The Parish Magazine of St Faith`s Church, Great Crosby

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September 1999

From the Vicar

On Sunday 19th September we are celebrating Harvest Thanksgiving. We give thanks to God for all his gifts the fruits of the earth, the work of human hands; we thank him for his many blessings. It is a day of thanksgiving and rightly so. It is a day for us to promise to be good and better stewards of the gifts we have received. It must also be an occasion when we pray for those whose lives are fragile and vulnerable because they do not have access to the basic necessities of life.

Recent discussions in the Church Council have highlighted the fact that we at St. Faith’s need to look closely at the whole area of Christian Stewardship. Oh no  the Vicar wants more money, you may groan! No Parish Priest enjoys talking about money but sadly it is true that we are not terribly well-off at the moment. (Ask the treasurer at any time to see the accounts  they are not private!) If we are to break even at the end of this year we need to find in excess of þ10,000 in addition to our covenanted giving. Why?

· Attendance on a Sunday has slowly declined over the past four years or more. Look at the Register of Services to see that. (and see More of What the Papers Say!  Ed.)
· Regular covenanted giving has decreased (people have moved away, died, pledged less)
· We plan to improve certain aspects of our Church life (i.e. new sound-system, hymn-books, hall redevelopment, ongoing maintenance of Church building etc)  and all this costs money.
· If we are serious about our mission to the community then that will cost us too, in terms of money, time and talents.
· We will need to produce new liturgy books as `Common Worship 2000` replaces the ASB 1980.

If we are to function efficiently, professionally and offer a competent standard of ministry it inevitably drains our resources. So Sunday 19th September, in addition to Harvest, will be designated STEWARDSHIP SUNDAY. It will be an opportunity, in the context of thanksgiving for God`s blessings, for us to consider ways in which our stewardship  in all its forms  can be improved. As we look at our commitment to the Christian Way we shall look at Stewardship under four headings:

1. THE PRINCIPLE OF STEWARDSHIP. This can be summed up in verses from Psalm 116 when the psalmist asks, as we ought, What reward shall I give unto the Lord for all the benefits he has done to me?  The answer is clear, I will call upon the name of the Lord: and receive the cup of salvation and I will offer thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving. It is quite clear  that in return for God`s gifts of Life and Redemption in Christ Jesus (remember they are gifts: nothing that we have to earn) we must call on the name of the Lord in worship and prayer, do His will and proclaim His glory.

2. THE PRACTICE OF STEWARDSHIP. This means that our lives must be so ordered that our commitment reflects our understanding of being a Christian. We should worship with our fellow Christians regularly: being at the Lord’s table every Sunday unless there is a good reason. We should pray regularly: setting aside time each day to discover God’s will for each one of us. We must lead lives which reflect the truths of the Gospel. We should support, in a material way, the mission of the Church in our own parish and beyond. The Church suggests that we give þ1 a week for every þ1,000 per annum we earn (roughly 5%). A study of the  principle of `tithing` might be interesting?

3. THE COMMITMENT OF STEWARDSHIP.  As Christians we need to do all this. It is not optional. We do not live good lives to earn God’s favour but because he has given us, in Christ, New Life. We have responded to that. We have said I turn to Christ`. We must follow the Christian Way.

4. THE REALITY OF STEWARDSHIP. The reality is that its not just about money. People give their money, their talents, their skills, their time. The important thing to remember is that all of us have something to offer to God within the fellowship of the Christian Community. Do you have a few spare hours during the week to help with jobs in the Church? There are many people already at St. Faith’s who give many hours of their time, week by week, to work for the glory of God  could there be more? Could you `tithe your talents`? Perhaps it is a few years since you reviewed your financial giving and could give a little more? Perhaps you have become unemployed or retired since you last reviewed your financial giving and are unable to give more financially but can offer other gifts. The most important thing is that we attempt an honest assessment of the whole situation. Also it is important to remember that the on-going responsibility for the mission and witness of the Christian Church belongs not just to the Clergy, Readers, PCC or other `officials` but to each and every one of us who claims St. Faith’s as our spiritual home.

And so, on Stewardship Sunday, as we thank God for his gifts, we will consider, prayerfully and thoughtfully (and armed with up-to-date information from the Treasurer) how we can look confidently to the future mission and ministry of this Church. Please give this important topic your thoughts and prayers as we ask God to guide us to do His will in His Church.

With every blessing,                Father Neil

     HOLY DAYS in September

    F              3             Gregory the Great, Teacher of the Faith, 6.30pm Eucharist
   W             8             The Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary  7.30pm Patronal Festival Eucharist in St. Mary’s Waterloo
   M             13            John Chrysostom, Teacher of the Faith,   10.30am Eucharist
   Tu            14            Holy Cross Day,   9.30am Eucharist
   F              17            Hildegard of Bingen, Religious, 6.30pm Eucharist

Sunday     19th September      HARVEST (Stewardship) SUNDAY
                                                8.00 am Holy Eucharist (said)
                                                10.30 am SUNG EUCHARIST AND PARADE SERVICE
                                                6.00 pm Harvest `Songs of Praise` at St. Mary’s Waterloo
                                                 with favourite Harvest and Evening hymns

Tu             21             St. Matthew, Apostle  Evangelist, 9.30am Eucharist
M             27             St. Vincent de Paul, 10.30am Eucharist
W             29             St. Michael and All Angels,   10.30am Eucharist in St. Mary’s, Waterloo
Th             30             St. Jerome,   7.30pm Eucharist


Wednesday 6th October  Saint Faith’s Day

                                7.30 am Holy Eucharist (said)
                                8.00 pm Procession and Solemn High Mass  followed by refreshments
                                             Centenary Preacher: The Rt. Revd Michael Henshall, former Bishop of Warrington

Sunday 10th October  Feast of Dedication

                                8.00 am Holy Eucharist
                                10.30 am Procession and High Mass
                                                Centenary Preacher: Fr. Michael Raynor  Vicar of St. Andrew’s, Orford
                                6.00 pm Festal Evensong, Procession and Solemn Te Deum
                                             Preacher: The Venerable David Woodhouse, Archdeacon of Warrington

Mrs Grace Jones (Ruth Callaway)
`Strength and dignity are her clothing` (Proverbs 31:25)

If you were a hundred years old would you expect to be living on your own, getting your own meals, doing your own housework and seeing to your own financial affairs? Perhaps not, but Mrs Jones does, though Douglas and Margaret Taylor of St Faith’s and I shop for her. Her long life may well be due to her strength of character and fierce independence of spirit.

Grace was brought up in Holyhead, Anglesey and loved it there. Her father was a sea captain and brought King George V back from France during the First World War. She is highly intelligent and very strong. She played in the county tennis team, cycling 15 miles to the match, playing, then cycling home. She would have gone to university but as it was wartime, she felt she ought to be at home to help her mother, a gracious lady with a gentle Scottish voice.

When Captain Horner (her father) retired, the whole family moved to Waterloo  a sad change for her and her sister, to whom she was devoted. In 1930 she married the Reverend Griffith Jones, a Welshman who was a scholar, a bard, a gifted poet and painter. From 193657 he was vicar of Bardsea on the western side of the Lake District. These are the years she most likes to talk about and it is clear that her gifts were used to the full: running the Sunday School and Mothers` Union, playing the organ, having evacuees to stay and coping with her extensive garden. One of the boys who was in her Sunday School still visits her. Her husband’s health was very frail as he had been wounded in the First World War, but her devoted care of him enabled him to live many years longer than he might have done. Care for her family was the outstanding characteristic of her life. About twenty years ago she moved to Crosby to nurse first her sister and then her two brothers until their deaths. Even when she was in her 80s she went to London to take care of her husband’s niece.

During her time in Crosby Mrs Jones attended the early morning Communion service at St Faith’s for many years and has retained her interest in the church and its doings. Because of increasing deafness Grace finds it difficult to cope with visitors but the clergy of St Faith’s and the Taylors visit her regularly. She is always up to date with world and national news and follows tennis matches closely, particularly Henman`s. It is fascinating to talk to someone for whom the events of the last century are not history but events she has lived through. On August 19th my cousin will be 100 years old. We congratulate her on her long and useful life and wish her every happiness.

Grace is shown with Fr Dennis Smith in the church hall after the Sung Eucharist on Sunday 22 August 1999 when parishioners were able to join her in celebrating her centenary.

All you wanted to know about the Sacraments but were afraid to ask!

Sermons on the Sacraments at the 10.30am Sung Eucharist

At the meeting on June 10th to discuss our ministry to young people and families, one of the requests that was made was for more teaching about the basics of the Christian Faith. In response to this the Clergy and Readers, together with the PCC, have decided to run a series of sermons on the different Sacraments of the Church.

This will be an opportunity for learning, there will be a hand-out to accompany each sermon, and there will also be an opportunity for us to meet together informally and to discuss any issues that may arise from the sermons. This discussion will happen in the Upper Room straight after coffee, from about 11.50 am  12.50 pm . The PCC felt that this might be preferable to asking people to come to a discussion a couple of days later when much has been forgotten. We felt it was worth having a go at a discussion group when people are already at Church.  You would still be back by 1 pm for lunch!

The series will be as follows:

Sunday 10th October  BAPTISM   (Dedication)   Fr. Michael Raynor (Centenary Preacher)

Sunday 17th October  CONFIRMATION     Fred Nye

Sunday 24th October  MARRIAGE        Fr. Vivian Enever (Centenary Preacher)

Sunday 31st October  THE EUCHARIST   (All Saints Day)     Joyce Green

Sunday 7th November  HOLY ORDERS      Fr. Dennis

Sunday 14th November  SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION   (Remembrance Sunday)  Fr. Mark

Sunday 21st November  ANOINTING THE SICK AND DYING (Christ the King)   Fr. Neil

Please note these in your diaries and come along.

Of Sadness and Joy  (Joyce Green)

The familiar words rang out as the funeral procession made its way slowly down the aisle:

 `I am the resurrection and the life,` says the Lord.
  `Those who believe in me, even though they die, yet shall they live...`

I had heard these words so often, but this time there was a difference. This time the words were issuing from my own mouth, as I led the procession into church. Taking funerals is one of the many functions permitted to Readers, but unlike many of my colleagues throughout the Diocese, I had never before been given this opportunity. Now, thanks to Father Neil, I was conducting my first funeral.

After assisting Father Neil at two funerals, he asked whether I would like to take the next one myself. I said yes with some trepidation, and now here I was, praying that God would be with me and with the bereaved family. It was an awesome occasion for me, because it is such a great privilege to be responsible for leading such a service: actually committing someone to God’s care, praying for her and ministering to the family. Despite my extreme nervousness, however, I got through it without making any mistakes, and the family expressed their appreciation, especially for making it so personal.

Prior to Father Neil’s arrival, I was speaking to someone from another church and he said, `Well, I can guarantee that things will never be the same again. He certainly shook them up at Kirkby!` I can definitely vouch for the truth of that statement. After fourteen years of Reader ministry, during which my main functions have been preaching and teaching, I am now  with my fellow Readers  being called upon to share in both the pastoral and liturgical aspects not only of Funerals, but also of Baptisms and Weddings.

The next time Father Neil asked me to assist was at a Baptism  and I have never in my life experienced anything like it! I’m sure the family will never forget it either. I had been to visit the family beforehand, and so had Father Neil, so that they knew those who would be taking the service.

The service was at 12.30 pm and the congregation mainly family and friends. They were all given a service sheet printed with the new Baptismal liturgy. They sat at the front for the first part, then we all moved to the font. There, unheard-of things began to happen. Firstly, the children were encouraged to come and stand upon the steps of the font. A small circle of hands then appeared round the rim of the font as they all clung on and jumped up and down to see what was in it. After baby Matthew had been handed back to his mother, Father Neil spoke to the children, inviting them to look in the font and to touch the water. Then he asked what we needed water for. The responses came thick and fast, and at last the point was made that water gives life, and the water of baptism brings the life of God to the baptised.

Back at the front of church, Father Neil told the congregation that the doors had been locked and before they were allowed out of church they had to learn a song. And they wouldn’t find the words on the service sheet; he was going to teach them. The song went something like this:

Allelu, allelu, allelu alleluia, Praise ye the Lord` (repeated three times)
`Praise ye the Lord alleluia,` (repeated three times, then) `Praise ye the Lord`.

After a few practices, they (and I) more or less had the hang of it, but then Father Neil added to the confusion by saying that he was going to make it into a competition. The congregation was divided up into two halves, one half to sing the Alleluias, and the other to sing the Praise ye the Lord parts. To complicate matters still further, when they were singing their bit, they had to stand up, and when they weren’t, they had to sit down. Much bobbing up and down ensued, accompanied by much merriment and laughter.

Eventually, the service was concluded, and as I joined the family at the back of church everyone was smiling and saying what a wonderful experience it had been. As for me, I just wished that more members of our own congregation could have been there to share in the fun (we did have two!) and to welcome baby Matthew. Perhaps we’ll see you there next time. If not, you may never know what you are missing!

From the Guide to York Minster

`The medieval roof bosses portrayed scenes from the life of Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary ... The originals were destroyed by the fire of 1840. All except the Nativity boss were replaced with an exact replica. On this the Victorians demanded that the Virgin should be shownbottl`-feeding Jesus.`

Best seats in the house for James  John?  (Fr Peter Cavanagh)

The Centenary Sermon at St Faith’s on 25 July.

Let me tell you of one of the happiest houses I have ever known. It was also the most chaotic. It was in Salisbury, and it was beautiful. `Do sit down, dear heart,` my host would say. `There’s a chair somewhere, underneath those magazines  at least there was last week.` `Don’t close your bedroom window old thing, there’s a blackbird nesting somewhere above the wardrobe.` Husband and wife were both very extravagant, very generous and not a little eccentric. To cope with the food and wine they consumed in industrial quantities, they bought in bulk. Their speciality was bottles and tins which had lost their labels at Harrods or Fortnum and Mason. And so the peas you were going to eat with your roast lamb turned out to be a tin of raspberries, and the dry red wine turned out to be a rather old and very sweet port.

They were the same with people. They entertained them in bulk as well. And they mixed all kinds together  people were people; with no labels  no one better, higher, lower or more important than another. At any gathering in their house you might meet with an amazing and varied bunch of people: black or white, peers of the realm, archdeacons, a prostitute bailed from the local Magistrates` Court, a retired bishop, the couple from along the road who hadn’t many farthings to rub together, and occasionally, thank God, me!

It was a marvellous place, full of freedom, generosity and the love that makes people human beings in the image of God: without special positions and  labels. Happy, wholesome, chaos. I’m sure heaven is like that. People can make hell on earth, rather than heaven on earth, when they start to scramble for positions of authority and put labels on one another. In the second World War the Nazis believed they were going to create the perfect race; white, blond, blue-eyed super-humans. They carried this to such an extent that after a while those who did not match up to their ideal were imprisoned or killed. Anyone who did not fit into the perfect image of what they thought human beings should be  those in the wrong pecking order or with the wrong label.

So in Mark (10:35-45) we see the kingdom of heaven being portioned out and positions of authority sought after: James and John wanting the best seats in the house, and the others getting jealous, not for any just or right reason, but simply because they thought themselves more worthy, or had better labels.

But Jesus tells them clearly and directly that they must not be like worldly leaders, where people exploit and lord it over others, for even the Son of Man came to serve. They must not be so cock-sure-certain about who will or will not be acceptable to God. He warns them against putting themselves above others: about not including just those of whom they approve or who are socially acceptable. For God does not judge in the way they do. It is a gospel about labels and love. Its about the free, chaotic, disorganised world, where the demands of love, the extravagant demands of neighbourliness, are supreme.

And what of us? Well  no, we are not the monsters who would exterminate to make a super-race. Though God knows we’ve seen more than enough of the horrifying spectacle of ethnic cleansing on our television screens over the past few months.

And we do need to take care that we do not make hell on earth rather than heaven on earth by putting labels on one another in our own ways. God created humans in his own image and he seeks human unity in that image. We ought not to care about the distinctions of wealth, colour, racial or religious purity. They’re Roman Catholics next door - but they’re very nice! They’re Jews over the way, but they’re very nice. They’re supporter of Man. United over the road, but they’re very nice! (OK, I`ll scrub that one  but you see what I mean.) Jesus lived and died for all. God preserve us from the bigotry and prejudice and inhumanity that comes from labelling people. They are all children of God, and so are you  and so even am I.

A story from the long-off days when I was a brand new and very green Vicar. There were about 40 clergy assembled in a crowded Parish Hall on a Sunday afternoon. We were to form a procession and go to the laying of a foundation stone of a new church. One senior cleric, full of dignity (as opposed to us young clergy, who were full of the red wine we had supped at lunch) was very pompous and very concerned that he should have his place of honour. Curates and Readers to the front, junior clergy next and he and his equally senior croneys at the rear of the procession in the position of honour. We set off across the muddy field where this foundation stone would be laid. The nobodies, like me, were ushered to the back of this quagmire, and stood there dutifully waiting for the very important people to arrive. They did so  bishop, archdeacons and canons. They sat on a long bench. Gradually it start to sink in the mud  then it toppled over. To my mind proof positive of the existence of God. They had egg on their ecclesiastical faces and lots of mud on  well you can guess where.

There was tittering among the assembled press and congregation  and, I am not ashamed to say, gales of laughter from us junior clergy and I dare say laughter in heaven. Verily they had their reward!

25 years ago, almost to this day, I was ordained priest in Liverpool Cathedral and that night I came here to this very special place to say mass for the first time. I was terrified, but supported and surrounded by a wonderful bunch of people. A sort of `Quality Street` mixture: all different, some smart and clever, some plain and ordinary, some beautifully barmy and some gloriously eccentric. It was a wonderful mixed bunch who didn’t seem to care much about labels or status.

Possible old age and rose-tinted spectacles aid my trip down memory lane, but lanes go backwards and forward. A new Vicar, a new century, a new millennium. I pray God’s blessing on your way forward  may you be lucky enough to let the labels fall off the tins and bottles and learn that unusual though it may seem, lamb goes very well indeed with raspberries, even washed down with rich port!

A Gardener`s Prayer (Karel Capek)

O Lord, grant that in some way it may rain every day  say from about midnight until three o’clock in the morning, but, You see, it must be gentle and warm so that it can soak in.

Grant that at the same time, it will not rain on campion, alyssum, helianthus, lavender and others which You in Your infinite wisdom know are drought-loving plants. Grant that the sun may shine the whole day long, but not everywhere  not, for instance, on the spiraea or on gentian or rhododendron  and not too much; that there may be plenty of dew and little wind, enough worms, no plant lice and snails, no mildew: and that once a week guano may fall from heaven.

From `Focus`, the magazine of  St Mary the Virgin, Davyhulme

We are Survivors       ... for those born before 1945

We were born before TV, penicillin, polio shots, frozen foods, Xerox, plastics, contact lenses, videos, frisbees and the pill. We were before radar, credit cards, split atoms, laser beams, ball point pens; before dish washers, tumble dryers, electric blankets, air conditioning, drip-dry clothes and before man walked on the moon.

We got married first and then lived together (how quaint). We thought `fast food` was what you ate in Lent, a Big Mac was an oversized raincoat, and `crumpet` was what we had for tea. We existed before house-husbands, and computer dating, when a `meaningful relationship` meant getting along with our cousins, and `sheltered accommodation` was where you waited for a bus.

We were before `day-care centres`, `group homes` and disposable nappies. We’d never heard of FM radio, tape-decks, electric typewriters, artificial hearts, word-processors, yoghurt, or young men wearing earrings. For us time `sharing` meant togetherness, a `chip` was a piece of wood or fried potato; `hardware` meant nuts and bolts, and `software` wasn’t a word. Before 1945  `Made in Japan` meant junk; the term `making out` referred to how you did in exams, or pretending; `stud` was something that fastened a collar to a shirt, and `going all the way` meant staying on the bus to the terminus. Pizzas, Macdonald’s and instant coffee were unheard of. In our day cigarette smoking was fashionable, `grass` was mown, `coke` was kept in the coalhouse, a `joint was a piece of meat you ate on Sundays, and `pot` was what you used for cooking it. `Rock music` was a mother’s lullaby. `Eldorado` was an ice-cream; a gay person was the life and soul of the party and nothing more, whilst `Aids` just meant beauty treatment or help for someone in trouble.

We who were born before 1945 must be a hardy bunch when you think of the way in which the world has changed and the adjustments we have had to make. But by the grace of God, we have survived! Alleluia!

From the magazine of the Church of St Martin de la Bellouse

From the Archives

Scene in a  Crosby Church. Protest at Nature of Service

Connoisseurs of the odd corners of church history (not to mention anyone still a little dubious about current changes in our worship) may find this newspaper article of 23 February 1931, supplied by Margaret Goodwin, entertaining.

`Protestant demonstrators visited the Church of St Faith, Crosby, yesterday morning, at the Sung Eucharist, and made a protest alleging that the service was illegal. Ten or a dozen men sat in three groups throughout the service, taking no part in it, and maintaining some sort of communication between their groups by nods and winks. During the prayer of Humble Access, before the Consecration prayer, one man, near the front of the church, remained standing. It was thought by some who saw him that he might have had an injury to his leg, which made him unable to kneel. But as the last words of the prayer were being said, he turned to a group sitting in the SW corner of the nave, and a man then rose. `I would like to know if this is a Church of England,` he shouted. Other words, which could not be distinguished, followed, and he added, `I protest against this illegal service.`

The church authorities were forewarned that some disturbance might be created, and a number of sidesmen moved towards the group, and conducted them quietly to the door. The other groups followed them. Three men pushed past one man who was kneeling with his daughter, causing him to stand up. In the porch one of the visitors cried, Let’s sing `God Save the King,` and some mention was made of the name of Archbishop Downey. But no further demonstration was made, and the men left to go in the direction of Liverpool. As soon as the slight noise had died down, the celebrant, the Rev. M.L.M. Way, assistant curate of St Faith’s, continued with the Prayer of Consecration.

A Daily Post reporter, who was present, observed that the service followed in every particular the Prayer Book service of Holy Communion. The congregation was large, and some members of it did not know what the disturbance was about, and sought information from church officials afterwards. Mr Way said that the words of the protest did not reach him at the altar, and he could find no occasion for a protest in the service, which followed the Prayer Book exactly. The only addition was the singing of the usual anthems  `Benedictus` and `Agnus Dei`  but they were sung in almost every church where the communion service was sung at all.`

 Date for your Diary!

St Faith`s Annual Dinner  Merry-go-Round  Saturday 20 November

Enjoy a three-course Meal with wine for only £10  each course at the house of different hosts with different guests, meeting up for coffee with everyone at the last venue. Good food, good fun, good company, excellent value, and an opportunity to boost Church funds! Transport can be arranged for you.

If you haven’t tried it before, do give it a go this year, and join us on 20 November  you will be very welcome and will have a great evening.  Further details from Linda Nye.

Deanery News  (Joyce Green)

At a recent meeting of Deanery Synod we were told that the Bishop of Liverpool would be paying a visit to the Deanery. As part of that visit he would like to meet as many lay people as possible, and to that end invites everyone to join him on the evening of September 9th at St George of England School in Bootle. The evening begins at 7.00 pm. The Bishop will also be visiting all Deaneries during the period of Lent 2000, with a view to meeting as many young people in the 18  30 year age group as possible. He will be in our Deanery on Thursday 23 March, 2000.

We in Waterloo can sympathise with what is happening in some Bootle churches at the moment, because they too are now involved in the difficult process of Pastoral Re-organisation. In order to meet Diocesan targets, and to lose one incumbent, they are proposing to create either a United Benefice, or a Team Ministry, whereby two priests would care for the parishes of St Leonard’s, St Andrew’s, and St Matthew’s. Negotiations and consultations are still in progress, however, and our prayers are asked for as they try to find the right way for all concerned.

Finally, a Diocesan visit to our sister Diocese of Akure is being planned to take place next year. It is hoped that each Deanery will fund one representative to take part in this visit. Names are invited for consideration if anyone would be interested. (Contact our Area Dean, Revd Chris Jones.)

The Stations of the Cross (Fr Dennis)

For many years, the time-hallowed and often moving devotion of the Stations of the Cross has been a feature of Lent and Holy Week at St Faith’s. Now that the Stations are to be left in their present permanent positions around the church throughout the year and not, as before, assembled in the Chapel of the Cross and relocated for use in Lent, we have decided that, starting in September, on the first Friday of each month, there will be a devotion of the Stations at the 6.30 pm Eucharist. Those who have attended these services in the past will know what a helpful, thoughtful and inspiring act of worship the `Stations` devotion can be, and it would be good to see more people joining us on the first Friday of each month.

The name denotes both fourteen selected representations of incidents in the last journey of Christ and the devotion which consists in pausing at them in sequence for prayer and meditation. The devotion probably arose out of the practice recorded from early times of pilgrims to Jerusalem following the `way of the cross` from Pilate’s house to Calvary, and wishing to re-enact it when they returned home.

On my second visit to the Holy Land, in 1983, as part of a holiday group with Inter Church Travel, I felt greatly privileged, and indeed humbled, to be asked by the Tour party organiser to lead fellow Christian pilgrims in the devotion of the Stations along Jerusalem’s Via Dolorosa (Way of Sorrows). Trying to make myself heard above the clamour and hubbub of the regular Friday shoppers, street traders and sight-seeing tourists presented an enormous challenge and was an amazing and unforgettable experience!

The first record of this pilgrim practice, walking the Way of the Cross in Jerusalem after the death and resurrection of Christ, comes from the Spanish pilgrim Egeria. In 381 and 384 AD she made a Good Friday pilgrimage from the Mount of Olives to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This church, built over the site of Christ’s crucifixion and burial, was already the Christian focal point in Jerusalem during Holy Week that it is today. On Good Friday, during Egeria`s two visits, everyone spent three hours in the church hearing the Psalms and readings from the Epistles, the Acts, the Gospels, and other prophetic words connected with the Passion. Such outdoor processions as Egeria`s did not thrive in subsequent non-Christian rule in Jerusalem. Still, six  liturgical  stations on a  processional  route from the Mount of Olives to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre were described in tenth-century Holy Week records. The processional cross would then be carried within the church, from the Calvary site on the mezzanine floor to a small cave in the ancient stone quarry pit below, a cave known as the `holy prison`.

When the European Crusaders reached Jerusalem, in the eleventh century, they found the Passion honoured only as a Good Friday ceremony in a partially rebuilt Church of the Holy Sepulchre whose original had been destroyed in 1009. What had once been outdoor Stations of the Cross were now interior chapels honouring Christ’s scourging, his crowning with thorns, and the dividing of his garments. The Crusaders enthusiastically rebuilt the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and added others between it and the Mount of Olives, including one in Gethsemane, where the Church of All Nations now stands. The Crusaders focused on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, however, because they preferred the story of Christ’s death and resurrection to his Passion. No public procession was ever scheduled for Good Friday during the Crusader period.

Devotion to the holy places and to Christ’s passion received an extra fillip with the return of the Crusaders, who often erected tableaux of places they had visited in the Holy Land. And when the Franciscans were given custody of the holy places in 1342 they saw it as part of their mission to promote the devotion and to encourage the erection of series of such tableaux. From their own churches the practice spread widely into parish churches too.

The subjects of these `Stations` varied widely, as did the number (anything from five to over thirty). The number fourteen seems to have appeared first in the sixteenth century in the Low Countries, and when the devotion was regulated by Clement XII in 1731 it stabilised at this number, comprising nine gospel scenes and five from popular tradition. By the nineteenth century virtually all Roman Catholic churches tended to have a set of fourteen ranged around the internal walls (or occasionally out of doors in the church grounds).

As the devotion has always been strictly extra-liturgical, no official texts have ever been provided. There is however, a prodigious supply of suitably prayerful and devotional material, of which we shall be using a wide variety from September 3rd onwards. The service of Stations and Holy Eucharist combined will be about 35 - 40 minutes duration. In the words of Philip to Nathanael recorded in the Fourth Gospel:

`Come and see.`

What the Papers Say
Church has priorities wrong, say worshippers
Victoria Combe, `Daily Telegraph`  Religion Correspondent

The Church fails to `spread Jesus`s message`, according to a new survey of worshippers. Focus groups in 17 of the 43 dioceses showed that churchgoers believed the Church failed to stand up adequately for its beliefs, to make its voice heard and to spread the Gospel. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, said the bishops were `shattered` by the findings, which showed how poorly the Church was perceived by its own worshippers. `There is a huge chasm between what is happening centrally and what people think is happening,` said Dr Carey. The focus groups were part of a national research programme initiated by  the new Archbishops` Council in January and run by Jayne Ozanne, one of the nominated lay members.

She told the General Synod in York that she had included a question in the 400 hours of interviews that asked people with what animal they associated the Church. The 150 interviewed compared the Church to a camel, `a horse designed by committee`, an ostrich with its head in the sand, or a chameleon that changes colour to suit the background. Others compared the Church with a mole: `Mostly underground and in the dark, occasionally comes up for air and when it does makes a lot of mess in the process`, or an elephant: `large, cumbersome and slow`.  Dr Carey said he wanted the Church to be more like Aslan, the lion in C.S. Lewis`s `The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe`. The Church should be strong and courageous and willing to fight. Maybe it is too much like a sheep at the moment: `docile and too often slaughtered,` he said.

When asked what animal they would like the Church to be, some said an ant colony working together and others a loving pet dog. One suggested an octopus with `tentacles into all areas of the community`.

Those who took part in the survey, (of which 42% were aged over 55 and 67% were women, to reflect the average congregation) thought the most important issue for the Church was `spreading Jesus`s message` and `giving a moral lead`. They rated the Church`s performance as `poor` on both issues and said it was best at conducting weddings and looking after its historic buildings.

The report urged the Church to reduce its `in-fighting` and to promote its work with Government and speak out clearly on important moral issues.

 From the Registers

28    June Terry McKee
10    Aug James Curran

20    June Toby Edward Anson Mansell
 son of Thomas and Julia
 Sean Thomas Webster
 son of Christopher and Joanne
27    June Kurt Rhys Williams
 son of Pamela
4      July Rebecca Kirsty Waters
 daughter of Mark and Diana

4      July Rebecca Waters
 John Boyham
 Lillian Gallina

6     August Andrew Batchelor and Jane Noakes

Centenary Sales

Have you supported St Faith’s by buying the various items for sale at the back of Church? Proceeds go to swell our funds (or reduce our overdraft: see this month`s Vicar`s letter!), so you will help the church and, we hope, get value for money. Have a look at the following ...

· New! `FURNISHINGS OF FAITH`  articles by members of St Faith’s about the `fixtures and fittings` of the church (glass, brass, wood, stone, statues and the like). Only £1.50, and you could find the answers to many of your questions!
· CENTENARY COOKBOOK. 100 mouth-watering, tried-and-tested recipes by members and friends of St Faith’s. Just £2.50 to pep up your dinner parties!
· `POEMS FROM THE BACK PEW`: Chris Price`s collections of poems about St Faith’s and Liverpool  £2.50
· CENTENARY MUGS  two colour porcelain mugs to mark the Centenary. As seen on all the best coffee tables - only £4
· CHURCH NOTELETS  Eric Salisbury’s designs. Pack of 6 with envelopes for just £1.20.

All these items may be sent to `postal` readers: just contact the Editor.

You shall not murder(Denise McDougall)

Exodus 20:13, is abortion murder?

There can be few issues which stir up such high emotions as abortion, the procured termination of a baby either by operation or by inducing the foetus artificially. If we look back in history there is no consistent approach to abortion even within the Christian tradition   although almost all theologians in the early church did disapprove. Much of their discussion was based around the distinction between the formed and the unformed foetus. St Augustine said that the foetus was `ensouled` at 46 days, while St Aquinas  said that formation takes place 40 days for the male and 90 days for the female. Despite their primitive understanding of the origins of human life, they still regarded abortion as a very serious crime, although Aquinas only regarded it as homicide after formation. However while acknowledging diversity within the Christian tradition and consequently most of Western society abortion was and to a slightly lesser degree still is condemned.

Is it really such a serious sin?  According to the Roman Catholic Church it is a crime against human life. The Declaration on Procured Abortion (1974) says that, `From the time the ovum is fertilised, a life is begun which is neither that of the father nor of the mother. It is rather the life of a new human being with its own growth. It would never be made human if it were not human already.` Abortion is the killing of an unborn person and therefore always wrong. Thus anyone who has an abortion, or is involved in the operation and  understands what they are doing is so guilty of sin that they are automatically excommunicated from the Church; in fact this is the only place in the Catechism where `automatic` excommunication is mentioned. This is not meant to show lack of compassion but to endorse the gravity of the action. In response to this I personally believe that God forgives all those who are truly sorry and he will continue to call us to Him and show us His love.

It must however be realised that in the majority of abortion cases the decision is agonisingly painful and can leave mental scars for life. This is particularly so if there was a health risk to the mother, the baby was likely to be abnormal or the mother had been raped. In these cases there surely has to be respect and understanding for the mother’s right to choose.

Feelings run very high on both sides of the argument and it is not unknown to see protest marches for or against. The Women’s Liberation Movement sees abortion as the most significant liberation of all, from the body and from male domination. It is the most effective solution to unwanted pregnancy and is within the woman’s full control. She sees abortion as concerning one person only and, in the early stages, sees the foetus as simply a part of her body.

There are a number of reasons why some may consider a termination to be necessary:

· The mother’s life or health is thought to be in danger.
· Another child would be a great burden to the family.
· The foetus is known to be abnormal.
· The mother is still at school.
· The mother is unmarried and not in a stable relationship.
· The mother is a victim of rape.

To take the example of ill health, a pregnant woman suffering from cancer of the womb may have to have the womb removed as part of her treatment. This would have the unavoidable consequence of killing the foetus. The primary intention was to treat the cancer but it caused the pregnancy to be terminated. Even people who basically agree with the Church’s teaching have some difficulty condemning termination in that type of situation.

Yet in a recent newspaper article a writer talks about her daughter with Downes Syndrome and says `while I’m all for choice, I can’t believe I would have chosen to have an abortion. I think about all the people whose lives have been touched by Kate ... I cannot imagine a world without her in it.`

I can’t help but wonder how many other mothers wish that they could put the clock back on their decision when they read articles like that one. Perhaps their unwanted pregnancies were the result of rape, immaturity, or just simply carelessness which added an extra burden to a casual or inappropriate relationship.

A Church of England report summarised it as follows:

`At the root of these powers (associated with being a person) is the phenomenon of consciousness, and it is as a subject of consciousness ... that we value the human being most fundamentally. It is important not to suggest that human beings  must exercise some specific degree of intelligence or emotional maturity before they can properly be regarded as human persons. Yet, if we are to draw a morally relevant distinction between humans and other animals, we seem compelled to define the human in terms of a sort nature able to exercise rational, moral and personal capacities...`

In order to perform any of the functions which we associate with being a person we need a functioning brain. Can the beginning of life therefore be linked with the early stages of brain development? If this is the case, the abortions mentioned earlier may not be considered as the murder of a human being.

The Church of England agreed with The Warnock Report in 1982 when it stated that embryonic development can be argued to be crucially significant. The establishment of a functioning nerve net around 40 days after conception can be regarded as a necessary criterion for the beginning of personal life. This adds a possible cut off point to the argument; if we look at the brain based criteria we know that by eight weeks there is detectable electrical brain activity and by 12 weeks the brain structure is complete. Those citing brain development in their argument will often use the 12 week stage as the point beyond which termination is not morally acceptable. If we accept that, the foetus does not acquire the status of a person until late in the process of coming to birth. This is implicit in British abortion legislation, where `viability` (the capacity for independent existence) is the criterion. In 1967, the original legislation put a maximum of 28 weeks for the time limit for a termination. This limit has recently been altered to 24 weeks because with advanced technology and medical expertise a baby can survive independently at that stage of development. Termination after that time would be regarded as infanticide.

For those who do condone abortion in certain circumstances, the status of the embryo is central to the moral issue e.g. viability, brain criteria or merely a cluster of cells. It is the mother’s own personal moral viewpoint which will determine her decision either with or without advice from others. This then raises the issue of whether the father has equal rights in the decision or not.

Abortion is a particularly emotive issue and I feel that whatever our personal decisions are on the subject we ought to try very hard to consider the thinking and perspective of those whose opinions differ from our own. My personal belief is that God created us in his own image and He is the one who determines life and all life is sacred. I believe that a foetus must be protected with great care from the moment of conception and to kill that foetus is murder. However as with most controversial issues I do believe that there may be some exceptions to my own stand-point. I have to admit that in cases of rape and real health risks to either the mother or child then every mother should have every right to make her own choice whatever her religion dictates and in so doing put sin and guilt aside in the knowledge that Jesus Christ died for the forgiveness of sins.

More of What the Papers Say
Future of C of E in the Balance as Attendance Falls
Christopher Morgan

The Church of England’s attendance figures have fallen so sharply that less than 2% of the population now worships at church each Sunday, and only 1% regularly take communion. For the past two years, the church hierarchy has refused to divulge the numbers of regular churchgoers. But several individual dioceses have now broken ranks to reveal the most dramatic decline in Sunday attendance since the formation of the church in the 16th century. In Exeter there was a 31% drop in average Sunday attendance between 1996 and 1997. In Ely diocese, taking in the university city of Cambridge, the latest average Sunday attendance figure was 15,500  a reduction of 18%.

Many dioceses refused to reveal up-to-date attendance figures because they said they had been ordered by a C. of E. press officer not to disclose them. But church statisticians are dismayed by the suppression of  information and believe it is masking an unprecedented collapse in attendance. Although not all the 1998 figures have been collected there are signs that churchgoing in England could have suffered a 20% decline between 1995 and 1998.

Statisticians said that if the average Sunday communicants figure, last published in 1994, had suffered the same rate of decline as the overall average attendance, the 1999 figure is likely to fall to an estimated 480,000 - 1% of the English population. Peter Brierly, executive director of the independent agency Christian Research, blamed the introduction of Sunday trading for the fall. In a separate survey, Christian Research has discovered that half of all the country’s churches have no teenagers attending services. According to figures to be published next January, the same proportion of churches appear to be making no attempt to work with 15-18-year-olds.

Professor David Martin, a sociologist of religion at the London School of Economics, said the church’s continued established status would have to be questioned. `If the figures continue like this it is not a good outlook and the establishment of the church will be hanging in the balance.` Professor Leslie Francis, of Trinity College, Carmarthen, an acknowledged expert in the field, said: `The official reason for not publishing the 1997 figures is that usual Sunday attendance is now misleading because people’s patterns of attendance are changing.`

The Parish of St. Mary the Virgin,   Waterloo Park


Wednesday 8th September (The Birthday of the B.V.M.)

 followed by Cheese and Wine.
 Preacher: Canon Anthony Hawley,
 Rector of Kirkby and Area Dean of Walton

Saturday 11th September

 given by the `Crosby Clerics` and friends:
 Fr. Gregor Cuff  Cello
 Fr. Neil Kelley and Fr. George Gilford  Organ and Piano
 Stephen Hargreaves  Organ
Programme to include music by Bach, Grieg, Debussy and Faure.
Tickets: £4 (£3 concessions) available from George Smith at St. Faith’s. Please give these events your full support!

Still What the Papers Say
Church Urged to Cut State Link
Christopher Morgan and Michael Prescott

An attempt by Tony Blair to increase Downing Street’s control over senior church appointments has provoked new demands for the Church of England to sever its links with the state. Colin Buchanan, the Bishop of Woolwich, calls this week-end for the disestablishment of the church. `The possession of the Church of England by the state is so wrong in principle that it is vital we shake off our chains,` he writes in the Sunday Times.

Behind his demand for change lies a secret power struggle over the way senior church appointments are made by the prime minister, acting on behalf of the Queen. Downing Street confirmed this weekend that John Holroyd, 64, its appointments secretary, is retiring a year early. His departure follows a two-year war of attrition, during which criticism of Holroyd by Blair`s staff has grown apace. `He is like a figure from Trollope and is the antithesis of new Labour,` one insider complained yesterday. Aides said Blair was appalled at the quality of some candidates recommended by Holroyd and dismayed that he would not reveal his selection process.

Diocesan bishops are chosen from names put forward by the crown Appointments Commission, whose meeting Holroyd attends. But other Senior appointments, such as the deans and canons of cathedrals, are made from candidates chosen by Holroyd alone.

In particular, Blair has been unhappy with:

·Candidates put before him for the bishopric of Liverpool in 1997. He sent back both names submitted by the appointments commission.

·The appointment of Wesley Carr as Dean of Westminster. Even before his position was confirmed, two canons at Westminster went to No 10 to protest at Carr`s nomination.

September (Chris Price)

Under a northern sky in a quiet September,
Beyond the far-out line of water a buoy sounds,
Rocking idly as the big ships pass.

The sad tolling of the great bell rings
Down the years and back in time
To a far southern shore in the high summer:
Towering cliffs and an iron ladder down to the hot beach
And running over the bright morning tide-line;
Great scallop-shells set on the ribbed sands;
A perfect starfish sprawling by a pool.
And all day in and out of the sea in the warm sun.
At night, above the cliffs, up through the long
Summer grass as the shadows grew longer.

And always, always calling from beyond sight,
A bell tolling, sounding, echoing,
Unutterably sad and distant;
Measuring without pattern the days and nights,
Touching my dreams with uncertain melancholy:
Telling the end of youth and summer.

Now my child plays as the big ships slip out to sea,
And the silent tide creeps unnoticed over the flat bay.
Still the bell swings slowly.
Nothing has changed.

Crosby shore: September 1980