Sunday, 8 June 2014

Walking in the light, sailing down the river

It was Pentecost Sunday and an opportunity at St James to welcome back former vicar, Henry Whyte.

Henry was celebrating 40 years since he arrived in Bermondsey with his wife, Liz. It was great to hear his memories of forty years ago, of a growing church and deep friendships that have lasted half a lifetime.

Henry remembers that when the congregation was much smaller, a curtain divided the church to create a more intimate space - and then he remembers the day when the curtain had to be moved further back to make room for an expanding  congregation.

And if you think St James's can be a little bit chilly in winter today, he remembers the time before the present wall heaters were even installed.

The Whytes cutting a 40th anniversary cake
In 'retirement' he remains active as ever, full of the joy of the Lord, enthusiastically ministering the word of God as he did today at St James for our Pentecost Celebration.

Next up was the Diocesan Pentecost Service at the Cathedral and for the Woolwich Episcopal Area a boat had been hired to convey us from Woolwich, Greenwich, or Bermondsey piers to the Cathedral.

Only ten people per parish could be accommodated. Our allotted number embarked  at Cherry Garden Pier for the trip down river to the Millenium Bridge Pier, just past the Cathedral. (In the event a kindly captain extended the cruise to just beyondWestminster Pier).

On the way we were entertained by a Gospel choir, sang hymns, shouted hallelujahs, waved banners, and exchanged greetings with the passers-by who stopped to wave to us from the various Thames bridges.

The Cathedral service itself was a rich feast with worship led by the worship band at Holy Trinity, Clapham, testimonies from a number of parishes and one deanery about mission projects they have been involved in, and a sermon by Bishop Christopher based on the Emmaus Road story on the theme 'hearts on fire', and an opportunity for everyone to be anointed with oil as the gospel choir of St Martin-in-the-Fields School sang.

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