Friday, 6 December 2019

Beginning to feel like Christmas..

We're defintely in Christmas mode here in Bermondsey with St James's Churchyard festooned with Christmas publicity banners, and 5,000 Christmas cards about to go out around the two parishes.

And here are the full details of Christmas services at St James's:

And here are the ones for St Anne's:

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Remembering in Rotherhithe

A great Bermondsey tradition took place last night: the annual Albins Memorial Garden Service, this year in the presence of HRH Princess Anne  - with us for this 20th anniversary service.

Large crowds flocked to the garden for the familiar mixture of prayers, readings, musical items, the release of doves, and community carol singing.

Once more bereaved families brought forward stars for the Christmas tree in commemoration of loved ones and prayers were led by the Bishop of Southwark and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Southwark, concluding with Torbjorn Holt from the Norwegian Church giving the blessing in his native tongue for the last time, prior to his move back to Norway.

Refreshments provided by typical Albins generosity followed after a finale which included a wonderful firework display lighting up the sky over Bermondsey and Rotherhithe.

A very memorable event that brings great comfort to families every year.

Monday, 2 December 2019

St Augustine's on mission

Students (left) from St Augustine's College of Theology came to St James last week for their first year  mission project.

There was mulled wine, mince pies, the chance to meet a Roman soldier, and the opportunity to write out prayer requests and hang them on the Christmas tree.

Undaunted by the wind and rain, the gallant band made lots of contacts with passers-by, children from the school, and people attending Bermondsey Brew.

They put their heart and soul into the project, which they planned from scratched, and executed in a brilliant piece of team work. Thank you St Augustine's for coming to share with us in Bermondsey.

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Light in the darkness at Providence House

To Providence House, the youth and community Christian mission serving the Winstanley Estate in Battersea, close to Clapham Junction station, for the last 50 years.

I had been invited to speak at their Sunday First event, all age service held on the first Sunday of the month followed by a community tea.

I first came to Providence House when I was curate when I was invited a couple of times to speak to the women's bible study group about marriage, cohabitation and the family. It was probably one of the most memorable experiences of my curacy. I realised then what a special place Providence House was.

It was good to be back at this very special community centre,with a Christian heart, alongside Robert and Susan who have worked here with such love and commitment for so long, this time speaking as part of their 'Advent Adventure, ' on John 1v5: 'The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.'

Saturday, 30 November 2019

O come all ye the Blue

The first of our three open air carol events took place today at the Blue.

The sun was shining, we had a great crowd of singers, and lots of people stopped to pick up a leaflet or to capture the scene on their phones.

Next up: Carol singing at Bermondsey Tube Station on Monday 11th December and outside St James on Wednesday 12th December. Both events start at 6pm.

Sam at the Men's Brekkie

Sam Adofo, Director of the Salmon Youth Centre, was the guest speaker at today's Men's Breakfast at St James.

Sam and his wife have experienced great troubles in recent years and he didn't want to pretend that if you are a Christian everything would go swimmingly in your life.

Sam knew that wasn't true, but he did know something else was true and that was what he had discovered in a new way in the midst of their troubles.

That was the truth of Romans 8.35-40:

 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? .... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  

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.

What Sam found was that nothing can separate us from the love of God when we belong to him through Jesus Christ.

And that is a message for all of us.

Friday, 29 November 2019

Light shining in the darkness

Hundreds of people poured into St James's Churchyard tonight as part of the Illuminate Bermondsey and Illuminate Rotherhithe project in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower sailing with the Pilgrim Fathers to the new world.

The Mayflower famously started its journey at Rotherthithe with a local man, Christopher Jones,  as its captain for the voyage that changed the history of the world for ever.

Twin processions - one from St Mary's, Rotherhithe and one from the Blue in Bermondsey, full of people holding beautiful lanterns and other illuminated displays, converged at St James, where everyone had refreshments of pizza,  hot chocolate and soup.

It's a poignant thought that as this happy community event took place with its procession of light wending its way through our streets, an event of great darkness had taken place on London Bridge, just down the road from us. Lives had been lost, and others had been traumatised and injured.

On the eve of Advent we are reminded again of the words of St John:

'The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it'

John 1.5

And we pray for everyone affected by today's events in our capital.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

I see you

To Westminster Abbey to see the exhibition mounted by Open Doors, the Christian agency which seeks to highlight the plight of persecuted Christians throughout the world.

Included within it was a series of paintings of Nigerian women who had suffered appalling assaults and sufferings.

An artist working for Open Doors had produced these beautiful and sensitive portraits. Alongside these paintings, are self-portraits that the women themselves have made in trauma care workshop run by Open Doors. These form an exbition within the main exhibition entitled 'Tears of Gold.'

The major part of the exhibition is taken up with a handmade petition in aid of the women of the persecuted church made with contributions of by more than 1600 Open Doors supporters:

The whole exhibition proclaimed a powerful message about support for the suffering church throughout the world. It was great to see it displayed in Westminster Abbey. It would be great to see it displayed in other places, too - up and down the country.

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Christmas is coming

Christmas is coming - I know it's not quite Advent yet, but Christmas plans are in full swing here in Bermondsey and across the country.

The Christmas tree is up in St James's Churchyard, full details of our Christmas services are available here, and we're getting ready to welcome students of St Augustine's College of Theology for their mission project on Monday afternoon in the churchyard, all centred on the tree.

Meanwhile, St Anne's was getting into the Christmas mood with its ever-popular Christmas fair today:

The Quay Players offer a festive welcome to the fair

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Joy in the churchyard

Pictured left: Fergus Carr, architect of our new joyslide for the 21st century, and great great grandson of Arthur Carr, of Peek Freans biscuit factory in Bermondsey, who had the idea of creating a slide in the churchyard for local children, when he saw them sliding down by the very steps leading up to the portico on which Fergus was photographed today, after our latest meeting of the Friends of St James's Churchyard.

Now that planning permission and faculty permission are in place and with just over half of the funds secured, the Friends are hopeful that, with further donations and grants coming in,  the work on constructing the new slide can begin in 2020, just in time for the centenary of the first slide in 2021.

Here is Fergus's great great grandad viewing the scene that gave him his initial inspiration:

And here is the latest leaflet about the Joyslide project. To read the leaflet, find out more, and to discover how you can contribute please visit our joyslide website here:

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Farewell to Delorine

It was a fond farewell to Delorine (pictured with St James churchwardens Marian and Pat) on Sunday.

Delorine, is training for the ordained ministry with St Augustine's College, and has been on placement with us at St James for eight weeks.

During that time she has thrown herself into a wide range of parish activities and has well and truly endeared herself to our congregation.

Yesterday she preached for the first time at St James, having previously led a Family Service. 

We shall all miss her, but wish her God's richest blessing in this, her third and final year, of ministerial training.

And finally, thank you Delorine, for that wonderful cake that you bought for us to share after church on Sunday.

Monday, 11 November 2019

Armistice in Bermondsey

Armistice Day began in Bermondsey with the St James School Armistice service in church, with all the children standing in respectful silence for the two minutes silence.

Next up was the service at the War Memorial in West Lane (left), attended by the Mayor, the Leader of the Council, councillors, prospective parliamentary candidates for Labour and the Liberal Democrats, the Pearly King and Queen, alongside representatives of the emergency services, tenants association, community organisations, political parties, London Southbank University, schools, local businesses and many members of the public, for the two minutes silence at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

We sang, we prayed, we remembered.

 Photos from Gary Glover and SE16 community Twitter feeds.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Bermondsey remembers

Our Remembrance Day events in Bermondsey began  with an Act of Remembrance in brilliant sunshine at the war memorial in Old Jamaica Rd (left), with the Army Cadets, the Veterans, councillors from both political parties, former MP, Sir Simon Hughes, and members of the public.

Meanwhile, back in St James's we were getting ready for our main Remembrance Sunday service, at which, Delorine (left), our placement student from St Augustine's College was the guest preacher.

After the service we all moved to the Narthex where Pat laid a wreath at the Boer War Memorial and David laid a wreath at the memorial to the ten young men of the St James Bermondsey Bible Class who gave their lives in the First World War.

It is good to take this annual moment to pause, to remember, to give thanks, and to pray for peace in our troubled world.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Through all the changing scenes

Changing views of St James, first from 1905 (thanks Pat)

Then from BermondseyBeat, three pictures - first of a 1950s shot of the young Tommy Steele signing autographs outside his Frean St house, with St James in the background

Then of the church before it was restored and before recent redevelopments with prefabs in the foreground

And the scene today: