3rd July 2011 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 3rd July 2011

Dreams can come true……

A little more than 40 years ago, three Christian ministers – one Anglican, one Congregationalist and one Methodist got together to see if they could do anything about the crimes that were then known by the horrible term ‘Paki-bashing’.

They decided that it would be a good idea to have a deliberately multi-cultural youth club – quite a novelty in those days – and they invited young people to come together and meet each other as individuals rather than strangers.

And from that dream, shared with others and brought into being with help from the local authority, The Renewal Programme has grown and flourished and is delighted to be celebrating 40 years of service to people in Newham and surrounding boroughs this year.

Nowadays, we employ about 85 people, most of whom live in Newham, and we are helped and supported by hundreds of volunteers who do a wide variety of tasks – everything from being on one of our committees, to teaching homeless people to grow things in the garden, to giving out the dried foods and Harvest and Christmas gifts given to us by St Bart’s and St Mary Magdalene’s churches, to people who are refugees.

Those who started the Renewal Programme could not have known how their idea would grow and develop but, with God’s good grace, it did. They couldn’t have imagined that, earlier this year, young people from the Hartley Centre, which is a Renewal Programme project, travelled to Northern Ireland to work with a culturally mixed group of youngsters there, to show them how to live together in peace. Amazing how the dream became an idea which became reality.

Have you been dreaming lately…….?


26th June Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 26th June 2011


A message from Jane

Last Sunday was a very special day for me, and I was overwhelmed

by the kind words, the many gifts and cards, and the warmth

with which you marked my farewell.


They were far too many for me to offer individual thanks,

but I shall carry treasures with me to Wickford,

not least wonderful memories and words of encouragement.


I know I shall miss my colleagues, our congregations and so many friends: but I am deeply grateful for seven extraordinary years

in East Ham, and will keep the place, the parish, and the people in my prayers.


Thank you all.


19th June 2011 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 19th June 2011

A Fond Farewell

On Wednesday morning in our Diocesan cycle of prayer we prayed for the Wickford and Runwell Team Ministry. The description was Team Rector. Position Vacant. As we all know that is about to change as we say goodbye to Jane.  Their gain is our loss. A valued colleague and friend for  over seven years. All of us, in our differing ways, will have to adjust to Jane’s departure. We wish her well. I leave her with a poem.

 R.S Thomas, the famous Welsh poet, wrote this poem about his vocation as a priest. As you would expect from Thomas it is not altogether uplifting and yet it contains a wonderful line , ‘I was there, I felt , to blow on ashes that were too often cold.’ Blowing on ashes is a priest’s vocation as we hope to see those ashes spark and light with the Holy Spirit.

I was vicar of large things in a small parish.

Small-minded I will not say, there were depths

in some of them I shrank back from,

wells that the word “God” fell into and died away,

and for all I know is still falling.

Who goes for water to such must prepare for a long wait.

Their eyes looked at me and were the remains of flowers

on an old grave. I was there, I felt, to blow on ashes

that were too long cold. Often,when I thought they were about

to unbar to me, the draught out of their empty places

came whistling so that I wrapped

myself in the heavier clothing of my calling,

speaking of light and love

in the thickening shadows of their kitchens


12th June 2011 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 12th June 2011



                                                                  " When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,

"Receive the Holy Spirit…”   John 20:23


Pentecost is the festival when Christians celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Read Acts 2:2-4) It is celebrated on the Sunday 50 days after Easter; hence the name Pentecost which comes from the Greek pentekoste, meaning "fiftieth".  It is also called Whitsun or Whisunday, a name which derives from the white garments worn by catechumens, those expecting to be baptized on that Sunday, as per the old custom.

Pentecost is regarded as the birthday of the Christian church, and the start of the church's mission to the world. On the first Pentecost about 3,000 people were converted and baptized, a real "the birthday of the Church." On this day, with the descent of the Holy Spirit, Christ's mission is completed, and the New Covenant is inaugurated.

Pentecost comes from a Jewish harvest festival called Shavuot. Shavuot also marks the time that the Jews were given the Torah on Mount Sinai. It is quite significant therefore that the apostles were gathered together, celebrating this highly important historical Jewish festival of Shavuot when the Holy Spirit descended on them, a rebirth from the old to the new. The spiritual impact of the outpouring of God’s gifts on the Church in full power at Pentecost is not a myth. Neither is this experience the prerogative or monopoly of the

Pentecostal churches. The Church of God, including the Anglican Church, is essentially Pentecostal in origin and nature. Enjoy the beautiful Liturgy of today; The words of the Collect and the Preface:

Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit…

And cry to the Risen Lord in prayerful demand……

“Lord send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth”!

And then ..………..open your hearts for God’s Pentecost to happen in your personal life, in our Parish and in all our communities.    

                                                                                                      Fr Fred

5th June 2011 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 5th June 2011



Fifty years ago, two Portuguese students  found themselves in prison for toasting freedom in a country under the control  of an authoritarian and repressive government. Appalled at their experience,  a British lawyer, Peter Benenson wrote to the Observer newspaper, and launched an ‘Appeal for Amnesty’.

His article touched a nerve, and an international movement was born, dedicated to defending freedom of opinion and religion, and pledged to support prisoners of conscience throughout the world.

Six prisoners were identified in that first article, a philosopher, a poet, a trade unionist, an American minister campaigning against race segregation, and a cardinal and an archbishop from Hungary and Czechoslovakia respectively: all eventually won their freedom, with Amnesty playing a major part in highlighting the injustice which they suffered.

The work of Amnesty International has changed over the years, and sometimes their decisions, the causes they have chosen to champion, have been controversial. But listening to the current Secretary General speaking this week , I was reminded of the continuing need for their work, in the places of conflict and repression of our own time. And I was reminded, too, that where there is injustice and corruption, it is the poorest who suffer most.

Over  the years, churches, temples, synagogues, and mosques have used the stories and the resources offered by Amnesty and in the support they have given to its work they have shown how the ‘golden rule’ of love of neighbour runs through the teaching of so many faiths.

I pray for a world where that work will no longer be needed; but until that time, I shall continue to support Amnesty. If you would like to do so too, find out more at www.amnesty.org.uk