Block a Hymn

Block a HymnDuring August at St C’s we invited members of our church community to nominate a hymn for worship which they liked and hadn’t heard for a while. We’d a lovely wide selection including All for Jesus, Come my way, my truth, my life, and On the Mountain, In the Valley  and the month’s selections closed with God moves in a mysterious way.

Now from ‘across the pond’ comes an interesting variation on this. Revd Meg Barnhouse, a Unitarian Minister in Austin, Texas, has invited people to bid to have their least favourite hymn blocked from being sung at worship for a year!

Hmm… Now that could be rather contentious! So often the one we loathe is the one our neighbour likes. However, must of us have to admit there are hymns we simply do not like – the words may frustrate us, or the tune irritate us, or even worse both words and music may annoy us.

So which hymn do you think is awful? Which would you pay not to hear for a year?

PS We beat the Church Times to this news story – they published it two days after it appeared on our blog :) 

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St C at Manchester Pride 2015

Sir Ian McKellen congratulates the St Chrysostoms team

Sir Ian McKellen congratulates the St Chrysostoms team

It was fantastic to have a group from St Chrysostom’s at Manchester Pride 2015.

We stand for inclusion, equality and celebration, and that was all there on this day of colour, laughter and fun.

One of our colourful posters proclaimed …

 P2God loves us ALL Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

… and was held by church warden Desmond who was delighted when parade grand marshall Sir Ian McKellen approached the group and shook Desmond’s hand. The moment was captured by ITV news and broadcast later that day along with a brief interview with Desmond who said

 The parade was a wonderful occasion, inclusive and for families.  Sir Ian McKellen was a great ambassador for Manchester Pride and agreed with the sentiments on our St Chrysostom’s placard ‘God Loves us All’.

Click here to see the ITV report (for the video clip click on second photo)

Some church members after Sunday worship on the Sunday of the Pride weekend

Some church members after Sunday worship on the Sunday of the Pride weekend

At St Chrysostom’s every week is a time for the christian welcome, inclusion and celebration that we were witnessing to at Pride this year.

On the last Sunday of each month our LGBTQ worship community meets at 5pm for Open Table.

All the services and activities at St C’s aim to offer a fully inclusive, nrturing and welcoming space for people, wherever they are on the spectrum, but Open Table is a particular focus for the LGBTQ Community.

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The Season of Creation @StC

“Dear Mother Earth, who day by day, Unfoldest blessings on our way, O praise him, Alleluya!”  (From St Francis Canticle of Creation)

In 1989 the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople initiated September 1st as a prayer day for the care of Creation for Orthodox Churches. This year Pope Francis has joined this initiative, extending the day to the Roman Catholic Church, and inviting other Christians to join too.

Pope Francis has written: “living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.” He has gone on to say ““the life of the spirit is not dissociated from the body or from nature, but lived in communion with all worldly realities..”

For us at St Chrysostom’s 5pm Mass on September 1st will mark the beginning of the Season of Creation, which we are observing for the first time in our parish liturgical cycle. The season will extend to the Feast of St Francis, Sunday October 4th, which will be a day of special thanksgiving for God’s gifts in creation (our Harvest festival). During the season we will encourage wonder at the beauty and variety of our world and universe, and a spirit of reverence and care for the whole earth and all of  God’s creation on our planet.

A prayer for our earth of Pope Francis
All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace.
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Walsingham Moments

1 WalsWe asked our pilgrims to Walsingham if they could tell us a special moment for them from this year’s pilgrimage. Here are some of the answers:


Edna: The Candlelight porcession on Wednesday evening in the grounds.


Vinnie: A talk with Bishop Lindsay


Horel: The Slipper Chapel and the large window behind it.

Fr Ian: Looking for white flowers on a lovely walk from the Slipper Chapel.

2 Wals


Sonya: The healing service on Tuesday, with the holy anointing.


Dominic: Alan falling into the sea at Cromer and a bird poo-ing on him.



Kate: Going to Confession for the first time for 30 years. A good and positive experience. I will go again!

4 Wals


Fr Chris: The silence in the Mass after Communion at South Creake


Alan: An inspiring meeting with two sacristans.


Its interesting to compare with previous impressions from Walsingham, see here and here and again here.

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A candle for Winnie, A candle for Keith

Winnie Johnson deathToday, 18th August, is the anniversary of the death in 2012 of Winnie Johnson. Winnie was known throughout England as the mother of Keith Bennett, the child victim of the moors murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley. Despite extensive searching Keith’s body has never been found.

Winnie campaigned tirelessly to find Keith’s grave, and it was this aspect of her life which was well known in the media. However, as we recalled at Winnie’s funeral, at St Chrysostom’s, there was much much more to Winnie. She was a woman who engaged fully with life, and was an inspiration to many. Despite the tragedy in her life she was cheerful and a direct speaker. She was a member of our congregation, regularly coming to Sunday Mass on her electric scooter and sitting right at the front. She was ever the same, cheerful and frank in her manner. The local community misses her. We miss her at church.

The leaves hanging in memory of Keith Bennett

The leaves hanging in memory of Keith bennett

The hanging behind the font in Church is in memory of Keith. He loved to collect leaves and local children drew different leaves and members of the textiles department of Manchester University made the hanging. We hope soon to have a plaque placed in church to remind us of this.

Winnie’s example encourages us to pray for, and have a heart for mothers of the world whose children have disappeared in terrible circumstances. Her example encourages us to have courage, and remain faithful and strong in the face of tragedy.

Each Sunday when she came to mass Winnie lit a candle for Keith. Two candles will burn in church today (and at Walsingham, where some St C people are on pilgrimage) – one for Keith and another for his mother, Winnie. May they both rest in peace and rise in God’s glory.

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The Dove on our Church corner

Bird joined 2We’ve a lovely new carved dove outside church.

Ricky, a local wood carver, has created a beautiful and unique carving of our dove symbol from the trunk of a tree we had to have cut down. We believe this splendid carving not only enhances our church grounds, but also is a lovely addition to this busy area within our unique local community. Do come and see and why not post a photo of it on Facebook or Twitter (see below).

The story began when we discovered that two trees on the Anson Road side of Church were causing trouble. Their roots had raised pathways and destroyed drains, the main problem being that they were too large to be so close to the church building. They were recently taken down and we decided to have one of the trunks carved.

We hoped to have a carving of a dove and although one or two wood carvers said it wouldn’t be possible Ricky, who carves using chainsaws, said he would take on the job.

The tree before carving

The tree before carving

We chose a dove carving, the symbol of St Chrysostom’s Church. The dove is a universal symbol of peace, and a sign of inclusion.

For Christians the dove is also a sign of God’s care and love for all creation (from the story of Noah) as well as being a sign of the Holy Spirit of God.

Much of the funding for the carving was provided by donations given in memory of Tommy (Thomas Moore) a local man who lived at the Victoria Nursing Home and who regularly came to Church on Sundays and during the week. Tommy loved to call by whenever he saw the church door open, and loved to chat to people, and take an interest in them.

We miss Tommy at Church and often talk about him. he brought out love and care in many people, as well as being a faithful and humble Christian. We are sure he would be delighted to see the wood carving.

Ricky at work carving the bird

Ricky at work carving the bird

Even after only a few hours in place the carving is causing great interest. People are crossing the road to see it, and to photograph it.

Passers by, strangers to one another have started talking to each other about it. In the words of a 9yr old member of our church ‘it’s bringing people together.’

We hope the dove will go on being a sign of our wish at St Chrysostom’s ‘to bring people together.’

We’re inviting people to ‘tweet’ or post on Facebook their photo of the carving using the #StChrys hashtag.

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Cargoes to the Scream: Five more poems

We’ve enjoyed some fascinating choices of poems, and its been great to read the reasons for the choice. Our selections continue. Here is the choice of Fliss:

Number 1: Cargoes, by John Masefield. I thoroughly enjoyed learning this poem by heart at prep school and reciting it from behind my old wooden desk in the classroom…although I find the line ‘salt-caked smoke stack’ a bit more tricky than I did then! I love the thought, the vivid descriptions, and the highly skillful use of word sounds and connotations. It is a little masterpiece of a poem.

owlandpussy1The second of my poems The Owl and The Pussycat – a nonsense poem by Edward Lear first published during 1871. Another one that I learnt at school but I have also enjoyed reading it as a teacher to my children and having fun discussing the various idiosyncrasies such as the ‘runcible’ spoon.

My third poem in the challenge is a short extract from Walden or Life in the Woods, (1854) by Henry David Thoreau, is a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings. It details Thoreau’s experiences over the course of two years, two months, and two days in a cabin he built near Walden Pond, near Concord, Massachusetts.

Obviously not technically a poem, more a quote, but was made into a poem for me by a very dear friend who wrote a ‘second verse’ in the style of…see what you think :)

If a man does not keep pace with his companions,
perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.
Let him step to the music he hears –
however measured or far away.


If that same man one day turns his head and calls for a friend –
feel free to join him.
For this man will find true happiness with the one companion who,
with the strength of her own music, and at her own pace,
can give direction to his lonely wandering.

The fourth of my poems is one I came across whilst studying ‘A’ level French at school. Le Doremur du Val by Arthur Rimbaud. This poem was written by the 16-year old Rimbaud when France was at war with Prussia, and Rimbaud was frequently running away from home and travelling by foot. It is therefore possible that the scene described in the poem is a real scene.

And so to my 5th and final poem …a tricky one as it is the last and there are so  many that I would have like to include.

The_ScreamHowever, it is going to be The Scream by Edvard Munch. The Scream is the popular name given to each of four versions of a composition, by Edvard Munch between 1893 and 1910. Munch gave the title The Scream of Nature to these works, all of which show a figure with an agonized expression against a landscape with a tumultuous orange sky.

In his diary in an entry headed, Nice 22 January 1892, Munch described his inspiration for the image:

 One evening I was walking along a path, the city was on one side and the fjord below. I felt tired and ill. I stopped and looked out over the fjord—the sun was setting, and the clouds turning blood red. I sensed a scream passing through nature; it seemed to me that I heard the scream. I painted this picture, painted the clouds as actual blood. The color shrieked. This became The Scream.

 This memory was later rendered by Munch as a poem, which he hand-painted onto the frame of the 1895 pastel version of the work:

I was walking along the road with two friends – the sun was setting –
suddenly the sky turned blood red;
I paused, feeling exhausted,
and leaned on the fence;
there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city;
my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety
and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.
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