The Parish Magazine
of Saint Faith's Church, Great
Saint Faith’s Prayer for
God of unchanging power, your Holy Spirit enables us to
proclaim your love in challenging times and places:
give us fresh understanding and a clear vision, that together we may
respond to the call
to be your disciples and to rejoice in the blessings of your kingdom;
we ask this in the name of Him who gave His life that ours might
your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
If you would like
to receive a postal copy of Newslink each month, free of charge, email the Editor
From the Vicar
In November we in the Diocese of Liverpool celebrate the 10th
Anniversary of Bishop James’s enthronement as Bishop of Liverpool. I
think it is true to say that appointing me as Vicar of St. Mary’s and
St. Faith’s is one of the first clerical appointments he made back in
1998 as the new Bishop of Liverpool. You may be thankful for that, or
you may not be! I certainly am. Bishop James is using the occasion of
his 10th anniversary to celebrate (and encourage people to explore)
vocation to Christian service.
These celebrations come to a head during Autumn through Deanery events,
Church High School events and a service for the whole Diocese at the
Cathedral seeking to honour many kinds of Christian calling.
In our own area, St. Michael’s School (along with other church schools)
will be running a course entitled: “Get a Life!” - a five-session
course on life goals for young people, covering vocation, calling,
gifts and the big question many young people dread: ‘What do you want
to do with your life?’
To optimise this opportunity to encourage and nurture vocations in all
our congregations there are suggested materials to complement the
Deanery and Cathedral events which Fr Ray Bridson and I, along with
others, have worked on. And so throughout October the theme of our
readings and sermons will be:
5 October Baptism
12th October Discipleship
19th October Lay Ministry
26th October Ordained Ministry
On Saturday 8th November at 3pm there is a big service of celebration
in the Cathedral. This service will celebrate Baptism, Discipleship,
Lay Ministry and Ordained Ministry with a particular focus on those
that have celebrated or started these since Bishop James’s
enthronement. Each parish will be asked to send 10 adults and 5
children to the service that celebrates commitments already made and
hopefully inspires further steps. If you are keen to go, please speak
to me soon.
On Sunday 7th December at 2.30pm in St. Mary’s, West Derby, there will
be an event for the deaneries of Bootle, Walton, West Derby, North
Liverpool, and Toxteth & Wavertree. These events will include: ‘Are
you being called?’ - An opportunity to explore vocation and what it
means to be called to ordination.
Do please support the events and remember that the Church only has
bishops, priests, deacons and lay ministers to serve God’s people when
ordinary folk like you and me respond to His call and say “yes”. Pray
for more vocations.
In this month when we give thanks on October 6th for our patron, Saint
Faith, a group of us will also journey to Santiago de Compostela on
pilgrimage. Journeying and pilgrimage are fundamental to Christian life
and it is always very humbling and moving to listen to the stories of
those whose journey has led them to offer themselves for the sacred
priesthood. The celebration of our Patronal Feast (recalling a young
girl who gave her life, literally, for her faith), the pilgrimage to
Compostela, the focus of celebration here in the Diocese of Liverpool
as Bishop James urges us to consider our faithfulness to the Lord and
where that might take us, all these things help our faith to come alive
and make Christ present in the world around us.
Please remember Bishop James in your prayers and give thanks for his
service in the Diocese of Liverpool these past ten years. We have been
privileged to welcome him to St. Faith’s on many occasions and,
speaking personally, I have always been very grateful for his support
and encouragement to me, and to our parish.
What better focus for prayer this month than the words of St. Teresa of
Avila, born in Spain in 1515, whose feast day is October 15th? Her
prayer reminds us that when people listen to God, and respond to His
call, the world becomes transformed with His love and compassion.
Christ has no body now but yours,
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours.
Yours are the eyes
Christ’s compassion must look out on the world.
Yours are the feet with which
He is to go about doing good.
Yours are the hands with
which He is to bless us now.
With my love and prayers as we journey together.
Thanksgiving: Sunday 5th October
11.00am Family Eucharist & Parade Service
6.00pm Harvest “Songs of Praise” in S. Mary’s, followed by
a glass of cider and buffet Harvest Supper
“All good gifts around us are sent from heav'n above,
Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord, For all his love.”
Festival Celebrations 2008
Monday October 6th
SAINT FAITH’S DAY
8.00pm Procession and High Mass
Preacher: The Right Reverend Lindsay Urwin, (Bishop
of Horsham) followed by buffet supper
Tuesday October 7th
2.15pm Mass and Blessing of Pilgrims
3.00pm Pilgrims depart for Santiago de Compostela
11am Solemn Mass
Preacher: Fr. Martin Jones (S. Oswald’s, Winwick)
6.00pm Festal Evensong, Procession and Te Deum
every last man in the book
Howse (featured in the Daily Telegraph)
Last week I delightedly ripped open a parcel from Amazon to reveal ‘The
Art of Manhole Covers in New York City’ by Diana Stuart. These fine
cast-iron objects have every right to be celebrated, but it is notable
that the author felt obliged in her foreword to apologise for the word
manhole. She just couldn’t use any other, like the unfortunate
character in Nineteen Eighty-Four who was given the job of rewriting
Kipling and kept in ‘God’ because he couldn't think of any other rhyme.
Now Chichester District Council has strongly advised against the use of
the phrase ‘man in the street’ lest women be offended by not being in
the street too. This is no silly story like the banning of Baa Baa
Black Sheep. It reflects a conviction that it is wrong to use man to
mean ‘human’ - morally wrong, like wife-beating. ‘Blessed is the man
that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,’ says he
Bible. Not any more, it doesn’t. ‘Blessed
are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked,’ says
the Church of England’s Common Worship, which replaces the Book of
Common Prayer in churches of the kind that use stacking chairs instead
of pews. The blessed man has gone the way of the dustman (‘My old
person’s a dust person’), the postman, the policeman and the fireman.
It’s funny how we fall out of sexism into militarism, being recommended
(though not in this newspaper) to say fire-fighter instead of fireman.
Chichester wants that man in the street to be replaced by General
Public, another warmonger. Even dear old Minnie Haskins’s line ‘I said
to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year’ has been
gender-reassigned on many an internet site to ‘the one who stood’. What
Perhaps the most famous bungled quotation in history, Neil Armstrong’s
‘That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.’ How would
you like future schoolbooks to put that? ‘That’s one small step for me;
one giant leap for us’? Sounds more like The Two Ronnies.
How did we get into this mess? The Oxford English Dictionary has spent
the past two decades revising its entry for man. The article in the
20-volume dictionary now runs to 34,000 words. No mannish aspect has
been left unturned: axe-man, porkman, jazzman, beadsman, woodsman. You
could count a whole orchard of cherries with them.
The dictionary now adds an explanatory note. ‘Man was considered until
the 20th century to include women by implication,’ it says. ‘It is now
frequently understood to exclude women, and is therefore avoided by
many people.’ By many people? How many people? Who does Tammy Wynette
stand by? Who broke the bank at Monte Carlo? Who knew too much? James
Stewart was the What from Laramie? Spider-What? Batwhat?
It goes back a long way. English lacks the distinction of Latin ‘homo’
(human) versus ‘vir’ (person with willy). So from the time of the
Lindisfarne Gospels (those bright pages from the Dark Ages, finished by
the year 721), we have happily used man to mean ‘person’ (as the
Germans do today). Someone will have to go over the illuminated
parchment pages with a razor-blade scraping every man out again. That,
metaphorically, has been the effect of the man-ban campaign of the past
generation. The aim was partly to explode the fallacy of seeing women
as defective men. Just as important was the struggle to change
consciousness, so that every time man popped up, the hearer should
think sorrowfully of injustice to women. The campaign has changed the
English language, making the use of man even more offensive. If we
remake our language, literature risks being misunderstood. So when
Hamlet exclaims: ‘What a piece of work is a man!’ Shakespeare is made
to sound like a sexist instead of a Renaissance humanist. That is such
(Thanks to Fr Neil for sending in this
Review your Will?
Ever since the first edition of the Book of Common Prayer nearly 500
years ago, the Church of England has encouraged people to ensure their
will is up to date. Why?
If you don’t leave an up-to-date will, it can cause needless problems
and expense for your family and executors after your death – and
possibly even family disagreements. It will almost certainly cost more
time, trouble and money to sort out than the time and effort it will
take you to make or revise a will in the first place.
It gives you absolute peace of mind that your current wishes will
be carried out
It ensures that any young children or other dependants you care
for will be looked after as you wish (eg appointing guardians)
It ensures your treasured mementos (eg jewellery) will be given
to the particular individuals you want to receive them
You can specify the type of funeral service you want
It reflects the latest circumstances of your family and friends
It is the only way to ensure support for your favourite church
Most people need to review their will at least every five years, to
check that it is still reasonably up-to-date. Why not make a mental
note to do it at every birthday that ends in “0” or “5”? Other events
that may trigger a review are major life events in the family: births,
(re-)marriage or divorce, deaths, house moves, step- or grand-children.
You are advised to get independent professional advice when making or
substantially revising a will. Most solicitors charge under £50
to revise a will, and under £100 for writing a fresh will,
assuming you do not have a large or complex estate. Many lawyers quote
a fixed price for straightforward wills, and will offer a discount if
your partner needs a mirror will at the same time. If you have a low
income, it may be possible to get free or cheap legal advice – ask your
Citizens Advice Bureau. Many solicitors are prepared to visit you at
home if necessary. Age Concern have a postal will-writing service for
Making a will is also an opportunity to make a gift to the church or
charities that you have supported in your lifetime. Rather than making
pecuniary legacies - fixed amounts of money like £1,000 - it is
generally advisable to leave most legacies as shares of the
residue of your estate (after debts, taxes and expenses) – for example
X% to person A and Y% to charity B. Residuary legacies suffer
less from the ravages of inflation, and save you having to amend your
will so frequently as your financial circumstances change.
If you don’t write a will at all (the lawyers talk about dying
Your possessions will be divided only among certain close
relatives under a complex legal formula. Partners and children do not
necessarily automatically get all of the estate, and unrelated friends
The Court will appoint someone from amongst your family and
friends to act as Administrator of your estate – not necessarily the
most appropriate person, and they get no recompense for this task they
There is no opportunity to try to minimise the amount of
Inheritance Tax payable – there are quite legitimate ways to reduce
your eventual tax bill through a will.
A surviving spouse may have to move to a smaller home to pay the
You cannot specify which relatives and friends should get your
most treasured mementos as they will need to be sold off, probably
cheaply in a house clearance.
Our church and favourite charities you generously supported
during your lifetime will get nothing.
I hope this information is helpful to those many parishioners who have
asked for advice. Further information is available on request and we
hope to print an advisory leaflet soon. St Faith’s continues to be very
grateful to those parishioners who remember the church in their Will.
David Jones (Treasurer)
High in aid of Breast Cancer Care!
Those who know me from way back will know that recently I had a
milestone birthday (21 again, and again and a bit more!) and I decided
to do something totally wild. Rather than buy me birthday
presents I asked people to sponsor me to do a tandem skydive – there
were a few gasps of disbelief, some comments of ‘you’re very brave’ and
several comments of ‘you must be mad’. Well I can tell you I’m
On Sunday 24th August 2008 I boarded a Turbine Porter aircraft at Black
Knights Parachute Centre (just outside Lancaster) along with two other
students, three instructors, three cameramen and a pilot – it was very
cosy! Once we’d reached 14,000 feet and the door to the aircraft
had been opened, there was no time to think before we were out of the
plane and free-falling into oblivion! The freefall was for 5,000
feet, then the instructor opened the parachute and we glided down to
the ground very gracefully. It was an amazing experience and I’m
glad I did it.
I’m overwhelmed by the generous sponsorship I’ve received and would
like to say a very big thank you to everyone at St Faith’s who
sponsored me via Mum. I’ve raised over £1400 for Breast
(Peggy Mattison’s daughter)
Hoist by their own…
“More on the perils of the interweb-thingie. The American Family
Association (AFA) is a right-wing Christian fundamentalist pressure
group that deplores modern moral mores. One of the things that really
gets its goat is the use of the word ‘gay’ by, well, gays.
So the news section of the AFA’s website has been set up to
automatically replace the word ‘gay’ with ‘homosexual’ wherever it
occurs. What could possibly go wrong? Well, as anyone taking a passing
interest in last month’s Olympic Games will be aware, one of the
fastest men in the world is an American sprinter called Tyson Gay.
Before the Games began, an article about Mr Gay’s successes on the
track caused the AFA website’s auto-correction function to spring into
“Tyson Homosexual was a blur in blue, sprinting 100 metres faster than
anyone ever has… ‘It means a lot to me,’ the 25-year-old Homosexual
said. ‘I’m glad my body could do it, because now I know I have it in
(reproduced as printed in ‘The Oldie’
magazine, to whom anyone offended rather than delighted by this
wonderful true story should complain)
The Nun’s Story
Did I tell you that my brother has a nun living in a stable at the
bottom of his garden?
That attention-grabbing opening demands an explanation. Briefly, the
nun is Sister Penny Daniels, she is a member of the Anglican Society of
St Luke, and her dwelling-place is in a converted stable in the grounds
of my brother’s house in Strumpshaw, not far from Norwich. Her story is
a fascinating one.
First, the Society provides the background . ‘The Society of St Luke
has grown from its sister, the Christian Deaf Community, which is
centred in the Middle East and serves the deaf communities by providing
schools, medical laboratories and teacher training colleges.
‘The Society started in 1994 and its development is very much in the
hands of God. Since 1997 twenty-seven Associates have taken vows of
simplicity and promised to keep the Aims of the Society. There are
three professed religious- two nuns and one monk and one Novice
Sister, based in Sheringham. The active side of the religious life is
now secondary to the aim of a life of prayer.
‘Developing from this is a concentration on helping people with their
spiritual journeys by offering a place for quiet days and retreats. The
Society has also been involved in taking missions, providing marriage
preparation and courses on coping with stress. The Society also has a
group of Friends who support the work of the Society by prayer and
‘The reality is that we are wounded and need help at various stages
journey of life. The Society is Anglican in ethos but open to anyone,
offering friendship and being open to the healing of God through the
Spirit working within and without the Society.
The Society’s declared aims are:
To live a life of prayer, with particular attention to the
suffering of the world.
To care for the carers, especially to support them in their
spiritual lives in a busy world.
To relieve and support those who come for help and counsel.
To assist and support the Church in its mission of care and
To provide for the spiritual needs of individuals through
Companionship and Association of the Society.
To offer opportunities of retreat, refreshment and learning.
To support the work of The Father Andeweg Institute for the Deaf
in Beirut, Lebanon and The Holy Land Institute for the Deaf in Salt,
Bishop Graham James of Norwich (known to many of us at St Faiths ) is
Episcopal Visitor to the Society.
You can learn more about SSL by contacting Juliessl@btinternet.com
So where does the nun in the stable fit in? I spent an absorbing time
hearing of her journey through widowhood to Reader training and parish
ministry and the dawning of a vocation to the monastic life. This
culminated in her meeting with Fr Andrew Lane, the founder and superior
of the Society of St Luke, and her acceptance for the process of
preparation for life as a member of the Society. Now clothed as a nun,
she is a Sister of the Order, and the process will continue towards her
eventual full profession. She continues to serve the local group of
parishes from her outpost and to work in the community locally and
further afield, and also to teach art, while observing the rule and
daily offices of the order, showing the flag in full habit when ‘on
duty’ and relaxing in civvies over tea and cake, looking out over her
peaceful garden and the rolling fields around.
Working closely with her Vicar, David Wakefield, she welcomes to The
Stable an increasing number of visitors, those in need of a quiet
space, or simply a listening ear as she discovers and expands her
particular ministry in these rural parishes.
She is able to bring special witness to places where the sight of a
habited nun would once have seemed very strange, in the village shop
buying milk, or taking the junior school assemblies.
In short, Sister Penny is part of an increasingly successful
experiment, an ecumenical achievement and a focus of prayer,
contemplation, sympathetic listening and healing at the bottom of my
brother’s garden, and in the quiet pastoral surroundings of deepest
East Anglia. To meet her, talk with her and share ideas with her was a
surprising, fascinating and unique experience, which I look forward to
repeating. She asks for all our prayers.
Lord, Thou knowest better than I know myself, that I am growing older
and will some day be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I
must say something on every subject and on every occasion. Release me
from craving to straighten out everybody's affairs. Make me thoughtful
but not moody; helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it
seems a pity not to use it all, but Thou knowest Lord that I want a few
friends at the end.
Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to
get to the point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains. They are
increasing, and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the
years go by. I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of
others’ pains, but help me to endure them with patience.
I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a
lessening cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories
of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be
Keep me reasonably sweet; I do not want to be a Saint - some of them
are so hard to live with - but a sour old person is one of the crowning
works of the devil. Give me the ability to see good things in
unexpected places, and talents in unexpected people. And, give me, O
Lord, the grace to tell them so. Amen.
honour of Sister Penny but, of course, with no other relevance to her…)
Panto Participants Please!
The auditions for Rumpelstiltskin will
take place in St Mary's Church Hall on the afternoon of Sunday 12th
October (3.00 – 5.00). This first get-together will be an informal read
through, so that those interested in auditioning for character parts
can decide who they would like to audition for. More formal auditions
(although nothing to worry about) will take place on the afternoon of
Sunday 19th October (2.30 – 5.00).
My intention is then to work with the principal characters on Saturdays
during November, and then call the full cast together during December
and January, when we will be working extra hard, on both Saturdays and
Sundays (with a bit of time off for Christmas) so that we can put on
the show during February half term.
There are forms at the back of church for those who are interested. We
will need help in all areas, so even if you don’t fancy treading the
boards, please feel free to help backstage, front of house,
refreshments, etc. The more the merrier. The pantomime is more than
just a show. We get a real team spirit going between all those
involved. A great opportunity for fellowship….and of course great fun.
And for those budding thespians (especially those who perhaps haven't
been involved before) please do put yourselves up for audition. There
are parts in the pantomime for children and adults alike, and of course
if you just want to be in the chorus, that is fine. The backbone of all
our shows has always been our top-quality chorus.
I look forward to seeing you on the 12th October.
(The editor resists the temptation to
say ‘Oh yes it is!’)
These Feet are Made for Walking
Next March, St Faith’s chorister Mari Griffiths will, as you know, be
walking 100km across the Sahara Desert for Classic FM's charity Music
Makers. The charity aims to improve lives through the power of music,
by providing music therapy for disabled adults and children and
under-privileged children, nationwide.
Her fund-raising campaign is well under way, with an ongoing programme
of events. Since last month, she has received the profits from the
United Benefice summer barbecue – a miraculously sunny occasion in this
dismal season, as pictured on our centre spread – and has also profited
from the donations of customers at Waitrose, Formby, at a bag-packing
session there. She is enormously grateful to all who have helped in any
way at both of these events, as well as to individual donors. As a
result, she has now raised some £1,100, and we are now looking
forward to the forthcoming Patronal Festival concert, whose profits
will benefit the charity.
This will take place on Saturday 4th October 2008 at 7.30pm in church,
and will feature Ann Marie Connors (soprano), Neil Kelley (piano),
Melanie Harvey (violin) and Greg Cuff (‘Cello). Tickets are
£7.50 (concessions £6.50) to include an interval glass of
wine, and are on sale now.
Next month we will invite Mari to release details of her doubtless
punishing get-fit and training regime….
… is now up and running at the back of church. We still need books,
adult and children’s, of all kinds, so keep them coming please. As
explained last month, if you want to borrow a book, enter it in the
record provided and pay 10p per week per book. Any queries please see Irene Taylor.
1 123 Fred Vitty
3 122 Brian
Hampers 4 50 Neil
The sudden illness and subsequent death of my youngest sister, Sue, was
a great shock to me and to all her family. It was a great help and
comfort at this time to experience the love and support shown by my
friends at St. Faith’s. The cards, phone-calls and so many lovely
flowers helped to lighten the days a little. Thank you all so much.
The editor has allowed me some ‘stop press’ space, so that I can say a
totally inadequate ‘thank you’ to all at St. Faith’s and St. Mary’s for
your support and prayers during my recent illness and operation. Linda
and I have felt surrounded at all times by the love of the Christian
community to which we are so privileged to belong. My illness became in
this way a real source of blessing. My heartfelt thanks to everyone.
Thanks to all who have thought and prayed for us over the summer.
Alex began to get fevers in July and the doctors in Prague found that
his pacemaker had caused inflammation near the heart. He now has no
pacemaker but is much better! The appearance of his third book in
Prague bookshops has been a great aid to recovery. He sends his
greetings to all at S. Faith’s and looks forward to returning in
October is Black History Month, a time to give thanks for the vibrancy
and diversity that black culture brings to our city and to the UK and
to pray for all around the world who are victims of racial prejudice.
October 19th -26th Week of Prayer for World Peace and One World Week
October 24th United Nations Day. 2008 is the 60th anniversary of the UN
Declaration of Human Rights
October 25th World Disarmament Day: a time to reflect that annual
global expenditure costs 100 times more than what it would cost to send
every child to school
Ever Recitals Season!
The 2008 season of Summer Saturday Recitals has, as well as being the
longest with 23 recitals, been the most successful. By the end of the
season, over £2,700 had been raised through refreshments and
donations and 1,645 people had supported them. This is an average
of 72 people every Saturday. We have been treated to organ recitals,
choirs, jazz bands, soloists and instrumentalists. We shall shortly be
able to publish the results of the questionnaires which many people
kindly completed. It really does help us to have honest feedback for
planning the next series.
This year, for the first time, we have much to thank our Parish
Administrator, Liz Mooney, for in this musical sphere. We have enjoyed
huge coverage (almost weekly) in the Crosby Herald, the Liverpool Echo,
BBC Radio and the regular e-bulletins from the Diocese and, as a
result, the regular attenders and the retiring collection are up
considerably on last year. Also, for the first time, we have enjoyed a
consistent “house style” to the weekly programmes. It is no mean feat
chasing performers for the programme details (many do not decide their
programme till the week before – Father Neil has confessed! Or
even later! Editor/printer)
Many thanks to the small army of helpers, organizers and caterers who
work hard to ensure that everyone receives a welcome and that
everything is in place each week, not forgetting all those who get the
church ready and make sure it is put back afterwards ready for business
on Sunday. More recitals this year has meant even more work than
usual so a very big THANK YOU to everyone.
The 2009 Recitals will start on Saturday, 18 April which is the
Saturday after Easter. We look forward to seeing you again soon.
October 6th, as everyone at St Faith’s surely knows, is the feast day
of our patron saint, in whose honour our patron, Douglas Horsfall,
dedicated his Crosby church in 1900. The story of Saint Faith (assuming
it is true, and even assuming that she existed!) is recorded on our
website, together with detailed coverage of her shrine at the Abbey of
Conques, in France, where several pilgrimages from our parish have gone
in recent years. Conques is the centre of devotion for our patron, but
there are more than a few other churches dedicated to her, and this
writer has over the last decade put together what purports to be a
fairly comprehensive list of such places in this country and worldwide.
Several of them have websites for you to visit, and several have
interesting stories to tell. These latter are all to be found, often
with photographs, on the church website (go to
http://www.stfaithsgreatcrosby.org.uk/saintelsewhere.html and linked
pages) – but to honour St Faith I present below a selection of
‘tasters’ about some of them: churches, chapels, ruins, a garage, a
ship and a coin among them!
St Faith all at Sea
One of the ferries running from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight carries
the name Saint Faith, and from the top of the amazing Spinnaker Tower I
have seen her steam in to her home port. She was active in the last
war, and during the D- Day celebrations a few years, carried many
veterans to watch the departure of the naval convoy to France for the
weekend commemorations. During the cruise her passengers were issued
with 1940s style ration books in order to obtain breakfast and a drink
St Faith in the Asylum
One of the more unusual churches dedicated to our patron saint was the
chapel of the Stanley Royd Hospital in Wakefield, which previously
rejoiced in the name of the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum. It has
been closed for some years now, and abandoned, but it was, according to
a history of the institution, a place of refuge and peace, big, but
never frightening or impersonal. Patients came down there from the
wards, into a handsome and lofty church. The organ was at the end of
one nave and at the other a magnificent stained-glass window, picturing
members of various hospital professions with patients. Beneath it, a
real patient had painted an unforgettable Last Supper, with the
thirteen figures all bearing the same haunted face.
Thanks to a correspondent who specialises in recording such things, I
have been able to put online evocative pictures of this sad abandoned
place, including that fine window.
The Consecrated Garage
Thanks to old St Faith’s member Les Crossley, a copy of
a Hemel Hempstead paper provided the headline ‘Family
discover faithful flocked to garage for home service’.
It appears that the first priest-in-charge of a suburb of Hemel
Hempstead, who lived in Windmill Road, Adeyfield, led his growing
congregation in worship and the church – St Faith’s - in his garage in
the early 1940s. Later they met in the house itself, before moving into
a hut, which was reportedly shared by the local football team and the
communist party, presumably at different times of the week.
Room at the Inn for
A feature in the Sunday Telegraph brought to light a new church
dedicated to our patron saint - at Dunswell, north of Hull. The
church, a daughter church of St John, Newland, was damaged in the
devastating floods to hit the area last summer. As a result, the
congregation for some months worshipped in the Ship Inn at Dunswell,
getting substantial press coverage and predictably awful headlines,
making inevitable play on the (Holy) Spirits.
A Token Presence
The redoubtable Google internet search engine has thrown up an
intriguing oddity: the St Faith’s Token, a rare South African coin,
whose origins seem to be obscure, but which is recorded on numismatic
websites. Here is what one such site says:
‘Some rare South African tokens from the Umzimkulu region: St Faith’s
Token…. Not much is known about these tokens but there is a Roman
Catholic Mission, if you dare cross a real scary old timber bridge over
a deep gorge in the St Faith’s, Umtentweni, district East of Ixopo. Up
to date, three or four St Faith’s tokens have been found - the value of
this token being about R3750,000 and although this token is rare, it
can still be purchased today.’
Saint Faith in
retirement in East Yorkshire!
A church dedicated to Saint Faith existed in the village of Leven, in
the East Riding of Yorkshire, until its demolition in 1844. A
pilgrimage is made each year by local villagers to St Faith’s where a
short service is held. The old St Faith’s Rectory, sited on the
Beverley road on the outskirts of the village, is now known as
Abbeyfield House, a residential home for senior citizens. By a pleasing
coincidence, a resident there, Mrs Kathleen Vickers, is none other than
the mother of Mrs Angela Capper, wife of Fr Richard Capper, previous
vicar of our St Faith’s.
Small is Beautiful
The Reverend Gillian George-Rogers, once of Saint Faith’s, Llanishen
(the only known Welsh dedication to our saint), has provided
information and photos of what is likely to be the smallest of the
churches dedicated to Saint Faith: at Welsh Newton Common in the
Diocese of Hereford, where services are held monthly. The
tin-roofed building (doubtless the only tin tabernacle dedicated to our
patron!) is typical of the many ‘mission churches’ built to serve the
needs of small outlying communities in large and scattered Anglican
The Maori Saint
There is a picturesque church dedicated to St Faith in New Zealand. It
is at Ohinemutu, Rotorua, and is shared by Maori and Pakeha people in
worship. The lakeside building is adorned with a distinctive picture of
Christ walking on the water, clothed in full Maori garb.
Saint Faith for
Finally, I heard of the prospective sale of St Faith’s Church, Belper
Lane End. Derbyshire, valued at a mere £200,000! The sales pitch
tells that it was built in 1890 (for £304) as a chapel of ease to
a larger church and was attended by the nuns of the convent of Saint
Laurence, an Anglican order, and served as a Sunday school. The last
service was in 2005: the Anglican diocese decided to sell because the
congregation had shrunk to just two people. The church is effectively a
shell, and the adjoining vicarage has been turned into a meeting hall.
The diocese still owns it, and the ecclesiastical trappings, including
the altar, the pews and the font, have not been removed. It was
described as a ‘hot potato’ by the selling agent - ‘an attempt to win
residential planning permission has failed on appeal, so a buyer is
taking a big risk if they want to move in anytime soon.’ The community
has set up a website to save the property.
Jenny Raynor, wife of ex-St Faith’s curate Michael Raynor, inspired by
this news, found her way to Belper, and subsequently reported that
there is now some debate as to whether the church has actually been
sold, and to what purpose it will be put. The word on the street is
that it might become a wine bar .
She reports that, ironically, the church is probably more active now
than it had been for some years leading up to its closure. They
recently held a well-attended Harvest service on the field opposite the
church and have plans for other activities, too.
So there we have it: our patron saint has given her name to a select
band of establishments, not all entirely religious, many of which are
happily thriving. I look forward to finding out more about those about
whom we know nothing but the location. At the last count, there were
some 54 namings: 42 in the United Kingdom, and a scattering around the
globe: in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Nigeria, the United States –
and even Borneo. The little girl who, allegedly, was burnt to death all
those centuries ago for refusing to worship pagan idols, could never
have guessed that her name would be honoured today in so many far-flung
Carrying the Cross
A sermon preached
at St Faith’s by Fr Mark Waters
You may have seen it in your newspaper this week – the story of the
fastest-growing church in the UK – Kingsway International
Christian Centre. Launched in 1991 in an
East London school with 300 people (about three times what we get most
Sundays) it now attracts 12,000 worshippers to its Pentecostal services
And no wonder. The church preaches a prosperity gospel – based on the
words from the book of Deuteronomy ‘empowered to prosper’ the church
tells you that God wants you to get rich. And the sermons are about
exactly that – how to get rich, and how to get richer. This is what God
wants for your life.
What a contrast with this morning’s readings. First from the prophet
Jeremiah, a long way from getting rich – ‘the word of the Lord has
become for me a reproach and derision all day long’. And then of course
from the gospel of Matthew – Jesus is to suffer at the hands of the
elders and scribes and priests, and be killed, and we hear that the
same is in store for his followers - anyone who wants to be a follower
of his, must deny themselves, and take up their cross, and follow him.
I don’t know how the Kingsway Christians, reading the same bible that I
do, arrive at their interpretation about a gospel of financial
prosperity. The congregation is largely made up of people from the west
coast of Africa who desperately need to feel at home in this culture.
Maybe their message is just right for that purpose. Maybe that’s just
what they need to hear at this moment in their lives.
But for me the story of their success is a telling example of just how
easily any of us can make the gospel in our own image. It reminds me a
bit of the other so-called spiritualities which are prevalent in modern
Britain. Like the ‘get fit’ redemption. Spending hours at the altar of
the gym, toning your muscles and honing your shape as a way of
achieving personal salvation in terms of the body beautiful. Or the
meditative way to God – becoming calm through yoga and deep breathing,
or by the graceful movements of Tai Chi as a way of reaching your
personal nirvana in a world of noise, conflict, tension and ultimate
consumer disappointment. Stay cool and chilled. Be aloof. Concentrate
on yourself, and all will be well.
But before we point too scornfully at Kingsway Church, or any others,
we need to recognise that not many of us are ready for the real gospel.
Most of us settle for much less:
- a ‘high church’ with just the right amount of bells and smells and
choreography to make us feel a bit superior to those evangelicals
- or feeling that our ‘traditional’ way of doing what we’ve always done
is somehow closer to God than any other way.
The list of ways in which we can deceive ourselves is pretty endless.
We find something we like ecclesiastically or socially, call it the
gospel, and settle into whatever rut we find most comfortable. And
there we stay. I would say it’s the story of most churches and most
church folk. Most of us are pretty conservative at heart. And the
gospel is always a challenge ahead of us.
So the really important and disturbing question with which we are
presented today, the one which challenges all of our comfortable
notions of church or spirituality, is what it means to carry the cross.
Just what does it mean to carry the cross?
Often we interpret it as something bad that happens to us. My cross is
my arthritis, or my depression, or my redundancy, or whatever. This is
not true. Pain is everywhere, and pain is infinitely various, and at
different times in our lives all of us understand what pain is. But the
thousand natural shocks that the flesh is heir to are not the cross.
They deserve our sympathy, and we believe God hears our cries of pain,
but the king of glory does not die on them.
The cross is something else.
The cross is not something that happens to me unbidden.
The cross is not fate.
It is not bad genes or inherited weaknesses.
It is not the accumulated burden of the things which are wrong with my
And taking up my cross is not anything to do with church.
It is not running and maintaining a church, or sitting on the PCC, or
going to Deanery Synod, or on retreat, or to daily mass.
And it is not going to church.
My cross is something I have to choose to pick up.
It is something that I feel God is calling me to do.
The cross is a passionate taking up of what I understand God’s will to
be for me in the face of violence, and hatred, indifference, and evil
of the world.
In other words, it is going against the grain. It is proclaiming that
there is another way to live which is not the world’s way. And it is
opening yourself up to attack, or ridicule, or being ignored in order
to live that out.
The key to this challenge sounds simple but is in fact very hard.
In order to pick up my cross. In order to initially even identify what
my cross is, I must first die to the false and immature self that I am
now. I must do this to find my life, my real self, the self that God
intends for us, so that it may come to life.
I cannot say what your cross is, or might be. Only you can. Only you
can come to know, through faithfully living the unique piece of human
experience which is yours, what God has given you to be your vocation:
what it is to which you are called over and above and beyond the things
with which you are presented in your life.
What is it that you have to choose? What is your narrow way?
If you already know the answer to that question then you are truly
A couple of warnings before we finish.
Firstly, the matter of identifying and beginning to carry your cross is
urgent. Most of us - probably all of us - wish we had made better use
of our life than we have yet done.
John O’Donohue, the poet and theologian and man of prayer, was asked by
a friend if there was one spiritual question which haunted him more
than any other. And John O’Donohue replied, ‘Yes, I know exactly what
it is that preoccupies me spiritually. It is that my time is passing
away like sand running through my fingers, faster and faster, and I
can’t do a thing about it.’
Our time is short. If we don’t know what our cross is then we’d better
devote some time to finding out what it is, because one day it may be
too late, and we may then never know.
Secondly, we are not alone in carrying our cross. As we read the story
of Christ’s passion we tend to forget an apparently tiny detail. Christ
needed help to carry his cross. Even Jesus, who we invest with so much
power and spiritual authority, needed Symon of Cyrene to carry his
cross for part of the journey.
So it is with us. Even if we know what our particular cross is that we
must pick up and carry. We do not have to bear it alone.
But this is so very hard too. We Christians find that most difficult.
Especially us diffident and British Christians. We often have no
difficulty at all with the need to give help to others, we do it almost
naturally. We’re very good at it. And it makes us feel good.
But we are often almost incapable of receiving any help. We have
a compulsive desire to try and feel secure by the false notion of
self-sufficiency. We imagine that we just need to grin and bear it,
with stiff upper lip, in true stoical British fashion.
The wounds that life has inflicted on us have often given us a fear of
real life, and the relationships which real life involves. And we dread
more than anything else the fact of being needy. And the danger of that
supposed self-sufficiency, is that we might never discover what our
cross is, let alone get to pick it up – because we are often so busy
being helpful and self-sufficient.
We began today with the idea of a prosperity gospel and its popular
At the end we discover that our gospel is one of poverty.
Blessed poverty, knowing our need of God.
I cannot say what your cross is, or might be. Only you can.
Only you can come to know, through faithfully living the unique piece
of human experience which is yours, what God has given you to be your
vocation. What it is to which you are called over and above and beyond
the things with which you are presented in your life.
What is it that you have to choose? What is your narrow way?
Thanks be to God.
Methodist in Walsingham
Henry the Eighth, we're told, once passed this way,
to entreat Our Lady for a son and heir,
and thousands more before and after him
have walked barefoot along this ‘Holy Mile’.
I honour Mary, mother of my Lord,
but offer her no prayer. No candle flame
lit by my hand flickers within her shrine;
‘Ave Maria’s leave my soul unmoved.
Image and incense, mass and rosary
are alien to me as muezzin’s call.
A Non-conformist sceptic, why should I
find myself drawn to ‘England’s Nazareth’?
I’ve read that pagans, too, revere this place
as where the ‘Mother Goddess’ is revered.
‘Mother of God’ and goddess - do they share
a common fane within the human mind?
To Mary, or to Gaia, still they come
where countless other pilgrim feet have trod,
and I come too to find in Walsingham
the calm and kindly mothering of God.
(The second in a
series of poems written by this Norfolk Lay Reader)
The Healing Ministry
To the Saints of St. Faith’s and beloved in Christ.
Fr. Dennis sometime ago asked me to write an article for your magazine
on the Healing Ministry of the Church. I unfortunately forgot and 1 was
reminded of my promise the other day when he visited us. I do apologise
and send you this in the hope that it will be a blessing to you.
On the 12th Sunday after Trinity I was struck by the post-communion
God of all mercy,
in this eucharist you have set aside our sins
and given us your healing:
grant that we who are made whole in Christ
may bring that healing to this broken world,
in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.’
This prayer speaks quite clearly that the service of Holy Communion is
where we have worshipped and received all that we need for life’s
pilgrimage. In the Eucharist we partake of Christ’s Body and Blood; our
true spiritual food.
God’s healing comes to us in the worship of the Church through
participation in the Eucharist and at other acts of worship we attend.
It comes too when we make use of the opportunity given to us in the
Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, where we receive the assurance
of sins forgiven. Those who have experienced this Sacrament know the
profound joy and cleansing that brings health wholeness and peace.
Again Holy Communion taken to the sick and dying and anointing of the
sick and dying is another vehicle of God’s healing and grace.
But sometimes we need to make a journey of faith, both physical and
spiritual. We may need to hear from ‘the tongue of the wise for it
brings healing’. (Proverbs 12.18)
Jesus in St. Luke’s Gospel (11.19) tells us to ask seek and knock and
we will receive, find and doors will be opened. This can come to us
especially during a service of Healing, where the good
news of Jesus is proclaimed, the
laying on of hands and anointing with Holy Oil with
prayer is offered. When we come to such a service we will come prepared
by prayer and in loving expectation that our Lord Jesus will indeed be
present to heal.
Our preparation will be an important part of this journey. We will
physically travel to the Church making a pilgrimage and also physically
walk up to the altar rail or steps for ministry. This is part of the
journey of coming to Jesus to receive His healing - to ask for it, to
seek it, to open our hearts to Him to receive whatever He is pleased to
bestow and give so generously to us. We will be prayerfully quiet and
will be allowing the Holy Spirit to help us to know our needs and give
us courage and faith.
If we can, we may wish to speak of our need quietly to the one
ministering, but we do not have to do this. We do not have to be
anxious about coming to Jesus. He knows us and all we need!
Sometimes we find coming up to the Altar difficult and feel diffident.
If we do, then it helps to keep our focus on Jesus and to remind
ourselves that we are coming to Him. We may begin to feel something
trying to stop us from receiving this ministry but we just need to have
complete trust in the Lord Jesus Christ Himself and have a heart full
We may not know what we need, but our Lord never sends us away empty.
He is far too loving and generous. When we come to Him we experience
his love and healing touch and we are changed. We are made whole and
receive His peace that passes all understanding. Our faith is increased
and we believe because He has come very close to us.
I Peter 2:7... ‘To you who believe He is precious’ Rev. 21:6… ‘So come
to the fountain of life’.
As the hymn says:
Oh come to the Father
Through Jesus the Son
And give Him the Glory
Great things He has done!
With love and prayers
(The icons hanging in the Lady Chapel
at St Faith’s are the work and gift of Mrs Margaret Bell)
Save our Churches
A congregation of
200 'is not viable'
Thriving churches are being closed down by the Roman Catholic Church
under plans to reduce costs and raise income from the land, worshippers
claim. Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent in
the Daily Telegraph writes:
Up to half of parishes in some areas will be left without any services
as a result of a radical nationwide reorganisation by dioceses. Some of
the churches already earmarked for closure have congregations of as
many as 200 people, and worshippers have accused the Church of “putting
cash before Christianity”. The most vociferous protests so far have
been triggered by plans drawn up by the Rt Rev Arthur Roche, Bishop of
Leeds, to shut down seven churches in his diocese this month as part of
a large scale closure programme. Worshippers have appealed to MPs and
heritage bodies to step into the row, written to the Charity
Commissioners to argue that the diocese has neglected its duties as
trustees of the churches, and last week served the bishop with legal
papers claiming his behaviour breaches canon law.
Some of the protesters - including women in their 80s - have even
chained themselves to the church railings in protest at the closures,
which they claim will devastate the communities. Their bid to keep the
buildings open follows a campaign by The Sunday Telegraph to secure
more government money to preserve historic churches and keep them as a
focal point for community use. More than 7,000 people have signed the
Save Our Churches campaign which has been backed by politicians,
celebrities and church leaders, including Cardinal Cormac
Murphy-O’Connor, head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and
Parishioners in the Leeds diocese have been backed by Lord Lofthouse,
the Labour peer, who attacked Bishop Roche for “putting finance before
Christian teaching”. The closure of churches in the Wakefield and
Pontefract deanery will mean that 12 have been lost in the past year,
which amounts to a tenth of the whole diocese. Worshippers have accused
the bishop of “acting like a dictator” in failing to respond to any of
their letters, which proposed solutions to the problem and expressed
concern over the damage that the action would have on communities.
Dozens of them travelled to the Bishop’s residence last week with
letters asking them to listen to their case and sent a petition
delivering a vote of no confidence in him. Many of the protesters have
attended Mass at the churches for decades and have been baptised or
Maureen Walsh, who has worshipped at Holy Family Church, Chequerfield
for 44 years, said: “We have been shattered by this. People were crying
last Sunday realising that we will no longer be able to come
here.” A Polish priest has offered to take over from the
current incumbent, who is due to retire this
year, to enable the church to continue,
but the proposal has been rejected by the bishop. The church has a
congregation of around 200 people and has been a focal point for the
community, staging concerts and holding a lunch club for pensioners,
according to the campaigners. Anne Dyer, chair of governors at Holy
Family and St Michael’s Primary school, said that the closure of the
church will affect everyone in the area from the children to their
grandparents. Pupils sent Bishop Roche letters asking him to change his
mind. “I have a very special memory that happened at this church,” one
boy wrote. “It would be such a shame if you do close the church.”
Mrs Dyer said that the bishop has acted “as if he is ruling in the dark
ages” in the way that he has ignored their pleas. “This area is crying
out to be supported, but we feel that he has treated us like peasants
rather than listening to what we have to say,” she added.
A few miles away, at St John the Evangelist Church, in Allerton
Bywater, large banners hung on the outside walls make clear the
congregation’s displeasure. “Bishop Roche doesn’t care about our
sick and old,” says one. Another reads: “It’s cash before
Christianity.” Malcolm Brumwell accused the bishop of breaking church
law in his treatment of the parish and said that he had denied
worshippers access to a traditional Mass and removing the priest
without offering him a new parish. “He has been grossly negligent in
regard to running this parish,” said Mr Brumwell. He said that a legal
challenge has been issued to Bishop Roche, which he must send to Rome
for a decision. It would set a precedent for bishops’ freedom to close
churches if it is found that he has acted inappropriately.
A letter has been sent to the Charity Commission by Our Lady of Lourdes
Church in Ackworth, which has nearly 200 worshippers. It says that the
diocese “has failed to act in the interests of the charity and its
beneficiaries (the parishioners and clergy)”. Bishop Roche has
argued that congregations of less than 200 people are no longer viable
and that the churches are being closed because there are not enough
priests to serve the parishes. The number of priests in England and
Wales has slumped by nearly a quarter in 20 years, from 4, 545 in 1985
to 3,643 in 2005.
Catholic churches in north-west England are under particular pressure,
with a severe shortage of priests and a sharp fall in attendances at
Mass. In the diocese of Liverpool, the number of priests has almost
halved in the past decade, from 240 in 1998 to 166. The diocese of
Lancaster is forecast to lose half of its 108 parishes in the next 10
years, a move which would see dozens of churches closed. Campaigners in
Leeds diocese hope that their efforts will bring them a last minute
reprieve, but a spokesman for the bishop said that the fate of the
churches could not be changed. “Closing these churches is the last
thing that the bishop wants to do, but he had no choice,” said John
Brady, the bishop’s press secretary. “We have had a consultation, the
case was put to them, and that’s it. Congregations of 200 aren’t viable
any more.” Mr Brady said that the closures were part of a “rolling
programme” that had already seen another seven churches shut down in
the last 18 months.
(Another thought-provoking piece, as
sent in by Fr Neil.)
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