Wipe out Transphobia

Transphobia poster

The Transgender day of remembrance, November 20th, is a day to remember those who have been killed because of fear or hatred of transgender people. The day also draws attention to the continuing violence which many transgendered people endure. The image above gives some somber statistics.

At St Chrysostoms for many years we have developed a welcome for trans people, as part of our regular church membership, and also those who attend our monthly LGBT Mass.

On the Transgender day of remembrance, (TDoR), Thursday 20th November, this year prayers will be said at St Chrysostom’s at 5pm Mass for trans people and an end to transphobia.

At the end of the Mass this prayer, Twighlight People, by Rabbi Reuben Zellman will be said:

As the sun sinks and the colours of the day turn, we offer a blessing for the twilight, for twilight is neither day nor night, but in-between. We are all twilight people. We can never be fully labelled or defined. We are many identities and loves, many genders and none. We are in between roles, at the intersection of histories, or between place and place. We are criss crossed paths of memory and destination, streaks of light swirled together. We are neither day nor night. We are both, neither, and all. 

May the sacred in-between of this evening suspend our certainties, soften our judgements,  and widen our vision. May this in-between light illuminate our way to the God who transcends all categories and definitions. May the in-between people who have come to pray be lifted up into this twilight. We cannot always define; we can always say a blessing. Blessed are You, God of all, who brings on the twilight.

A purple candle will also burn at the Mass – those who support the Transgender Day of Remembrance are invited to wear something purple that day.


(A Vigil for TDoR will be held in Sackville Gardens, Canal Street on Sunday 23rd from 4.30pm)

Posted in Anglican, Anglo Catholic, Christianity, Faith, LGBT, Manchester, Prayer, Spirituality, Various Voices | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Help Mary and Joseph name the donkey

We are asking for your help, please!

fmbOn Sunday, 30th November, Mary and Joseph and the donkey begin their annual special journey (Posada) around our parish and area. They are from our children’s nativity set and they arrive in Church on Christmas Eve. They made the journey successfully last Advent and kept a blog of their journey. They visit a wide variety of places and receive a huge welcome. Have a look at the blog - click here.

Before they set off we need a name for the donkey, and this is where you can help. We ask you to vote for one of the chosen names.

This year we are going slightly ‘high brow’ and the choice is from donkeys names from  literature. We have:

donkey 14Puzzle, from C S Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia,

Benjamin from George Orwell’s Animal Farm,

Dapple, Sancho Panza’s donkey from Cervantes’ Don Quixote and

Modestine, the characterful donkey which bore Robert Louis Stevenson in his ‘Travels with a donkey.’

And now its time to cast your vote! Simply click on the poll below and record your vote (and you can only vote once!) – and spread the vote by clicking on the Facebook / Twitter button please.


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WW1 Hearing through silence

Florence PWe’ve invited people of different backgrounds and experiences, connected with St Chrysostom’s, to offer a thought on the commemoration of World War One. (An earlier post is here).

Florence writes:

Mostly what I associate with the First World War is silence. In History class, we would look at photographs of the soldiers and occasionally watch a documentary where you could see early footage, black and white and soundless, the soldiers pushing their way through the trenches in that token sped up pace of early cinema. It might sound strange, but in a way, the propaganda paintings seemed more real to us kids of the 90s brought up in an era of colour television and films pulsating with special effects.

Every time one of the teachers would ask us if we could imagine the horror of it all and every time there’d be a silence before someone might duly parrot the correct response which we had all learned from watching films and reading historical novels and flicking ahead in our textbooks. To be honest, the initial reply was probably the most honest. There was the national silence, every year on the 11th day of the 11th month where we stood in our form rows for two minutes, waiting for the nervous blast of the Last Post to announce our duty was done.

In church we would often hear sermons relating to the untold experiences of the soldiers from those older members of the congregation who might remember their mentally battered fathers, uncles and grandfathers. These men returned in silence, never to discuss their experiences and that silence killed some of them.

1st WW soldiersThere was also the silence of memory. My family is not one to talk of history except for as amusing anecdotes. Being on the losing side (colonialism, independence, civil war) can do that. However, every now and then my mother mentions her great Uncle George in that distant way people remember adults from their childhood. The way she describes him, I have always imagined him as a tall, wiry and dark Igbo man with a calm expression that’s often read as arrogance by outsiders, perhaps insolence by his British officers. He fought in that war, she says, but nobody ever said anything about it. He certainly never spoke about it. She never asked, too young to do so.

Artillery company of the Nigeria Regiment

Artillery company of the Nigeria Regiment

Sometimes she wonders out loud about what he must have seen, what he must have experienced, the suffering he must have gone through, but he is no longer there to ask. We can only imagine, drawing on remaining diaries and letters of other colonial soldiers some of whom like him came from comfortable families in comfortable villages, some eager to serve the motherland, some seeking adventure, some yearning to leave the daily grind of small town life. I wonder about his comrades who must have left with him but did not return, friends from school, friends from his age grade. I wonder how his experiences changed him and the way he saw the world.

Mostly I wonder about how hard it is to fully appreciate what he and others like him went through. The further we move from his war and the hazier the recollections become, layered with memories of more recent conflicts, the more effort it takes to pay attention and remember. As a lover of history, I don’t like forgetting and I don’t like silence. Even though it can be painful, it is a good thing to weave the truth together from what strands of memory and evidence can be found. It’s something worth doing, even if it might seem a thankless task.

I see this centenary as an opportunity for us to listen through the silence. Sharing the effort as we strain to hear that elusive note, transmitting what we have heard to each other, I like to think we can always find new ways of appreciating their sacrifices, of hearing their stories and most importantly remembering them and what they stood for, in all its madness, horror and at times unexpected humanity. The sensations have faded, and others have fallen since, but we can still remember. There is no reason not to.

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Five lost churches

St Chrysostoms White High Mass vestments, formerly used at St Benedict's

St Chrysostoms White High Mass vestments, formerly used at St Benedict’s, Ardwick

Fr Ian writes:

This afternoon I attended a book launch at Manchester Cathedral. The book, None Will Remain: Five lost churches of Manchester, by Richard McEwan, records the history of five closed Anglo Catholic Churches, St Alban, Cheetwood, St Gabriel’s, Hulme,  St John’s, Miles Platting, Our Lady and St Thomas, Gorton, and St Benedict, Ardwick.

The launch included a fascinating exhibition of Anglo Catholic memorabilia, including St Chrysostom’s white High Mass vestments, which originally came from St Benedict’s, Ardwick, and the candlesticks from Our Lady’s statue, the work of the Anglo Catholic furnishers, the Society of St Peter and St Paul.

Talks given at the launch by Mr McEwan and by Canon David Wyatt were both well informed and stimulating. The stories of all these churches is fascinating and the book is well worth reading. In very deprived areas priests and people worked hard, prayed hard, worshipped hard and together they created something beautiful for God. Their churches were places of holiness and prayer – sacred places for their communities. IMG_0505 (1) (1)

Sadly, their particular witness is no more. In a challenging conclusion to his work Mr McEwan, remarks ‘This study .. is in the end, a story of decline, lack of fulfilment and defeat.’ Inevtiably, then, deep and significant questions arise: Why did these churches close? What action do their stories of pastoral care, worship and witness inspire today? How can existing churches more become ‘gates of heaven?’ How can the truths of living out an incarnational faith in the world, and celebrating  a liturgy which embraces beauty, symbol and mystery, be ‘proclaimed afresh’ to our generation?

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Angelic old hymn books

IMG_1535 bWe’re encouraged to recycle nowadays, and sometimes this calls for imagination.

For example, what should be done with old hymn books :)

It seems sad to simply put them into paper recycling. Sometimes they seem to pile up in church vestries, and sometimes they can be even seen propping up organ stools or other items of furniture in churches.

The Parish of Swaledale with Arkengarthdale in North Yorkshire has come up with a lovely idea. They’ve recently updated their hymn book and an imaginative parishioner has researched recycling hymn books and come up with the idea of turning some of their people’s copies of Hymns Ancient and Modern Revised (1950) into angels.

The photo above is of one of the angelic hymn books which has settled on a window ledge in St Mary’s, Arkengarthdale. Appropriately the outer wings are Christmas carols.

IMG_1575-001Apparently each of the four churches in the parish has one. Later, at St Andrew’s, Grinton, the mother church of Swaledale, we came across a chorus of the angels around the font. And more than that, we were told at recent baptisms in Swaledale the families were given one of the angels as a gift from the church. How lovely!

Wouldn’t it be lovely to see these hymnal angels in other churches beyond Swaledale? We’ve a few old hymnals at St Chrysostom’s and an offer to turn one into an angel for church would be very welcome.  (The US ‘happy housewife’ (!) website gives instructions on how to make them).


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For all the – LGBT – saints

Ss Perpetua & Felicity

Ss Perpetua & Felicity

We hear quite a lot about ‘inclusive’ churches, and we’ve commented here about this. Now that refers to churches here and now, part of what the 1662 Book of Common Prayer calls ‘the Church Militant here in earth.’ But what about the ‘Church Triumphant’ in heaven!

Well some fundamentalist christians would have us believe heaven is a rather exclusive place, and also when we look at Calendars of Saints of churches we could be forgiven for thinking the church triumphant isn’t very inclusive. So many of the saints are western, white and single and there seem to be more men than women. And what about LGBT saints? (And, by the way, and more contentiously, what about saints of non christian faiths, do we honour them, or do we remain christian ‘in house’?)

If we look in the lists of saints we will find many that would help balance. There are many varied folk among them, and some have been rather sidelined in our less credulous days.

Ss Polyeuct & Nearchos

Ss Polyeuct & Nearchos

As we approach All Saintstide Fr Chris is helping redress the balance a little at our LGBT Communion. November’s celebration will honour LGBT saints. Of course, terms such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans are modern and understandings have changed. Nevertheless people looking at saints lives have identified many who fit these categories. (A suggested list is given here.) We’ve already drawn attention to some cross dressing saints here.

To be an inclusive church on earth means we will also wish to celebrate good role models in the saints. Part of this celebration will also involve placing images of LGBT saints in our churches. Anyone care to fund such a one for St Chrysostom’s!

Posted in Anglican, Anglo Catholic, Catholic, Christianity, Faith, gay, lesbian, LGBT, Saints, Spirituality, St John Chrysostom | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Tried, trusted and traditional hymns

Malcolm Hicks reflects on traditional hymns

Hymns play a large part in our worship at Church, and we all, I am sure, have our preferences. I must confess to being an unrepentant traditionalist: I delight to see piles of the green covered hymn books, the New English Hymnal, for distribution on a Sunday morning, and trust that the numbers posted on the hymn board will yield something stirring from Charles Wesley, or  something equally satisfying from some earnest Victorian who is perhaps but a name to me. And we can all get a sense from the robust response of many others in the congregation that we are not alone.

Jesu lover 2Why should this be?

It’s surely the happy marriage of words and music that is such a source of spiritual and psychological wellbeing (nicely complemented by the moving harmonies of our choir at the time of Mass).

Recollect some of your many first choices. Perhaps the stirring tune of Immortal, Invisible, with its perfect formulation of Divinity, ‘O Lord we would render, O help us to see ‘Tis only the splendour of light hideth thee.’ And then what of the profound effect of those hymns in minor key mode: ‘Eternal Father, strong to save,  Whose arm doth bind the restless wave,’ or ‘Jesu, lover of my soul,  Let me to thy bosom fly’?

The list may not be endless, but it is far too rich a repository to do justice to in a few words. So here’s to the next time that we swell with vocal inspiration once the cryptic number on the board leads to that thrill of recognition of a tried and trusted favourite.

So what is your favourite traditonal hymn? Have you one you would wish to be rescued from oblivion? (You can read one man’s choice by clicking here).

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