Wednesday, 24 September 2014

From Finland to Jerusalem (via Southwark Park Rd)

London's only church with a sauna was the venue for today's meeting of the Bermondsey Deanery Chapter (the clergy of the 7 parishes of the deanery plus the Finnish and Norweigan churches in Rotherhithe).

Rotherhithe's Finnish Church (left) played host to our meeting and provided the chapter members with a delicious Scandinavian meal. It was good to meet up and to share news across the parishes of the deanery.

Next up was the annual remembrance service at the Age Concern Healthy Living Centre in Southwark Park Rd. Around 70 members gathered together in the sunshine of the Age Concern garden for a service, which we had been asked to lead in commemoration of members of the centre who had passed away in the past year.

It is an amazing centre, presided over by the indefatigable Simone, a marvellous asset for the community and a place which is always a joy to visit.

And then this evening there was a great turnout for our new Bermondsey Christian Training course on the book of Acts. This links in well with our current focus on mission as we start to implement our mission action plan.

Tonight we looked at Acts chapters 1 and 2, and saw how the Spirit came on the day of Pentecost and the message of the Gospel started out by being in Jerusalem before spreading through Judea, Samaria and then to the ends of the earth.

There was some great questions and comments tonight from the floor and it felt like we had got off to a really good start.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Mission Action Plan

Click on the picture to enlarge

Today was the launch of our Mission Action Plan at St James (St Anne's turn will be on 5th October).

We watched Jos's video of Bermondsey, previously premiered on this blog, the churchwardesns spoke about the PCC awayday at the Salmon Youth Centre, I introducted the Mission Action Plan, and preached on Jesus's Mission Action Plan a.ka. the Great Commission in Matthew 28 ('Go into the world and make disciples of all nations..), and at the end, singing 'We are marching in the light of God' we processed out of church for a final prayer of blessing on the portico steps, and the chance for a congregational photo of a memorable day (thanks Jos).

It was good to end the service outside the church building, with the congregation facing outwards into the parish because that, after all, is what Mission Action Plans are all about.

Living dangerously at the Men's Breakfast

The day before the MAP launch,  Des Scott (left) of the Church Army was the speaker at our men's breakfast. 

He spoke on the topic ' the nights I slept with a gun under my pillow,' recalling his days as a police officer in the RUC at the height of Northern Ireland's troubles.

In an enthralling address Des spoke powerfully of how he had sought to live as a Christian in a highly challenging environment, trusting God for his safety, trying not to succumb to feelings of anger and revenge, and working to bring healing and reconciliation between the warring communities, pointing to the radically different values of the Kingdom of God.

The trouble with living in Ireland during the troubles, said Des, was that it all started to seem normal. But its not normal and, God's ways give you a new kind of normality to live by

A good time was had by all, the usual copious quantities of egg, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, beans, toast, cornflakes, tea etc were consumed, and the blokes of the parish are set to reconvene for their next early morning feast on 6th December.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

And then God made the buses

It must come from living on a bus route.

Today when I asked the kids in key stage 1 (aka the infants) at St James's School in an assembly on the creation story what God did after he had made the sky, the sea, the dry land, the birds, the fishes, the animals and human beings (I was thinking of God having a rest), one lad put his hand up and said 'He made the buses.'

I like the inventiveness of that addition to the creation story.

There is sadly no mention of buses as such in Genesis chapter one, but God did make provision for them when he made people, for uniquely among his creatures, men and women, like God, can make things.Such as buses.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Happy Birthday, Stan

Both churches got the chance this morning to celebrate Stan's 70th birthday.

Stan was one of the first Ordained Local Ministers. people who belonged to local churches and trained for ordination to serve in those churches, whilst holding down a full-time job - in Stan's case as a senior vehicle engineer with London buses (where he was also a shop steward - read the diocesan newspaper's article about Stan, 'Priest and Shop Steward? No Problem'  here).

Stan has lived in Bermondsey all his life.

As a teenager his faith was nurtured by 'the club' also known as C.U.M. also known as Cambridge University Mission, now known as the Salmon Youth Centre.

In time he became a leader at CUM in his own right and then came the call to ordination,and fifteen years ago he was ordained to serve at St James's (and now St Anne's, too) which he has done ever since.

Happy birthday Stan and thank you for all you have done for the people of Bermondsey through the club and the churches.

C.U.M (now Salmon)

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Bid for the Blue

Guest contributor, Paul Warren writes:

Thursday evening saw the first Blue Bermondsey Bid Networking event held at Duns cafĂ© in the heart of the Blue market place. 

Organised by the Blue Bermondsey Business Association the event was an opportunity to bring together representatives from across the area that have common interest developing the Blue for the benefit of the people of Bermondsey. 

Those represented came from the local traders, Bermondsey Councillors, Council Officials and Governor Estates as well as St James and St Anne’s churches. 

 BBBA Chairman Russell Dryden, a well-respected trader in the market, spoke about the need for co-operation between all those represented to develop and improve the Blue. 

He showed a newly commissioned short film (in which Russell stars as himself) to highlight the ever changing face of Bermondsey and the bid for funding to continue to improve the area. Here's the film:

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Keeping it fresh

Church Army's research unit have got wind of our Mission Action Plan and have been on the phone today to find out more about it.

Later this month we will be launching the MAP, as agreed by the church councils, in services in both churches. The bit the Church Army was interested in was the bit about Fresh Expressions of Church.

Fresh Expressions of church are new types of churches designed for people who don't go to church. As the following video from the Church Army research unit shows, Fresh Expressions are one of the modern success stories of the Church of England.

We'll say more about our own plans (which are at a very early stage) in due course, but wouldn't it be good if there were some new Bermondsey-based fresh expressions of church coming into being by God's grace to serve our local community?

Monday, 8 September 2014

God loves Bermondsey

Jos is our new curate (a.k.a trainee vicar) at St James and St Anne's and already he is making his mark. Here is his video (it lasts 2mins 30 seconds), God loves Bermondsey, giving an over view of the two parishes which we are going to use in the services this month when we launch our new 'Mission Action Plan.'
The soundtrack is from: Venite (Psalm 95) by Jon Lindsay Scott, and can be heard and purchased at:

Saturday, 6 September 2014

London Christian Heritage Walk

Here are the walkers on the London Christian Heritage Walk that I led today from Bermonsdsey to Trafalgar Square.

Our route took us from Southwark Cathedral (tomb of Lancelot Andrewes, one of the translators of the King James Bible), to Fen Court in the City (the memorial to the abolition of the slave trade opened by Desmond Tutu in 2007), to St Helen's, Bishopsgate (the oldest City church, scene of a weekly bible-based ministry to hundreds and twice the victim of IRA bombing) and to St Mary Woolnoth, close to the Bank of England, where John Newton, author of Amazing Grace, was the vicar.

After a coffee break, we slipped into Wesley's Chapel (left) on City Rd, just before a bride arrived for a wedding, admired his statue with its slogan, 'the World is my Parish', and crossed the road to Bunhill Fields where 123,000 dissenters are buried, among them William Blake, Daniel Defoe, and John Bunyan.

The latter's tomb has pride of place, showing, on one side, pilgrim struggling under the weight of the burden of sin and, on the other, pilgrim set free, with his burden having fallen off at the cross.

Next we successfully negotiated the complexities of the  Barbican Highwalk to see the flame-shaped memorial to John Wesley's  conversion in 1738, close to the modern Museum of London, and the location of our group photo at the top of this post.

In the main hall of the museum, we were delighted to see the exhibition on WW1 giving pride of place to this photo of Grenadier Guardsmen proudly testifying to their roots.

After lunch in the museum grounds we went via St Paul's Cathedral to Victoria Embankment Gardens and Whitehall Gardens to see statues of Robert Raikes (inventor of Sunday schools), Michael Faraday (one of our greatest scientists and a keen Christian) and William Tyndale (first translator of the New Testament in English and the martyr who died praying 'O Lord, open the King of England's eyes.').

A quick glance at Oliver Cromwell outside Parliament, clutching a Bible and a sword (is that right? You decide), and it was off to Westminster Abbey to see the statues of the ten twentieth century Christian martyrs on the west front of the building.

Twentieth century martyrs at the Abbey

We were nearly at journey's end, but not before we had the chance to admire the wonderful vista which runs the length of the national gallery and culminates with Cima da Conegliano's Incredulity of St Thomas

It's as if everything in the gallery points to the Risen Lord Jesus, just as all the people we have considered in London's rich Christian heritage have also, in word, and deed - and sometimes in giving their very lives - have been witnesses or signposts pointing to Him.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Walking on water at St James's School

Meet the Jesus Christ Lizard, so-called because he has mastered the art of walking on water.

It wasn't so much the lizard, as the real Jesus Christ and his astonishing walking-on-the-water-feat as related by St Matthew's Gospel that was the theme of the beginning of term service for St James's School this morning in the church.

The children poured into the church and suddenly the building was filled with happy smiling faces, eagerly awaiting the challenges of a new term.

New headboys and head girls were announced and then our service started.

Three children helped me act out the night time encounter between Jesus and the disciples out in the middle of the lake.

The disciples were terrified. They thought it was a ghost. Then Jesus said 'It is I. Don't be afraid.'

Then Peter says 'tell me to come.'

And when Jesus says 'come' (his word giving Peter the power to do the otherwise impossible), Peter, too, starts to walk on the water.

Then he starts to sink - when he 'noticed the strong wind' and started to be afraid. Then Jesus grabbed him. Then they worshipped him and said 'truly, you are the Son of God.'

Starting off in a new class, or with a new teacher, or on a new site, can be scary, but Jesus knows every boy and girl. He loves them. And if you ever start to sink, he can grab hold of you.

So let's keep believing and trusting in Jesus in our school this new term.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Barnabas in schools

To St James's School. Just before the children arrive tomorrow, the teachers and other staff have two INSET days.

This morning, Barnabas in Schools, led a brilliant morning on teaching bible stories in the context of RE lessons, with lots of creative ideas, games, and even running on the spot - usually for the kids, but today for the teachers and the ministry team from St James: Paul, Jos, Penny, and me. I never knew RE could be so energetic.

That made it fun and they showed how the bible points could be got over in a child-friendly way. Excellent.

And while we were doing that we got the opportunity to admire the two new classrooms and reception area that have been constructed at the Old Jamaica Road site. With the Bermondsey school population growing fast, and an extra Reception class joining St James's this term, the new spaces have come on stream at just the right time.

New classrooms at OJR