02 March 2015

Grave inscriptions

When our churchyard was laid out as a public garden in the nineteenth century, most of its monuments were moved to the boundary. They're still there but it's impossible to read the faded inscriptions.

Fortunately, John Nelson's History of Islington (1811), recorded those he found at that time.

These moving testimonies reveal attitudes to life and death in Georgian London in ways that we find strange today. But there's real faith here, a certainty in the promise of resurrection and a strong sense of the fragility of life. The inscriptions for the dead seem to warn or instruct the living in some way. Here are some of our favourites,

  • "As Death once travelling the Northern road, stopt in this town some short abode, enquiring where true merit lay, He envied and snatched this youth away." (Edgerley tomb, undated)
  • "Farewell, vain world, I’ve seen enough of thee, And now am careless what thou say’st of me; Thy smiles I court not, nor thy frowns I fear, My soul’s at rest, my head lies quiet here. The faults you saw in me take care to shun. Look you at home, there’s enough to be done." (Mary Bird, 1786)
  • "A child of remarkable strength and health, died 24 July 1804, in the 14th year of her age, of a mortification of the bowels caused by a stoppage arising from swallowing cherry-stones." (Victoria-Louisa Bridel)
  • "May Christ conduct my soul to bliss! All else is naught, compared with this. Give another wish, kind heaven, to meet friends, wife, and children seven." (Charles Bussell, 1786)
  • "Death, like an overflowing stream, Sweeps us away: our life’s a dream, An empty tale, a morning flow’r, Cut down and withered in an hour. Our age to seventy years are set, How short the time, how frail the state; And if to eighty we arrive, We rather sigh and groan than live." (Eleanor Chilton 1799, aged 52).
  • "Beneath this stone doth honest Deakin lie. The good, the great, the virtuous, all must die. He acted well his part while here on earth, To heav’n now call’d enjoys a better birth. Friend to the poor, a friend to all he knew, His virtues many, and his faults but few. Those few, were only Nature’s common lot, Think of his goodness – faults may be forgot." (Francis Deakin, 1780)

Services on Sunday 8 March 2015

Sunday 8 March 2015

All Together Church with Baptism Simon Harvey preaching. Whole life discipleship in Lent 3 - Keeping the rule of love. Bible reading: Matthew 22.34-40

6pm Holy Communion Gloria Naylor preaching. Bible reading: Exodus 20.1-17; John 2.13-22

19 February 2015

Bishops call for fresh moral vision

The bishops of the Church of England stirred things up on the political scene with a call for "a fresh moral vision of the kind of country we want to be".

The call is directed at our politicians to seek bold new visions of hope and idealism rather than "sterile arguments about who might manage the existing system best."

But the letter is far from a mere criticism of the current political process. It encourages us all to be more involved in the choices that affect the lives of our neighbours and ourselves. With a general election just a few weeks away, the Church of England is urging us to vote for the common good and not just selfish interests.

Announcement by the Church of England

Read the full letter

Reading the Bible aloud - free workshop on 4 March 2015

Perhaps the only time you hear the Bible read aloud is in church. It's good for us all to read and study God's word and you'd feel a bit daft reading aloud on the tube. You'd probably feel nervous reading out loud in front of your family too. But the first writers of the scriptures assumed that their words would be read aloud by communities and individuals.

Our minds handle silent reading differently from reading aloud. In a one-off session (Wednesday 4 March 7.30 to 9.00 in the crypt) we'll be exploring how reading aloud, even softly by ourselves, can take us far deeper into a text.

This session is open to everyone, not just those who read the Bible as a ministry in our church services.

14 February 2015

Experiencing the presence of God in Stillness Prayer

Our short course of four sessions of Stillness Prayer came to an end last week. We were really pleased that so many people decided to join us. Twenty seven participants took time to gently explore being present, moving from contentment to gratitude and experiencing the peace of Christ.

This was a course without handouts, textbooks or heavy teaching. We spent the first part of each evening exploring an aspect of Stillness Prayer then moved up from the crypt to the vast darkness of the church for guided meditative prayer.

The feedback has been so encouraging that we'll definitely do this again. Participants wrote:

  • I found the Stillness Prayer course wonderful!
  • What I liked about the course was the sense of a joint adventure with the others who were there. We were gently led towards an exploration of stillness by lots of open questions and fresh ideas. I re-connected with a dimension of experience in the quiet darkness of the church which helped me to listen to God. 
  • Please do repeat it so that I can reserve four weeks in advance!
  • Thank you very much for offering us such a special opportunity to be in the 'remembered presence of God'.
  • The sessions were certainly aimed at our everyday lives but yet something I don't always take the time out to think about and focus on, so helpful to do that and a special gift to be guided through it. 
  • It was pitched just right, the simplicity really worked. 
  • The mix of discussion and practice was spot on. 
  • I was sometimes a little confused but in a good way. It was so relevant for everyday life.
  • Very helpful, beautifully simple and of great everyday use.
  • The key words which have stayed with me from the course are listen/observe and present/presence.
  • I really enjoyed the two sessions I attended. 
  • It was am opportunity to interact with a different set of people as well as having personal time for reflection after a busy day.
  • Just want to say a huge thank you for the Stillness Prayer course, which helped  me be still in my home with peace, gratitude, being nearer to God.
  • Can't thank you enough, feeling so content and relaxed when we go back downstairs after the stillness.
  • Hope in the near future you have time to have more Stillness Prayer.

12 February 2015

Ash Wednesday 2015

Our Ash Wednesday service with Holy Communion and the imposition of ashes is on 18 February at 7.30pm

10 February 2015

Giving campaign 2015 - Show our love. Share God's gifts.

Just once a year, we focus on encouraging a generous response to God's generosity by encouraging everyone at St Mary's to join the Planned Giving Scheme. It's an honest way of saying that all that we do relies the generous support of donors. And most of our income comes from the giving of ordinary church people who give money as part of their Christian discipleship. We are very grateful indeed to everyone who gives to support the work of our church.

Exciting things are already happening at St Mary's.

Our growing church is doing more to share in God's mission and to make a difference in the world. Regular planned giving from our church members is the biggest part of our income. But although our church is growing, income from donors actually fell by £14,000 in 2014.

The challenge for 2015 is to close that gap so we can continue to invest in:
  • Our work with young people, in church and at St Mary's School.
  • Open Church, enabling the people of Islington to use their church.
  • Supporting mission partners overseas and vital UK charities.
  • Doing important work to our buildings.
  • Music ministry, to enrich our worship.
  • Soul in the City neighbourhood festival.

What we're asking regular worshippers to do now

Make sure you pick up one of the 2015 Planned Giving Campaign leaflets in church. They explain more about what's involved and give suggestions about the way you may approach your giving. If you can't get to church, get in touch by email or phone and we'll send you the leaflet.

07 February 2015

Passion and Resurrection - A Good Lent, A Good Easter

We're glad to promote this series of three free talks at St Paul's Cathedral by Justin Welby, Stephen Cottrell and Stephen Conway:

"Because he is God, and also Friend, we are touched at the depth of our beings as we live with him through every event of his trial, death and resurrection." Justin Welby

Lent and Easter are the heart of the Christian year. The revolutionary events of Jesus’ Passion and Resurrection are the foundation stones of Christianity, and the seasons when we explore their mysteries are at the heart of our faith. But how can we experience these seasons so that these extraordinary stories reach our hearts and change our lives?

Three of the church’s most senior pastors and teachers will explore the meanings of Lent, Holy Week and Easter, and the impact they can have on how we live, believe and behave. They will also reflect on their own experiences of the seasons, and offer recommendations for how we can keep them most fruitfully. The free events will all include plenty of time for questions and answers.

More details.