The Parish Magazine
of Saint Faith's Church, Great Crosby
Saint Faith’s Prayer for
Faithful God, in baptism you have adopted us as your children,
made us members of the body of Christ and chosen us as inheritors of your kingdom:
bless our plans for mission and outreach; guide us to seek and do your will;
empower us by your Spirit to share our faith in witness and to serve,
and send us out as disciples of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
From the Ministry Team
There’s nothing like a heart attack to make one look at life differently. This is a bit of a drastic step to have to take to get a body to stop and take stock of life and make some necessary changes, but I have always said, be careful what you pray for, you might get it in a way you didn’t expect and don’t welcome.
For some time now, workaholic that I am, I have asked God to show me how to reduce the chaos in my frantically busy lifestyle. ‘If only’, I have wailed, ‘I could stop time whilst I catch up!’ One of my besetting sins is being great at starting things but completely unrealistic about the time available to finish them, resulting in not only an untidy home but also an untidy - and very tired - mind, as I have so many things on the go at the same time: hence my heartfelt prayer.
The redeeming factor here of course is that, whilst I am only a puny, fallible human being with an over-developed sense of my own abilities, God is the exact opposite. He is all-powerful, all-knowing and fortunately all-forgiving, ever ready to accept our failings if only we acknowledge them and bring them to him in prayer. And if we open our minds and hearts long enough to listen to the replies to our prayers, he is also all-helpful. And if we are willing to let go of our self-will long enough to act on God’s promptings and make changes in our lives then indeed miracles can happen.
Being told to take three months off work for the good of one’s health turns out to be as good a way as any to say ‘Stop the world, I want to get off.’ The enforced idleness is a bit like being in on a retreat, giving time and space for reflection. The downside is the guilt, those little voices in one’s head that whisper ‘you should be doing this, you ought to be doing that, you must do the other.’ I have come to the conclusion that these are not in fact the promptings of Godly duty, but devious messages from the demon that is Screwtape’s nephew. Listening to them grinds us down and wears us out until we are no use to anyone - result to the Devil!
It is not selfish to look after oneself. First-aiders are taught that to be any use whatever they must first consider how not to put themselves at risk; a mother on a plane is taught to put on her own life-jacket before helping her child.
Time spent in contemplative prayer is never wasted. That still small voice we only hear when the noise around us fades can radiate out to reach and enrich every part of our lives. We can use our quiet times to evaluate - what is really important to us? Where is God in our lives? Is he first, last and central to everything we do, or is he sidelined to a service on Sunday and a few mid-week requests?
Sometimes it is hard to know how best we can change in response to God’s messages, but help is always at hand in the scriptures: there is no human dilemma which is not portrayed in the Bible for our edification. When I am struggling to make the perfect decision that will enable me to change the world for the better, I remember Jesus gently explaining to the disciples that the Kingdom of Heaven is elsewhere; our job is merely to follow him. All we need to do is follow Christ, keep our own side of the street clean, and leave the rest to God. He has no hands but ours but he’s pretty clear at telling us what to do with them, if we only take some notice.
September, the start of the new academic year, is for many a time of new beginnings after the rest and recuperation of the summer holidays. I hope you will join me in looking forward to the future: I hope we can remember together the words the Angel Gabriel spoke to Mary: ‘God will take care of everything,’ he said. ‘Nothing is too hard for him.’
A sermon preached by Fr. Neil on Sunday 16th July
I was talking recently to a priest friend who serves in one of the Cathedrals of our country. And the most unheard-of things are soon to happen there - lay people will be leading the intercessions and administering the chalice. Can you believe it? Whatever next? No wonder people say the Church is losing the plot!
And, I gather, some have written and complained, saying they will not come to communion if they have to receive ‘it’ from a lay person. I felt rather proud of our parish; I said we got over that years ago. Now people only stay away if they don’t want to sing modern songs at an all-age Eucharist. Surely that’s a more valid reason than lay people administering the chalice?
It of course got us on to a fascinating discussion about where true loyalties lie; needless to say, in parish church, in cathedral, we really have lost the plot compared to the faithfulness of the first disciples of the early church. Indeed, if the first disciples did get so
worked up about things would they ever have got the church off the ground and given us something to belong to today, even if it is sometimes on our terms and not God’s? Is our membership of the church driven by a desire to get what we want, regardless of other people’s needs? Like a spoilt child, if we don’t get want we want, we sometimes won’t
play. Whilst some are spending time and energy mourning the church of yesterday, others are spending time and energy, and money, and enthusiasm, seeking to secure a church of tomorrow.
People talk of the Sacrament of the present moment and indeed there is an argument for saying it is the most important sacrament of all. It is now we are sent to witness to our faith. Maybe tomorrow too, but tomorrow won’t come for everyone. It is now God meets us in the Sacrament at the Altar, perhaps tomorrow too. It is the fundamental message of the Incarnation – the message of the Crib – God is here. He is with us: Emmanuel. It is, or should be, that realization of God in our midst that calls us to our knees in prayer and worship, and sends us out on our feet in love and service.
Plans and policies most certainly have their place, as I have said before. We need targets to aim for so that we don’t become complacent. But whether it is seeking to involve the laity more, seeking to involve children and young adults more in worship, seeking to put together intricate systems for pastoral care, seeking to encourage those with no faith to embrace faith, all we do, day by day, should be within the framework and context of mission and we must realize the part we are each called, by virtue of our baptism, to play in God’s mission. We don’t do it for ourselves but for him who laid down his life for us.
You see we can’t come to worship a God who has given his heart away, when the driving force within us is getting what we want. With a selfish attitude, how can we encounter the self-less God? All our activities must be set within the context of Mission, the theme of today’s readings; without that driving force there is no real sense of us doing the Lord’s work.
In an interview with the newly elected Primate of America’s Anglican Church in ‘Time’ magazine, Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori was asked: ‘What will be your focus as head of the U.S. church?’ She replied saying: ‘Our focus needs to be on feeding people who go to bed hungry, on providing primary education to girls and boys, on healing people with AIDS, on addressing tuberculosis and malaria, on sustainable development. That ought to be the primary focus.’ That, in a word, is mission. All too easy for us to forget when we are caught up, sometimes rightly, in church politicking.
In today’s Gospel reading Jesus sends his apostles out on their first mission without him, and without any visible means of support. They certainly didn’t have computers or internet access; they certainly didn’t have stipends paid by the church commissioners or large vicarages to live in; they certainly didn’t have electronic diaries and Excel spreadsheets. No laser printing, no working contract or annual appraisal. No performance-related pay, Christmas bonuses and golden hand-shakes. They didn’t have two or three cars parked in their drive and first-class rail travel!
What did they have? They had a living faith. They had a real desire for that faith to be shared, for they knew it didn’t belong solely to them but to the whole world. They had a real passion for preaching the Gospel and bringing people to know and understand the love of God made known in Jesus Christ. That was their raison d’etre. That was their life. Without such zeal and enthusiasm would the church have survived beyond their lifetime?
many of us and our churches’ pronouncements, when they spoke about the
poor, they actually knew what it felt like! They weren’t going out in
order to get their own way, but to bring people to a knowledge of God’s
way for them.
How about us? Is our faith living, dying or dead? Do we have a real desire for the faith to be shared with the whole world or are we simply happy to take what we want from the church and forget others? Do we have a real passion for preaching the Gospel? Do we have zeal for the Gospel? Do we have enthusiasm? Will the church survive into another generation because of our witness? Of course it is a scary prospect: none of us adapts easily to change. We all find it easier to stay within our familiar comfort zones, me included. But change is at the very heart of the Gospel.
leave here we are sent out like the people in the gospel reading, to
take what really matters to the world. We perhaps need a change of
heart, a change of priorities, a change of outlook, a change of
attitude. No sacrifice, no success. Many of us could continue to stay
in cloud cuckoo-land saying our prayers; or we can open our eyes to the
reality of the church in the world today and grasp the opportunities,
for they are endless. And if the church does seem to be a new creation
in the 21st century, that doesn’t mean it is the work of the devil! Who
knows, maybe God wants His church to be a new creation?
Last month, we finally received confirmation that St Faith’s has benefited from a very generous bequest from the late John Taylor in the sum of £145,000 for which we thank God.
This is excellent news but, large though the legacy is, we must use it wisely. There is huge pressure on our day-to-day needs in the parish, with gas costs rising at an alarming rate and the 2007 Parish Share going up by 8% to over £40,000. We must not forget, too, our church’s mission - but there are other needs as well.
The Premises Committee has been considering the replacement of the heating system and emergency electrical safety work in the hall and church will be undertaken shortly. There is dry rot in the sacristy and roofing repairs are needed. We have also just received a generous donation towards the provision of disability access. The PCC is meeting in September to consider these and other issues, so please pray for us as we wrestle with so many competing demands.
Saints in September
4th – Saint Cuthbert, Bishop
Born about 634, St Cuthbert died on Farne Island, Northumberland on 20 March 687. By tradition a shepherd boy, he became monk and later prior at Melrose. After the Synod of Whitby in 664, he became prior of Lindisfarne, and gradually won over the community to Roman customs. Although zealous in preaching the Gospel, he was most deeply attracted to the life of a hermit, and in 676 left the monastery to live in solitude on the island of Inner Farne. For the last two years of his life he served as Bishop of Lindisfarne but returned to his island to die. His incorrupt remains were removed from their resting place at Lindisfarne to escape Viking raiders, and on this day were eventually enshrined at Durham, which with Lindisfarne has remained a centre of his cult to this day. He is remembered as the most popular of the Anglo-Saxon saints of Northern England.
19 September – St Theodore of Canterbury, Bishop
Born at Tarsus (Turkey) about 601, St Theodore died at Canterbury on this day in 690. A Greek by birth, Theodore was a monk in Italy who was not ordained priest until he was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury by Pope Vitalian in 666 at the age of 65. He arrived in England in 669, and for the rest of his life reorganised and reformed the life of the Church throughout the country, holding visitations and synods, establishing new dioceses and a great school at Canterbury, and reconciling divisions between those of the Celtic and those of the Roman tradition. He is remembered for his scholarship and for his bringing unity and organisation to a divided church.
24 September – Our Lady of Walsingham
This feast celebrates the shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham in Norfolk, one of the great pilgrimage centres of medieval times. The lady of the manor of Walsingham, Richeldis de Faverches, was instructed by a vision of the Virgin Mary to build in her village an exact replica of the house in Nazareth in which the Annunciation had taken place. The vision occurred, according to tradition, in 1061, though a more likely date for the construction of the shrine is a hundred years later. The original house was destroyed at the Reformation, but during the 19th and early 20th centuries pilgrimage to Walsingham was revived both for Anglicans and for Roman Catholics.
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FR DENNIS’S THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH
A Crabbit old woman
This poem first appeared in 'Beacon House News', a magazine of the Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health. A young nurse worked at the Ashludie Hospital, Dundee, and discovered the poem when going through the possessions of an old woman who had recently died. Sister Crellin had the poem engraved on a silver plaque in her Ward office. It provides a timely reminder to us all always to look closer.
What do you see, nurses, what do you see?
Are you thinking when you are looking at me –
A crabbit old woman, not very wise,
Uncertain of habit, with far-away eyes,
Who dribbles her food and makes no reply
When you say in a loud voice – ‘I do wish you’d try’.
Who seems not to notice the things that you do,
And forever is losing a stocking or shoe,
Who, unresisting or not, lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill.
Is that what you’re thinking, is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse, you’re not looking at me.
I’ll tell you who I am as I sit here so still,
As I rise at your bidding, as I eat at your will.
I’m a small child of ten with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters who love one another.
A young girl of sixteen with wings on her feet,
Dreaming that soon now a lover she’ll meet:
A bride soon at twenty - my heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows that I promised to keep:
At twenty-five now I have young of my own,
Who need me to build a secure happy home:
A woman of thirty, my young now grow fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last:
At forty, my young sons have grown and have gone,
But my man’s beside me to see I don’t mourn:
At fifty once more babies play round my knee,
Again we know children, my loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead,
I look at the future, I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing young of their own,
And I think of the years and the love that I’ve known.
I’m an old woman now and nature is cruel –
‘Tis her jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body it crumbles, grace and vigour depart,
There is now a stone where I once had a heart:
But inside this old carcase a young girl still dwells,
And now and again my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, I remember the pain,
And I’m loving and living life over again.
I think of the years all too few - gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, nurses, open and see
Not a crabbit old woman, look closer - see ME!
Harry Roberts R.I.P.
Sermon preached by Fr. Neil at Harry’s Funeral Mass
‘Family’ is at the very heart of our thoughts today, for Harry was very much a family man and a guiding light in Harry’s life was undoubtedly the Christian Faith experienced through membership of the Christian Family. The Christian Faith has been a major part of Harry’s life in his attendance at church, singing in the choir at an early age, through many years faithful service at St. Nicholas, where among other things he was a sidesman, and for many years a faithful member of St. Faith’s.
Harry was a staunch member of the 8 o’clock congregation here and when I first arrived I realized that in Harry, we had a character! Unlike some people at St. Faith’s who do a marvellous job of smiling at the Vicar in one breath, then moaning and criticizing behind his back, Harry wasn’t like that. If he didn’t like something, the Vicar would be the first to know, and first hand. If only there were more like that.
In my first Advent I decided the 8 o’clockers should get a short homily. Harry disagreed. When I asked why he said ‘because you talk at us, and we can’t answer back!’ Refreshingly honest. Not that it stopped him giving his opinion on what you said. But you always knew with Harry it was truthful, heartfelt and honest and sincere.
Many will know Harry for his faithful years of service on the parole board of the prison service – something which he took very seriously and was passionate about. I gather that when he used to annoy her, Dottie would threaten to ring the prison governor and see if there was a spare cell going! He was proud of a framed hand-made certificate given to ‘Sir Harry Roberts’ from someone to commemorate the visit of Princess Anne to the prison. Harry was involved in Merseycare and thoroughly enjoyed his work visiting former prisoners. His sense of compassion would put many a so-called practising Christian to shame!
Many will know Harry for his work as a teacher and in his teaching career he served as deputy at Waterloo County School and was Head of Middle School at Manor High School and was involved with the work of the N.U.T. in this local area.
Harry made a great deal of friends over the years, many of whom held him in very special and high regard. But it was at the Liverpool Institute he began a friendship with Ronnie Woan which was to last some 75 years. What a record!
He was a life member of Merseyside County Schools Football Association and worked for them as auditor. He was an independent member of the local review committee at Walton, a member of St. Mary’s Old Boys’ Club and treasurer of Crosby and District Schoolboy Footballers. Harry was a Liverpudlian when it came to football and was not only proud of L.F.C. but of Liverpool as a city.
He thoroughly enjoyed his work on the recently-folded community forum and he served the committee of the Crosby Festival. Harry had a passion for justice and fairness and believed that we are put on earth to make a difference. Harry, you most certainly did!
Harry enjoyed a happy retirement, and a well deserved one, and of course it was a source of real joy for all of us when two years ago on 7th July he married Sheila here in this church at the grand age of 85.
What a remarkable, fun-filled, action-packed, hard-working life! Even in his last few days in the hospital he would share his views with the nurses on the state of the nation and hadn’t given up on his passion for justice and a better world.
Now of course, Harry knows better than we do about that world referred to in our first reading. A world which enjoys the fullness of justice, of equality, of light, happiness and peace. A world which we can only glimpse as we journey though life; yet a glimpse which is somehow nearer to us when people like Harry contribute to the well-being of our world. Yes, Harry, the world is much definitely a better place because of you.
So now, it is our privilege as well as our sad task, to commend Harry to the arms of the one who created him and sustained him through his 87 years. If anyone ever deserved a rest, it is Harry. As we commend his soul to God’s mercy we pray that those same arms of love will comfort and strengthen us. And that is where Harry would want us to turn today: to God, and to one another.
Our next hymn puts it so well:
Lord of all gentleness, Lord of all calm,
Whose voice is contentment, whose presence is balm,
Be there at our sleeping, and give us, we pray,
Your peace in our hearts, Lord, at the end of the day.
As we reflect on, and celebrate, Harry’s life it may well seem to us that he has now come to the end of the day. But of course the truth is for Harry, a new day has only just begun.
As someone once said: ‘Death is not extinguishing the light. It is putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.’
‘Would you Adam and Eve It?’
God said, ‘Go down into that valley.’
And Adam said, ‘What’s a valley?’ and God explained it to him.
Then God said, ‘Cross the river.’ And Adam said ‘What’s a river?’ and God explained it to him.
And then God said, ‘Go over the hill.’ And Adam said, ‘What’s a hill?’ and God explained it to him.
Then God told Adam, ‘On the other side of the hill, you will find a cave.’ And Adam said, ‘What’s a cave?’ And God explained that to him.
‘In the cave you will find a woman.’ And Adam said, ‘What’s a woman?’ So God explained that to him, and said, ‘I want you to reproduce.’ And Adam said, ‘How do I do that?’ So God explained it to him.
So off went Adam, down into the valley, across the river, and over the hill, and into the cave, and found the woman, and in about five minutes he was back.
God said angrily, ‘What is it now?’ And Adam said, ‘What’s a headache?’
Licensing of Fr Neil
The Bishop of Warrington will be coming to St. Faith’s on 24th September to license Fr Neil as Diocesan Adviser on Liturgy and Worship. This is a new post in the Diocese and as part of his work, Fr. Neil will be a member of the Diocesan Church Growth and Ecumenism Team.
welcome to this Diocesan Service. The music will be led by our choir
and visiting musicians from Ormskirk Parish Church and will be followed
by a glass of wine.
the great questioner..
by Fr. Neil, from the Franciscan Priest Richard Rohr, writing in the
latest issue of Third Way (http://www.thirdway.org.uk/) magazine...
‘Jesus is asked 183 questions directly in the four Gospels. He only answered three of them forthrightly. The others he either ignored, kept silent about, asked a question in return, changed the subject, told a story or gave an audio/visual aid to make his point, told them it was the wrong question, revealed their insincerity or hypocrisy, made the exactly opposite point, or redirected the question elsewhere!
Check it out for yourself. He himself asks 307 questions, which would seem to set a pattern for imitation. Considering this, it is really rather amazing that the church became an official answering machine and a very self assured program for ‘sin management’.
Many, if not most, of Jesus’ teaching would never pass contemporary orthodoxy tests in either the Roman Office or the Southern Baptist Convention. Most of his statements are so open to misinterpretation that should he teach today, he would probably be called a ‘relativist’ in almost all areas except one: his insistence upon the goodness and reliability of God. That was his only consistent absolute.’
Fr Neil writes:
I gather that when Fr. Richard wanted to appoint Ged as Director of Music at S. Faith’s there were complaints from some. I know of certain people (one of whom left after I arrived as I was the wrong appointment too!) who requested an audience with my predecessor only to tell him who should be given the job. And people claimed he was too young and inexperienced. How could he possibly do the job? It just goes to show how wrong our impressions can be, because at this stage in the game I don’t think any of us could imagine St. Faith’s choir without Ged. We have been quite rightly proud of our choir’s achievements over the past ten years. And those achievements have not just been seen or heard in S. Faith’s but in Cathedrals and Royal Chapels up and down the country as well as the medium of BBC1 TV and BBC Radio Merseyside. He has admirably built on the work of Jane Greengrass, Mike Foy and George Gilford and indeed all those who have served before.
Ged has endeared himself to all, young and old alike, and his commitment to the choir of S. Faith’s has often gone beyond duty to care, compassion and friendship in all kinds of ways. A year or so ago we tried to put a contract in place. It took about a year to do so,
and I hope I’m not speaking out of turn when I say that Ged didn’t really take to the idea! That’s fine – not everyone gets excited about bureaucracy and red tape (and we certainly need a few more priests to sit lightly to all that). But of course one of the reasons he never took to the idea is that Ged never saw his role in such black and white terms! His work often took him beyond services he was scheduled (and indeed paid) to play for, to helping out for all sorts of things when many other organists would have said no! If he was free, Ged would be found in a whole variety of churches playing for all kinds of services, as well as accompanying concerts, teaching and generally enjoying making music and encouraging others to do so. The young musicians of Liverpool and Sefton couldn’t have had a better person to teach and encourage them than their young (and even more young at heart) ‘Mr Callacher’.
In Ged the choir has had someone who has cared about not just their musical life but their individual lives too. He is a sympathetic listener, a person to offer practical help and has the great gift of knowing how to lighten a situation without taking away from any serious issues that may be present.
People of course ask silly questions: ‘Why do you want to be a priest when you could do something with your life?’ Needless to say such people never understand the concept of service and sacrifice, or less still vocation. Ged will take to his ministry a wealth of understanding, a wealth of people-skills, a deep understanding of Anglican liturgy and pastoral practice which many other Catholic seminarians will only ever hear of or read about. Certainly the future of the church, in ecumenical eyes, needs people like Ged to serve it.
The wife of a former curate said to me some years ago, people never leave St. Faith’s, they just move away! I hope that Ged will continue to be a friend of this community for many years to come and that he leaves for the seminary knowing he has our love, our support and our friendship.
Lord, you told us that ‘The harvest indeed is great but the labourers are few. Pray, therefore, the Lord of the harvest to send labourers into His harvest.’ As we thank you for the blessings we have received in this place through Ged’s years of faithful service and companionship, we ask you to strengthen him as he follows a new path to which You have called him. We pray for all those called to serve as priests, deacons and lay ministers:
Those whom You have called,
Those You are calling now,
Those You will call in the future.
May they be open and responsive to the call and privilege of serving your people.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Holiday Club Happenings 2006
The fourth annual extravaganza that is the Saint Faith’s Holiday Club was a marvellous occasion. The five pages of preceding pictures tell the story and show that, needless to say, A Good Time was Had By All. The words below – from the Vicar, and from one of the children, complete the picture.
With Many Thanks
Thank you Joan – and your team – for giving the young people of our community another week to remember. It was all huge fun: there was a marvellous atmosphere; the children were extremely well behaved and appreciative and that of course make the whole thing worthwhile. Doubtless other reports will appear, and not a few photos, but many thanks to all who gave of their time, talents and energy to give 50 young people in our community a week to remember.
St Faith’s Holiday Club
I would like to tell everyone how much fun the holiday club was. Me and my sister Marcie really enjoyed ourselves. The week was all about outer space. Our group was the ‘Martians’.
On Monday we got together and shaped bits of modeling clay into the shape of the moon, and made little finger prints on it. It was a pencil holder, so we stuck a pencil in it. Then we got two paper plates and painted them, and then there was lunch break. Then we drew two clouds and one rocket, and we stuck little stars on the clouds. We also drew two planets and coloured them in. Then we got two glitter pens and drew some lines and we drew another little rocket. We chose our favourite coloured paper and stuck it over two rockets and chose one glitter pen and drew a door and a window onto our rockets. Then we went into the church and played with the parachute and learned some songs.
On Tuesday the rockets, clouds and planets were made into a mobile. The first two children to finish off their flying saucers, were me (that’s Josie Appleton) and Fay Bennett, my best friend. We stuck on five smily faces and five plain stickers for the portals, and right now our mobiles and flying saucers are hanging in our kitchen at home. Then we played for about twenty minutes. Then we made some little fluffy door hangers to put on our bedroom door handles. Then we had our lunch and took off our badges, put our caps on, got on the coach and went to the Space Station. The Space Station was great fun! I can’t tell you all about the Space Station because it would take forever.
On Wednesday we got the lid of a shoebox, and took a rainbow coloured crayon and coloured in the background. We got some stars and some glitter pens and we stuck on the stars, and drew some comets with the glitter pens. Then we stuck some planets, a space shuttle and an astronaut. And if you didn’t have one of those you could just cut one out. We also coloured in some little space pictures and then cut them out, and put them in the special machine which made them into badges.
On Thursday we had a full day out at Stockley Farm. First we went on the tractors, then after that we spent our pocket money on some toys. Then we fed the lambs. One of the groups of lambs was named after Thomas the Tank Engine, and Spongebob Squarepants! We had our lunch at the farm and then after that we played on a big heap of haystacks, and some of the children jumped off the high edge and fell in the hay! On Friday, we painted our moons yellow. We also chose a pencil and a sticker and cut out the sticker and put it on the pencil. So then we had our own little pencil pot and we had our own pencil to put in it. Then we painted the sun (on a paper plate), stuck on some sunglasses and then drew on a smiley face. Then after lunch we had a special service in the church, where we used our sun faces and sang some songs. Then me and Marcie went to the disco and had a lovely barbecue in Father Neil’s garden.
We would like to say ‘Thank you very much’ to everyone who looked after us at the holiday club. We had so much fun, why don’t you join the holiday club next year?
Fr. Neil writes:
In ‘The Healthy Churches’ Handbook’ Robert Warren makes many excellent points. Not all of them are as new as the book: one of the exercises he mentions was done at the Ministry Team away-day in 2000 when we were joined by the Vicar of Huyton (who incidentally has just been appointed Bishop of Lancaster). Some of what is said is echoed in the Diocesan Review (do a few things and do them well) and the point is made in his book that we should do the basics well, and here he means public worship, pastoral care, stewardship and administration. These were sentiments echoed by Linda Jones from the Church Growth and Ecumenism Team when she spoke at our last joint PCC’s away-day.
Pastoral Care is always difficult to get absolutely right. Our thinking has shifted, quite rightly, from seeing that ‘the church’ means a person in a clerical collar to a ministry of all the baptized. Over the years we have lost sight of that fact and very much ‘clericalised’ the church - look no further than the New Testament if you want to see that every member of the church has a ministry. As has been said many times before, the whole family of St Faith’s really does come into its own when people need caring for and visiting.
But it is easy for people to go unnoticed. This can happen for a variety of reasons. No longer are we in a situation where it can be guaranteed that the Vicar and his colleagues will be in the church every Sunday and will see every parishioner. All four priests here take our turn at covering other churches in many parts of the diocese. Let us not forget (I sometimes think we do) that we have a ministry team of four priests and three readers – many of my colleagues work single-handedly with two parishes or more. Please don’t forget how lucky we are compared to so many other parishes. So there are some Sundays when our clergy are elsewhere. But also it is true to say that a number of people who would call themselves ‘regular’ church-goers no longer attend church each week. Sunday is no longer the day it was. Patterns of work and family life have changed enormously. We all recognize that. All the more reason for us to keep our pastoral eyes open.
To this end a scheme which almost got off the ground a few years ago is being looked at again. It came about as a result of discussions at the Ministry Team Away Day in 2004 and it is basically seeking to involve more people in pastoral oversight. Known as ‘pastoral links’ these people (in most cases magazine deliverers) agree to keep an ‘eye’ on perhaps a dozen people at any time and, if they aren’t in church for a couple of weeks will let a member of the ministry team know. (In years past there was always an expectation that ‘Newslink’ deliverers would fulfil this sort of role by knocking on each door as the magazine was delivered, so in a sense it is not new; we are simply resurrecting an old system!)
People absent from church may of course be on holiday; there may be perfectly good reasons why they are not there. But we want to avoid a situation where someone missing goes unnoticed. It is not like a churchy version of Big Brother (or Big Sister); it is simply seeking to keep lines of communication open and reporting on when visits are necessary. I can guarantee that at least once a month I will go to the hospital only to come away and find out that someone has been there for days. But they haven’t told me, and usually the weekly sheet says which day I will be in the hospitals. It is better to find out from three people that someone is ill than to not know at all. Everyone will know who their ‘link’ person is: so you don’t have to sit during the service wondering who has their eye on you! And the link person’s phone number will be available so that, if people for example have difficulty in getting to church, the link person may be able to help with a lift. But they, like me, will not be clairvoyant! If there are special requests or difficulties it helps if we know. Communication is a two-way process.
The Ministry Team is finalizing this scheme and I hope it will be up and running in the Autumn. I would like us formally launch the scheme on All Saints’ Day, 1st November. Of course it doesn’t require an official launch but it is much better to get a scheme off the ground with a focus of prayer and commitment. To that end those who will act as pastoral links will, I hope, be making a dedication to that ministry on All Saints’ Day. More details next month.
The other new initiative from next month is that the Ministry Team will meet more frequently than once a month. Starting in September there will be a weekly meeting of the Team at 7.30am each Monday morning. The meeting will include breakfast (how else can I persuade people to come?) and will last no longer than 30 minutes, to allow people to go off to work. It has to be said that if we could have found a better time we would have done! But, as with many organizations, a weekly staff meeting sets the agenda for the coming week and, in our case, can reflect upon matters arising from the day before, whether they be liturgical, pastoral or otherwise. It is a huge commitment on behalf of the Team but we all realize the sacrifices that we personally have to make in order to give a strong lead to the mission of the parish. In the good old days of Vicars and full-time curates, most parishes had Monday morning ‘staff meetings’ to set out the week and I believe this can only be a good thing.
We will still meet on the last Tuesday of the month but with less ‘business’ to deal with those meeting can now be more wide-ranging, such as discussing topical issues in depth, sharing our thoughts on a recent book or report, or even enjoying a BBQ when the weather permits and simply getting to know each other better!
Please pray for your ministry team – we are committed to working together for the mission of our two churches and we need your prayerful support in order to help us do that. I believe there are very exciting times ahead.
Living or Dying
A live church has parking problems.
A dying church doesn’t.
A live church has lots of noisy children around.
A dying church enjoys peace and quiet.
A live church often changes how things are done to do them better.
A dying church doesn’t need to.
A live church dreams greater dreams for God’s kingdom.
A dying church has nightmares.
A live church invites people to risk involvement and new ideas.
A dying church says plays it safe and never risks anything.
A live church supports world mission.
A dying church says ‘charity begins at home’.
A live church uses traditions and buildings to serve God and people.
A dying church uses people to serve the traditions and buildings.
A live church worships.
A dying church worries.
A live church is filled with givers.
A dying church is filled with tippers.
A live church forgives and seeks forgiveness.
A dying church never makes mistakes.
A live church looks for challenges and opportunities.
A dying church looks out for problems and dangers.
A live church evangelises.
A dying church fossilises.
from the magazine of St Mary the Virgin, Davyhulme, Manchester
Oh how true!
In the year 2006, the Lord came unto Noah, who was now living in the United Kingdom, and said, ‘Once again, the earth has become wicked and over-populated, and I see the end of all flesh before me. Build another Ark and save two of every living thing along with a few good humans.’
He gave Noah the blueprints, saying, ‘You have six months to build the Ark before I will start the unending rain for 40 days and 40 nights.’
Six months later, the Lord looked down and saw Noah weeping in his yard - but no Ark.
Noah!’ He roared, ‘I’m about to start the rain! Where is the Ark?’
‘Forgive me, Lord,’ begged Noah, ‘but things have changed. I needed a building permit.
I’ve been arguing with the inspector about the need for a sprinkler system.
My neighbours claim that I’ve violated the local planning permission by building the Ark in my yard and exceeding the height limitations. We had to go to the Appeal Board at the office of the Deputy Prime Minister for a decision.
Then the Department of Transportation demanded a bond be posted for the future costs of moving power lines and other overhead obstructions, to clear the passage for the Ark’s move to the sea. I told them that the sea would be coming to us, but they would hear nothing of it.
Getting the wood was another problem. There’s a ban on cutting local trees in order to save the spotted owl. I tried to convince the environmentalists that I needed the wood to 17
save the owls - but no go!
When I started gathering the animals, an animal rights group sued me. They insisted that I was confining wild animals against their will. They argued the accommodation was too restrictive, and it was cruel and inhumane to put so many animals in a confined space. Then the Environment Protection Agency ruled that I couldn’t build the Ark until they’d conducted an environmental impact study on your proposed flood.
I’m still trying to resolve a complaint with the Human Rights Commission on how many minorities I’m supposed to hire for my building crew. The Department of Immigration and Naturalization, within the Home Office are checking the green-card status of most of the people who want to work. The trades unions say I can’t use my sons. They insist I have to hire only Union workers with Ark-building experience.
To make matters worse, the Inland Revenue have seized all my assets, claiming I’m trying to leave the country illegally with endangered species. So, forgive me, Lord, but it would take at least ten years for me to finish this Ark.’
Suddenly the skies cleared, the sun began to shine, and a rainbow stretched across the sky.
Noah looked up in wonder and asked, ‘You mean you’re not going to destroy the world?’
‘No,’ said the Lord. ‘The government beat me to it.’
with thanks to Ron Crawley!
Unfortunately due to work commitments, Claire Hockney, who helps to run the St Faith’s Rainbows Pack will no longer be able to do this very valuable and important job. Since April Mary McFadyen and myself (we run the Brownies) have taken it in turns to help Geraldine Forshaw on Monday evenings.
So, on behalf of St Faith’s Rainbows, I would like to appeal to anyone who may be interested in doing this very rewarding job. The Rainbows meet on Monday evenings (school term time only) between 4.45 and 5.45pm. The girls are aged between 5 and 7 years, and at the moment we have about 12 - 14 girls who regularly attend. Obviously a full CRB check would need to be done. If you are interested or know of someone who may be, please contact Fr Neil firstly.
If our appeal is unsuccessful, unfortunately, we may have to close our Rainbows.
The Hunger Site
As more and more people are surrendering to the blandishments of the internet, this is a good time to advertise once again the existence of an admirable website. The Hunger Site exists to relieve famine and hardship worldwide, and one of its principal weapons is the facility for anyone and everyone to fund food at the click of a mouse. The donations are paid for by sponsors, who naturally promote their wares on the site. But all you need to do is to add the site to your ‘favourites’, log on daily and with one click supply help. The website address is supplied via the ‘LINKS’ page from our own site and the editor, who put it there and uses it daily, hopes you will visit it regularly.
‘You shall go to the Ball, Cinders!’
With the success of last February’s pantomime ‘Dick Whittington’, we would like to go ahead and put on another show in February 2007. Rather than the gruelling six month rehearsal schedule we have come to know and love, we have decided to condense the whole process into a much shorter time period, which will hopefully encourage more people to get involved. At the moment, auditions are planned for September 16th (could be subject to change), with rehearsals commencing in late November (maybe a bit earlier for Principal characters). We may have to timetable some mid-week rehearsals, but we usually end up doing this anyway. Then, with an intensive January and February rehearsal schedule, all being well we will have another successful show week during the February half term (w/b 12th February). We have chosen ‘Cinderella’ as the next pantomime, so we’re now on the look out for budding Buttons’s, Dandinis and Ugly Sisters (no shortage there I’m sure). Similarly, I would be keen to know that we had enough volunteers for the non-stage activities, particularly, costumes and wardrobe, scenery and props, and for the front-of -house tasks during the week of the production. If you are able to and would like to help in any capacity, please let me know, and for all those who like to tread the boards, we will confirm the audition dates shortly.
Interlude in Bath
As part of our fiftieth anniversary celebrations, our family arranged a visit to Bath by train. Having a few hours to spare, on a warm, breezy July afternoon, we walked to the Abbey, now the parish church of Bath. Inside, we admired the amazing 16th century fan vaulting, the light flooding in through the windows and the memorials covering the walls. 19
The stunning flower arrangements which caught our eye used orchids and many other tropical flowers and leaves and had been specially created for the University of Bath graduation ceremony a few days before.
More striking, however, was the air of quiet reverence even though several hundred people were in the building. Then, on the hour, Revd Colin Maggs, Chaplain of the Abbey ascended the pulpit steps and asked for silence. He explained that every hour, there were a few minutes of public prayer to emphasise that the Abbey was not just a museum of historical treasures but a place of worship. We prayed for the world, for our own communities and families and for Christians wherever they may be. Later, Eric and I had a most interesting conversation with Colin Maggs who is a great railway enthusiast and the author of 70 books about local railway history, with another in preparation. He was recently awarded the M.B.E. for services to railway history. Colin drew our attention to the. Abbey’s great East window, which contains 56 scenes in the life of Christ. He gave us a copy of a leaflet, part of which is quoted below:
Jesus was born in an obscure town in Palestine called Bethlehem about 2,000 years ago. During his first 30 years he shared the daily life and work of an ordinary home. For the next three years he went about teaching people about God and healing the sick by the shores of Lake Galilee. He called twelve ordinary men to be his helpers. He had no money. He wrote no books. He commanded no army. He wielded no political power. During his life he never travelled more than 200 miles in any direction. He was executed by being nailed to a cross at the age of 33. Today nearly 2 billion people throughout the world worship Jesus as divine, the Son o f God. Through Jesus we discover God as our loving father and in our daily lives we encounter the same God as Spirit.
He taught that we are all infinitely precious children of one heavenly father, and that we should treat each other with love, respect and forgiveness. Jesus’s actions alone would not have led him to a criminal’s death, but his teaching challenged the religious and moral beliefs of the day. When, three days after he had died on the cros,s his followers did indeed meet him alive again, frightened and defeated men became fearless and joyful messengers.
The message of the good news about Jesus is the reason the Abbey exists. It is the reason why all over the world there are Christians who know what it means to meet the living Jesus.
May your time in the Abbey be a blessing to you
Indeed it was!
Eric and Barbara Wolstenholme
The Walsingham Circle
I’ll begin with a little background of the origins of the Circle, for those of you who wonder what it’s all about! Contrary to popular belief, this is not an exclusive club for people who have been to Walsingham. Yes, it has been founded by ten members of the Society of Our Lady of Walsingham from our United Benefice, but is very much open to all – indeed that is its function! All are welcome, and I’m sure there will be something for everyone in the coming year’s gatherings. These usually take place on the last Saturday of the month, either preceeding or following the Mass, at which special prayers of intercession are offered. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, so read on!
The first meeting of the Autumn ‘term’ will be held on Saturday, September 23rd, the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham. We will meet at the Vicarage at 11 a.m., where Martin Jones will pose the question ‘How do we think of the risen, ascended Christ in relation to God’s eternally begotten Word?’ He will introduce the subject with a short explanation, then it will be open for discussion. We will move into church for Mass at 12 noon. Following the service all are invited to the home of Margaret Davies for a light lunch.
There will not be a meeting in October, so the next gathering will be November 25th. As it is the same day as the Craft Day, the Mass will take place at 12.15 p.m. This is to be followed by lunch at Joan and Bill Tudhope’s house. December 8th will be a Eucharist with Advent meditation held at 6.30 p.m., marking the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, followed by a Circle meeting at the home of Peter and Lynne Connolly, including mulled wine and mince pies.
If you are coming to any of the above three events, please let me know, purely for catering purposes! Ring me on 01744 889938 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Future topics for discussion will include reviews and discussion on a couple of books detailed below. If anyone is interested in obtaining a copy of either book to peruse prior to this, please let me know, as I can submit a bulk order which may reduce the cost of postage.
‘Finding Sanctuary – Monastic Steps for Everyday Life’ has been written by Christopher Jamison, and is a follow-on from the TV series ‘The Monastery’. In it, he offers ways in which the lessons of monastic living and the teachings of S. Benedict can be put into practice in our hectic, modern and unmonastic lives. He outlines the wisdom of Saint Benedict and suggests how it can be applied to those who are not sure what they believe, but are looking for ways to find spiritual space and peace in the busy and often confusing world.
‘From the Abundance of the Heart’ is written by Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Reading and one of the authors of ‘Emmaus’, the Christian basics course and many other books. Cover review – ‘This joyful and vibrant new book puts mission and evangelism back to the top of the agenda for Christians of all strands of catholic tradition. To many the word ‘evangelism’ conjures up negative images of coercion and manipulation. His approach is realistic, generous, inclusive and creative. He presents a vision of an evangelising church that will embrace Christians of every tradition, and explores practical ways of developing structures and ministries that will establish a culture of evangelism in local churches.’
I am sure you will agree that both books look fascinating and I, for one, am looking forward to reading, learning from and discussing them together.
There will be regular quarterly updates in the magazine and on the website, giving further details of Circle meetings. If you have a particular subject which you think would be of interest to talk about or open for discussion, please let us know.
Look forward to seeing you on 23rd September.
A man who fell 30 feet down an old mill chimney at Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire, while trying to rescue a friend’s pet hawk, owes his life to landing on six inches of pigeon poo. He described his landing as ‘unpleasant but soft’.
Jack Holland, a Halifax pensioner who had lost his OAP free bus pass, was made to pay full fare after a driver refused to believe he was a pensioner. Mr Holland is 98.
Meanwhile, 71-year-old Brian Heal was ordered off a bus in Cardiff – for carrying a tin of paint. The driver claimed that this breached new health and safety laws and was a ‘dangerous cargo’. Other goods listed as dangerous cargoes are guns, swords, gas cylinders and petrol.
(Items reproduced from ‘The Oldie’ and supplied by David Jones. The Editor joins him in commending this excellent periodicalla, which is splendidly irreverent and caustically critical of the absurdities of the age, to anyone else who feels mature enough to read it)
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