St Chrysostom’s People: Bishop James Fraser

On October 13th 1877 St Chrysostom’s Church was consecrated by Bishop James Fraser, Bishop of Manchester. In fact for several months before this the church had been in use for worship, under the Bishop’s license, but finally the time came to consecrate the building.

A photograph of Bishop Fraser dating from the period when he consecrated St Chrysostom’s.

James Fraser (1818 – 1885) was born in Gloucestershire and as a young man studied at Lincoln College, Oxford where he was seen as a reclusive student, somewhat shy and immature, yet with strong self discipline.

In early December 1846 he indulged in a fortnight’s hard hunting in Leicestershire, and then on December 18th was ordained and never hunted again! He worked as a parish priest and as an academic and developed a specialism in education. On the strength of this he was offered and accepted the post of Bishop of Manchester, becoming, in 1870 the second Bishop of Manchester. He worked tirelessly and was involved in many of the social issues of the day, he was a popular figure, earning himself the title of ‘the people’s bishop.’

During his fifteen years as bishop 99 new churches were consecrated, 20 churches were rebuilt, 109 new district parishes were created, and the whole fabric of diocesan machinery in Manchester —conferences, Board of Education, and building society—was created and brought to good working order.

From the Manchester Courier 15th October 1877

St Chrysostom’s was one of the churches Bishop Fraser consecrated. On the Saturday morning of the consecration a large gathering assembled at the church and an impressive ceremony was held. The Bishop used the opportunity to deliver a widely reported sermon on the subject of ‘Christian Tolerance.’ He chose as his text 1 Corinthians 10. 32-33:  Give no offence to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, so that they may be saved.

Tolerance and service were to be, and remain, key themes in the life and witness of St Chrysostom’s Church.

The Fraser memorial windows in St Chrysostom’s Church

The Bishop made a great impression on the congregation, and his inspiration was remembered at St Chrysostom’s. Bishop Fraser died in 1885 but twenty years later (and two bishops on) stained glass windows in memory of Bishop Fraser were put into St Chrysostom’s in the centre of the apse above the high altar.

At the ceremony of laying the foundation stone in September 1874 Bishop Fraser had emphasised his wish that there be no social distinctions in churches, and hoped that at St Chrysostom’s all who came, whoever they were, would be regarded as equal.

On the consecration day, three years later, he concluded his sermon,  ‘by urging his hearers to cultivate a spirit of toleration and large hearted charity and to maintain good works.’

This is the third in a series of blog posts about people connected with our church which we are posting in conjunction with a book we are publishing: St Chrysostom’s People telling of some of the people who, through the church’s 140 or so years, have had a part in making St Chrysostom’s what it is today. Here on our church blog we are adding a few more people to those of the book.

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About stchrysostoms

St Chrysostom’s is an Anglican (Church of England) parish church in Manchester, UK. We’re an inclusive, diverse and welcoming faith community rejoicing in our Anglo Catholic tradition, where people of many differing backgrounds make friends. Find our Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/2364267899/
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