News from the Forward in Faith Regions

National Assembly – two weeks and counting?

With the fourth annual Forward in Faith National Assembly just two weeks away, readers might expect the Director to be able to give some fairly firm predictions as to who will be there, what work will be done, how much we shall achieve in our two days together at the Camden Centre. Alas! If only that were possible! For the truth is that, this being the time of year when all and sundry take their holidays – and the Director being no exception, this Update is going into its first draft when the Assembly is still nearly two months away. So, how does it look from here? Well, all the acts of worship are organised, the service orders are at the printers; Bishop Edwin Barnes will preach at the Assembly Eucharist and Prebendary John Pearce (a regular New Directions contributor) will give the devotional address at Night Prayer on the Friday evening. The organist is booked, the servers are organised and the stewards arranged. And Faith House Bookshop and the Additional Curates Society will both be running stalls in the Camden Centre, providing welcome opportunities for delegates and others to do some shopping during the various breaks!

And so far, we have 443 delegates – which means that there must another 100 or so still to be notified! It will all come right, of course, but how much less nerve-racking it would be if people moved just a little quicker!

All members of Forward in Faith who are not themselves delegates are of course very welcome to attend all or part of the Assembly, its Eucharist, or the International Synod which precedes it. The Synod will run from 10.00 am until 4.00 pm (with a break for lunch from 12.00 noon until 2.00 pm) on Friday, 26th September and the Assembly will convene at 4.15 pm and then run through until about 9.00 pm. On the Saturday, we will meet for the Eucharist at 9.30 am at Christ the King, Gordon Square and then return to business at approximately 11.15 am and then work through (again with a lunch break!) until about 6.00 pm. The Assembly takes place in the Camden Centre in Bidborough Street, WC1, which is off Judd Street, just opposite King’s Cross and St Pancras Stations. If you’ve never attended, either as a delegate or as an observer, why not drop in on us this year?

Links with Orthodox Christians

Would any deanery or parish be interested in having a link with an Orthodox parish which is trying to re-establish its place in the local community? Since the end of the bitter persecution of the Church in the former Soviet Union, many believers have had their churches returned to them. Most of these buildings have been used as factories or store houses. In spite of this, the faith has been kept alive by a few people; now they have to restore their buildings and re-establish their historical religious culture.

Interest in Christianity is growing and more people are coming forward to be baptised. Parish priests are struggling to renovate their churches and teach their flock, and so there is a desperate need for help with Orthodox religious literature, teaching resources and contact with other Christians.

If you would like further information, please contact:

The Revd P J Gibbons S.Michael’s Vicarage Tonbridge Road Maidstone Kent ME16 8JS

Pilgrimage “Triumph of Faith”

Dry and mild weather blessed this year’s Glastonbury Pilgrimage. If the sun did not quite shine on the righteous, at least no rain fell either, while much of the rest of Britain suffered monsoon-style rainfall and high winds. “It was a triumph of faith over climatic pessimism” reports Fr David Cossar, Chairman of the Glastonbury Pilgrimage Association. “We know that some intending pilgrims were put off by the dire weather forecasts but those who came had a wonderful and uplifting day in just about the best weather anywhere in the country!”

The Bishop of Sodor and Man, the Right Reverend Noel Jones, Chairman of the International Bishops’ Conference, presided and preached at the Solemn Eucharist in the Abbey ruins. The Bishop of Bath & Wells, the Bishops of Ebbsfleet and of Basingstoke, Bishop David Thomas and Bishop Haydn Jones from Venezuela were also present. Following the afternoon Procession, the preacher at Solemn Evensong was Fr Roger Greenacre, Precentor of Chichester Cathedral.

New Date for Glastonbury

Next year’s Pilgrimage will be on Saturday, 4th July and future pilgrimages will also be on the first Saturday in July. This change is a response to the now almost universal use of Petertide for ordinations, which has been making it difficult for many, particularly bishops, priests and ordinands, to join the Pilgrimage.

Still Merrily on High!

Forward in Faith members in the diocese of Chichester gathered for their annual Assumptiontide Festival at S.Martin’s, Brighton on Sunday, 17th August. Regional Dean Fr Beau Brandie takes up the story: “After a sweltering heatwave, Brighton had awoken to drizzle and overcast skies but by lunchtime the contingency plans were laid and the weather was considerably better. By the evening it was not as hot as it might otherwise have been and so some 300 Forward in Faith supporters and members of the Diocesan Walsingham Pilgrimage team and the other Catholic Societies gathered in St Martin’s for our annual celebration.

This year it was entirely home grown with Lindsay, Bishop of Horsham preaching as well as presiding and taking the lead in singing the Angelus.

He spoke about the Festa atmosphere that surrounded the Assumption at Walsingham which reminded him so much of Malta en Fete to celebrate its incarnational theology which proclaims that “the earth is the Lord’s”. He rejoiced to tell us that the image of Our Lady in the house where he was staying in Walsingham was propped up on two copies Crockford’s Clerical Directory and mused what a difference it might make to the Church of England had all the clergy named in it really supported the incarnational faith.

After the Whoopi Goldberg Salve which preceded the sermon there was a gathering hymn in which the procession was marshalled and the Missionary-minded Bishop and Chairman of the Church Union increasingly looked like the cat who had swallowed the canary. Children carrying barbecue torches and flags prepared to scatter petals, gathering round the former Shrine priest and the Secretary of the Diocesan Pilgrimage Committee with the image of Our Lady of Walsingham. The congregation set off slowly down the Lewes Road.

The police were in their usual stolid attendance and the town was brought to a halt as we moved from church to the school accompanied by jeers from happy drinkers at The Franklin Pub and bewildered stares from Japanese foreign language students.

Benediction was given in the school grounds and literature for Walsingham and Forward in Faith were available afterwards while everybody imbibed a few fluid ounces to put back what they had sweated out in their lusty singing and their stately pilgrimage procession.

There are times when the Chichester Diocese can be described as the “Indian Summer of the Church of England” and this was certainly a night when we could rejoice in its High Summer in every sense of the word!”