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The Parish Magazine
of Saint Faith's Church, Great Crosby

Saint Faith’s Prayer for Mission

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 flourish,
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 

October 2008

From the Vicar

Dear Friends,

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
through which
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.

Fr Neil

Harvest 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.”

Patronal Festival Celebrations 2008

Monday October 6th
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

12th October
11am    Solemn Mass
Preacher:     Fr. Martin Jones (S. Oswald’s, Winwick)
6.00pm    Festal Evensong, Procession and Te Deum

Razor-blading every last man in the book
By Christopher 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 next?

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 a pity.

(Thanks to Fr Neil for sending in this splendid piece)

Why 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 and charities

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 straightforward wills.

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 intestate):

 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 get nothing.
 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 are assigned.
 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 various bills
 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

Flying 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 not brave!
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 Cancer Care.

Denise Darcy   
(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 action:

“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 me.’ Indeed.”

(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
Chris Price

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 financial support.

‘The reality is that we are wounded and need help at various stages through the
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 prayer.
  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, Jordan.’

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

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.

The Nun’s Prayer

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 mistaken.

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.

(reproduced in 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.

Leo Appleton
(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….

Odds and Ends...

St Faith’s Lending Library

… 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.

100+ Club September Winners

1    123    Fred Vitty           2    65    Margaret Taylor
3    122    Brian Hampers    4    50    Neil Kelley

Thank You

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.

Joyce Green

Words Fail Me

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.

Fred Nye

With Thanks

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.

Kathy’s Last-Minute Postscript…!

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

Kathleen Zimak

Best 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.

David Jones

Saint Elsewhere

Chris Price

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 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 onboard!

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 St Faith!
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 parishes.

The Maori Saint Faith
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 Sale!
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 places.

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 every Sunday.

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 life.

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 blessed.

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 success.
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.

A 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.

David Yarham

(The second in a series of poems written by this Norfolk Lay Reader)

The Healing Ministry

Dear Friends,

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 prayer:

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 of expectation.

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

Margaret Bell

(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 Wales.

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 married there.

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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