Wednesday, 31 July 2019

St Anne's 150th Celebrations coming up..

And if you ever wondered how our forebears worshipped when St Anne's first opened, join us for WORSHIP 1869 STYLE on Sunday 1st September at St Anne's at 10am, as we begin our week of celebrations.

Friday, 26 July 2019

Just out

Just out: our new History of St James Church, Bermondsey.

Copies are available for £2 from the Church Office or after church on Sunday.

Alternatively, you can download your own copy for free here

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Celebrating 150 years

The banners are up and St Anne's is getting ready for its 150th anniversary celebrations, which will culminate with a Service of Thanksgiving on St Anne's Day, Sunday 8th September.

On the day before, Saturday 7th September, St Anne's will be hosting a Community Fun Day in the church grounds with a Buckaroo, coconut shies, barbeque, DJ, face painters, sideshows, ice cream van, fire engine, badge-making, bellringing and much more besides.

It will be a great weekend of rejoicing and thanksgiving for our community, which has had St Anne's at its heart for more than 150 years.

Sunday, 21 July 2019


Three church families, including our own curate, Jacob, brought their young sons for baptism this morning at St James.

Every blessing to Maxwell, Felix, and Zola as they 'fight valiantly as a disciple of Christ against sin, the world and the devil, and remain faithful to Christ to the end of (their) lives.'

Saturday, 20 July 2019


John Casson (left) was the speaker at today's men's breakfast in St James.

After a spell at 10 Downing Street as foreign policy advisor to David Cameron, the Prime Minister, John went to Cairo to be the British Ambassador to Egypt.

Now returned to the UK and Bermondsey, he is taking some time out to pray, to reflect, and to discover God's leading for the next phase of his life.

Referring to Romans 12.2 about being 'transformed by the renewing of your mind,' John spoke about all that he had been learning about finding space and opportunity to be more the person God was calling him to be. He focussed on three main points: stillness, awareness, and rest.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Harry's Bermondsey placement

For the last two weeks we have greatly enjoyed having Harry Frost on placement with us in Bermondsey.

Harry is a Southwark ordinand who is training for the ministry at Cranmer Hall in Durham and he came to Bermondsey for a two-week placement, looking at the work of an inner city parish.

During his time with us he participated in schools assemblies, Sunday services (preaching on his last Sunday), Bermondsey Brew, Bible Zone, Ready Steady Grow, the school prayer meeting, afternoon fellowship, the school leavers service at Southwark Cathedral, the Bermondsey Carnival, the Deanery Chapter lunch, Wednesday night church, the ordinations held in St James, and he had a fascinating guided tour of Albins, our local funeral directors.

He met lots of people, toured both parishes, and threw himself into everything.

We enjoyed having him here and we wish him well for the rest of his training and we look forward to seeing where God guides him in the future.

One of the more unusual aspects of his placement was lunch at Lambeth Palace - we do like to offer classy placements here in Bermondsey.

We were attending a reception organised by the Church Pastoral Aid Society, so Harry got to hear about the work of CPAS, as well as administering Holy Communion, alongside the archbishop, in the palace chapel.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Farewell to year 6

Last day of term at St James's School today and the whole school came to church for our leavers' service.

The year 6 leavers shared their memories of St James, sang to us (above), and received a photobook of the children in the year and a Bible, presented by Bishop Graham.

The Junior Faith Group led the prayers and Paul spoke about the Apollo moon landings and the God who made the earth, the moon, and the whole universe, who is with you wherever you go.

It was a great end of the school year. Have a good holiday everyone, God bless our leaving children and departing teachers and, everyone else, we look forward to  seeing you in September.

Finally, here our leavers singing to the whole school:

Tuesday, 16 July 2019


Wimbledon champion, Novak Djokovic, is on record of saying 'before I am an athlete, I am an Orthodox Christian.'

He regularly invokes the name of Christ during meetings and does the sign of the cross when he plays.

It is reported that he has received an award from his home church for his philanthropic work in Serbia which includes funding a free restaurant for the homeless and poor.

He is a famous and successful athlete who has a real faith that works itself out in acts of charity and compassion, and in his sporting prowess, he glorifies God

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Sharing the good news

When we travelled to Sheffield in 1999 to see our new Church Army evangelist commissioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury to serve on the St Helier estate in south London where I was the vicar, I never dreamed that twenty years later we would be sharing a meal, together with our wives, in the shadow of Tower Bridge, celebrating a partnership in the Gospel that began in St Helier and, wonderfully in the plan of God, has continued in Bermondsey.

It's amazing to think twenty years have gone so quickly but its been good to thank God for those years, to thank God for Paul and Mandy and to thank God for Church Army, that amazing Good News organisation in our Church that does so much to bring the Gospel to the people of Britain.

What I particularly remember from the two services we attended in Sheffield was at the second one at the Church Army College, the candidates knelt to sign their contract.

At a time when clergy were becoming a bit choosy and picky about where they served, it seemed to me that the Church Army were standing for something more - sacrifice, commitment, laying your life before the Lord.

I have noticed that quality in a lot of CA staff, alongside a great passion for the lost and for the outsider (and those who live in the tougher, less glamorous places), and that's why I love the CA so much.

More ordination photos

Some more photos of Saturday's ordination, thanks to Harry:

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Synod observer

To the University of York (above) for the July meetings of General Synod, the Church of England's 'parliament'.

Synod began its five day session on Friday but I was only there from Sunday afternoon because of the ordinations on Saturday hosted by St James.

Before a convivial supper with the Southwark reps on Sunday night (left), there was a Southwark moment, when a motion that orginally came from Battersea Deanery on helping refugees, was brilliantly presented by our own Nicholas Lebey. The Southwark motion was amended, widening its scope, then passed by a large majority.

Synod began on Monday with Morning Prayer, followed by a first look at a new Measure (i.e. a law passed by General Synod) which will enable our cathedrals to be governed more effectively, and then the approval for new rules which will simplify the administration of faculties (a sort of ecclediastical planning permission).

After lunch we turned to matters financial, hearing of plans to use the Church's money for the best possible effect on its mission, agreeing the budget for the Archbishops Council, and authorising expenditure of £47millions for central church costs, including training of new clergy.

Next up was a presentation on the fifteenth anniversary of the Mission Shaped Church report and the many thousands of fresh expressions of church that have come into being during that time. Exciting stuff.

After all that excitement there was just time to consider the '55th Report of the Standing Order Committee' (ie all about the rules for governing synod) before Supper and the end of the synodical day. How we have enjoyed all their reports! The 56th report could be a classic.

Tuesday began with an uplifting act of worship led by the singers and musicians of St Michel-le-Belfrey in York.

First up, was a debate about the report 'Setting God's People' and its focus on 24/7 discipleship for all God's people. Many good contributions and positive things being said.

Next was a bit more legislative business including simplifying the procedures for filling a clergy vacancy, followed by a very moving debate about Anna Chaplaincy. It takes its name from the 84 year old prophetess who witnessed the presentation of the baby Jesus in the Temple. It is part of a movement to provide chaplaincy, care, love, and welcome to older people in general, and dementia sufferers, in particular. Very powerful and very moving.

Farewells followed, and, after a closing prayer from the Archbishop of York, we headed home.

Synod meets again in February - in London.

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Ordained today

St James hosted today the ordination to the priesthood/presbyterate of five curates from the Woolwich Episcopal Area, including our very own Jacob Mercer.

Bishop Christopher, assisted by Bishop Karowei, the Bishop of Woolwich, led the service which included music from an expanded singing group led by Roger, and the organ played by Nick.

A veritable swarm of clergy. including the candidates, their training incumbents, and the other priests who laid hands on them at the ordination, descended on St James (above).

It was wonderful to host this joyful service, which spilled over into the Churchyard afterwards for photos and refreshments.

This was the second ordination for our curates. Last year they were ordained at Southwark Cathedral as deacons, this year there were ordained in the three episcopal areas of the diocese as priests.

Tomorrow, as a result of today's service, Jacob will preside at Holy Communion for the first time at St James, and next Sunday he will do the same at St Anne's.

'Priest are called to be servants and shepherds among the people to whom they are sent' says the Ordination Service.

'They are to proclaim the word of the Lord.....They are to be messengers, watchmen and stewards of the search for his children in the wilderness of this world's temptations, and to guide them through its confusions, that they may be saved through Christ for ever.'

We pray for Jacob, Timmy, Chris, Raymond and Christopher as they seek to do this in the power of the Holy Spirit.

One nice touch was the goody-bag provided by the Diocesan vocations team for children, which included a kind of ordained teddy bear  as a souvenir of the occasion:

Tuesday, 2 July 2019


Wow! Time flies. I can hardly believe it but today is the 30th anniversary of my ordination in Southwark Cathedral.

New Rev outside the Cathedral, 1989
Happy memories today of St Luke's, West Norwood, where I was curate, of the parishes of St Helier and Holy Trinity, Redhill, where I have been vicar, of my present churches of St James and St Anne's, of my training vicar, Peter Ronayne, of many  colleagues and curates, and of the many friends from all those whose churches and of all the things we have shared together.

I think it was the News of the World that had the slogan 'all human life is here.' It's like that in the ordained ministry - you share with people their very best and very worst times, their greatest successes, their disappointments, their secrets, their greatest fears, and their greatest hopes - and what is privilege that is.

And the best of all, those moments when the penny drops, the eyes of the blind are opened, and people step from death to life by the grace of God.

The Ordination Service says 'Because you cannot bear the weight of this ministry in your own strength but only by the grace and power of God, pray earnestly for his Holy Spirit. Pray that he will each day enlarge and enlighten your understanding of the Scriptures, so that you may grow stronger and more mature in ministry, as you fashion your life and the lives of your people on the word of God.'

That's a good prayer to come back to today and it's a good prayer for all of us as we seek to share the 'unsearchable riches of Christ.'