Monday, 30 September 2013


Thanks to Emily here is a picture of Paul Warren (left) our new Urban Missioner with Bishop Michael (centre) at his licensing service last week at St Anne's.

It's great to have Paul and the family working with us here in Bermondsey.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Mission matters

The Bermondsey Lion
It was a good day for Bermonsey, someone said today.

In this morning was the licensing by Bishop Michael of Paul Warren, our new urban missioner (joined by folk from Paul's previous parishes of Whitnash and St Helier), and in the afternoon the newly re-ordered spaces at St Mary Magdalen, Bermondsey were dedicated, also by Bishop Michael.

For St Mary's it was the culmination of a ten-year project to make their historic seventeenth-century building, more open, transparent, and welcoming. The project has succeeeded brilliantly and there is a new lightness and spaciousness about the church interior and a more welcoming and accessible public face on an increasingly busy Bermondsey Street.

For St James and St Anne's Paul's appointment marks a new phase of our working together as two parishes in one united benefice. Secondly, it gives us a new relationship with the Church Army (in my opinion one of the Church of England's best kept secrets). Thirdly, and most importantly it marks a moment for us to reach out with the Gospel to the more than nineteen thousand people who live in our parishes.

As the Bishop rightly said, Paul can't do this alone but I do believe God has given just the right man to lead us forwards in mission and evangelism at this present time.

Yes it was a good day for Bermondsey.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Hope for Bermondsey

To City Hope Church in Drummond Road for the C4T ministers' lunch.

C4T stands for Christians for Transformation in Bermondsey and Rotherhithe and it links together a number of churches of different denominations, along with the Salmon Youth Centre and the London City Mission.

What unites us is belief in the transforming Gospel, the hope for Bermondsey & Rotherhithe and the hope for all the world.

Over lunch we shared with each other the challenges and encouragements of the last few months since we last met (before the summer holidays) and prayed for one another.

It was good to hear of new projects - a wonderful mission week on the estates led by Haddon Hall
Baptist Church with people coming to faith in Christ and being baptised in the open air in full view of their neighbours, of a food bank starting at City Hope, of the new spaces created through the re-ordering of St Mary's, of Paul, our very own new urban missioner, starting work next week.

I think it was American pastor, Bill Hybels, who said 'the local church is the hope for the world' and it struck me today that our local churches are a real sign of hope and in the Gospel have a real message of hope, one that is desperately needed in our community.

We need to get out there and share it and need the reviving, renewing power of the Holy Spirit to be there in our midst.

I like the words of this song which speaks of revival coming to the city, sang by Roger a couple of weeks ago in church, and appropriately enough to be sung again this Sunday when Paul is licensed. It makes a great prayer for parish and our city:

I hear the voice of one calling, prepare ye the way of the Lord.
And make His paths straight in the wilderness
And let your light shine in the darkness
And let your rain fall in the desert.

As sure as gold is precious and the honey sweet,
So you love this city and you love these streets.
Every child out playing by their own front door
Every baby laying on the bedroom floor.

Every dreamer dreaming in her dead-end job
Every driver driving through the rush hour mob
I feel it in my spirit, feel it in my bones
You're going to send revival, bring them all back home

I can hear that thunder in the distance
Like a train on the edge of town
I can feel the brooding of Your Spirit
"Lay your burdens down, Lay your burdens down".

From the Preacher preaching when the well is dry
To the lost soul reaching for a higher high
From the young man working through his hopes and fears
To the widow walking through the veil of tears

Every man and woman, every old and young
Every fathers daughter, every mothers son.
I feel it in my spirit, feel it in my bones
You're going to send revival, bring them all back home

I can hear that thunder in the distance
Like a train on the edge of town
I can feel the brooding of Your Spirit
"Lay your burdens down, Lay your burdens down".

Revive us, Revive us,
Revive us with your fire!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Riverside walk

Bermondsey is one of the best places in the world to go for an urban stroll and that's official.

According to The Times the Lonely Planet guide has rated the Thames Path as the second best urban walk in the world, ahead of Sydney, Berlin, and Vancouver..

Indeed, the Thames Path, gradually pieced together over the last 40 years is one of the modern wonders of London and one of the joys of living in Bermondsey is a stroll along the river and the incomparable views - especially at night.

Developers have had to provide space for the path in order to get planning permission and, on occasion, they have been required to build new pedestrian bridges, too, to accommodate walkers, as here at St Saviour's Dock where the River Neckinger reaches the Thames.

Like the Thames itself, the Neckinger forms part of our parish boundary. The photo is taken from St Mary's parish looking over to New Concordia Wharf in St James's parish. (The boundary runs down the middle of both rivers).

Where I grew up in Battersea they were very few places where you could actually see the river although it was always close by (though when they were boys my dad and my uncles used to jump into the Thames from Battersea Bridge and, amazingly, they all survived into old age), but now in Battersea, and Bermondsey and all along the south bank, you can go for a riverside stroll, almost uniterrupted, thanks to the farsighted planners who have made it all possible.

Hang on, only the second best urban walk in the world?

That can't be right.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Christianity Explored

Here's the trailer for Christianity Explored, the first of our Bermondsey Christian Training courses that starts on Wednesday 2nd October at 7.30pm at St James, followed be a repeat the following Saturday at St Anne's at 9.30am. 45 people have already signed up, but there is still time to join. See here 


Thursday, 12 September 2013

St James's goes high tech

We enjoy taking assemblies every Wednesday at both sites of St James School and this year we are going high tech with the help of Kevin Mayhew's Karaoke Assembly DVDs which are going to help us learn new child-friendly worship songs in a child-friendly manner.

In true Karaoke style, the words are synchronised with the music and that makes it easy to learn new songs.

The kids enjoyed Karoake Assembly's first outing and I happened to be in the (junior) school again today and heard them singing again yesterday's new song Father God I Wonder with great enthusiasm.

We chose that one because of our opening words at assembly: 'Good morning Gary/Penny/Paul, Good morning everybody, Good morning Father God.'

We're also using some new Powerpoints to include some simple responses each day. At the beginning

The Lord is here
His Spirit is with us

Lift up your hearts
We lift them to the Lord

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God
It is right to give him thanks and praise

And at the end:

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord
In the name of Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Back to school

It was back to school for everyone at St James's School today and first up was the Beginning of Term Service in the Church.

We've actually got some plans to learn some new songs this term, but today we started with an old favourite, 'Our God is great big God'.

Penny led the prayers, two new head boys and two new head girls received their badges, Mrs Willis exhorted everyone to work hard and to not miss a single day at school in the coming year, and I spoke about the day the 12-year old Jesus caused his parents a certain amount of grief.

'Where's Jesus?' was his mother's shocked reaction when she realised that they would were one day out of Jerusalem and her son was nowhere to be seen. It took three days to track him down - where they eventually  found him in the Temple.

'Where else would I be, except in my Father's house?' said the lad with a typical teenage disregard for his parents' feelings.

After that, though, he was obedient to his parents, and Luke concludes that episode with that wonderful summary verse which formed the main thrust of my talk: 'Jesus grew in body and wisdom, and in favour towards God and people.'

A new vicar for another St James

I am a trustee of a patronage society. Yer what?

Patrons have a say in the appointment of the vicar to a parish.

St James, Bermondsey has three patrons, one of whom is the Queen, but after the Crown the largest patron is the Church Pastoral Aid Society.

CPAS is  patron of over 500 parishes and I am one of twelve trustees scattered over the country.

Last night I represented CPAS at the institution of a new vicar at St James, West Streatham. It is the task of the patron to 'present' the candidate to the Bishop ('reverend father in God I present to you the Reverend X who has been chosen to be vicar of this parish').

This was a double honour because St James, West Streatham was our 'sending church' - the church we
belonged to as a young married couple (I was a teacher at a school in nearby Tooting), and from which we went to theological college in 1986 - and it was St James that continued to support us while we there (and beyond).

It is the church we have the fondest memories of, where we learnt so much, and where we made enduring friendships that we treasure to this day.

We wish them all God's richest blessing as they move on into the next phase of their life with their new and excellent vicar, Rob.