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.

In the boat with Jesus and the Archbishop

Archbishop Justin, the NHS choir, Christian rap artist Guvna B, and a big congregation drawn from across the borough of Southwark gathered for 'Love Southwark' at the Lighthouse in Camberwell last night - and the Archbishop got a new name. It was a great evening.

Adrian Greenwood takes up the story: Archbishop Justin Welby was given the urban name J.Welbs by rap artist Guvna B as he spoke about his life and faith to a packed audience at the Lighthouse Theatre Camberwell on Monday 5th September.

The event had been organised by the ecumenical group, Southwark for Jesus, and was hosted by James Nickols and the Christian radio presenter, Selene Jordan. The evening also a featured the performance of a powerful poem by Lena Norman and of a range of songs by members of the Lewisham Hospital NHS Choir.

The evening opened with a lively group of rap songs by Guvna B, one of the leading Christian rap artists in the country,  during which he had the audience dancing in the aisles. In an interview which followed with him, the Archbishop and Dr Fran , a childrens doctor at Lewisham Hospital and member of the Choir, Guvan B spoke of his upbringing on a Council estate in Canning Town. Here he had experienced the competing pressures of family life and membership of his local church with gang culture on the estate. 

Eventually he chose to give his life to Christ and entered the music business, writing his own lyric using the words and medium that relate best to young people from similar backgrounds. 

It was during this interview that he suggested the rap name for the Archbishop and even presented him with his cap. Archbishop Justin took the suggestion in good humour but said that he would stick with his day job – if he started to sing or dance the NHS choir would be working on emergency cases rather than singing tonight.

Fran also spoke of her faith in Christ and how it helps her in some of her most difficult moments with very sick and dying children. The comradeship that she and all her colleagues had found in the Choir was also a great help to them, and, indeed, all the hospital staff as they coped with their very stressful roles.

Archbishop Justin chose to speak about the passage in the Bible where Jesus calmed the storm on the See of Galilee (Mark ch. 4 v 35 - 41). He spoke about the ‘storms of life, which affect every person, whether from the circumstances of life or self inflicted. 

He mentioned several from his own personal life including the death of his baby daughter in a car accident in France and the bewilderment of mental illness suffered by another family member. He explained that his faith in Jesus, the man who ‘even the winds and waves obeyed’, had brought him to a place of peace; of great calm.
The safest place was to be ‘in the boat with Jesus’, even if this was at the heart of the storm, rather than on the shore relying on one’s own strength to escape. He ended by asking people in the audience the same question, which the disciples asked at the time – the most important question that everyone must face – ‘who is this man?’

Hear the NHS choir here

Her Archbishop Justin speaking here

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Auditory verbal

To the offices of Auditory Verbal in Jamaica Rd, just along from St James.

Auditory Verbal is a charity that helps babies and young children with permanent hearing loss to listen and talk, without the need for lip reading or sign language.'

I was there because St James's is hosting a carol concert for Auditory Verbal on the evening of 6th December.

As well as talking about the plans for that event at Christmas, it was good to hear a bit more about the work of the charity and the enormous difference their work of early intervention can make in the lives of young children with hearing loss.

You can see some of the fruits of their work on these videos

It's really good to have this excellent charity now based in Bermondsey and we are looking forward to hosting staff, parents, children, and supporters for their carol concert this December in St James

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Arthur's great idea

In the 1920s children loved sliding down the granite slope by the steps leading up to St James's portico as much as they do today.

But it gave Arthur Carr of Peek Freans Biscuit factory an idea - a full blown slide for the kids - and that was the beginning of the famous joy slide (which we hope one day to replicate).

The Churchyard already had a children's playground:

As it does today

but Arthur considered that what it really needed was a SLIDE:

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

A prayer while waiting for exam results

I like the prayer being tweeted by the Church of England for anxious students at exam time.

It's based on Romans 8.38-39:

 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Jesus at the Olympics

South African athlete Wayde van Niekerk having won the 400m Olympic gold medal tweeted (left), giving Jesus the glory.

And he told the BBC about his faith, too. Watch the video here 


Monday, 15 August 2016

Russian resurrection

Last week your blogger was on his hols in the beautiful Russian city of St Petersburg.

The now defunct Communist regime had no use for churches and many of them, like the one pictured, were converted to other uses.

We stumbled upon this church by chance but it had a fascinating story to tell.

The Soviets turned it into a swimming pool, complete with a diving board in the chancel (above), and worship and the ministry of the word halted - for a while anyway.

Then everything changed in Russia, and St Petersburg's German Lutheran Church underwent a dramatic physical and spiritual resurrection.

A picture of Christ crucified  replaced the diving board. The church was beautifully restored and is once again open for worship.

Just up the same road - in Nevsky Prospect, 'St Petersburg High Street' - the Russian Orthodox Cathedral, a museum under Communism, was thronged with worshippers, many of them young people... and a family had gathered for the baptism of its newest member.

The message was clear. In St Petersburg the church that very nearly died is alive and well.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Old Bermondsey

The City of London's new picture archive for the whole of London has more than 400 shots of Bermondsey.

You can see them here

Included is this wonderful picture of the construction of Bermondsey's most famous landmark, Tower Bridge, recently Tweeted by Southwark News:

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Uncontrolled delight

Generations of Bermondsey children have fond memories of the 'joy slide' (left) that graced the churchyard at St James's for over 50 years from 1921.

Hardly, a funeral visit goes by without someone recalling the slide, placed there by Arthur Carr (above) from the Bermondsey biscuit factory of Peek Freans.

A recent visitor to the churchyard was a lady who gave out the mats which the children glided down the slide on.

In 1921 the project caught the imagination of the national press who reported it like this:

'For today in the shadow of St. James's Church, nay, in the very consecrated ground of the churchyard itself, you will find the nucleus of areal live fun-city, a wonderful joy-slide, with the youngsters of Jamaica Road shooting down on it on their doormats at well over the speed limit, and shrieking and yelling with uncontrolled delight. '

'As fast as they could keep the pot a boiling the youngsters climbed the stairs, snatched their mats, and went over the top, yelling at the tops of their voices. Hundreds and hundreds of them shot the rapids and went back for more, and before the afternoon was over the maple slide shone like a mirror and felt hot to the touch. Mr Carr's gift is certainly the brightest thing in all Bermondsey and ought to do the local trousers trade a power of good'

Now the Friends of St James's Churchyard are actively working on a project to bring a children's slide back to the churchyard.

It probably can't be just like the 1921 slide - for one thing council funds would no longer run to a full time attendant - but it could be a new slide, a joy slide for the twenty-first century, for the entertainment and excitement of today's children.

At present its just a dream, but the dream could become a reality, so watch this space for a return to 'uncontrolled delight' among the youngsters of Jamaica Rd.

The original joy slide in operation

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Bermondsey's best

The Londonist website has been featuring some photos of 'The Best of Bermondsey'  You can view them here but here are a couple of my favourites:

The view from Bermondsey Beach  

Shopping down the Blue

Saturday, 30 July 2016

The bride arrived by bus

The wedding special drew up at St James today, bringing first the bridesmaids, and then the bride and her father.

It was a special day for the happy couple, Nicholas and Jessica, as they made their marriage vows to each other, as they embraced God's wonderful made-to-measure, specially-created-for-us, relationship that the Bible calls marriage.

May God bless Nicholas and Jessica in their new life together.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Women's brekkie

Sonia Phippard, Reader at St Mary Magdalene, Peckham, was the guest speaker at today's Women's Breakfast at St James.

Sonia is a senior civil servant and has received a CBE for her work in the public service (presented to her by Prince Charles).

She shared with the ladies how she lives out her faith at home, at work, and at church.

It was another reminder to pray for those who are engaged in public service, both the elected politicians, and the civil servants who work for them.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Hearts on fire

Southwark Diocese's Hearts on Fire blog has just published a report which they asked me to write about the recent meeting of General Synod. You can read it here