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 Newslink              September 1998

From the Clergy         

People of practical minds will ask about big churches: `Why are they so big, so ergonomically inefficient, so cold in winter, so difficult to fill?‘ The reason has nothing to do with usefulness. The vicar of a cold and remote Victorian church in the Pennines used to tell with relish of an old priest who fought his way through the icy winds to conduct Evensong one winter‘s night, and found four parishioners waiting for him. His wife was distressed when he came home shivering and tired out, and asked rather crossly why he bothered to go out to an empty church. `Empty?‘ said the old priest. `The church was full — full of angels and archangels, and all the company of heaven!‘

Angels, like steeples and big churches, are not meant to be useful. Perhaps that is why Christians tend not to speak of them much. Earlier ages did: Dionysius the pseudo-Areopagite devised a wonderful scheme of three times three angelic ranks: Cherubim, Seraphim, Thrones; Dominations, Virtues, Powers; Principalities, Archangels, Angels. Only archangels and angels had anything to do with humanity. The rest waited upon God.

September 29th is a favourite feast of mine: St Michael and All Angels. Christians know that angels and archangels are not, so to speak, necessary. We know God as Father; we know Jesus as his Son and our brother; and we know that the Holy Spirit dwells and works in us. No matter how huge a gap there may be between us and God, God has filled that gap. No matter how many layers of being there may be above or beneath us, Jesus has sliced through them all. And no matter how active the hosts of heaven may be, Jesus shows us beyond all mistaking that God does the dirty work himself.

Having made us lower than the angels, God has exalted us far above them, since it is as human that he has chosen to reveal himself. It is that knowledge that makes us glad to be Christians. It is a knowledge that does rather rob angels of their usefulness.

But you don‘t have to be useful to be important or significant. The whole duty of the angels is not to do but to be. They are creatures who look not to themselves but to God. If God wills that they should be doers, that doing springs naturally out of what they are. This is the truth behind all creation. God doesn‘t need any of it; instead he chose to make it. Christians should know that better than anyone, not least because we know how fundamentally limited human beings are. Our creativity is not our own. Like everything else that is good in us, it is derived from a God who has no need of us, but who has chosen to make us in his image.

We live at a time when there seems to be lots to be done. That is particularly true in the life of the Church. The past couple of centuries have shown just how much humans can do if they put their minds to it. Christians have been to the forefront in that process, and that is where they should remain.

But we must keep our doing in proportion. God has set us a huge task. He calls us to join him in making and rescuing, in creating and redeeming. If we think our first duty is to do, either we shall be proud or we shall be overwhelmed. The truth lies elsewhere. Like the angels, like ergonomically inefficient churches, our first duty is not to do but to be. With the unseen hosts of heaven, we too have an appointed part in the great Dance of Creation that takes place before the face of God.

With every blessing,
Fr Dennis

From the Registers

12 July Leslie Wilson and Susan Broad

5 August Michael Paul Harwood

Centenary Report               Chris Price

The transition through spring and what can loosely be termed summer, 1998 into autumn marks the end of the first phase of St Faith‘s Centenary Celebrations and the start of the second phase. This latter will feature several planned concerts this side of Christmas, a series of visiting Centenary preachers and a special emphasis for the October Patronal Festival. The possibility exists that it might also bring news of a new Vicar, but until that happens we are planning ahead with the same team and along the same lines that gave you Phase One!

What follows is an attempt to record something of what has already been happening between May and August 1998 and to capture, perhaps, something of the flavour of those exciting months. Headlines...

No more to be said on this, except to promise that the various video records of May 24th are being edited down into a version for people to buy or borrow. The BBC were persuaded to let us buy their `rushes‘ — almost two hours of filming from which they eventually broadcast about three minutes! — and we will of course be making use of these.

The first three Centenary Concerts were splendidly successful. George Gilford‘s school musicians sang and played superbly, as did the Sefton Young Musicians groups a week or two later. And the Hungarian youth choir who played to a full house a little later again were nothing short of miraculous, and made a profound impression on those privileged to hear them. On each occasion, there was great goodwill engendered and a pleasingly high profile for St Faith‘s: we have made many new friends and look forward to making more in the months ahead.

Well actually that isn‘t true. Visitors have been relatively few, but that meant that we could give individual treatment to those who did come. Visitors were given handouts, guide booklets and magazines, and sold refreshments, preserves, books, notelets and mugs, but most important they were made welcome and, as the Visitors‘ Book shows, they were very appreciative. there were those who lived locally but had never been inside the place. There were churchgoers from elsewhere who found out that we were open or just saw the notice on the day, and came in and looked around. And there were more than a few with connections from the past, who had been married here or once worshipped here. Some, like John Gerard, renewed their acquaintance and promised to write about it (see elsewhere in this issue). And one, a 90-year old priest, began his worshipping life here, went on to become Vicar at St Agnes, Ullet Road — and remembers not only the building of the screen at St Faith‘s in the 1920s but also the visits of Douglas Horsfall, our founder!

All visitors were regaled with free organ recitals, and we are so grateful to those who ?tickled the ivories‘ as well, of course, to the teams of guides and helpers who made the whole thing possible. The original two months was extended into August and, at the time of writing, is still going strong. We are greatly indebted to the Open Churches Trust for their practical support, and are now considering what we should do in the future.

The first part of the long-term project to make better use of the back of church area has seen the putting in of two sets of display screens, part-funded by a legacy, complete with lighting, and the progressive setting up of a coordinated series of displays of archive material, together with current notices. Following appeals for old photographs, we have assembled a fascinating display of pictures of priests, people, buildings and events, which have attracted no end of attention from regulars and visitors alike. It has been good to welcome people who served or worshipped here as much as half a century ago and to se them identify themselves on old group pictures, or help us identify others. In this connection, I am most grateful to Margaret Dixon (whose article appears elsewhere in this issue) for much fascinating archive material, and to Denis Griffiths, through whose good offices many of these old and sometimes fragile photographs have been scanned in, enhanced, and printed out in less perishable form for and for posterity. If there is any more material out there, we would love to borrow, perhaps copy and certainly return it. Denis is willing, preferably in return for a small donation to the Talents Scheme, to copy any of the pictures on display (or any prized personal photographs) for interested individuals. And we also welcome all memories of the past to continue the entertaining series of articles we have been fortunate to be able to feature over recent months.

We hope to continue the momentum over the next two years, and this issue contains a provisional list of dates for the rest of 1998, including events, special services and meetings. The Centenary Committee meets on September 14th and continues to welcome ideas and offers of every kind. We hope soon to have good news on planned youth events, among other initiatives being considered. Watch this space!

In Memoriam              Chris Price

Over the past few years, we have featured a series of commissioned articles describing and evaluating as many as possible of the fixtures and fittings of St Faith‘s, with a view to their eventual publication and sale during the Centenary Celebrations. The booklet could well appear before the year is out, and we are trying now to bring it up to date and to fill in some gaps. With this in mind there follow some details of the various memorials and recorded dedications not already described in other articles.

St Faith‘s has acquired relatively few memorial tablets and plaques in its first century: it is possible that some gifts and installations have gone unrecorded. Of those that can be found one, the Joseph Bell Titanic memorial, is described elsewhere in some detail, and pictured below this article, while others are briefly detailed in earlier articles on the woodwork and brass of St Faith‘s.

Close to the Bell brass is an equally large wall tablet commemorating Dr William Gay, a prominent member of Crosby medical society and of St Faith‘s, where he was Churchwarden between 1903 and 1910. The esteem in which he was clearly held is reflected in the words of the inscribed brass.



Currently residing at the entrance to the Chapel of the Cross is the Boy Jesus statue on its pedestal. A plaque on the latter records as follows:

In devoted memory of Neil Brook a choir boy and server at this church who gave his life in the service of his country 24th July 1941 this statue and pedestal are given to the glory of God by his loving mother 1948.

There are more memorials in the north transept nearby, behind the fine iron work separating it from the choirstalls. Here can be found one surviving wall-mounted small shelf supported on a gilded cherub: the other was sadly misappropriated some years ago. It bears the legend Helena Mary Costin 1880 - 1964, while to its left a plaque reading Harold Arthur Costin 1884-1957 marks the site of the missing item. The Arthur Dooley cased statuette stands on the remaining shelf.

The transept wall houses the ashes of four notable past members of St Faith‘s, with inset carved stones recording their names and dates. From left to right they read: Robert W Jones Churchwarden 1938-1956. Died 21st October 1956. RIP; Ernest Walter Storer Canon of Liverpool Cathedral. Died 22 September 1958. RIP; Canon Mark Luft. Headmaster of Merchant Taylors‘ School 1964-1969. Died 19 April 1986. RIP; George Goodwin Sacristan 1966-1986. Died 28 March 1986. RIP.

Both  hymn boards bear inscriptions. That on the Lady Chapel side reads: In loving memory of Elizabeth E Smith. E.M. of the Mothers‘ Union 1948-1955, while that on the pulpit side has a more elaborate inscription: Charles Henry Cheetham Sewell. A faithful member of St Faith‘s Choir from 1908-1938. One of the Lady Chapel prayer desk bears a plaque: In happy memory of Caroline Mountfield 1857-1947, while the modern Paschal Candlestick is inscribed: In memory of JESSIE ELINOR GALE a member of this church for over 50 years.

One final surviving oddity is worth recording. The extreme left hand end of the front pew beneath the pulpit bears an almost intact stuck-on notice in faded dark brown, with the entertaining and possibly optimistic message:

Offertory Alms.
The seats in this church are entirely Free and Unappropriated.
All Church Expenses have to be borne by Voluntary Offerings.
 Let the Alms, therefore, of every worshipper be Regular and Liberal.
Issued by the Incorporated Free and Open Church Association,
 Church House, Dean‘s Path, London S.W.

Visit to Lathom Park Chapel          Chris Dawson

The convoy set off from St Faith‘s for the Centre 4 summer outing, with our centre leader driving the first car. My lot was to bring up the rear, a hazardous task, as I tried to keep up with Margaret‘s swift progress whilst keeping an eye skinned for the speed cops. Having dashed through Ormskirk we came to the end of the tarmacadam and pressed on down a rough cart track with pot holes so deep that they resembled trenches left behind after the 17th century siege of Lathom Hall. It was therefore with a feeling of relief that we arrived at our destination — a placed steeped in history.

In 1485 King Richard III of the House of York was challenged for the throne by Henry Earl of Richmond of the House of Lancaster. They met at Bosworth Field on 22nd August for what was to be the final and decisive battle of the War of the Roses. King Richard with 12,000 men under his command faced Richmond‘s 6,000 followers, but waiting in the wings was Thomas, Lord Stanley with his brother Sir William Stanley and their followers. Stanley was in a difficult position, for the King, aware of Stanley‘s power and influence in Lancashire, had taken his son hostage, but on the other hand Richmond was his stepson and it was this factor that led the Stanleys to revolt against the King. Sir William attacked King Richard in the rear at a critical moment in the battle and when the King fell mortally wounded, it was Lord Stanley who picked up the crown from Richard‘s helmet and placed it on Henry‘s head.

Immediately after this victory, Stanley was rewarded with the title of Earl of Derby and given the lands of some of those who had supported King Richard. He then returned home to Lathom House, which had come into the Stanley family through his marriage to the Lathom heiress, Isabel de Lathom. Despite his duplicity, for he changed sides many times during the War of the Roses, Stanley became so powerful in Lancashire as to have near royal power, and to match this he made extensive improvements to Lathom House. When Stanley‘s stepson the King visited Lathom in 1496, Henry was so impressed with the house that he ordered his architect to take Lathom as a model for his new palace at Richmond.

Lathom Park Chapel was built in the year 1500 by Thomas, Lord Stanley, as a thank-offering for benefits that he had received as a result of the battle of Bosworth. The Chapel of St John the Divine served two purposes: it was a Chantry with a priest and eight Bede-men* and was also used for worship by the tenants of the estate. The Bede-men lived in the eight Alms Houses which adjoin the chapel and are still in use at homes for people of limited means. Behind each Alms House is a small Penance House in which, in times past, the tenant was locked if he had been naughty. The present occupants use them as garden sheds! The priest‘s house has disappeared, but is thought to have been situated where a school was built during the Regency period.

Lathom Chapel has been renovated several times during its lifetime and is in excellent condition. The beautiful chancel screen and eagle lectern are both older that the Chapel, coming from Burscough Priory at its dissolution during the reign of Henry VIII. At the time of the siege of Lathom House during the Civil War, much damage was done to the Chapel by Parliamentary soldiers and there are still holes evident in the screen which are believed to be bullet holes, although much of the damage done to the screen was covered up during repairs carried out in 1817. At this time it was planned to strip off the old plaster to reveal the stonework, but when this was done it was discovered that the interior of the walls had also been extensively damaged by soldiers, and so the walls were re-plastered. Fortunately, the oak lectern had been removed at these troubled times to the safety of Knowsley Hall, which also belonged to the de Lathom family, into which Stanley had married.

During the Regency period a number of changes were made, including the building of the gallery and the installation of a barrel organ, since replaced by the present organ which was installed in 1881. A beautiful plaster ?Wagon Roof‘ copied from mediaeval churches in the West of England was also installed during this period, with details outlined in red and gold. It is surmised that the priest‘s house was demolished at this time, probably to build the much finer one which is now a private house.

Further renovations were carried out in 1964, when a doorway was discovered at the west end of the south wall which is believed led originally to the priest‘s house. It is indeed fortunate that this ancient building has been restored from time to time during its history, and is now in such a good condition that it is hard to believe that it is almost five hundred years old. Will St Faith‘s still be here in another four hundred years time? The chances are that if it is, the houses around it will have all fallen down and St Faith‘s will once again be surrounded by green fields as is Lathom Park Chapel. Please let me know — my E-mail address will probably be

PS: We came all the way home on tar-macadam!

* Bede-men or beadsmen were pensioners bound to pray for a benefactor. Beads threaded on a string were used to count one‘s prayers — hence the name.

 Memories of Forty Years          Margaret Dixon

I first became a member of St Faith‘s nearly 40 years ago, but for the last twelve or so years I have been an infrequent visitor as I lived, first, in Yorkshire and then Buckinghamshire. I developed an interest in the history of St Faith‘s from my father, George Goodwin, who was Sacristan from 1966 to his death in 1986, but later became more interested when I was asked by Fr Peter Goodrich to produce an exhibition on the history of the church for its 75th Anniversary. I am now studying for a degree in archeology and am more used to trying to interpret landscapes and buildings which are hundreds or thousands of years old. Unravelling the history of a building is like an addictive detective story which completely takes you over, and I only wish I lived near enough to be of more help to Chris Price in researching the history of the building and the congregation over the century.

Since the article in the March edition of the magazine about the reredos, I have been doing some checking of photographs and other evidence. My father took many of the photographs for the Diamond Jubilee Book and I remember him telling me the story behind the photograph of the High Altar and crucifix (now in the Chapel of the Cross) which appeared in the book. The Altar had been moved, temporarily, down below the chancel screen, presumably for Lent at least, and possibly longer, while the outer panels of the reredos were away being repainted. The outer colour of the reredos is now pale blue but the back of the panels are painted a dark green: but Chris recorded in his article about the reredos that the curtains were to be: ?the exact tint of dark red that was put in the four panels on either side of the centre panel when the Church was first opened‘. I have a copy of a photograph that was taken around or before 1921 and another dated picture of 1949 which appear to show that the angels on the painted side panels are different and also that the main surround colour was certainly darker, possibly green or red. This could mean that not only was the reredos repainted around 1959/60 but also possibly repainted and altered between its installation in 1901 and 1949. A puzzle indeed that may not be solved unless there are documentary details or someone with a long memory of the history of St Faith‘s. As to the artist of the reredos, and whether it was made by Salviati of Venice or Messrs Norman and Burt of Suffolk, I feel that the key is probably in the March edition (page 5), where it states that the ?carved framework of the reredos was made by Messrs Norman & Burt ..... who received instructions from the artist as to completing its painting and  gilding‘.  Mr Horsfall,  presumably,  bought
the central mosaic piece without a framework, and possibly without the side panels, from the artist in Venice and arranged to have it completed here in England as it would have been difficult to transport the whole piece, safely, from Italy.

I hope to be able to attend some of the special events over the next eighteen months, but with three-year-old twins and working to finish my degree that may be difficult. Although I love the building, my fondest childhood memories are of the people and the time they were willing to give to me as a child and young person. Like Father Dennis I too can remember those members of the congregation, many of whom are no longer with us, who had an influence over me which still lingers today; whenever I hear the hymn for past worshippers it reminds me of them, St Faith‘s and my youth. I hope the Centenary Celebrations are a wonderful success and give everybody not only the chance to look back on all the great things about St Faith‘s but also the opportunity to look to the future — so here‘s to the next 100 years and beyond.

Retreat from Retreat?          George Smith

The Churchwardens had to cancel, with very little notice, the Parish Retreat which had been arranged at Chester for July. No-one from St faith‘s was able to go this year.

The parish was first involved with Chester Retreat House in 1975, when a Quiet Day, a Saturday, was organised. Several people from St Faith‘s later joined in a retreat with St Anne‘s, Stanley. Son after we embarked on our own retreat, and this has been the pattern almost every year since, with it usually being held at Chester but also for a few times at Foxhill, near Frodsham. We have been fortunate to have had support from others, especially those from St Agnes, Ullet Road, when our numbers gave waned. They were naturally disappointed at the cancellation this year.

As a parish and as individuals we need to grow in our spiritual and devotional lives. There should be no standing still!  Whilst it may be not for everyone, there is nothing like a retreat to concentrate the mind, even if it is only a matter of clearing everything else out for a while. It is unfortunate that we have had to end the annual Parish Retreat for the moment. Let us hope that it will only be a temporary break.

A Not So Heavenly Choir           John Gerard

Among the visitors during our summer open days was John Gerard, a stalwart of St Faith‘s Choir in the 1930s and 1940s (and later server and crucifer). Here he recalls some of his memories of those days.

Vestry Notice: Beware of the Choir Boys!

They looked so angelic in their white surplices and stiff white celluloid collars with black bows, their shiny faces, often not because of scrubbing, but following a game of cricket in the park then a mad dash to get to church just in time for a service.

They sang so sweetly, not an easy task whilst sucking a gobstopper (`It‘s a gumboil, sir‘). On many an occasion they received high praise for their vocal rendering of psalms and anthems (Walford Davies was popular), all this due to the strict, untiring tuition of Organist and Choirmaster Mr Ernest Pratt, a wonderful musician of great merit, regrettably not appreciated by his complement of choirboys, but in later years remembered with  admiration.

But be not deluded, dear reader, these were no namby-pamby mothers‘ darlings, but a force to be reckoned with. These were St Faith‘s Choir Boys!

In the 1930-1940s they were paid two shillings and sixpence (12.5p) per month, a head boy receiving three shillings. Weddings, if the choir was requested, usually paid two and sixpence each, and sometimes a glass of pop and cakes thrown in! For blowing or pumping the organ during weddings, two boys were usually paid half a crown, with the added pastime of trying to estimate how long the organ would function without air in the bellows; this was in the days before the installation of an electric pump.

On receiving their hard-earned cash at the end of each month, it was a joyful pilgrimage to the `chippy‘ in St John‘s Road, there to order chips, peas, fingers, scallops and a bottle of `sweet Nell‘, all to be consumed whilst sitting on large empty lemonade crates.

But there were those whose choir pay, or should  say lack of it, did not stretch to such luxuries. During choir practice nights and Sunday services, certain misdemeanours   were   noted  by  clergy,   choirmaster  and  head   boys   and entered in the choir register, and fines were imposed, depending on the severity of the crime. Thus the more rebellious the culprit, the more he was fined, until at the end of the month one‘s pay was sadly depleted. For example, to ring the bell outside of service time, playing ?ghosts‘ in the church grounds at night wearing a surplice due to be laundered, also laughing, chewing, talking, or eating sweets during sermons — all these were penalised. At one time the whole choir went on strike before Evensong, and it took a lot of pleading by clergy and choirmaster before the boys decided to end their dispute. Fines varied from threepence to sixpence, depending on the crime and the person apprehending the offender. You will notice that I do not mention names, as some of these chaps are still in circulation, and most are bigger than me!

Still, they were a happy group and never caused physical harm or damage to property, and they did not grow up to be hardened criminals! Rather they developed a strong belief in comradeship and in later years continued as tenors, basses and severs, and indeed most of them served their country in the forthcoming conflict and, sadly, some gave their lives in that cause. It is an honour and a very fond and memorable one to have been part of that fraternity, and I am proud to have been a St Faith‘s Choirboy.

The vicar or priest, be he in lowly village chapel or cathedral, who tells you that he has the best behaved choir boys in the land, is telling `pork-pies‘ — there ain‘t no such thing!

Thank You!

I would like to say how grateful I am for all the cards, get-well wishes and prayers I received during and since my operation and stay in hospital. I am now making good progress and becoming more mobile and hope to be able to get to church before too long. Special thanks to Fr Dennis and Fr George for their priestly ministrations!
Lillie Wilmot

Rick Walker would also like to thank all at St Faith‘s for their cards, good wishes and prayers in recent weeks. All is now under control and it is business as usual!


Congratulations are due to our Director of Music, Ged Callacher, who has been appointed Organ Scholar at Liverpool Cathedral. This involves, amongst other things, playing for services, giving recitals, taking the choir‘s probationers for rehearsals, and page-turning. Ged will have unlimited access to the Lady Chapel organ, and regular access to the magnificent Cathedral organ. He will also receive free tuition on the organ.

The good news for St Faith‘s is that Ged will remain here as Director of Music. He starts his Organ Scholarship in September.

St Faith‘s is proud of Ged and most grateful to him, as ever, for the hard work he continues to put in training and inspiring our choir. As congregational numbers inevitably decline somewhat during a long interregnum it is so good to see the choir in good heart and in good numbers. They did splendidly on their recent annual outing to sing the services at the Cathedral, maintaining the long and fine tradition of choral and organ music at St Faith‘s.

We are also greatly indebted to our loyal band of servers. Elizabeth Clark and George Whalley bowed out amongst clouds of incense on May 24th: their places have been ably taken by Fiona Whalley and David Lloyd. We thank the former for their many years of good work and look forward to continuing to see them `up at the holy end‘ whenever they are around — and we wish the latter pair an equally good term of office. New servers — and of course new choristers — of every age are always welcome!

Just a Thought

There is an experience of God the Holy Spirit available for all who seek it with importunity, which imparts spiritual power far above the level enjoyed by the average Christian, which inspires a caring God-like love different in kind and degree from the affections of normal nature.

It communicates to the eager soul the penetrating power of holiness. No book can give this experience. It belongs to the secret intercourse of the soul with God. It lies at the very heart of personal religion, and its wide reception would transform the church and shake the world. ‘

Jenny Gives Thanks!

 I have had many birthdays during my long life but never one so remarkable as the one this year.

Nobody will admit to telling the Crosby Herald but there came a deluge of good wishes, cards, letters, telephone calls and gifts — I am still looking at them with gratitude to all those who marked the special day.

Like the player in the World Cup Game `I thought it was all over‘ until Sunday July 12th when I couldn‘t understand why everyone wanted me to go into the hall after morning service. It was, of course, to find myself being given quite the most magnificent basket of flowers I have ever had — blossoms of yellow and red which have given me so much pleasure for many days.

Thankyou St Faith‘s for this remembrance of me and for the pretty box of jam and marmalade which was a bonus! And to Mary Crooke for taking me home in a state of very happy shock!

Can You Help?           Jean Price

Volunteers are urgently needed to help at the Teachers‘ R.E. Centre, located in St Luke‘s Parish Centre, in Crosby.

If you could spare two hours one afternoons a week, term-time only, please contact Jean Price on 476 9602 or at church on a Sunday.

No special skills are required! Please also note that as St Faith‘s is a subscriber to the R.E. Centre, members of the congregation are allowed to borrow any of the videos, cassettes, books or artefacts housed in the Centre.

Community News Update              Jenny Kemp,  former Mayor of Sefton

It seems only a short time ago that we gathered in the garden at Marbenthe on Marine Terrace to celebrate its centenary with a marquee for entertaining guests, flower posies and a silver band, and now it is standing empty and derelict, after being a haven firstly for new-born babies and later for elderly people needing care, for all those years.

There is a plan lodged to turn it into twelve two-bedroomed flats which will alter the whole appearance of the Conservation Area. The garden will be turned into a large car park and it is proposed to break into the front wall to form an additional entrance. Why do I have the feeling that it is just for financial gain?

If you have shopped in Liverpoool on a Saturday recently I am sure you will have seen people zooming around on electric scooters visiting shops and places of interest. These are from a scheme which was started by Merseyside Council of Voluntary Service called `Shopmobility‘ and it has been such a success they have now established a mobile unit which will serve the whole of Merseyside.

It consists of a large bus in which there will be room for six scooters and five manual wheelchairs together with four Travel Companions. These people have a full training, including First Aid and visibility awareness. The pilot scheme will begin in Southport in October and, eventually, will reach Crosby Village. Each session will be for two days. Membership of the scheme costs £10 per year and you pay £1 each time you take out a scooter and companion to help you to shop.

Still on disabilities, for years the owners of hackney carriages (the black cabs) have been trying to get a foothold in Crosby, which is well served by hire cars, and they are now contesting the plan to put four spaces for cars belonging to disabled drivers on the car park by Kwiksave in the village and say they want it for a taxi rank! Sefton‘s Access Panel is fighting for it to be retained for orange badge users — I will let you know who wins!

I am sure, like me, you feel you take your life in your hands when you try to cross the junction at Coronation Road,  Liverpool Road  and the By-pass.   The
Ministry of Transport have finally agreed to have an all-red period at the lights here, which will give pedestrians a chance to reach the other side of the road without suffering a nervous breakdown.

Several people, including members of our congregation have asked me if it is possible to have a seat put inside the bus shelter in front of the chemist‘s shop in Bridge Road, Blundellsands. I have put in a request, for a proper bench, not one that is too high and slopes forward and which Merseytravel grandly call a ?lumbar support‘!

On July 4th a very moving service was held in Walton Parish Church, not only to mark fifty years of the N.H.S. but also to celebrate the 125 years service given to the community by Walton Hospital which has now closed to in-patients. The church was packed and it was like a re-union, as members of the medical and nursing staff who hadn‘t seen each other for many years came together once again.

One of the addresses was given by Mrs. Margaret Moore, who was the last Matron at the Hospital and she ended by telling us about the occasion when she went to speak to the pupils at a County Primary School in Kirkby and she asked them if they knew what a hospital was and one small boy said ?Yes, Miss —  it‘s a great big building where  the people are in bed with the nurses‘!

If ever you find yourself elected to the important position of  His Worship the Mayor the first thing you discover that in your area and  surrounding district are innumerable societies, groups, associations etc. which you had no idea existed. Thus it was some years ago I found myself travelling to Warrington in the pouring rain to join with the Mayors of all the towns and boroughs in Lancashire on the first Sunday in October to celebrate the Memorial Day of the Lancashire Regiment in Warrington‘s Parish Church of St Elphin‘s.

This wonderful building is almost a shrine to the regiment with its dedicted altar and fine stained glass window and the regimental crest installed above the Chair of the Colonel of the Regiment. It is a place of pilgrimage for all members and ex-members of the Regiment. In the chapel you will find the Book of Remembrance and a wonderful display of regimental colours laid there over the centuries for safe keeping. The oldest is dated 1790 and they all show the many campaigns which have been fought all over the world. After the service we adjourned to Peninsula Barracks for lunch (it was still raining!) then visited the Museum full of memorabilia and trophies collected since the foundation of the Regiment in 1689.

Before leaving for home, cocktails were to be served on the lawn and, in view of the weather, tarpaulin awnings had been put up to provide some protection, and this proved to be the grand finale for the day. After a while I noticed that the canvas above my head was sagging in the middle, filling with rainwater and bulging dangerously, so I edged my way towards the extreme edges of the shelter just in time as it split down the centre and a deluge of water descended on to the guests standing underneath! It was the stewards I was most sorry for — looking so smart in their starched, white jackets, they found that the curry balls in the silver salvers they were holding were floating in inches of water!

Every year, on the first Sunday in October I think of that eventful day and of the Regiment of which our County of Lancashire is so proud.


The Church‘s one foundation
Is not where we have built.
Our broad accommodation
Sits soft on shifting silt.
Like ashes from a camp fire
Our lukewarm liberal views
Lie strewn on ruins of Empire;
No wonder we‘re confused.

What modern comforts lacking?
Though Prayer Book be eclipsed,
We‘ve plastic chairs for stacking,
And toilets in the crypt,
And carpet round the altar.
If all this seems too wet,
Come join us in the water;
You ain‘t seen nothing yet.

With acknowledgements to Peter Pindar and The Sunday Telegraph, apologies to Samuel Stone (who wrote the original hymn) and, perhaps, to the Bishops at the Lambeth Conference, for whom Pindar wrote this scurrilous verse.

Saving Lives in Malawi             Margaret Houghton

Following the two most informative articles by Linda Nye about her trip to Malawi last year, I would like to give a further insight into the desperate situation my brother and his wife, Mac and Dorothy Forsyth, encountered in the region.

Mac, who attended Merchant Taylors‘, and Dot, an old girl of Waterloo Park School, made their permanent home in Plymouth where Mac was Deputy Headmaster of Plymouth College. Having made an exchange trip to Kamuzu Academy in Malawi with boys from the College, Mac was so impressed with the country and the happiness of the people despite their deprivations that he determined to return. Early retirement last year enabled him to take up a teaching post at the Academy. After living there for a very short while, Mac and Dot began to realise the utter poverty of the country and its people.

So appalled were they by the shortage of medical supplies at the local clinic at Mtunthama, that they decided to try to raise funds wherever they could. Set in a famine area, Mtunthama is a large village with a brick-built clinic  supplied with electricity. There are, however, frequent power cuts, some for more than a day. The clinic serves approximately 34,000 people, half the population of Crosby, spread over a huge area. In the region of 3,000 patients attend the clinic each month, travelling as far as 20 kilometres on foot to get there and having to make the return journey the same day. Anyone who has to remain in the clinic overnight, or anyone admitted to a hospital, must have a ?carer‘ to provide food and water for the patient. The `carer‘, usually a member of the family, sleeps either under the patient‘s bed or on the ground outside the clinic or hospital, and must also provide firewood for cooking.

Mtunthama clinic has five outstations, the farthest being 35 kilometres away, which are reached by medical staff on bicycles, which is impossible in the rains - November to end of February. A doctor visits the clinic one day every two months. The biggest killers are: Malaria, malnutrition, bilharzia (a parasitic disease picked up from contaminated water supplies) and diarrhoea. Malaria can often be cured by Fansadar which costs about £3 per patient, biharzia can be cured by Praziquantel which costs about £3 per patient and diarrhoea is treated with rehydration fluids made up of sugar and salt, each of which costs 45p per packet.  Vitamin  tablets  can  to  some  degree alleviate malnutrition.  Money is simply  not available  in Malawi to provide any of the above medicines, nor any of the medical supplies which we so readily take for granted - bandages, antibiotics, surgical gloves for medical staff, cough syrup, baby milk, vitamin tablets, sterilising equipment; the list is endless. Their aim is to obtain donations to purchase medical supplies for the clinic and if possible to obtain equipment which is perhaps out of date, but which would be of priceless value there. Lives can be saved for as little as £3. Please help.

During a visit to England in December, Mac and Dot managed to raise over £1,000 from various sources, including their local church,  businesses and many friends. Medical equipment was donated from local centres, all invaluable to these extremely poor people. Aids is rife in Malawi, creating thousands of orphans. At present it is estimated there are 300,000 of them, who frequently have nobody to care for them. Recently Mac and Dot were approached by the Revd T J Chipeta concerning Mchinji Children‘s Home. The aim is to build five village houses similar to a village set-up. Each will have two mothers to look after between 10 and 15 children. The Presbyterian Church of Central Africa has offered land to build the orphanage, and the first house has already been completed, funded entirely by donations. The next stage will go ahead when further funds are available. Funds are needed for the building of the houses, but also sponsorship for the upkeep of the children in the home is essential.

A scheme is being set up whereby individual children may be sponsored, to be chosen by the sponsor. Initially a name and photograph will be provided, followed at regular intervals with progress reports. No handling charges are being incurred, every penny donated or sponsored going directly to the clinic or orphanage, both desperately in need of help. The cost of sponsoring a child at present is approximately £8 per month. Further information is available from Frank and Margaret Houghton, telephone 928 0548. There is also a most informative video about Mtunthama clinic available on loan.

Methodists in Romania                 Barbara Wolstenholme

`We did not know whether we were on earth or in heaven.‘

Thus was the Orthodox liturgy in the church of the Holy Wisdom in Constantinople described to Prince Vladimir 1,000 years ago. When the Revd. Professor in the University of Aberdeen first visited Greece forty years ago, he too was struck by the splendour of Orthodox worship and so in his first weeks as President, with a small group of Methodists, he visited Romania, the second largest of the Orthodox churches, to try to draw a little closer in spite of their different dates for celebrating Easter and different form of creed.

The pilgrimage began in the `Canterbury‘ of the Romanian Orthodox Church, (Bucharest) and took us to ?York‘, (Iasi) in the north-east. We drove across the vast Danube plain and then climbed to the Moldavian plateau, passing through spectacular alpine pastures, lakes and mountains. The shabby, high-density ?block houses‘ of Bucharest, with roads lined with advertisements for Coca-Cola, Lucky Strike and Macdonalds gave way to fields of sunflowers, maize and cabbages with scattered villages where women draw water from shaduf or well or sit by the roadside with a pail of apples for sale.

The relative comfort of our air-conditioned coach contrasted with the boat-shaped carts, pulled by horses or oxen which carrying all manner of things from hay to oil drums, and usually an entire family as well! We wondered whether the young girls in their bright t-shirts and short skirts would ever become   the  grave   elderly  women  clad  in  unrelieved  black   who  walked ponderously along the street. We rejoiced with a wedding group dancing through a village, the bride and groom carrying lighted candles and we felt a little of the sorrow of a funeral party, also walking along but with heads bowed and slow gait. The sight of a snow plough by the railway reminded us that, although we were experiencing temperatures of 40C, in winte, temperatures of 20 below zero are common.

In 1984, before the revolution which overthrew the Ceaucescus, Eric and I were taken to several fifteenth and sixteenth century monasteries, beautifully restores by U.N.E.S.C.O., but regarded only as museums to a by-gone age. The two churches we visited without our guide (who was fearful that if he entered a  church he would lose his Communist party membership), were drab and shabby with only four or five old women kneeling and praying.

Now, as we entered to monasteries and churches, there was almost always a service in progress. Chandeliers and candles shimmered with light. The walls outside and in were covered with exuberant frescoes of biblical scenes — the Last Judgement, Transfigur-ation, Return of the Prodigal Son, Prayer to the Virgin and many others. The icon screen from floor to ceiling displayed ranks of angels, prophets, apostles bishops and martyrs, with the icon of Christ to the right of centre, and that of the Virgin Mary to the left. This screen separates the Sanctuary with the Holy Table from the Nave and symbolises the division between earth and heaven. At times during the service, the doors are opened and then closed again.

All except the old and infirm stand or kneel during the entire service, making the sign of the cross at solemn moments or when we should say `Amen!‘ Orthodox services are sung, the singing unaccompanied and led by a Deacon, the priest responding. Incense is used to cense the icons and also the people who are, in their way, living icons or images of Christ.

At the end of the Liturgy all, including the non-Orthodox, are invited to receive a piece of blessed bread, a reminder of the Agape or Love Feast that once followed every liturgy. Some monasteries were allowed to remain open during the Communist era, although their land was often confiscated. At Durau, where we stayed at a splendid Ecumenical Hostel, built originally for Communist Youth and now given to the Church, the monastery survived only because the two remaining monks lived in the belfry and guarded it day and night.

Although imported goods are available, they are too costly for most people, who have to make do with food in season. Polenta (maize meal porridge), cabbage, bread, tomatoes, apples, pork and eggs were freely available, sometimes enlivened with fish, yogurt, butter, cheese, onions and carrots.

Much has been reported about the plight of the orphans in Romania and it was reassuring to see signs that the Orthodox Church and other organisations are making efforts to alleviate suffering. In Iasi, we arrived at a church-run orphanage for street children unannounced and met twelve boys, aged from 5 to 14 years, enjoying a substantial meal of polenta, meat and vegetables. They were happy to show us round the small but clean house and their little ?farm‘ where tomatoes and vegetables grew, and pigs, chickens, puppies and rabbits were cherished. The boys go to the local school and  then  taught a trade — shoe-repairing carpentry or baking.

The elderly in need are also given support. A church-run bakery provides  free  bread   clothes  and small  sums  of  money, and a hostel to house those unable to fend for themselves is almost ready.

In the slums of Bucharest, where the open space between apartment blocks was knee-deep in rubbish, we met a retired policeman from Kent who, using local carpenters, plumbers, electricians, British volunteers who must pay their way, doctors from Medecin sans Frontières and two dieticians, has created a bright cheerful haven for women fleeing from domestic violence, young men too old for orphanages who are taught a trade, old folk who are destitute, and a school for disabled children. All are encouraged to contribute to the scheme, perhaps making jam to sell or giving time to help with the refurbishment.

Depressing poverty still remains. Many apartment are shabby with frequent breakdown in services. Roads are rutted and in need of repair, sometimes  washed away, but there are signs of hope. The people are free to broadcast and write articles for publication (unlike pre-Revolution days when meetings of more than six people were forbidden and typewriters had to be registered).

It is not easy to be an Orthodox Christian - more Orthodox have died for their faith in this century than all Christians in all previous times put together. We gained much from our pilgrimage and pray for a better understanding between Christians everywhere.

A Harvest Reflection           Fr Dennis

John Betjeman, in his poem ?Diary of a Church Mouse‘, comments cleverly on the popularity of the ?Harvest Festival‘ through the eyes of a mouse who rather resents the fact that all the year round he has to scratch about to find something in the church to eat, but at harvest time

 `... other mice with pagan minds
 Come into church my food to share
 Who have no proper business there.‘

The harvest ceremonies are reflections of rituals as old as man can recall, centuries before Christ, for they owe their origins, it seems, to man‘s need to do homage to the spirit of life itself, which he believed to live in the crop to be harvested, whether corn or anything else. Early man felt that by cutting the crop to some extent he killed the spirit and he was obliged to go through some sort of ritual to secure the renewal of its life for the following season. Many ceremonies involved making a model, effigy or doll, from the last sheaf of the crop to represent the continuation of life. ?Corn dollies‘ were popular well into the 1970s, with the practice of this craft expanding rather than diminishing, in spite of canned foods and frozen foods which tended to dull the impact of harvest time.

The harvest doll was sometimes the last complete sheaf, dressed in a woman‘s dress and bedecked with coloured ribbons and variously called the harvest queen, the kern baby, the neck, the corn doll. In Northumberland the doll was attached to a long pole and carried home by the harvester, then set up in a barn where it stood as a centre-piece for the festivities that followed. In some parts of Scotland it was called the Old Wife or Cailleach, while in the neighbourhood of Belfast, in Northern Ireland, it was called the `Granny‘.

In Pembrokeshire, in Wales, one of the reapers used to carry the doll home while the others tried to snatch it away, and poured buckets of water over him. If he got home safely he kept it until the spring sowing. Then he would produce the doll and feed it to the plough horse, or else mix whatever grain was left in  the new seed  to be sown.  This was  to ensure  the continuation  of the corn spirit from one year to the next. The feat of killing the spirit is also exemplified in the practice in some part of sharing the cutting of the last sheaf so that no one reaper could be held responsible for the final cutting.

It is recorded that as recently as 1947, at Great Bardfield Church, near Braintree in Essex, three devices made from wheat, oats and barley were displayed at harvest time. They were a cross on the pulpit, an anchor and a heart on the screen. They represented Faith, Hope and Charity. The vicar at the time reported that ?the people now expect to see them‘.

The harvest custom known as `Crying the neck‘ was common in Devon and has been revived in St Keverne in recent times. The ritual is associated with the ancient belief that the corn spirit lives in the last swathe to be cut and that responsibility for making the last cut must be shared. At St Keverne, the reapers divide into three groups gathered round the last patch of standing corn. The first group call, `We have it‘, the second group call three times, `What have you?‘ The third group call `The neck‘ three times also. This last sheaf is carried to the farmhouse, plaited into a `corn baby‘ and kept over the fireplace until the following spring when it is put into the ploughed field, where the corn spirit begins to live again.

This is a modern version of the ritual practised formerly, when the reapers closed in on the last standing corn and the women gathered round with excitement. As the last stalks fell, the oldest reaper gathered them in his hands and began to twist and weave them into the likeness of a harvest manikin. This was bound with ribbon at the waist and neck, with head bristling and arms outstretched. The other reapers formed a circle and, as the leader lowered the doll to the ground, so they bent lower and lower imitating him. With hats off the whole group broke into a long, drawn-out musical cry: ?The neck‘. While this cry was drawn out, they all raised themselves up, lifted high their hats with the doll held high in their midst. This was performed three times, but now they cried, `The neck, we have ‘un?. Then they all flung hats in the air and danced around shouting, laughing and kissing the girls. One young man snatched up ‘the neck? and ran towards a farm where a girl stood with a pail of water. She had to fling the water over him as he entered the farm. Then followed a party with eating, drinking and dancing.

A writer in 1826 declares that in one evening he heard six or seven `Necks‘, although some must have been four miles off. Laurence Whistler in 1947 reflects that these reapers of Devon might be lamenting the death of Osiris, the Corn Spirit mortally wounded by their sickles, driven back into the last ears, and there finally murdered — lamenting his necessary death and imploring his forgiveness and renewal of life next season.

Mechanisation has undoubtedly taken some of the romance out of this season, but it was not so long ago that the last loaded waggon, drawn in by a team of horses, wtih garlands, ribbons and flowers, rolled back to the farm to begin the Harvest Home, with good food, dancing, singing and merriment. As the last wagon rolled to a halt a young reaper would shout:

 We have ploughed, we have sowed,
 We have reaped, we have moweed,
 We have brought home every load,
 Hip Hip Hip - Harvest Home!

Then the cakes and beer came out, and on with the dance. For this evenimg, master and labourer sat down with no distinction and there would be visitors from other farms, since the labourers from each farm helped out the other at this time. Much of this disappeared with the replacement of horse by tractor. Yet such is our feeling for traditions and our ability to overlay customs with modern beliefs that harvest home is now linked with Harvest Thanksgiving.

The Church had for hundreds of years taken an interest in the harvest customs. A peal of bells from the tower would greet the harvest, wheat and other produce which had been blessed in the Church and even the corn dolly was allowed to grace the Church door, although it soon transformed itself into a cross. The Reformation discouraged this, but in 1843 the vicar of Morwenstow in Cornwall issued a notice inviting parishioners to receive the Sacrament in the bread of the new corn, and the Church‘s Harvest Thanksgiving was born.

The Best Policy?

Dedicated readers of Newslink may recall a mention. some months ago, of a scheme which could be of benefit to St Faith‘s, to readers and, of course, to the Ecclesiastical Insurance Office, with whom St Faith‘s Church‘s millions are insured, and who are offering incentives in return for taking out policies with them. The leaflets promised then are enclosed in this issueand now, as then, are commended to members and friends of St Faith‘s. They add to the reading required to get to grips with this, probably the biggest Newslink yet produced, but there is no Editorial Apology for promoting a scheme which could make money for our work and support our mission.