Saturday, 21 November 2020

Getting ready for carols


We've been out this week filming for our online Community Carol Service. Pictured above is Bermondsey MP, Neil Coyle, reading our first reading from Isaiah, and below is Karen Willis, Headteacher of St James's School reading from Luke's Gospel.

Also featured on the video are Simon Dyer of FA Albins, Councillor Eliza Mann, and Russell Dryden of the Blue. The video can be seen on our YouTube channel from 12th December.

Bermondsey Daily Message 182

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Bermondsey Daily Message for Armistice Day


Our Bermondsey Daily Message for Armistice Day comes from the Young Men's Bible Class memorial inside St James's Church:

Tuesday, 10 November 2020

School Assembly for Armistice Day

 Normally speaking the children of St James's School would come to the church for Armistice Day. We can't do that this year, but each class will be able to join in tomorrow with our video church assembly for Armistice:

Sunday, 8 November 2020

Lest we forget

 Different from usual, but still the opportunity to remember and give thanks:



Sunday, 1 November 2020

Bermondsey in bloom

 Nearly 100 years ago Ada Salter began her Bermondsey Beautification campaign and thousands of bulbs and trees were planted all over the area. 
This weekend, in celebration of the centenary, 10,000 tulip bulbs have been planted across Bermondsey - including after church today in St James's Churchyard (above) by members of the congregation - all part of the Greener Bermondsey #Ada100 project.
Shown below are some scenes of the churchyard in full bloom, thanks to Ada.

 The Observer wrote in 1931 “Outside the Royal Parks it would be difficult to find anywhere such masses of colour… when the tulips and daffodils are over they will be followed by armies of dahlias, geraniums and antirrhinums.” 

The Evening Standard wrote that Bermondsey was “the most optimistic place in London. Because of the flowers…”. It became a place where window boxes and front gardens were filled with daisies and chrysanthemums, and factory girls wore flowers pinned to their coats. ‘Flowers in Bermondsey are not a decoration but a symbol.”


Roll on the Spring when Bermondsey will once again be in bloom.

 Ada Salter

Today's service

Saturday, 24 October 2020

South London Sketch

The London School Board buildings, designed by E.R. Robson, of which Alexis Street is one, feature in this poem by John Betjeman which also mentions Bermondsey.
 South London Sketch by John Betjeman
From Bermondsey to Wandsworth
So many churches are,
Some with apsidal chancels,
Some Perpendicular
And schools by E.R. Robson
In the style of Norman Shaw
Where blue-serged adolescence learn'd
To model and to draw.

Oh, in among the houses,
The viaduct below,
Stood the Coffee Essence Factory
Of Robinson and Co.
Burnt and brown and tumbled down
And done with years ago
Where the waters of the Wandle do
Lugubriously flow.

From dust of dead explosions
From scarlet-hearted fires,
All unconcerned this train draws in
And smoothly that retires
And calmly rise on smoky skies
Of intersected wires
The Nonconformist spirelets
And the Church of England spires.


E.R. Robson 1836-1917

Bermondsey Daily Message 168

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Lighthouse on Alexis Street

Discover the remarkable story of the Alexis Street premises of St James's school, the vision of the architect, and the message that this building has conveyed for 144 years - in today's Bermondsey Daily Message:

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Getting ready for Remembrance

Today we continued to film for our Bermondsey Community Remembrance Service, with a call to the UK Homes for Heroes day centre in Rotherhithe, to hear from Pearly King and Queen, Jimmy and Michelle, about their charity's amazing work among homeless ex-servicemen. 

Their love and commitment to the people they call their boys is truly amazing and heartwarming. Find out more when the video comes out over the weekend  of 7th/8th November or pop over to their website

Another aspect of the care for military families, this time in the case of bereavement, was the theme of our visit ealier in the week to interview Jon Dyer at FA Albins about their repatriation work for the Ministry of Defence, when members of the British Armed Forces die overseas.

This work which involves great care, tact and compassion will also feature in our Remembrance video special.

Saturday, 10 October 2020

Arise, Sir Tommy

A real Bermondsey hero has today been awarded a knighthood by the Queen. 

Here is the young Tommy Steele signing autographs outside his house in the shadow of St James Church. The houses are long gone but the block of flats in Frean Street that replaces them, Hicks House, bears Tommy's (real) family name. 

Congratulations, Sir Tommy, from everyone in Bermondsey.

Bermondsey Daily Message 161

Thursday, 1 October 2020

Teachers praised

 Good article in Southwark News about last week's events at St James's School. You can read it here

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

The Vicar of mirth


Great article in the South London Press by local historian, Graham Taylor, about George Balleine, vicar of St James from 1908 to 1938. You can read Graham's article 'Vicar of Mirth Who Died with a Smile' here

Bermondsey Daily Message 156

Saturday, 26 September 2020

Thursday, 24 September 2020

Troubling times

On Wednesday just at the time that children were leaving school at Alexis St there was a very serious incident just by the school which involved a young man being shot

We're very proud of St James's School and the teachers who moved quickly  to herd children and parents back into school following the shooting and a car driving at speed down a narrow residential road.

Yesterday we visited every class to pray with the children and then, at playtime individual children had the opportunity to come and talk with us about their fears and concerns - quite a number did so and we talked with them and prayed with them individually and in groups. 

All had seen the ambulances, police cars, the helicopter, the armed response police, many had seen the injured man, and they had all heard the gunshots. 

 It was good to reassure them they were safe in school. It was good to pray for all involved.  

Here is Jacob's Bermondsey Daily Message where he shares what he told the children and what God's word says to us in troubling times

Friday, 18 September 2020

Life in a pandemic


I've been reading these novels alongside each other, one from the 18th century by Daniel Defoe, one from the 20th by Albert Camus. Both explore life in a pandemic. 

Neither could be recommended if you're wanting to cheer yourself up, but they are full of so many insights and points of contact with our current experience.
This from Camus is particularly powerful:
 'A pestilence isn't a thing made to man's measure; therefore we tell ourselves that pestilence is a mere bogey of the mind, a bad dream that will pass away. But it doesn't pass away and, from one bad dream to another, it is men who pass away.....
Our townspeople were not more to blame than others, they
forgot to be modest - that was all - and thought that everything was still possible for them; which presupposed that pestilences were impossible. 

 They went on doing business, arranged for journeys, and formed views. How should they have given a thought to anything like a plague, which rules out any future, cancels journeys, silences the exchange of views? 
They fancied themselves free, and no one will ever be free so long as there are pestilences.'

Bermondsey Daily Message 150

 Wow! We have reached our 150th Bermondsey Daily Message:

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Get ready for the Bermondsey harvest festival

Today we have been out filming for our online Bermondsey Community Harvest Festival which will go live on YouTube during the first weekend in October.

From Russell's fish stall at the Blue, to Maltby Greek under the arches, to Nancy's flower shop in Jamaica Rd, to all the things we buy and enjoy from the local supermarkets, like the Co-Op in Thurland Rd, all the benefits of God's wonderful harvest will be celebrated in our online harvest festival.

Harvest is also a time, not just for giving thanks, but also for sharing and this year, as every year, we will be collecting non-perishable foods for the work of the Manna Society at London Bridge in its work among homeless people - so our last visit was to Manna to speak to the director, Bandi Mbubi.

I first got to know Bandi in 1991 when, soon after he became a Christian, he joined the congregation at St Luke's, West Norwood, where I was the curate. It was excellent to see him again and wonderful to think of all the good work that Manna does and how our harvest gifts can make such a difference to so many people.

We've still got some filming to do down at the allotments, but it looks like our Bermondsey Community Harvest Festival is going to be a great event - look out for it here, on Facebook, and on YouTube during the first weekend of October.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Blitz over Bermondsey

Eighty years ago this month the bombs started falling on Bermondsey and they continued to fall for 57 consecutive days.

The first day of the Blitz, 7th September, was a terrible one for our community with 23 people killed on Linsey Street and 29 dying when  Keeton School, which was being used as a rest centre, was hit. In all, in 1940 Bermondsey experienced 395 air raids in the space of three months.
Here is today's Bermondsey Daily Message from the crypt of St James's Church which was used as an air raid shelter during the war:

On the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the blitz Sir Simon Hughes said this on Twitter: 'We must never forget the price paid by our communities at home during WW2, always be thankful for the transformation of Germany into a great, democratic and peace-loving ally, & always be watchful & prepared should others use force to take freedom from their own people or others.' Wise words.

Saturday, 12 September 2020

Bermondsey Daily Message 147

A Bermondsey Daily Message special about a special couple who had a big impact on the people of Bermondsey:

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Church Assembly at St James School

Every Tuesday at St James's School the church ministry team lead acts of collective worship for all the children on both sites of the school, Old Jamaica Rd and Alexis Street.

Covid regulations mean that assemblies have to take place in 'class bubbles' and, for the time being, whole school or even half school assemblies are a thing of the past.

So our weekly church assemblies are going online and here is the first one from Jacob - in their classes the children will have the opening words of worship we use for every assembly, will say the Lord's Prayer and will sing God's praose - but here is the talk with the Bible message for today:

Monday, 7 September 2020

Remembering the Mayflower


On Friday night we were privileged to be part of a wonderful Mayflower commemorative cruise along the Thames to Blackwall (where the pilgrims embarked in 1620), that included 17th century music, an escort through the precints of the Tower of London by the Yeoman of the Guard, the scattering of roses on the river in memory of the 102 pilgrims and the reading of their names, together with prayers and readings from the King James Bible, just 9 years old in 1620.
 There were two boats, the sailing barge shown, and a larger City Cruises vessel that carried most of the party, including the group from St James, from this boat I and the other ministers led the act of commemoration and thanksgiving. A most memorable evening.

And here is our Bermondsey Daily Message about the voyage of the Mayflower:

Bermondsey Daily Message 144

Sunday, 6 September 2020

Mayflower: the London dimension

I have just finished this local author and historian Graham Taylor.

Graham's book is full of insight and interest, not least the focus it gives to the crucial London dimension of the Mayflower story, and its brilliant explanation of who the pilgrims were, what motivated them, and what they bequeathed to us in terms of the freedom of religion and the right for individuals to live according to their conscience. 

 It's an excellent read, full of fascinating detail. I particular enjoyed reading the names the pilgrims gave to their children: eg Humility, Resolved, Desire, Wrestling, Love (a boy),  and the baby that was born on the voyage, Oceanus.

Back to church Sunday

 Here's the scene at St Anne's, ready for our first socially-distanced, Covid-friendly Sunday service since the lockdown began.

It's been twenty four Sundays since we have been together, and it was good to be back at St James and St Anne's, even if the Covid regulations made the seating arrangements and the content of the service somewhat different from usual.


Socially distanced worship in St James, downstairs and also in the gallery upstairs

 Recognising not everyone would be able or comfortable to attend live worship, our online services continued as usual, and here is today's service:

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Churches re-open for Sundays

Both our churches re-open for worship this Sunday, but online services will continue each week as well.

Bermondsey Daily Message 139

Today's Bermondsey Daily Message comes from the Salmon Youth Centre

Friday, 28 August 2020

Tyndale and the life-giving Scriptures

Tucked away in Whitehall Gardens, near the Embankment, is the memorial to the great bible translator amd martyr who famously said: 'If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy who drives a plough to know more of the scriptures than you do.'

The accompanying plaque (belows) records that as  Tyndale died, he prayed 'Lord, open the king of England's eyes' and that within a year of his death, a copy of the Bible was placed in every parish church of the land by Royal command.


Bermondsey Daily Message 136

Friday, 7 August 2020

Bermondsey Daily Message

You can view our Bermondsey Daily Messages here

You can view our Sunday services here

Thursday, 6 August 2020

Ada's beautification plan

Ada Salter, Bermondsey's first woman mayor, had a plan to transform the local community by bringing the beauty of God's creation into the daily lives of Bermondsey's people. Here is the story in today's daily message: