FACT Mission Statement

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

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

All Saints Anglican Church, Nunney

The church of All Saints Nunney was originally built in the 12th Century although it has undergone changes and renovations across the years, some welcome others not so welcome, including the roof which is now the subject of fundraising to return it to its original state.

Amongst the unusual features that one will find in the church, are fragments of wall paintings, including one of St George. These are a reminder of the way many medieval churches were decorated before they were painted over.

The font is Norman in origin with a square base and a round bowl. This bowl has an unusual scalloped top and has an octagonal. conical cover which is dated 1684.


Another great feature of the church are the tomb effigies which are now rearranged in the St Katherine's chapel. These are of the Lords of the Manor across several centuries and include those of  Sir John De La Mare, builder of Nunney Castle and Sir John Paulett and his wife Constance. This later effigy is of note because she wears her hair long as an unmarried woman would.
Being a parish which sets out to preserve the Catholic faith within the Anglican Church, there is a tabernacle on the main altar in the sanctuary surrounded by the "big six" candle sticks.

Address : Church Street, Nunney, BA11 4LN

Monday, 28 September 2009

Lucien Taipedi and Wang Zhimning

Lucien Taipedi - Anglican, Layman - c1921 to 21st July 1942

Lucien Taipedi was born in around 1921, in New Guinea. His family had connections with sorcery Educated in a mission school he went onto become a teacher and evangelist. He along with many others were martyred during the escape from the invading Japanese forces in 1942. He was killed with an axe by a local tribesman, his companions by the Japanese.

Wang Zhimning - Protestant, Pastor - 1907 -December 29th 1973

Born in 1907, Wang was educated in Christian schools and later taught in one for ten years. In 1944 he was elected chairman of the church council in Wuding, and he was ordained in 1951 at the age of 44. During the 1950s Wang was one of six Miao Christian leaders who accommodated some of the demands of the new government by signing the Three Self Manifesto. Still, he refused to participate in denunciation meetings held to humiliate landlords, saying, "My hands have baptized many converts, and should not be used for sinfulness". This was undoubtedly one of the reasons that, even before the Cultural Revolution, Wang was declared a counter-revolutionary.
During the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), at least twenty-one Christian leaders in Wuding were imprisoned, and many others were sent to camps, denounced or beaten. One later stated, "I cannot recall how many time I was made to kneel on the rubble and how much blood flowed from my knees due to their sharp edges. When I could not hold out and fell to the ground, merciless beatings followed. Then I was pulled up and forced to salute the portrait of Chairman Mao. My refusal to do so resulted in another round of beating up. Vicious cycles went on and on. This only paused for a little while when I almost lost consciousness."
In 1969, Wang Zhiming and his wife and sons were arrested. On December 29, 1973, Wang was executed in a stadium in front of more than 10,000 people. The largely Christian crowd was not cowed into submission by the spectacle, but rather many rushed the stand where they berated the prosecuting official.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Sunday Spotlight - 27th September 2009

Back to Church Sunday

Roman Catholic/Methodist/URC - 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Anglican - Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost, Proper 21

Esther 7:1-6, 9-10; 9:20-22 or Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29 * Psalm 124 or Psalm 19:7-14 * James 5:13-20 * Mark 9:38-50

Today's Liturgy of the Word could be seen as being downcast, the tone isn't exactly upbeat, an interesting challenge for preaching on Back to Church Sunday! However the Gospel begins with a short introduction which is extremely relevant to us all working the in ecumenical movement. It needs little further explanation, we are all working in different ways Jesus approves off all that is done in His name, and will reward us appropiately.

Friday, 25 September 2009

I've Done All I Can !

Hi, I didn't ever intend to use the Blog to say personal things from me, but I am going to do it just once ! I have done all I can to get the publicity and arrangements done for the Bible Marathon, it's taken hours and hours of work, and many have responded. It just seems that we are however going to fall short and its not worth doing if we can't do it how we intended, with the whole Bible read continuously. I know some people have tried really hard, and got names and are still trying hard but other congregations haven't even heard of it yet. "O I haven't got round to it yet" has been said to me several times ( the forms went out in mid August ) I know we are all busy and I know we have been trying to get people to sign up for other stuff too but I really feel we are at crunch time. I've done all I can and feel extremely stressed ( as I know now that even if the names flood in over the weekend, I will be pushed to get the paperwork done in time so people can get sponsors, the forms are printed but the names and times need to be written on and they need to be delivered preferably before Sunday )

Someone called me Captain Efficency recently, well I feel at the moment like my superpowers are deserting me, and I need all the Christians of Frome to come to my rescue. After all, we're not doing this for me or ourselves, but for the people of Zimbabwe. All in all I am in a complete state about it and don't know what to do now for the best. Perhaps you could phone or email your opinions, I need some support and advice on this one.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Back to Church Sunday

We often bemoan the fact that our churches, aren't in general as full as they once were. That's not to say that new people aren't joining, because new people come to faith all the time. However we all know that lots of those who were regularly in the pews a few years ago, now are no where to be seen on a Sunday. There are lots of reasons for that, not least the secularisation of our society and the loss of the sacred nature of Sunday. Its interesting to note that numbers attending Polish masses in this country have dropped greatly (faster than the speed of return to Poland), and the Polish priests blame this on the fact that the young people who were fervent in their practise of the faith and attending mass, have been influenced by the society they have come to live in !

We all know someone who is no longer attending church regularly, and we have not got to be complacent and say "O well that's that then". Often they are just waiting to be asked back. They maybe feel that they have been away too long, taking that step back into what was so familiar once, is now a step into the unknown.

The Catholic Church runs a "Come Home for Christmas" campaign each year and this focuses on sending or giving postcards to those who are lapsed with the service times on. Statistics show that 1 in 7 of those cards results in someone coming along to Church who wouldn't have otherwise. Research also shows that a good number of them, come again and some become regular attendees again.

The same must therefore be true of this weekend's Back to Church Sunday. We are encouraged to try and bring someone who has been away from church attendance with us this weekend. The aim of course is that they will come again next week or in the near future. One trap not to fall into this week though, is to put something special on, in terms of the service. It's no good them enjoying what they see and experience this week, and then finding when they come back that what they saw isn't the norm. We have all got to accept that people may need to "shop around" to find worship which appeals to them ( and there is certainly plenty of choice in Frome ) it may be that they come back to church this Sunday at one place and then go somewhere else next week. This is as much of a success as them joining our congregation.

Do try and bring someone with you this Sunday and ensure that the welcome any returners receive is a warm and genuine one. They need to know that we accept them "as they are"

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Carnival Final Arrangements

It's not too late to come forward and help out HOPEFrome's efforts for the carnival. Janet Caudwell sent around some details of the arrangements. If you are free and haven't yet signed up. Here's how you can turn up on the day and help out

Saturday 26 September

11.00 am St John’s Forecourt (by the arch) to collect HOPEFrome vest and sell programmes

2.00 pm Bandstand Victoria Park to collect HOPEFrome vest/buckets/ tins

6.30 pm Barnes Coach Works (Opposite Enterprise Centre Marston
Training Estate) to collect HOPEFrome vest/buckets/ tins etc

I suggest you take your HOPEFrome vest home with you at the end of your stint and return it to your church – I will collect them during the week.

Holy Trinity, Chantry

Holy Trinity Chantry is another church with an unusual and perhaps unique tower, which is octagonal in shape with a pinnacled tower containing a bell. The church was paid for with a generous donation of £8000 by James Fussell of Chantry House

Consecrated in 1848 ( and designed by Gilbert Scott ) it is rightly described as architecural gem.

Above the door of the porch is inscribed "Enter into thy gates with thankfulness and into thy courts with praise". This was something of a prophetic statement for Chantry was one of the few "thankful villages", where all those who set off for World War One, returned alive.

There are a few features of note inside, including misericords and a memorial to the author Anthony Powell who wrote amongst other things "A Dance to the Music of Time"

Address : Holy Trinity, Chantry, Somerset, BA11 3LJ

Picture© Brendan Balhetchet LRPS

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Sunday Spotlight - September 20th 2009

Home Mission Sunday

Roman Catholic/Methodist/URC - 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
AnglicanFourteenth Sunday After Pentecost, Proper 20

Proverbs 31:10-31 or Wisdom of Solomon 1:16-2:1, 12-22 * Psalm 1 or Psalm 54 * James 3:13 - 4:3, 7-8a * Mark 9:30-37

Who is the greatest ? Its a trap that we may still fall into as Churches Together Groups. There are alsorts of ways in which this can happen "We've been around longer than anyone else" "We've got the biggest congregation" "Our services are the best" etc... We don't mean to but its only human nature. At the recent CTE Forum, it was pointed out that division and conflict are part of our history and we need to acknowledge it. They are part of our past and we need to live with that, that doesn't mean to say that they have to be part of our future or present ! What it does mean is that conflict and division made us what we are as denominations and we need to work harder to ensure that this doesn't raise it's head. In ecumenical terms, we are all equals. It doesn't matter what else. It's what James is talking about in his epistle "wherever you find jealousy and ambition, you find disharmony and wicked things" If we start to boast or try and prove that we are greater, then all we are trying to do ecumenically will fall flat on its face.

Jesus reminds us that we are all children and we need to act like children. The metaphor of being us being brothers and sisters is often used to describe our relationship. Its a good one, especially in the context of today's call to be like children. However, maybe a better one is cousins. That would explain our different ways and traditions. We are basically of the same stock but differences creep in over time. Some of us are older, some of us younger. We do a lot apart and some things together. What we need to do in our relationship with each other is to keep it innocent and simple like child cousins do. Put a group of related families together, and its the grown ups who bring up old rows and divisions. The children just get on with it and accept that there are some things which are different, and the things that went on before they were born, weren't anything to do with them.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

If you go down to the woods today ...

One popular event ( and indeed an important one ) which FACT puts on regularly is a Teddy Bears' Picnic Service. This is mixture of play and prayer and is ably led by Jill Warren, at Wesley Methodist Church. Jill puts a lot of work into these events, and for that we are extremely grateful, considering that it is on top of all her other work. The majority of those who attend, are non-churchgoers so its yet again an important outreach piece of work. All children are welcome with their bears to come and join in the fun. If anyone could offer Jill help with this ministry let us know. Its an unusual way of reaching out and introducing small children to worship in a setting which they relate to. Another example of what FACT does, and how we are constantly moving on in our ecumenical journey and our ministry and mission to all the people of Frome.

The fun starts at 2pm this Sunday 20th September. in Wesley New Rooms, under the chapel. Do publicise it with your congregations and with other people in your neighbourhoods with small children.

If you can make this Sunday the next ones are

22nd November and 10th January

Friday, 18 September 2009

Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Esther John

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Lutheran - Pastor 4th February 1906 - 9th April 1945
Bonhoeffer was born into a wealthy family in Breslau. After studies and some time in the USA, he returned to Germany and was ordained a Lutheran Pastor. Right from days after Hitler's rise to power, he spoke out publicly in opposition to the regime. This led him to be involved in the setting up of The Confessing Church, which was in direct opposition to the official German Christian Movement. He soon found himself wanted and left Germany to go to London and work in the Lutheran Church there. However he was rebuked for apparently "running away " from the people of Germany and he returned to help run the underground seminaries. A further trip to the States led to another crisis of conscience and he was yet again to return to Germany and the consequences on the eve of World War Two. He became involved in German resistance to Hitler and the failed plots to assassinate him. His activities against the regime led to him being put in concentration camp. Once his role in the failed plots was revealed, his fate was sealed. He was executed just 3 weeks before the end of the war.

The camp doctor who witnessed the execution wrote: “I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer ... kneeling on the floor praying fervently to God. I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of execution, he again said a short prayer and then climbed the few steps to the gallows, brave and composed. His death ensued after a few seconds. In the almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.”

Esther John- Anglican -Evangelist

ESTHER JOHN was born Qamar Zia, on 14 October 1929, one of seven children. As a child she attended a government school and, after the age of seventeen, a Christian school. There she was profoundly moved by the transparent faith of one of her teachers, and she began to read the Bible earnestly. It was when reading the 53rd chapter of Isaiah that she was suddenly overtaken by a sense of conversion to this new religion.
When India was partitioned Qamar Zia moved with her family into the new state of Pakistan. Here she made contact with a missionary, Marian Laugesen in Karachi. Laugesen, at her request, passed on to her a New Testament. Her Christian faith grew privately, even secretly. Then, seven years later, she ran away from home, fearful of the prospect of marriage to a Muslim husband. She found her way back to Laugesen in Karachi.
For a while Qamar Zia worked in an orphanage there, and it was at this time that she took the name Esther John. Her family still pressed her to return and to marry, but on 30 June 1955 she took a train north to Sahiwal, in the Punjab. Here she lived and worked in a mission hospital, stayed with the first Anglican bishop of Karachi, Chandu Ray, and celebrated her first Christmas. Finding a vocation to teach, she entered the United Bible Training Centre in Gujranwala in September 1956. In April 1959 she completed her studies there and moved to Chichawatni, some thirty miles from Sahiwal, living with American Presbyterian missionaries. She evangelized in the villages, travelling from one to the other by bicycle, teaching women to read and working with them in the cotton fields. At times her relationship with her distant and perplexed family appeared calm; at others anxiety and tension brewed.
Her death was sudden and mysterious. On 2 February 1960 Esther John was found dead in her bed at the house where she lived at Chichawatni. She had been brutally murdered.
Her body was taken to the Christian cemetery at Sahiwal and buried. Later, a memorial chapel was built in front of the nurses home in the grounds of the hospital there

Home Mission Sunday

This coming Sunday is Home Mission Sunday in the RC Church. We are all called to be missionaries, and although we will not all go out and be what has been traditionally seen as missionaries abroad ( although of course there are many amongst our numbers in FACT churches who have done just that ! ) we are all called to serve as missionaries to our local communities and to all we meet. Christ's "Go out into the world, proclaim the Good News and make disciples of all the nations" is the Great Commission not the Great Suggestion ! Its not an optional add on, its part of our vocation as members of the elect and baptised.

There are lots of ways in which we can do this, and its often the actions we do as Christians, which are more missionary than the services we hold. Indeed the theme for this year's Home Mission Sunday is "They will know me by the Good works, that you do"

As FACT churches we give all the Christians of Frome Area the chance to do this all year around in a lot of different ways. So many in fact that when I was asked recently, to write an article on FACT for Somerset Churches Together Newsletter, I forgot several things and went over the word limit. What will you do next?

Executive Report

It was great to welcome everyone to the Exec last night. With some new members, it was indeed our most representativ, for some time, in terms of numbers and churches/denominations represented. AND we only went 3 minutes across the cut off time of 9.30pm !!

Main Headlines:

1 ) Working group established to create links with World Sports Ministries
2 ) Fundraising for the Youth Worker Fund is increasing ( watch this space for details of events to support )
3 ) Cheese and Grain Service planning well underway and almost complete
4 ) We will process again at the Extravaganza on 29th November with the Advent Light ( and each person carrying their own light
5 ) We will carol sing again during Decemeber- concentrating on fewer venues - with the aim of bringing the true message of Christmas to the people of our area
6 ) The HOPEFrome Tea van and other projects are increasingly taking off and appreciated by the town in general.

Angela Steele asked us during our opening worship to think hard about what we take as offerings to God in our Harvest Festivals, concentrating on fresh produce in due season rather than tinned goods ( Angela did point out however that she has nothing against baked beans personally ! ) Certainly food for thought as the Harvest Festival season ( and as Angela's son has pointed out that begins before the harvest is in, so something else to think about ! )

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Executive Meeting and Sign up for the Bible Marathon

Please pray for your executive members as they meet tomorrow night. Lots of important decisions are needing to be made at the meeting, and we pray the Holy Spirit will be with us as we make them.

If you haven't signed up for the Bible Reading Marathon please do so as we are short by quite a way for all the slots.

It might help you to know that Bishop Peter Maurice will be reading at 10am Thursday, Methodist District Chairman Ward Jones will be reading at 2pm on Thursday and URC SW Synod Moderator David Grosh-Miller at 5.45pm on Saturday. A chance to meet your local leaders in an initmate setting rather than the usual big gatherings, so why not sign up !

By the way, Bishop Declan Lang and Baptist Regional Minister Nigel Coles both send their apologies and best wishes for the project.

Remember this is your chance to be part of something big and more importantly help the people of Zimbabwe.


Tuesday, 15 September 2009

St Mary's Anglican Church, Orchardleigh

This week we look at perhaps one of the widest known of the churches in our area, because of its popularity as a wedding venue ! According to the CofE its the most popular church in the country for weddings, seeing over 100 during an average year. Set as it is on the Orchardleigh Estate, now one of the countries top wedding venues it comes with the "fairytale" setting of being on a lake edge with a moat around it. It also has the romance of no electricity and therefore needs candlelight, even the organ needs to be pumped by hand.
Built in the 13th Century and extensively renovated in 1878 ( by Sir Gilbert Scott, a name which we will hear of a lot concerning the late 19th Century changes to many of our churches )The church is reached by footbridge and has seating for 120 people. There is a small bell tower on the roof and an external porch. Inside there are some beautiful stained glass windows. Its clear to see why couples would choose it as a wedding venue, even without the house next door for a reception.

Address : Orchardleigh, Frome, Somerset, BA11 2PH

Outside photo by Tom Oates and reproduced under Creative Commons Licence.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Sunday Spotlight - September 13th 2009

Racial Justice Sunday
Roman Catholic/Methodist/URC - 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Anglican - Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost, Proper 17

Proverbs 1:20-33 or Isaiah 50:4-9a • Psalm 19 or Psalm 116:1-9 • James 3:1-12 • Mark 8:27-38

I'm preaching today at the Methodist Chapel in the village where I grew up in the North East. Its their chapel anniversary and I was specially asked to come and preach and take both their morning and evening services. Its the chapel where my mum has worshipped for 40 years and I know them all extremely well as they have known me since I was tiny. Even though I have preached there before, there is always at the back of my mind the story of what happened to Our Lord when he returned to Nazareth to preach !

Its an unusual situation for me in a lot of ways. At St Catharine's and St Dominic's I preach the same sermon at all three masses, because the congregations are all different. This Sunday I need to do two sermons as there is a big crossover between the two congregations. I have also got to lead two services when my role is usually of assistant, and I have got to work from scratch where as I am used to having the formally set out services of the Catholic Church Missal to use.

Morning service will be a "birthday party" for the building complete with party games and a giant cake ( its not as irreverant as it sounds! ) The game is pass the parcel - each layer has a brick in it and on the brick is an appropriate scripture quotation. One word in each scripture passage is in read and when the wall is built and the red words are read as a sentence they spell out a message to the congregation :

Ecclesiastes 2:5 I made gardens and Parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them.
Luke 14:23"Then the master told his servant, 'Go out to the Roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full
Acts 20:28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the Church of God, which he bought with his own blood.
1 Samuel 3:4 Then the LORD called Samuel. Samuel answered, "Here I am."
2 Timothy 1 : 11-12 My work is to be a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher. That's why I am suffering now. But I am not ashamed! I know the one I have faith in
Isaiah 43 : 5 Do not be afraid for I am with you
Colossians 1 : 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God
Psalm 27:13 I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
Genesis 28:3 May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples.
1 Chronicles 9 : 29 Others were responsible for the temple furnishings and its sacred objects
Jude 1 : 18 "In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires."
Joshua 4:6 In the future, when your children ask you, 'What do these stones mean?'

The evening will be more formal using the lectionary texts for the day. Because I am not used to preaching for longer than 7 minutes and find it difficult to stretch it as I am no so set in that time frame, I am going to preach twice within the service to give the 15minutes of preaching that is expected !

James is today reminding us that there is a need for good works to accompany our faith and worship. It is important, that we never forget that going to church on Sunday is not enough. Each of us is called to different tasks and has different skills but we must use them for the spread of the Gospel through our good works. However, today's gospel reminds us that being a Christian is not easy and that there will be times when we are doing those good works when we will face problems and setbacks, but we cannot allow ourselves to give up. We must pick up our Cross and follow Christ, bearing as bravely as He did, the troubles and pains placed upon us. We cannot give up.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Martin Luther King Jr and Oscar Romero

Martin Luther King Jr - Baptist, Pastor - Born January 15th 1929- Died April 4th 1968

Born the son of a Baptist Pastor, he gained the middle name after a family trip to Germany. He didn't formally graduate High School, but studied Theology and went on to get a PHd. He was made pastor of a Montgomery Alabama Baptist Church at the age of 25.

His first major protest, which brought him to national attention, was the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1965. From this he went onto acheive national and international prominence, ultimately winnning the Nobel Peace Prize.

His "I have a dream speech" is possibly amongst the most quoted speeches in US history.

He was shot and killed on 4th April 1968 on Memphis motel balcony.

Oscar Romero - Roman Catholic, Archbishop Born August 15, 1917– March 24, 1980

He studied for the priesthood in Italy during the rule of Mussolini. He worked for 20 years and a parish priest and then as secretary of the bishops' conference of El Salvador. Made auxillary bishop of San Salvador in 1970, he went onto become archbishop in 1977. He was considered a conservative pleasing to the government and not popular with the priests who favoured the Marxist Liberation Theology. In 1979 a revolutionary junta came to power and Romero critised the Americans for supplying military aid to the new government.

Over the next few months, a large number of priests were arrested, tortured and killed and Romero denounced this regularly. He was shot dead, while celebrating Mass in a hospital chapel on 24 March 1980

Friday, 11 September 2009

Racial Justice Sunday

This coming Sunday is racial justice Sunday. In our area, we can sometimes feel that racial issues don't effect us much but we do have people of different ethnic minorities living in our town and area, and certainly the number of nationalities which we have present in our congregation at St Catharine's ( 26 at last count and going up all the time ! ) we do have a lot of people of different nationalities living as members of our community. The recent vision 4 Frome process received mixed messages from people submitting replies. Some saw Frome as a tolerant and diverse place, while others saw it as a place which didn't welcome followers and was rife with racist incidents.

One group who maybe we have not thought about much is the Roma/Gypsy community. In recent surveys for the Town Council's Frome Community Plan, time and again it comes up that we have living in our area a group who feel marginalised and not catered for, a group who suffer from predjuice because of their race and ethnic origin and their lifestyle. To quote one part of the marginalised people's report ( which includes pieces on disabled people and young people amongst others )

Among gypsies, most adults have their own cars, but some have ponies and traps, which they use occasionally. The slow pace of travel causes tailback, which leads to aggressive and abusive drivers. Two families in Frome are being threatened with eviction from the gypsy site right now because they bring ponies onto the site. The problem is that there is nowhere else for them to go. One of the people being threatened with eviction is seriously ill with cancer; if she is evicted she will no longer have an address and so will also lose access to a GP.
 There was also complaints about lack of pitches and being forced into houses, against their wishes.

This along with the racist incidents in our town, should be something which we as Christians need to think about urgently. The theme of this year's Racial Justice Sunday is "Who do you say that I am" ( the Gospel for this Sunday ) the words and actions of people who are racist in our town definitly say who they think immigrants are in their opinion, inferior, and we should be actively trying to change their minds !

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Cheese Show Refreshment News !

Thanks to all who have offered help at the tent ( its not too late to help out, you could even just turn up and offer whoever is helping at that time )

Health and Safety new rules gave Jill a headache on Monday and after consultation and discussion ( as I drove up to the CTE Forum, what a blessing mobiles can be ) we decided to serve only cold drinks. This is because it was too time consuming to get our boilers and rings etc checked out and certified, in the time available before Saturday. This is another good reason for a lay person to take on roles such as the Cheese Show Tent co-ordinator, pastors don't have the spare time to give when a crisis arises.

Please consider taking on the co-ordinator role for next year, or we might have to say we can't do this project.

Carnival Helpers- Last Call

Please let Janet Caudwell know if you haven't already, names of those who can help with carnival. This is important, especially as this is the first time that we have helped this important town occasion. Last year the carnival commitee struggled to collect for charity ( one of its prime purposes ) because of lack of collectors. If you haven't yet signed up, please do so, even only part of the time of the whole event would be good.

Churches Together in England Forum

Well I'm back from Swanwick and what was an amazing 3 days. I met people from Churches who I had never heard about, I took part in worship in styles I had never encountered and I learnt a lot about ecumenism and realised I had a lot more still to learn if I am to make the contribution to the movement I want to.

There was a real sense that ecumenism has moved on leaps and bounds since CTE was formed in 1990 and that we are moving into a new era. One where we need a new direction and slogan to replace the idea of "Not Strangers but Pilgrims" which launched the process. There is a sense now that we are definitely not strangers, and that we know we are pilgrims on the same journey to Heaven, so how do we express the work we are doing together.

That idea of togetherness was crucial in all our discussions and the big question for all of us is how do local bodies such as FACT help individual churches with their work. What we do as ecumenical bodies must not be an add on, it must complement the work or assist the work which is already being done. The image of ecumenism being a bird with two wings was used. The two wings are unity and mission. We need to ask ourselves everytime we do something as FACT how is it helping with these two things.

The good news is we are well down this road as FACT. We are a lot further on with the work than many local groups.

The bad news is ..... I am fired up and inspired from my few days and you know what that means !

An Appeal for Help

Nigel Done Rector of Hardington Group has sent an email with a story which I hope you will read and act as you feel moved to, either financially, with prayer or otherwise ( Contact Jill Warren or Nigel or myself for details of Bank account which has been set up: -

Dear Friends,
Last week our daughter Imogen (12) returned home from her first
day at school disappointed that her best friend, Chichi wasn’t there. When
Imy phoned, Chichi through tears, told her the previous day she found her father
dead in the bedroom. The enormity of this tragedy is that Chichi’s mother
died shortly before the family left Zimbabwe around 7 years ago. This
leaves an orphaned family of three aged 11,13,15. Imogen and I immediately
went to the house to be with them.

When we arrived at the little terraced house in Frome that evening, there were many people (mainly Zimbabweans’) and we prayed and sang and sat in silence and wept. But a truly
remarkable community was gathering around the children to support them.
ChiChi’s father, Andrew (39) was a lovely man, who with limited resources has
done a fantastic job in raising his children to be caring, bright and fun
individuals. The eclectic group of people gathering were neighbours,
friends of the children, church members (particularly from the Wesley Methodist
church in Frome) and of course family.

Andrew has a brother,
Anderson, who along with his wife Kay are dealing with all the
arrangements. There is an older aunt who also lives in Frome who could
care for the children in the future. But we need the help of a larger
community now who can share some of the financial burden of the short term.
Family members are not in well paid jobs, and like many Zimbabweans are
already supporting others struggling under Mugabe’s rule. They will need
to find a new property to rent and have some living expenses for the period from
the end of this month until December. At the moment the post-mortem
is not conclusive as his cause of death, but the coroner has released his body
to be repatriated to Zimbabwe where his father will be able to bury him.
This will be several thousand pounds.

The Methodist church are offering support with ensuring the children’s residence is secure and exploring local charities and social services. They have already had a
collection and set up a restricted account to manage the money on behalf of the

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Wesley Methodist Church Frome

Wesley Methodist Church is a prominent building for anyone approaching Frome. Situated as it is on the main road into Frome from Shepton Mallet, and being square in shape and different in style to all the buildings around it, it certainly stands out.
Built in 1812, using some stone from the earlier chapel of 1779 where John Wesley himself preached. It was extensively restored in 1871. The interior originally a two level chapel with a large gallery with a large organ at one end, and the main preaching area below. In the 1980's a major development was the creation of an upstairs worship chapel by putting a floor in at gallery level. This allowed the lower levels to be converted into meeting rooms. A major redecoration project was needed following smoke damage after an arson attack but this has only served to enhance the beauty of the ceiling and the other fine features of the chapel's interior.
You too can take a look at Wesley's interior when it is open this coming Friday as part of Heritage Day.
Address : Wesley Slope, Frome

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Churches Together in England Forum - The Churches

We might think that we are pretty diverse group of churches ( with all the joys and frustrations that brings ) but our situation of 8 different denominations is nothing compared with Churches Together in England where there are 30 different churches and Councils/Groups of churches.

We could have a competition to see how many you could list but...here's the list.

Antiochian Orthodox Church

Baptist Union of Great Britain
Cherubim and Seraphim Council of Churches
Church of England
Church of God of Prophecy
Church of Scotland (in England)
Congregational Federation
Coptic Orthodox Church
Council of African and Caribbean Churches UK
Council of Oriental Orthodox Christian Churches
Icthus Christian Fellowship
Independent Methodist Church
International Ministerial Council of Great Britain
Joint Council for Anglo-Caribbean Churches
Lutheran Council of Great Britain
Mar Thoma Church
Methodist Church
Moravian Church
New Testament Assembly
New Testament Church of God
Oecumenical Patriarchate
Redeemed Christian Church of God
Religious Society of Friends
Roman Catholic Church
Russian Orthodox Church
Salvation Army
Seventh Day Adventist Church (Observer)
Transatlantic Pacific Alliance of Churches
United Reformed Church
Wesleyan Holiness Church

Imagine the discussions ! Well I'll let you know when I return from Forum !

Monday, 7 September 2009

Churches Together In England Forum - The People

Just as the FACT Chair is rotated amongst the leaders of the Churches, the Presidency of CTE is jointly held by Four Presidents, some of which are rotated. I thought it might be worth sharing with you who the Presidents are at the moment and a bit about their ministry.

Rowan Williams - Anglican, Archbishop of Canterbury- Born 1950, he has been 104th Archbishop of Canterbury since 2002. He was previously Archbishop of Wales, a prior to that Bishop of Monmouth. This means he is the first Archbishop of Canterbury to be appointed from outside the Church of England in modern times, and the first bishop to be Primate of two different parts of the Anglican Communion.
Vincent Nichols - Roman Catholic, Archbishop of Westminster : -Born 1945, became the 11th Archbishop of Westminster this year succeding Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor ( the first Archbishop of Westminster to retire ) having previously been Archbishop of Birmingham and an auxillary bishop in Westminster.
Elizabeth Matear - Salvationist, Commisioner,  Moderator of the Free Church General Council :- Commissioner ( with her husband John ) for the Salvation Army in the UK and Republic of Ireland since 2006, having previously been Territorial Commanders in the Caribbean. In 2007 she became the first Salvationist to take up the Moderator of the Free Churches Federal Council position.

Nathan Hovhanissian - Armenian Apostolic Church in Great Britain, Primate ( Nominated by "Other   Member Churches" ) Has been primate of the Armenian Church in Great Britain since 2000. He was previously been Primate in the Ukraine

As they take up their office ( as Archbishop Nichols will do today at the Forum ) they sign a personal covenant with their fellow Presidents : -

We believe in the Triune God: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Because we confess "one, holy, catholic and apostolic church" our paramount ecumenical task is to show forth this unity, which is always a gift of God. Jesus Christ revealed to us on the cross his love and the mystery of reconciliation; as his followers, we intend to do our utmost to overcome the problems and obstacles that still divide the churches.

We rejoice that the Churches in England are steadily growing closer in mutual trust and respect. As Presidents of Churches Together in England we have in common many joys and hopes, and we have much to offer and to receive from one another in the rich diversity of our traditions.

We believe that in our common pilgrimage we are being led by the Holy Spirit, and that God the Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ, is calling us to a deeper unity and to a greater sharing in our mission in his world.

We therefore commit ourselves

to persevere in seeking a common understanding of Christ's message of salvation in the Gospel;
in the power of the Holy Spirit, to work towards the visible unity of the Church of Jesus Christ in the one faith, expressed in common discipleship, worship, witness and service.

We undertake

to develop our mutual friendship and support,
to pray, study and work together for the unity and mission of the Church,
to consult together on issues affecting the common good,
to promote justice, integrity and peace,
to speak with one voice to give common witness to Jesus Christ, as far as we are able.

We pray God to lead us, with all our sisters and brothers in Christ, towards communion in faith, life and witness; so that, united in one body by the one Spirit, we may together witness to the perfect unity of his love.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Sunday Spotlight 6th September 2009

Roman Catholic/Methodist/URC - 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Anglican - Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost, Proper 17

Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23 or Isaiah 35:4-7a * Psalm 125 or Psalm 146 * James 2:1-10, (11-13), 14-17 * Mark 7:24-37

Jesus today heals the death mute in Mark's account. He commands the mans ears and mouth "Be opened" or in Arameic " Ephphatha". In the Catholic rite of Baptism there is an option ( little used in England and Wales ) called the Ephphatha rite, when the Priest or Deacon prays for the babies ears and mouth to be opened to hear and speak.  What we need to remember is that all of us ( no matter how good our hearing ) need to sometimes think about how "open" our ears are to God. When I was teaching there was a favourite hymn with the children which began "Open your ears O Christians People, Open your ears and hear Good News", the kids loved it because it had an Israeli melody, and got faster and faster with each verse. However, theres a message for all of us in today's Gospel and that hymn. We've all got to listen to the Good News and that means listen not just hear ! It is Good News first of all, so we've got to show it's Good News by the way we act etc. Too many people think that Christians are miserable because they are weighed down by a long list of "Don'ts" Secondly we have really got to listen when we hear Scripture read, too often for all of us, it literally goes in one ear and out the other, and is forgotten the moment we cross the Church door. Really concentrating on the Word is hard in a service, with distractions going on in the building and in our heads, but we've got to try and do it.

There's another type of listening which as Christians we must try and do as often as we can, and that listening to the voice of God in our lives. As the prophet found out God is not always in the earthquake, the wind and the fire but sometimes in the still small voice of calm. Hearing that above the noise and hubbub of daily life is hard and requires us to listen with fully open ears and hearts. Its so good to hear people saying in FACT that they can hear the voice of God calling them to do something, we all need to make sure that we listen and find out what it is he wants us to do.

Sunday Bonus !

I'm preaching today and not for once preaching on the scripture we are hearing today. I'm using the theme of the Epistle of James, last week and next week instead and linking it in to the Feeding of the Five Thousand from a few weeks ago.

St James tells us that "faith without good works" is no good. For some people of even the strongest faith, getting involved in anything more than Sunday worship is something they don't consider. Maybe its because the right opportunity hasn't come along, but more often than not the complaint is "I don't have the time !" This needn't be the case thou.

When I was in Nairobi, I saw in the window of the Catholic Cathedral gift shop a poster of the feeding of the 5000. It was so unusual I had to have it but typically the gift shop had closed 10minutes earlier ! Some months later I was lucky enough to find it as a gift card in SPCK. Now you might be wondering why this picture had such a big effect on me. Well its a modern portrayl of the event. Jesus and the disciples are dressed casually in shirts and jumpers and in front of them is a little boy offering up his lunchbox. Not loaves and fishes but a sandwich, an apple and a Mars bar !

It occured to me that, that was indeed what the little boy had been doing all along, he'd been offering up his lunch of bread and fish. Now as a teacher, I know that if you give a child a lunchbox for a day trip out, they will take something from it before lunchtime. Here is the little boy handing across his lunch from which he's probably taken something already. He's taken what he needed and is offering up what's left to Jesus.

In our own lives, we should always take what we need for ourselves, in terms of time, energy and money, and then Jesus can work miracles with whats left.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Janani Luwum and Elizabeth of Russia

Janani Luwum - Anglican, Archbishop Born 1922 - Died 17th February 1977

Born in Kitgum District of Uganda and converted to Christianity in 1948. In 1954 he was ordained a priest. He was consecrated bishop in 1961 and in 1966 became Archbishop of Uganda, Zaire, Rwanda and Burundi.

A critic of the regime of Idi Amin from its start in 1971, in 1977 he delivered a not to the President complaining about the arbitary killings and disappearances blamed on the brutal regime of the dictator. Luwum was arrested on 16th February 1977. He was accused of being an agent of the exiled president, and plotting a coup. It was annouced the following day, that he had been killed in a car crash while being taken to an interogation centre, while attempting to escape.

When his body was released it was bullet ridden and it is possible that he was killed by Amin himself.

Elizabeth of Russia - Russian Orthodox, Religious Born November 1st 1864 - Died July 18th 1918

A princess of the House of Hess in Germany and granddaughter of Queen Victoria , she was greatly admired for her beauty by many of the most eligble batchelors of Europe when she came of age. She ultimately married Grand Duke Sergei of Russia in 1884. They had a happy, though childless, marriage and lived in Moscow where Sergei was Governor General. Her position in the Royal Family was further cemented when her sister Alex became the Tsarina ( the last to hold the title )

Her happiness was shattered in February 1905 when Sergei was assasinated. In 1909 she sold all her clothes and jewelery in aid of the Sisters of Martha and Mary and entered their convent as its abbess. It was from here that she carried out works of charity until in 1918, Lenin ordered her arrest.

In July, she was take to Yekatrinburg and was killed by the Bolsheviks. They threw her and her companions ( including some minor royals ) into a mineshaft. The fall did not kill her outright, although she did die of her injuries. That is not before she bandaged the wounds of a fellow victim. Her remains were found by the advancing White Russian army and taken to Jerusalem to be buried.

She was canonised by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1992.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Attention all Exec Members !!!!!

You should get some emails from me today with your documentation for the exec meeting on 17th September at URC.

Please check your emails and read the contents. Some of the reports are more lists of questions for you to consider- feel free to discuss them with your congregations so that you can bring their ideas to the meeting.

Don't forget to chase people to come forward to help at the things we are organising across the Autumn. Many hands make light work !

If you can't make the meeting on the 17th, please send your apologies along with any ideas/opinions on the items and reports so that they can be included in our discussions.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

The Swanwick Declaration

I mentioned earlier in the week, the Swanwick Declaration of 1987. What was it? It was published in a blaze of publicity and meant to be the blueprint for all that we do ecumenically. It was published at exactly this time that I became involved in the Ecumenical movement. Actually that’s not true, coming from a mixed Methodist/Catholic household, I had always been ecumenical without realising it. So its perhaps better to say that it was around 1987, when I was 15 that I got actively involved because the three denominations in my village got together to discuss the Declaration and its theme of "Not Strangers but Pilgrims" It was not the sort of ecumenical meeting we are used to in Frome, I can see the room now, with each group sitting together in their own huddle ( except me, as I was with Mum I was in the Methodist huddle, as I went to the Town RC Church not the village one ! ) and not mixing at all. The discussions were fruitful if a little strained and led onto a good relationship which developed so well that Dr David Jenkins, specifically mentioned us as a good group in his farewell address to the Diocese of Durham.

Anyway, its no co-incidence that we first met in 1987 as it was only because of the Swanwick Conference and the Declaration that we could meet, because it allowed the Roman Catholic Church to be part of ecumenical groups. Councils of Churches were replaced by Churches Together and a new journey of ecumenism began. It nearly didn't happen, there were strains amongst the delegates which looked like meaning that no agreement would be reached. However a historic intervention from Cardinal Hume ( who did so much for making the Roman Catholic Church part of the life of Great Britain rather than being seen as something suspicious ) saved the day.

Heres the text of the declaration, its definitely worth us reflecting on it 22 years on, its worth reading despite its length :

Appointed by our churches and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit we declare that this, the broadest assembly of British and Irish churches ever to meet in these islands has reached a common mind. We are aware that not all Christians are represented amongst us but we look forward to the time when they will share fully with us.

We came with different experiences and traditions, some with long ecumenical service, some for whom this is a new adventure. We are one band of pilgrims. We are old and young, women and men, black and white, lay and ordained and we travelled from the four corners of these islands to meet at Swanwick in Derbyshire. There we met, we listened, we talked, we worshipped, we prayed, we sat in silence, deeper than words. Against the background of so much suffering and sinfulness in our society we were reminded of our call to witness that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. We affirmed that this world with all its sin and splendour belongs to God. Young people called on us to be ready to sort out our priorities so that we could travel light and concentrate on our goal. Driven on by a gospel imperative to seek unity that the world may believe, we rejoiced that we are pilgrims together and strangers no longer.

We now declare together our readiness to commit ourselves to each other under God. Our earnest desire is to become more fully, in his own time, the one Church of Christ, united in faith, communion, pastoral care and mission. Such unity is the gift of God. With gratitude we have truly experienced this gift, growing amongst us in these days. We affirm our openness to this growing unity in obedience to the Word of God, so that we may fully share, hold in common and offer to the world those gifts which we have received and still hold in separation. In the unity we seek we recognise that there will not be uniformity but legitimate diversity.

It is our conviction that, as a matter of policy at all levels and in all places, our churches must now move from co-operation to clear commitment to each other, in search of the unity for which Christ prayed and in common evangelism and service of the world.

We urge church leaders and representatives to take all necessary steps to present, as soon as possible, to our church authorities, assemblies and congregations, the Report of this Conference together with developed proposals for ecumenical instruments to help the churches of these islands to move ahead together.

Continuing to trust in the promised gift of the Holy Spirit, we look forward with confidence to sharing with our own churches the joys of this historic Conference. We thank God for all those who, from Lent '86 and before, have been part of this pilgrimage. We feel their presence with us. We urge our churches to confirm by decision and action the hopes and vision on which we have laid hold, and which we shall not let go.

This is a new beginning. We set out on our further pilgrimage ready to take risks and determined not to be put off by `dismal stories: We resolve that no discouragement will make us once relent our avowed intent to be pilgrims together. Leaving behind painful memories and reaching out for what lies ahead, we press on towards the full reconciliation in Christ of all things in heaven and on earth, that God has promised in his Kingdom.

Lord God, we thank you
For calling us into the company
Of those who trust in Christ
And seek to obey his will.
May your Spirit guide and strengthen us
In mission and service to your world;
For we are strangers no longer
But pilgrims together on the way to your Kingdom.

Please pray for all the delegates, in the run up to and during the Forum. Maybe you could use the prayer at the end of the declaration.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Blessed virgin Mary, St John the Baptist and All Saints, Witham Friary

I'm on home turf today, with the church in my own village. This church is unusual in many ways, not least its age. Built originally in the 13th Century it was the lay brothers chapel for the Carthusian Friary from which the village takes its name. The lay brothers were an important part of the Carthusian order, not taking vows but living the monastic life. The monastery was built as part of Henry II's penance for his indirect killing of Thomas a Becket ( remember "Who will rid me of this turbulent priest ? ) and its most famous resident and first prior was St Hugh of Lincoln.

The Church was altered in 1828 and extended in 1875. The font is octagonal in style and dates from the Jacobean period. The Royal Arms dates from 1660. The striking feature on the outside is the tower, which probably might best be described as a carillon of 3 bells. The stained glass contains fragments of medieval glass. Inside there is a small pipe organ and the nave is 3 bays long with semi-circular chancel. There are also outside some spectacular buttresses.

Maybe this church wins the prize for the longest dedication of the FACT churches

Address : Witham Friary, Frome BA11 5HE

Photo : © Brendan Balhetchet LRPS

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Churches Together in England Forum

Next week I'm off to the Churches Together in England Forum. Its a 3 day conference which happens every three years, when reps from all the member churches get together to discuss issues which effect us all and to share experiences. I'm there as a representative of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, and feel really priveliged to be given this honour and chance to be involved in ecumenism on a national scale. The forum is being held at Swanwick in Derbyshire, where the famous Swanwick declaration was signed ( more on that tomorrow )

This year the forum ( whose moderator this time is my own Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton ) is called "Changing World : Changing Church?" and will look at different ways in which we as churches and individual Christians can respond to the changing world we live in.

The four themes are : Ecology, Doing Church differently, violent Crime, Interfaith relationships.

Each member of the Forum has been provided with a set of four postcards which are meant to stimulate our thoughts before we go and our discussions at the forum. I reproduce them below to allow you all to consider your thoughts on these issues and we will discuss them as FACT at some later stage. If you have any ideas and thoughts which you would like me to take to the Forum, after reading these cards just let me know.