Sunday, 9 March 2014

Battersea boy goes home

To St Mary's, Battersea, on the banks of the Thames, this evening for their Lent Course where I had been asked to speak on the contribution of the evangelical tradition to Anglican faith and spirituality.

As a Battersea boy this was a deeply nostalgic experience.

Here in 1954 my parents were married, and in the mid-sixties we lived overlooking the church on the nineteenth floor of the newly-built Selworthy House (to the left of St Mary's in the photo).

Just round the corner I was a pupil at Sir Walter St John's Grammar School, endowed in 1700 for 'twenty poor boys of the parish' by the Lord of the Manor, after whom our school was named, and whose family motto, Rather Deathe than False of Faythe, was our motto, and the subject of our school song.

By the 1970s there was more than 500 of us and we could all just about squeeze into St Mary's, filling its Georgian galleries, for our Christmas carol service each year.

School entrance
I was pleased to find two 'old Sinjuns' in the congregation tonight (besides me) and to see various references around the church to Sir Walter's bequests to his school.'

As for the evangelical tradition, I didn't know much about that as a youngster, nor did our family ever visit St Mary's (except very occasionally for weddings and funerals) but it was at Sir Walter St John's School - or 'Sinjuns', as everyone in Battersea knew it - that as a sixth former I came to faith in Christ through the witness of a teacher.

There were many things I learnt at that school, not least a love of learning itself, but, best of all, I learnt Christ, and it was good to be back in Battersea to speak about the tradition of faith that means so much to me, that loves to speak of Christ, that honours the Scriptures as his inspired word, and takes delight in his saving death and resurrection.

St Mary's elegant 1777 interior

No comments:

Post a Comment