The 1970s: Bioscopes, Guava and refugees

Continuing our fascinating series about childhoods of people with connections to our Church in the different decades covering the Queen’s life we move from the 1960s to the 1970s and to a different part of the world. Admos grew up in Zimbabwe, then known as Rhodesia, in the 1970s, years when the country sought democracy and a new future.

The church in Gweru, Zimbabwe where Admos was an altar server

The church in Gweru, Zimbabwe where Admos was an altar server

Admos began school aged 7.  Because people didn’t always know the precise age of their child, the children were tested on the first day to see if they were able to reach over the top of their head to touch their ear.  Admos failed but fortunately his father was able to evidence his age.

School was a very competitive and regarded as highly important, with weekly tests in order to check your position within the class. Children learned by rote and rhymes and school uniform was compulsory. The school day began with the Lord’s Prayer.  The children enjoyed Scripture Union, club which was run by missionaries, and visits from the local clergy.

Admos spent his spare time playing creatively with his mates, making wire cars to drive, out in open countryside, gathering fruit, role playing and games of rounders.  There were few youth clubs, no TV and no cinemas as such, only bioscopes that screen public information with still pictures and no sound. Admos and his friends enjoyed sharing and trading American superhero comics.

School holidays we spent at the family farm helping his mother tend the fields.  There was no electricity or running water; water came from the well and they used paraffin lamps. The children helped with all the jobs such as milking and slaughtering goats, planting, harvesting and storing the grain.

Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo in the 1970s

Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo in the 1970s

Admos recalls eating porridge often cooked with peanut butter and goats’ cheese.  Fruit such as guava, avocados, mangos were locally grown and plentiful.  Soft drinks were a real treat.

Christmas time is remembered as a time of plenty and generosity; it was the only time you had new shoes and clothes.  Christmas day you could eat as much as you like.

The civil war came at the end of the 70s.  The countryside was no longer safe and Admos’ grandparents came to live with them in the city. Admos recalls very unsettling times of fuel shortages, bombings, the mission school being closed and many refugees.  These became fearful times.

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The 1960’s: Roy Orbison, the Twist and limp lettuce

Roy OrbisonWe move from the 1950’s into the 1960s in our fascinating series of blog posts about the decades of the Queen’s life. Canon Alma shares her memories of a 60’s childhood.

Alma’s favourite music in the 1960’s  was Perry Como’s ‘What did Delaware,’ and she was a huge fan of Roy Orbison. Other popular music of the time was Cliff Richard, and, of course, the Beatles. Popular films included Elvis films, Summer Holiday, and Westerns.

The 60’s was a decade of change. Women usually still wore hats to church but in the  early 60’s ‘The Twist’ fashion came in. There were Twist dresses – an imitation of 1920’s dress with dropped waist, and chisel toed shoes were popular.

Youth clubs were very popular and teenagers were quite common in church in those days, although most church officials were still only men.

60s told by St Chrysostom's School children - man on the moon, colour television, World Cup victory and decimal currency

60s told by St Chrysostom’s School children – man on the moon, colour television, World Cup victory and decimal currency

Food was not as inspiring as it is today. Alma remembers meat and potatoes pies, stew and dumplings, salad with limp lettuce, tomatoes, boiled egg, and Brown Windsor soup. It was the time of the rise of the coffee bar and wimpy bars with juke boxes appeared in the high streets. However, eating out was not the pleasure it was to become, restaurant food was unadventurous and often of not very good quality.

The air quality in the 60s was not good. There was lots of fumes, smoke and heavy fog as a result. Buildings were often black with pollution.

School was very conventional . A full uniform was insisted upon and games included hockey and lacrosse. Holidays were spent initially on the East Yorkshire Coast at Scarborough, until the family became a little more adventurous and  went to the Isle of Man and Ireland.

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Summer Reading 2016

Summer is often the time for us to relax and one way to do it is with a good book. We’ve asked four women connected with churchfor suggestions for Summer reading, and we’ve had a wide choice

Call midwifeAllanah writes: I would like to recommend Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth for the summer reading list. After finding the TV adaptation a bit cheesy, I was hesitant to read the book (which my mother bought me). However, it was one of the best books I’ve ever read! Not only does it give a great insight into midwifery of the 1950’s, but also a rich and intriguing view into the East End at the time, as well as the life of a young midwife living in a convent amongst some fairly eccentric nuns. There is delight, sadness, shock, and love to be found in this treasure of a book.

Ken FollettAngela writes: I have enjoyed reading the Century trilogy by Ken Follett.

The first volume The Fall of Giants is set before , during and after the First World War.  It is typical Follett- a good page turner and not to heavy for summer reading.

Laura (assistant head at St John’s school writes): Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian – I read this most summers as it is my favourite childhood book about an evacuee from London forming a close relationship with an unlikely character – grumpy Mister Tom who is asked to look after him during the war. It is a book about hope and friendship. I love to read how they form a special bond and grow in personality.

Wild Swansand: Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang – this is a book a I would recommend. It was unputdownable for me. It is about three generations of women, spanning a century. You learn an incredible amount about China’s history through personal histories. I was amazed to learn of stark differences between the culture I was raised in, my parents and grandparents were raised in, in comparison to the women in the book. After I read this, I wanted to learn even more about China so read more novels – but this is where it started.

(Laura also suggested Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick)

Alanna 1stMycah, interestingly, like Laura chooses a book read each year from childhood, and writes: I’m looking for forward to reading Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce.  I’ve read it every year since I was a young girl and it has been a constant encouragement as a growing woman that I can do anything I set myself up to do.

 

And why not check out the 2015 suggestions here, the 2014 suggestions here and the 2010 selection here.

Of course you are welcome to make your suggestions too – simply comment below.

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Miss Jones’ goodbye to St Chrysostom’s School

DSCN1125 UAfter six years work at St Chrysostom’s School Fay Jones, acting Head of School, leaves at the end of term to work as an educational consultant. We assure her of our prayers, wish her well in her new work and thank her for the hard work and inspiration she has brought to St Chrysostom’s School at a time of significant change for the school. Here Fay reflects on her time at the school:

It’s hard to put my finger on just what is so special about St. Chrysostom’s Primary School.  You feel the ethos the moment you walk through the door.  Every member of the school lives and breathes it.  The building itself, awash with colour, houses a learning community enthused by culture and inspired by challenge.  Our wonderful children are so engaged in the world around them and motivated to achieve their very best by a team of the most dedicated and caring staff.

Almost six years ago, I decided to leave my previous school in Staffordshire to teach children living in inner-city Manchester.  I had been invited to several interviews, but knew as soon as I stepped in to St. Chrysostom’s what a truly special place it was.  I began work as a class teacher in Year 4.  That year, I remember my class thoroughly enjoying an English project on ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’  which is why watching our current Year 5’s amazing performance of ‘The Tempest’ on 11th July at Victoria Baths made me smile for many reasons.

During my second year at Chrysostom’s, I became Assistant Head and the following year Deputy Head.  As Deputy, I especially enjoyed my work as Special Educational Needs Coordinator as I had the opportunity to work closely with children and their families in a more holistic way, and to also develop new systems and processes within school that would enable every pupil to achieve to their full potential.

Y6 FJ U

Year 6 children present Miss Jones with their version of the school logo

However, my most recent role, as Head of School has given me the most enjoyment!  I have enjoyed developing teachers and new leaders, leading the implementation of a new and exciting curriculum, and developing further our inclusive and open ethos.  Celebrating diversity and championing inclusivity is vitally important and is something that is reflected in the ethos of St. Chrysostom’s Church: I will always remember my first visit to Church with my Year 4 class and Father Ian’s words to us – ‘All Are Welcome.’  And welcome all truly are.

We are so lucky to have such fantastic diversity in our local community, and this is something that I know all at Chrysostom’s will continue to treasure.  I am so very proud of the hard work of our children, staff, community members and governors and will miss everyone dearly.  Exciting times will always lie ahead for St. Chrysostom’s and I feel privileged to have been part of such a wonderful and special place.

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Thank you, Mycah

The many smiles of Mycah

The many smiles of Mycah

It’s been great to have Mycah living, working and worshiping with us at St Chrysostom’s over the last year, and what a fantastic contribution she has made.

Mycah came to us on the wonderful Lutheran Church scheme which encourages young adults to work in different churches around the world. She brought with her insights and questions from the US that encouraged, challenged and animated us.

Mycah has been involved in a whole host of different activities while at St C’s. She has joined in fully in what we do. She’s been on pilgrimage – to Rocamadour and Ladyewell, she has worked each week in St Chrysostom’s School, she has cycled to Oughtrington and back, made an act of witness with church friends at Manchester Pride, slept out overnight in the winter in solidarity with the homeless, taken different roles in worship, and much more.

And through it all she has kept her lovely smile, her generous nature, and welcoming and fun spirit. We said goodbye to Mycah today as she prepares to return to the States and she went with our love and prayers. We will miss her, and we will love to hear from her as time goes on.

Several different people of Church were asked to give words which they would use to describe Mycah and we made them into a word cloud and gave her a copy here it is – and what lovely things people have said about her.

Mycah wordcloud

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People of Faith: Beyond the Binary

A challenging and inspiring exhibition Twilight People is currently at Media City, Salford. A group from St Chrysostom’s Church went to the opening event, from which Mycah wrote this report:

TP

TWILIGHT PEOPLE is an art exhibit and oral history of people of faith who do not fit neatly into the category of ‘male’ or ‘female’.  This includes people who are transgender (authentic gender does not match the one assigned at birth) and agender (someone who does not identify as having a gender).

pTP UThe main part of the exhibit that I explored was looking at the beautiful photographs of people who were representing who they felt their creator called them to be and how fluidly that fits in with their faith communities.  Shaan, who has helped to organize and run Twilight People, is a practicing Jew and identifies as non-binary transmasculine gender.  They were at the event last night, and I found it so powerful to be able to listen and hear the voice of someone who lives so strongly in their faith and in their identity.

What was incredibly striking about the evening was how thankful and engaged everyone was with the content of Twilight People, and the range of diversity represented in the evening.  Rev Rachel Mann, a transgender Anglican priest in the Diocese of Manchester, spoke last night as part of a group of Manchester LGBT+ people who are supporting the project.  She reminded us that God is not always found in the sunny brightness of a church on a Sunday morning, but in the twilight of our lives, as we move between the light and dark found in the everyday.

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“The saintly Mr Keble”

John Keble (1792-1866), an inspirational figure for the Church today, is commemorated in a beautiful stained glass window in St Chrysostom’s Church. He is remembered each year in the Church of England on July 14th and in some other Anglican churches on the date of his death (29th March).

The lovely John Keble window in the south aisle of St Chrysostom's church.

The lovely John Keble window in the south aisle of St Chrysostom’s church.

In 1833 Keble preached his famous sermon on ‘National Apostasy’ at the University Church, Oxford. The sermon denounced the nation for turning away from God, and for seeing the Church as a mere institution of society. It marked an important stage in the revitalisation of the spirituality of the Church of England.

However, Keble’s influence was not in preaching great sermons, nor was it in a high public profile. For thirty years Keble was the faithful and devoted parish priest at Hursley, near Winchester. A historian has described his ministry as an Anglican ‘Ideal of a parish, where a humble man ministered for long years without expectation of earthly reward.’

By his example Keble gave new life to the spiritual life of the church. He taught the centrality of prayer and holiness by being a man of prayer and holiness himself. He taught the centrality of sustained pastoral care to all people by being an outstanding pastor to all (not just church goers) in his parish.

For Keble the sacraments and prayer were central. Creation was beautiful and reflected God. He joyfully wrote of his faith in his poetry, notably in his collection The Christian Year. In life, John Henry Newman wrote, Keble was ‘Gentle courteous and unaffected…[a man of]… playfulness and tender love for others.’

A rare photograph of Keble in old age

A rare photograph of Keble in old age

The fact that Keble was a parish priest and not a bishop or academic made his influence greater, for this influence arose from his personality and personal faith.

Keble’s saintly example challenges a church often caught up in conflict, zeal, future plans and synods to value what generations have ever treasured in the Church of England – gentleness, humility, prayer and pastoral care.

 Still to the lowly soul
   He doth Himself impart,
And for His cradle and His throne
   Chooseth the pure in heart

(The final verse of The Purification in Keble’s The Christian Year).

PS A light hearted connection with St John Chrysostom. A parishioner in Hursley recalled how parishioners were often invited to dine at the vicarage with the Kebles. As a child of three he had been invited to dine with Keble and his wife. “My chair at the table was too low for my stature so Mr Keble brought from his study a large folio of St Chrysostom’s works for me to sit upon remarking that he hoped I would thereby imbibe some of it.”
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