27th January 2013 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene †      St Bartholomew †    St Alban †


Sunday 27th January 2013



Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: January 18 – 25

Etymologically the word UNITY can be traced to the Latin unus, una, unum- meaning ONE. Jesus’ prayer on this theme is very clear: “That they may all be ONE” (Jn 17:21).

Against all odds Christians have retained one thing, consciously or maybe unwittingly, but nonetheless thankfully: its belief in the “unam sanctam catholicam, apostolicam eccessiam” (One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church).

For people of faith especially, of Abrahamic root (monotheism – ie belief in one God) the desire for, and pursuance of unity is not a retrogressive act towards a kind of philosophical monism. It is an heuristic and obedient response to God’s call and command in mission to return all in ultimate consummation to the desired perfection of the Creator God. Through joint service, the diverse ways of demonstrating various beliefs and even more diverse ways of adoring the Triune God people come to the realization that their neighbours' ways are not so strange after all!

The theme for Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2013 is: “What does God require of us?” The text from the Prophet Micah is set as the reference for this theme Micah 6: 6-8. This theme is divided into 8 subthemes: to support our daily reflection throughout the week as I am sure many of you have done:

            Day 1: walking in conversation.                                   Day 5: walking as the friends of Jesus.

Day 2: walking with the broken body of Christ.           Day 6: walking beyond barriers.

                                                                                                     Day 3: walking towards freedom.                                 Day 7: walking in solidarity.

Day 4: walking as children of the earth.                        Day 8: walking in celebration.


Newham, with its richly diverse endowments will achieve a lot more positive outcomes if unity is this unity pursued and celebrated even beyond our churches, synagogues and mosques into our streets, schools, places of work and our wider communal lives. In the footsteps of Jesus we are the Evangelist of this message, the apostles of this mission today.

Fr Fred


24th March 2013 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene † St Bartholomew †  St Alban †


Sunday 24th March 2013 

"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” Matthew 19 v14.

Familiar words. This week, appropriately in the lead-up to Easter, both churches have been hosting visits from local primary school children and what a privilege it has been!

The children, of all shapes and sizes, were all very well-behaved, attentive, surprisingly knowledgeable and they were accompanied by teachers and parents who were very appreciative and supportive of the visit. It was a very positive experience and, through some very gifted and able teaching (not by me!), it was possible to show them a little of what we are about as a Church and to simply explain the Gospel to them.

I see a contrast between the simplicity of what is happening here, at the “coal-face” so to speak, and the national and international events of the last weeks – the inauguration of Pope Francis and the enthronement of Justin Welby as our new Archbishop. Much is being said of the issues and challenges facing them and the wider Church: issues that we, as individuals, can seemingly do little about.

Perhaps this can be a thought for Holy Week and Easter – to find the bits that we can do, both within the existing framework of the parish and the new opportunities for service offered by Rob’s arrival, and to go ahead and do them.


20th January 2013 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene †      St Bartholomew †    St Alban †


Sunday 20th January 2013

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

This week we start ‘the week of prayer for Christian Unity’. I am always a bit sceptical of weeks of this and that. They often feel to me like token nods to a particular subject, usually a very worthy subject, where few of us could have any objections. So we pray for prisoners in the Week for Prisoners and sailors when we have their week. You get the picture. Each week of prayer might make us feel a little bit better and yet I often feel far removed from the subject, neither being a sailor and yet to find myself a prisoner!

Yet I feel very differently about this particular week of prayer. We have been working hard with Nicola, our Methodist colleague, to bring our various churches in East Ham Area into a closer relationship. I do feel we are making progress. The Bishop and Methodist Superintendant have now given their permission for Nicola and myself to celebrate the Eucharist at each other’s churches. We will also be joining together for our Lenten Course. I am also hopefully there will be a significant part for the Methodists when the new team is commissioned with Rob on the 6th March. I am excited by the possibilities that could lie ahead of us as we seek to learn from each other in the East Ham Area.

So we can pray this week:

God, we pray we are broken

Broken open to our fractured and fragmented world and Church;

Broken open to the hope of renewal;

That healing to wholeness and unity becomes us. Amen.


13th January 2013 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene †      St Bartholomew †    St Alban †


Sunday 13th January 2013

Keeping in Shape?

Everywhere I look in magazines and newspapers there are articles on dieting! And, of course, I love to read them – though I’m not sure that reading them is enough……. But I’m certain that all those chocolates and cakes will just drop off as soon as I get back to walking the dog!

And I need to keep my spiritual self in shape too. After the wonderfully rich festivals of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, most people will find it hard not to feel a bit down in these dark, wintry days.

So we need to plan some things that will enrich the soul – a good film or concert, a laugh with friends or maybe some time just being quiet; prayer and meditation are helpful – maybe try a new prayer book or pray at different times in the day.

And, whatever it is we’re doing, we’ll have to keep practising, til it becomes part of our routine*

And my experience is that these spiritual things are generally better done with other people; certainly, I know I’m more likely to stick to my plan if I have companions to share the journey.

I believe it’s worth trying, because, if we’re in good spiritual shape, we’re better at coping with all the other stuff life throws at us.!


*But please, if it really doesn’t work for you, try something else!


6th January 2013 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene †      St Bartholomew †    St Alban †


Sunday 6th January 2013

Happy New Year!

But, for Christians, at least those in England rather than Scotland, Christmas is much the more important holiday. New Year tends to be regarded as a little suspect: a bit pagan, a bit full of superstition, a bit frivolous, even decadent or worse, and without any real meaning. But it is the start of a new year and, if at Christmas we often get sentimental and look back, - back to the Birth, back to our childhood and Christmases past, and back over the fading year, at New Year we can, and should, look forwards to what is to come.

For us, 2013 promises to be an exciting and eventful year with high expectations. Rob Marshall is very busy planning and arranging for his, and our, new roles and we will (very) soon all be involved. The licensing is in 8 weeks and the preparations are well underway; not just for the Service itself, but for what comes after. We will have an expanded Parish, with the inclusion of St. John’s, North Woolwich, and an expanded Team, with the added probability of a new curate, and an expanded vision.

There will be opportunities and challenges: we will have to integrate our churches, to build on our strengths, to seek new areas of ministry and mission, while retaining and developing our existing links with our neighbouring churches . Some, but only some of this, will be for our Ministers and Church Councils but the rest will be up to all of us. Our challenge for 2013 will be to live up to the expectations that have been placed on us, as faithful servants of Him who sent us. Happy New Year!