News of former Parish Assistants, continued

Fr Chris shared news of four former parish assistants here, he has been busy and brings us news now of four more! It makes lovely reading. St C’s has an important ministry in encouraging young people, and the not so young (!) to consider how God is calling them. We are so proud of our Parish Assistant scheme. We are always delighted to hear how our former parish assistants are getting on and so pleased that they have enjoyed, and appreciated, their time with us at St C’s.

We send our prayers and good wishes here to Leon, Penny, Laura and Hannah.

Leon Rogers

Greetings to all the saints at the wonderful and transformative St Chrysostoms Manchester! After leaving St Cs I was ordained in the Diocese of Durham and was curate and parish priest there. Sadly we felt we needed to leave the UK after issues of racism during the EU referendum. The Rogers family (5 and 1 on the way) now live in Creston, British Columbia where I am a priest in the Anglican Church of Canada. Ministry here is very different! My mission work includes being a firefighter and coaching swimming for Special Olympics. One day we hope to visit the old country and maybe meet you all at Walsingham? May Our Lady and St Olympias guide you in the path of Christ.

Penny King

After what I believe to be a record of 4 years(!) as parish assistant, I left St Chrysostom’s in 2011 and went to the College of the Resurrection, Mirfield for 2 years. I was ordained deacon in 2013 and priest in 2014 and served my curacy for 3 year at St Elisabeth’s, Reddish – a beautiful church building and a lively and welcoming community. I am currently incumbent at St Nicholas, Newchurch, in the north of the Diocese of Manchester where I have been since July 2016. My beloved border terrier, Buddy and I continue to enjoy parish life and the beautiful Rossendale countryside together. On 23rd April 2019 David Warner, the Vicar of Mossley, and I married at the Community of the Resurrection where we met whilst we were both preparing for ordination

Laura Whitehouse

A year after leaving St. C’s I trained to be a primary school teacher and got a job teaching Year 4 in the school I trained in. In my second year I decide to leave teaching and got a job as the Autism and Asperger’s Employment Adviser for  mental health charity called Richmond Fellowship. My new role allows me to support people to find and retain employment throughout Cambridgeshire. I now work with a variety of people and enjoy every minute. I am in the process of buying my first home and things are going well. I wish everyone at St C’s all the best.

Hannah Loeffler-Kemp

Here is a little update about what I have been up to – I am currently serving as the Program Director at Good Earth Village, Minnesota, USA. Good Earth Village is a faith based retreat and summer camp. I oversee all of the youth and adult programming year round. Part of my job is hiring, training, and supervising around 30 young adults to work as summer counsellors. I plan and implement summer camps for children ages 3-18. We have around 1,000 youth stay at camp over the whole summer. The purpose of camp is to provide a sacred space for campers to explore their faith through experiential learning in creation and intentional community. During these experiences people’s stories weave together, connecting us through our shared humanity. My experience at St Chrysostom’s allowed me to find openness and variety in my faith practices. Compassionate listening is a skill I learned from the St Chrysostom’s community, and is a skill I will always carry with me. Sending joy and prayers to the St Chrysostom’s community!

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Worship #MoreThanSunday

Why Worship? – Our Diocese’s interesting #MoreThanSunday  initiative – encourages exploration and growth in faith. The Diocesan website comments “We hope that #MoreThanSunday will not only deepen our faith and increase our engagement with our communities, but also connect us with other people who share our faith and our discipleship journey.”

Each month a specific theme for thought, discussion and prayer is chosen. Here on our church blog we’re joining in and posting a blog post from a church member about the month’s theme. Here’s a reflection from Amar on the theme of WORSHIP

Amar recently finished a course to become an Authorised Lay Minister (ALM) at church with a particular focus on worship, he comments:

Worship is about connecting with God. Nature gives praise to God, and we have good lives through the gift of Life. As we connect with God in worship – prayer – we become positive in our attitude to life. It enables us to see others in a positive light, and to value one’s self.

The ALM course enabled me to experiment and experience different ways to approach and think about worship – especially the use of music, and to use and embrace silence. Silence especially allows me to connect with God, to enter more fully into God’s presence, and to receive from God.

At our church we can connect with God in the intimacy of Vespers, and also we can value the diversity and larger Christian community at Sunday Mass. The Forty Hours Devotion at Corpus Christi tide gave me and others, the opportunity to experience the special aspect of Worship and the Blessed Sacrament. The Anglican church is very broad and I value St C’s special inclusive Catholic stance.

During the ALM course I helped about create a Liturgy for Advent, which I hopes to share in Advent this year. I experienced diversity in preaching – and came to realise that there are many ways to approach and interpret the Gospel. I also came to see the importance of personal reflection and application of the words and stories. The prayerful and contemplative characteristic of the Psalms in both old and more modern translations, became special to me.

I have come more and more to value the structure of worship. This structure helps us to pray and connect as a community. I really enjoy serving at the Altar, and helping others journey in faith.

The ALM course was very good and I recommend it to others at Church.

Thank you to Amar for this month’s #MoreThanSunday contribution.

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#soapbox Please revise the Church’s Agenda!

A prison contacted me recently about a prisoner whom I know. He is in utter despair and they fear he will take his life. Could I please visit, I was asked.

In the grounds of church two homeless people have been living for many weeks now.

A young adult recently came to see me for advice. He had received homophobic abuse from a member of clergy in another town. He was distressed particulalrly as he had been told to ‘keep quiet’ about the abuse, to protect the clergy person.

These are not unusual events in a parish priest’s ministry. They are examples of the pain and suffering which people suffer. Intense pastoral ministry can take up a great deal of time and energy. It is what I feel called to do.

What I do not feel called to do is attend long and tedious church meetings on internal church issues which appear to bear very little fruit. Recently I have been under pressure to attend an evening meeting of  local church clergy and lay members because one of the members is ‘hurting’ about a decision a large majority of the committee made. The issue is around a word in a ‘mission statement.’ Why on earth do so many people need to give up an evening to address this small issue, I ask. Similarly meetings of clergy and lay people have recently been called to inform of proposed church boundary changes. One colleague commented ‘It will be a tediously long meeting to tell everyone what the done deal is. Couldn’t this be done on a sheet of paper at far less expense and involving far less time?’

Of course the church is in difficult days. Nothing new there. Recent surveys show that numbers attending church are rapidly declining, and the pattern of church going is changing too. The church appears to many increasingly irrelevant and out of date. This is a significant challenge to the church.

So what does the Church do about this? Bishop David Jenkins once remarked that when a colony of gorillas is under threat it turns its back on the world and the gorillas  start to pick nits from one another. He suggested that today, under threat, the church is doing the same. Under threat it turns inward, reorganises, holds more meetings, appoints more special officers, and in doing so gives clergy more work to doand pulls them away from day to day pastoral ministry and encounter with the world beyond the church.

Some bishops, (retired ones!), have shared similar concerns. For example, Bishop John Austin Baker, in retirement, said he felt the ecumenical movement was an enormous distraction. A while ago a retired bishop told me he doubted whether synodical government was worth the meetings, the time and expense it involved.

Standing on my #soapbox I ask those who plan church meetings and agendas to pause, to have the courage to reduce meetings and initiatives by at least 50%, to reduce the number of ‘managers’, and look carefully at agendas and church life to give priority to the hungry, the thirsty, the imprisoned of our society, and also to silence, prayer and to encouraging the good work of so many local churches.

In this #soapbox series on our church blog several of our church members have drawn our attention to matters that concern them deeply – political freedom, education for children, homophobia, addiction, human trafficking … Their passion and concern inspires me. These are the issues for the praying, sacramental church of today, and these and other concerns like them must take priority over internal church organisation, gatherings and meetings.

I am personally grateful for the everyday people who make up the local church – in St Chrysostom’s Church and in the other places I have ministered. They are the Christian lay people who commit themselves to justice, prayer and worship, as their Christian priorities. They are the body of Christ, they are the ones to listen to and be inspired by.

Ian

To commemorate in a small way the courage and determination of Peterloo we have invited church people of St Chrysostom’s to contribute a blog post on a subject about which they have concern and passion. We are calling this small blog series #soapbox.

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News of former parish assistants

Fr Chris has been in touch with some of our former parish assistants, and shares the news:

Fr John Russell

John writes: “I’m having a great curacy in Chelsea. A few months ago, Country Life said St Luke’s was ‘the place to get married in town’ and now we’re having a roaringly busy wedding season and I’ll take 7 weddings this summer. And it’s already time for me to be thinking about my next move after curacy. I’m hoping to become an incumbent and soon have parish assistants of my own to boss around! In April, I took 8 parishioners on the 10K Wolf Run and we raised £6,000 to help fight modern-day slavery. Here’s a photo of me zooming down the water-slide. Lots of love to all at StC’s x”

Fr Ben Eadon

Ben writes: “Here’s a little bit about what’s happened since my days as Parish Assistant: After leaving St Chrysostom’s I began training for ordination at Westcott House.  In 2011 I was ordained and served as Assistant Curate at the Parish of St Chad, Sunderland.

In 2015 I moved to Worthing where I am now Vicar of the Parish of St Symphorian, Durrington.  It’s been a very happy four years here, and I hope I will have many more years serving God’s people here”

Fr Jack Noble

Jack writes: After leaving St Chrysostom’s I had three very happy and formative years at The College of the Resurrection, Mirfield – overlapping with Penny King and Kate O’Sullivan! I then served in St Martin’s Church, Ruislip on the edge of London. St Martin’s was a wonderfully ‘village-y’ suburb. From there I was catapulted into Central London, and I’m now Assistant Priest at St Marylebone next to Baker Street, Madame Tussaud’s and Regent’s Park. A great joy is to be Chaplain to St Marylebone’s two Secondary Schools – one state girls secondary school, the other a secondary school for boys and girls with extra learning needs in speech, language and communication. I am very grateful for all he experienced and learnt at St Chrysostom’s. Gifts from St C’s pop-up in ministry all the time – the biggest being a passion for local parish church and community. For me, that flame was definitely sparked in St Chrysostom’s Parish!

and news from the USA…

Mycah outside United Lutheran Seminary, Philadelphia

Mycah McNett

Mycah writes: I am happy to report my acceptance and plan to attend Seminary this fall! I have started the candidacy process in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in hopes of being ordained for Word and Sacrament in four years which begins with formal theological and pastoral education. Since returning to the United States from Manchester in August 2016, I have been working in Communication and Ministry at Muhlenberg Lutheran Church, Harrisonburg, Virginia. We are a large church in a midsize town in rural Virginia. Many of my experiences at St Chrysostom Manchester have prepared me for the ministry work I currently do and my further call to serve the church, including helping to lead worship, manage our social media, working with youth for our confirmation program, and leading our University campus ministry.  I am constantly blessing my time with you all, and pray for the St Chrysostom community often.

(In Part two – news of other parish assistants).

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#soapbox Protect a local shopping centre

5C3E1028-15E4-4B1C-BF1F-DA53C87289F9Get ready for major disruption travelling  by road into the city for at least three years.
That’s what will happen if the proposal to build an air vent for the High Speed Train ( HS2) on the Fallowfield shopping centre goes agead: the diggers and trucks will block Birchfields Rd night and day during construction . The proposed air vent is no neat funnel tucked in a corner, but a monstrosity of a cuboid  building taller than local houses, and taking up half the site.
Cars will have to be diverted round Slade Lane,  except, whoops , there are no through roads between Slade lane and Birchfields rd , something the planners have overlooked. Buses, cars etc will need to be directed to Stockport Rd or Princess Rd further clogging up those busy roads.
Imagine the fumes that will pollute the air during  the long construction . There is a school playground next to the site   Will the children have to stay inside during construction to avoid lead poisoning ?
Long term,  who knows what quality of air will be spat into the environment from the airvents onto  the children .
The proposed site would necessitate the demolition of a row of well used shops, an important amenity for many in the local community, especially for busy parents on low budgets and older people without private transport. With the loss of the shops will come the loss of local jobs .
It would be easy to cross your fingers and hope our new Prime Minister cancels HS2 because it is so over budget, or to shrug your shoulders and say nothing we do makes any difference.
But we can’t guarantee the first, and we can’t know that protest won’t work unless we give it a try.
You can help by signing the petition
And/ or emailing
This, from Sandra Palmer, is the latest in our #soapbox series, in the spirit of Peterloo.
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#soapbox No love in exclusion

  • One in five LGBT people have experienced a hate crime or incident because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity in the last 12 months 
  • Two in five trans people have experienced a hate crime or incident because of their gender identity in the last 12 months 
  • Four in five anti-LGBT hate crimes and incidents go unreported, with younger LGBT people particularly reluctant to go to the police

 These statistics are taken from the Stonewall report Hate Crime and Incidents, published in 2017. A depressing read, isn’t it? What is even more depressing is that the situation has reportedly deteriorated, there are now more homophobic hate crimes being reported than there were 5 years ago.

How can this be in a progressive, allegedly liberal and inclusive country?

I heard an Anglican Bishop say recently that the problem for us today is “Populism”, which, put rather clumsily perhaps, is politics that supposedly speaks for the will of the people above the interests of the elite. This depresses me further as I find it heart-breaking that ordinary people could want such a thing. After all, are most LGBTQ+ people not ordinary, just like me? I don’t buy it…. The Stonewall study suggests that the majority of the incidents reported (87%) involve LGBTQ+ people being insulted, pestered, intimidated or harassed. Maybe the view could be that this isn’t such a big deal but from personal experience it is!

Whilst I was staying at Hope University in Liverpool recently, a young man at a bus stop made noises as I walked past him which I knew were homophobic, I kept looking forward and walked on but it was humiliating, it affected my sleep that night and I am still thinking about it now…. My experience dented my confidence a little but for someone else it could have had a far more serious impact.

 

 

 

 

I can’t help but wonder then what the difference is between the young man hissing at me at the bus stop and the Archbishop’s decision not to invite same sex spouses to the 2020 Lambeth Conference. There’s all sorts of loving rhetoric around why it should be so but ultimately it gives the same message – ‘you are not a proper person’, well at least that’s the message I take from it.

What I take heart from though are the words of Jesus in John 13:34 – I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” Nowhere in this scripture does it say unless you are LGBTQ+, black, a woman, have a disability or any other ‘difference’. No! Jesus meant everyone and there is certainly no love in exclusion of any kind!

.………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

To commemorate in a small way the courage and determination of Peterloo we have invited church people of St Chrysostom’s to contribute a blog post on a subject about which they have concern and passion. We are calling this small blog series #soapbox.

Thank you to Paul Pritchard for stepping on the soapbox, previous concerns have been about Alcohol  Hong KongEducation in schools and helping modern slaves.

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#soapbox Work to stop human trafficking

Human trafficking is the perfect business: stealing another’s economic capacity by violence. Human trafficking is slavery, and it is at its worst levels ever in our world today. Last month, the largest-ever modern slavery ring in the UK was uncovered. Hundreds of Polish men worked for as little as 50p a day. They were homeless, ex-prisoners and alcoholics. More needs to be done to tackle this crime and help its victims.

Bishop Sarah, Bishop of Shrewsbury meets victims of trafficking at St Chrysostom’s

Such survivors are part of our Church family at St Chrysostom’s. They attend our English classes. They chat and socialise with our team of volunteers. They get out into the countryside on our Saturday Walks. (Some of them are too frightened to go out unaccompanied.) Through this summer, they are in Manchester’s Whitworth Gallery, at practical art classes. Our volunteering is with the Medaille Trust’s safe confidential houses and we’ve been doing this for four years. We’ve supported about four hundred men.

Where are the women survivors of trafficking? In other safe Medaille houses, elsewhere. As Mary Robinson, ex-United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, commented, visiting these Manchester men last month: “You don’t hear about trafficked men”.

What brings our volunteers through the Church door? Empathy. Faith. Duty. That’s the first step. However, the torture and PTSD experiences of the men are so enormous that here’s the ruling principle: making things normal.

There’s a new arrival. Probably without a phrase in English. His front teeth and his glasses may have been smashed. He’s been found by a police raid on a car wash, a meat factory, a vegetable field, a cannabis factory. With no belongings, he’s been driven across the UK, away from his gangmasters (hopefully). He’s given his first police interview, for evidence to convict these traffickers. He’s started on counselling – all in the safe house. What is Manchester to him? He could be here for eight months, or longer.

A Saturday walk together

We sit him down with a “play box” of fake UK notes and coins. It’s comical. Can he count? What English words does he have? (He may have left education at twelve.) Our classes are always practical: shopping, café, going to the doctor, asking directions, Job Centre interviews. Then it’s off with us to the countryside, for a walk and a picnic. “Mike”, who’s just moved to his new life, said: “I didn’t want to come to Manchester. I’m glad I did.”

Alan Beck

At  St Chrysostom’s our wonderful volunteers support survivors of human trafficking, through English Classes, Walks and Art Classes. Will you volunteer to help at St Chrysostom’s? Contact: office@stchrysostoms.co.uk

This is the latest in our #soapbox series, honouring the spirit of #Peterloo and calling for change.

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