Thursday, 31 January 2013


Yesterday the Chapter of St. Helena met at St. Barnabas, Woodford as guests of the new vicar Father William. After Mass we held our AGM at which a new local vicar was elected.

Father Trevor Thorpe SSC R.I.P

At the age of 90, and after 54 years as the Parish Priest of St. Andrews, North Weald, Father Trevor retired to the Clergy Retirement accommodation known as the College of St. Barnabas last October. Sadly Father Trevor died recently and his funeral is to take place tomorrow at 12 noon at St. Andrews.

May he Rest in Peace

Sunday, 27 January 2013


This morning I presided at the Solemn Mass at St. Mary’s Ilford. In my sermon, based on the Gospel, I pointed out that the prophecy of Isaiah which Jesus had read in the Synagogue at Nazareth that  "The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty for captives and to the blind new sight; to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord's year of favour" had become part of our Christian inheritance. We were reminded of this in the Magnificat. “he has filled the hungry with good things” It was now our vocation to fulfil that. During the service we remembered Holocaust Memorial Day.

Thank goodness all the snow has finally gone and it’s a little warmer although I noticed some of the storm drains on the roads are not coping with the amount of water trying to drain away.


Yesterday Ann and I went to an Art Gallery in Shepherds Market to see the exhibition of three artists: Clare Shepherd, Claire Thomas and Jacqueline Leighton-Boyce.


Claire Thomas, Ann’s cousin who was a bridesmaid at our wedding, is an artist based in Dorset where she has a purpose built studio. It was a wonderful exhibition. It was the first time the artists had exhibited in London and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

Thursday, 24 January 2013



I went early to the Hospital Chapel today to put on the heating as it is still freezing cold hereabouts. I’m convinced the Chapel I was colder inside than it was outside. After an hour of all the heaters being on it was still perishing cold and it didn’t really improve by the time the services started

During the week, every day at 12 noon, there has been a service taken by a different denomination and the attendance has been fairly good. I remember as a young man how the first Unity Service in the Portsmouth area was held in Portsmouth Guildhall; demand for seats was so much taken that people overflowed with the service relayed to several committee rooms. I think the lack of interest these days has a lot to do with a state of mind which believes that Christian Unity will never be obtained, We’ve talked about it so long and nothing much happens In my sermon today I mentioned the fact that years ago a German by the name of Gruendler compiled a dictionary of the different Christian denominations which had resulted due to the Reformation. He was the father of a large family who helped him in his task. He listed 2,639. Today the latest estimate is 41,000. I pointed out that unity doesn’t mean uniformity.

An example of how Christian Unity might work was promulgated by that wonderful Christian broadcaster and Quaker Gerald Priestland. He saw Christian Unity like a vast cathedral divided into various chapels, each one occupied by a different denomination but all part of one united great worshipping whole. People could wander from one chapel to another without any problem to experience different forms of liturgy, spirituality and worship.

Following the 12 noon service we had the normal Thursday Mass with the intention of Christian Unity finishing as always with the Angelus with a good attendance despite the weather and sickness.

Sunday, 20 January 2013


When we left to go to church this morning it had started to snow but our road was pretty clear; by the time we arrived back home after Mass it was snow covered and not at all pleasant. Early this morning I had a phone call from our church organist to say that, due to the weather, he would not be able to get to church to play today so I filled the gap. After a somewhat ad hoc choir practice I played an organ setting of Cesar Franck’s Panis Angelicus. As an anthem, the choir sang “In the bleak midwinter” for which I extemporised an accompaniment so that it sounded a little special, playing a descant above the tune. At the end of the service I played the March from Handel’s Occasional Oratorio. Father Martin and I were both pleasantly surprised by the numbers who had braved the atrocious weather to attend Mass

I preached on today’s Gospel which related Jesus’ first miracle at Cana in Galilee, you can read more here.

Friday, 18 January 2013


I am delighted that the vote of no confidence against Dr. Phillip Giddings, Lay Chair of the House of Laity in the General Synod has been resoundingly defeated by 80 votes to 47. This nasty motion of no confidence should, in my opinion, never have been proposed. Dr Giddings spoke at the recent General Synod against the motion to consecrate women as bishops and the vote of no confidence was proposed because of this.


New Rush Hall School, part of the New Rush Hall Group of Schools, and of which, I am Chair of Governors has recently had an Ofsted inspection and the school has been rated as OUTSTANDING. Read the Ofsted Report here
In one of the local Newspapers it said: ”New Rush Hall School in Fencepiece Road, Hainault provides education for children between five and 16 who have been excluded or are on the point of exclusion from mainstream schools. Ofsted inspectors gave the school a glowing report after visiting in December, paying tribute to its leaders and teachers who they say plan outstandingly well and ensure that their pupils are well engaged in learning.They noted that pupils at the school make huge improvements in behaviour because of the well-ordered and positive atmosphere.

And they paid tribute to the school’s ethos of continuous improvement.

A quote from Aristotle hangs in the school’s foyer.

It says: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.”

Many congratulations to the Staff and to the pupils who have earned this outstanding rating from Ofsted.



Thursday, 17 January 2013

We celebrate St. Anthony, Abbot in the freezing cold at the Hospital Chapel

For some reason the power suddenly went of at the Hospital Chapel today and despite various efforts we couldn’t get it to come back on; we know it was a localised fault in the Chapel. It meant that we had no heat or light on what must have been one of the coldest days so far this year. We called the electricians who recently undertook some rewiring and they were going to be at the Chapel later today. I hope it will be resolved as next week, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, is held for the Ilford area at the Chapel every day at 12 noon.

Despite the adverse conditions Mass continued as normal but there were no refreshments afterwards..As we couldn’t use the organ our two hymns were accompanied on the grand piano.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Another one bites the Dust………………..

Following Comet, Jessops and HMV, today Blockbusters have gone into administration and this leads to the question “who next”. Many towns and cities have empty shops and our small shopping centre has a number boarded up and for sale. Talking to one of the local tradesmen the other day he told me that he has to work for three days a week just to cover the cost of his rent and rates before any other expenses. At times he said he wondered why he bothered. Both rent and rates have increased to such an extent that what was a very thriving shopping centre is declining. Now our local authority, Havering, is “consulting” about introducing parking charges on what, at present, is the free car park for shoppers and visitors to the library. Not only that they also want to introduce restrictions on side roads to prevent parking there as well.

The proposed charges are 20p for the 1st hour, then £1.40 for 1hour 30 minutes and £2 for two hours. There are Newspaper shops in the shopping area; who is going to pay 20p to collect a daily newspaper? If you need to go to the hairdresser or the optician it is going to be at least an hour and a half.

I foresee many of our local shops being forced out of business by a greedy council who sees motorists as the milch cow. We should value local businesses; many of whom provide excellent service and also employment instead of putting so many insurmountable obstacles in their way

Sunday, 13 January 2013

1,000 priests sign letter to The Daily Telegraph

It was particularly good news yesterday to read the letter objecting to the proposals to introduce Gay Marriage signed by 1,000+ Roman Catholic priests and some RC Bishops. This proposal from the Coalition Government has, as far as I can see, no mandate to take such a course of action; it was not part of either the Conservative or the Liberal Democrats manifestos and is not supported by thousands around the UK. If this actually becomes law it will totally undermine the Sacrament of Marriage.

Les Miserables

Ann and I are both very keen on the stage version of Les Mis which we have seen several times. So we were really looking forward to the film version which has just been released particularly as some of it was filmed in Portsmouth and some in Greenwich. We managed to get seats for Saturday evening and, although it is a little different to the stage version, it is very good. Now, we want to go and see the stage version once again.

Friday, 11 January 2013


Good News! Senior MPs oppose redefining marriage

Senior Tory Dr Liam Fox - the former Secretary of Defence - has said he will vote against the redefinition of marriage. He's one of more than 130 Tory MPs to say they are against the plans. He also says the Government's plans are "divisive" and "ill thought through".

Meanwhile, senior Labour MP David Blunkett has also attacked the Government's plans as a "complete dog's dinner", adding, "I do not think that the government is entirely clear what it is doing or why it is doing it." He says he'll listen to the voters before deciding how he'll vote.

And the current Energy Minister, John Hayes, says he will be voting against the proposals because marriage between men and women is the best environment for children.

All of which suggests there will be strong opposition against the plans in the House of Commons, but even if the proposals are passed by MPs the Government will face a tough time in the House of Lords.

The Coalition for Marriage’s polling of the Lords shows that most Peers favour putting it on hold because it does not command public support. And an even greater majority object to any attempt by the Government to ram the measure through using the Parliament Act.

Thursday, 10 January 2013


This morning I went to the Chapel armed with a camera as I have been asked to supply some photo’s of our hanging pyx.


I understand that these are quite rare. Ours is in constant use.

In my sermon today I talked about how Jesus came to bring good news to the poor and commented about the fact that we have been asked to collect more items for the local food bank. I said that I thought it was a national disgrace that in the 21st century there were many local families who had insufficient income to buy food and who had to rely on a food bank. In a country which calls itself Christian how can we allow this situation to arise. As His representatives, we now have to bring the good news of Jesus’ to the poor and that will hardly be achieved by restricting inflation rises to benefits to 1% for the next three years whilst we cut the top rates of tax for the very wealthy giving them massive tax savings.

Preparations are now well in hand for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity with a Service every day at the Chapel at 12 noon taken by different denominations. On the Thursday of the Week of Prayer, we will be organising the mid-day service and will be following this with a Mass for Christian Unity.


This morning the Post Office delivered our last Christmas Card, posted on the 3rd December which had travelled a vast distance (from Barkingside to Romford)  a total of about 8 miles. Also delivered was another 2nd class letter posted yesterday… obviously they win some …………….and lose others.

Sunday, 6 January 2013


Politicians often release important information hidden amongst many unimportant items so that a furore is not caused and now it seems the House of Bishops are playing the same game.

"The House considered an interim report from the group chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling on the Church of England's approach to human sexuality. Pending the conclusion of the group's work next year the House does not intend to issue a further pastoral statement on civil partnerships. It confirmed that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate."

This little gem was amongst a report issued in the latter part of December when, I suspect, they thought no one would notice, being just three days away from Christmas. What it means, as the media have been quick to inform us, is that gay priests who are in civil partnerships can now be appointed Bishops provided they lead a celibate life!!!! So who will be supervising this celibacy? It will be down to the word of the individual concerned, as far as I can make out.

There have always been gay priests and gay bishops many of whom have led a totally celibate life and many of whom have kept their homosexuality hidden and discreet and many of whom have been exemplary priests and bishops. Nowadays it seems that people no longer wish to be discreet and would rather be up front about their sexuality.

I suspect that the fall out from this little hidden gem of the Bishops, especially amongst conservative evangelicals, will be quite profound. It makes me ask the question: “do the Bishops want to destroy the Church of England”; because I think they are going the right way about it.





Today we celebrate the great Solemnity of the Epiphany or, to use the Book of Common Prayer name “The Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles”.

Thursday, 3 January 2013



At a Solemn Mass at the Ilford Hospital Chapel of St. Mary & St Thomas of Canterbury the new, very beautiful model chapel was blessed. Father Martin joined me to concelebrate the Mass, read the Gospel and helped with the Ministry of Healing which is a regular part of the 1st Thursday in the month. In my sermon I talked about how names are important and how some cause fear mentioning the Harry Potter novels and Voldemort and Star Wars and Darth Vader. The contrast is with the name which is above every other name, the name at which every knee shall bow, the name, the most Holy Name of Jesus.

At the end of Mass we went to the table in the side aisle where the model had been put on display to bless it. After the Blessing, Father Martin led us in the Angelus and we then enjoyed a buffet lunch with sparkling wine. We were delighted that the two people who over several years painstaking work had made the model as a gift for the Chapel, were able to be with us. It was also great that two previous Mayors of Redbridge and one of the Trustees were amongst the many in the congregation.

Ann and I were surprised when we were given a cake to celebrate our wedding anniversary tomorrow; we are still trying to work out how everyone knew!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013


After 10 years as Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams has left to return to academia. His time has not been a happy one for the Church of England nor, I suspect, for him. Despite the standing ovations given to him by General Synod, they have ignored his advice and recommendations. In a short while the new Archbishop Justin Welby, will be in office. What can he look forward to during his archiepiscopacy? There is no doubt in my mind that it is going to be a difficult task he faces,

When the ordination of women to the priesthood was passed with the slenderest of majorities it was claimed that this was due to the working of the Holy Spirit. But when the motion to make women Bishops was defeated (with a larger number against in the House of Laity than had been in favour in the previous legislation)) it is no longer the work of the Holy Spirit according to various commentators. The legislation was not fit for purpose and that is why it was defeated. Bishop Welby has that as a problem to be resolved; finding a solution to give sacramental assurance to Anglo-Catholics whilst calming the fears and militancy of WATCH and other similar feminist organisations. If he fails in this he can look forward to a mass exodus from the CofE which will make the numbers departing in 1992 or more recently for the Ordinariate miniscule.

One of the strange things, in a church which seems to be slowly and steadily declining according to statistics, is that some parishes are the reverse and are slowly and steadily growing.From what I have seen it is those parishes, Catholic and Evangelical, which teach and preach the Gospel truths which are increasing the size of their congregations. But is it so strange? I don’t think so. It seems to me that people are getting no spiritual benefit from wishy-washy liberal parishes so they look to those who are orthodox. This is an area which urgently needs the attention of +Welby

Then there’s the Anglican Communion and particularly the Episcopal Church of the USA which preaches a Gospel which bears little or no relation ship to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.

All-in-all +Justin Welby faces a formidable task and he needs our prayers as he approaches the start of his ministry. May he be richly blessed with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.