Forward in Faith Into Galilee

Forward in Faith member Colin Niblett, a member of the congregation of St. Michael and All Angels, Abbey Wood, in the diocese of Southwark, has volunteered to take part in Biblical Bike Ride ‘97 for the Nazareth Hospital. Starting at Mount Carmel, Into Galilee covers about 220 miles of fairly hilly terrain, much of it off-road, with over five days of cycling with about 100 other cyclists, finishing in Nazareth at the hospital itself. But Colin’s challenge begins long before he goes to Israel on All Saints’ Day; by taking part, he is committed to raising at least £2,000 in sponsorship for the hospital, which is owned by a Christian Charity, the Edinburgh Medical Missionary Society. The hospital serves the diverse community of Galilee – Christian and Moslem, Arab and Jew – and is a place where all religions and races can work and learn together to build trust and heal differences. In Israel, all hospitals have to raise their own development funds and so sponsorship from the bike ride will help to fund the building of a new operating theatre and a new labour ward.

Colin has sent Sponsorship Forms to all Forward in Faith Parishes, but would also love to hear from any New Directions readers who would be willing to support in his effort. He can be reached at Faith House Bookshop, where he works each day, having cycled the 12 miles from his home in South-East London each morning. Given that he then has to cycle the same distance home each evening, one must assume that he will approach the 220 miles in the Holy Land with a fair degree of equanimity – but we are sure that that sense will only be genuine if he is confident of making a substantial contribution to this very worthwhile cause.

If you would like a Sponsorship Form, then please ring Colin in the Bookshop on 0171 222 6952 or, if you prefer simply to send him a donation, cheques payable to EMMS Nazareth Hospital Bike Ride may be sent to him c/o Forward in Faith at Faith House.

. . . and in Chester Cathedral

Some seventy members of Forward in Faith were welcomed by Canon Owen Conway to Chester Cathedral for their summer meeting on Friday, 20th June. Canon Richard Price, Diocesan Chairman, dealt swiftly with business matters before introducing Fr. Michael Harper to speak on ‘The Communion of Saints in Orthodoxy’. Forward in Faith member Peter Hart takes up the story:

“Fr. Michael has made the journey from evangelical priest in the Church of England to priest in the Orthodox Church. He is now Dean of the new British Antiochian Orthodox Deanery having formally been a Canon of Chichester Cathedral. His recent book, ‘The True Light’, tells the fascinating story of this journey, and his earlier book, ‘Equal but Different’, has been reprinted with substantial changes to the chapter dealing with the priest as an Icon of Christ at the altar. He now has a far more positive view of this, in the light of ‘his coming home’ to Orthodoxy. His journey has also given him new insight into the Communion of Saints. He is now aware of this as a reality, reminded continually by the icons surrounding him as he worships. The Holy Liturgy unites all, living and dead, in worshipping God and celebrating the Eucharist. There is no barrier between them in Christ. Fr. Michael talked of the ‘space-factor’ and the ‘time-factor’ as barriers to us in our thinking, but there are no barriers to God. This was expressed as the ‘saints being on the frontier of time and space’, with icons constantly pointing us from ‘time to timelessness’. To emphasise this bringing together, the Eucharist is only celebrated once a day and never for one intention. Unity of purpose and fellowship is all important. Fr. Michael explained that a most important part of Orthodox spirituality in the Invocation of Saints and prayers for the dead. Something that has not always come naturally to him, but as there is no barrier between living and dead, why shouldn’t they pray for us and with us in one communion? Names hold a particular importance in Orthodoxy, he explained. When one becomes Orthodox the name of a saint must be taken (e.g. former Chester Diocesan Chairman of Forward in Faith Fr. Graham Hallam is now Fr. Gregory) and birthdays are celebrated on the saint’s day, not on one’s date of birth. Fr. Michael certainly made the story of his journey most interesting. He feels ‘at home’ without in any way denying the worth of his Anglican years. Now he looks upon the Church of England as his ‘foster-mother’, nurturing him until he found his true mother in the Orthodox Church. Now he feels that he sees the True Light.

Following Fr. Michael’s talk, the assembled congregation made a pilgrimage to the Shrine of S.Werburgh in the Cathedral, where prayers and meditation were led by Canon Conway. The evening was brought to a peaceful and prayerful end by saying Compline. Thanks are due to the Dean and Chapter for welcoming Forward in Faith and particularly to Canon Owen Conway for his organising efforts to make the evening run so smoothly.”

. . . and in Rochester Cathedral

Over 300 members of Forward in Faith from the Kent Region joined Bishop Edwin Barnes, Bishop John Broadhurst and the Forward in Faith Dean for Kent, Fr David Herbert, in Rochester Cathedral for a Celebration of Faith to mark the 1,400th Anniversary of the start of S.Augustine’s mission to the English people. “The Christian faith is not just another option”, said Bishop Broadhurst in his sermon, “It is the truth and it is a truth we have a duty to proclaim”.

. . . and in Colchester Garrison Church

Bishop Broadhurst and Bishop Barnes were together again just four weeks later to celebrate the Feast of Britain’s first martyr, S.Alban, along with several hundred Forward in Faith members from the Anglia Region, in the Garrison Church, Colchester. During the course of the mass, the new Regional Dean for Anglia, Fr Alan Cross, Vicar of S.Barnabas, Woodford Green, was commissioned by Bishop Edwin, to loud and spontaneous applause from the assembled congregation. They were all, of course, aware that, just a few days earlier, it had been announced that Fr Cross had also been appointed an Honorary Canon of Chelmsford Cathedral. After a break for lunch, many of the congregation returned to the Church for Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, which was a most fitting way to round off an exhilarating and inspiring day.

. . . and all over the Diocese of Peterborough!

Forward in Faith Peterborough have now produced a list of “Safe Churches” in the diocese, joining the many dioceses who have so far undertaken this task. (If yours hasn’t, ask your Forward in Faith officers why not!). Copies can be had from Mrs Una Ridley, at 68 Kensington Close, Towcester NN12 6JL.