Armenian Genocide Memorial Day commemoration

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Fr Ian writes

Today, Armenian Genocide Memorial Day, Bishop Jack Nicholls (representing the Bishop of Manchester) and I, with Mrs Jones, Deputy Head Teacher at St Chrysostom’s School, two children from Year 6 and others joined friends at the Armenian Church on Upper Brook Street, Manchester today for a short ecumenical act of prayer and commemoration, arranged by Deacon Artur and Fr Ian.

Today is a very poignant day for the Armenian peoples as they observe the centenary of the beginning of the first genocide of the twentieth century which killed 1.5 million Armenian people, a significant number of them being children and women. It is a time for prayer and reflection for all peoples. Ceremonies have been held in Armenia and around the world today and it was a great privilege to join the commemoration at the Armenian Church today.

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All guests were wonderfully welcomed, and prayers and Bible readings in English and Armenian were said together with a beautiful lament being sung in Armenian.


In his short address at the end of the gathering Bishop Jack reminded us of the importance of  all people in remembering this terrible genocide and he gave thanks for the witness of the Armenian Church in proclaiming the victims martyrs and saints. They inspire us and pray for us in our generation, he said.

(See also here )

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A Quiz for St George’s Day

St GeorgeHere is a light hearted quiz about St George as we celebrate St George’s Day. (Thank you to Alan Beck for it) See how you doo. Answers later!

St George’s Day is celebrated in which of the following countries?


Canada              Croatia                    Portugal              Cyprus                  Greece     Georgia              Serbia         Bulgaria     Romania        Bosnia and Herzegovina    The Republic of Macedonia

St. George is the patron saint of which of the following?
Freemasons     Scouts     Athletes         Farmers       Shepherds

The red cross on the St. George’s cross represents martyrdom?

TRUE                             or                               FALSE

 In which year did St. George die?

303 AD (on April 23rd)               404 AD                 504 AD                      604 AD

 Which of the following died on St George’s Day?

William Shakespeare                   Rupert Brooke (World War I war poet  1887-1915)

Minnie Cauldwell  (of  CORONATION STREET) played by Margot Bryant from 1960 to 1976. Minnie was bossed around by Ena Sharples, and lived at No 5 Coronation Street, with her cat, Bobby.

Sir Billy Butlin (1899-1980) who opened his first British holiday camp at Skegness in 1936

 Which group of people brought the story of Saint George and the Dragon to western Europe?

The English Squad

Knights Templar (of the Temple of Solomon – recognised by the Pope in 1129)

Crusaders of the First Crusade (1096–1099)

In which modern-day country did the legend of Saint George and the Dragon supposedly take place?

Turkey         Palestine            Iraq     Libya

Askalon is the name of the lance used by St George to kill the Dragon. How is Askalon a connection between St George and Winston Churchill? 

Name of Churchill’s favourite cigar

Name of Churchill’s favourite landscape painting (that he painted)

Churchill’s personal aircraft during World War II

Name of Churchill’s favourite cat

The capital of which Caribbean island is called “St. George’s”?

Grenada                       St Kitt’s                     Trinidad

Which island was awarded the ‘George Cross’ after World War II?

Cyprus                 Singapore                  Malta

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Jesus reveals himself to Thomas

Stations of the Resurrection (Via Lucis) at St Chrysostom’s 2015

We are following the Easter story through Eastertide in a Way of Light (Via Lucis). Each Sunday in Eastertide we offer a  stopping place – a Station of the Resurrection (based on those found in the Church of England’s Common Worship), for personal prayer and reflection.

4. Jesus reveals himself to Thomas (John 20: 24-29)

John Granville Gregory's updated version of Caravaggio's Incredulity of St. Thomas.

John Granville Gregory’s updated version of Caravaggio’s Incredulity of St. Thomas.

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’


We praise you and we bless you,
our risen Lord Jesus, King of glory,
for you come to us even in our doubting.
Through the sovereign work of your Spirit,
and the loving hands of your people,
continue to reveal yourself where doubt is stronger than faith.
To you, Lord Jesus, whose resurrection body
bears the murderous marks of the cross,
be honour and glory, now and for ever.


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Mary Gomersall (1930-2015) Requiem Mass address

A Requiem Mass was held at St Chrysostom’s on Thursday 16th April for Mary Gomersall, Fr Ian’s mother. Mary had enjoyed worshipping at St Chrysostom’s when in Manchester, and making friends there. Revd Dr Kim Wasey, Ian’s wife, spoke at the Mass about Mary’s life, and her connection with St Chrysostom’s.

Mary Gomersall, always took a great interest in Ian and where he was and what he was doing, faithfully writing while he was at university, regularly visiting through curacy, still caring for and supporting him in practical ways too.

But of all the places he has lived and worked, St Chrysostoms had a special place in her heart.

Mary on her 80th birthday

Mary on her 80th birthday

Mary loved this place, and the people here, and she loved especially coming with us on the parish pilgrimage to Walsingham and sharing in the meals and worship and visits and of course the evening quiz! And through that, and her visits here to St Chrysostoms, she made some firm friends here, who I know meant a great deal to her.

Mary was a faithful pilgrim.  In many ways her whole life was that of a faithful pilgrim.

There were often times when it was not clear what would happen next or how things were going to be ok, from the loss of her father when she was only 5 years old, to trying, along with her husband John, to make ends meet and build a life as a newly married couple – through times of unexpected illness and hardship and the change and challenge that life brings

She remained faithful. And she is one of a line of strong and faithful women, her mother and her grandmother before her, women who held families together through tough times, with fortitude and giftedness.

Mary had faith in people and was willing to see the good and the potential, even when others sometimes struggled to do the same.

But she was also willing to speak the truth as she saw it, especially if that was about speaking up for those who couldn’t speak up for themselves, or challenging with truths that might be a bit uncomfortable to hear.

She was faithful in prayer, so much so that, not long before she died, her rosary gave out and broke and she was anxious that Ian should send up a new one.

She was faithful in her commitment to her own parish church in Sedgefield, asking for the newsletter to be dropped round even when she was too unwell to get to church herself, and she was always very pleased when the rector brought her communion at home.

She was never failingly interested in the lives of her children, and grandchildren and great grandchildren. She and Dominic would chatter away on the phone, and she cared very much for Gregory’s uniqueness, how he was managing at school and so forth, and she always chose wonderful gifts that became great treasures to Annie, including the hello kitty lunchbox she takes to school every day.

She was a faithful pilgrim on the journey of family life – treasuring the stories of the past, caring for people in the hard times, and celebrating with them in the good – listening, accepting, loving and wanting the best.

She was a faithful pilgrim in her Christian life. Constant and committed, yet open to new insight and sharing the journey generously with all she met on it – from whatever background or circumstance in life.

In this time of Eastertide, we celebrate a foretaste of the joy of heaven, and of what it is to live in the light of the resurrection.

The poem we heard (Kipling’s The Glory of the Gardenthat Mary chose for her funeral was picked up beautifully by the Rector of Sedgefield to talk about Mary’s life and you’ll see his words in the memories booklet.

He talked of how, that first Easter, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb looking for Jesus’ body, heard his voice, and met him resurrected in the garden. Mary Magdalene was deeply faithful in that journey she made, that pilgrimage, back to the tomb of Jesus, still to offer care to his body even after believing she had lost him to death. And she was rewarded for her faithfulness by witnessing the glory of the resurrection.

Mary Gomersall was faithful in tending to her family, her friends, her Community, and in tending and nurturing her faith. Now her pilgrimage has reached its end, and its culmination in the place God has prepared for her. May she now meet the risen Christ in the garden of resurrection that is eternal life.

May she rest in peace, and rise in glory.  Amen.

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Centenary of the Armenian massacres

armgen100-1-150x150The lead letter in today’s (17th April) edition of the Church Times is from Fr Ian. It speaks for itself.

Centenary of the Armenian massacres

Khatchaturian, Exiles 1915, in the National Gallery of Armenia

Khatchaturian, Exiles 1915, in the National Gallery of Armenia

Sir, – On 24 April, Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day marks the centenary of the beginning of the massacres that cost the lives of more than one million Armenian children, women, and men.

Special events are being held in Yerevan and elsewhere to remember the atrocity perpetrated against the Armenians.

The achievement of genocide on this scale encouraged others later in the 20th century to follow suit. Very significantly, Adolf Hitler is reported to have said: “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

The Church of England has always enjoyed good relations with the Armenian Church, and here in Manchester my own parish church has been pleased to welcome friends from the local Armenian church, and also to visit them for worship.

I hope that many churches in England will offer prayer for the Armenian peoples at this significant anniversary for them, and, in doing so, “speak today” and take a stand against such atrocities.

Ian Gomersall
St Chrysostom’s Rectory

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Jesus appears to the disciples

Stations of the Resurrection (Via Lucis) at St Chrysostom’s 2015

We are following the Easter story through Eastertide in a Way of Light (Via Lucis). Each Sunday in Eastertide we offer a  stopping place – a Station of the Resurrection (based on those found in the Church of England’s Common Worship), for personal prayer and reflection.

3. Jesus appears to the disciples Luke 24.36-43

Christ appears to the disciples at the table after the Resurrection (Duccio di Buoninsegna d.1319)

Christ appears to the disciples at the table after the Resurrection (Duccio di Buoninsegna d.1319)

While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself.Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence. ______________________________________________________

We praise you and we bless you, our risen Lord Jesus, King of glory, for in your birth you were proclaimed the Prince of Peace, and in your resurrection you breathe into your people peace beyond this world’s understanding. Be present, Lord, this day with those whose lives are disfigured by conflict and those whose hearts know no peace. To you, Lord Jesus, true bringer of the peace of heaven, be honour and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

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Ours the cross, the grave, the skies

Dr Noel Preston continues his series of hymns for the current church season. (See an earlier entry here). Here Noel chooses a hymn for Eastertide, and offers his own choice of tune for the hymn.

One of Charles Wesley’s finest works begins in many hymn-books with the line

Love’s redeeming work is  done

though in some collections this verse is preceded by another one, so that the above line does not appear in the index. (Often sung words can be found by clicking here).

The various compilers set the words to a number of different tunes, usually including “Savannah”, a weak tune which may well suit more reflective words, but is quite inappropriate here.   It tends to trickle down, with several ‘passing’ notes that make it even weaker.   Moreover, like others of the set tunes, it has us descending in one verse, note by note, from the grave to the skies !


Wesley’s words demand a strong rising tune;  and one of the Revd Dr Sir Frederick Gore Ouseley’s tunes “Bewdley” fits them admirably.   It lifts our voices steadily upwards as we sing

  Made like him  like him we rise

and reaches its climax at the first note of the following line, as we sing

 Ours the cross  the grave  the skies

and the last few notes of Ouseley’s tune for this line direct us up from the despondency of the tomb towards the realisation that He is not here, He is risen.   We remember that the Christian symbol, the Cross, shows us the path we must tread through our trials and tribulations, till we accept the abundant grace with which to triumph over the evils of this world, and thus to achieve the rewards of inward happiness, contentment, and even joy.

A final thought  —  the climax in the tune “Bewdley” is just right in other verses of Wesley’s hymn also:

Christ has opened Paradise

                    Where thy victory O grave

                    Hail the Resurrection thou !

Footnote:  Ouseley’s “Bewdley” is not appreciated by many compilers of hymns;  but it can be found in both Standard and Revised versions of Hymns Ancient and Modern (though not associated with these words).

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