Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Family favourites

Our latest Bermondsey Christian Training course got off to a great start tonight, looking at the story of Joseph from Genesis 37-50.

Each week we are watching a clip from Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and for our meal at the end of the course, we are planning a karaoke-style Joseph singalong.

Tonight was just the first episode of Joseph's extraordinary story, and it started with something we can all identify with: the messiness of family life.

Jacob, the father of the family, ended up with 12 sons by four different women. There were huge problems along the way: favouritism, deception, an attempted murder, and general unpleasantness all round, but there is another story taking place alongside this story, and that is God's story.

God's story, or rather God's plan, is to take the messiness and muddle of Jacob's family and work
Bermondsey Christian Training
things together for good, and ultimately save many lives.

It is the perfect illustration of that verse in Romans chapter eight verse twenty eight that says 'in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.'

And we'll see exactly how that worked out in the next seven weeks of the course.

Ready, steady, grow at St Anne's

They were pouring in this morning to the recently started group for parents and toddlers at St Anne's.

Here's a picture of the buggy park in the vestibule of St Anne's Hall this morning.

Ready Steady Grow takes place on Wednesday mornings during term time and is proving to be a great place for toddlers, parents, and carers from the local community to meet up in a relaxed and friendly setting.

New families are always welcome at RSG at St Anne's on Wednesdays from 9.30am or at the St James's group, Little Angels, on Thursdays from 9.15am.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Harvest time in Bermondsey

All is safely gathered in.

St James's School came to church this morning for their harvest service and greatly added to the pile of gifts we are building up for the Manna Centre's work alongside the homeless.

The centre at London Bridge welcomes 120-150 people each day. They are open 7 days a week and serve around 800 meals each week, and in the space of a year they help 300 people find accommodation.

They estimate that Harvest gifts from the local churches provide about 70 per cent of their foodstuffs
for the year.

It is good to know that the harvest gifts from church and school are going to such a good cause - as will St Anne's harvest goods after the harvest service there on Sunday.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Rich Man and Lazarus part 2

St Anne's was taking a look at the Rich Man and Lazarus story, too, today, and a sad sight greeted their eyes as they arrived this morning for church (left).

It was only once the service had got going, and the Gospel Reading had ended, that it became apparent that today's preacher, a.k.a. the Rev Stan Catton, was the very same person the congregation had passed on their way into church.

It was a sermon that packed a punch...

The Long Road to Bermondsey

On 2nd September the Diocesan Office in Borough High Street posted a letter to us at St James Vicarage, a mere 1.4 miles away.

The letter arrived 24 days later.

It had travelled at the rate of 100 yards a day.

It would have been quicker to have sent it by tortoise.

In fact, according to Google, your average Tortoise could have covered the 1.4 miles from Borough to Bermondsey in eleven hours, or about 48 times faster than Royal Mail.

The rich man and Lazarus

It was Harvest Thanksgiving Sunday at St James's today (St Anne's next Sunday; St James's School, tomorrow).

All three services are collecting items for the excellent Manna Day Centre (near London Bridge) and their work alongside the homeless people of London.

Today at St James we were looking at and acting out the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus from Luke 16. Here's the rich man (above) on his throne dressed in the finest clothing the Sunday school cupboard can offer, tucking into an early slap up lunch, with an actor for the part of Lazarus just being recruited.

Lazarus had nothing. He did well if he could get a few crumbs from the rich man's table, and the rich man never lifted a finger to help him.

But then the tables were dramatically turned (right) when both men died.

Lazarus ended up in heaven at Abraham's side, and the rich man ended up in Hades, the world of the dead.

The Rich Man asked for a warning to be sent to his five brothers still alive, but Abraham said they had Moses and the Prophets (ie the Bible) and they hadn't listened to them.

Then the rich man asks whether Lazarus could be sent to warn them.

They would take notice if someone rose from the dead, he reasons.

But Abraham replies 'If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone were to rise from death.'

It's one of Jesus's most powerful parables. It is full of meanings. At Harvest Time it says a lot about compassion for the poor, for sharing, for actually doing something to help. It points us to eternal realities, too, and reminds us we have God's Word now, and we need to listen to it and respond to it before it is too late to do us any good.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

What Ted achieved

Stan and Bill
'Could a docker be a priest?'

That was the thought going through the mind of the young vicar of Bethnal Green, Ted Roberts. It rapidly became another question: how could a docker become a priest?

To cut a long story short, Ted found a way, and when he moved over the river to St James, Bermondsey he continued to find a way for local men to be trained, equipped and ordained, to bring the message of Christ to the people in the parish in a language they could understand.

Pictured (above) are two of the three Ordained Local Ministers, from St James who were ordained here in the scheme that Ted had helped to create in Southwark, and had pioneered in the East End.

Today St James was packed for a service of thanksgiving for his life. People came from far and wide to give thanks for Ted, vicar, pioneer, and innovator in ministry.

In my address I said this: 

"It was in the inner city, first in Bethnal Green, and then in Bermondsey that Ted spent much of his ordained ministry. In both places he worked to find ways for local men – it was just men in those days – to be trained and ordained in the church’s ministry. He saw the value of a truly local and indigenous ministry. Priests who were of the people they served, who spoke their language in ways that could connect with the lives they led.

If there is a Scriptural verse that sums up his approach it must be Acts 4.13, where following the healing of the lame man by Peter and John, and their appearance to give an account of themselves before the religious leaders, Luke comments: When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realised that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

The apostles were ordinary blokes, but they knew what they believed and they knew how to get it across to others, and they had had the best ministerial training anyone could have: they had been with Jesus.
Ted speaking at his daughter's wedding

What if ordinary blokes from Bethnal Green and Bermondsey, who had been with Jesus, could be trained, equipped, and ordained to bring the Gospel to their own communities? 

That was Ted’s vision which became a triumphant reality, first over in the East End, and then here in Bermondsey, where in God’s good time first, Snowy, then Bill and Stan, became ordained, local, ministers. Two of them are here today, the other is in the presence of the Lord he served.

If the cause of local ordained ministry has been temporarily eclipsed, who can doubt the need for Ted’s vision of ordinary blokes and women, equipped, trained, and ordained to proclaim the Gospel in our inner cities and outer estates, and the need for what he did then, to be done afresh in this generation?

There is a certain local football team (you may have heard of it)  that has the slogan: ‘Nobody likes us and we don’t care.’ It was Ted’s great achievement to show the people of Bermondsey that was not true. 

Ted liked them. Ted loved them. And he did everything in his power to show them that God loved them too. 

And so today in the church where he served we give thanks to God for his wonderful servant, Ted. To God be the glory.'

You can read Ted's obituary here

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Remembering at Yalding

Dee, the Pearly Queen of Bermondsey (left), was one of many invited guests at today's Annual Memorial Service at the Age Concern Healthy Living Centre in Southwark Park Rd.

Each year St James & St Anne's clergy are invited to lead this moving outdoor service where elderly members of the centre who have passed away during the year are remembered.

At the end red roses are laid on the memorial bench where the name of departed members are recorded.

Barry Albin-Dyer, was a great supporter of the service, and was an honoured guest each year, so it was fitting that his sons, Jon and Simon, together with their wives, were present for this year's service where Barry himself was included in the list of names that were read out - by Simon, after Jon (left)  had spoken some well chosen words.

It was good, too, to pray, to hear the familiar words from John 14, and to think of our final home in the Father's house.

Yalding is a day centre with a difference, a lifeline for many, and a real community hub, all presided over by the amazing Simone who works so hard to make it the wonderful place it is.

The Pearly Queen of Bermondsey & the Mayor of Southwark

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Simon on prayer

(Left) Sir Simon Hughes reading from the Bible and speaking this morning at the prayer breakfast organised by the LibDem Christian Forum at the LibDem party conference in Bournemouth.

They had a record turn out for Simon's talk during which someone tweeted: 'wonderful reflections from Simon Hughes on the importance of prayer.' Photo from Twitter 

Sunday, 20 September 2015

The church's army

They call it the Church of England's best kept secret: the Church Army, older than the Salvation Army, but just as good.

Today Captain Nick Lebey, hot from paternity leave following the birth of his second son, was our guest speaker at, first, St Anne's, and then by bit of quick footwork,  at St James, too.

Nick works on the Thamesmead estate in south-east London and is a pioneer youth evangelist. He is also standing for General Synod (hope you get elected, Nick).

It was the kind of sermon you did not want to end as Nick enthralled us with his passion for the Gospel and reaching those on the edge of the church and right outside the church.

He reminded me of all that I love about the Church Army.

As a young vicar on the St Helier estate in south London I had only been dimly aware of CA but there I served alongside a succession of excellent Church Army evanglists, first David, then Pete, then Paul ....and then in the goodness of God the last of these, Paul, after a spell in the Midlands, came to join us on the team here in Bermondsey.

Like the beer in the advert, Church Army reaches the parts the rest of the Church doesn't meet. Its
officers are official Church of England evangelists, commissioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

They are 'Good news people', dedicated to sharing the good news about Christ.

So thank you Nick, thank you David, Pete and Paul, and thank you God for your excellent and indispensable Church Army.

From Nick's own youth club, you can hear Jack's story here:

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Salmon Saturday

Just up the road from the scene of today's military commemoration, also in Old Jamaica Rd, is the Salmon Youth Centre and today was their community open day and AGM.

The public got a chance to see Salmon's wonderful facilities and the equally wonderful staff, volunteers, and young people that make this youth centre the wonderful place it is, open to all, with a warm Christian heart.

Ever since its foundation as the Cambridge University Mission by Pa Salmon in 1906, CUM, and latterly the Salmon Youth Centre, has been a crucial part of the Bermondsey landscape.

Today's meeting was chaired by St James Reader, Adrian Greenwood, Chair of the Trustees, with input from the newly elected President of the 10-13s (seated next to Adrian in the picture on the left), and from former Member of the Year, and Harry, who spoke with great eloquence of all that Salmon and a growing personal Christian faith have meant to him, before bringing us the bible reading for today's meeting.

Every year funding for youth work gets tighter, but Salmon made ends meet this year, thanks to some generous last minute donations, a wonderful provision by God and an answer to prayer.

When you see all that has been achieved, this investment in the lives of Bermondsey's young people is clearly money well spent.

So, long live Salmon!

MEANWHILE at the other end of Bermondsey, it was the Bermondsey Street Festival, and our friends from St Mary Magdalen were out in force, serving delicious Jerk Chicken and Hamburgers in the St Mary's churchyard, with a wonderful concert from the children at St Mary's church school, Boutcher, taking place in the church as we arrived.

The sun was shining and Bermondsey Street was thronged with people in a great community event in this rapidly changing corner of London.

Bermondsey remembers

A military band, the Army cadets, the MP, the Mayor, the Councillors, local clergy, Sir Simon Hughes and lots of veterans, together with members of the public, gathered this morning in brilliant sunshine for the long awaited rededication of the War Memorial in Old Jamaica Rd, to be performed by the Bishop of Southwark.

 When the old military training centre, which stood in Old Jamaica Rd, was demolished, the old war memorial was carefully dismantled, stored, and then, when the new block of flats was built, it was reinstalled in its old location, ready for today's rededication by Bishop Christopher (right).

The names of 970 Bermondsey men who gave their lives in the First World War are inscribed on the monument which was first unveilled in 1921. In addition, there is a separate plaque commememorating those who died in the Second World War and a third plaque, unveilled today by the Mayor of Southwark, commemorating today's rededication of this Grade 2 Listed Monument.

The Deputy Lieutenant, representing the Queen, laid the first wreath
It is good to know that in the midst of all the redevelopment in Bermondsey, this crucial part of our heritage has been remembered and honoured, and that, best of all, we have continued to remember those Bermondsey boys who gave their lives for the nation.

This year, as always, there will be a wreath-laying ceremony at the memorial on Remembrance Sunday at 10am led by St James's clergy.

Part of the guard of honour, those on the right wearing period WW2 uniforms
Finally, a video of today's events, tweeted by Southwark News

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Partying in the churchyard

Day two of our church weekend and we're in St James's churchyard for a united open air service and a talk from, guest speaker for the weekend, Jon Westall (left).

In his fourth talk from the book of 1 Thessalonians, Jon's theme this morning was hope, the ultimate hope that is rooted in God's love and grounded in the death of resurrection of Jesus Christ.

It was great stuff and a fitting conclusion to a wonderful weekend, but it was not yet over.

After three cheers for the Queen on the occasion of her becoming our longest reigning monarch; happy birthday to Daisy, Debbie and Stan;and a rousing rendition of 'How great thou art' to end with; it was time to fire up the barbeque and get dancing, as DJ Danny had just arrived, and the sun had come out, and it was party time in the Churchyard...

Happy birthday to Daisy, Debbie, & Stan - at the end of the service
Dancing to DJ Danny's music - thanks Danny

The Salmon bouncy castle was a great hit with the youngsters

When the church went away

A fleet of cars and the Salmon Youth Centre minibus whisked the members of St James and St Anne's off to St John's, Welling, on the edge of Danson Park, for the first day of our special church weekend.

In the morning we had time to worship and to learn together from God's word, with Jon Westall, vicar of St Dunstan's, East Acton as our speaker
St John's, Welling  
for the weekend. Meanwhile the children had their own activities in the hall.

In the afternoon it was free time in Danson Park with its impressive stately home, extensive grounds, and beautiful lake, followed by a closing act of worship and Jon's third talk of the day, before it was time to return to Bermondsey, after an excellent day of learning, growing in faith, relaxing, and enjoying one another's company.

Danson Park
Debbie, Tracey, Mavis & Linda kept those cuppas flowing

Friday, 11 September 2015

When Raymond Blanc came to Bermondsey

It wasn't just Raymond Blanc, the Mayor of Southwark, the new MP, the old MP, & the Bishop of Woolwich were there too - at the Blue for the launch of the wonderful 'Bermondsey Community Kitchen.'

The project was the brainchild of Mike Donovan, owner of Dun's Deli, and is located upstairs in his premises on the Marketplace at the Blue.

The dream was 'To open a Community Kitchen as a social networking enterprise to teach16-24 year old’s, the unemployed locals to gain a relevant level 2 professional cookery City&Guilds Diploma, with the view of gaining full time work in the catering industry.'

The dream is up and running and has become a reality with the first tranche of trainees already starting work (pictured below wearing the aprons - Mike is third from the left, next to the Mayor).

It's a wonderful testimony to Mike's hard work, vision, and community-mindedness.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Royal celebration

We celebrated today's historic royal milestone at St James School this afternoon with two special assemblies.

We watched a video clip of the Queen's coronation (below). Then we prayed for the Queen. Then the whole school, really lifting the roof,  gave Her Majesty three (VERY LOUD) cheers.

Our gracious Queen

On the day Her Majesty the Queen becomes the longest reigning Sovereign in our nation's history, a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer:

Almighty God, who rulest over all the kingdoms of the world, and dost order them according to thy good pleasure: We yield thee unfeigned thanks, for that thou wast pleased.. to set thy Servant our Sovereign Lady, Queen ELIZABETH, upon the Throne of this Realm. Let thy wisdom be her guide, and let thine arm strengthen her; let truth and justice, holiness and righteousness, peace and charity, abound in her days; direct all her counsels and endeavours to thy glory, and the welfare of her subjects; give us grace to obey her cheerfully for conscience sake, and let her always possess the hearts of her people; let her reign be long and prosperous, and crown her with everlasting life in the world to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Neil at C4T

How these MPs work! It was a short night for for Bermondsey MP, Neil Coyle. Voting in the Commons until 1am, he was with us at Haddon Hall Baptist for a C4T breakfast meeting at 7am.

And he arrived early.

The meeting between Neil and C4T (Christians for Transformation in Bermondsey & Rotherhithe) was suggested by the MP himself to guage reaction to the Assisted Dying bill that is to be debated in Parliament.

We had the opportunity to share our views and Neil said he intended to speak in the debate on Friday.

At the end it was good to spend some time praying for our Member of Parliament and everyone who serves the community in the political sphere. A verse from James 1 seemed particularly relevant: 'if any of you lacks wisdom, you should pray to God, who will give it to you, because God gives generously and graciously to all.'

Sunday, 6 September 2015

London farewell

Great scenes on the Thames tonight as thousands of people crowded both banks of the river to see the Columbian ship, ARC Gloria, one of the largest tall ships in the world, just squeeze through a fully open Tower Bridge, whilst 81 naval cadets, perched on the masts, waved farewell to the city, and the crowd joined the sailors in singing the Columbian national anthem

And the sun shone too

It was all the fun of the fair this afternon at the Biscuit Factory in Bermondsey this afternoon.

The Blue Bid Bermondsey had got together with Grosvenor, the present owners of the old Peek Frean biscuit factory, to put on an old fashioned summer fete, complete with Helter Skelter, swing boats, coconut shies.

Entertainment was provided by various local acts. There was a petting farm (courtesy of Surrey Docks Farm), food, drink, stalls sponsored by several local charities (including City Hope Church), and opportunities to tour the Peek Frean factory museum .

Not only that, but the sun shone, and the crowds came out in force.

It was a really good community event, thanks to the hard work of all the organisers.

The Biscuit Factory