27 July 2015

Keith Waddell honoured by the University of Leicester


We're delighted that our mission partner, Keith Waddell, has been honoured by University of Leicester, in recognition of his immensely important work in Africa.

In his address to the congregation at the university's recent awards ceremony, Nigel Siesage described how for half a century, motivated both by his faith and by his calling as a doctor, he has brought healing, particularly of eye conditions, to people in Africa.

It's entirely appropriate that Keith's work has been recognised in this way and we add our cheers to the well-deserved applause that greeted him in Leicester.

Services on Sunday 2 August 2015


9am BCP Holy Communion
Simon Harvey preaching. Bible reading: 1 Corinthians 10.1-13; Luke 16.1-9

11am Holy Communion
Ian Mylam preaching. News and Good News. Bible reading: Reading to be chosen by preacher, possibly not until the day before

6pm Evening Worship
Mike Bartholomew-Biggs preaching. Public Prayer. Bible reading: 1 Timothy 2.1-15

20 July 2015

The News and the Good News


Over the summer at the eleven o'clock service, our preachers will be taking a story from the news and looking for connections with the bigger story that the Christian faith tells about our world.

Simon Harvey writes,
It can sometimes feel as though there's a big gap between the world that the Bible describes and the world that we live in. But people are people. The hopes and fears of all the years are pretty much the same, even though the context is different. Yet the salvation story which the Christian faith proclaims is one in which there is purpose. While there is plenty of room for chance and chaos, the narrative of God's purpose works towards a resolution, which brings us hope and confidence.
I'm looking forward to helping people with sermons that are grounded in the scriptures and which connect with the world that we recognise.
The starting point for each sermon may be the biggest news story of the week. But it could just as well be a small incident, reported on page 11 of a local paper. Either way, we'll be looking for fresh perspective and gospel insight.
The News and the Good News series of sermons begins on 26 July 2015.

17 July 2015

Tim Farron's faith and decision-making


Simon Harvey writes, 

Tim Farron is the new leader of the Liberal Democrats. He is also a Christian.

At a Lib Dem party rally in the swelteringly hot Islington Assembly Hall last night, just along Upper Street from our church, Farron gave his first leader's speech to the cheers of his supporters. But party leaders rarely get to enjoy applause for long before they're put on the spot.

So on BBC Radio Four's Today Programme this morning, John Humphrys gave him a much tougher time. (You can hear the interview here). I was interested that as well as focussing on the new leader's reputation for being more to the political left than his predecessor, he pressed him on his Christian faith and its relation to his politics.

"Would you seek advice from God when it came to making important policy decisions?"

The question reveals an inadequate understanding about the way that Christians live out their faith in the whole of their lives. I don't blame Humphrys for that. (His personal position on faith is agnostic.)

I guess it revealed to me the failure of us Christians to account for the way that faith makes a difference to what we do when we're at work, or out and about beyond the church doors.

When Farron said that leaders have to make judgements based on the evidence put in front of them, Humphrys put the question a different way, "So you wouldn't ask God for guidance?"

Farron said, "I don't ask him to present the answer to me. You seek wisdom..."

As part of the Capital Vision 2020 Programme, we're helping members of St Mary's to be more confident ambassadors for Christ. We recently ran a workshop on Making Better Choices to get to grips with how faith-based decision-making might work.

So how does prayer influence the work of a Christian decision-maker? And how does a commitment to a faith have an impact on what they do?

In my experience, and contrary to John Humphry's expectations, prayer doesn't usually involve getting advice from God or being guided to a particular path.

I echo Tim Farron's seeking of wisdom. We can ask God to give us resources to meet the challenges we face. As well as wisdom, that might include strength, endurance, patience, self-control, generosity or courage. But the actual decisions are still ours to make. We can't duck that.

The second way that faith informs our decisions is by informing our world-view. It's not the only thing that does this, of course. The culture in which our values are formed, the assumptions of our environment and the habits of thought among our colleagues all shape us profoundly. Christian faith offers vision and values which Jesus called The Kingdom of Heaven. These emphasise the dignity and worth of every individual and the care of neighbour as well as oneself. In economic terms, the Kingdom of Heaven prioritises people and relationships above wealth.

So Christians who are serious about living out their faith pray and read the Bible.

Some of them will vote Liberal Democrat, some will vote in another way. No political party monopolises the application of faith to policy.

It's the same in the workplace. If you pray and read the Bible, it will affect the your choices. If you do so pray humbly, and read with sensitivity and depth I believe profoundly that it will influence your decisions for the better. But I can't tell you what those decisions will be. They're yours to make.

16 July 2015

Church of England funerals



The Church of England is here for everyone. No matter where you live in this country, you're a parishioner and you're entitled to the services of your parish for funerals, baptisms and weddings.

Now, a brand new website gives helpful information all about Church of England funerals. So whether you want to organise a funeral, are unsure about going to a funeral, or even want to plan your own funeral, there is sound advice and good ideas.

At St Mary's, we provide funeral ministry for the people who live in our parish (map).

We also conduct funerals for people who have a strong connection with our church, for example as regular worshippers.

It's best to start by choosing a funeral director, who will then contact us to make the arrangements.

We understand that marking the end of a life is a deeply moving and often difficult time. Our faith in God gives us hope, even though the sorrow of grief is real, because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

09 July 2015

Ric Thorpe announced to be the new Bishop of Islington


We congratulate Ric Thorpe on his appointment as the new Bishop of Islington, announced by Downing Street this morning.

Ric will become only the second Bishop of Islington; the post lapsed in the 1920s after just one appointment. This appointment is to a completely new and pioneering role.

Bishop Ric will not be a local bishop in the usual way. Islington's parishes and clergy remain under the oversight of the Bishop of Stepney.

Instead, the new Bishop of Islington will have a role in the national church, drawing on the capital's experience and enabling other dioceses to replicate the kind of growth that the Church of England in London has seen for two decades.

08 July 2015

Mary's Summer Playscheme 27 July to 21 August 2015


Loads of children from Islington look forward to our summer playscheme, run by our partner charity, Mary's. There's indoor fun and lots of trips and always stacks to do.

So if you have children between 6 and 12 and are looking into the long summer holiday wondering how they can have fun in a safe and stimulating environment, with trained leaders and plenty of new friends to make, hurry and find out more.

More information.

01 July 2015

Liz Adekunle appointed to be Archdeacon of Hackney



We're delighted that the Bishop of London has announced that Liz Adekunle will succeed Rachel Treweek as Archdeacon of Hackney.

Liz grew up at St Mary's, worshipping together with her family. Her father Victor, was churchwarden here for many years and her late mother Comfort, was a leading member of the church and contributed in ministry to the Diocese of London in several very significant ways.

Liz is presently Chaplain of St John’s College, Cambridge. Prior to that she served her curacy and was priest in charge of St Luke’s Hackney. She has expertise in pastoral care and in African Christianity and Development. She is a member of the Archbishop's Task Group on Evangelism and is a former tutor at St Mellitus College.

This is excellent news for the Stepney Area and we look forward to Liz's arrival in several months' time.