Authorities and Powers of our modern world. Whether we prefer to picture them as personal or impersonal, these are the things we all recognise as determining the course of history and enslaving the minds and bodies of men. The affirmation of the Ascension is that Christ really is in control of these things even when we are not, that there is no depth which his victory has not affected, no department of life in which his authority does not and must not run.

Everything that reduces more of this world  this sordid, material world of which God has chosen to be the God  to the sovereignty of Christ is a proclamation of the Gospel, an announcement to the world that Christ is in it and reigns over it. Anything, however pious and spiritual, that in fact leaves other forces in control of everyday life, is a denial of the Gospel, an announcement to the world that Christ is absent from it. Ascension Day is the yearly reminder to the world of the sentence which has been served on it  that of the unconditional surrender of every part of it to the love and holiness and righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Making Music

In a recent article in the Church Times,  OLIVER OSMOND, Vicar of John Keble Church, Mill Hill, in north London, writes about the popularity of religious music in the shops and the charts, and its decline in many trendy churches  and probably strikes a sympathetic chord with many of us at St Faith’s ...

Who would have expected that more than an hour of plainsong would have proved so popular in classical music’s Top Twenty? The first of the big sellers were the Benedictines of Silos with Canto Gregoriano, followed by the monks of Ampleforth, of Downside and a host of others. And plainsong is not the only music from our Christian heritage that is proving unexpectedly popular. Conjectural reconstructions of great church services of the past are produced for an expanding market. And the record catalogues abound with recordings of the church music of the 15th to 17th centuries.

We need to ask what it is that draws tens of thousands of people, many of whom, I suspect, are never to be seen in our churches, to buy CDs of plainsong or Renaissance music. There is something peaceful and unhurried about the music. It speaks of a world when people had time to relax into beautifully-shaped melodic lines. It gives listeners something that is becoming increasingly hard to find in our parish churches. For this music from the past is the very music that parishes up and down the country have rejected as being no longer able to communicate with today’s worshippers. The music that we discarded can now, instead, be purchased in Sainsburys! The irony is that many of those responsible for the expanding catalogue of Renaissance church music are former church musicians who felt that the Church no longer appreciated what they had to offer.

The desire, with the introduction of the vernacular mass in the Roman Catholic Church, and the development of new forms of service in the Church of England, to give adequate opportunities for congregational singing, was entirely laudable. What was regrettable was the extent to which this happened at the expense of the use of the great music of the past, whether sung by a choir or by all the worshippers together.

The CD charts are not the only evidence that many churches got this one wrong. Cathedrals, many of which had embarrassingly few worshippers 30 years ago, now mostly have substantial regular congregations. And one of the
things that draws people is the music. On Advent Sunday, at least 2,500 people now come to St Paul’s Cathedral for the annual Advent Carol Service. Many other cathedrals, a few parish churches, and most Oxford and Cambridge College chapels draw similar crowds. These people  some of them regular worshippers elsewhere, many probably not  are looking for something that too few churches offer them.

And this is not just a once-a-year freak. Similar numbers can be drawn by fine music on other occasions, even Sunday by Sunday, as some of the churches of central London, and elsewhere, can testify. It isn’t only the middle-aged and elderly who are attracted by such music. Late one evening last Lent my wife and I attended an act of worship in the chapel of Trinity College, Cambridge, which featured the music of Byrd and Sheppard, and the Tenebrae of Couperin. The printed service-papers ran out long before it began, and we were almost alone in being over 25.

As vicar of a  parish lucky enough to have an organist and a volunteer choir with the ability to perform great church music, I am often struck by the positive comments on our music from visitors. Among those here at Christmas was a former member of the parish who now lives very far away, who told me how much she regrets that her present parish has abandoned a carol service as being too traditional and old-fashioned.

The fact that CDs of the church music of the past are selling in such numbers presumably means some of those who buy them are encountering music they might never otherwise hear. This is to be welcomed. But it is sad that it is so hard to encounter this music in the setting for which it was written: the regular worship of the Church.

There is nothing wrong with the desire to provide music in worship that can involve congregations, but perhaps we have allowed the pendulum to swing too far. Traditional choir and modern congregation are not opposed to one another: they can engage in a healthy partnership. All the signs are that the C of E needs to take its musical heritage more seriously. The music that for centuries has drawn people to God still has the power to do so.

Read All About It!         Jackie Parry

My Licensing Day began at 6.15 am (or was it earlier  I woke up every hour?) and by 8.45 am I was on my way to the Cathedral with Joyce and Marion.

The trainee Readers were all to spend the morning with Bishop James in the Lady Chapel. This was to be a quiet time of reflection and prayer, which is definitely what I needed after a really hectic week. Francis Briscoe began with an introduction about Bishop James, who chatted for a while and then read through John 13, 1 to 17, (Jesus washes the disciples` feet). He talked about this passage in detail, reflecting on how it compares with life and ministry today, saying that Readers are Ministers of the Word. He urged daily reading of the Bible and said we were to spread the Word of God, not only to fellow Christians, but also to all who we meet, whenever the opportunity arose. He talked about servitude as well as spending time for ourselves in prayer with God, and that we will no doubt be faced with problems in our ministry, should never forget that God is always there for guidance and strength.

I really appreciated this time with Bishop James and my fellow students. The weeks prior to the Licensing Day had been so hectic that it was easy at times to forget what I was actually called to do  Lay Ministry for God and his people. Spending this brief time helped me to re-focus on this.

After coffee we rejoined the Readers. Bishop James talked about a variety of topics: how he himself had began his own ministry as a Reader. He also mentioned his current TV series, The Word on the Street, his experiences during filming and the people he had met, including that dancer in Stringfellows Club, but he also explained  his reasons for doing the series  that he wanted to be seen with the people, rather than apart from them.

1.00 pm and it was now time for rehearsals. This involved going over the Service, where we were to sit, stand, and what to say. This was when the panic really began! Would we remember all of this? What if we walked the wrong way? We were encouraged by the Bishop and Canon saying, Don’t worry. We are here to make ensure that all goes well. Enjoy yourselves. We were amused later on during the service when the Bishop was told that, in his enthusiasm to admit us as Readers, he had forgotten to give us our Licenses!

After rehearsal we had lunch. Well, sort of, because by now our nerves were well and truly in shreds, and we couldn’t eat  even me! A few of us decided to take a walk around the cathedral to calm our nerves, and that was when I saw my family and friends from church arriving in full force. I was so moved that so many people had come to support me on my very special day. Words could not express how I felt  it was simply wonderful. Thank you all.

By 3.00 pm we had robed, made our promises in the presence of Bishop James and signed our declarations. This was it! All our studying had now come to fruition. We prayed together, hugged one another, and supported each other. We made our way upstairs and took our positions in the procession.

I thought I was going to faint! My heart was pounding and I was sweating buckets! My hands were shaking so much I couldn’t see the words on the service book. Previous conversations and words of encouragement came seeping into my mind. Enjoy yourself. Relax. We are with you. We are praying for you. So many people were supporting me and praying for me, but I still couldn’t stop shaking. So, during a quiet moment during the service, I took a deep breath and prayed. You brought me to this Lord, please help me to be calm and to serve you well. It was amazing! I felt the nerves and pressure lift from me and I became so calm. I stopped shaking, sweating, panicking and virtually glided through the whole service; and I also couldn’t stop smiling. Before I knew it the service had finished and it was time for the photo-session with the Bishop and meeting everyone in the well of the Cathedral  then it was time to get changed and back home to celebrate. It was a wonderful day that I will never forget!

I would like to say a massive thank you for all the cards, gifts and welcome from everybody in St Faith’s and for all who have helped, supported and encouraged me, not only during my licensing, but throughout the whole of my training. I have been given so much help and encouragement that again, words could not express my heartfelt gratitude. Thank you so much.

I especially thank my husband and children whose love, support and patience have helped me so much. I couldn’t have done it without you and love you all. And, of course, I thank God for having the faith in me to do his work. I feel very privileged, honoured and humble that God has called me to serve as a Reader in St Faith’s and St Mary’s and I look forward to serving Him in this way and pray that I will do this to the very best of my ability, in His name.

Keeping Fit          Dennis Whalley

In the first of a series of articles, Dennis Whalley, (London Marathon runner!) gives some timely advice to the overweight and underactive. That probably means everybody!

Today’s abundance of mass-produced food has brought its own problems, with a vast increase in overweight adults and children and mounting evidence that ill-judged diet is at the root of many major illnesses. Further, most adults do not take enough (or any) exercise.

The Problems ...
You are what you eat. But more importantly, what you eat is what you will become. The role of diet in health and well-being is becoming more recognised. Every time you choose a meal or snack you are making a decision that will affect you and your body in either a positive or negative way.

Some experts opine that nutrition will be at the centre of health in the new millennium. We know that heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetics and other ailments and diseases (including cancers) are often, at least in part, linked to poor nutrition. The UK has one of the highest rates of heart disease in the world. Half UK adults are overweight. 80% of adults with diabetes have the type often triggered by weight-gain and, therefore, diet. As much as three-quarters of all cancer could be diet-related. Moreover, these diseases cost the health service billions of pounds every year. Heart disease costs over þ500m in drugs alone. Over þ1 billion is spent on the care of bowel cancer.

In addition to paying attention to what you eat there seems to be universal agreement that some sort of regular exercise is a vital part of a healthy life-style because, in the long term, dieting does not work. It is true that keeping weight off is harder than losing it in the first place and virtually everybody that endures the suffering of a diet in order to lose weight, quickly puts the weight back on when the diet ends and, usually, a few extra pounds as well!

You should accept that there are no special foods that will help you to burn fat. There is no short-cut way to lose weight without dieting unless by surgery (as in liposuction where melted fat is sucked out of your body) or the use of prescription drugs that dull the appetite, but most doctors will only supply these as a last resort.

The basic position is simple. If you consume more calories than you burn then you will gain weight. Conversely, if you burn more than you consume then you will lose it. Accordingly, people who do manage to keep weight off long-term seem to be those who followed a sensible healthy diet to lose the weight slowly, including behaviour modification and exercise, and who continue to eat healthily and take regular exercise once the target weight is reached.

Some Solutions ...
Exercise. Nobody can dispute that exercise is good for you. Why then are only about 12% of the population vigorously active and only a further 10% regularly active? A recent poll asked for the two or three most important reasons you don’t exercise and the answers are compiled below:

* No time (see time management tips later)    40%
* I get enough exercise at work (probably untrue)  20%
* Too lazy (honest at least)   15%
* Health problems (most are helped with exercise)  15%
* Exercise is boring (look for a fun activity)  13%
* Too old (see below - you’re never too old!)  12%
* It’s not necessary (no comment)   10%
* Too tired (again, no comment)    9%

The benefits you will reap from even a modest amount of exercise will far outweigh the effort. Working out will improve your physique and posture and enhance your sense of well-being. You will feel more energetic yet more relaxed, more alert yet sleep better. Others report an enhanced sex life. (! Ed.)

Your level of fitness is reflection of the efficiency of your heart, lungs and muscles. To be physically fit, you need to do some  energetic activity 3 times a week, or take moderate exercise 5 times a week. Keeping in good shape is one of the best preventive medicines. Physical fitness is made up of three  elements: strength, flexibility and endurance. Developing all three is the key to overall well-being. So, assess your fitness and then decide what exercises are best for you. Be realistic: don’t set yourself impossible goals. Build up gently and don’t push yourself if it hurts.

SAFETY FIRST. Consider getting a check up from your doctor before you start exercising, particularly if you have problems with your heart, lungs, joints or blood pressure. Start slowly and build up gradually. Stop if you develop chest pain, pain in the neck and arms, severe breathlessness, palpitations, blurred vision or dizziness or if you feel faint or light-headed. Don’t exercise in very cold or  hot weather or immediately after a large meal.

SETTING YOUR FITNESS GOALS. It is best to choose a sport that you enjoy and that is accessible.  Most people find the best sport or exercise is one that they can fit in easily and regularly without being dependent on others for either co-operation or support. The attraction of running, walking, cycling or health club/gym membership is that you can exercise at almost any time.

Next, set targets that are right for your level of fitness. Plan your campaign carefully. The routine that you choose should include a combination of aerobic, muscle strengthening and flexibility exercises. You should devote at least 20 minutes three times a week to exercise. Aerobics will build up your endurance and makes for a fit heart and healthy lungs. (Physical activities that can be performed without a break for 10-15 minutes are described as aerobic. Because the muscles are not being pushed too hard, there is sufficient oxygen to meet their demands. As a result, the muscle cells tire slowly and the activity can be carried on for a longer period. Examples are cycling, jogging and brisk walking.) Muscle-strengthening exercises will tone up your muscles and improve figure and posture. Stretching helps keep you supple. To reduce tension and relieve anxiety try doing relaxation exercises or even Tai Chi. Be sure to keep a written log of your activities (including your weight and vital statistics) and this will enable you to measure your progress.

THE OVERWEIGHT. Being overweight should not be an excuse for avoiding exercises, although it may influence the type and amount that can be undertaken. Being 20% over normal weight for your height and build increases the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol level,  which make you more likely to suffer from angina, heart attacks or strokes in later life. The overweight also put extra stress on their hearts, lungs and joints. Added stress on the joints means that osteoarthritis (caused by wear and tear on the cartilage surfaces) is more likely to occur with advancing years.

Regular exercise will help reduce the body’s fat reserves by converting them into energy. Exercising at least 3 times a week will burn more calories and raise the basal metabolic rate, which is the energy that tissues use while the body is resting. Try the pinch test now. Pinch the side of your body, just above the waist. If the pinchfold has a width of more than 1 inch then you need to take action!

Be sure to read next month’s issue for further tips on getting fit and converting to a healthier diet so as to help you stay in shape.

Men‘s Group        Rick Walker

Many of us have memories of Father Charles Billington from when he was our Vicar during the 60s and 70s. But only the Men’s Group, who invited Fr Charles to lead their annual retreat in February, know him as he is today! The retreat is a tradition that now dates back nearly a quarter of a century to the time of Fr Peter Goodrich, who thought that the men of the parish should spend time together to learn from each other, rejoice in the fellowship, and metaphorically drink from a communal fountain. In practice (and there has been a lot of practice!) we have learned each other’s jokes, eaten our way through lots of fellowship, and emptied several litres from fountains.

This year was no exception, and saw about a dozen stalwarts heading off to North Yorkshire to our lonely retreat house near Marske, this time accompanied by a rather nervous Fr Charles, who at that stage had only a small idea what the weekend had in store. Fortunately, the food and liquid nourishment arrived intact, and once the heating system had been coaxed into life and the wood fire lit, the evening ritual began with a wonderful curry all the way from Sri Lanka.

Fr C. won Kev`s Quiz  100 general knowledge questions. He also won the traditional game of Charades that this year featured Doug’s mime of water that could have won him an Oscar. Other highlights included The Poseidon Adventure and some instantly forgettable gesticulations that would embarrass us all if details were leaked.

A large breakfast of cholesterol was enjoyed before we joined Fr Charles in a thoughtful and stimulating discussion of our life at St Faith’s. As always, this truly spiritual time is a wonderful chance for us to discuss aspects of our faith. It was a preparation for the simple and very moving Communion Service that followed on Sunday morning  a very special service in which all past members of the group were remembered and in which we all took a full part. The rest of the time was spent forcing excellent food down our throats, walking some of the local footpaths, visiting Richmond (to buy the children a present), trying unsuccessfully to win a new church hall on the lottery, playing Ping Pong, and falling over in the mud as we left for home.

As Fr Peter and Douglas Adams would have wanted, we had indeed learned a lot about each other and ourselves, enjoyed a wonderful weekend in beautiful surroundings, and deepened our knowledge of Life, the Universe and Everything. Our thanks to Fr Charles for leading a memorable retreat.