The Viciousness of Injustice: Ken Leech Memorial Lecture

Canon Mark Oakley

A plate of liver and onions in a university refectory might not be the most memorable of meals usually, but I remember it very well. I was a theology student at King’s College London. It was 1989. I was 20 years old. And I was eating liver and onions with Fr Ken Leech. I couldn’t believe it. He was a hero of mine. 

With these words Canon Mark Oakley, Dean of St John’s College, Cambridge began the first Ken Leech Memorial lecture in Manchester, The Viciousness of Injustice.

Fr Ken Leech was an outstanding and influential contextual theologian and radical Anglo Catholic priest. The lecture, in Ken’s memory was co-sponsored by St Chrysostom’s Church, Luther King House and the Society of Catholic Priests (SCP). It was excellent.

Mark Oakley urged us to consider Ken’s insights and radical challenges and follow in his footsteps today, challenging unjust structures which oppress and marginalise. We were encouraged to look at the signs of the times we live in and ‘to learn again’ from Ken. To do this we must be people of poetry, protest, prophesy and prayer.

Fr Ian, Fr Mark and Dr Graham Sparkes (President LKH)

Mark’s words were provoking and entertaining, challenging and engaging.

The large audience was very appreciative and the questions which followed were wide ranging and stimulating.

 

Here are just a few comments from people attending:

“I could have listened to Mark Oakley all evening long!”

” ‘Church – a gymnasium for the underused imagination?’ – what a wonderful thought. There were so many wonderful lines”

“Outstanding, challenging words the church and world need to hear today, I am sure Ken would have approved!”

“So appropriate, so interesting… and wonderfully entertaining. Thank you very much.”

“A delight to listen to”

Alan, Churchwarden at St C’s thanks Fr Mark for ‘a captivating lecture’

Mark concluded the lecture with these words:   For Ken Leech, poet, pray-er, prophet and protestor I am deeply grateful and honoured to have had the chance to say my thank you tonight. Whereas we pray he rests in peace I suspect he prays that we will not – there is far too much to be done and a gospel to be lived.

St Chrysostom’s Church, where Fr Ken’s Funeral Mass was held, is delighted to have sponsored this lecture, and delighted too that Fr Mark Oakley spoke so appropriately and so well. We look forward to future lectures.

 

We are very pleased to say the lecture ‘The Vicousness of Injustice: Learning again from Ken Leech’ is now available in print in our Olympias Tracts series from St Chrysostom’s Church.

To find out how to obtain a copy click here.

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39 candles for trafficking victims

Vietnamese survivors of trafficking stand before the 39 candles of remembrance

Vietnamese survivors of human trafficking gathered today (8th November) at St Chrysostom’s Church together with volunteers, church members and friends for an act of worship to remember the 39 Vietnamese trafficked people, from North and Central Vietnam, who suffocated on their journey seeking a better life in Britain.

Sheran Harper, worldwide president of the Mothers’ Union also joined the worship along with representatives of the local community.

Reflection and prayer was led in English and in Vietnamese. The Vietnamese speakers were survivors of trafficking themselves, and we briefly heard the story of one, and we were moved at his thanks for the care he receives at Church. In our work of care at St Chrysostom’s for the survivors of human trafficking we have helped over 400 people at St Chrysostom’s and we estimate that 50 – 60 of them have been from Vietnam.

Paper wreathes made at church by survivors, volunteers and church members

Prayers were offered, and 39 candles lit, one for each person who died. Prayers were also said for their families and friends, those being trafficked today, and for those who traffick other humans.

The following prayer, written by the Bishop of Manchester, Bishop David, was read in English and translated into Vietnamese.

God of all peoples, we hold before you those who have died seeking a new life in this country. We pray that they may now know the fullness of your light and your peace;

We pray, too, that their families and friends may find comfort in their darkness. We remember all those who put their lives at risk in seeking to travel here, praying that they may be kept safe, especially when they are in the hands of those that would exploit them and care little for their well-being.

May your kingdom come, when all may find welcome and kindness amongst our human family, and when true justice may be known for all. These things we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

All were united in a poignant time of silence as we pondered the horrors which human trafficking can inflict.

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Action for Revival: Ken Leech

“We need to stress that the Church is a Divine society with a life-style which is quite contrary to the values which govern western society at the present time, for it is based on sharing. The Eucharistic life, in which people are treated on absolute equality and in which they share, and become, the Body of Christ, is totally at variance with the way our society treats people.”

So wrote Ken Leech in his engaging and hard hitting booklet Action for Revival. Over the next few months here at St Chrysostom’s Church we’re publishing a series of booklets – Olympias Tracts. The booklets aim to present writings of the past and present on Anglo Catholic themes fitting in with our ethos and relevant to the church and world today.

We’re delighted that Fr Ken’s leaflet Action for Revival is the first of the series and is now available.

Fr Ken was a prolific author and many of his books remain in print. He also wrote a great number of articles and leaflets, many to address specific issues of the day. Action for Revival, long out of print, presents the key themes of his ministry and teaching in a straightforward, accessible and direct way.

Ken wrote this leaflet as a challenge to renewal in a church which, he said, was moving away from its main purpose – prayer, pastoral care and social challenge. The themes he presents here are clearly put and were to be developed at greater length in his books.

The booklet was specifically produced for the Ken Leech Memorial lecture delivered by Canon Mark Oakley on November 5th 2019, sponsored by St Chrysostom’s at Luther King House. It serves as a stimulating introduction and reminder of Ken’s thought and challenge to the Church today.

Copies are available £2 from church, or by post. Click:  Olympias Tracts information  for details on how to order.

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What the Bishop says …. about St Chrysostom’s People

Bishop David talked with, and encouraged, members of the congregation, trafficked and homeless men, gay couples, those seeking asylum, local councillors, schools staff and many more…

Watching members of St Chrysostom’s Church play the parts of their predecessors at the recent anniversary service proved a deeply encouraging experience. Not least because this is a church prepared to define its history not via a series of photographs and biographies of vicars, however eminent they may have been, but by the lives and witness of members of the congregation and parish. And what a diverse group they turned out to be!

 Today’s St Chrysostom’s is well-known in Manchester for how it welcomes diversity, and creates the context in which Christians from very different backgrounds can flourish in discipleship and ministry. It’s work supporting refugees and asylum seekers, and people who have been trafficked, as well as individuals marginalised on grounds of gender and sexuality, has gained it high respect across the city and beyond. But this is not a mere modern innovation. Ever since it first opened its door 142 years ago, this church has led the way in how it has included the marginalised, cared for the most needy, and sustained excellence in music and worship. The congregation members who, for an evening, briefly put on the guise of those who worked and worshipped here in previous generations, were not at all in unfamiliar clothing. Rather, they were demonstrating how they have taken up the mantle of their predecessors.

 St Chrysostom’s parish has long been home to those who have sought solace and comfort for themselves and their loved ones in unfamiliar, and potentially hostile, surroundings. The wide range of civic and other leaders who joined us to celebrate this living heritage was itself a tribute to the impact that a group of open hearted Christians can have, both in its community and far beyond.

+David, Bishop of Manchester

We are very grateful to Bishop David for these kind and encouraging words, and for the time and attention he gave to speak with so many at our celebration: ‘St Chrysostom’s People.’

We have produced a book giving the stories of over 50 different people connected in some way with the church. Copies, £4.50, are available from Church. (For more details, including a list of those included please click here).
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St Chrysostom’s People: Tommy Moore

Bernie and Natalie wearing Man City supporters items (reluctantly!) tell of Tommy

Why is there a carving of a large bird outside Church?

That is a special carving in memory of Tommy.

Who was Tommy, was he famous?

Tommy was a local man he lived near church all his life. He was a keen Man City supporter and loved to go to Longsight Market.

So why do we remember him?

Tommy became ill in the middle of his life and he had to move into a home just across the road to be looked after. Sometimes he would get very upset and needed help.

He loved to come to church here and came most days he could. He came to ‘Holy Mass’ as he called it and before hand he loved to sit at the back and chat with parish assistants over a cup of tea. Sometimes he found talking difficult but everyone had patience with him and he was very special.

What made him special?

He struggled and brought love out of people. He tried his hardest and was always friendly. He showed how important it is to have time for other people.

Sometimes the special people in church and in life are the humble everyday people who do their best and are kind and loving.

We have produced a book giving the stories of over 50 different people connected in some way with the church. The book contains an expanded version of this account of Tommy, and a tribute to him from a former parish assistant. Copies, £4.50, are available from Church. (For more details, including a list of those included please click here).

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St Chrysostom’s People: Carmen Allen

P and G

Pippa and Grace speak of Carmen Allen

This photo is of my Granny Carmen Allen.

Carmen, my mother in law, accepted the invitation to come to the ‘mother country’ from Jamaica. People were told they were needed. She arrived in England in 1960.

She trained for three years hoping to become a nurse

Just before her final exam Carmen was told that despite her seniority that she was inferior to that of her junior colleagues. Carmen refused to accept what she had been told, collected her belongings and left.

She challenged injustice and inequality wherever she found them.

The strength and determination of women like Carmen brought to light racism in British society and institutions, including the Church.

In 1968 Carmen married Edward, my Grandad, here in this Church.

38 years later I married Carmen’s son, Richard here. Carmen worshipped regulalrly here at St Chrysostom’s. She found it to be a place of inclusion, welcome and faith.

I hope people today can be like my Granny – caring and loving in families and challenging injustice wherever they find it and I know that she is watching down on us.


We have produced a book giving the stories of over 50 different people connected in some way with the church. The book contains an expanded version of this account of Carmen.  Copies, £4.50, are available from Church. (For more details, including a list of those included please click here).

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St Chrysostom’s People: Louise da Cocodia

Edna and Desmond

Edna George and Desmond Ward speak of Louise

We speak of Louise da Cocodia, began Edna, to which Desmond responded…

A remarkable and much loved woman and member of our congregation here at St Chrysostom’s. She was ever bright, and like a star, always transmitting energy to those around her, warming them with kindness that resonated from her core

Louise emigrated here from Jamaica and became a nurse. She endured racial abuse but worked through it, she became a champion for racial equality. She became a churchwarden at St Chrysostom’s in the early 1970s, one of the first black women churchwardens in England.

She is ever remembered with deep affection by the people of St Chrysostom’s. She was noted at church for her joy, for her welcome, and for her service. Although a Deputy Lieutenant of the Queen, member of General Synod of the Church of England,  Canon of the Cathedral, CBE, she was here every Sunday, always willing to pick up a sweeping brush at church and tidy up after events.

Her example inspires us to work together in harmony here at St Chrysostom’s and to draw in those who are hurt or abused by church or society. Her example encourages us to work for justice in our society.

Louise was encouraging to Michael and I, knowing we were a gay couple. She had been discriminated against herself, and had an empathy for others who suffered discrimination. She was totally accepting and inclusive. She was a loyal and faithful member of the congregation, willing and encouraging to everyone with a smile and openness to melt your heart. She was my encouragement to do all I could for the church and its people. My abiding memory of Louise is the warmth, welcoming and encouragement to all, to be themselves, and help others; her energy and commitment to those who needed help in any way. She always put others first. To the people of St Chrysostom’s today, I am sure Louise would want to say: “Keep on doing the good work of inclusiveness this church has always been known for, long before it became fashionable. Be friendly and helpful to all who need support and grateful to those who join in the giving.”

We have produced a book giving the stories of over 50 different people connected in some way with the church. The book contains an expanded version of this account of Louise. Copies, £4.50, are available from Church. (For more details, including a list of those included please click here).

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