Slavery in Britain: What can we do?

human-trafficking-awarenessVictims of modern slavery walk through the doors of St Chrysostom’s Church week by week. Not far from us the Medaille Trust, with whom we have a special relationship, does outstanding work in helping such people. Recently we’ve begun an English language class at Church on a Monday and Friday afternoon especially focusing on victims of human trafficking. It has proved popular and useful.

Whether we call it human trafficking or modern slavery it is, at the core, slavery. There are an estimate 20 million people in slavery in the world today. The British Government estimates that there are over 13,000 people in slavery in Britain today.

A typical story from our area is of a young woman promised a better life in England who was smuggled into England on what she discovers are false papers which are taken from her. She is told she owes a large amount of money to those who gave her the papers and must therefore be involved in their sex trade. With help she escapes to a safe house in another city. Then begins the long work of building new life and new hope. A couple of month’s ago we told of another story of slavery in Britain we had come across from a young man who came to church have a look at: Jakub’s story.

Josephine Butler

Josephine Butler

In the late 1800s Josephine Butler, a devout Anglican and woman of prayer,  was also a courageous Victorian feminist and a tireless campaigner for women’s rights. In particular, from her home in Liverpool, she worked for women forced into slavery and prostitution through desperate circumstances. She opened her home to them. She campaigned for resources to help them, and for legislation to support them. She has been called the ‘Patron Saint of Prostitutes.’ Her example is an inspiration to today’s church, sadly often preoccupied with its internal business, to make a stand for those forced into slavery, especially those forced into the sex trade. (Josephine Butler is commemorated in the Church of England on May 30th)

What can we do? Like Josephine Butler we can

  • inform ourselves of the facts,
  • we can support agencies like the Medaille Trust tackling the issue
  • we can encourage people of influence to bring about change.
  • we can volunteer to help, say in supporting our language class in little ways.
  • Josephine Butler’s work was grounded in prayer. We can pray for social justice for all, and particularly for those locally seeking new lives.
  • We can Ask the Question: Are these products we use slave free?

The Collect used to commemorate Josephine Butler:

God of compassion and love,
by whose grace your servant Josephine Butler
followed in the way of your Son
in caring for those in need:
help us like her to work with strength
for the restoration of all to the dignity
and freedom of those created in your image;
through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

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Creeping Joy at Ladyewell

Ladywell 2 UMycah joined our 9th annual May pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady at Ladyewell, near Preston. Here are her thoughts:

Recently, a group from St Chrysostom’s joined friends from St Peters Oughtington for our annual day long pilgrimage to Ladyewell Shrine near Preston.  It being May, and remembering particularly Our Lady this month, Joy was the theme of our Ladyewell pilgrimage.

Ladywell 1 UThe day began as a rainy one, as most days seem to in Manchester since I moved here in September. Personally, as someone who grew up with rain nearly every day of the year, I did not mind the light showers we were getting throughout the drive up towards the Shrine.  The rain had stopped by the time we arrived, and what I love about these little smatterings of rain is how revitalized the flowers and plants look when they’ve had a drink recently.  The Shrine gardens were gorgeous, the rain then sunshine bringing out the brightness of spring as the day grew sunnier into the afternoon.

Ladywell 3 UThe vitality of the plants added an extra little uplifting bounce in my step as I walked around the gardens admiring God’s Creation in the pocket of holiness to where we had journeyed.

There was a jolly sense of fellowship with everyone who was there, chatting over cups of tea and joining together in the Rosary at noon.

It seemed to me, throughout the day the sun slowly started to creep out and shine, it brought a sense of Joy to the world around us as we celebrated our time at the Shrine with a Mass and a blessing at the end.

Ladywell 4 UDespite the weather, or because of it, Joy had crept up on me and made a special day of peaceful prayer, fellowship, and enjoying God’s creation.

For a report on our 2014 pilgrimage to Ladyewell click here.

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The Apostle of the English

On 26th May the Church of England celebrates the life of the first Archbishop of Canterbury, St Augustine. A stained glass window in the north aisle of St Chrysostom’s Church honours Augustine of Canterbury.

Detail from the St Augustine window in St Chrysostom's Church

Detail from the St Augustine window in St Chrysostom’s Church

The Venerable Bede tells the story of how Gregory the Great, Bishop of Rome, saw fair-haired Saxon slaves from Britain in the Roman slave market and was inspired to try to convert their people. In 595 Gregory decided to send missionaries from Rome, a group of monks led by their prior, Augustine. They arrived in Kent (the southeast corner of England) in 597, and the king, Æthelberht, whose wife Bertha was a Christian, allowed them to settle and preach. Their preaching was outstandingly successful, the people were hungry for the Good News of salvation, and they made thousands of converts in a short time. In 601 Æthelberht himself was converted and baptised. Augustine was consecrated bishop and established his headquarters at Canterbury. From his day to the present, there has been an unbroken succession of archbishops of Canterbury.

In 603, Augustine held a conference with the leaders of the already existing Christian congregations in Britain, but failed to reach an accommodation with them, largely due to his own tactlessness, and his insistence (contrary, it may be noted, to Gregory’s explicit advice) on imposing Roman customs on a church long accustomed to its own traditions of worship. It is said that the British bishops, before going to meet Augustine, consulted a hermit with a reputation for wisdom and holiness, asking him, “Shall we accept this man as our leader, or not?” The hermit replied, “If, at your meeting, he rises to greet you, then accept him, but if he remains seated, then he is arrogant and unfit to lead, and you ought to reject him.” Augustine, alas, remained seated. It took another sixty years before the breach was healed.

First page of the Canterbury Gospel brought to England by St Augustine (in Corpus Christi College Library, Cambridge)

First page of the Canterbury Gospel brought to England by St Augustine (in Corpus Christi College Library, Cambridge)

At the time of Augustine’s death on 26 May 604 his mission barely extended beyond Kent, but the foundations he had laid were strong and his initiative introduced a more active missionary style into Britain.

From the collect for St Augustine’s Day:

Almighty God, whose servant Augustine was sent as the apostle
   of the English people:
grant that as he laboured in the Spirit
to preach Christ’s gospel in this land
so all who hear the good news
may strive to make your truth known in all the world;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.

Here is a puzzle. At the bottom of the stained glass window of St Augustine of canterbury in St Chrysostom’s there is this Latin incsription. How does it translate and what is its significance? Replies welcome in comments below.

Aug Ins U

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What are they among so many?

In 686 the plague broke out in a monastery in Jarrow in the north of England. All the monks died, except the abbot a young novice aged 14. Between them the two maintained the full monastic worship of the church until more brothers joined them.

A detail from the stained glass window honouring Bede in St Chrysostom's Church

A detail from the stained glass window honouring Bede in St Chrysostom’s Church

The young boy was Bede, later called ‘the Venerable Bede.’ (Feast day 25th May). Bede was essentially a simple man with a great intellect. For most he was content to stay where he was – in the monastery at Jarrow, a far flung outpost in the civilised world of his day. He never travelled further than York, and that only once. In mind, prayer and study, however, he travelled far. He completed over sixty books, and was considered one of the most learned men of his time. At the same time his interests were wide ranging. He wrote of his love of cooking, walking the coastline, poetry and music.

Within his writings Bede allows for questions to come forward, and for spaces to ponder and think. Curiously, and challengingly his translation of St John’s Gospel into the English of his day ends at John 6.9 – during the story of the feeding of the five thousand at the words, about the bread and fish, What are they among so many?

In his Ecclesiastical History of the English people Bede tells this story reflecting on the value of the Christian faith to the people to whom it was being presented for the first time in early England:

Another of the king’s chief men signified his agreement with this prudent argument, and went on to say: “Your Majesty, when we compare the present life of man on earth with that time of which we have no knowledge, it seems to me like the swift flight of a single sparrow through the banqueting hall where you are sitting at dinner on a winter’s day with your thegns and counsellors. In the midst there is a comforting fire to warm the hall; outside, the storms of winter rain or snow are raging. This sparrow flies swiftly in through one door of the hall, and out through another. While he is inside, he is safe from the winter storms; but after a few moments of comfort, he vanishes from sight into the wintry world from which he came. Even so, man appears on earth for a little while; but of what went before this life or of what follows, we know nothing. Therefore, if this new teaching has brought any more certain knowledge, it seems only right that we should follow it.”


Bede’s Prayer at Durham Cathedral

Bede’s Prayer, above his tomb in Durham cathedral:

Christus est stella matutina, Alleluia

Qui nocte saeculi transacta, Alleluia

Lucem vitae sanctis promittit, Alleluia;

Et pandit aeternam, Alleluia

(Christ is the morning star who when the night of this world is past brings to his saints the promise of the light of life & opens everlasting day.)

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Music for BipolarUK

bipolar artworkStudents from Manchester University and RNCM are putting on a varied classical music concert at Church to support BipolarUK.

Bipolar disorder used to be called ‘manic depression’. About 1 in every 100 of adults have bipolar disorder at some stage in their lives. As the older name suggests, someone with bipolar disorder will have severe mood swings. These usually last several weeks or months and are far beyond what most of us experience.

Shannon, who is organising the concert writes:

13238933_800744843393829_5766187693656664303_nI have a very personal reason for wanting to raise money for this amazing charity as I lost my uncle at the end of last year to Bipolar.

Bipolar UK does such an important job supporting both individuals and families affected by Bipolar. As a greatly misunderstood and complex illness, people suffering can feel extremely alone and Bipolar UK provides a lot of support and reassurance, ranging from local support groups to one-to-one phone calls. As well as this, Bipolar UK sets up and organises support groups for suffers under the age of 26.

Whilst support for suffers of Bipolar is available, the charity also offers help and advice for the families and friends of those suffering, advising them on how they can support their loved ones who are suffering.

Bipolar UK supports more than 70,000 individuals and families every year, and as you can imagine, this takes a huge amount of funding. It is therefore so important to do all the fundraising possible to make sure this life-saving charity can continue its vital work.

Bipolar image 2If you can come and support this concert, it will be appreciated so greatly, not only by the performers who are playing, but by people who are receiving the help they need as a result of your donation.

The Concert is at St Chrysostom’s Church On Saturday May 28th at 7.30pm at Church.

Tickets £5, or £3 students / concessions. Everyone is very welcome.

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A 5yr old talks about God – now you have a go!

3256285154_5d79b136ac_zAre you shy to talk about your faith and what you believe?  It can be a shame not to because talking helps us to think more clearly about our belief and hope, and we can encourage one another, and find we are not alone with questions or doubts, and help one another grow in faith. So here’s an invitation to practise talking about what you believe.

I was walking down the street with a certain 5yr old the other day when she, without any prompting, began talking about God. No inhibitions with her!

Here, almost verbatim, is what she said.

“There was God and I don’t know where God came from.

Then Mary came along and they got married.

Then their baby Jesus was born.

When Jesus was old he got killed. But God loved Jesus and didn’t like him killed so he brought him alive again.

I don’t know any more because I can’t read all the words in the book.”

That may not quite be official Christian teaching but its a good try for a five year old, isn’t it? AND it’s an encouragement to us to have a try too.

Now, in simple words why not have a go at saying what’s at the heart of your faith – and remember you too don’t need to know all the words in the book!


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Awake, my soul …. I shall awake at dawn (Psalm 57.8)

Unusual times can bring insight into the spiritual  and prayer. Here is the second blog post about this year’s 24 hours of prayer in Church. Three different people offer reflections.

The Roundel window above the Anson Chapel altar

The Roundel window above the Anson Chapel altar

When dawn was about to break, I was reading (and thinking about) Psalm 130. The verse in front of me was: “My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.”

Most of the Church lights were out so we could see the dawn arrive through the stained glass windows. I heard the birds’ dawn chorus first. In the Anson Chapel, the roundel (round-form) window, high about the altar, lit up. Not gradually – I felt. Suddenly! The Heavenly Angels, shone white. They greeted us below “that watch for the morning”.

The most poignant time for me was during the rush hour on Thursday morning.  I was sitting in adoration and prayer in the presence of the Sacrament, and I became so conscious of all that was happening around me.  There were the squeals, shouts and laughter of children on the way to school.  The buses carrying their cargo of workers and shoppers to business. The frenzied conversation of students off to work and study in the Universities. The wailing sirens of emergency vehicles responding to incidents.

In the midst of all this was our Lord in the Eucharist, and of course, in the midst of all this is St Chrysostom’s Church – a visible, tangible building housing a group of people who testify to God’s presence and activity in our busy city and lives.

Prime 24Prime; what a peculiar thing to be doing at 5am! On Thursday morning I found myself there in the Anson chapel with 3 others joining in the short service of  Prime for the first time ever. Any resentment I had about getting up at 4.15am just melted away in the stillness of that chapel as I sat looking at our dear Lord Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament lit only by candle light.

I have long worried about my prayer being “good enough” but I know it will come whenever I am in His presence exposed in the monstrance. When I left Church just after 6am, I felt refreshed and ready for the day ahead in a particular way.

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