I am writing this month’s article, late on a Friday night after attending the evening sessions of a vocations conference, organised by the Diocese in Europe that is taking place this weekend at Saint Matthews. As like many (I assume) Church of England people, I’d heard of Anglican Churches in other places around the world, without actually taking much notice of how things like that work.
When I arrived at Saint Matthew’s, we went for a walk around the parish, and passed by the Diocese in Europe Office with Fr Philip and Fr Peter. It made sense to me to have a diocese of the Church of England in Europe to look after all of these Anglican churches that I’d heard about. Yet I couldn’t get my head around the full scale of it. Tonight however, I’ve had the privilege of joining the conference to hear Bishop David Hamid’s talk on the Diocese, and it was only then that I realised the full scale of the work of the diocese in Europe. All of the people here for the “enquirer’s weekend” are people considering their calling to ministries in the Church of England from Europe. There are 16 people here, all from different countries. It was interesting to sit and listen to their stories and what brought them to the Anglican Church and eventually to considering ministry. Only now can I appreciate the full scale of the Diocese in Europe. I conclude that I think all of these wonderful people from all across Europe, if not the world, with their many varied and interesting backgrounds can only enrich the Church of England with experiences they carry with them coming from a different background and culture.
On another note, I can not believe that it is already February, and I have been here since September! I haven’t yet visiting half of the places I intended to, but I’m still working on it. January started off a quiet month after the New Year, as I’m sure it does in most places. As the month went on work picked up, and for February we are back up to full sailing speed. In my time here the one thing I’ve found a little difficult to cope with is spending as much time in my own company as I do. Sometimes it is good, but at other time it can be quite frustrating when you’ve come from the environment I have where there has always been someone around to have a chat with. But I’m coping. Daily prayer in the morning and evenings is very helpful in settling a state of mind, and makes troubles seem less.
I’ve also found a good route that gives a couple of good views while out on one of my evening walks. If you come to the Hungerford Bridge and cross the river from the north to the south side, you get a lovely view across to Saint Paul’s Cathedral, and then when you reach the other side and begin heading back towards Westminster, you get a lovely view as you walk back up the south side of the river of the Houses of Parliament.
Also in the last month, I’ve been to Evensong at Saint Stephen’s Church, Rochester Row, which is the neighbouring parish. It was just like we have at Saint Saviour’s out of the Book of Common Prayer-except without a choir. I’ve also been to Evensong at Saint Paul’s Cathedral, and got an exact seat in the Nave that I could look down to the high Altar. I then stayed for the Organ recital after that which just happened to be given that Sunday by someone from Durham!
Last Sunday I went along to the evening communion service at Methodist Central Hall, which is the headquarters for the Methodist Church and is across from Westminster Abbey. It was the first time I’ve been to a Methodist service before, and found the whole thing quite interesting, noting the differences, not that there were many, between their worship and that in the Church of England. I did find it interesting that we were handed a Bible as we went in, and when the preacher preached, we had our Bibles open at the page and he referred to verses as he went, as he preached on an entire chapter of John’s gospel. I was also intrigued by the individual communion glasses, as I’ve heard of it but never seen it, and the little holes in the other side of the communion rail to leave them in when you’ve done!
Finally, we’ve been for a nice afternoon tea in Richoux, on Piccadilly. It was my first afternoon tea in London. The only other afternoon teas I can compare it with, are Betty’s at York, and the afternoon tea of Sunday afternoons of my childhood, produced by my dad’s mother. The foodstuffs arrived on tiered stands, with small sandwiches on the top, 2 scones each with jam and cream in the middle and a slice of fruit cake each, and on the bottom an item from the pastry trolley that you choose before (I had the fruit tart). I viewed the entire thing with suspicion at first, thinking that it would never fill me up, as none of it looked as substantial as the sandwiches and scones that my grandmother produced. And there wasn’t a large corned beef pie in the middle of the table either! But I can assure you, by the time I’d got to the bottom of the stand, I was quite full, as I’d eaten everything of the delicate items that were intended for me, and washed them down with a pot of Darjeeling tea (you could choose what tea you wanted, and get a pot each). So that made for a pleasant and filling afternoon as well!
Our pastoral assistant, Andrew, has been writing his "Andrew's Travels" column in his Parish magazine for three years. He continues to contribute and his current articles will be published here.