Friday, 21 October 2016

Changing Bermondsey

From Twitter, a view of St James Church along Frean Street, with Albins Funerals on Old Jamaica Rd (left).

Here's another view (also  of Frean Street) showing the transformed scene today:

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Thomas's story

This is the full version of the video from which I showed an excerpt at St James this morning:

Thomas Blumire - Testimony from Holy Trinity Church, Redhill on Vimeo.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

The bishop and the four 'alls'

Bermondsey's own resident bishop, Graham Kings (left), was the speaker at today's Annual General Meeting of the Salmon Youth Centre.

Speaking on the great commission in Matthew 28.16-20, Bishop Graham, Mission Theologian in the Anglican Communion, told us about the four 'alls' of Matthew 28.

Jesus has ALL authority in heaven and earth. He sends us to make disciples of ALL nations. He instructs us to teach ALL that he has commanded. He promises that he will be with us ALLways.

The AGM was interspersed with songs of worship, a brilliant dance by two of the youngsters, and some moving testimonies, including from one young man who said his life had been transformed since he 'committed his life to God.'

In addition, we heard reports of the past year at Salmon, as well as transacting the formal business, and receiving the accounts, all presided over by St James Adrian Greenwood, Chair of the Trustees.

Salmon, founded in 1906 as the Cambridge University Mission, is a Bermondsey phenomenon.

Last year Salmon worked with 2,000 young people aged 6-25, with 400-500 attending Salmon activities each week.

In addition to the staff, there are 16 young leaders and 7 apprentices. 5 young people were awarded Silver Duke of Edinburgh Awards.

'Our mission' says the centre 'is to inspire young people to fulfil their potential and contribute to the community, within a framework of Christian values.'

Life story

Jan Lynas (right)
Hot on the heels of last week's Men's Breakfast at St James, today it was the turn of the ladies, with the latest in a series of women's breakfasts.

The speaker today was Jan Lynas, who is a Reader at St George's, Battersea, who told the story of her faith, as it has developed throughout her life, making another successful breakfast for the ladies at St James & St Anne's.

The Bermondsey big bake

Big Bake is a nationwide event, sponsored by Christian relief agency Tearfund, designed to get people baking to raise lots of money for the world's poorest people.

 Headed up by Marian Greenwood (left) a team of devoted bakers have raised over £500 for Tearfund in their churchyard sales to passers-by. Fantastic.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Wedding joy

Travelling to the reception in a Routemaster London bus has certainly become a popular option among wedding couples at St James - and it was the choice of congregation members, David and Sonal, for their wedding on Saturday.

They also particularly wanted a photo of their guests in front of the Ascension picture (left). It made a memorable scene.

We have enjoyed getting to know the happy couple at St James and we wish David and Sonal God's richest blessing in their new life together.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Cherry Garden harvest

Each year the children of Cherry Garden School, the special school for children aged 2-11 in Southwark Park Rd, comes to St Anne's for their harvest festival.

Today was the big day and the children had a great time performing their harvest play and singing their favourite harvest songs, as well as donating a mountain of food for the Manna Centre for homeless people at London Bridge.

Cherry Garden School, rated 'outstanding' by OfSted, does a wonderful job serving children across the borough.

In due course, Cherry Garden will be moving to a new purpose built building in Peckham, but at present they are a very valued part of our community in Bermondsey, and St Anne's loves its connection with the school, where Paul is one of the governors

Sunday, 9 October 2016

And the Ambassador popped in

John Casson (left) with St Anne's member, Dave
Her Majesty's Ambassador to the Republic of Egypt popped in to St Anne's this morning, but then, John Casson has been a member of St Anne's for more than a decade.

Before his call to Egypt he worked in Downing Street as the Prime Minister's Foreign Affairs Private Secretary. He also had the distinction of being the only person who really understood how St Anne's heating worked.

It was good to have John with us at St Anne's for our service today, good to hear his news, and good to pray for him and Kat as they serve the Lord in Egypt.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Sausage, bacon and the God who calls

It was Men's Breakfast time again at St James this morning.

A good crowd of blokes sat down to the traditional full cooked breakfast (left), washed down with copious quantities of tea, coffee, and orange juice, proceded by cornflakes, toast, & marmalade, all for the princely sum of £2.

Each time we meet we have a speaker who tells their story of faith.

Today it was the turn of your blogger, speaking on his journey from 'Battersea to Bermondsey.'

Never in a million years did your blogger think he would end up as a vicar, let alone a BermondseyVicar.

But an unexpected conversation on an A level biology field trip, opened the door to a whole new world of faith, which in the fulness of time, led a Battersea boy to becoming a Bermondsey Vicar.

If there is one thing we have learnt from our speakers at the Men's Brekkie it is this: if God calls you, who knows what you might become and what you might do - in his wonderful and unexpected plan.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Faith pictures

Faith Pictures is a new course from Church Army which we are using at St James and St Anne's.

It is designed to help church members talk naturally about faith with their friends. Its billed as 'a fresh way to talk about things that matter.'

Faith Pictures got off to a great start at St James last night, beginning with a meal of bangers and mash, as we started to think about what subjects we find easier to talk about than others, and what might be some of the obstacles that prevent us from sharing our faith.

The various obstacles were labelled: 'blush (it's too private), hush (I wouldn't know what to say), rush (I'm too busy), push (I don't have the right to force my views on someone), gush (I wouldn't be able to speak intelligently about my faith), mush (my faith is too confused), and crush (I'm scared how people might respond).'

Next week we going to start the process of overcoming these obstacles to naturally share our faith.

In the meantime, here's the introductory video to the course:

Introduction to Faith Pictures (subtitled version) from Church Army on Vimeo.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Monkey business at Dockhead

For years it was famous as 'Blackwall Fire Station' in ITV's London's Burning, but  Dockhead Fire Station, now with a brand new building on its site near the river in Bermondsey, had a community open day today, to which St James's Church had been invited.

(The fire crew, together with engine, had previousy attended our community fun day in the Churchyard on the occasion of the Queen's 90th birthday).

It was good having a local church presence. We had some photos of church activities and some
leaflets to give away and it was a great opportunity to meet people, at this event, to which loads of people came.

In an interesting mix of old and new, the Fire Brigade were demonstrating some of their newest high tech equipment, as well as displaying a range of photos from bygone times.

I was particular intrigued by the photo of  the fire crew at Dockkead from about 1910, accompanied by their pets, one of which was a monkey. I can't quite see that being allowed today.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

All is safely gathered in

We had our united benefice harvest supper in St Anne's Hall tonight.

As is so often the case with bring-and-share meals, we had a veritable mountain of food, reminding us of the bounty of God's provision through the harvest.

Meanwhile, next door in the church, everything was ready for tomorrow's Harvest service, where we will once again be collecting gifts of food for the work of the Manna Centre, and this will be swelled by gifts from the children of Cherry Garden School when they come for their harvest service at St Anne's on October 10th.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

'Ghost signs' at St James

There has been a flurry of interest on Twitter today about the 'ghost signs' (below) on the front of St James's Church, either side of the portico.

The bible texts have gradually weathered away, and can now barely be read, but it is clear that there are two sets of them.

An earlier version was painted over by a replacement version at some point in the long history of St James

The earlier version read 'We preach not ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord ' from 2 Corinthians 4.5 and

'Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners' from 1 Timothy 1.15

These were subsequently replaced by:'One Lord, onr faith, one baptism'  and  'One God and Father of us all' from Ephesians 4.5-6.

At present we are applying for grants for the restoration of the church stonework.

Perhaps in due course the 'ghost signs' could be restored too.

But which version should we opt for? I suggest neither. Rather let's select a new, third, set of bible texts to proclaim the word of God from the west front of St James in the twenty-first century.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Friends remembered at Age Concern

It was the annual memorial service this afternoon at the Yalding Healthy Living Centre for elderly people in Southwark Park Road.

Paul and I led the service which commemorates those members of the day centre who have died in the past year.

Its been a tough year for Yalding with fifteen members dying during the year - far more than usual - but this made this annual act of remembrance all the more poignant.

Photos of departed friends
It was good to pray, to hear God's
words about eternal life from the Bible, and to look back with thanksgiving for departed members of this very special part of our community in Bermondsey.

The patrons of the centre Andrew Waite and Dee Russell, the Pearly Queen of Bermondsey, each said a few words, as did Councillor Kath Whittman, the Mayor of Southwark who was with us for the occasion.

At the end of the service, members of the centre laid red roses on the memorial bench in the Yalding Garden, and there were the usual wonderful refreshments provided by the chef.

Congratulations to Katrina, Natalie, and all the Yalding staff who do all that they do to make the centre the special place it is. 

Monday, 26 September 2016

A great big thankyou

Yesterday we had our Harvest Thanksgiving service at St James. Next week it is at St Anne's, but today we had the harvest service for St James's School.

The children poured into church for the service at 9.30am.

Once again we were supporting the excellent work of the Manna day centre for homeless people near London Bridge.

150-180  people each day are looked after at the centre, receiving breakfast, lunch, and the opportunity for a hot shower. Housing and welfare advice is also offered to service users, as is computer access, and clothing.

The Manna Society - near London Bridge
Harvest Festivals provide 70 per cent of the foodstuffs used by the centre each year so it is a project well worth supporting. We had a great response this year on Sunday from the congregation at St James, and the great pile of harvest gifts was further added to by the children from the school. St Anne's gifts will follow in due course.

It is great to think we can help one of our local charities and at the same time give thanks to God for all his blessings in creation which we celebrate at harvest time.

'I mustn't forget to say a great big thank you' - one of today's harvest songs for St James School in church

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Love Southwark

The diocesan Hearts on Fire blog has an account of the recent Love Southwark event from our very own Adrian Greenwood.

You can read it here

Monday, 19 September 2016

"My patients souls matter most'

This Sunday's Observer had an article about the greatly loved Dr David Zigmond, whose GP surgery has been housed in the north aisle of St James's Church from 1987 until its recent closure.

You can read it here

The Observer says that the Doctor 'had plenty of time for his patients - but not for bureaucracy.'

One thing is certain- Dr Zigmond's 1700 patients will miss him hugely.

We at St James send our very best wishes to our amiable former tenant as he embarks upon  retirement, and we thank him for all he has done for the people of Bermondsey.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Building the church in Battersea & Bermondsey

The sun shone brightly for our open air service in St James's Churchyard yesterday.

It was the second day of our United Benefice church weekend at home.

St Anne's and St James joined together to sing God's praise and hear his word.

The previous day, Captain Nicholas Lebey, from Church Army, led our morning of worship and teaching on the theme of discipleship at St Saviour's, Battersea.

We had intended to spend the afternoon relaxing in Battersea Park but the weather thought otherwise. However, Sunday's weather more than made up for it, and, after a post-church picnic, we were able to enjoy all the fun of the fair at the Bermondsey Summer Fete in the grounds of the old Scott Lidgett School.

It was a good weekend of being together, of learning, and worshipping. On the Sunday morning Paul spoke from Ephesians 2. 11-22 about how, through the cross, God is bringing together a family drawn from every race, tribe, language and nation.

As it happens St James's Church is modelled on a Greek temple. But there is another temple, another building that God is building in Bermondsey. It is a building made of of people, built with Christ as the cornerstone.

One of the songs we sang just about summed that up: We are being built into a temple, fit for God's own dwelling place, into the house of God, which is the Church, the pillar and the ground of truth.

Here are some more pictures of the weekend (thanks Jos and Pat):

Nicholas Lebey at St Saviour's

Worshipping at St Saviour's
At St Saviour's, Battersea

Summer Fete

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Harvest in the city

To Lambeth Palace for an early evening garden party, and a follow-up to the Battersea to the Barrier meeting that was hosted at the Palace earlier in the year.

Battersea to the Barrier was about the huge changes taking place all along the south bank of the river and the church's involvement in these communities. Tonight's event was called 'Harvest in the City: a celebration of city life' and the overall theme was: how do we create a good city for all?

We were treated to drinks and canapes in the splendour of the Archbishop's 'garden' (more like what you and I would call a park).

We were entertained by musicians from the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and there was the chance to meet all sorts of interesting people, all with one thing in common: to create a good city for all.

St James's parish is one of the nineteen riverside parishes from Battersea to the Thames Barrier and its good for us to think of what can do to make Bermondsey the best possible place it can be for everyone who lives there.

We want to work with everyone who wants to build a Good Bermondsey For All. And we believe that knowing Jesus Christ who came to give us 'life in all its fulness' must be a big part of that.

So may God bless London, and may God bless Bermondsey.

Nightime view from outside Lambeth Palace, waiting for the C10 back to Bermondsey

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Back to school

It was back to school today at St James's School after a long summer holiday.

The children and teachers poured into church for our beginning of term service.

Paul told us about Zaccheus, the man who had a fresh start when he met Jesus, and encouraged us all to make the very best of the fresh start of a new school term and a new school year.

We sung 'Father God I wonder' and, a key stage one favourite: Jesus love is very wonderful. (I love seeing the whole school do the actions for that one).

Mrs Willis read out the names of the new head boys and head girls, and their deputies, and we ended our service in the way we ended our end of term service, by singing a school favourite, very appropriate for the start of a new term:

One more step along the world I go,
one more step along the world I go;
from the old things to the new
keep me traveling along with you:

And it's from the old I travel to the new;
keep me traveling along with you.