FACT Mission Statement

We are :
From various churches
Assisting and serving our communities
Christians working together
To make a difference

Monday, 31 August 2009

A Trip to Mells Group

Martin Weymont responded straight away when I asked if I could have dates for possible visits to share worship with the different congregations on the FACT area. He sent me a plan for Mells Group ( which in itself is a feet of organisation, allowing through use of lay readers, retired clergy and visiting leaders, a service every Sunday in each of the 5 Churches of the group ) and I found that yesterday they were holding a group united service called "Five Alive". So, as it fitted with my plans and committments, off I went !

Martin and the churchwarden gave me a warm welcome at the lovely church of St Mary Magdelene, Great Elm ( more on the building in a few weeks time ) and I found my place in the Jacobean pews.

The service was Holy Communion according to the Book of Common Prayer. Martin wore an alb, cincture and stole and the altar was set up with a veiled chalice and burse. The actual Communion rite was conducted facing East at the wall mounted altar.

The hymn book used was the New Anglican Hymns Old and New.

A congregation of about 40 gathered to the sound of the church bell peeling and the first hymn was When Morning gilds the Skies ( it was followed by Lord of All Hopefullness, Be Still for the Presence and Now Thank We All Our God ) The readings were from the lectionary and Martin used them as the basis for his sermon. He began by saying that he didn't agree with Martin Luther's opinion that the Epistle of St James was "strawy" Using the idea of this passage from St James, being about "doing good deeds" for the Lord, Martin focussed skillfully and engagingly on the exact opposite, on what we call "sins of ommission". He focussed on his own sins of omission rather than pointing out the congregation's failings ! These included "passing by on the other side" when passing someone who had broken down on the roadside, using "everyone's got a mobile" as a justification.

The prayers took a delightful form, when three ladies from the choir came to the front and did actions as Martin read St Patrick's breastplate.

Two notable members of the congregation stayed in the porch, and remained impeccably behaved. They were Martin's dog and the dog of the congregation members who live next door !

Martin said at the end of the service that he felt that the group was starting to really come together when they met for united worship and from what I saw yesterday, I agree.

It was great to see in the notices that the Group has organised a service on Thursday Morning to commemerate the evacuees who arrived in the area, 70 years ago this week.

Afterwards, there was coffee and homemade biscuits in the churchyard, in the light drizzle.

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Mells Group. I look forward to seeing you at your church in the near future.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Sunday Spotlight - August 30th 2009

Roman Catholic/Methodist/URC - 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Anglican - Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost, Proper 17

Song of Solomon 2:8-13 or Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9 * Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9 or Psalm 15 * James 1:17-27 * Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Today we get back to the Year of Mark, after our Summer detour into John ( what a pity that this fantastic passage and one of the few which is read year in year out in the cycle, ends up in the Summer hols when we know our congregations are lower ! )
The Pharisees are out to trick Jesus again but as usual he is too wise for them and refuses to fall into their trap. His swift answer must have surely sent them away thinking "foiled again !"

The passage from Deuteronomy has something to say to us as an ecumenical grouping, about tradition and custom, again something which can get us in knots in ecumenical discussions. We often look at the traditions which another denomination has and don't quite understand them and where they came from. There is always the temptation to think that another Christian group has "added" to what was given by God in terms of customs. However, the adding and taking away of customs, especially in the liturgy is something which has been going on since the start of the Church. If a First Century Christian attended any of our Sunday services then they would see some elements they recognised, but others they wouldn't. Liturgy is constantly evolving and that in no way is a contradiction to Moses' command to the people of God. If we don't understand why another denomination's worship developed in the way it did, the best way is to go and see and ask ! ( I'm off to Mells Group today )

What is important though in the context of liturgy is what Jesus quotes from Isaiah. There is always the risk that our liturgy is "lip service", that we get so hung up on tradition and custom ( and don't get me wrong they are important! ) that we loose sight of what our Sunday liturgies are. They are not only our weekly act of worship of God Almighty, but also the public expression of all that goes on in our Christian lives for the rest of the week. If we leave the building and the liturgy has no effect on us, then we have offered "worthless" worship. Sunday worship is the celebration and thanksgiving for the week past and the thing which sets us up for the week ahead. It should encourage us to live publicly all week, what we do behind closed doors for an hour on Sunday.

In my own Catholic tradition, Mass does not end ( there is no Amen at the end ! ) but is a beginning, and as Deacon I send the congregation out "To love and serve the Lord". Today, I encourage you as you leave worship, to make a conscious effort to do that. Sign up for one of the FACT activities going on in the coming months ( or if you're reading this later get in touch with someone and sign up the contacts are on this site ) If you do you won't be falling into the same trap that the Pharisees did.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Maximilian Kolbe and Manche Masemola

Maximilian Kolbe - Roman Catholic, Priest - born 8th January 1894, died in Auschwitz Concentration Camp 14th August 1941

Maximilian Kolbe was a Polish priest who was ordained in 1918. He spent time working in the newly independent Poland after ordination. Between 1930 and 1936 he worked as a missionary in Nagasaki, Japan. He built a monastery on a mountainside. He choose ( against advice ) a side of the mountain which wasn't considered in harmony with nature. Ironically it was this choice which saved the building and the friars when the atomic bomb fell on the city, as the other side of the mountain took the full force.

On his return to Poland he lived in the friary at Niepokalanow and here he sheltered up to 2000 Jews during the early days of the Nazi occupation. He then began amateur radio broadcasts against the Nazis and inevitably he found himself arrested by the Gestapo in February 1941. In the May he was transferred to Auschwitz.

In July, someone escaped from the block that Kolbe was held in and there were to be deaths of prisoners as a reprisal. One of the 10 men chosen, was a married man with children and Maximilian stepped forward to take his place. His offer was accepted. After surviving 3 weeks in a starvation and dehydration cell, he was finally executed by lethal injection.

He was canonised in 1981 in the presence of the man whose life he had saved.

Manche Masemola - Anglican, catechumen - Born 1913 Died 1928

A member of the Pedi tribe in South Africa, she came from the Transvaal. There was already a small Christian minority within the tribe and against the wishes of her parents, Manche attended preparation classes for Baptism. Each time she returned home from a class, she was beaten by her parents. They practised traditional religion and believed their daughter to be possessed by evil spirits. She died after such a beating and before Baptism. Her mother was Baptised 40 years later.


When I was growing up, there was a programme ( I believe it was only shown in North-East England ) presented by Eric Robson ( of Gardener's Question Time, when he was a local news journalist ) called "Heroes". In it local celebrities talked about their heroes and why they were important to them.

The Christian Community has always had ways of celebrating its own heroes. The early church soon began to celebrate and venerate those who had died as martyrs or who lived lives which were good examples for the faithful. This developed across the centuries into the formal canonisation rite. Today the church is no different. Of course the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches have maintained this formal process but others maintain the memory of influential members in their own ways. It is a way of demonstrating to a new generation how to live lives consistent with the Gospel.

Recently, I came across the Anglican Calendar of Holy Days to be used in conjunction with Common Worship. Its a great document in ecumenical terms as celebrated there are not just the great saints of the Pre-Reformation era but also many others who have lived since. These are drawn from a whole raft of denominations, chosen for their relevance and example to today's Church. There are Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Salvationists, Methodists, and Quakers. To this list could be added many more, who are our heroes of today, people who worked hard in the ecumenical field as well as their own denomination for example Basil Hume, Michael Ramsay or Donald Soper.

So that we can all celebrate these figures I intend to include biographies of these people, who should be our heroes whatever denomination we come from, in this blog, on Saturdays Choosing who gets into any hagiographical calendar is difficult and I hope to strike a balance across the denominations

To start with I will look over the next few weeks at the men and women, imortalised in stone on the West Front of Westminster Abbey, the 20th Century martyrs. Coming for many different denominations they symbolise the thousands who died for their faith in what has rightly been referred to as the "Martyrs Century"

Friday, 28 August 2009

Remember to Sign Up !

There are lots of chances to volunteer to help with inter-church projects in the months ahead, and quite a few of them need you to sign up during the next month. Please, please look at the list and then choose one or more to sign up for. Your help is really needed and the more people who offer their services, the less work there is for everyone. If you don't know who to contact with regard to any of the projects, drop me a line and I will pass your offer on :

September 12th - Cheese Show Refreshment tent - 1 Hour serving teas or helping with children's corner ( see Church reps listed in earlier post )

September 26th - Carnival - programme sellers in afternoon and evening, collectors and marshalls in evening
( see Janet Caudwell or your HOPEFrome rep )

October 10th - HOPEFrome Litter Pick at River - 2 hours litter picking around the River Frome ( see your HOPEFrome rep )

October 8-11th Bible Reading Marathon - 15 minutes reading aloud from The Bible, stewards and refreshment helpers also needed ( see me or your clergy or Exec rep )

Ongoing - HOPEFrome Tea Caravan- 1 to 6 hours serving teas and offereing talk to those out on the town on a Friday and Saturday night ( see Gary Lee of HT or your HOPEFrome rep )

Remember that all these activities are our way of working in and with our community. They show the outside world that Christianity isn't just about being in a building for an hour on a Sunday praying and that when we do go outside it's not just to raise money ! You might not think of yourself as an evangelist, but we are all called to be that ( "Go out into the world and preach the Good News to all nations" ) and these activities are all chances to do that in an easy way.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

FACT Leaders' Social

Many of the FACT leadership team got together last night for a social evening at mine. It was a chance for us to get together as clergy/leaders and socialise, without a business agenda to do ! It was also good to do it with our spouses and families, when they do so much for us in practical and support terms. We often forget that behind our leaders are often families and spouses who are doing lots of practical things at home and in church, to allow us to do the work we were ordained to do. This was a chance to say thank you to them. It was also Sam and I's way of saying thank you to all the FACT clergy for their support and prayers during what has not been an easy year for us personally.

In case you don't already know, the leaders meet together a business lunch every two months and this is a good chance for us to talk honestly and frankly with each other, knowing that it is a completely confidential forum. There are many issues which are thrashed out here before coming to Exec meetings, but we also discuss deeper issues ( usually over the lunch. ) Last time we met, we ended up discussing how we went about preaching on the previous Sunday's reading. When we talk like this it gives us an opportunity to share which is not always available to us in the other contexts in which we meet up. It allows us find out more about each other and our denominations. A real chance to experience "Unitas cum Diversitate". The old term for this was a clergy fraternal, but of course its an outdated phrase given that four of our members are women.

One little funny story from the last meeting - Being a Monday, I was looking after Tabitha so she shared lunch with us. She was sat quietly at the other end of the table from me next to Nick Cooper, the Baptist Pastor. Nick did an excellent job of entertaining Tabi and she really warmed to him. Then out of the blue she pulls the crucifix necklace she was wearing, out of her dress and asks Nick "Do you like my necklace?" I don't think poor Nick knew what to say, I am sure that a Baptist official view would have been different from his "That's nice" and shows how much more comfortable we are all becoming with each other and our ways.

Please remember the leadership group in your prayers, its not always easy and we really do tackle some extremely difficult issues at times.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

St Giles Anglican Church Leigh on Mendip

The first thing which strikes you as you come towards the village of Leigh on Mendip ( from some distance in fact ) is the unusual Church tower. It rises 91 feet up above the village and has a decorated facade. Contained within it are 6 bells ( first hung 1757) and these form part of the unusual feature of a faceless clock. No dial is visible and the only indication of the time is the striking of the bells. This clock was restored as part of the village's Millenium celebrations.

The Church dates from the 15th Century and the tower with its intriquet decoration and 20 pinnacles, dates from the reign of Henry vIIth. The nave benches inside were carved during the reign of Richard II, although the greater number of the pews date from the early 15th Century. The font is early Norman.
Unusually the steps of the chancel go down not up, as the Chancel floor is at the original level set in Anglo-Saxon times.
The West window contains symbols of the Passion, while the East window has M's in it to commerate their installation in the reign of Mary Tudor.

Address : Leigh on Mendip, Radstock, Bath, BA3 5QP

Outside picture © Copyright ChurchCrawler and licensed
for reuse under this Creative Commons
Inside picture © Copyright Adam Marbleunder the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Cream Teas at St Katharine's East Woodlands

Looking for an afternoon out on Sunday? Why not pop along to St Katharine's East Woodlands. They will be serving cream teas all afternoon followed by a "Songs of Praise" in the Church. A chance for temporal and spiritual enjoyment all in one afternoon !

New FACT Poster

I admit it, I'm sad and have too much time on my hands ( Sam would disagree and say I am excellent at finding stuff to do if it means I don't do housework ! ) but last week I sat down and created a poster to be used in our churches to advertise who the exec member is ( and to remind people that their congregation is part of FACT and that FACT initiatives apply to them ! ) and to publicise this blog.

Taking Unity with Diversity as my theme I made a border of the 34 church buildings we use to show what a wide variety of congregations make up our "community" Its amazing that despite many of the churches having been altered or designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, not one of them is the same. Now thats diversity ! You will be able to learn a bit more about each of these buildings across the next 9 months or so, when each Wednesday this blog will include short guides to each of the churches.

There is also in the centre the FACT Mission statement and it is worth reminding ourselves of it :

We are :-

From various churches
Assisting and serving our communities
Christians working together
To make a difference
Keep a look out for the poster in your church porch !

Monday, 24 August 2009

We live in "Interesting Times"

There's a (perhaps made up) Chinese saying, which could be seen as either a blessing or a curse "May you live in interesting times". For many church communities within the FACT group these are indeed interesting times, perhaps even uncertain times.

David Barge recently pointed out to me that with Graham taking up post Holy Trinity, the Anglican Deanery is at full strength clergy wise, and therefore all leadership roles in FACT churches/communities are also filled. This is the first time for some time that all clergy/leadership posts are filled and no-one is on sick leave or sabbatical. However we cannot get away from the fact that the numbers of people seeking to take on leadership/clergy roles in all churches has fallen significantly and measures are needing to be taken to adjust to this. Several denominations in the area are undergoing some sort of reorganisation and realignment.

The Frome Methodist Circuit is, as of this month. no more and Wesley and Portway are now part of the newly created and larger Somerset Mendip Circuit.

Leigh-on-Mendip, Postlebury and Mells Groups in the Anglican Church are working towards creating a Local Ministry Group together.

St Mary's Innox Hill and Christ Church are also starting out on the road towards closer working together and sharing one incumbent in the future.

Clifton Diocese is in the middle of a process of pastoral re-organisation which will in all probability mean that St Catharine's Frome and St Dominic's Mells, being joined in a much larger pastoral unit rather than being a parish on their own. This larger unit may be formed with other neighbouring parishes and ultimately could mean one priest serving all these churches together rather than each church having their own as at present.

None of these changes are easy. Those in charge of implementing decisions made elsewhere, often find themselves in an extremely difficult position. Clergy already in post can fear for their futures and possible reassignment. Members of congregations fear loss of identity and loss of that local feeling which they are used to when a larger unit is formed. There is fear about church closure and all that goes with that too. Add to this questions about where the remaining clergy will live and the worries attached to that about loss of status etc and you can see what a nightmare it is for all concerned, especially when many have gone through similar processes in the not too distant past.

However, it doesn't have to be like this, this can be a positive move forward if we keep an open mind. Amalgamations have happened in past all across our town. Look at the number of chapels which came together in the 20th Century. Some of these were for financial and numerical reasons. However, thankfully, some were through decisions to forget old differences and join together into "Super" denominations, such as URC and the Methodist Church which arose as the different branches of Methodism came together.

I believe that FACT can play a positive role in these new structures. There are concerns that increased size of "parish" and decreased personnel will mean extra work. If FACT can offer to co-ordinate work we can all do together, then there will be much less risk of burn out. Please be ready to offer to help FACT do this especially if you come from a Church not faced with these changes, and keep all of us at the centre of the discussions on new ways of working in your prayers.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Sunday Spotlight 23rd August 2009

Roman Catholic/Methodist/URC - 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Anglican - Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost, Proper 16

1 Kings 8:(1,6,10-11), 22-30, 41-43 or Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18 * Psalm 84 or Psalm 34:15-22 * Ephesians 6:10-20 * John 6:56-69

We are at the end today of the long discourse in John 6, which began with the feeding of the five thousand. This is a difficult passage to discuss ecumenically, as it contains Jesus talking of Himself as the living bread come down from Heaven etc. It is of course John's reference to the Eucharist as he doesn't include the institution narrative in his account of the Last Supper. However because of this it is a passage which people form different denominations will take in different ways. For Catholics it is the justification for the doctrine of transubstantiation, while from a Free Church point of view it would be something completely different. The Eucharist is always going to be one of the most difficult issues for those of use involved in the ecumenical movement. It was this issue after all which caused much of the conflict and break up in the Church during the Reformation, but perhaps because of that it deserves to be such a hotly debated topic and not one which we shy away from. After all it is because of these splits that we are all in different denominations and there is a need to work ecumenically.

However, this is not the place to discuss issues as controversial as this. What today's Gospel passage does tell us is that it is sometimes extremely hard to follow Christ's teaching. In the story, some of those who had been disciples walk away because they cannot accept what Jesus has said. In our work together as Christians from different traditions, there will be times when we will hear others, who we are trying to work with, say things which we cannot stomach. Things which are so alien to what we hold dear or believe that we feel like walking away. That is the wrong thing to do. When working together we need to follow Simon Peter's example and stick it out. We must learn to respect that we will on many issues hold widely different views and beliefs. If we didn't then we would be already "one". Ecumenism is all about being honest with each other and not dumbing down what we hold dear within our own tradition. It’s all about discussing our differences, sometime extremely frankly and not walking away because we don't like what someone else said. Whatever else we disagree on we ALL like Simon Peter are "convinced that [Jesus] is the Holy One of God". Accompanying him and each other is too important for our future and after all "where else would we go?"

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Healing on the Streets- Update

Today, 7 Christians drawn from several different churches started up this ministry. Edmund  has just emailed to say that he and the and team had a good day and after a prayer session amongst themselves they began, and despite fears that they might take a couple of sessions to get anyone to take up their offer...
This morning in just a couple of minutes two of our chairs were occupied and a pair from the team were kneeling beside them listening to their problems and praying in response to their need. And we continued to be encouraged as during the course of the morning seven more people accepted our invitation, sat on a chair, and were prayed for. Several asked us to pray for someone else, while others came with some specific need and others with a more general need for comfort and reassurance.
Edmund goes onto say
It would be great if we could relate some dramatic testimonies of instant healing, but there weren’t any today – but they will come. However each of those nine people were grateful and in some way or another experienced God’s love and peace We won’t know all that happens in answer to our prayers as we do not follow people up. However we do encourage them to come back, on a later occasion, should they want to ask for further prayer or to tell us what has happened to them.
This is good news and the fact that they received a positive response from passers by who took their leaflets was also a joy for the team. I went down around 12.30pm and it was good to see the positive atmosphere surrounding the project ( their presence was just public enough while not being too "in your face" ) and will be even better when the banner gets made.

They intend to go out again each fortnight and build on this ministry and hope that some more people will want to join them. You just need to talk it over with your minister and get their blessing and then get in touch with Edmund Phillimore so that training can be arranged. The team will be out again on 5th and 19th September and I know that they will appreciate your prayers for themselves and those they come into contact with.

FACT Bible Reading Marathon for Zimbabwe

Hopefully you will have heard of this major event by now through your clergy/leader or from your Exec rep. In a nutshell we are going to read the Bible outloud, cover to cover starting at 8am on Thursday 8th October and ending at 11am Sunday 11th October as the Cheese and Grain service starts. It is a sponsored event to raise money for the crisis hit people of Zimbabwe, which we will send through the appeal launched by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and administered by USPG

We need people who will volunteer to do one or maybe more 15 minute slots during the Marathon. You don't need to be the best reader in the world. You can sit to do it, you can bring your family ! Its the easiest volunteering opportunity ever. Please sign up in your church or get in contact with me. To help you here are the venues :

Thursday 8th Oct 8am -8pm Christ Church

Friday 9th Oct 8am-8pm St John's

Saturday 10th Oct 8am-10am Wesley
10am -5pm Town Centre ( in conjunction with HOPEFrome River clean up)
5pm -8pm Holy Trinity

Sunday 11th Oct 8am -11am Cheese and Grain

Overnight sessions will be held 8am-8pm at St Catharines

Do sign up, 15 minutes isn't a lot to ask to help the people of Zimbabwe in what is fast becoming their darkest hour. Also, think about it, you will be able to say exactly where you were when people in the future ask "Where were you when FACT read the whole Bible ?"

Friday, 21 August 2009

Healing on the Streets

For quite a few months, a group of Christians from various churches around the area, have been preparing to launch a new project called "Healing on the Streets". They have undergone training and prayed hard over these months. There have been some issues to smooth out but now they are ready to go out and do what they set about doing in the first place and praying for healing for people in our town centre.

One of the things which delayed the start up of this ministry was sorting out Healing on the Streets relationship with FACT. At the last exec meeting in July we agreed this as a statement on how that relationship stands at the moment :

We are a group of individual Christians with the backing of our ministers. The Executive of Frome Area Christians Together has offered its goodwill to us as we start this ministry and we are intending to become a full member group of FACT in the future. We keep the Executive and leadership regularly informed of our progress.
Tomorrow is the day when they start up their ministry and I ask you to pray for them and the people that they will encounter on Saturday. They will be outside Marks and Spencer from 11am to 1pm.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

FACT Youth Worker Fund Appeal

Most of you will know that for a few years now we have as FACT being paying for a part-time youth worker. His wages have been paid from the Youth Worker Fund which started in an extremely healthy position but is now at the stage where funds are so low, that unless something changes soon, we will have to let Mark go. It is only fair on Mark as a husband and new father ( congratulations to Mark and Clare ) that we give him as much notice as possible and therefore we are now at the point of saying that unless the fund gets a huge top up, then we will sadly have to let Mark go. THIS WOULD BE A TRAGEDY !!! I am not exaggerating here, Mark has done a fantastic job and has a way with young people which few of the rest of us could hope to get near. His assemblies in some of the town's schools and the College are legendary and he holds his audience spellbound.

I know that many people in many of our churches will be saying that this issue doesn't effect them because their church does not use Mark's talents at all. Well there are two replies to that as an answer the first is "You only need ask and Mark will find a slot and come and do youth work at your church" the second is "Mark's work is as much with non-church young people as it is with those who go to church regularly" Therefore we need as FACT to see ( and I admit its taken me a while to get this straight in my head because we don't use Mark at St Catharine's at the mo ) that its yet another outreach. Many of those who Mark helps and works in small groups and individually in the College are on the margins of society already in their young lives, for a whole variety of reasons. These are the very people that Our Lord Himself reached out to most and if we are committed to doing the Lord's work, then WE MUST try and keep the fund topped up to allow Mark to continue.

There are many places in the Bible where it says about different people having different talents and using them in different ways. We are all called to do different things in the Lord's name, and to do different tasks within the Church, some of which are highly specialised. Youth Work is one of those, and it is certainly not for everyone. In Mark we have found someone who can do this in a very special way, someone who uses his God given talents to the fullest.

To top up the Youth Worker Fund I have asked ALL Churches/Groups to come up with at least one fundraiser for the Autumn. At the Executive meeting on the 17th September, we will collate these dates and ideas and produce a timetable which will be circulated to all churches so that as many people as possible can attend from different churches. The more who attend the more money we will raise and the chances of keeping Mark are increased greatly. It doesn't matter if your fundraiser brings in 1000's or £10, what is important is that all members of FACT take ownership of this issue and do their bit.

Two events I already know about are :

Friday 25th September - Family quiz night at St Catharine's HALL time TBC (organised by RC Church)

Saturday 17th October - Skittles and Quiz Night at the Conservative Club (organised by Rook Lane )

If any individuals want to organise anything as a fundraiser, just let me know.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Frome United Reformed Church

Frome United Reformed Church is situated in Whittox Lane, off Catherine Hill. Originally called Zion Congregational Chapel, it became known as the United Reformed Church in the 1970's with the creation of that denomination (a great act of ecumenism in itself and one which remains the blueprint for the ultimate goal of Church unity).

Standing on the site of an earlier place of worship, the chapel was built in 1810 with a major restructuring in 1888. The style of building is distinctly Italianate and is indeed reminiscent of some of the Basilicas in Rome (I wonder what the founders of Congregationalism would think of that!) The entrance leads into a newer addition which is a small chapel which can be used for more intimate worship, from this one goes to the chapel proper. The interior is a galleried Chapel with accommodation for worshippers in almost enclosed benches both in the chapel and the gallery. The Chapel contains artefacts including Communion Tables from other congregational chapels around the area. Behind the chapel worship area are a number of rooms of a mixture of sizes.

One interesting aspect of the grounds is an octagonal school room with a conical roof. It has been suggested that this was for the younger Sunday School scholars, so that they didn't disturb the worship in the chapel building. This is now sold off and is a studio.

Address : Whittox Lane, Frome, BA11 3BY

Photos : © Brendan Balhetchet LRPS

What is a Church?

To the outside world, a church is a religious building but we know that a Church is a collection of living stones who don't need four walls in which to worship ( though of course its nice to have them ! )

As FACT we know very well that we don't need a building to worship together and if we do it doesn't have to be a "church" in the traditional sense. We have in recent years, worshipped together in the park, outside the library and in the main street outside the old post office. When we do use a building we have used the Memorial Theatre and the Cheese and Grain. Of course when we did the Advent Light relay last year, we worshipped together in a whole raft of different places including supermarkets, car parks and a pub!

Four of our members don't own a church or chapel of their own and use buildings which serve as other things during the week. They are a marvellous example of not needing a building to "be Church".

However that’s not to say that we don't love and care about our churches and chapels and indeed we are blessed in Frome Area with some stunning examples of ecclesiastical architecture, and some quite unique ones too. Many of them are listed in one category or other, 12 of them are Grade 1 (although I've got to say it will be a long time I think till my own St Catharine's is listed, although it’s unusual enough to maybe warrant it!)

As I took over the Chair of FACT at this year's AGM, I asked everyone to try and do something to find out about another tradition that they didn't know anything or little about during the year. The aim was to foster the idea of "Diversity with Unity". I do hope that all Christians in Frome will do this by trying to attend another denomination's worship during the year. However another good way of achieving this aim would be to visit another place of worship maybe outside service times (although I know its sadly hard to gain access a lot of the time) for if we look around a place of worship a lot of the things that make that denomination's worship different and the same will be apparent in what we see.

To aid this, I intend each week to look briefly at one of our places of worship and to encourage you to visit by pointing out some of its history and its special features. This week we start with the United Reformed Church in Whittox Lane Frome.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Frome Carnival

Yesterday I asked for volunteers for the Cheese Show FACT refreshment tent. Today is your chance to offer help to HOPEFrome who are offering their services to the Carnival committee. The carnival is another of those traditional Frome events which is key to the community and a highlight of the year for many people in the area. You can't move on the pavements for spectators for the evening procession, and there are good numbers out for the children's parade in the afternoon.

I've got to admit I never went to the Carnival before becoming a parent, but now have taken part in the children's procession twice and viewed the evening event for the last two years from the luxury of Wesley's raised forecourt ( well it helps if you're best mates with Anthony and Avril Williamson's youngest son ! )

The carnival has changed across the years, here's a bit of history from the carnival's website :

Carnival has been in Frome since 1929 having been founded by Mr Alan
Bennetttogether with others who worked at that time for Butler and Tanners, a
localprinting firm who are still one of the main employers in the town.Frome
carnival grew in popularity over the years and this was aided by the fact that
Mr Bennets daughter Hazel met and married Mr Roy Butler M.B.E. he became known as "Mr Carnival" and was well known in the community for his dedication to the carnival charity which was formed to help local people in need.It is now a
Registered Charity and the proceeds from the activities during carnival week are
used to help both local individuals and groups who are in need. Roy and Hazel
worked throughout their lives for Carnival and all it stands for.The way in
which the money is given has changed a little over the years as coal was the
main item that individuals were in need of. Now with the help of our trustees,
we have been able to help the Local Hospital with necessary equipment, the local
scout group with a water supply at their local camp site and tents, Riding for
the Disabled, play groups and many others who have needed assistance.
SocialServices and the local Citizens Advice Bureau both approach us for help
withcases that they come across, but anyone can approach us if they or someone
they know is in need

The money raised by the carnival is an important as the
entertainment given and if the biggest amount is to be collected then as many collectors as possible along the route ( as well as programme sellers are needed ) The committee have not always found it easy to get people to come forward and therefore HOPEFrome offered its services. This is a chance to get the HOPEFrome brand across to a bigger audience than would normally see its work, and yet again a chance
to reach out to those who the churches would not normally have contact. As with all HOPEFrome events it is in no way overtly evangelistic but our involvement may just be the thing which prompts someone to find out more about our faith.

Giving a bit of time to this cause is also a good way for FACT to repay the help the
carnival committee has given across the years to us, by marshaling the Whit March. Incidentally marshalling for the carnival is another of the tasks HOPEFrome has offered to help with.

If you could offer some help, either in the afternoon ( and you just might see me in the parade with Pepperbox nursery ) or in the evening it would be much appreciated.
Contact Janet Caudwell at St John's.

The date is Saturday 26th September 2009.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Frome Cheese Show

Recently in the afternoons "Upstairs, Downstairs" has been on the telly. Fascinating as it is for itself and the story lines, it set me thinking about "The Season". What this meant was the social events that the life of the rich was centred around for a given period of time. Everyone who was anyone attended to see and be seen, whether they were interested or not. So, those in the upper echelons of society spent their Summers moving from Glyndebourne to Ascot to Henley to Covent Garden via Royal Garden Parties and Debutante's balls.
So what you are probably by now thinking, has this to do with Frome and FACT. Well it occurred to me, which we are now getting into what might be considered Frome's version of "The Season". Between now and Christmas, we have three big events for the town and surrounding area, starting with the Cheese Show, going on to the Carnival and ending in late November with the Christmas Extravaganza or Spectacular or whatever its being called this year. We are as FACT involved in all 3 in one way or another so its an equally busy time for us as well as the organisers.

More on the Carnival later in the week but today let's concentrate on the Cheese Show and how you can get involved.

The Cheese show has been a pivotal part of Frome life for generations, here's a little history from the Agricultural Society Website

The first Frome Cheese Show took place on Wednesday 27th September 1861 which was planned to exhibit cheese and butter from local farmers. The Cheese Fair was a success and can be gauged from the fact that it has continued ever since, but pressures of one sort or another has forced many changes. The Fairs continued until 1914 when the market hall was taken over for the war however the show continued to flourish holding its annual show in the Market Field. The move to Fromefield in 1920 was a big step forward for the society; with the purchase of its own land and a permanent home its future became more certain. The Society in its early days was keen to encourage craftsmanship and in addition to the usual classes of livestock it ran competition for Hedging, Thatching, Ploughing, Root Growing Acreage Classes, Root Hoeing and so on. The Young Farmers Club movement grew up during the war and they have taken over the Ploughing Matches and Hedging Competitions. The Show has developed and grown to become one of the biggest one day Shows in the West; and can claim to have moved with the times by encouraging popular events. Horses and riders are now a major attraction. Very popular with both exhibitors and the visitors are the Driving classes. The 123rd year saw another dramatic change when it moved to the West Woodlands Showground. This came about due to the show outgrowing its space in the town. The show was heavenly dependent on schools closing on show day to enable the society to use their grounds for car parking which was always a worry of whether this would continue. The safety of the public was always paramount to the Society, so this was another major factor of the move because of the ever increasing livestock and horse entries
.In recent years, FACT has provided ( at its own expense ) a refreshment tent, providing a much needed and indeed much used place of sanctuary for visitors to the show, as well as some activities for children while the adults "sip their tea". We have a prime site and with a large cross at the entrance, no-one is left in any doubt that this is the churches doing their bit for this important local event. As is usual with these things, our customers are always taken aback that we aren't doing it for money or fundraising ( although we ask for donations we don't specify a price or insist on giving. ) Its yet again one of those opportunities for us to make contact with those who wouldn't otherwise come into our sphere.

Of course none of this happens on its own and a big thank you goes to Rev Jill Warren of Wesley Methodist for yet again organising the main rotas ( Jill cannot do this next year as she has already had 2 years dispensation from attending District synod, and that is always same day, so if anyone would do it next year let one of us know, I am sure Jill will help you get started )

Individual churches have now got their slots for the day ( we are starting before official opening time this year because stall holders often need refreshing after setting up and before the rush of customers ) and I list them below with the contacts for that Church. If your church isn't listed you can contact one of the others and offer your services, no offer will be turned down.

9.30-10.30 St Mary's CE and St Katherine's CE - Jennie Barge and Pat Siderfin

10.30-11.30 URC- Anne Steele

11.30-12.30 Wesley Methodist - Yvonne Ellis

12.30-1.30 Mells Group CE - Martin Weymont

1.30-2.30 Holy Trinity CE - Brigit Adams

2.30-3.30 St Catharine’s RC - Diana Woodward

3.30-4.30 Rook Lane Congregational - Gina Parsons

4.30-5.30 St John's CE- Janet Caudwell

If you don't know how to get in contact with one of above email me and I will pass it on

It's vital that we are seen to be involved in the main events of the town year, and its equally vital that we are seen as different churches working together and co-operating. Please sign up at your church or another and do your bit. Some free tickets ( we get them as stall holders ) are available, if cost is a problem.

If you can't get ( and I can't owing to a prior engagement ) pray for the success of this event including praying for anyone who makes contact with the church through the tent for the first time or who uses the opportunity to find out more about what Christianity is all about.

Until next time

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Sunday Spotlight 16th August 2009

Sunday 16th August 2009
Roman Catholic - The Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Lady
Anglican - Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
Methodist -Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

One of the joys of Ecumencial relations in recent years has been the fact that with many churches now using either the Common Lectionary, the Revised Common Lectionary or the Roman Lectionary, the majority of Christians in our town are hearing the same scriptural readings on any given Sunday, at least at the principal service. This has led to some good conversations amongst the clergy/leadership around the lunch table as to how they tackled a particular passage in their preaching the proceeding Sunday. It also means that the pulpit swap in January each year is easier as we are dealing with a common theme and last minute changes of assignment don't mean changes of reading in many cases.

I hope to each Sunday reflect on the Sunday readings in the CL,RCL and RL and think about what they say in an ecumenical context.

Maybe its because of my call for diversity in unity that I choose to start this today, which is one of the few days in the calendar each year, when the Catholic Church is out of step with the other churches in terms of what we are celebrating today ( and of course therefore which readings we will be using today )

For Catholics today is the Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Lady ( the date is usually the 15th August and Catholics are obliged to attend Mass on that day, however when these days fall on a Saturday or Monday in England and Wales they are transferred to the Sunday. ) Today we celebrate the Catholic doctrine that Mary was taken body and soul into heaven at the end of her earthly life to be at the side of her Son as Queen of Heaven. It's an important feast for Catholics with our special devotion to Our Lady, and is celebrated with much public solemnity around the Catholic world. In Malta its also the day when the people celebrate the miracle of the arrival of the convoy which lifted the seige of World War Two, just days before the Governor was going to have to capitualate.

In the ecumencial context the position of Mary is often one of the issues which can be difficult, and can lead to misunderstanding and perhaps conflict. Its probably worth me as a Catholic trying to explain what Mary's role is within the Catholic Church. WE DO NOT WORSHIP her, we only worship God. We do treat her as an advocate for our prayers. The story of the Marriage at Cana can be used to explain why we think this. When the wine runs out its to Mary that the servants go, to ask her to ask her Son for help. He doesn't feel ready but he does what she asks, he doesn't turn her down. This is why we ask Mary to ask her son to do things for us. It doesn't mean we don't ask Jesus directly for help but in any family its not unusual to ask those closest to someone to ask them to help. Of course, the story is also one of the few times when we hear Mary's own words directly and they give us some extremely important advice in regard to our relationship with Jesus. He will do what we ask but we have "to do whatever he tells us." Its hard sometimes but as Christians we do not have a choice, we must do whatever he tells us and not question it. There is no pick and choose in Christianity.

I'll have a look at the CL readings later but got to get up and out for Mass now !

Saturday, 15 August 2009

HOPEFrome Tea van

Well, I'm sitting here on Saturday and am feeling the effects of only 4 hours proper sleep ! I didn't get in until 3.45am and no I wasn't out on the town ! Well actually I was ! Last night I spent 6 hours working with the HOPEFrome team and their late night tea and coffee van. What an experience- it was both enjoyable and empowering. What a great idea and one which really reaches out to people who otherwise wouldn't have any contact with the churches.
Having never been into our town centre late on a Friday night it was quite an eye-opener ! We started at 10pm and within a few minutes we had customers. The early part of the evening was mostly a younger crowd ( 16 and 17 year olds ) who obviously can't get into the pubs and clubs and wanted somewhere to go and spend time socialising. I didn't expect to get into the sort of discussions that ensued. Interestingly the most popular question was centred on Creation. They all seemed to want to chat about "The Big Bang" and Darwinism and it was fun and interesting to discuss Christians' answers to these questions and their own opinions. Another customer asked me "Has God a plan for me?" and it goes to prove that these young people are searching for the answers to the big questions in life such as "Why am I here?" and "Whats the point to life?" The refreshment van is a great way of gently guiding ( and all the discussion was customer directed ) towards what we as Christians know are the answers to these big questions. In all probability they won't come to Christ in the near future but who knows when the seeds which were planted last night will bear fruit in their later lives .
The other question I heard asked again and again as we offered tea etc was "Whats the catch?" many of our customers found it hard to believe that we would give up our time and put the effort in for no other reason than doing a good deed. It was interesting to see their response and it was all favourable ! When they say my collar they realised we were a church group but were again surprised that this was not an overt evangelising exercise. Wearing a collar in such situations is not an easy decision but it turned out to be the right one. It gave me an identity which was easy for all to see, it broke down barriers and allowed people to talk to me as they knew what I was, even if most hadn't a clue what a deacon was and used the word "vicar" to describe me. One amusing comment was made as I walked up to Mike and James, one of the lads talking to them said, watch out here comes the boss. He was taken aback to hear I was just one of the team and not the leader.
The response to finding out that we came from different churches and denominations ( 4 and 2 on Friday ) was also interesting. Some said isn't it good you're working together, another lad said "I thought you hated each other" Interesting response and maybe we need to work on this public side of things to show that the conflict which is sometimes the media face of relations between churches is the exception not the rule.
There was one scary moment when an argument amongst some of the people near where a group of us were engaging with revellers ( handing out the ever popular jelly babies, which incidentally prove a good way of defusing the early stages of trouble ) broke out into a fight. It was great to see one of our team, very discreetly praying for those involved in the scuffle. Public prayer wasn't needed but this private prayer certainly was.
This ministry is a great example of "Unity with Diversity" and I encourage you all to sign up and take a turn. I can guarantee that you will find it rewarding and enlightening. Gary Lee of Holy Trinity is the co-ordinator for the rota and can be contacted through HT Office.
Well done to all the team. See you next time.


Hi Everyone !
Welcome to the chairman's blog for FACT ( Frome Area Christians Together )
I hope to use it to 1 ) Communicate what we are doing to all Christians in the area and the outside world 2 ) Celebrate all the great ecumenical work we do together 3 ) Write about other things which are relevant to FACT, its members and its work
Keep checking for updates, I can't guarantee how often I will blog but I will aim to keep it as up to date as possible.
In Christ