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November 2003

 From the Ministry Team

 Dear Friends,

 There were many memorable and remarkable things about this year’s Patronal Festival. Beautiful flowers, a very moving High Mass on S. Faith’s Day with uplifting liturgy and a powerful sermon from Bishop Nigel. Framed by the spectacular flower arrangement in the pulpit (and colour co-ordinated as luck would have it) Bishop Nigel urged us to be people of prayer and said, from his experience of other faith communities, Christians are not always as committed to prayer as are people of other faiths!

 Bishop Nigel also spoke of his visits to Africa and remarked on how Christians there are taught very much to prepare for heaven. Despite the fact that it the one and only thing we can guarantee in life, death is still the great unmentionable. The money-motivated, self-centred quick-fix life we are part of doesn‘t really have much room for any talk of mortality. We in the church can be so hung up with our own fears and uncertainties as to what happens when we die that if we are not careful we make up our own religion which just deals with the ‘feel-good factor’ of the ‘here and now’. Then we fail to have a Gospel to proclaim.

 Christians cannot possibly talk about the Christian Faith without acknowledging what is at the heart of it all: namely, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, proclaimed at the heart of every single Eucharistic celebration.

 The month of November brings us face to face with our own mortality. The commemoration of All Souls (this year on Monday 3rd November at 8pm) is the occasion when we give thanks for our departed loved ones and pray for  them. In doing so, we cannot help but be faced with our own mortality. Remembrance Sunday reminds of the many lives lost in service of fellow human beings - not just in the two world wars but of course we cannot fail to  remember those who have died this year in the recent war in Iraq. The problem and presence of evil will never disappear. For that reason we, as a church, must never be ashamed to proclaim the mystery of our faith. For Christ has  died. Christ is Risen. And Christ will come again.

 Please make every effort to be at the mass on All Souls’ Day at 8pm. Each year we invite those recently bereaved, families and loved ones of those whose Funeral Services have been taken by our Ministry  Team and the names of those who have died in the last year are included in the prayers. It is an important opportunity of reaching out to them and trying to share with them something of the faith which  sustains each one of us. For that reason it is so important to have a good turn-out of our own people. Not only does it give others a warm welcome but it proclaims by our very presence that the Christian faith is something at the very centre of our hearts.

 At every celebration of the Eucharist during November the names of our departed loved ones will be placed on the Altar. Please come and pray for them. I offer three prayers which you may care to use during  this month of the departed. With my love and prayers.

 Father Neil

 Grant us, Lord, the wisdom and the grace to use aright the time that is left to us here on earth. Lead us to repent of our sins, the evil we have done and the good we have not done; and strengthen us to  follow the steps of your Son, in the way that leads to the fullness of eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 Bring us, O Lord God, at our last awakening, into the house and gate of heaven, to enter into that gate and dwell in that house, where there shall be no darkness, nor dazzling, but one equal light; no noise  nor silence, but one equal music; no fears nor hopes, but one equal possession; no ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity in the habitations of thy glory and dominion; world without end.

 Give rest, O Christ, to thy servant with thy saints:where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting. Thou only art immortal, the creator and maker of man: and we are mortal, formed  of the earth. And unto earth shall we return. For so thou didst ordain when thou createdst me, saying: ‘Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return.’ All we go down to the dust, and weeping o’er the  grave. we make our song: Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

 Give rest, O Christ, to thy servant with thy saints:  where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting

 Holy Days in November

 Sunday 2nd November
                                THE SOLEMNITY OF ALL SAINTS
                                11.00am                                HIGH MASS
                                7.00pm                                  Sung Compline and Benediction

 Monday 3rd November
                                THE COMMEMORATION OF ALL SOULS
                                10.30am                                Requiem Mass (said)
                                8.00pm                                  SOLEMN MASS OF REQUIEM by Candlelight

 Sunday 9th November
                                REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY
                                11.00am                                SOLEMN MASS OF REQUIEM with Act of Remembrance

 Sunday 23rd November
                                CHRIST THE KING
                                11.00am                               HIGH MASS.
                                                                             Preacher: The Venerable Ricky Panter, Archdeacon of Liverpool

 Sunday 30th November
                                ADVENT SUNDAY
                                11.00am                                Sung Eucharist
                                6.00pm                                  Advent Carol Service

 ‘Dennis’s Do’
 Impressions of a Jubilee weekend
 Chris Price

 It isn‘t every day a priest serves the full quarter of a century of his priestly service in the same church. Such is Fr Dennis’s achievement, and it more than merited the wonderful weekend of celebrations,  liturgical, social, gastronomic (of course) and alcoholic (nothing new there then) which we enjoyed at St Faith’s between September 19th and 21st last.

 It began with the Friday night High Mass of Thanksgiving. Dennis presided, and his old friend Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, preached. He paid rightful tribute to Dennis’s many years of dedicated service  to our church, his skill in bending the rules to serve and remain in the church of his youth, and (oddly enough) his legendary appetite. The first part of his sermon was full of entertaining references to his old  friend. The rest, reproduced below, was a thoughtful and inspiring reflection on the meaning of service and priesthood.

 A packed church revelled in all the pomp and circumstance of St Faith‘s at its most festal, including a large contingent from Dennis’s other ‘’congregation’ at Merchant Taylors’, for whom the splendour and joy  of the occasion as well as the customary banter at the notices (featuring another short ‘sermon’ by Dennis on the proper use of dustbins!) came as a happy surprise. They, like everyone else, were equally  bowled over by the vast quantities of free food and drink at the subsequent reception. What an evening! It was good to see so many old friends joining us to mark so memorable an occasion in so memorable a  way.

 The following evening saw Fr Neil and Ged expertly and flamboyantly performing a popular concert in Dennis’s honour on the two organ consoles at St Mary’s. The church was strewn with bunting and  patriotic flags, and the second half of the concert (following champagne and yet more food in the interval) was a ‘Last Night of the Proms’-type romp, with flags, hooters and riotous applause. And to cap it all,  Dennis made a speech at the end. (I was going to say ‘a short speech’, but he doesn‘t understand the meaning of the adjective!).

 Sunday rounded the weekend off, with wine and nibbles (now there’s a surprise) after the 11.00 service, a garden dinner-party all afternoon and a special session of the Men’s Group in the evening.  Regular  readers will know that this august gathering is a forum for sober theological discussion, which Dennis will certainly have needed in order to end the weekend in appropriate fashion. Sadly, no photographs seem  to exist of this climactic event, but the editorial camera has captured some of the other highlights of the weekend for the traditional centre pages display. They serve as a reminder of three days of rejoicing and a  fitting tribute to one of the great characters of St Faith’s, and one of the most loyal and dedicated of its servants over the century of its existence.

 To be a Priest

 Part of the sermon preached by GRAHAM JAMES, Bishop of Norwich at the Silver Jubilee of the Ordination to the Priesthood of Fr. Dennis Smith. After entertaining a packed house with stories from Fr  Dennis's colourful past (real and imagined events featuring Kylie Minogue, Sir Robin Day, Barry Norman and burst pipes in Norwich), the bishop turned to Dennis's life as a priest.

 There’s something almost Benedictine about Dennis. They take their food seriously. Dennis remembers meals, which is surprising since he’s had so many of them. But the real mark of a Benedictine is stability.  Staying in one place. Not flitting around. Dennis‘s prayer, work and study have all been focussed in this one bit of God’s Kingdom -— he has loved this place and its people, the pupils he has taught and the  community of Merchant Taylors’ School and all that surrounds it. He has been loved in return. That’s why you’re here.

 Now I must make certain I don‘t turn this sermon into an obituary. It is the silver jubilee of Dennis’s ordination to the priesthood. It‘s about what it means to be a priest I want to speak.

 In years pas I’ve often filled in any form when I‘ve been asked to describe my occupation with the old-fashioned description ‘Clerk in Holy Orders’. In its many-sidedness I think it applies very well to Dennis.

 The term clerk for a priest emerges in Old English. In the early Middle Ages it was often applied to a rather junior priest who was apprenticed out as a secretary  to a bishop or a nobleman.  He was to be a learner  within the household of his Lord.  What  better  description of a priest can there  be  than that of a learner within the household of the Lord? Dennis has gone on learning during these twenty five years. He  surrounds himself with books, newspaper cuttings, stories, intriguing facts and anecdotes. As a priest and a person he‘s still on a pilgrimage of discovery about God. A priest’s vocation dies when he thinks he  knows it all, has the Christian faith taped, has nothing else to learn, can explain everything and has been everywhere. Praise God that Dennis has not been like that.

 Then there are other sorts of clerks. There are the clerks you meet in the post office or the bank. They are separated from you by bullet-proof glass. They operate in the temples of money. They are in the  sealed-off sanctuary and you are not allowed to venture into the sacred spaces without knowing the code for the door or the secret password.

 I remember Bishop Michael Ball, with whom I once worked, describing the priest as a ‘dispenser of riches not his own’. Whether it is at the altar, in the pulpit, at the bedside of the sick and dying, in the school  or in his study, the priest dispenses riches which are not his own but have the mark of his master stamped upon them. He explores the divine treasury of word and sacrament and brings out of that treasury  things old and things new.

 Go to the United States and you will come across the term ‘desk clerk’ to refer to a hotel receptionist. Desk clerks are the people who welcome you with a winning smile, the meeters and greeters, the ones who  wish you to have a nice day. They are your first point of contact. Priests are often, even in this strangely secular society, an initial point of contact, with the Christian faith for many. They still provide access to  the things of the gospel.

 You will notice in the gospels how easily people seem to have approached Jesus with their questions, their longing to be healed or even to challenge him. Jesus notices those on the edges of the crowd,  whether it is the woman who has just managed to touch his garment, or the little boy with the loaves and fishes or the blind shouting from the kerbside whom the disciples tried to keep quiet. The ministry of  welcome is also a ministry of observation, of looking to the margins so that the pastoral task in the name of Jesus Christ can be done. The Clerk in Holy Orders isn‘t confined behind a desk but is the host at the  reception of the Lord, that reception that we see expressed in its fullness here tonight. Though we call this a service, it is really a reception, since we come to receive, all of us, not just the bread and wine of Holy  Communion but from the treasuries of grace which our Lord dispenses.

 I’ve said enough about clerks but it is the holy orders themselves with which I want to conclude. We talk about people taking holy orders. There’s a sense in which after ordination your life is not your own. Once a priest, always a priest. Equally, once baptised, always baptised. There is no undoing what God has done for any of us. We may lapse, we may reject God, we may run away, but he is constant in his  loyalty and love for us. That‘s why there is no re-baptism or re-ordination, whatever we have I done amiss. Living under holy orders is a discipline, but there‘s the perfect freedom of service in it as well.

 A year or two before Dennis was born, a retired archbishop died. The archbishop in question was Cosmo Gordon Lang, successively Archbishop of York and Archbishop of Canterbury. He was undoubtedly a  Prince of the Church, as they’d say in those days. He was known for correctness and seemliness rather than humility. He had a heart attack while walking in a London street, and collapsed outside a butcher’s  shop.  A passer by sounded the alarm and a large police car turned up and transported Lang to Richmond Hospital. A lady doctor came out, took one look at him, pronounced him dead, and said she would therefore  not admit the body to her hospital. The police car moved on to the public mortuary where they searched the pockets of his clothes to find some clue to the identity of this priest. They knew he was that because  of his clerical collar. Finding nothing, they attached a label to the former archbishop’s body which simply said ‘An unknown clergyman’.

 Of course they knew the most important things about him. That he was a human being. That he was a priest. That he belonged in his allegiance to Jesus Christ. Nothing else needed to be known, for these  things would last when all else would be forgotten. Dennis, tonight we give thanks for your humanity and your priesthood. We thank God for your ministry to us, to the known and unknown, for all you have  meant to so many people as one of Jesus Christ’s clerks in holy orders.

 Praying to Isidore    Chris Price

 More than one member of St Faith’s congregation (including, it must be said, this writer) has had cause to curse computer viruses in recent weeks. It has been a bad summer for bugs, and it is all too easy for  busy workers at the electronic coalface to let their guard down. Oaths and maledictions are one outlet for righteous wrath at those whose petty malice causes so much havoc, but perhaps a better and more  Christian response might be to invoke the prayers of St Isidore of Seville.

 He was a 7th century Spanish bishop and schoolmaster, a prolific writer who was responsible for a dictionary, an encyclopaedia and a history of the entire world. And he became the patron saint of computers,  computer users, computer technicians and the Internet in 1999. He is also seemingly patron of schoolchildren and students. In representations of Isidore, he is shown with a large book and a pen. Older readers  may remember that such artefacts were in regular use before the advent of computers and keyboards.

 Clearly some of us, through sheer ignorance, had omitted to invoke the good saint’s help in protecting our hard drives from the assaults of the evil one. We can only hope that Isidore will guard us from future  attacks and, of equal importance, that he keeps updated with all the latest devilish wiles of the hosts of the ungodly, who prowl around, seeking whose computers they may devour...

 Funny You Should Say That

 Sometimes I wake up grumpy — other times I let her sleep!
 (NB insult reversible according to gender)
 You know there’s a problem with our education system when you realise that, of the three R’s, only one actually begins with an R.
 I used to be a safe driver, but I gave it up. Who wants to drive a safe?
 ‘I’m sorry there are no flowers in your room,’ said Dr Fred lackadaisically.
 ‘What happened to your skin?’ asked Dr Fred rashly.
 ‘I‘m afraid we had to amputate,’ said Dr Fred disarmingly.
 (Responsibility for all of the above lies with Another Church’s Magazine..... Ed.)

 To my Great-Grandson, Waiting to be Born

 Jean Price

 Waiting, waiting, in the wings of the world.
 New wonder long wished for, an unworded lyric,
 Waxing in womb, warp and weft of a woman’s will,
 Your being, your blossoms are blood, are blest blooms.
 Grey guardians, we grieve for the glory, the grandeur,
 The gone and the giving, the greatness of grace:
 Hearts wrung for a wronging, a rage of a wrecking.
 Our fall was your future, our failure your fate;
 Joy knitted your genes, love linked them to life.
 World waits for your wonder, your weakness, your wisdom,
 Our pledge to the future, our present our past.

 St Faith’s 100+ Club

 The winners of the October draw ere:
 £170                               Gill Edwards
 £120                               Frank Houghton
 £80                               Paul Jones
 £50                               Denise Walker

 From the Registers

 6 October                               Kathleen Winstanley

 Kings of the Keyboard!

 Following the great success of two recent concerts featuring Fr Neil and Ged Callacher, we are producing a special CD featuring highlight of these occasions. Tracks will include the spirited rendering of  Saint-Saens’ ‘Carnival of the Animals’ from the piano recital that rounded off the Saturday Series of 2003, and a selection of patriotic items from the Jubilee concert on St Mary’ two organs .

 It is intended to have these CDs on sale on November 1st, in good time for Christmas. They will cost just £7.50 each (or three for £20, says Fr Neil!), and contain over an hour of music. All profits to church  funds, of course.

 If you would like to reserve a CD (or several!) please fill in the form in church and hand it, with payment to help our cash flow, to Chris Price, Fr Neil or Ged at any time, or write to the Editor.

 Safari Supper: 8/11/03
 ...following a new trail

 Instead of having the advertised Dinner Merry-go-round this year, wer’e going to blaze a new but similar trail (on the same day) with a Safari Supper. The familiar format will be slightly changed. On this  gastronomic journey all the guests will assemble at the first watering-hole for drinks and starters, before moving on to a second venue to sit down together for the main course. A third oasis will provide puds  and coffee for us all.

 Good food and fellowship as usual, and excellent value at last year‘s price of £12 — proceeds to church funds. Dietary and transport needs can be catered for.

 If there is anything else you would like to know, please contact LINDA NYE. Do join us!

                                                               St Cecilia’s Day Concert

                                                        with the Aughton Male Voice Choir
                                                           (Musical Director: Derek Sadler)
                                                                   and guests
                                                       April Johnson (violin) and Neil Kelley (piano)

                                                        Saturday 22nd November at 7.30 pm
                                                    TICKETS £5.00 to include interval glass of champagne
                                                             Proceeds to Church funds.

 Medic Malawi    Margaret Haughton

 It is some time since any news has been provided from Mntumthama and the progress of the clinic. However, now Mac and Dot have returned from another very successful and rewarding trip to Malawi, there  is an updated newsletter for us to share. There will be new photographs and information on the notice board, showing the much improved appearance and health of these impoverished people, helped by the  donations made by yourselves. The Mothers’ Union, a source of inspiration in Malawi, particularly in Mntumthama under the guidance of Eunice Dzantenge, has now set up a sewing room in one of the  hospital houses in the grounds of All Saints Church, where the ladies meet once a week, or more, to repair bedding, make clothes and generally be of wonderful support to the community.  This sort of spirit of  enterprise is very new to Malawians, but something so essential to the well being of the village. All but a few children are now off the hospital feeding programme, but this, of course, is the season of plenty,  having recently harvested crops. We pray that the following months will provide enough food to keep Malawi alive for another year.

 Medic Malawi Newsletter

 Recent developments have been particularly exciting. During July and August two groups, each of about twelve Medic Malawi supporters, visited the Clinic to see for themselves just what has been achieved. The first group were able to attend the official hand-over of the new units donated by the Department for International Development. This ceremony took place on 10th July, when the British High Commissioner  for Malawi, Mr. Norman Ling, handed over the keys to the new buildings. The units have since been modified to provide a superb Maternity Unit, incorporating ante-natal care. Health Education, post-natal  ward and a magnificent Delivery Room which can cater for up to three deliveries at any one time. This new facility releases space in the original building, so that we now have a laundry/store room equipped  with washing machines, and a room specifically for an Ultra-sound Scanner donated by the North Devon Hospital Trust. Two days after this ceremony the buildings were consecrated by Rt. Revd. Peter Nyanja,  Bishop of Lake Malawi.

 The bore-hole for the provision of reliable and pure water has been drilled after some problems in locating a suitable site. Eventually permission was obtained from the Senior Chief to drill on land not belonging  to the Clinic, and the bore-hole was sunk successfully. By the time this newsletter is published the necessary equipment should be in place, and the water will be supplying all the Clinic‘s requirements.

 The supply of electricity has always been unreliable, and earlier this year the grid, as well as being frequently intermittent, shut down virtually every evening for several hours. Consequently, and in view of the  ever-increasing number of patients being admitted, as well as the growing requirements of the Maternity Unit, it was decided to buy and install a diesel generator powerful enough to meet all anticipated  demands for electricity for the foreseeable future. The generator will switch on automatically in the event of a power failure.

 We have needed an ambulance for some time, not the conventional UK ambulance but a four-wheel drive vehicle which can negotiate the difficult terrain even during the rainy season. Thanks to the efforts of  the Devonport Apollo Choir in Plymouth we now have a suitable 4x4. New accommodation has been built for the increased number of staff. We are fortunate in having a Peace Corps volunteer who will divide  her time between St. Andrew’ and the nearby government clinic: another example of how closely we are able to work with the local health services to enhance the quality of health care in the area. The staffing  levels have gone up, and we now have two Clinical Officers and five nurse/midwives as well as ancillary staff and administration. St. Andrew’a is making an enormous difference to people’s lives. The ‘100 Club’  is still short of the full 100 members, but with tax relief the amount contributed by the Club enables us to pay almost all the balance of salaries remaining after the CHAM (Christian Health Association of Malawi)  subsidy.

 Do keep up to date by visiting our web site  Finally, our thanks to all who do so much to help this needy area of Africa. May God bless you all.

 Dot and Mac Forsyth
 September 2003

 Christianity in College and Cottage

 The rich lapis-lazuli blue of the illuminated Gospel page from the Book of Kells shone in the dim tight of Trinity College Library in Dublin, as a group of visitors gazed reverently at the words penned more than  1200 years ago. We found Dublin full of interest — a tall cross in Phoenix Park commemorating the Pope‘s visit in 1979, when he said Mass in the presence of one and a quarter million worshippers, a Methodist  church where John Wesley had preached, two Cathedrals, terraces of elegant Georgian houses, museums and art galleries.

 It is a lively, attractive city, home to one third of the population of Ireland. The Book of Kells is thought to be the greatest surviving masterpiece of early Irish art, taking its name from the now vanished  Monastery of Kells in County Meath, founded by Saint Columba in the sixth century. Scholars believe that it was in fact written at Saint Columba’s Iona monastery and carried to Kells by monks fleeing the  Viking invasion. In contrast, in the north west of Ireland, we found in the Gaeltacht (Gaelic-speaking area) of Donegal high mountains, lakes, peat bogs and boulder-strewn fields, some showing evidence of strip  cultivation near isolated turf-roofed cottages. Here was a region with perhaps more red deer than people, drained by emigration after the potato famines of the 1840s and then again in the 1950s because of the acute shortage of employment.

 However, in one village, Glencolumbkille, a community survived and thrived through the enthusiasm and untiring efforts of a Roman Catholic priest, Father David McDyer (1910-1987). When he arrived in 1957,  he found a dying village with a few families, without electricity, piped water and with no Community Hall. After fruitless attempts to secure financial aid from the government, Fr David decided that self-help was  the only way forward. The authorities eventually brought power and piped water and together with the local folk. The priest built a village hall and then set up a co-operative for marketing vegetables. This  failed, so next they moved into fishing and this enterprise is still successful today, concentrating on crabs and shell-fish. Next came twenty cottages to be rented to holiday-makers and then a modest hotel. A  small folk museum was developed from three cottages in the village, one each from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, all furnished with gifts from the people of Glencolumbkille. In the earliest cottage with its  earth floor, rush lights, an open fire without chimney and no glass in the windows (chimneys and glass were taxed), furniture was sparse. One large, roughly-hewn wooden chest dominated, kept in readiness to
 hold family belongings in case of eviction.

 Over the door of the oldest cottage was a square cross made from rushes — Saint Brighid’s cross, thought to keep away hunger and bless the inhabitants. It is said that Brighid had converted her pagan father  to Christianity on his death-bed. As she wove the cross, her father asked what she was making. ‘A cross,’ she replied, ‘because it was on a great cross of wood that the son of God died to save his people’. The  old man was interested, so Brighid began to talk to him of Christianity. Before he died, he asked to be baptised. Saint Brighid‘s day, 2nd February, is a holiday in Ireland, coinciding with Candlemas,  commemorating the ritual purification of Mary forty days after the birth of Christ and also marking the Presentation in the Temple of the infant Jesus. It was good to experience something of Ireland‘s Christian  heritage, not only in the cathedral-like splendour of the Library at Trinity College, but also in a simple peasant‘s cottage in a remote hamlet.

Barbara Wolstenholme

Flower Festival Thank Yous

 A very big THANK YOU to absolutely every one who helped in any way to prepare for our Flower Festival. The publicity ladies, the autumn cleaners, the bucket fillers, the oasis soakers, the givers and sorters
 of foliage, the sorters of acres of flowers, the gifted and artistic arrangers, the providers of life-saving cups of tea and coffee, the sandwich fetcher, the printer, the young people‘s displayers, the embroiderer,
 the carpenters, the ironers, the bakers, the brass polishers, the tip trippers, the cleaners and floor polishers — and then the door-people and stewards and refreshments teams when we opened — the list is
 endless and I do apologise if anyone has not been mentioned. Oh, and not forgetting Father Neil for his permission!

 There has been tremendous support hard work and good will from everyone — Saint Faith’s at its best. Thank you. It would not have happened without your co-operation.

 Mary Crooke

 I’m sure that anyone who helped in any way with the flower festival would like to join me in thanking Mary for making such a wonderful occasion possible. Her fantastic planning, endless hard work and care for
 all her helpers made it a most rewarding and happy week.

 Angie Price

 It was indeed a week to remember. From the church cleaning party on the previous Saturday, through the sorting and preparing of mountains of greenery and cascades of flowers, to the loving and skilful  arranging of the displays and exhibits and finally to the days when we helped visitors to enjoy and wonder at St Faith’s at its very best: it was all a marvellous and unforgettable time. Elsewhere in this issue,  including on our first-ever colour cover, as well as at the back of church you can see some of my photos. There are quite a few more on the website — and anyone who would like a CD with over 50 images of  the event should contact me. A4 full-colour prints of any picture are also available from me for just £2, as indeed are most of the illustrations in Newslink and from present and past displays.

 Chris Price