Penny and Tracy – Attracting priests to the North?

We are proud at St C’s to see two women priests (Tracy Charnock, former curate and Penny King, former parish assistant) with a Chrysostom’s connection featured on a Church of England website seeking to attract clergy to the north. In today’s edition of ‘The Times’ the story is taken up. Here is the article from The Times (28 Feb 15)

The Church of England has launched a campaign to attract young vicars to take up long-unfilled posts in the north


Penny – a poster girl?

When Penny King told her university friends in Canterbury that she was moving to Manchester, they were horrified. “They said ‘you’ll get shot! You’ll get mugged! It’s depressing. It’s all grey and the weather’s awful’. ”

The perception that life is “grim up north” has greatly damaged the Church of England’s attempts to fill posts in the north, where some jobs for vicars, in both inner cities and rural outposts, have remained unfilled for some time.

King, a 28-year-old Church of England curate at St Elisabeth’s, Reddish, Machester, has become one of the poster girls for a CoE campaign to attract a young generation of male and female vicars to fill posts in deprived areas where Christian pastoral work is often most needed. She has no regrets about her move: “Manchester is no more dangerous than anywhere else,” she says. “I feel safer here living on my own as my neighbours look out for me. I’ve been welcomed with open arms.”

Her story appears on the website for Clergy North West, a campaign aimed at combating a hidden crisis in the Church of England. It is a disastrous equation: most Anglican priests hail from the south, yet the church in the north struggles to recruit. Church statistics from 2012 show that while there are 5,734 full-time priests in the Province of Canterbury (which includes the South, South East, South West and the Midlands, only 2,064 priests are in the church’s northern province, York (which includes the northern counties). Unfilled posts in the Province of York will soon amount to nearly 70.

The evidence, certainly, is far from anecdotal. Research produced by the journalist Madeleine Davies for The Church Times revealed that an empty parish in the Diocese of London will typically lie vacant for 4.6 months and have a shortlist of three potential candidates. In York, the wait for a new priest can be up to a year, with a shortlist of two, while in Durham, “we have had vacancies for two years, two years plus because nobody applies,” says the Right Rev Mark Bryant, Bishop of Jarrow. Why? “On a bad day I think people [priests] want to play safe. On a very bad day I wonder if people want life too comfy and easy,” he says.

There are seven vacancies in his diocese, Durham; two or three are long-term. The jobs on offer, Bryant admits, are “not for wimps”. Poverty is often starkly apparent and churchgoing low (though increasing numbers come to non-Sunday activities such as Messy Church). Often after 4pm when the teachers leave, the vicar is the only professional left in the community. “It’s gritty, it’s tough but we are in good heart,” says Bryant.

London-born Dr Crispin Pailing recently took up a post as the rector of Liverpool and vicar of St Nicholas church, and loves the city’s “vibrancy”, “visual grandeur”, “cosmopolitanism” and “aspiration”. “From a London perspective, the diversity of the north isn’t always acknowledged,” he says. “There is a stereotype of flat caps and whippets.”

Tracy at work in Blackpool

Tracy at work in Blackpool

The north has long been linked to progress, agrees the Rev George Lane, chaplain to Manchester city airport. He should know: his wife, Libby, is the first woman Bishop in the country. “She was educated at the school that all the Pankhurst girls [daughters of the suffragette Emmeline] went to,” he says with pride, extolling in the next breath Manchester’s “edgy” buzz.

Lane (born in Bristol) is one of the six Southern priests now based in the north interviewed on the Clergy North West website. Its aim is to break down common myths about the north, says the Right Rev Paul Bayes, Bishop of Liverpool. He explains: “There are stereotypes which can deter people from even wanting to look here.” Later this year the Clergy North West campaign — which is co-sponsored by the Dioceses of Blackburn, Liverpool and Manchester — will be visiting London on a recruitment drive. “When people come north and meet the people and see the countryside there is no need to sell it further,” says Bayes. “The purpose of the campaign is just to get them on the train.”

One stereotype however, does hold true. The north is poorer than the south. The divide is growing, according to a 2015 report by the think-tank, the Centre for Cities based on a survey of the 64 largest cities in the UK. The net result is poverty of opportunity, says the Ven Peter Townley, Archdeacon of Pontefract, now part of the fledgling diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales. “I was brought up in a council estate in North Manchester and there was a sense you’d move on,” he says. “Many of us did and went to university. Now it is far more difficult. There is far more sense of being trapped than before. The Church has got to be part of the solution. People in forgotten communities need to feel they have a value.” He adds: “In these areas — where the reward is the warmth and the welcome — we do want our very best people to serve. ”

So what stops them? Canon Rachel Mann, a poet from South Worcestershire who is now based in Manchester, blames books. “The Church has no literary DNA north of Birmingham,” she says, referring to the English novel.

With the odd notable exception, such as The Vicar of Wakefield, CoE clergymen are often depicted, she argues, as creatures of the south, of upper/middle class origin. “For me the only really interesting literary representation of clergy that takes place in a place like Manchester is Mrs Gaskell’s — and she comes from a non-conformist setting,” she adds. Has television improved matters? Rev, the television comedy, is set in East London. For a northern vicar, Mann suggests Rev Timms, the priest in Cumbria-set Postman Pat.

On a more serious note, when seeking work, clergy, as well as discerning spiritually, usually consider practical questions, such as “the job of a spouse, education of children, the nearness of relatives” says Lee. The days when bishops dispatched priests to a given parish are largely over, he adds.

Yet for those who brave the move north, the rewards are rich, says King: “In the south, people are always rushing, and when you get on the tube, you have your head down,” she adds. In contrast, in Manchester, “you get on a bus, and you’ll hear someone’s life story.”

Posted in Anglican, Anglo Catholic, Christianity, Manchester, Prayer | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Cod Liver Oil, the Maypole and more memories of St Chrysostom’s School

To mark the opening of new classrooms, and a new look, to St Chrysostom’s School we’re posting a few blog posts about the school in the past. We’ve looked at the origins of the school (see here). Now we interview a former pupil who works at the school – Janice Hamadani.

The Admissions Register shows Janice Howard starting nursery in 1960

The Admissions Register shows Janice Howard starting nursery in 1960

Janice was at the school in the 1960s when it was on its former site on Carmoor Road (now occupied by Victoria Hall), although as she said, Year 6 children had to cross Upper Brook Street to their classroom above a hardware shop, on a site where the hospital now stands.

The detached clasroom for older children of the school was above the shop in this photo (note the Gaskell building in the background)

The detached classroom for older children of the school was above the shop in this photo (on Upper Brook Street – note the Gaskell building in the background)

Janice attended the school from Nursery, and remembers sitting in circles of four in the nursery when each day the teacher, Mrs Grimshaw, using just one large spoon, gave each child a spoonful of cod liver oil with malt. The children would sit with raised open mouths like little birds waiting to be fed.

After lunch all the nursery children had to lie down and sleep for half an hour and their were little mattresses and grey blankets (Janice’s had a tulip on it) for each child.

In the school playground

In the school playground

At school her best friend was Margaret Clavin, and her favourite teacher was Mrs Booth, who was very strict and would not allow chattering in class, but she was a lovely teacher.

Janice’s favourite lesson was English when many stories were read, much of it was called ‘comprehension’ in those days.

There was lots and lots of singing – including lots of hymns. Onward Christian soldiers, and There is a Green Hill were especially popular.

Boys and girls enjoyed dancing round the maypole in the playground.

Boys and girls enjoyed dancing round the maypole in the playground.

In the playground the children enjoyed different games. These included Catch a girl where boys had to try and catch one of the girls as they ran around – but the girls could not be caught if they reached the railings. Hop ScotchPat a Cake and French Skipping were very popular too. Anyone know what French Skipping is? (Why not explain by posting a comment below!)

There was no school uniform in those days. Lunchtimes were in the school canteen where the large Norweb building on Hathersage Road now stands. A favourite meal was school pie – the smell of the baking used to flow to outside the kitchens.

Mrs Hamadani in Year 1 classroom today.

Mrs Hamadani in Year 1 classroom today.


Thank You to Mrs Hamadani for sharing these special memories,

and Thank You too to Miss Jenkins’ Year 1 of the school for helping with the questions.


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An Engagement after Evening Church

It was the weekend of St Valentine’s Day… Our St Chrysostom’s Evensong Choir had just sung 6.30pm Sunday Evensong. It was a lovely act of worship full of the musical expertise and enthusiasm of the young people of the choir.

James and AllanahJames and Allanah have recently started worshipping at St Chrysostom’s, encouraged by our welcome and inclusive nature.

They came along to Sunday Evensong and something must have been in the air … because afterwards sitting on the bench outside James asked Allanah to marry him – and she accepted! How lovely! They plan to be married in church in a few months time.

The bench, given in memory of Dick and Gill Hatch, has proved a great asset to church. Passers by like to rest there for a while, last year Fr Chris used the bench offering ‘Ashes to Go’  on Ash Wednesday last year and now James and Allanah have added a new use for it!  Dick and Gill would be delighted.

We give James and Allanah our sincere congratulations and assure them of our encouragement and prayers.

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Have a joyful Lent – think outside the box!

Click the image to make larger

Click, then click again, the image to make larger

Each year you give us this joyful season  – says one of the prayers at Mass in Lent. Really, joyful?

Well, for many people Lent  seems to be about giving up chocolate, gin or bacon sandwiches. Many Christians try a little more than that and make an effort to give up eating so much meat. This can all seem rather heavy going, inward looking and just a little in danger of suggesting that God is a bit of a grumpy old soul, or at least of making Lent a sombre and rather depressing season.

Let’s think again. Let it be a joyful season. After all Lent is about getting ready for Easter – preparing for the great feast. That needs focus, and it means getting priorities right. That may mean ‘giving up’ some things that distract us, or get in the way, but it also means looking forward joyfully to what is to come.

So as Lent approaches, and begins, a priority is to do a little looking at our lives – a little spring cleaning.

We can do this by examining our lives – examining our consciences and seeing if we need to alter our priorities and turn in a new direction. This website has some simple, direct questions which are useful to think over as lent begins. In the days of Lent (and beyond) it’s good at the end of the day to review the day, and to pray. The Examen, a simple prayer exercise can be helpful. (Click here for an audio introduction to the Examen).

And then why not think ‘outside the box’ and make up your own ideas for Lent, and write them down.

Make-Lent-AwesomeSome suggestions (drawn from this website). During Lent: Only buy things you really need, collect 40 things in the 40 days which you no longer need and give them to a charity shop, every day say three nice things to a partner, friend, child or coworker, no eating between meals, be positive – don’t gossip. (The website gives more great suggestions).

Try it – have a joyful – an awesome Lent!

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St Chrysostom’s School: The Early Days

St Chrysostom’s School is growing! Major work has taken place to extend and improve the school buildings and Year 4, 5 and 6 children have new classrooms. Mr Trevor Matthews, Headteacher, says; The time has come to move into our fantastic new building extension. This is an exciting time in the history of St Chrysostom’s…’ To mark this we are having three different entries on our church blog, about the school’s history. First of all on the origins of the school:

The former St Chrysostom's School

The former St Chrysostom’s School

St Chrysostom’s CE School was founded by St Chrysostom’s Church. It opened with 19 children on September 4th 1876 in a small building on Upper Brook Street (then called Clarence Road). By 1880 numbers had risen to 62 and the school moved to Clarendon Road (Carmoor road, now). Soon the number of children reached 129 and standards were very high – in 1882 of the 23 ‘Mixed’ schools (that is with boys and girls) St Chrysostom’s and one other school reached the highest levels of pupil achievement in Manchester.

The Curriculum include reading, writing and arithmetic (the 3 R’s) as well as religious education. The curriculum was broad though – girls learned sowing and knitting. By the age of seven girls had to ‘complete a garment such as a child’s plain shift.’ Painting, drama and ‘technical education’ were also included for all children. An inspector noted that there were ‘fresh flowers on each teacher’s desk.’

Children in the playground in the 1930s

Children in the playground in the 1930s

Some of the teachers stayed a few years, some stayed longer. Mr J T S King was headmaster from 1882 to 1922 – a remarkable 40 years.

Of course the area was different from now. Miss Chadwick, who taught at the school in the 1880s later recalled: It was vastly different in those days, a few streets and lots of fields, … There was a big farm where the Victoria Baths now stand. One pupil was afraid of the geese and always brought bread to throw to occupy their attention till she got past. Upper Brook Street was quite out in the country then. There were no shops nearer than Brunswick Street.’

Mrs Pankhurst, former St Chrysostoms School Governor

Mrs Pankhurst, former St Chrysostoms School Governor

A report on schools in 1905 noted that Manchester and its neighbourhood swarm with benevolent and wealthy people. But except in a few rare cases, they display no practical interest in the … schools

We are proud to say St Chrysostom’s School had one very notable exception to this.  Emmeline Pankhurst was once a governor of the school.

The great suffragette and figure of national importance in the field of women’s rights, lived near the school. She found time among her national and political engagements to serve on St Chrysostom’s School’s Board of Management (now called the Governing Body).

Extract from the 1906 list of School 'Managers' of St  Chrysostom's School

Extract from the 1906 list of School ‘Managers’ of St Chrysostom’s School

Here is the proof! Looking through school archives recently Fr Ian cam across the minutes book of the school managers, and this included a list of the managers of the school in 1906. By then Mrs Pankhurst had moved from Daisy Bank Road to Nelson Street.

How fitting to have such an outstanding and inspiring campaigner for inclusion and equality in our school’s history!

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Jesus and Mary, Isa and Maryam, encountering faiths

We recently welcomed a local Muslim fellowship group at St Chrysostoms for a wonderful friendly evening of sharing and exploring where our paths come close in encountering Jesus (Isa) and Mary (Maryam) through our Scriptures and faith. Rosie, parish assistant, writes:

M C 1Jesus promises, “Whenever two or three are gathered in my name, I am there with you.”

The idea came during Advent, when two of the group came into church enquiring about using the church as a venue for an event for one of their festivals (the answer was yes, and that was a great success). This first conversation, led to talking about the Christmas Story, how there are some overlaps in our respective scriptures, and also about our Posada venture – gathering and sharing faith and friendship. So we thought it would be great to arrange something similar: an evening to share the Islamic and Christian accounts of the birth narratives of Jesus – and so we did.

M C 2We had short presentations, each telling the story of the birth of Jesus based on the Quran and Bible, with extracts from both, and we also touched on the practice of reverence to the names of holy people, and aspects of the religious life. Then of course there was plenty of conversation and questions with tea, coffee and cake. It was a truly inspiring evening, and a fantastic way to connect with our Muslim brothers and sisters in the local community. It was a real chance to learn about each other’s faiths, and find some new perspectives. I also found it an incredibly valuable experience in exploring my own faith from a different angle, and seeing where the bits of the “jigsaw puzzle” of the Abrahamic scriptures and beliefs fit together and cross over.

Finally, and most importantly of all, I feel that through this encounter (and hopefully more to come) we have begun to forge a strong friendship: one of welcome, discussion, respect, and understanding.

So very appropriately at the time of Candlemas, it seems that Jesus – as a light to all nations and peoples – has brought our communities together.

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Celebrating Pauli Murray in LGBT History Month

In the UK LGBT History month is observed in February. We are marking it at St Chrysostoms at LGBT Communion (held on the first Saturday at 5pm) in February by honouring Rev. Dr Pauli Murray, an Anglican Priest. A photo of her will be placed on a pillar in church throughout  February.  Fr Chris writes:

Pauli Murray 1“My entire life’s quest has been for spiritual integration, and this quest has led me ultimately to Christ, in whom there is no East or West, no North or South, no Black or White, no Red or Yellow, no Jew or Gentile, no Islam or Buddhist, no Baptist, Methodist, Episcopalian, or Roman Catholic, no Male or Female. There is no Black Christ, no White Christ, no Red Christ – although these images may have transitory cultural value. There is only Christ, the Spirit of Love.”  (Selected Sermons and Writing, 1977)

So wrote Pauli Murray, a renowned civil rights pioneer, feminist, author, lawyer and the first black woman ordained as an Episcopal priest. She was ordained as a priest in America in 1977 and celebrated her first Mass in the church where her grandmother had been baptised whilst being a slave.

In the 1930s and 40s, she fought against racial segregation in education and public transit. In the 1950s and 1960s, she challenged the Civil Rights Movement to recognize the leadership of women and the double discrimination that minority women face.

Pauli was arrested and jailed for refusing to sit in the back of a segregated bus in Virginia in 1938 — 15 years before Rosa Parks became a national symbol for resisting bus segregation.

In the late 1930s Pauli was also seeking psychological help and testosterone implants from doctors in an effort to “treat” her homosexuality by becoming more male. She was attracted to women and her longest relationships were with women, so she is justifiably considered a lesbian. But she also described herself as a man trapped in a woman’s body and took hormone treatments in her 20s and 30s, so she might called transgender today.

Pauli Murray 2Pauli was no stranger to discrimination – she was rejected from Graduate School because of her race, and then, despite finishing first in her class was rejected by Harvard because of her gender.

Pauli was wrote extensively to challenge race segregation in USA schools. She worked with Martin Luther King Jr on civil right matters, and was the first African American woman to receive a doctorate from Yale in 1965. She died on July 1, 1985 aged 74.

Liberating God, we thank you most heartily for the steadfast courage of your servant Pauli Murray, who fought long and well: Unshackle us from bonds of prejudice and fear so that we show forth your reconciling love and true freedom, which you revealed through your Son and Our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Posted in Anglican, Anglo Catholic, Art, Christianity, gay, lesbian, ordination, Prayer, Saints, Spirituality | Tagged | 1 Comment