Thursday, 26 May 2016

After Easter with Riverside & St James

We are in the midst of our Schools Week at St James this week.

15 classes of Key Stage 2 children, drawn from two local schools (Riverside and St James's) are visiting us a class at a time for 'What happened after Easter?'

Last year we looked at the events of Holy Week & Easter. This year we are looking at what followed: the Ascension, Pentecost, the mission of the Church.

At each 'station,' children hear a bit about the story and take part in some kind of craft activity. For the Ascension, they made a crown, to remember that Jesus became the king.

For Pentecost, they made a dove, symbolic of the Holy Spirit.

Paul as Paul
At the third station they meet with the Tentmaker-turned-Apostle, Paul (right), appropriately enough - in a tent - to hear how his life was turned round when he met Jesus.

Our own Paul was the Apostle Paul on this occasion, and for the craft activity the children cut out an outline of their hands on coloured paper, and added it to a collage.

This reminded us that Paul's hands which had been turned to evil matters before he met Christ, became good hands, doing God's work.

All together 450 local children will have participated in this project during the course of the week. Brilliant.


Crown making

Monday, 23 May 2016

New signs

It's been a long time coming, but thanks to Southwark Council, our local councillors and the Friends of St James's Churchyard, three smart new noticeboards are going up in the Churchyard.

The one in Thurland Rd has a panel highlighting the historical significance of the church building. The other two (by the Gregorian and the St James's Rd entrance) highlight the Churchyard itself.

All three have room for details of church and community activities, and are rendered in the same shade of heritage green as the church doors.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Double blessing

A double blessing for St James members, Connell and Bukkie - their beautiful twins, Adriel and Ayanna, baptised today, Trinity Sunday.

Meanwhile in both churches we were launching details of our planned celebrations for the Queen's 90th Birthday on 12th June in the Churchyard, and giving out copies of 'The Servant Queen and the King She serves'.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Good news down Rob's street

Our latest Men's Breakfast took place at St James today.

A full cooked breakfast, plus a talk by Rob Barker on 'Birkenhead, born and bred.'

Rob was working in the shipbuilding industry and he was pretty convinced that church wasn't for people like him, but God had other ideas.

It was the baptism of their third child and a course taken in his own home called' Good News Down the Street', that changed Rob's life for good.

From that start he grew as a Christian and ended up serving with Church Army as an evangelist, which he continues to do to this day.

One of the men - first time at the men's breakfast, asked an interesting question.

'Church Army?' he said. 'I've never heard of them. Are they militant?'

According to the Cambridge Dictionary the definition of militant is 'active, determined, and often willing to use force.'

That's not quite Church Army as we know it.

But change it to 'Active, determined, and often willing to use love' and you get a bit closer.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Servant Queen

Over 600,000 copies have already been ordered of the book, The Servant Queen and the King She Serves.

In her own words Her Majesty the Queen explains how her Christian Faith has guided her throughout her life.

This Sunday at St James and St Anne's churches each family will receive a copy of the book (right), plus one to give away to a friend.

Next month at a special service in church for the children of St James's School to celebrate the Queen's Birthday, every child and every member of staff will receive one too.

Click on the video above to find out more about the book - and come to church on Sunday to collect your copy.

Meanwhile, watch out for our Celebration Open Air Service for the Queen's 90th in the Churchyard on Sunday 12th June at 10.30am, followed by a Community Fun Day from 12 noon to 4pm.

It will be a right Royal Bermondsey Celebration.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Pentecost at the cathedral

Our week of prayer for Pentecost came to a wonderful conclusion tonight in Southwark Cathedral with the Diocesan Pentecost Service.

The Kingdom Choir (above) led us in a medley of Gospel songs; Bermondsey resident and Canon Missioner, Stephen Hance, preached a great sermon.

Mick Hough and Sue Clarke (left) from the Diocesan Evangelical Union led the prayers, taking the Lord's Prayer, as their theme; and we heard several stories of excellent mission projects from around the diocese, including the church plant in Kenley which has sprung up under the leadership of Chris Thomson (below), ably assisted by his theologian wife, Donna, and a great team from the church there, including a newly baptised man from that new church who movingly testified to the new life he had found in Christ.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Bermondsey prayer walk

Today as part of our Week of Prayer we had a
prayer walk along the boundaries of our two parishes.

From St James's Church we walked down to the river (the parish boundary goes down the middle of the Thames), and then via West Lane and Southwark Park Rd into St Anne's parish.

After stopping off for refreshments at St Anne's we went back into St James's parish walking along Neckinger to the boundary with St Mary's parish at Dockhead before returning to St James.

 On the way we prayed for the city of London as a whole and its new mayor (looking across the river to the City); for the work amongst elderly and retired people (outside Bluegrove Care Home - above); for Fresh Expressions of church outside St Crispin's, and for schools, outside the City of London Academy (left).

Whilst all this was going on, St James's Church was being got ready for Tim and Florence's wedding this afternoon.

And the sun came out just in time.

Every blessing to you both as you begin married life together.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Week of prayer

We are well into our week of prayer as part of the Archbishops' prayer initiative, Thy Kingdom Come.

Last night we had a really good prayer meeting led by Jos, today and tomorrow we have private prayer, and on Saturday we have a kind of 'beating the bounds' - we will be walking around the boundaries of our two parishes, praying for the people of Bermondsey as we go.

Here is another of the videos produced about the week of prayer, encouraging Christians to pray for their friends.

Pray for 5 frineds-HD from Thy kingdom come on Vimeo.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Joy in the prison

It was a bumper service at St James today with two families bringing their babies for baptism, another family coming for a thanksgiving for the birth of child, the launch of the Archbishops' Week of Prayer, with special greetings to Connell and Bukkie, there for the first time since the birth of their twins, and Florence and Tim, to be married in St James on Saturday.

For the sermon we acted out the dramatic events of Acts 16 (left): Paul and Silas in prison, singing hymns; the earthquake and their chains falling off; the terror of the jailer when he thought that the prisoners had escaped; and the joy that comes to the prison when he, and his whole family, believe and are baptised.

We sang hymns with Paul and Silas; thanks to the wonder of the internet, we heard the deep rumble of an earthquake; two children, representing the apostles were imprisoned behind the communion gates (- and later set free); and half the church chanted the jailer's question, What must I do to be saved?, while the other shouted back the reply: Believe in the Lord Jesus and youi shall be saved - you and all your family.''

On a day when two families had brought their children for baptism, it was good to be reminded that God is concerned for families, that the promise to the jailer wasn't just to him, but to his whole family, and that the crucial thing they had to do to be saved, was to believe in the Lord Jesus.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Bevin boy goes to City Hall

Congratulations to London's new mayor, Sadiq Khan.

The MP for Tooting went to Ernest Bevin School in the early 80s at the same time that I was a science teacher there.

I'm not sure that he ever had the dubious benefit of my teaching but the Bevin boy has done good and is a credit to his old school.

We wish him well in his new responsibilities in the Capital.

Ernest Bevin School, Tooting

Thy kingdom come

Tomorrow is the beginning of a special national week of prayer called by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.

In the week leading up to Pentecost, the day the Holy Spirit came, churches all over the country will be joining in special prayer events.

You can see what is planned for St James and St Anne's in Bermondsey here. And here is the video, featuring the Archbishop of Canterbury, launching the project:

Thy Kingdom Come - Archbishop Justin Invites You To Take Part-HD from Thy kingdom come on Vimeo.

Friday, 6 May 2016

St James's history man

It's been sitting on the church history section of my bookshelves for many years.

It's something of a classic, written in 1908, and constantly referred to by historians who are wanting to chart the life and witness of the evangelical wing of the Church of England.

A peek inside to the title page (below) reveals the Bermondsey connection.

The author, G.R. Balleine, was vicar of St James, Bermondsey from 1908 until his retirement in 1938. Prior to that he worked for the Church Pastoral Aid Society, a home mission agency that I myself have been involved with for many years.

Church life flourished under Balleine's ministry. There were no less than ten Sunday schools, a large team of curates and Lay Readers, three mission halls, and a Wednesday evening service for children illustrated by the latest piece of technology, the Magic Lantern.

On the first page of a new style parish magazine, Cheerio, the Vicar laid out the four aims of the church, as he saw it: (1) to bind us together in brotherhood; (2) to proclaim Christ's message; (3) to provide opportunities for united worship; (4) to do God's will.

Readers at 150

From Twitter a photo of some of the Readers (Church of England lay preachers) from Southwark with Bishop Michael at All Souls, Langham Place, for a service to mark the 150th anniversary of the reintroduction of Reader ministry in the Church of England.

Good to see Bermondsey Reader, Penny, representing St James and St Anne's.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

With you always

It was one of the founders of St James's Church who left a bequest for a painting for the east wall of the church on the theme of the 'Ascension of Our Saviour.'

It has been there since 1844 and has inspired generations of Bermondsey people with its message about the ascension and reign of Christ.

Today is Ascension Day and it was good to gather for an informal service of Holy Communion, presided over, so to speak, by artist John Wood's depiction of the Ascension.

Later a text was added to the picture - from Matthew's account of the ascension - rendered in the King James Version: 'Lo, I am with you alway.'

The full text from Matthew 28 reads as follows: ' Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.'

The message is clear: go and make disciples and I will be with you. 

That's a great message for the church to hear and see every time it gathers for worship in St James's, as it did tonight.