Monday, 14 October 2019

St James Harvest Thanksgiving

St James Harvest Thanksgiving service this morning, included a thanksgiving for the birth of Caleb (left), the newest addition to Asha and David's family.

It was good to be reminded that we have so much to be thankful for - the harvest itself, of course - and then the wonderful gift of each other - and everything else God gives us.

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Men's breakfast

Paul and I  first got to know Jon Westall when he came to be curate of St Peter's, St Helier in 1999.

Twenty years later, Jon is the vicar of St Dunstan's in East Acton  and was the guest speaker at yesterday's men's brekafast at St James.

Jon grew up in a brethren family in Cardiff. His baptism by full immersion at the age of 14 was a powerful experience of the love of God for him personally.

A period teaching in Zimbabwe, was followed by a period teaching Physics in the UK, during which times the call to the ordained ministry became clear. Theological college followed and then our paths crossed for the first time when Jon came to be curate of St Peter's, the church of which I was then the vicar.

Speaking of some of the harder things that happen in life, Jon said that, although we often cannot fully explain them, we can be absolutely certain of the love of God on the basis of what God has already done for us and given us in the death and resurrection of his son.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

I was a stranger

I am grateful to a correspondent for putting me on to this 1957 documentary about the Salvation Army's work in Bermondsey, a wonderful insight into old Bermondsey and Christian mission:

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Re-imagining evangelism

To All Souls Church, Lagham Place (left), for the annual Evangelism Conference.

'Evangelism re-imagined' was the theme of this year's conference with US speaker, Dr Randy Newman.

Here's a bit about him from the website of the college where he teaches: 'Randy Newman is a teacher and writer with Connection Points, a ministry that seeks to engage people’s hearts the way Jesus did... He is the author of Questioning Evangelism, Corner Conversations, and Bringing the Gospel Home, three books that seek to help Christians articulate their faith in winsome ways.'

A really good conference with lots of practical input and ideas on the task of sharing the good news. 

School Harvest Thanksgiving

St James's School came to the church yesterday for their Harvest Thanksgiving Service, bringing gifts for the Manna Centre at London Bridge in its work with homeless people.

We sang a great selection of harvest songs (We plough the fields and scatter; Autumn days; I love the sun and I've seen the golden sunshine) and I spoke from Matthew 14 about the day when Jesus walked on the water and showed that he was in charge of everything.

In introduced the children to one of the Lord's nost remarkable creatures - the Jesus Christ Lizard, so called because it can walk (or at least, run) on water:

The lizard achieves its feat by being very light, running very fast, and by having curiously shaped feet.

When Jesus walked on the water - and when at Jesus's command, Peter did so to - God-in-the-flesh was demonstrating his Lordship and mastery over everything he had created.

He created all things and all things operate at his command. He is the Lord of the harvest and the Lord of everything.

Monday, 30 September 2019

Schools week 2019

School Week 2019, actually taking place over two weeks in St James, is currently in full swing.

Key Stage 2 children from Riverside and St James's schools are coming a class at a time to St James's Church for our fourth annual schools week.

This year's theme is the Parable of the Lost Son from Luke 15.

The children move around to three stations.

At each station they hear the story told by one of the three characters in the story: the father, the older son, and the younger son, so that, by the end of the session, they have heard the story three times, but told each time from the angle of one particular character.

Having heard the story the children fill in speech bubbles in the book we have produced for the week, containing drawings of the principal scenes of the story (and the full text of the Bible story from Luke 15). Then they read out what they have written to the whole group.

We have had some wonderful contributions from the children.

Then we gather together to hear why Jesus told the story and who the three characters represent:

'In the story Jesus told, the father is like God who welcomes us and forgives us when we come back to him

In the story Jesus told, the younger son is like anyone who knows they have done something wrong and comes to God for forgiveness.

In the story Jesus told, the older son is like the Pharisees who grumbled about Jesus welcoming outcasts and even eating with them.'

Finally, each character has a final word.

The younger son says he really messed up and he couldn't believe it that his dad forgave him and welcomed him back,.

The older son says 'I am still angry. And I DON'T believe you should get a second chance.'

The father says to both his sons 'I have always loved you and I always will.' Then he turns to the older son and says 'If you mess up like he did' (pointing to the younger son) ' I would do the same for you that I did for him.'

It's been a wonderful week sharing this most powerful parable about our loving God and Father.

The younger son, the older son, and the father

Sunday, 29 September 2019

St Anne's celebrates

From the October issue of The Bridge, newspaper of the Diocese of Southwark:

You can read the full article here on page 3 of the online version of the newspaper

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Light in the world

To Westminister Central Hall for the Ligonier's  Ministries Conference, the first time this Bible teaching ministry from the US has had a conference in Lomdon.

Here's they unpack the theme of today's inspiring conference in Westminister: 'Jesus Christ has told us that He is the light of the world, and if we follow Him, we will not walk in darkness. Yet He has also told us that Christians are the light of the world. This is because He has redeemed us and caused His light to shine in our hearts, so that we might shine forth in the darkness ourselves. In order to grow in Christ and become more effective servants of Him, we must know the essential truths about Christ and what it means to live the Christian life. This conference will present core truths of the Christian faith in order to equip believers to shine as lights in this world.'

You can watch videos of today's conference addresses here

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Well done, Graham

Well done to St Anne's churchwarden, Graham, who has successfully completed a 150 sponsored cycle ride for church funds.

In honour of St Anne's 150th Anniversary, Graham cycled the 150 miles from Winchester to Canterbury, a magnificent achievement.

It's not to late to give - see Graham's crowbfunding website here

Saturday, 21 September 2019


Shine Night Walk for Cancer Research passing through Bermondsey tonight.

Remembering Mary

A large congregation gathered in St James yesterday to say to farewell and give thanks for the life of Mary Ellery.

Mary served for many years as a councillor for a ward in Peckham, culminating in her election as Mayor of Southwark in 1992.

She gave herself heart and soul to serving the needs of her constituents and working for the local community, whilst being involved in her local church where she served as churchwarden for many years.

Yesterday's congregation, in addition to her large extended family, included several former mayors of the borough, Sir Simon Hughes, and Harriet Harman, MP for Peckham and Camberwell, who gave one of the tributes. It was a life well lived with much to be thankful for.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Happy birthday dear Tube Station

Bermondsey Underground Station is twenty years old today and to celebrate they commissioned the children of St James's School to design some celebratory posters, which now adorn the booking hall as passengers enter and leave the station.

Well done to the all the children who contributed to the project, as we give thanks for twenty years service by the staff at our local station, and remember those, most notably Sir Simon Hughes, who had the foresight to campaign for the new Jubilee Line extension to have a station in Bermondsey.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Welcome Delorine

Today at St James we welcomed Delorine who is with us on placement for eight weeks.

Delorine, who is a member of St John's, East Dulwich,  is in her third year of training for the ordained ministry at St Augustine's College of Theology.

All being well, she will be ordained next summer and start her curacy.

As well as being with us on Sundays, Delorine will be joining in with many of ouer midweek activties as she gets an over view of church life here in Bermondsey.

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Bermondsey Street Festival

To Bermondsey Street for the annual Bermondsey Street Festival.

The whole street was packed with people, enjoying the stalls and sideshows in the brilliant sunshine.

Our friends at St Mary Magdalen were joining in with the spirit of it all by stagin, with music, stalls, a bouncy castle and delicious Jerk Chicken.Well done to the St Mary Mags team.

And soon afterwards we arrived we were able to enjoy Boutcher School Choir, St Mary's church school, performing in the church:

Below: Bermondsey Street Festival in full swing:

Sunday, 8 September 2019

St Anne's at 150


Pictured: Graham and Mavis (St Anne's churchwardens), cutting the 150 cake made by Sarah (centre), part of today's wonderful bring and share lunch after our United Service of Thanksgiving for St Anne's 150th anniversary.

As we arrived for the service we were serenaded by the Dockland Ringers, who usually ring the bells at St James, who came to ring at St Anne's on a mobile bell rig which they also played - and allowed visitors to use - at yesterday's Community Fun Day:

Also on their way to church was someone who looked so Victorian, she could have been Queen Victoria

And then there was a clutch of past and present vicars, including (left to right), Stewart Hartley, Stan Catton, and Henry Whyte.

And then we joined together for a service full of joy and praise, giving thanks to God for the origins of St Anne's in what today would be called a bold piece of pioneer evangelism, hearing from the children of the church what they valued about St Anne's and from two more senior members, Mavis and Jackie, who shared their memories of St Anne's.

Bishop Graham Kings led us and in act of Rededication at the end, as we set out on our next 150 years, but first he preached on the story of Ruth, using this picture

The whole story of Ruth points to Christ, and the baby in the picture (Obed, the grandfather of King David), does so in particular. Graham encouraged us as Christians to see ourselves in the picture, because we are in Christ, and God is working out the purposes of his kingdom through us.


They flocked to St Anne's Churchyard yesterday for a wonderful community celebration. It was great to see so many people there, to meet so many people we knew, to get to meet new people, and to see everyone having such a great time.

Everything was free (apart from the ice creams) so the whole event was a lovely expression of the generous giving of God. Here are some of the photographic highlights of a great day: