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From the Ministry Team : October 2003

‘Money makes the world go round’

The song whose title I have quoted above may not be wholly true. Money doesn‘t exactly make the world go round, it just helps it to! And the same is true of the Church. Money helps us to do what God requires of us.

It is a few years since we have had a Stewardship Campaign (the last one was September 2000) and the next one is long overdue. Money and the Church isn’t everyone’s favourite combination but we at S. Faith‘s have some hard facts to face.

You will know that in May of this year, both PCCs had an away-day in Formby at which one of the subjects addressed was ‘Money, Mission and Maintenance’. We were helped in our thinking by Ian Leadbetter from the Diocesan Resources Department. Beforehand we published in Newslink some of the facts and figures pertaining to life at S. Faith’s. We faced the fact that we need to have raised £56,700 in 2003 to meet our budget. This means if you divide that amount by the total number of people on the Electoral Roll we are looking at an average weekly giving of £7.26 per person. You may think this is unrealistic, perhaps impossible, but we have to have some way of measuring how much, on average, we need from those prepared to make a financial commitment to the church. We also noted patterns of covenanted giving and found that 44 people give £4 or less each week. That may well be all some people can afford and we must be quite clear that a Stewardship Campaign is not about asking people to give what they don‘t have. That said, we have to face facts and the fact is that if the money doesn‘t come in on the plate it has to be raised in other ways.

We have a wonderful building in which to worship God; but in truth that is a mixed  blessing.    A  smaller  church  building  would  be  easier  (cheaper)  to maintain. We learned last year that our heating system is on borrowed time! In the next year we are due to have an inspection of the building by our architect, required every five years by the Diocese. On top of needing a heating system which we cannot afford we may well have to spend money on the fabric of the church. We don‘t have it to spend! We have a long tradition of good ceremonial, fine music and a high standard of liturgy (to say nothing of the catering!). These have been hallmarks of S. Faith’s for decades. But it costs! If we had artificial flowers, electric candles and hymns accompanied by a tape recorder I suppose it would be much cheaper. And I guess we would then follow the S. Faith’s Day High Mass with a cup of tea and a ‘Tesco value’ digestive biscuit. Not very appealing!

Last year S. Mary’s was in a bit of a financial crisis. We aren‘t out of the woods yet by any means, but a combination of generous legacies from former parishioners (have you remembered S. Faith’s in your will? see page 17), coupled with a generous response to a request to increase giving, has meant that we are able to pay our bills and are now well and truly ‘in the black’. S. Mary‘s is a far easier (cheaper) building to maintain for all sorts of reasons. The situation has become so serious at S. Faith’s that in order to meet other financial demands we have had to withhold two month‘s contribution to the Diocese. This makes three months’ quota in total withheld in the past 12 months (whilst still expecting the Diocese to provide a Parish Priest and a house for him to live in!). It is not a good sign at all. I hope this is only a temporary hiccup, but if we cannot substantially increase our giving, then we as a church need to ask some serious questions about our future viability. And so will the Diocese be asking those questions.

Buildings are not a prerequisite for doing the Lord‘s work but if we want S. Faith‘s Church to continue to be available in the years ahead we have to pay for it. Priests may well be ordained to consecrate bread and wine and to pronounce God‘s blessing. We are not yet able to produce money from thin air, much as I wish we could! It has to come from those who claim S. Faith’s as their spiritual home and our forthcoming Stewardship Campaign needs to be taken seriously.

For the first time, the Stewardship Campaign will be headed up solely by PCC members. Not the Vicar! You have elected your PCC. They are appointed to serve the needs of this parish, and (in accordance with recent Charity Commissioners Law) they are trustees of the parish finances. Please respond generously to their appeal.

Those  who  attended  the  Visitation  Service  in Christ Church, Bootle in May heard the Archdeacon of Liverpool say that recent studies show that levels of stress among the Clergy have never been higher. Yes, it is a worry serving not one, but two parishes, who have financial difficulties. But at another level there is nothing to worry about because if the people want their church to exist they will pay for it. No amount of worrying can change that fact. There are many examples up and down the country of parishes in far more deprived areas than ours where the financial giving is relatively speaking far higher than the giving at S. Faith‘s. Canon Raymond Lee told me that since retirement, in all his journeys around the Diocese taking services in a variety of Churches, it was in the Bootle parishes he saw £5 and £10 notes placed on the plate whilst in more affluent Ainsdale a proliferation of £1 coins! Very rarely does one hear of a ?poor‘ Evangelical Church. Read the parable of the widow’s mite (Mark 12:41-44 and Luke 21:1-4).

I said in the letter I wrote last month ‘Golf clubs thrive, as do music societies, football clubs, swimming clubs, health clubs, fancy restaurants, posh clothes shops and so on. They do so because people are committed to them!’ The truth is they not only survive but people are happy to give their money to them. People think nothing of spending £2,000 on a foreign holiday, or £25 on nice wine each week, or £35 on a ticket to a football match or upwards of £15,000 on a wedding reception. Why is it that £5 seems nothing in Sainsbury’s but a fortune on the collection plate?

Our Patronal Festival, as always, must be a time for us to take stock: to look at the blessings we have received, and to commit ourselves to the Lord‘s work in the future. In the Gospels we are told that ‘to him who has been given much, much will be required of him’ (Luke 12:48). Having a Patron Saint who was a martyr must teach us something. God doesn’t want the ‘left-overs’ — spiritually or financially. More importantly, is that all He is worth?

A lot is required of us at S. Faith’s. It is an exciting prospect and it is in your hands! With the prayers of S. Faith our Patron, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we have the opportunity of shaping the future of S. Faith’s. What could be more exciting?

With my love and prayers

Father Neil

Patronal Festival Services

Sunday 5th October  THE EVE OF SAINT FAITH‘S DAY

7.00pm Sung Compline (plainsong) and Benediction

Monday 6th October  THE SOLEMNITY OF SAINT FAITH, Virgin and Martyr

10.30am Holy Eucharist (said)
8.00pm PROCESSION AND PONTIFICAL HIGH MASS Celebrant and Preacher:  The Right Reverend Nigel McCulloch, Bishop of Manchester
 Followed by refreshments in the Parish Hall

Sunday 12th October  DEDICATION FESTIVAL

11.00am HIGH MASS  Preacher: Canon Peter Goodrich

6.00pm Festal Evensong, Procession and Solemn Te Deum  Preacher: Canon Paul Nener (S. John Baptist, Tuebrook)

United Benefice Pilgrimage to Walsingham   Fr. Neil

A good number of us are once again going on Pilgrimage to the Shrine at Walsingham. It will be a weekend of good fun, plenty of prayer and devotion and plenty of opportunities for us to get to know each other better socially. One of the most moving parts of the pilgrimage is when we, as a group, gather together in the Holy House for our prayers of intercession. All those on pilgrimage give names of people for whom we pray and other special intentions.

If you would like anyone prayed for at Walsingham whilst we are on Pilgrimage please write down your request on a piece of paper and hand it to me before the Pilgrimage.

Stageright: ‘Off Broadway’  Chris Price

I wasn’t sure what I was in for at St Mary’s Hall on August 30th. All I knew was that they had been approached by a young man offering to put on a show for a couple of nights in order to raise money to help St Mary‘s close their financial gap a bit. This not only seemed the best of causes but also aroused my curiosity, and there was nothing worth watching on TV that night anyway!…

It turned out to be a great evening out and an experience to remember. The Hall was packed (a bit like the Panto performances, only this time it was Dora having to shoe-horn everybody in!). The show was expertly compered by Chris Fittock, who had made the original offer, and starred Antony Stuart-Hicks, the second half singer/comedian. Apart from these two young men, all the rest were girls, from the Waterloo, Crosby, Formby and Southport area, and their ages ranged from 13 to, I guess, 17. The Stage Right Theatre Company says that it aims ‘to encourage, promote and stage new work from the Sefton area’ and that it is particularly interested in working with young people in both performance and writing. On the evidence of their show at St Mary‘s, they are doing a great job in fulfilling their aims.

They entertained an appreciative audience, made up of parishioners from the United Benefice and cheering family support groups, with what was basically a variety talent show. There was singing, dancing and some drama, all to expert live keyboard accompaniment, and set against a background of dramatic stage smoke, laser effects and strobe lighting. The girls delighted us with their talent, energy, enthusiasm and commitment, with a wide range of singing and dancing styles. They had all answered an invitation to perform in this special production and had come together for the occasion, and they obviously enjoyed it as much as we did. I am sure that quite a few of them have a bright future in show business ahead of them.

The show ended with a very different, but equally entertaining routine from Antony Stuart-Hicks, who interleaved deadpan comic routines and skilful ‘working’ of the audience with songs from the shows which showed off his fine and sometimes moving voice. The warm and well-deserved applause which greeted him and all the performers at the end of the show was a proper tribute to everyone who had worked so hard to put on such an unusual and splendid evening. All at St Mary’s (and not least their beleaguered treasurer!) have good reason to be more than grateful to Chris Fittock and his merry band for giving us a show to remember.
It’s Pantomime Time!

By the time you read this rehearsals will be well under way for the 2004 Pantomime ‘ROBINSON CRUSOE’. Tickets will be on general release from Advent Sunday (30th November) so make sure you are in church that day!

Healing Services Fr. Neil

We have now held the third of our monthly healing services, alternating between S. Faith’s and S. Mary’s, and they have been well received and well attended. Please let us know the names of any in need of prayers for healing. Also, if any members of the congregation wish to assist with the laying on of hands please let me know. The Healing Ministry is a ministry of the whole church and I hope that more people will want to get involved in this way. Please make this ministry known to any members of your family, neighbours or friends. There may be people who for whatever reason cannot come to church week by week but would welcome an invitation to the Healing Services. Lastly, if anyone requires a lift to these services (or indeed can offer a lift) please let me know.

The Editor and members of his family can testify to the peace, support and blessing that the healing services, at both our churches and with both of our clergy and laity from each congregation, can bring.

Book of Remembrance

As you know S. Faith’s was given a lovely new Book of Remembrance two years ago in memory of Rachel Dawson RIP and is housed in the Chapel of the Cross in a case made my Chris Dawson. No names are automatically included. If you would like a name included in this book please take a form from the Back of Church and when you have completed the form please hand it to Hilary Pennington. There is no charge for this but you may wish to make a donation. The other smaller book we have in the Chapel of the Cross will continue to be in use for the names of those who are prayed for each day.
St Faith’s Autumn

SATURDAY, 19 OCTOBER, 2003 at 11.00 am.
Please support this annual event vital fund-riasing event, with something for all the family!

There are loads of stalls — especially for children and families. There are books for sale, face painting and all sorts of games for children to play: roll a penny, name the doll, play your cards right, the buzzer game and much more.

For the grown-ups there‘s the Bazaar Favourites, our famous home-made cakes, (be sure to arrive early, before they sell out!), a bottle tombola,  a  raffle, (you could win a food hamper or Sunday dinner hamper), delicious home-made jams and  preserves for sale  and, if you enjoy pottery or ornaments, we've a stall full  of bric-a-brac. Who knows what you may find?  And there‘s a general Tombola, and prize-winning raffles galore!

Refreshments will be on sale.

All proceeds to church funds.

Ditchingham 2003   Father Dennis

For a number of years, Fr Charles Billington, from Abergele, and two other very good friends from Derby, Fr Michael and Pam Brinkworth, have been encouraging me to spare a few days and join them in attending an Anglo-Catholic Charismatic Celebration, which takes place each summer in the beautiful surroundings of St Gabriel’s Conference Centre in the grounds of All Hallows’ Convent, Ditchingham, Norfolk, about twelve miles south of Norwich.

The idyllic, rural setting is splendid, with miles of lovely Norfolk countryside to explore on foot and by car; just half an hour’s ride to the magnificent Suffolk coastal resort of Southwold. Not knowing exactly what to expect, along with over a hundred other folk: priests and laity, young and old, I arrived in time for afternoon tea on Monday 11th August. By breakfast on Friday 15th August (note the gastronomic landmarks here. Ed.) I had resolved to attend again next year (D.V.) - the experience had been marvellous!

In the conference’s time-honoured tradition the ‘Celebration’ was structured around the sacraments of Catholic Christendom that have nourished and sustained millions of Christians and have been cherished and valued over the centuries. Each daily mass, concelebrated by several priests, was an occasion of much joy, praise and thanksgiving, with the worship as vibrant and prayerful as one could ever wish to experience. Along with a couple of Bible studies and teaching sessions in the morning, in the afternoons there were optional seminars on:
 ? What is an Anglo-Catholic?
 ? Praying with the Blessed Sacrament
 ? Receiving gifts of the Holy Spirit (‘Tongues’)
 ? Prophecy
 ? Leading worship and preaching
 ? Christian music.
The last seminar was conducted outside on the lawn on a gloriously sunny afternoon, with Fr Charles playing CDs and introducing us to a variety of musical genres.

In the modern, light and airy chapel of St Gabriel’s there were also opportunities for individuals to experience various forms of ?Ministry‘, including anointing, the laying on of hands and the sacramentolf reconciliation. About twenty or so children were very well looked after, with the provision of their own programme of events (outdoor swimming pool and tennis courts included) and one of many highlights of ‘Celebration’ was the family mass in which all the children participated and a group of talented young musicians provided some gloriously inspiring and uplifting accompaniment.

A ‘Christian Disco’ (I’m not exactly sure why it is called such), an indispensable feature of ‘Celebration’ each year, had as its D.J and M.C. none other than the musical maestro himself - Fr Charles again, attired in impressively coloured shirt and shiny black shoes, and whose wonderfully idiosyncratic and eccentric compering had to be seen to be believed. A social on the last night, with ample food (there we go again. Ed.) and very drinkable punch, provided great opportunity for aspiring dancers, singers, comedians and monologue-tellers to come to the fore (amazingly, yours truly resisted the temptation - after all, I‘m very shy!) - and when the early mass on the final day was over the farewell Peace shared by all took on a poignancy of its own, with a tangible and unforgettable atmosphere of love, joy and Christian fellowship pervading throughout.

From the Book of Revelation, this year’s conference theme was ‘The Spirit and the Bride’. I look forward eagerly to whatever next year’s will be!

Remembering Saint Faith’s in your Will

Many churches have a ‘wills and legacies’ Sunday each year. Your PCC may feel that we need to at S. Faith’s. Someone asked me recently how they should indicate in their will that S. Faith’s receives a legacy after they die. I was advised to give them these words:

‘I bequeath to Saint Faith’s Church the sum of £ xx.xx free of all tax to be spent in accordance with the wishes of the PCC unless otherwise directed to be spent.‘

Have you remembered S. Faith’s in your will? I hope that many of you have. However, it is worth remembering that if you are a UK tax payer, and make a donation whilst still being alive, the church will receive an extra 28pence for every £1 you give. So a donation of £10,000 whilst you are still alive would mean that the church actually receives £12,800!


‘Warning: church can make you ill’
‘Original sin in the Outer Hebrides’
Chris Price

Two recent articles in the Daily Telegraph, from very much the opposite ends of the religious spectrum, illustrate the lovable eccentricity of the Christian church as seen through the eyes of those on its fringes.

In the first, Jonathan Petrie, the ‘Religion Correspondent’, is delighted to be able to report that ‘Irish Roman Catholics have been warned that church-going could pose a threat to their health because incense contains potentially dangerous chemicals.’

The threat to altar boys and girls was highlighted by Dr Jim McDaid, ‘a transport minister’ (well this is Ireland we’re talking about) in the context of plans to ban smoking in the workplace. He isn’t actually against incense as such, but is worried about the carcinogenic agents present in the smoke. A spokesman for the Dublin Archdiocese dutifully agreed. ‘Obviously anything that sends a cloud of smoke into a child’s face is something we would be concerned about.’ Interestingly, she went on to say that while incense ‘had been widely used in the past during Benediction and High Mass, nowadays it was most often used at funerals.’ Finally, the Master of Ceremonies to the Archbishop of Dublin had his say. ‘In a small church building you have to be aware, particularly if there are servers suffering from asthma.’

The Holy Smoke at St Faith’s is certainly not confined to funerals, so perhaps the sacristan and his acolytes will be putting in for danger money. On the other hand, no-one could call St Faith’s a ‘small church building’ so, as the symbol of our prayers wafts straight up to heaven, it will probably only pose a threat to any lurking pigeons or beetles in the rafters.

As the (Protestant) crow flies it is no great distance to the Outer Hebrides, beloved of this writer but, in its northern reaches, a last outpost of stern and unbending fundamentalist Protestantism a world away from Papish incense-swingers. Columnist Adam Nicholson, who actually owns a clutch of delectable islets, wrote recently about original sin, a concept unknown to free-thinking Britain in general but alive and well in Lewis and Harris. He gives an entertaining description of a recent Stornoway service at which he was the one man not in a suit and his wife the one woman not under a hat.

‘Some of you may think,’ the minister thundered, ‘that you are here on this earth to enjoy yourselves. Well, I have got some news for you. You are not. You are here on this earth to suffer.’ Nicholson speaks of the ‘shimmer of appalled delight that riffled through the congregation at these words.’ He goes on to analyse the Calvinist theology that makes possible such a statement and has preserved, against a rising tide of erosion, the uniqueness of the Presbyterian Sabbath where reading the Bible is about the only approved activity.

Having experienced the Stornoway lifestyle myself, I rather enjoyed Nicholson’s thoughtful and witty analysis and, in part, his defence of this vanishing way of life. Until, that is, I read this sentence. ‘It was publicly stated, in several Hebridean pulpits, that the two girls from Soham who were kidnapped and murdered last summer would not have met their fate if their families had kept them inside as they should have done’

Two worlds and two Christian denominations, a few miles apart across a northern sea, yet more than a world apart in their interpretation of the Gospel. Each has its absurdities and its blinkered preoccupation; they share, also, a continuing decline in their numbers and influence and, in the case of the Roman Catholics, an entirely understandable loss of moral authority in the wake of ongoing revelations of years of institutionalised child abuse. The cautious, lovable ?via media‘ that shelters under the Anglican umbrella accommodates both extremes, thank God: long may it continue so to do. But this writer at least is happier to be a victim of passive holy smoking at ‘our end’ than to condone the joyless and judgemental puritanism at the other end of that colourful spectrum.

St Cecilia’s Day Concert

Saturday 22nd November 2003 in St Faith’s Church at 7.30 pm
An Evening with the Aughton Male Voice Choir and Guest Artistes April Johnsdon (violin) and Neil; Kelley (piano)

to include a glass of champagne in the interval

Blame the Vicar
Contributed by Fr Neil (can’t think why. Ed.)

When things go wrong it’s rather tame
To find we are ourselves to blame,
It gets the trouble over quicker
To go and blame things on the Vicar.
The Vicar, after all, is paid
To keep us bright and undismayed.
The Vicar is more virtuous too
Than lay folks such as me and you.
He never swears, he never drinks,
He never should say what he thinks.
His collar is the wrong way round,
And that is why he‘s simply bound
To be the sort of person who
Has nothing very much to do
But take the blame for what goes wrong
And sing in tune at Evensong.
For what‘s a Vicar really for
Except to cheer us up? What’s more,
He shouldn’t ever, ever tell
If there is such a place as Hell,
For if there is it's certain he
Will go to it as well as we.
The Vicar should be all pretence
And never, never give offence.
To preach on Sunday is his task
And lend his mower when we ask
And organize our village fetes
And sing at Christmas with the waits
And in his car to give us lifts
And when we quarrel, heal the rifts.
To keep his family alive
He should industriously strive
In that enormous house he gets,
And he should always pay his debts,
For he has quite six pounds a week,
And when we‘re rude he should be meek
And always turn the other cheek.
He should be neat and nicely dressed
With polished shoes and trousers pressed,
For we look up to him as higher
Than anyone, except the Squire.
Dear People, who have read so far,
I know how really kind you are,
I hope that you are always seeing,
Your Vicar as a human being,
Making allowances when he
Does things with which you don’t agree.
But there are lots of people who
Are not so kind to him as you.
So in conclusion you shall hear
About a parish somewhat near,
Perhaps your own or maybe not,
And of the Vicars that it got
One parson came and people said,
‘Alas! Our former Vicar’s dead!
And this new man is far more ”Low”
Than dear old Reverend So-and-so,
And far too earnest in his preaching,
We do not really like his teaching,
He seems to think we‘re simply fools
Who’ve never been to Sunday Schools’
That Vicar left, and by and by
A new one came, ‘He's much too ”High”,’
The people said, ‘too like a saint,
His incense makes our Mavis faint.’
So now he‘s left and they‘re alone
Without a Vicar of their own.
The living’s been amalgamated
With one next door they‘ve always hated.
Dear readers, from this rhyme take warning,
And if you heard the bell this morning
Your Vicar went to pray for you,
A task the Prayer Book bids him do.
‘Highness’ or ‘Lowness’ do not matter,
You are the Church and must not scatter
Cling to the Sacraments and pray
And God be with you every day.

John Betjeman

Time Out 2003   Beckie Waters

I’ve recently been on a Scripture Union holiday called ‘Time Out’ and it was so amazing! Now I‘m back home, I miss all the Christian friends I made.

On camp we had up to 3 hours worship a day with songs that were spiritually moving. Not forgetting our small group sessions, which were really interesting. There were a lot of things to take in - if you ask me the holiday was too short!

During the week we had activities to go to. I chose white-water rafting which is something I’ve wanted to do for ages and which included kayaking and raft-building. The instructors liked the way they could have a bit of a rest because I knew what I was doing when we went kayaking. We had people from France on the holiday, who also went white-water rafting and we all had an excellent day! I also put my faith in one of the instructors. That was a bit scary because I had to capsize and wait under water for him to save me by putting my hand on his paddle so I could flip myself up without falling out of my kayak.

We also went ice skating which was brilliant, too! One of my friends, Andy, and I  went fast holding hands and we spinned when we came to turning the corner. That was so cool — we both fell to the floor in fits of laughter!

On August 14th we went to Oxford and went punting. That was such fun. I went in a punt with four other people in my group. There were my two leaders, Steph and Ellie, and my friends Kate and Helen who slept in my dorm. After we had been punting I went shopping with some more of my friends.

That was a good/bad day. My leader Steph was looking out for me, she realised I hadn‘t had much to eat and she went to tell Anne, one of the leaders in charge. Anne sent me to the shops to get something to eat. I was annoyed with Steph for telling Anne and we had a fall out. Within the next hour I realised I‘d made a mistake by saying to her that friends don‘t go and tell other people things like that and by walking off saying I didn‘t want to hear what she had to say - even though she said she was worried about me and was trying to help me.

We both ended up closer and as I stood there hugging her and crying, I realised how stupid I had been. What I couldn‘t believe was that she forgave me so quickly and I couldn‘t even forgive myself.

What I gained from my time at ‘Time Out’ was that I got closer to God through worship and my two leaders. They might not know, but they’ve helped me so much! My male leaders Andrew and John also helped me. I’ve  made some brilliant Christian friends who were there for me. Andy, Jenny and Rachael are brilliant people, and everyone who went on ‘Time Out’will stay in my prayers.

Thanks again to Steph and Ellie, who have shown me and taught me that if I put my faith in God, He’l guide me through my hard and troubled times.

Patronal Flower Festival 2003

The Flower Festival is almost upon us, so let us hope it will be a happy time for everyone (as well as a bit of hard work!)
The dates and opening times are:
Friday 3rd October 11.00 am — 4.00 pm
Saturday 4th October 11.00 am — 4.00 pm
Sunday 5th October 1.00 pm — 4.00 pm

Please sign up (if you have not done so already) on the lists at the back of Church to welcome visitors and to help with refreshments.

We also need some strong people (men?) to fill buckets with water on Monday 29th September at 11.15 am after the Eucharist, and also much-needed offers of greenery from your gardens, or from your neighbours’gardens.  Please let MARY CROOKE know if you need transport for said greenery.

If you can‘t help, please do come along to admire the flowers (and the church), to meet and greet friends and strangers, to partake of a little refreshment and to make this a weekend to remember.

From Robert Ellsberg’ ‘ll Saints’ Fr Dennis sends this Reflection on the life  of:
Fyodor Dostoevsky Russian Novelist (1821-1881)

‘The world will be saved by beauty.’
Few writers have matched Dostoevsky's appreciation for the pathos and misery of human existence. Drawing on his own sufferings, he depicted the depths of evil and psychological anguish with vivid, if not morbid, realism. At the same time, drawing also on his own deep, if anguished, faith, Dostoevsky wrote about the meaning of grace, conversion, and the possibility of salvation. Indeed, it is the dialectic between sin and salvation that provides the theme of many of his greatest novels.

Dostoevsky was born in Moscow on October 30, 1821. At the age of sixteen he was enrolled in the school of military engineering in St. Petersburg. After graduation he decided to pursue a literary career. In 1846 he published his first story, ‘Poor People’, which reflected his lifelong concern for the sufferings of common people. It was an immediate success.

Nevertheless, in 1849 Dostoevsky’s literary promise was nearly extinguished when he was arrested and charged with participation in an underground socialist study circle. After some period in prison he was condemned to death. He was actually tied to a post and came within minutes of meeting the firing squad when the execution was halted by an imperial reprieve. Psychologically, it was a shattering experience that left a permanent mark on his soul. His sentence was reduced to four years of hard labour in a Siberian prison camp. He passed the time among common criminals, an experience that proved invaluable to his later work as a writer. But this period was also the forge of his spiritual convictions. His only book in prison was a copy of the New Testament. From long contemplation on this text he imbibed such themes as the common human solidarity in the sin of the world, the redemptive meaning of suffering, and the power of Christ’s love.

Upon his release from prison Dostoevsky still had to serve several years in a regiment on the Siberian border. There he married a young widow whom he treated disdainfully, only to be racked by guilt after her premature death. He suffered from epileptic seizures, he was a compulsive gambler, and his addiction contributed to his lifelong penury. Nevertheless, in the midst of these circumstances he managed to write with a feverish intensity, producing in a short period such novels as ‘Crime and Punishment’, ‘The Idiot’, and ‘The Possessed’. In 1867 he married his stenographer, Anna Snitkina, whose love and support provided some balance to his overwrought sensibility. They had four children, of whom two died.

All Dostoesvky’s great novels were marked by a powerful understanding of human psychology and an obsession with certain great spiritual themes. Among these were the nature of evil, the condition of humanity in rebellion against God, and the meaning of salvation. In ‘Crime and Punishment’ his protagonist, Raskolnikov, murders an old pawnbroker simply to test his theory that for superior human beings — as he deems himself to be — the ordinary moral code does not apply. Ultimately he cannot run from his guilt. He confesses his crime and must serve his sentence in Siberia. He is followed into exile by a saintly prostitute in whose love and faith reside the possibility of his final redemption.

In his last and greatest work.‘The Brothers Karamazov’, Dostoesvky gave particular vent to his religious concerns. Ivan Karamazov  rejects the existence of God because of the suffering of the innocent. At the same time he holds that ‘if God does not exist everything is permissible’ (only to be appalled when someone else enacts the logic of this creed). His brother Alyosha, on the other hand, is a novice at the local monastery, a disciple of the saintly Father Zossima, whose story and discourses offer a distillation of the gospel according to Dostoevsky.

Zossima’s great theme is the centrality of love, a message that many of his penitents and some of his own monks consider all too simple. Among those seeking his spiritual counsel is a proud rich woman. Zossima counsels her that the solution to her spiritual problems is ‘active love’. "Strive to love your neighbors actively and indefatigably. And the nearer you come to achieving this love, the more convinced you will become of the existence of God and the immortality of your soul.‘ The woman responds that she already does love humanity, so much so that she sometimes dreams of giving up everything to become a hospital nurse, a dream she would surely fulfil if it weren‘t for the abhorrent prospect of having to deal with human ingratitude. In a memorable phrase, Zossima responds that ‘love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams.’

Despite his youthful dalliance with socialism, Dostoevsky became deeply suspicious of revolutionary politics. In ‘The Possessed’ he displayed with uncanny prescience the totalitarian tendencies that may cloud the best humanitarian impulses. He anticipated the oppressive effect of any effort to achieve a Utopia apart from God. For Dostoevsky authentic community and human fellowship could be founded only on a living faith in Christ

After years of ill health Dostoevsky died of a haemorrhage on January 28, 1881, at the age of sixty. Despite his conservative views, Dostoevsky’s work remained in the canon of Soviet literature throughout the communist era. Many credited his novels with preserving a space for spirituality in the midst of the official culture of atheism. He had anticipated that the effort to create heaven on earth, at the expense of love, would end by creating hell. Nevertheless his prophecy for Russia was ultimately hopeful: ‘God will save Russia as he has saved her many times. Salvation will come from the people, from their faith and their weakness.’

Beware Britain: a True Story
Contributed by Captain Brian Heaton Jones

A Professor in his retirement thought to returning to his old Alma Mater to give encouragement to the young students of his old High School. He remembered what a good start it gave him in life, as he went on to higher learning. He recalled the old worn school steps where thousands had trod. He recalled the Head Master’ office on the left as you entered. He recalled the classrooms and old desks with ink wells. He recalled the assembly hall where each morning everyone assembled for hymns, prayer and a reading from the scripture by the Head Master. One lesson he recalled vividly, and that was the parable of the sowing of the seed. He recalled that the girls were not allowed to wear any sort of make-up or wear jewelry. He recalled the orderly and silent fashion in which the students formed lines to go into class. He recalled the religious studies, the Bibles being handed out and the world maps on the wall. He recalled the old school uniform and the best years of his life.

He made arrangements to give an address to the students. The day came and he walked up those old worn steps. He entered the school to be approached by the school police and ordered to go through a magnetometer to ensure he had no weapons on him. The old Head Master‘s office was now the Police Room and displayed on a board were a collection of weapons taken from students. In the classrooms, replacing the ink wells were rows of computers. He was informed that there was no longer an assembly in the morning, no hymns, no prayers or scripture reading.  The students no longer wore school uniform but jeans and T shirts. The girls were painted in stage-like make-up and were wearing ear-rings not only on their ears. There was noise, talking, and disorderly pushing and shoving to class. There were no religious studies any more, he was told: it might offend some of the other students of different  beliefs. here was not one Bible to be seen in the entire school, in fact students were forbidden to bring Bibles into school. Girl students had reported being raped. Everyone had been robbed of something. Students had been attacked and beaten. There had been school shootings and one teacher killed.

The old professor was shocked and saddened to see what had happened to his beloved school. He asked, how could this happen? It  had just got worse ever since ?they‘ banned religious instruction, he was told.

He replied, ‘ids that pray in school don’t shoot or beat up anyone. Kids who pray in school don’t rape the girls. Kids who pray in school don’t become punks. Kids who pray in school don’t go around painted like whores and don't revert to being uncivilized savages. In fact savages behave better than this...’
Call me ‘Madam’?
No, Sirree!
Jean Price

Lady to Taxi-driver:

How dare you call me ‘darling’, or ‘pet’ or ‘luv’ or ‘queen’?
You are a cheeky monkey, the worst I’ve ever seen!
For, watch it, I’m a lady who never stands in queues,
So when you are addressing me, just mind your p’s and q’s!

Tax-driver to Lady:

Come along, petal, let me give you a hand,
I can see that you‘re done for, you’ve been to the Strand.
So upsy-day, chookie. Now, where did you say?
You‘ll soon be at home and can call it a day.

The Poet‘s View:

When I’m at the Dorchester or lounging in the Ritz,
Of course they call me ‘madam’: it‘s the proper thing to say.
But when I’m scrambling for a bus or waiting in a queue,
Then ‘luv’ and ‘ducks’ or ‘pearl’ or ‘queen’ to me sound quite O.K.

Summer Saturdays 2003  Chris Price

The last recital has been given, the last rolls have been filled and the last coffees served. It is time to put St Faith‘s little porch kitchen into hibernation for another year (or at least, it will be time after the Flower Festival), to take down the big poster board - and to experience the novelty of a few free Saturdays!

This has been a splendid season of music and friendship. Looking back to when I launched the very first short recital series during the last interregnum, with some tentative organ recitals and a few cups of coffee, it would have been hard to imagine the Great St Faith‘s Tradition that has now become so firmly established. Numbers this year have held up well, and often increased, with some recent concerts in the 80s and 90s. The range and quality of the music improves year by year, and our regular visitors - our own congregation and an increasing numbers from other churches or none at all - have made it clear how much they enjoy what we have to offer.

The thanks of St Faith’s are due to many people: to the performers, of course, and to Mike Broom who booked them; to Audrey Dawson and the willing bands of helpers who make the church ready, provide, prepare and sell the refreshments and make visitors welcome, and the ‘regulars’ who make St Faith’s on a summer Saturday morning their coffee-shop or lunch break or who just revel in the music.

. See you all on the Saturday after Easter, 2004!

Liturgical Colours

A lady in the parish once decided to ensure
That the Church’s ritual colours matched the underclothes she wore,
And so for Christmas, Easter and the Saints’ Days pure and bright
The priest and congregation knew her lingerie was white.

For all the holy Martyr band whose precious blood was shed
And for the Feast of Pentecost she took the colour red.
In Advent and in Lent the lady competently strove
To choose the penitential shades of violet, purple, mauve.

Good Friday was a special day and so upon her back
She bore with pride — and some panache! — a set of smalls in black.
At other times throughout the year her underwear was seen
To complement the natural world in various shades of green.

At last on Maundy Thursday (your indulgence I entreat)
They stripped the church of colours — so this line remains discreet!
Besotted by her underwear the rector always knew
The colours of the Church’s year — he’d seen them through and through!

They brought a sparkle to his eye,
Excitement to his life,
But judge him not too harshly, friends,
The lady was — his wife!

From The Organists' Review
Found in Bolton Abbey Parish Magazine

Shining Examples   Chris Price

Most of the stained glass in Liverpool‘s mighty Anglican Cathedral is too high up and far away to make out. I know, having been frustrated during more than one sermon. But in the Lady Chapel stairway you may much more easily admire portraits of twenty-one latter-day ‘Noble Women’, designed by James Hogan and installed there as the Lady Chapel - the first part of the cathedral to be finished - was being completed in 1908/9. What Bishop Chavasse at the time described as the ‘saintly succession’ of heroic self-sacrifice, was commissioned to complement  the existing windows in the chapel itself, which depict women of faith up to the 17th century.

One portrait in particular is of special interest. Alongside such worthies as Grace Darling and Elizabeth Fry may be seen the head and shoulders of a woman against a background of rocks and a lighthouse. She is Mary Rogers, and the scroll around her head reads ‘Stewardess of the Stella, faithful servant 1899’. Her story, central to a tragic tale of shipwreck off the Channel Islands, is told in ‘The Wreck of the Stella, Titanic of the Channel Islands,’ by John Ovenden and David Shayer, and I am grateful to Frances Luft, back from a visit to those same islands, for putting me on the trail of the dramatic story.

The Stella, a railway passenger steamer, was one of several boats competing for custom on the run from Southampton to Jersey and Guernsey. The rival ships often raced to their destinations, and on March 30th, 1899, the Stella, in thick fog, ran recklessly into the Casquets reef and sank within eight minutes with the loss of some eighty lives. The book goes into fascinating detail about the events of that day and the subsequent enquiry, as well as telling of the relatively recent discovery of the wreck and what it has revealed. The story seems to be one of over-confidence and negligence, and certainly of the unnecessary loss of life, but the actions and behaviour of Mary Rogers do much, as so often in times of tragedy, to redeem the disaster.

In the short time available after the ship struck the deadly reef, she worked calmly and speedily to get women passengers out of their cabins and fitted with lifejackets: seeing one without a lifejacket she gave her her own and helped her into an already overloaded lifeboat. She then refused to endanger the lifeboat’s safety further and turned away. At that moment the Stella slid backwards, Mary Rogers, according to many reports, cried ‘Lord, have me’, went down with the ship and was not seen again.

As Ovenden and Shayer write, ‘Her heroic action, her final reported words, and the poignancy of her death on Maundy Thursday, caused her to become within a short time a national heroine.’ An eye-witness called her ‘the quiet, calm, good angel of the wreck’.

Little seems to be known of Mary Rogers‘ background. Born in Somerset and living in Southampton, she was a widow, her sailor husband having tragically been drowned at sea sixteen years earlier. After her death she became a nationally-known figure and an icon of the women’s suffrage movement. The book speaks of ‘a woman doing a man’s job and putting duty before female rights of escape, leading to a sacrifice which has a strong Easter resonance’

There are quite a few memorials to Mary Rogers, but the cathedral window is probably the most distinctive. In a city by the sea, it speaks eloquently of the heroism and self-sacrifice of ‘those who go down to the sea in ships’. And the book, by calling the Stella, however inappropriately, the ‘Titanic of the Channel Islands’, makes a final link with Merseyside in general, and St Faith’s in particular.

Mary Rogers is in the fine tradition of Joseph Bell, the Chief Engineer of the Titanic who, as most readers will know, worshipped at St Faith‘s, is commemorated in a fine plaque in the south aisle also gave his life in a final act of Christian witness that others might have a chance of survival.

Funny You Should Say That 

A father was reading Bible stories to his young son. Her read: ‘The man named Lot was warned to take his wife and flee out of the city.’

‘What happened to the flea?’ his son asked....

As a postscript to last month's words and pictures from the August Holiday Club, here is the promised poem written by some of the children who attended.

A Catalogue of Dreams for the Capital of Culture

Written by....
Beth Barrett, Conor Cureton, Daniel Driver, Evangeline White,
Jess Wrens, Megan McCormick and Molly Roderick

The Capital of Culture is going to be great
When it comes to Liverpool in 2008.
We want a new park with lots of things
Like a roundabout and several swings.
A secret place where we can hide,
Skate board ramps and a big wide slide.
A huge dense forest where we can get lost
The Lottery can stand the cost.

A kids’ care centre were we can shop
All day long until we drop.
An old fashioned sweet-shop and a new arcade
Where lots of games can be displayed.
A music shop selling DVD’s
With pop stars’ posters and their CD’s!
Shoe-heaven for girls and trainers next door
With expensive jewellery and lots, lots more.

A horse-drawn tram going round the Town
Which keeps on moving and never breaks down.
Ferries decked out in blue, gold and red
Sailing from Liverpool to Birkenhead.
Liver birds welcome visitors to the Albert Dock
To buy sticks of the new ‘Capital of Culture’ rock.
The Capital of Culture is going to be great
When it comes to Liverpool in 2008.