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October 2001

From the Ministry Team

Fences and Bridges

Symbols are sometimes important. A new fence to enlarge the vicarage garden seemed sensible enough at the time: enclosing more space for bouncy castles, barbecues, and social events for folk from both St. Faith‘s and St. Mary‘s. Father Neil‘s generosity in sharing his home in this way provided a real community facility for young and old alike. Or so we thought. But we had forgotten or ignored the importance of symbolism.

The protest from local residents came as quite a shock, and many people found it hurtful. The perception of  St. Faith‘s neighbours was that we had discriminated against their children by removing a de facto play area without warning or consultation. No matter that the land belonged to the church or that alternative play areas were available (if less convenient). The Church was seen as exerting its power and privilege at the expense of the local community. We had put up a bigger barrier than a mere fence.

Its easy for us to feel aggrieved and misunderstood, but we should remember that in this  situation it is the Church which is in the position of strength, and that the responsibility of being generous and understanding  rests upon us.

Much has already been done to repair the damage,  including our offer of access to the Church Hall so that the younger neighbourhood children can play games indoors. But the whole incident has reminded us of the importance of our relationship with those who live near our church, and of the constant need to put up bridges rather than fences. So here are one or two suggestions for bridge building.

First, our liturgy. None of  us wants to compromise or `dumb down‘ the Sunday morning Mass in any way. Still less do we want to pander to liturgical consumerism by `giving people what they want‘. But the fact remains that even our monthly Family Service is still rather long and wordy, and a challenge to newcomers and children. Visiting other churches while on holiday  has persuaded me that work remains to be done on our main services, and that we really could  make them more accessible to those ?on the fringe‘. The challenge of course is to do this without detracting from the beauty and richness of Catholic worship.

Secondly, we need to develop our Church activities on weekdays. Even for committed church people there are increasing demands, of work and children and relatives, which make it difficult for us to get to St. Faith‘s every Sunday morning. And time is limited on a Sunday so that it is difficult to get to know one another properly as members of the Body of Christ. We need to take ?time out‘ on a weekday so that we can get to know each other, and our faith, rather better. The Alpha courses are having a major impact nationally as a catalyst for genuine Christian revival. As we develop these and other courses at St. Faith‘s they should eventually become an ideal opportunity  for enquirers to join a Christian community without having to ?sign up‘ to full church membership immediately. For a newcomer it should be less threatening to be invited to a neighbour‘s home for a meal and conversation than to have to sit through over an hour of ”bells, smells and spells•!

Thirdly, there is the question of our church buildings. We now have the money to hold a public meeting and to consult widely on how our church hall might best be used to serve local people. I sincerely hope that this will be seen as a genuine attempt at bridge building, and not as a means for obtaining extra resources for St. Faith‘s through the back door. It would do great things for our spiritual well-being if we could  give our hall genuinely and generously to the community. Better still, St. Faith‘s would benefit enormously if our congregation were able to support community projects and activities housed  literally on our doorstep. We can only hope that the scheme will flourish and that the necessary funding can be secured . Even if our ambitions are thwarted, there are still things we can do to make our church buildings more user-friendly. Toilets, catering facilities and a children‘s corner at the back of church would help us extend a warmer welcome and would take our premises into at least the 20th century.

Everything at St. Faith‘s, from buildings to baptisms, from barbecues to bible studies, can be seen as bridges into the community, or if you like, as opportunities for evangelism. Let‘s have the courage to seize these opportunities, and the confidence to enjoy them.

Fred Nye

Notes from the Cathedral Stalls         Stephanie Dunning

And so the climax to the summer passed in a flash, so quickly that it was difficult to believe it was all over and that there would be no more rehearsals of Sumsion, Durufle or Haydn`s `Little Organ Mass‘. Although not at all blasé — that sense of tremulous wonder at the sheer size of the space to fill, the huge arches and the acoustic which shimmers your final notes back at you is still palpable — the more experienced among us are familiar with the routine. We are always warmly welcomed; there is always someone looking silly in a borrowed gown (you know who you are!); ringing the bell at the back door of the vestry invariably elicits a response — after a twenty-minute wait.

Holidays, other commitments and illness had nibbled away at our ranks, but the small numbers were only rarely swamped by the far-from-little organ, and Ged acquitted himself impeccably, as usual. Those choristers new to the experience should be given credit not only for their performance, but also for their rapid assimilation of the procession and communion `drill‘. It was good to see Chris Parker back for the event, presumably now recovered from the farewell party-cum-barbecue the choir threw for him a while ago (a magnificent affair, the remains of which fed this family for a week afterwards!). Impressively, the trebles who had attended the previous night?s Robbie Williams concert in Manchester — quite a different musical experience, I gather — still put in their habitual sterling effort. Well done, girls.

It‘s a long day for everyone. We arrive in time for an hour‘s rehearsal which starts promptly at nine. During this time we discover that there is at least one unfamiliar hymn, make a few lamentable errors which have never occurred before, lose our music and accustom ourselves to the off-putting echo. Ged is generally unflappable, though occasionally `fazed‘ by our inability to keep together when we can‘t hear each other and aren‘t watching him. By ten-thirty the morning catarrh sufferers‘ outing is over and we even all agree on the beginning of the frighteningly breakneck Gloria. As usual, I regret the absence of the Credo and the Benedictus, particularly as it is the latter‘s organ solo which gives the piece its title.

Break for lunch. Everyone streaks off in a different direction, to pubs, restaurants, the Refectory and, in my case, a picnic on the back steps shared with family and ants. Back at one thirty for another hour of practice. The psalms proceed worryingly well — will the mistakes come during the service? They don‘t. The Introit, `Ubi caritas‘ soars out and we all relax a little. We can identify the notes intoned by the praecentor  —  always a big concern — and our only real  lapse is when all the sopranos decide to take a simultaneous breath on the last page of the anthem. C‘est la vie!

The traditional vicarage barbecue is next on the agenda, starting at five and going on forever. The cathedral certainly sharpens both thirst and appetite. It must be all that adrenaline and empty space!

Thanks to all those faithful friends who supported us and commiserations to the choir and congregation who wanted to attend but were unable to. Rather than breaking for summer straight after the cathedral stint, we have already broached the marvellous Haydn ?Nelson‘ mass which will grace the patronal service. We are still numerically diminished, but everything is going well and there is tremendous enthusiasm.

A final point. The regular work of our church: Eucharists, funerals, weddings and so on — does not, of course, take a vacation. Rest assured that this is our principal raison d‘etre, and that we exist not just for the challenge of these special occasions, enjoyable as they are, but to enhance the worship at all times.

Dinner Merry-go-Round  Saturday November 17th

Enjoy an evening dining out at four different houses, meet new people, see the inside of four different houses and help make money for the Church at the same time!  More details next month — see Linda Nye if you would like to be involved.

Daily Eucharistic Intentions          Fr Neil

Many people often ask for prayers to be said for a particular intention or person, perhaps on the anniversary of a loved one, a wedding anniversary or some other occasion. Sometimes people ask u to focus on a particular situation, for example peace in Northern Ireland, the homeless or the unemployed. If you have a person, situation or need which needs particular prayer, please fill in the list at the back of church. At each of the daily celebrations the intention will be announced (e.g. ?We offer the Eucharist today praying with special intention for...‘). We are fortunate to be able to have daily services in church and it is right that we should bring the concerns of God‘s people to him in prayer — whether you are there or not, let us know who or what needs praying for.

  Earring the Truth?          Chris Price

It sometimes seems that the long-suffering C. of E. just can‘t win. Accused of neglecting the young and presenting a boring, stuffy image, it periodically tries a new approach, only to attract more criticism. The two adverts on this page will appear on hoardings and bus shelters in the Birmingham Diocese this autumn. ‘We are only trying to talk to young people in their own language,‘ a spokesman said plaintively. ?Traditionally, the Church has not had a good relationship with people between 18 and 30 who tend to drift, so we need to make them stop and think. The Church has been attacked for being out of touch but with these adverts I think we are being realistic.‘

Predictably, the critics are not impressed. Colin Hart, director of the Christian Institute, says ?It is blasphemous to compare the crucifixion with an earring. Promoting the Church through body-piercing and drugs is tasteless and will offend a lot of Christians.‘ And David Hilsley, director of the National Council for Christian Standards, said the advertisements were ?gimmicks‘. He added: ?Jesus suffered a form of torture and to then make it sound like a piercing is, quite frankly, disgusting...‘ We are familiar with the saying that there is no such thing as bad publicity: various articles in this issue prove that the press (and the internet) are still willing to give space to church matters — but the overall image is still sadly one of an institution that is either harmlessly batty or in terminal decline.

Apache Wedding Blessing

Now you will feel no rain,
For each of you will be shelter to the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
For each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there is no loneliness for you;
Now there is no more loneliness.
Now you are two persons
But there is one life before you.
Go now to your dwelling place
to enter into the days of your togetherness.

Via Gauteng, South Africa

Walsingham Pilgrimage 2002

The dates are Friday 9th  Sunday 11th August. Some have asked about the possibility of three nights away instead of two. This would cost approximately £36 more per person. Please indicate on the list in church whether you would prefer 2 or 3 nights. It would mean that the services and devotions can be more spread out; also, if there is more free time we could take a coach trip to Norwich (or somewhere else) for the day.

The Lord Runcie Window

Chris Price reports elsewhere in the magazine (page 29) about the progress of the proposed new window. We are delighted to hear that Bishop James will be coming to S. Faith‘s to dedicate the new window at a service of Festal Evensong, Procession and Benediction on Wednesday 15th May 2002 at 7.30 pm. Please do make a note of this date in your diary and spread the word to anyone who may wish to come.

Diary of an Ordinand                  Denise McDougall

How time has flown since my last article when I wrote of possible nightmares about Summer School, to be followed a week later by Alex and Matthew‘s wedding. Now sadly, both are over — I am a fully fledged second-year ordinand and I have my first son-in-law!

I shall begin with reflections on Summer School — the beginning of my second year of training on the Northern Ordination Course.

I arrived at Sneaton Castle in Whitby with some trepidation, especially as we had been told that we were not to expect a week‘s holiday by the sea-side. (holiday it was not!) The setting was really beautiful although the rooms very basic and very small — I did not even have an electrical socket in the room. However the grounds and the view of the sea  from my bed more than made up for the cramped rooms. Some students in the new accommodation fared well and had en-suite facilities — not I!

The theme for the week was ?The Theology and Politics of Relationships‘. The aim was to offer ways of analysing and assessing the changing relationships within our society today. We also had to reflect on and evaluate these relationships in the light of Christian perspectives. No easy task. The week was intense, extremely emotive and for some students very painful. The time was spent attending lectures and seminars, watching videos and taking part in work shops and working in development and worship groups. I came to realise that life is relationships, but so often we were left with more questions than answers.

As always the worship was outstanding and the highlight of the week for me was a Healing Service on the Wednesday night. I was part of the worship group that prepared and led the service. I had never been to a healing service before and found the whole experience quite awesome and inspirational. The service took place in St Hilda‘s Priory — the place of worship for the sisters of the Order of the Holy Paraclete. The sisters are part of an Anglican Community dedicated to the Holy Spirit. Another memorable service took place outside amongst the ruins of Whitby Abbey. The service was full of music, movement and drama and our numbers swelled by onlooking tourists.

The week was challenging in many ways but I left appreciating a strengthened sense of vocation, a closer relationship with God and a greater understanding of the relationships I encounter in  my day-to-day living.

I know that God continues to guide me as I steadfastly aim to fulfil the duties and demands of my calling. May we all continue to serve God and each other with the gifts we have been given.

With my love and prayers.

Wedding Thanks!          Denise and Bruce

On Sunday August 12th, Alex and Matthew‘s Wedding,  it poured all day and very heavily around 2 o‘clock! However, as a friend of mine said, the rain just showered blessings on them both. Their wedding and the celebrations that followed were more wonderful than Bruce and I could ever have expected. Alex and Matt are a very special couple and we sincerely thank everybody from St Faith‘s who helped to make their day such a happy one.

Particular thanks go to Fr Neil and Fr Andrew from Kirkby. To have a Roman Catholic priest at the service made such a difference to all Matthew‘s family. So many of our guests thought the whole service just perfect (and so did I!). Also thanks not just from Bruce and me, but from all our guests to Martin, Ged and the Choir, Mary, Fiona and Angie for flowers, and Ken for his patience while photographs were being taken. Thanks as well to those who turned up to help swell the voices of the congregation; it was fantastic to see (and hear) such a full church. We feel so privileged to belong to the family of St Faith‘s.

The happy couple are now basking in the sunshine in Sydney Australia while Bruce and I nervously look after their kitten Sydney here at the caravan in Anglesey! I have just started my placement at St Maelog‘s in Rhosneigr but will report on that in next month‘s edition of Newslink.

`Self-Help‘ Group

Ruth Winder and Audrey Dawson would like to start a ?self-help‘ craft/embroidery/sewing group. The general idea is to meet on a regular basis, bring your own work to the meetings and share ideas and knowledge with others. If you like working with paper and glue, silks, wools, hand sewing and embroidery or machine sewing and would like to work with others with the same interest, please speak to Ruth or Audrey.

Walsingham Revisited (for Some!)        Miriam Jones


But this wasn‘t any old day off, this was the beginning of my first pilgrimage to Walsingham. Truth be told, I didn‘t know what to expect, or even if I was looking forward to it. All I knew was that it would be different to anything I‘d done before, and I wasn‘t disappointed there! Back to the early morning start, and Fr Neil set the scene with a short homily. Once on the coach, having not had the promised cup of coffee due to the lack of hot water and milk, two major ingredients, I know, but we managed without and began our journey to Norfolk.

The driver was asked to pull into a lay-by at around noon for us to observe the Angelus, which had thoughtfully been printed for those of us who don‘t know it off by heart. We all joined in and I was amazed that such a feeling of peace and prayerfulness could be found on a busy road with all sorts of road traffic thundering past something with which our fellow pilgrims of yesteryear did not have to contend! Between you and me, the driver was grateful to get off his no-smoking bus for a cigarette! The next stop was King‘s Lynn (Caithness Glass car park to be exact) for our lunch break, although most consumables had gone by this time, around 1.30 p.m. Some of our party planned on walking to Tesco‘s to replenish their diminished stocks, whilst the rest of us had a visit to the tea rooms. Much to our dry (and smug) amusement, the intrepid shoppers had quickly returned, as the heavens had opened and thunder roared, forcing them to abort their trip, somewhat bedraggled! The ensuing seemingly harmless wander around the glassware shop proved to be a costly lunch break for some of us! Once back on the bus, we only had another hour‘s journey. Returning to the pilgrims of times gone by, they did not have such luxuries as a comfortable coach, complete with toilet, and a mere 7 hour journey  it would have taken them days or weeks on foot. In acknowledgement of this, we sang the Walsingham Pilgrim hymn (all 37 verses, plus choruses) during the last part of our journey. Apparently it is the custom of modern-day pilgrims to walk the last mile to the Shrine. Martin assures me that next year, we will also observe this tradition. I‘m not sure who he thinks ?we‘ are, but I‘m sure someone will keep him company.

Upon arrival, we were welcomed and given our Pilgrim‘s manual, a small  ook which proved to be invaluable, and the details of our accommodation.

Some stayed within the grounds of the Shrine and the rest of us stayed as St Hilary‘s, a house only a short walk but a steepish hill away! Within the grounds there was an 11 o‘clock curfew (except for the priests‘ quarters — there‘s a surprise) whilst at St Hilary‘s there was no curfew but a door code to remember to gain entry ™ always an incentive not to over-indulge! Now, I don‘t want anyone to think that I, or anyone else saw the weekend as an excuse for a good time. It was, indeed, most enjoyable, with a balance in our companionship between sharing, first and foremost, our worship and then our thoughts and experiences with others at meal times, in the pub, the gardens  wherever. I, personally found it refreshing to spend time with people I don‘t have the opportunity to speak to say, on a Sunday morning.

After dumping our bags, we had our `First Visit‘, starting with reading from scripture at the Altar of the Annunciation, moving to the Holy House  the first of my own emotional experiences of the weekend. The words of the oft- sung hymn ?These stones that have echoed thy praises are holy‘ have never been so apt. I think I speak for others when I say that the feeling of prayer in the Holy House is tangible. I began to think that the rest of the weekend would be an anti-climax. I needn‘t have worried.

At 6 p.m. there was the option of Shrine prayers for all pilgrims, consisting of the Rosary and Intercessions. (I must stress at this point, none of our programme was compulsory, although most people attended many of the services on offer.) I found this service the most difficult, not having said the rosary before, and finding some of the intercessions a little too detailed. I‘m afraid that praying for named people in ?body, mind or spirit‘ is enough for me. However, that is only my point of view, and I don‘t doubt for one moment that many people find comfort and support from these prayers. Next came supper, for which we had to queue, but considering the number of people being fed at the same time, the quality of the food was fine. The rest of the evening was our own to do with whatever we wished ™ watch T.V., read, sit in the gardens, go to the pub, try to sleep despite banging doors (sorry to everyone at St Hilary‘s)!

Saturday began with breakfast, followed by a 9.30 a..m. mass in the Holy House for our party. Martin was honoured to serve as we all stood in the small chapel, only the dimension of a good-sized living room. It was very intimate and moving  well, it moved me to tears. This was followed by Stations of the Cross around the grounds. As Fr Neil had pointed out, that as other pilgrims had set off before us, and others would after, it was important not to be distracted as we are all at different stages in our common pilgrimage through  life.  However,  this  was  sometimes  difficult,  as  you could hear the other groups of people singing a different verse of a hymn, usually not in the same key as us, and often in several different keys, including us ™ sorry, Martin! All that said, it was indeed a journey with Christ, including the stark reality of Calvary ™ three plain wooden crosses ™ powerful stuff, and a visit to the tiny tomb, holding only three people at a time, another moving experience.

Kari, Mari and I had been asked to help carry the packed lunch to the coach. As we quietly made our way through the grounds, past other people following their `Stations‘, carrying bags of sandwiches, I observed that it was a shame that they weren‘t singing `Bread of heaven on thee we feed‘  muffled giggling ensued. Then, in the sunken garden, just outside the Shrine Church we came across two `abandoned‘ wheelchairs at which Kari commented ”Wow  miracles do happen! as there was no sign of any former or prospective occupants! Lunch safely on bus, we went to Wells-next-the-Sea via the R.C.chapels. Although beautiful in their own way, I did not get the same intense feeling as before. Wells should have the suffix `next-the-large-puddles‘ when the tide is out: not too much excitement, 3 pubs (so I‘ve heard) lots of resort shops, amusement arcades etc. There was a craft fair which sold all manner of things, including hand-crafted wooden key-rings with quite a lot of familiar, if unusual names ™ I mean, you never see anything with the name Miriam on normally. Fr Neil naturally ensured that people could appreciate that priests are normal humans by winning a terracotta snail at bingo, whilst wearing his clerical collar! Well, it is for the vicarage garden, so we‘ll all benefit! On the way back we had a birthday cake for Jackie Dale who was 60 at the end of July. Martin and I and the choir were all away that weekend, as were a lot of other people and were sorry to have missed her special occasion, so we lit candles, which were promptly blown out by the draught (twice) but a good time was had by all.

Back to Walsingham for a concelebrated Mass at 6 p.m. It was a lovely service, even standing behind a pillar! Although the Shrine Church was full, the atmosphere was such that I felt complete peace. Following Mass, supper, at which it was revealed that Our Lady had made herself manifest to some unsuspecting souls, advising them to watch the England v Germany match instead of attending the service! Mind you, we did win 5-1, so who can doubt the power of prayer? I rather think Our Lady and St Faith may make their presence felt on the night of the Patronal Festival Gala concert on October 6th (England v Greece)!

The rest of Miriam‘s impressions, and with any luck some photos, in next month‘s issue, by which time we shall now whether the Saints‘ inrercessions will have proved equally effective against Greece! Ed.

Book Review:  'Little Saint' by Hannah Green            Chris Price

Among the books I bought as a leaving-office gift from St Faith‘s people was, appropriately enough `Little Saint‘ by Hannah Green. It is a difficult book to describe. Christopher Hope, in The Daily Telegraph called it an exercise in ecstasy, describing it as ?the confession of a non-Roman Catholic pilgrim who lost her heart, and found happiness, in rural France when she came face to face with the village saint.‘ That saint is of course, Faith: Sainte Foy to the French, Fideles, or Faith to her Roman persecutors.  This 12-year-old girl of a noble family lived in Agen in Aquitaine during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian. Commanded to renounce her Christian faith in a time of harsh persecution, she refused and was roasted to death (and beheaded) in ?about AD 303‘. Her relics came to Conques, in Provence in the ninth century when the villagers, wanting a cult figure to perform miracles, acquired her and installed her in their church. ?Kings and lepers came to pray at her shrine. Pilgrims covered her in jewels and jammed the church of Conques in their thousands,‘ reports Hope.

He rightly reports of the book that Hannah Green, reverent and almost obsessed by her ?little saint‘ though she undoubtedly is, manages to be remarkably clear-eyed‘ about Sainte Foy. She knows the little martyr quite possibly never existed. Her statue (?a tiny statue with the face of a Celtic goddess and a body stiff with gold and studded with jewels‘) is, as he puts it, ?hedged about by ambiguities and pious frauds. Her golden head with slanting eyes is probably pre-Christian.‘

The book, a strange and fascinating ?read‘, is no biography or work of historical research. It is a work of love: for the unseen presence of healing and holiness at Conques, and, perhaps even more, for the priests and villagers whose lives seem centred round the shrine today, and who are portrayed affectionately in the book. It is at times rambling and repetitive, but rhapsodic and often moving. Green apparently died before her magnum opus was finished, and her husband and friends pieced the book together in a loose collection of reminiscence, commentary, description and meditation. As Hope rightly says, ?the result is moving in its open-heartedness, sometimes teetering on the edge of gush — but that is what happens in ecstasy.‘

I cannot pretend to be any more convinced of the existence of our patron saint (although perhaps a little clearer on what may have drawn Douglas Horsfall to choose her for our church) — but I found much to wonder at, and sometimes to 15
smile at, in this lyrical series of prose hymns of praise. I was pleased to discover that, at least according to Green, Faith is seen as having been light-hearted, even mischievous, and I delighted in the warm and entertaining descriptions of the places and people among which the author lived. Please let me know if you would like to borrow my copy: meanwhile, I end with a few samplings of Hannah Green‘s luminous and joyful writing as a fitting tribute to St Faith in the month when, in France and in Great Crosby, she is especially remembered.

?I was a stranger to saints; and yet I was given through Sainte Foy, in this remote and ancient place of pilgrimage, the gift of seeing into that zone which has been held sacred since the beginning of human consciousness...

?In that stilled moment, awed and torn with tenderness ... I saw not only her, Sainte Foy, but shadowy figures all around her. They were standing, tall and slightly bowed, like guardian angels, not clearly defined but there, even as the monks who watched over her through the ages, even as the Ancient of Days....

?Prayers whispered across the ages in their time in a thousand chapels dedicated to Sainte Foy across the face of Europe and along the great pilgrim route to Saint Jacques de Compostelle. Prayers chanted in Latin and sung as hymns, prayers shouted, cried out, sobbed forth in the language of these people, the langue d‘oc, prayers borne here silently by those who  came with their precious stones to pin them,  like flowers, with their burning hopes, on to her golden crown...

?Golden spark, little saint, come down through time, you who through the ages stayed steadfast and survived, you who with your girlish gaiety and your fierce protectiveness stood for healing, for justice, and for the bringing forth of new life, hear my prayers, O my saint. Hear us now as the hour of the second millennium draws near and the continuance of the earth lies in the balance, threatened, help us, intercede with the saints, with God Himself, that men may hear and the eyes of power be opened while yet there is time...‘

You Couldn‘t Make it Up!

The Editor, always on the lookout for evidence of the lunatic fringe of Christianity, was delighted to receive this choice picture and item from MIKE HOMFRAY recently. The internet text reads:

`He‘s 110 feet tall and has hands 20 feet long. He weighs over 750 lbs and is filled with 258,000 cubic feet of air. It took 13 weeks to sew him together. And he‘s quite simply the biggest Gadget for God we‘ve ever seen.

`Jesus the Hot Air Balloon is based in Tracy, California, and is the latest evangelistic balloon project of The Merritt Ministry. The biggest challenge they faced was theological, it seems: `How do you create a hot air balloon that is both authentic and reverent in its mission of creating the Son of God?‘  Er, quite ... The answer? `Jesus, in a majestic purple robe, trimmed in gold, rising above a base of white clouds, in all power and majesty as is presented in the Book of Revelation.‘ Right ...

The balloon, which bears the slogan `King of Kings, Lord of Lords‘ across the back of Jesus‘s robe, is currently touring the United States. `If you want to rise skyward with Jesus, you can beat the rapture rush at River Oak Grace Community Church, California, on Easter Sunday.‘

The story featured on the satirical Christian  website called Ship of Fools ( The Jesus balloon was voted the tackiest entry in their ongoing ?Gadgets for God‘ competition. Runners up were the Holy Odor-Eater Insoles (with holy soil from Jerusalem in the bottom layer), the TV Tombstone (with built-in screen to scroll through family photos and text while grave-watching) and the Crime-Busting Crucifix Alarm (screeching distance 150 metres: a Godsend for the panicking priest). Indeed, you couldn‘t make it up!

Rick Davies R.I.P.

To all my friends at St Faith‘s, may I say a most heartfelt and grateful thank you for your kind messages of sympathy to me and the family after Rick‘s death.

We appreciated very much your warm and loving response, to say nothing of your speedy offers of practical help — so typical of the St Faith‘s `family‘, but none the less genuine for that. You have been a great support and have enabled us, despite our sadness, to keep our spirits up.


Get Well Soon

We extend our sympathies to George Smith, suffering from an attack of shingles (and its aftermath) and wish him a speedy recovery.

The Road to Emmaus   Fr Neil

For various reasons, principally the time needed by those organising the course, we have decided to postpone the EMMAUS COURSE until he beginning of Lent. Both parishes are very busy at this time with patronal festivals and harvest celebrations. Lent is a time when we expect (I hope) to be giving our time for something extra in the church and therefore seems a logical time to begin the course. Apologies to those who were looking forward to it starting sooner. At some point in the new year (details in next month‘s magazine) there will be a proper ?launch‘ of the course and materials will be available then.

Watch this space — and remember that Lent will be upon us as soon as Christmas is over!

Losing Faith

Only two fifths of people think Jesus would go to church if he were alive today and more than 40% say the institution of the church puts more people off Christianity than it attracts, according to an NOP poll.

Squire Myers and the Founding of St. Faith's:  A Postscript        Mark Sargant

We are grateful to Mark Sargant of South Sefton Local History Unit at Crosby Library, for this intriguing contribution to the unfolding history of St Faith‘s.

When I researched the history of St. Faith‘s for the exhibition staged in Crosby Library in October 2000 to mark the hundredth anniversary of the church's consecration, I had no reason to doubt the received version of events relating to the foundation of the church.

Several printed sources, church guidebooks and retrospective accounts in the Crosby Herald, told the same story. This was that the founder Douglas Horsfall was a cousin of ?Squire Myers‘ of Great Crosby, and that Horsfall conceived the idea of building the church when visiting Myers at his residence, Crosby House. Subsequently it was reported that Squire Myers, from the vantage point of Crosby House, saw the building rising on the site and remarked ?I gave you land for a church and you are building a cathedral‘.  This charming story was so well-established that there was no reason to doubt it. In the nineteenth century the Myers family of Crosby House were certainly important landowners in the area. When I checked the Crosby Herald of 28th May 1898, reporting the foundation stone ceremony, I found ?Mr. F. Myers‘ described as ?Mr. Horsfall's cousin ... having generously offered the site‘.

Then, earlier this summer Mrs Brenda Murray, a local lecturer, carried out some research in the Local History Unit which cast doubt on the accuracy of the above story. When we checked other sources, Liverpool directories and local newspapers, it emerged that the Myers family had not lived in Crosby House since the 1860s. It had then been let to tenants until about the early 1890s, after which it remained empty until sold to the Sisters of Nazareth in 1897. This meant that the Sisters were already in residence by the time that ?Squire Myers‘ was supposed to have been entertaining Douglas Horsfall in Crosby House !

This mystery intrigued both Mrs Murray and myself. Where had the Myers family moved to? Who was the Frederick Myers mentioned in the Crosby Herald report? What was his true connection with Douglas Horsfall? Mrs Murray managed to make contact with a member of the Horsfall family still 19
living in Liverpool.  In a further twist to the story, it turned out that this lady, a Mrs Horsfall, had carried out some extensive family history research into her husband‘s family but had not come across any Myers connection!  I then remembered that since mounting the exhibition, the Local History Unit had been presented, by Mr Denis Griffths, with photocopies of two documents relating to the acquisition of the land for St. Faith‘s.

The conveyance of the land to the Church Commissioners on 29th December 1897 seemed the most promising. However, this hand-written document proved difficult to read, not only because of its legal nature, but more particularly because of the extremely unusual handwriting of the scribe.  However, Mrs Murray's perseverance paid off and we unearthed the information that the land was conveyed by ?Frederick Jaques Myers of Charlton Lodge in the County of Northampton‘.  From this, I located a village called Charlton near the Northants/Oxon. border and contacted my colleagues in Northamptonshire Libraries Local Studies Service. We were in luck, because there was a published history of the village with a whole chapter on Charlton Lodge. Northamptonshire loaned us a copy of this book and so we were able to find out more about the man who provided the land on which St. Faith‘s was to be built.

Frederick Jaques Myers was probably born in 1847 and is described as ?the eldest son of Mr Jaques Myers of Crosby House, Lancashire.‘ This would, we think, make him the grandson of the well known John Myers of Crosby ( Mrs Murray is still working on the Myers family). Frederick bought Charlton Lodge in 1881 and by all accounts was a very active philanthropist in the life of the village, being looked upon as the lord of the manor.  It would seem that he was indeed ?Squire Myers‘ as in the St. Faith‘s story, but Squire of Charlton not Crosby! He appears to have been something of a social snob. When a certain Mr Smith, a lawyer, and his wife first moved into the village, Myers was said to be ?very stand-offish‘ towards these apparent nobodies. The lawyer was in fact F.E. Smith, who  subsequently became Lord Chancellor and was created 1st Earl of Birkenhead in 1922!  Myers had died in 1911, so did not live to see plain Mr & Mrs Smith‘s elevation. However, he must have thawed somewhat in his attitude to the Smiths, because the book contains a 1907 photograph of him with Mrs Margaret Smith, future Countess of Birkenhead.

Myers, although living in Northamptonshire, still held the family land in Crosby until the late 1890s. For some reason he then decided to dispose of his holdings here, hence the sale of Crosby House to the Sisters of Nazareth and the offer of the site of St. Faith‘s to Douglas Horsfall, although the precise relationship between these two men still remains unclear.

So where did the charming stories of `Squire Myers of Crosby House‘ and St. Faith‘s foundation originate? Frederick Myers certainly conveyed the land in 1897 and the Crosby Herald report of 28th May 1898 does refer to him as the donor, and as Douglas Horsfall‘s cousin. The report relates that the idea for a church between Waterloo and Great Crosby was suggested by Bishop Ryle, who had been approached for his advice as to a possible locality for Horsfall‘s next foundation. The implication is that only then did Myers offer the site.  The anonymous `History of St. Faith‘s 1900-1930‘ published in 1930 tells the same story, but with no mention at all of Frederick Myers.

However by 1950, when `Fifty Years 1900-1950: A History of S. Faith‘s Crosby‘ (compiled by G.W. Houldin) was published, the Myers story was included in all its embroidered details and the bishop‘s part was not mentioned. Could this work be the source of all later confusion? If so, where did the compiler obtain his version, complete with the verbatim remarks of `Squire Myers of Crosby House‘?  Can anyone shed any light on this mystery?

(`G.W.Houldin‘ is, as older readers may be aware, George Houldin, Lay Reader and longstanding and much-respected member of St Faith‘s, who died thirty or more years ago. Perhaps the origins of the `Myers myth‘ as we should probably now regard it, died with him ... unless, of course, anyone knows different ... Ed.)

Explaining God

This was written by an American eight-year-old, Danny Dutton of Chula Vista, California for a homework assignment. The assignment was to explain God...

One of God‘s main jobs is making people. He makes them to replace the ones that die, so there will be enough people to take care of things on earth. He doesn‘t make grown-ups, just babies, I think because they are smaller and easier to make. That way he doesn‘t have to take up His valuable time teaching them to talk and walk. He can just leave that to mothers and fathers.

God‘s second most important job is listening to prayers. An awful lot of this goes on, since some people, like preachers and things, pray at times beside bedtime. God doesn‘t have time to listen to the radio or TV because of this. Because He hears everything, there must be a terrible lot of noise in His ears, unless He has thought of a way to turn it off. God sees everything and hears everything and is everywhere which keeps Him pretty busy. So you shouldn‘t go wasting His time by going over your Mom and Dad‘s head asking for something they said you couldn‘t have.

Atheists are people who don‘t believe in God. I don‘t think there are any in Chula Vista. At least there aren't any who come to our church.

Jesus is God‘s Son. He used to do all the hard work like walking on water and performing miracles and trying to teach the people who didn‘t want to learn about God. They finally got tired of Him preaching to them and they crucified Him. But He was good and kind, like His Father and He told His Father that they didn‘t know what they were doing and to forgive them and God said OK.

His Dad, (God) appreciated everything that He had done and all His hard work on earth so He told Him He didn‘t have to go out on the road anymore. He could stay in heaven. So He did. And now He helps His Dad out by listening to prayers and seeing things which are important for God to take care of and which ones He can take of Himself without having to bother God. Like a secretary, only more important.

You can pray any time you want and they are sure to help you because they got it worked out so one of them is on duty all the time.

You should always go to church on Sunday because it makes God happy, and if there‘s anybody you want to make happy, it‘s God. Don‘t skip church or do something you think will be more fun like going to the beach. This is wrong. And besides the sun doesn‘t come out at the beach until noon anyway.

If you don‘t believe in God, besides being an atheist, you will be very lonely, because your parents can‘t go everywhere with you, like to camp, but God can. It‘s good to know He‘s around when you are scared in the dark or when you can‘t swim and you get thrown into real deep water by big kids. But ... you shouldn‘t just always think of what God can do for you. I figure God put me here and He can take me back anytime He pleases. And that‘s why I believe in God.

Harvest 2001

This year Harvest Thanksgiving is being combined with our Patronal Celebrations, so the usual contributions of fruit, vegetables and tins would be inappropriate.

Cash donations instead will be very welcome, and will go to a local charity or the school we support in Malawi.

Panto Event          Lillie Wilmot

By the time you read this, rehearsals for the 2002 Pantomime `Babes in the Wood‘ will be under way and the build up to the February extravaganza will have begun. Putting on the pantomime and, we hope, making  a profit for Church funds, entails quite a bit of expense in such areas as scenery, costumes and lighting and sound provision.

In order to meet these costs, a fund-raising event will take place at St Faith‘s on SATURDAY, OCTOBER 27th at 8.00 pm. It will take the form of an evening of entertainment masterminded by our producer Peter Mercer. Peter will be providing some of the acts, but there will probably be an opportunity for members of both congregations to ?do their thing‘ as at the Easter parties. Basic refreshments will be provided (bring your own drink!) and there will, of course, be a charge for the evening. We very much hope that everyone will support what promises to be a great evening of fun and help to get the pantomime off to a flying start. More details soon!

`The Passing‘

Today we mourn the passing of an old friend by the name of `Common Sense‘.

Common Sense lived a long life but died from heart failure at the brink of the millennium. No one really knows how old he was since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He selflessly devoted his life to service in schools, hospitals, homes, factories and offices, helping folks get jobs done without fanfare and foolishness. For decades, petty rules, silly laws and frivolous lawsuits held no power over Common Sense. He was credited with cultivating such valued lessons as to know when to come in out of the rain, the early bird gets the worm, and life isn't always fair.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you earn), reliable parenting strategies (the adults are in charge, not the kids), and it's okay to come in second. A veteran of the Industrial Revolution, the Great Depression, and the Technological Revolution, Common Sense survived cultural and educational trends including body piercing, whole language and "new math." But his health declined when he became infected with the "If-it-only-helps-one-person-it's-worth-it" virus. In recent decades his waning strength proved no match for the ravages of overbearing federal regulation.

He watched in pain as good people became ruled by self-seeking lawyers andenlightened auditors. His health rapidly deteriorated when schools endlessly implemented zero tolerance policies, reports of six year old boys charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate, a teen suspended for taking a swig of mouthwash after lunch, and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student. It declined even further when schools had to get parental consent to administer aspirin to a student but cannot inform the parent when the female student is pregnant or wants an abortion.

Finally, Common Sense lost his will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband, churches became businesses, criminals received better treatment than victims, and federal judges stuck their noses in everything from Boy Scouts to professional sports.

As the end neared, Common Sense drifted in and out of logic but was keptinformed of developments,  regarding  questionable  regulations  for  asbestos, low flow toilets, ?smart‘ guns, the nurturing of Prohibition Laws and mandatory air bags. Finally, when told that the homeowners association restricted exterior furniture only to that which enhanced property values, he breathed his last.

Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason. He is Survived by three stepbrothers: Rights, Tolerance and Whiner.

Not many attended his funeral because so few realised he  was gone.

  Supplied by Fr. Neil

A Reflection for St Francistide        Fr Dennis

Some, but not all, at St Faith‘s will know that two very long-standing friends of the parish, and to whom ?Newslink‘ is sent each month, are professed Franciscan friars — Brother Raymond Christian, who grew up at St Faith‘s, serving as a boy and young man in both choir and sanctuary, and Brother Martin Philip who, as a student at Liverpool University, was an enthusiastic and committed chorister here.

As part of our Centenary celebrations it was a great joy to have both of them back with us as guest preachers and to know how happy and fulfilled they are in their vocations to the Religious life. Raymond Christian has for many years been Guestmaster at the beautiful and remote location of SSF in the Worcestershire countryside, and Martin Philip is currently based in the east end of London, at the Society‘s Stepney house.

Born in 1181, in the Umbrian town of Assisi, Francis was initially groomed to enter his father‘s cloth business; but a wild streak which led him into war with a neighbouring district and resulted in capture, set his mind on a different track. He was praying one day in the ruined church of San Damiano, when a voice from the crucifix seemed to say: ‘Francis, rebuild this house of mine.‘ He sold some of his father‘s cloth, was forced to return it, rebuilt the church by hand — and began a life of poverty and simplicity which was to have far-reaching effects.

Clare Offreduccio was so impressed by Francis and his brothers that she ran away from wealth and family to join him. At first, he sent her to a local Benedictine convent, but eventually Clare founded the first convent for what was to become known as the Order of Poor Clares. Francis himself (Il Poverello, ?the little poor one‘) later journeyed east, where he favourably impressed the Muslims, though with limited success in converting any to Christianity. Back in Umbria, he was disappointed to find that his original stringent ascetic values were being diluted, and eventually he relinquished the leadership of his Order. The changes made were not drastic, but Franics felt so strongly that simplicity should characterize the brothers: for instance, that no books should be owned — for books needed shelves, and shelves meant a house; and the brothers, he maintained, did not need such luxuries.

In 1224, Francis began a forty-day fast, during which the sufferings of Jesus became so real, that the Sacred Wounds appeared on his own body. Fearing to draw attention to himself, he kept the Stigmata secret for two years. When at his death, one of the brothers discovered them, another brother remarked that at death Francis appeared to have just been crucified.

It is thought that Francis was the instigator of the Christmas crib. One year, he invited the brothers up his mountain cave on Christmas Eve, where he had reconstructed the nativity scene, with animals and a manger. The brothers were so enthralled, that the news quickly spread, and families from the area trekked up the mountain to the cave — since when the scene has been replicated in countless churches and homes the world over.

Whether one imagines a brown-robed gentle man with animals clustered round him, or delves deep into the precious writings of Francis or his fellows, the example is one of simple abandonment to Christ: a turning away from what the world and society have to offer, to humility and a complete disregard for convention and status.

As the festival of Il Poverello is celebrated on October 4th, we would do well to remember the ?little poor man‘ of Assisi who gave up wealth and position for a love he called ?Lady  Poverty‘. He would say he gained far more than he lost. We with seven centuries and more of his example and writings, can say much of the world has gained also. Many who marvel at his courage, and who would never attempt to follow his example, nevertheless have found a spark of life in his poverty and simplicity, which has revitalized their own Christian life.

Blessed indeed be God, in his angels and in his saints.

Summer Saturday Retrospect   Chris Price

Saturday 25th August saw the final recital in the Summer Saturday Series (a bravura display by the Kelly/Callacher piano duo!) and the end of the Open Church sessions. This year there were nineteen weeks to cater for, and to enjoy, and we continued to build steadily on the foundations laid when the idea was launched during the interregnum.

On the musical front, we have listened —  still entirely free of charge! — to seven different organists, five different pianists, a chamber choir, two flautists, a soprano and a baritone, two violinists, a horn, an oboe, a ‘cello, a recorder ... and continuo. The standard has been as high as ever, and the audiences as appreciative as ever.

Helping out have been six or more different teams of caterers and welcomers, selling coffee, tea, scones and light lunch refreshments each week from 11 am to 1 pm. At the same time, assorted church sales items (books, poetry, mugs etc) have been on sale. Numbers attended have ranged from some 45 to nearer 70, and the atmosphere has been, as in past years, relaxed, convivial and happy. Old friends have been welcomed back, strangers made welcome, and new friends. Church funds (including welcome shots in the arm for the vicarage fencing fund, the Lord Runcie window, the Malawi appeal and, more recently, the organ humidifier fund), have been made, and some new tables bought to cope with increasing demand. Our thanks are due to all who have helped in any way on the, catering, welcoming, publicity, administrative and, of course, musical fronts, and we look forward to your services next summer.

Next year there will in fact be even more Saturdays to cater for, and we are planning for the summer season of 2002! If you would like to help as part of a catering/welcoming team, please feel free to volunteer. If you have yet to enjoy the pleasures of Summer Saturdays at St Faith‘s, we look forward to welcoming you.

The Lord Runcie Window         Chris Price

Over the summer, people have had the opportunity to read about and look, at the latest design for the Lord Runcie Window on display at the back of church.

This autumn will see the continuing of the process which will culminate in the dedication of the window. Following further PCC discussion, and assuming that no serious objections arise, the process of applying for a faculty will be put in motion. When this is completed (and again, assuming no problems arise) the process of finalising the design and the actual creation of the window can begin. The Bishop of Liverpool has given us the date of Wednesday 25th May, 2002, for the dedication service — his first available day! This will leave ample time for the completion of the final stages of realising the scheme, and we look forward to what should be a great occasion.

On the funding front, we are delighted to have raised some £5,600 towards the total cost of the window, and once more express our gratitude to all who have made this project possible. More news in due course.

A Celtic Blessing

May the blessing of light be upon you: light on the outside, light on the inside.
With God‘s sunlight shining on you, may your heart glow with warmth like a turf fire that welcomes friends and strangers alike.
May the light of the Lord shine from your eyes like a candle in the window, welcoming the weary traveller.
May the blessing of God‘s soft rain be on you, falling gently on your head, refreshing your soul with the sweetness of little flowers newly blooming.
May the strength of the winds of heaven bless you, carrying the rain to wash your spirit, sparkling after in the sunlight.
May the blessing of God‘s earth be on you, and as you walk the roads, may you always have a kind word for those you meet.
May you understand the strength and power of God in a thunderstrom in winter, and the quiet beauty of creation in the calm of a summer sunset.
And may you realise that, insignifcant as you may seem in this great universe, you are an important part of God‘s plan.
May he watch over you and keep you safe from harm.  Amen.

Quoted in a sermon by Jackie Parry

 Church Failing Surfing Generation
by Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent of The Times

The Archbishop of York has condemned the `top-down‘ management structures of the Church of England and said that the nation‘s spiritual health was in jeopardy. He urged a radical look at the Church‘s structures and singled out the new Archbishops‘ Council, of which he is co-chairman, for particular criticism. He said that there were considerable concerns about the body which, in a reference to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, he described as `Carey‘s curia‘. Dr Hope, preaching at Cambridge University, said that the mountain of paperwork and labyrinthine bureaucracy of the established Church meant that it was failing in its duty to help the `spiritually lost people of the surfing generation‘. For most people, the Church had become `little more than a useful landmark by which to offer (geographical) directions‘.

He said: ?There are deep spiritual yearnings, longings. Large numbers of people say they pray. But they are not into religion.‘ The Church might have to consider moving towards a less established and more community model to reach such people, he said. Dr Hope wanted a less institutionalised organisation with fewer committees, boards and management structures.

The Archbishops‘ Council, which includes appointed and elected members, is the new management structure at the centre of the Church of England. Chaired by Dr Hope and the Dr Carey, it has been meeting for two years. It meets monthly to determine national management strategy.

Its meetings are held in private and few details of discussions are made public. As a result, the council has failed to make an impression on national life. It is felt even by other bishops, that the council has merely added yet another layer to an increasingly top-heavy Church.

Dr Hope, in his sermon, described the initial concept as a `top-down approach, altogether too hierarchical‘. He said that the approach was perceived from the start as `alien to an Anglican understanding both of the Church and of its structures and authority‘. He called instead for a more `bottom-up‘ model, with power centred on the parishes.