Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Dr Salter's dream

Exercise walk along the river, stopping off at the Salter statues, and deeply thankful for their lives and witness.

They knew what it was like to live through an epidemic in a day when most infectious diseases were untreatable. They knew what it was like because their beloved 9 year old, Joyce, died of Scarlet Fever while they lived in Bermondsey.

But they devoted themselves to the people of the area for nearly 50 years: Alfred as the GP and then the MP, Ada as the first women mayor of the borough and the chair and founder of the Bermondsey Beautification Committee.

All their work was undergirded by their Christian faith and their dream of a better Bermondsey. How good they are remembered, and what an example they have set for us.


Bermondsey Daily Message 8

Monday, 30 March 2020

For such a time as this

Moldovan believers worshipping in the open air, scrupulously keeping their social distance:

Bermondsey Daily Message 7

It was a bit blowy in the vicarage garden when I filmed this one, so a bit of wind disturbance, soon to be dealt with when we get our new mics up and running. In the meantime, you could treat it as an authentic Sea of Galilee-style sound effect.

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Livestreaming week 2

With church buildings all now closed because of the Coronavirus, we had to move into the Vicarage for our service today, keeping social distance.

You can view the service here

Here is the song we are recommending for before you listen to the service: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ca9LnzJnpjQ

and here is the one for after:

Friday, 27 March 2020

Guiding the city

Pictured on Tower Bridge, the coat of arms of the City of London, with the City's motto 'Domine dirige nos,' which means 'Lord, guide us' or 'Lord, direct us.'

It is good to be reminded that the motto of our Capital city is a prayer for the Lord's guidance - especially at the present time of national crisis.

This may be just the moment for us all to turn afresh to the creator and sustainer of the whole universe and say 'Lord, guide us; Lord, direct us in your ways.'

Bermondsey Daily Message 5

Thursday, 26 March 2020

God bless the NHS

There was a huge turnout in our area tonight in support of the NHS.

As the clock of St James struck eight, Thurland Rd errupted with applause, people banging pots and pans, and cheering  for our hard-pressed, dedicated, and  courageous healthcare workers of the NHS.

What a great way of saying thankyou' and 'God bless the NHS.'

Bermondsey Daily Message 4

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Bermondsey Daily Message 3

Here is the third of our Bermondsey Daily Messages.

Please note this video was recorded at the weekend, before the Prime Minister's address to the nation on Monday night and his announcement of new restrictions on movement and travel.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Bells ring out

Sadly our bellringers have had to cease ringing on Sunday morning because of the Coronavirus, but to inaugurate our first livestreamed service on Sunday, two of our bellringers (a couple) performed a special style of bellringing with two just people ringing all eight bells.

Amazing. Well done and thank you. Here it is

Bermondsey Daily Message 2

Here is the second of our Bermondsey Daily Messages.

Please note this video was recorded at the weekend, before the Prime Minister's address to the nation last night and the announcement of new restrictions on movement and travel.

Monday, 23 March 2020

Bermondsey Daily Message 1

Here is the first of our Bermondsey Daily Messages, which we hope to post each day from locations around Bermondsey.

Enjoy it and pass it on to your friends.

It was a bit windy down the Blue when we filmed this so apologies for the sound interference - hopefully a new, higher spec microphone, arriving tomorrow, will solve this problem.

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Livestream 1

Lots of appreciative comments for our first livestreamed service today.

It felt very strange speaking to a camera in an empty church, but we were also quite conscious that though we are physically separated we are united spiritually in Christ as we come to worship.

Apologies to anyone who experienced technical difficulties in handling Facebook - we are working on some more help with this one for next week.

If you missed the service, or want to see it again you can view it now here.

Watch out tomorrow for our first Bermondsey Daily Message, filmed on location around our two parishes, that will be posted here each day.

Finally, God bless everyone, and, especially on this their special day, all mums. 

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Beautiful words for Bermondsey

We were out this morning filming the first three of our Bermondsey Daily Messages in locations around Bermondsey: at the Blue, on the Lucey Way estate, and outside the Queen Victoria pub.

Our aim is that everyday during the Coronavirus outbreak, starting on Monday, we can  put online a 3 or 4 minute daily message, subtitled 'Beautiful Words from the Beautiful Book', filmed on location around Bermondsey, with an encouraging message from God's word and a prayer for the people of Bermondsey.

Look out for the first Bermondsey Daily Message this Monday - on this blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Meanwhile, don't forget to join us for our Mothering Sunday Family Service which will be livestreamed tomorrow at 10.30am at our Facebook page:

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Livestreaming St James & St Anne's

During the Coronavirus crisis, our Sunday service at St James & St Anne's will be livestreamed every Sunday at 10.30am at:

Just click on the link above to watch the service on your PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone.

If you can't conveniently watch it at 10.30am, don't worry because the service will remain on the church Facebook page for you to watch when you are able.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Today's announcement

Today the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have written to all clergy saying the time has come to put public worship on hold until further notice.

You can read their letter here

This means there will be no public service on Sunday at St James or St Anne's for the time being, nor will there be Wednesday Night Church.

However, we hope that we can livestream a service from St James every Sunday at 10.30am so that members of the congregation can worship in their own homes online.

We will have further details of this soon.

In the meantime we pray for each other and we pray for the nation.

Saturday, 14 March 2020

Men's breakfast

There was a good turn out for today's men's breakfast at St James.

Neil (pictured centre) was the speaker our speaker.

Like Paul, he works for Church Army and, like Paul, he comes from Weymouth in Dorset.

In fact, they have known each other since they were small boys.

Neil came from a broken family but at the age of 18 he came to know the love of God for him personally. That changed everything he knew about love and family and that was a big part of what he shared today, as he encouraged us to be embraced and changed by the power of God's love.

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Southwark Park Primary

Today we welcomed 57 year one children from Southwark Park Primary School to St James.

The children enjoyed climbing up into the gallery to get a full view of the church and to see the organ.

Back on the ground floor we saw how a baptism is done, before descending to the crypt to the spaces where families sheltered from wartime bombing.

They were an enthusiastic bunch and it was great to welcome this, the latest class from Southwark Park Primary to visit the church.

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Farewell to Angel

Today we laid Angel to rest, as a large congregation gathered at the cemetery from her family, from St James School, and from the healthcare organisations which had cared for.

We heard some of her favourite pieces of music and sung one of her favourite songs, 'He's got the whole world in his hands.'

Her stepfather spoke movingly of the special girl who won your heart when you met her, and of the deep Christian faith that has sustained him and her.

Mrs Willis, our headteacher, spoke of all that Angel had contributed to the school and enjoyed in school

Her family asked for Revelation 21.1-6 to be read with its wonderful words about the day when death, mourning crying and pain have been abolished, and when the Lord will wipe away every tear from his people's eyes.

In my sermon I said (1) We mustn't measure her life by its length but by its depth, its joy and its love; (2)We mustn't forget that Angel is with Jesus, in his safe keeping forvever: (3) We mustn't forget the end of the story - the new heaven and new earth, the day when the Lord makes everything new and wipes the tears from our eyes: (4) We mustn't forget that the Living Lord Jesus speaks to us and invites us 'to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.' (Revelation 1.6).

In her last days Angel told her step father she was ready to go home. Now she is in the Father's house - forever.

I left thankful for Angel's life, thankful for her faith and thankful for the promises of the Gospel - and  so thankful for all the loving care of the staff of St James's school that made school such a happy place for Angel to be.

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, and we gathered at lunchtime at St Mary Magdalen for our traditional service of Holy Communion for St Mary's, St James, and St Anne's churches, the three churches which together make up the Bermondsey Group Ministry.

A good congregation from all three churches gathered together to hear the Lent readings, to pray, to sing, to take Holy Communion and to receive the sign of the cross in ash on our foreheads, as the words 'turn from your sins and believe the good news' were said to each of us.

As begin our journey through Lent to the great celebration of our faith at Easter, the words of one of the hymns seemed particularly appropriate:

Saviour, breathe forgiveness o'er us,
All our weaknesses Thou dost know,
Thou didst tread this earth before us,
Thou didst feel its keenest woe,
Tempted, taunted, yet undaunted,
Through the desert Thou didst go.

Monday, 24 February 2020

Remembering Angel

The opening Powerpoint slide for today's service in church

Just before school broke up for half term, we heard that Angel from year 5, had died after a long illness.

Teachers broke the news to the children on that day and led their classes in a prayer of thanksgiving for Angel's life, and today all the classes from years 3 to 6 came to church first thing this morning for a service to remember Angel.

We thanked God for Angel's life and all that she brought to our school. We prayed for her family. We sang 'Kum ba yah' (come by here, Lord) and listened to a version of the Lord's My Shepherd.

We heard from Mark's Gospel how Jesus said 'let the children come to me and do not try to stop them.' Although, we were sad that Angel was no longer with us, we realised we could be confident that she was safe with Jesus forever - and that was a good note to end on as we returned to school and the coming half term.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Lakeside view

An elegant new addition to Southwark Park, the cafe by the lake, is now open to the public:

You can see more about the new building here

Monday, 17 February 2020

Joyslide update

The latest edition of the Bermondsey and Rotherhithe Community Magazine has a full page article about the Joyslide project.

See the article below or to view the whole magazine in its online edition, click here


Thursday, 13 February 2020

Imagine a world...

Last week our curate, Jacob, took part in a week long mission event at Leeds University (left) and three other colleges.

Jacob was leading the lunchtime events which included a free lunch, talk on subjects such as 'Imagine if pain wasn't pointless,' Imagine a world with no climate crisis,' and 'Imagine a government without all the politics', followed by a question and answer session.

Evening events followed every day, with more food, with live performances by Christian students, an interview, and a talk about following Jesus, with follow up events organised for those who expressed an interest in finding out more about the Christian faith. 

Lots of people came to the events. the Christian students worked well together, many prayers were answered, and the news from Leeds is that there was a really good turnout at the first follow up event which took place this week.

We're looking forward to hearing more about it all from Jacob this Sunday. 

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Synod observer

The General Synod of the Church of England, comprising bishops, clergy and laity from across the country, is meeting in Westminster this week from Monday to Thursday.

There is a full and varied agenda which includes debates on the relationship of the Channel Islands to the rest of the Church of England, clergy well-being, the governance of cathedrals, human sexuality, the Windrush legacy, safeguarding, the climate emergency, paupers' funerals, children and youth ministry, diocesan boards of education, synod elections, legal aid reform, and the church's effectiveness at communicating with those who live in disavantaged communities.

All this is interspersed with times of prayer and worship, and a refreshing cuppa in the synodical tea room .

Synod meets next in July in York and that is the end of its five year term (or quinquenium). Elections will follow and a new synod will be opened by the Queen in November.

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Transforming love

Fernando (left) was the speaker at our Men's Breakfast today at St James.

I first met Fernando when he was working for the London City Mission in Bermondsey.

Currently he is a student pastor at Holy Trinity, Brompton, whilst training for the ordained ministry of the Church of England - as part of which he is currently doing a placement at St James. In the summer, God willing, he will be ordained at St Paul's Cathedral.

Today Fernando told us his story.  When he was born his mother was in prison for drugs offences. As a teenager he got into drugs himself, and drug dealing himelf, and spent some time in prison.

It was the man who came up to him and said 'Fernando, God loves you and has a plan for your life' that set him on a journey that involved rehab, some relapses along the way, and a growing understanding of who Jesus was and what he had done for him, that changed his life.

Fernando knows what it is to be a criminal in the dock facing a judge. Every criminal hopes the judge will be lenient but the judge has to be just, said Fernando. He discovered that Jesus is the judge who stands in the place of criminals (all of us) and bears our punishment, giving us new life.

That's why Fernando wants to give his life telling others about the amazing love of Jesus that transformed his life and can transform any life.

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Including all

Each year the clergy of the Woolwich Episcopal Area (our third of the diocese) gather for a study day.

This year's event at St Lawrence, Catford had a special focus on disability and including every one, of all abilities, in the life of the church.

We heard from a number of excellent speakers, including a number who were themselves living with disabilities, had a good chance to catch on with old friends, enjoyed a delicious meal, and had the opportunity to greet Bishop Karowei, at present recovering from illness.

It was a good day with much food for thought.

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Having your say

So we've done it. We have brexited.

BermondseyVicar is a non-political blog so I haven't commented on the referendum and the months of debate and controversy that have followed it or the ones that preceded it.

In Bermondsey itself there are remainers and Brexitteers and the borough as a whole, like the whole of London, has been firmly on the remain side.

A class analysis of voting across London and Bermondsey would be interesting, because there is a lot of evidence that working class people are particularly well-represented nationally amongst  Brexiteers. Here's the bit that really troubles me: they have been particularly singled out to be insulted, mocked, and patronised for their decision.

It has been suggested that there were either mislead, misguided, or simply too thick to come up with the 'right' answer.

That's what I find offensive:  the denigration of millions of working class people who have as much right to express their views as anyone else.

Back here in Bermondsey, when I went to cast my vote in 2016 there was a family in front of me: mum, dad, and two teenage kids. They looked like a typical Bermondsey family. 

Of course, I have no way of knowing how any of them voted, but what struck me was their quiet dignity and their determination to have their say. They knew they had as much right to vote as anyone else. And they knew that their vote counted as much as anyone else's.

The Government had asked them their views and they were giving them.

There's one thing that Christians should love about referenda;  every single person, made in the image of God, counts, and everyone gets exactly one vote. I love that biblical equality.

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Estates evangelism

To Launde Abbey (left), a retreat house in Leicestershire,  for a two day meeting of the national Church of England estates evangelism project.

An estate parish is described as one with more than 500 units of social housing.

They are reckoned to be 2,500 such parishes in England, of which 185 are in the Diocese of Southwark (the second highest number in the Church of England).

The goal of the estates evangelism initiative is to have a living, worshipping, Christian presence on every social housing estate in the country.

The goal of the two-day meeting at Launde was to draw together partner organisations, represents from the dioceses with the highest number of estates, and members of the project's task group, to review progress and make plans for the future.

The residential ended with each member making a personal commitment to the work of sharing the good news with the people of the estates in our country.

Saturday, 11 January 2020

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

To the Bridge Theatre in the shadow of Tower Bridge for a magical production based on CS Lewis's novel, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Brilliantly transferred to the stage, the production tells the story of the four child WW11 evacueess who enter through a wardrobe into  Narnia, a land  under the evil rule of the White Witch, in which it is forever winter but never Christmas.

The children encounter Aslan, the lion, the true king of Narnia who is once again on the move.

When Susan, the older girl, first hears that Aslan is a lion, she is afraid and asks 'Is he safe?' Mr Beaver memorably replies: 'Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He is the king I tell you.'

The story unfolds with betrayal, an innocent victim who gives his life for others, the death of the king, his resurrection, and the children reigning over a renewed Narnia where Spring has come, and those who have been turned to stone by the Witch, come back to life as the lion breathes upon them.

Sounds familiar? To anyone who has read the Bible, this is the best story ever told, transposed to the world of Narnia by CS Lewis, and brilliant retold by the Bridge Theatre.

Here's the trailer for the production which is on  until 2nd February:

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

St James's at the Tate

Steve McQueen's exhibition, A Portrait of London, is based on the idea of capturing a class photo of every year 3 child from the Capital's 2,410 primary schools.

The exhibition is on at Tate Britain until 3rd May and admission is free.

Included in the exhibition are the four year 3 classes from our very own St James's School.

If you want to view them at the Tate they are in section 18 of the exhibition which takes up the whole of the central section of the ground floor of the gallery.

Here are the St James's classes:

Here's the trailer for the exhibition:

An here's just one wall of the exhibition:

Monday, 6 January 2020

Back to school

St James's School started back from the Christmas holidays today with a beginning of term service in church for the Feast of the Epiphany.

We heard the story of the three wise men (left) , and the two kings: Herod and Jesus, as told by Matthew 2.1-12.

We sung some carols for the last time and the children, divided into two teams, took part in an Epiphany quiz on the events described by Matthew.

It was a great start to the beginning of term. Happy New Year everyone and have a great term.

Epiphany quizzing

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Into the New Year

Eighty years ago, in his Christmas Day broadcast to the nation in the first year of the Second World War, King George VI quoted from a poem, The Gate of the Year, which had been given to him by his thirteen year old daughter (our present queen).

As we enter a new year, and a new decade, the words of 'the Gate of the Year' speak again to us:

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way