January 2022 Magazine

This is the 22nd  Parish Magazine on St Mary's website. 

              As always thanks to all who have contacted us, please keep in touch  and send us comments and articles for inclusion.

                                We would like to wish you all a Happy and Peaceful New Year.

Pauline & Bob - co editors..

Updated 6th January 2022




Dear Friends,

Two images stick in my mind that sum up the year has just past.


One was our Queen, a few days before her 95th birthday, as she sat alone at the funeral of her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, in St George’s Chapel.  The scene showed that the Covid pandemic has affected everyone, even the monarch.  The lone Queen, clad in funeral black, complete with black facemask, became a symbol for our nation in its travails.  The nation has been under the grip of Covid now for almost two years.  All, whether monarch or subject, rich or poor, man or woman, adult or child, all have been affected.  Some work from home, other have no jobs; students learn online; many elderly people can no longer enjoy their family’s visits.  The pandemic cut us into small, isolated units or made us into individuals without anyone close at all, just like the Queen sitting by herself in her hour of desolation and grief.  Yet she was not alone, her family was in the Chapel though they were not able to be physically close to her, and so was the nation in feeling.  Those people who were not able to attend loved one’s funerals, those who could not sit at a hospital bedside holding their beloved’s hand, those who lived alone with no one allowed to visit:  we were all united by and shared the Queen’s solitariness and grief.


The other image was a man in suit and tie, who was delivering a speech for COP 26 whilst standing knee-deep in seawater.  He was the foreign minister of Tuvalu, a small island country in the Pacific between Australia and Hawaii, a state of which I had never heard till I saw him online.  He was making a point: that climate change has affected the low-lying island nations very badly.  If climate change cannot be halted, many nations besides his will disappear beneath the seas.  All of us, surely, have been trying to do something to contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions and so forth. But for us in Britain, global warming is something we know a lot about at a safe distance.  We are very much cushioned from the impact of climate change here. For we live in a country with a temperate climate, reside in good-quality houses that shelter us from such extremes as sometimes come, and the government can guarantee the nation’s food supplies.  Globe warming is more or less existing in news bulletins. When it comes to what is up to us, we often put our own convenience and comfort before what is needed to halt climate change.  The image of the foreign minister of Tuvalu shows us the urgency of a change of heart. For many will lose the land on which they live if we keep on living in the way we have been. 


These two issues have entered 2022 with us.  We may have to learn live with Covid, as we are told, but we cannot live with further increases in globing warming.  The situation requires us not just to change our behaviour, but also our lifestyle and mindset:  Should we continue to have one or more foreign holidays each year? Can we change our dietary habits by eating less red meat?


It is easy to love our neighbour, to shop for them, to collect their prescriptions. That is to say, it is easy to do these things when our neighbour lives next door.  It is harder to love the neighbour in one world whom we do not know and probably shall never know, and to do so by sacrificing our comfort. But Jesus is the one who laid down His life to save others, so we are called to follow Him in loving not only God but also our neighbour.  2022 is a challenge year for the followers of Christ. 



Random Ponderings by a Recognised Parish Assistant

“I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20)


We have a set of knitted Nativity figures, and for several years we would lend them at Christmas time to a parent-and-toddler group I helped with. One year, after their Christmas party, I was tidying the figures back into their box. I soon rounded up the shepherds, Wise Men etc, put the box down and turned to carry on clearing up the hall. There was something white on the floor - a dropped paper hanky no doubt. I picked it up to throw it away – and found myself holding the tiny Baby Jesus, in his knitted swaddling bands. Stowing all the other figures safely away, I hadn't even noticed that he wasn't there.


And yet he was there – really close by – just waiting for me to find him.


New Year can feel a lot like tidying up after Christmas. After the joys and disappointments, the presents we loved and the presents we didn't, the people we loved to see and the ones we longed to see but couldn't, we put away all the trappings again until next year. Maybe Christmas 2021 has left us memories to treasure – I hope that, for you, it has.But now the twinkling lights come down from the windows, the TV schedules return to normal, and everyday life returns. And, if we have a Nativity set, Baby Jesus goes back in his box with all the others.


I used to know a couple who left their Nativity set up on the sideboard all year. It was, to be sure, a handsome hand-carved wooden one, but that wasn't the only reason. Even before taking up that custom, in their hearts they had never put Jesus away in a box (so to speak) when Christmas was over. For them, as for Mary and Joseph so long ago, he remained a living reality in their lives. They weren't perfect – sometimes they, too, forgot him (as I did after the toddler Christmas party!). And yet he was always there, really close by, just waiting for them to remember him again and turn to him, and find his grace, help and forgiveness. Both of them, after many troubles, went in peace to know the full light of his presence forever; they will never forget him again – as he never for one moment forgot them, or ceased to care for them, or for any of us his children.


May we all know his loving presence with us this coming year, more fully than ever before – his light to guide our way and his strong hand to uphold and bless us. Happy New Year!     

                                                                                                                                          Hilary Longstaff


What the Archbishops say about the C of E

The current state of the Church of England – and its future – was the subject of the joint presidential address to the recent General Synod, delivered by both the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, considered the historical context:  “Numerically, the number of regular church goers has shrunk in absolute terms every year since around 1952, 70 years next year. As a percentage of the population of England, the Church of England was at its high point, when there were accurate records, in the 1851 census when we were about 20% of the population. We are today a little less than 2% of the population.”

But the picture is not entirely bleak. “The reality is that a huge amount of work is being done at every point of this extraordinary Church for England … People talk too easily of decline but miss the energy that is spurring us on.

“Internally, we will be looking at reforms and changes aimed at focussing resources where they are most needed, at enabling support for anywhere and everywhere that shows signs of the blessing of the Holy Spirit…

“We have gone through the greatest peacetime challenge in 400 years and emerged forging ahead. Effectiveness is being transformed, training is being rethought to work well in the very different patterns of population that we see today, and even more different that we see in the future.

“The way in which dioceses work together and share resources is being challenged, and will change slowly and gently and consensually.

“Our failures in safeguarding, in racism, in the way we treat those with disabilities … are being tackled… We are a church that can admit it is wrong, say sorry and try – at least try – to do better.”

As for externally the church is not only still educating a million young people across the UK, it is also planting churches in new places, and putting fresh resources into traditional parishes.

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, continued the theme:

Our vision and strategy is for growth. It is not about managing decline gracefully. We want the Church of England to grow. Let us declare the good news of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ and do everything we can to align all of our resources, to make that happen in our local churches, whatever that local church is.


Rev Paul Hardingham begins a year-long series on the very foundations of our Christian faith.

A Christian basics No 1.    God the Creator

For many today the universe began with a big bang, in which a lump of matter, smaller than a pinhead, exploded 15 billion years ago. It’s a story that defines who we are and where we come from. However, the Bible gives us another perspective on this event, revealing God as Creator: By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible’ (Hebrews 11:3). What does Genesis 1 say about God as Creator?

‘In the beginning, God’

Whereas science can offer answers about the how of creation, the Bible tells us about the why i.e. the purpose of the Creator! Creation reflects the character and glory of God, inviting a response of dependence and praise!

‘God created the heavens and the earth’

God shaped the universe, as expressed in the ‘6 days’ of creation. They speak of an ordered and purposeful universe that expresses God’s will: He spoke and it was done! An alternative translation is ‘God began creating’, reminding us that creation is also an ongoing process, where the Holy Spirit is still at work in our lives and world.

‘God created man in His own image’

In the account, human beings are presented as the climax and crown of creation. We share the sixth day of creation with other creatures, as well as 95% of the same DNA. However, we are distinctively made in the image of God, created for relationship with God, with a responsibility to care for the created order.

‘And God saw that it was good’

Like an artist, God described His work as good. We should always approach this story with wonder, enjoying God’s world and affirming creativity in ourselves and others.


Gods Fragrance
Do people catch a whiff of it on you..

‘…and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.’ John 12:3

A story runs of how a lady was having tea outside a tea shop late one afternoon, when she became aware of a pleasant scent filling the air. She asked the waiter the source of the scent and was told that it came from the people passing by.  He explained that they worked in a perfume factory down the street and were on their way home. When they left the factory, they always carried with them the fragrance that had permeated their clothes during their day’s work.

As the perfume workers leave the factory full of the fragrance of where they have been, so we, as we leave our churches and chapels and wherever we spend time with God, are meant to carry the perfume of His presence with us. We are called to spread everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him (2 Corinthians 2:4). If we allow ourselves in worship to be permeated with Christ’s love and the sweetness of His presence, then we will be able to take the Jesus in us out into the world.


              Nearly 400 ordinands on course to take up

                       stipendiary curacy posts in 2022

Nearly 400 ordinands completing theological training next year are on course to take up stipendiary curacy posts in the Church of England after extra funds were allocated.

The Church of England has confirmed that 400 stipendiary curacy posts – both full and part time – will be available for ordinands expecting to take up stipendiary title posts from 2022 after leaving theological training.

Of these, 290 posts are fully funded by the dioceses while the Strategic Ministry Fund (SMF), administered by the Strategic Ministry Board, will support an additional 110 posts.

The SMF was set up in 2019 to help ensure that dioceses are able to support additional curate numbers as part of the drive to increase the number of candidates for ordained ministry.

The Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, Martin Seeley, who is Chair of the Ministry Council, said: “Stipendiary ministry remains core to the work of the Church of England and our Vision and Strategy for the future.

“Once again, we are confident that in spite of the difficulties caused by the pandemic, there is capacity to ensure that those people who are offering themselves for stipendiary ordained ministry will be able to serve their curacy in a paid post.”

The announcement of the funding for stipendiary posts comes after new figures were released showing that 501 people were recommended for training for ordained ministry this year.

Of these, 11.4% are people of UKME heritage, up from 10.9% last year, while once again, 54% are female. A growing number are young, with 26% of all recommended candidates aged under 32, up from 24% last year.



19th January.   Wulfstan, Bishop of Worcester 1095


Wulfstan, Bishop of Worcester from 1062 to 1095, occupies a unique place in British church history.

He was the last surviving pre-Conquest bishop, the first bishop to pay homage to William the Conqueror after the battle of Hastings, and one of the few Saxons to keep high office to the end of William’s reign. On top of that, he seems to have been a truly good and holy man.

Wulfstan was born about 1008 at Long Itchington, Warwickshire. His uncle was Archbishop of York, and through his help, Wulfstan studied at the monasteries of Evesham and in Peterborough. Because of his Christian dedication, his superiors recommended him for the priesthood. Wulfstan was ordained in 1038 and joined a Benedictine monastery at Worcester.

Wulfstan was appointed prior of the monastery and from 1034 also served as the parish priest of Hawkesbury, Gloucestershire. He was made bishop of Worcester in 1062.

As a bishop, Wulfstan made some significant contributions to the English church. He had a passion for pastoral care and was the first English bishop to be known to have made a complete visitation of his diocese. He was a gifted administrator, increasing the effectiveness of his archdeacons.

He was highly influential in monastic reform, overseeing laws and canons to reform the role of the clergy.

He was a powerful preacher – with a great gift for explaining the teaching of Christianity.  He encouraged a wider understanding of public penitence and taught against the many pagan customs throughout the land.

He had a strong social conscience, and soon became a bitter opponent of the slave trade.  Together with Lanfranc, Wulfstan was mainly responsible for ending the slave trade in Bristol, and also for abolishing the slave trade between Worcester diocese and Ireland.

He had a passion for buildings, and founded Great Malvern Priory, as well as overseeing the large-scale rebuilding of Worcester Cathedral, Hereford Cathedral, and Tewkesbury Abbey.

Wulfstan died in January 1095, apparently during his daily ritual of washing the feet of 12 of his parishioners.




                  JANUARY DIARY PAGE

BCP Holy Communion service each Sunday at 9.00am (Said service)


Holy Communion each Sunday at 10.00am

(Hymns may be sung, with face coverings, by the congregation)  


Holy Communion each Tuesday at 10.00am


Evensong each Sunday at 6.30pm apart from the second Sunday in the month when there is Compline at 6.30pm


Sunday January 2nd



10.00am          Parish Communion


Sunday January 9th

Baptism of Christ


9.00am            Holy Communion

10.00am          Parish Communion

6.30pm            Evensong


Tuesday January 11th


10.00am          Holy Communion


Wednesday January 12th


7.00pm            PCC meeting in church



Sunday January 16th

Epiphany 2


9.00am            Holy Communion

10.00am          Parish Communion

6.30pm            Evensong


Tuesday January 18th


10.00am          Holy Communion


January 23rd

Epiphany 3


9.00am            Holy Communion

10.00am          Parish Communion

6.30pm            Evensong


Tuesday 25th January


10.00am          Holy Communion


January 30th

Candlemas      One Service only


10.00am          Parish Communion


Science Fiction or Fact?

I read an article recently about the crew of a Blue Origin rocket - a private company which sent an actor into space.

Nothing too unusual so far, that is until I tell you the actor was William Shatner, better known as Captain James T Kirk of the Star ship Enterprise in the television series Star Trek.  He and his crew set out “to explore strange new life and new civilisations”. Hard to believe that was 56 years ago, back in 1966.

What we saw in the series was unheard of technologically, outlandish and utter make believe!   Automatic sliding doors, video conferencing, lap tops, computers, flat screen televisions and portable communication devices. But suddenly, all very much day to day devices we take for granted! In the series we see Captain Kirk communicate with the Enterprise with a hand held flip top communicator.

After seeing a repeat of this in 1973, Martin Cooper who worked for a technology company, was inspired and it led him to build the first viable mobile phone.

When the crew of the Enterprise encountered a new life form, they used a “universal translator” to communicate. You can now buy such a device that at the moment translates about 60+ languages.

We saw the crew talk to their computers; this was a time when computers were very much in their infancy. Again, such devices are now common in many households - no advertising allowed, but a very popular device has a girl’s name that starts with A.

Again, in the series we saw the use of a “replicator”. This machine produced exact copies of anything from food to spare parts, bypassing the need to carry stock and provisions on the space ship.  Today we have 3D printers, and lab grown meat is a reality.

The communications officer, Lieutenant Uhura on the Enterprise, used an earpiece for hands free communication. Walk along any street today and you see lots of people, especially joggers and teenagers, with what seems compulsory equipment in their ears!

You may remember, on the Enterprise the weapon of choice was the Phaser, with the phrase “set to stun”. Since the 1970s we have had the Taser which uses electric energy to incapacitate without killing.

Two of Star Trek’s more famous gadgets are still very much in the future. The Enterprise’s “Warp” engine propulsion system that allowed the star ship to travel faster than light. Some scientists believe this may eventually be achievable despite the theory of relativity. Even the American space agency NASA on its web site says “For the near future, warp drive remains a dream, but there are many “absurd” theories that have become reality over the years of scientific research”

Lastly the famous transporter system which allowed the crew to de-materialise into energy and re-materialise him or her elsewhere. This was thought up as the series budget could not afford to stage landings and take off, so cost cutting even in space!

Lots of mixed option on Quantum teleportation, the eminent physicist Michio Kaku suggests its invention within the next hundred years, others calculate it will take over a trillion years.

But with the present rate of progress who knows?  Powered flight by aeroplane for example, was achieved by Orville and Wilber Wright in 1903.   In 1961 Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space, followed  by  Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong making the first moon landing in 1969.  With the present rate of progress who knows what the next hundred or so will bring?

One final thought Captain Kirk never said “Beam me up Scotty”. But in the future somebody might?

Science -  Fiction or Fact?            Time will tell.

Barry Lomas



Congratulations to Sarah and Colin Shaughnessy on becoming first time grandparents a few days before Christmas.


Their daughter Naomi and husband Graham presented them with a granddaughter, Evelyn Frances (Evie) who weighed in at 8lb 10oz.  


Congratulations and best wishes from all your friends at St Mary’s.   




Thank you very much for the cards and kind messages I have received following my recent hip replacement operation. I really appreciated the support.


I'm not quite dancing on the tables yet, but you never know!!!! I hope to be back in church soon weather permitting.


Jenny Lomas


 Canon Paul Hardingham considers 2022.

Looking to the New Year

The month of January is named after the Roman god Janus, who is depicted as having two faces. As we look back on a difficult year dominated by the pandemic, how should we look forward to 2022 with fresh hope? The apostle Paul writes: ‘But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 3:13,14).

Firstly, to make a new start, you need to forget the things which are behind. Paul saw himself as an athlete running for Christ and purposely not looking back. He refused to allow his past sins and difficulties to define who he was. By God’s grace, he no longer saw himself that way. The same can be true of ourselves, as we confess our sins and failures to receive God’s forgiveness and new life.

Secondly, we need to focus on the things that lie ahead. The athlete is entirely focused on winning the race and gaining the prize. Like Paul, we have to be single-minded in making Jesus the focus of everything we do. How can we go deeper in our prayer life and Bible reading this year? What will it mean to better serve Christ in our workplace and neighbourhood, or family and children?

Paul looked forward to the day when he would stand before God, who would say ‘well done, good and faithful servant’. In light of all that Jesus had done for him, Paul wanted to give his very best to Jesus. As we stand at the beginning of this New Year, let’s ask ourselves, ‘What can I do this year that will help me bring glory and honour to God?’


The Rev Dr Herbert McGonigle looks to Psalm 23 as the New Year begins….

The reality of faith in God

As we enter this New Year of 2022 even the most devoted Christians can’t ignore the uncertainties we face. The whole world was caught up in the persistent spread of Coronavirus. It is shaking national economies and causing untold stress and harm. Many people fear that their lives and families will never be the same again.

Almost daily the news has been gloomy and economic experts say the situation is the worst in living memory. How do we, as Christians, react to all this? What do we trust in? Has God something to say to us in these days?

An answer may be found in a well-loved passage from the Bible – Psalm 23:  ‘The Lord is my shepherd …He restores my soul …he leads me …I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.’

But in the middle of this lovely psalm there are three reminders that Christians are NOT exempt from the realities of life.  The psalmist speaks of ‘the paths of righteousness’, ‘the valley of the shadow’ and ‘the presence of my enemies.’

The mention of ‘the paths of righteousness’ is a reminder that we are called to love the Lord and live our lives in righteousness. The wonderful promises in this psalm come with a condition; they are given to those who determine by God’s grace to live righteously.  And that must be our first resolution for 2022.

The ‘valley of the shadow’ may refer to death, but generally the reference here is wider.  It means all those occasions when fear and sorrow and heartbreak and loss come to even the best Christians.

Then there are our ‘enemies.’ Originally that probably meant those wanting to kill the psalmist. For us it may be the seduction of old temptations, the fears that paralyse us and the memories of sins that still haunt us.

The psalmist is a realist!  As Christians we live our lives in the real world! We are not floating on cloud nine; we are rooted in a fallen world and surrounded by temptations and sins and infirmities. Any day, pain, an incurable disease, even death itself, may come to us or to those we love. How do we face these realities?

Psalm 23 has the answer. If we, by God’s grace, will walk in ‘the paths of righteousness,’ then all the promises are ours! The Lord will be our Shepherd. He will lead us by the still waters; He will restore our souls, prepare a table for us in the wilderness, protect and guide us with His rod and staff and, at the end, bring us into the house of the Lord forever. Let’s make Psalm 23 our charter of faith for 2022!


David Pickup, a solicitor, considers the year ahead.

A New Year's Resolution from Micah

Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression…? He has shown you, O mortal, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you: To act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:7-8)

I quite like olive oil; not the Popeye character but the cooking ingredient. Although I am not sure what I would do with even one river of oil, and I have nowhere to put a ram.

Still, this is one of my favourite Bible passages, and it is an ideal one for lawyers. It sums up in a very simple but helpful way what true religion should be. That makes it a good verse to start the year. The message is simple: God does not want empty promises or lip service, but our real devotion, from our heart.

What does it mean for us?

Do justly – Be honest and open in our dealings with others this year. Be dependable. We should say when things are going wrong and be appreciative when they go well. Be fair in our dealings, whether at home or at work or in church. Keep confidences and never pass on gossip.

Love mercy – Give people the benefit of doubt, do not take advantage of others and do not always criticise or complain. Accept apologies and explanations where we can, and be generous.

Walk humbly – Quietly get on with things. Do not make a big show of what we do.

Lastly, we are required to do these things. They are not options or choices but requirements. Like many requirements in the Bible, they are simple to understand, but not always simple to do. Happy New Year.



Week of Prayer for Christian Unity - 18th to 25th January

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is traditionally observed from the 18th to 25th January – the octave of St Peter and St Paul.

This year, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has been prepared by the churches of the Middle East. The Christians of the Middle East say that they offer these resources “conscious that the world shares many of the travails and much of the difficulties that it experiences”, and that it also “yearns for a light to lead the way to the Saviour who is the light that overcomes darkness.”

More at: External link opens in new tab or windowhttps://ctbi.org.uk/week-of-prayer-for-christian-unity-2022/


The young pray and worship more than you think

More than half of adults (51 per cent) who are aged under 35 pray at least once a month, while almost as many (49 per cent) make a monthly visit to some place of worship.

In contrast, of adults aged over 55, only a quarter (24 per cent) pray, and only one fifth (16 per cent) attend a place of worship.

The survey was done by Savanta ComRes, and included Christians, Hindus, Jews and Muslims. It was commissioned by the organisers of the Eternal Wall of Prayer, which is being built near Birmingham. The monument’s creator, Richard Gamble, is a former chaplain of Leicester City FC, who says: “Many are now discovering that prayer is not a response of the last resort.”


The Soaring Cost of heating our Church

Here is some chilling news about the church’s heating and electricity bills: they could be doubling this year. The energy crisis is hitting the UK hard, and churches are not protected by the domestic energy cap.

That could leave many churches in the same plight as St George’s in Rugby, which fears it will have to pay £10,000 for gas and electricity in 2022 – double what it paid last year.

Some churches have already turned off all their heating, apart from pew heaters for services.


The Rev Dr Jo White continues her walk through the church year.


Reflected Faith Series – Taking Down Christmas


Happy New Year!


January is, of course, the time to take down the decorations and put them away for next year. In many churches however, the Crib scene is left up until the beginning of February – the Feast of Candlemas.  That celebrates the Presentation of Christ in the Temple.


It’s yet another moment of ‘illumination,’ and has a number of meanings.


The date ‘set’ for Candlemas is the 2nd February each year and it marks the midpoint of winter, halfway between the shortest day and the spring equinox. So, from that date onwards the days begin to get longer and the nights shorter.


It’s the day when we celebrate Mary and Joseph taking their baby, Jesus, to the Temple. The custom was set down in Leviticus chapter 12, where the parents presented the child to the Lord, and received a blessing from the priests. It was a picture of the sacrifice of the first-born son, giving him to the Lord.


Any ideas on a third meaning?  (Answer next month.)


As you take down your decorations, think about where you will store them ready for use next Christmas – and also, how carefully you will put them away.


Will the string of lights be a tangled mess of knots when you take them out of their wrappings or will you be able to hang them straight on the tree? One of the biggest concerns is where to put the figure of baby Jesus. It’s usually so small in a Crib Set that it is easily lost and then the Crib Set rather loses its meaning! 


This month


Have a think about where you put Jesus after Christmas. Not the figure but the ‘real’ person. He’s easily left in a virtual crib as a baby in our minds, just like the wooden or plastic figure in our attics or under the stairs. If we keep Him as that lovely sweet-smelling-cute baby we miss out on His teaching and miracles, we will fail to understand and engage with His massive love and compassion for each of us on the cross – and most importantly His resurrection.  Death is not the end.


Not for Him.


Not for us.


And not for our loved ones.



Crimes against church buildings

The number of crimes committed in churches and on religious premises over the past year has fallen, though there were still more than 4,000 offences.

Incidents include theft, vandalism, arson, violence, sexual assault, stalking, malicious communications, hate crime and drug possession.

The figures were obtained by the Countryside Alliance through Freedom of Information requests to Britain’s 45 territorial police forces.

As one researcher said: “We are presented with a grim reality that many churches and places of worship are being treated as easy targets by criminals. We know that police forces take the protection of our heritage very seriously, and hope that where counties have seen a drop in crime, it is because of greater public vigilance and a large police presence in and around these precious places.”




Place2Worship, please!

Iranian Christians who are serving prison sentences have made video appeals to the Iranian government. They want the government to tell them where they can worship after their release.

Their efforts are part of a new campaign, Place2Worship. It has been launched by a coalition of charities, which include Open Doors, Article 18, Christian Solidarity International, and Release International.


Sitting down in church

Did you ever wonder how our churches first acquired pews? Dr Nicholas Orme, Emeritus Professor of History at Exeter University, has written a book, Going to Church in Medieval England (Yale University Press), in which he points out that “no medieval church pronouncement ordered the provision of seating in churches other than for the clergy. General seating was a lay invention.”

It is easy to understand those laity of long ago: the services could go on for hours. And so, as   Dr Orme explains, general seating “seems to have begun with the nobility and gentry who wished for comfort …. The desire spread downwards to the congregation during the 14th and 15th centuries.”


 The Revd Dr Herbert McGonigle is a former Senior Lecturer in Historical Theology and Church History at Nazarene Theological College, Manchester, England.

Each month he will take a Bible event and a historical anecdote to bring us a word of help and support in these difficult days. This is the first in the series, which will run for most of this year.

There’s more with us than with them!!

We begin the New Year with a Bible event from 2 Kings and an anecdote from Birmingham.

For a number of years, the king of Syria had tried to capture the prophet Elisha. (The story is found in 2 Kings 6:11-19). Elisha always knew what the Syrians were planning, and revealed their plans before they could be carried out. Finally, the Syrian armies surrounded Elisha in Dothan.

When Gehazi, Elisha’s servant, woke up and saw the encircling Syrian armies, he was terrified. But Elisha prayed, ‘Lord, open his eyes.’ When Gehazi looked again, he could hardly believe what he saw. All round them were horses and chariots of fire. The armies of heaven were protecting them! And Elisha encouraged him. “Don’t fear, there’s more with us than with them!” Immediately the Syrians were struck with blindness and Elisha and Gehazi escaped.

Often, we need to ask the Lord to open our eyes. When our strength has failed and faith is weak, we’re apt to think that God has forgotten us. But He hasn’t! He is near and only our dimness of vision prevents us from seeing His great presence and power and provision. Fear not!  Trust God! Believe His Word!   There’s more with us than with our enemy!

In the early 1950s a well-known department store in Birmingham, England, wanted to extend its premises. Close at hand was an ideal site but it belonged to the Quakers whose Meeting House had been there for well over 200 years. The department store wrote to the Quakers, offering to buy the site. They said, “We will give you a very good price for the land.  In fact, we’ll send you a blank cheque. Please fill in whatever sum of money you think appropriate, and we will honour it.”  Four weeks passed and there was no reply, then five weeks, then six weeks.

Finally, a letter arrived from the Quakers. It thanked the department store for their generous offer but declined to accept it. “Our Meeting House has been here for almost 250 years,” they explained, “much longer than your store. We have no wish to sell our property. However, if you would agree to sell your site to us, we are very interested in buying it. We will give you a very good price for it. Just state your selling price and we will honour it.”

The letter was signed ‘Cadburys.’ The department store thought they were dealing with a small congregation of Quakers. Instead, they were dealing with the Cadburys’ empire. Cadburys could have bought the department store twenty times over!

When our enemy the devil attacks us, by ourselves we are weak and feeble. But when Christ dwells in us by His Spirit, we are mighty! The devil is no longer attacking us; he is attacking the Captain of our salvation – and the devil cannot win! There’s more with us than with him!  As we go through 2022, be encouraged. With Christ we are more than conquerors!


By the Revd Peter Crumpler, a Church of England priest in St Albans, Herts, and a former communications director for the C of E.

‘Truth is under attack’ BBC chief tells church service

Truth is under attack like never before, BBC director general Tim Davie told a special church service in London, attended by the Duchess of Cornwall.

Speaking at the annual commemorative service for journalists, held at St Bride’s, Fleet Street – the journalists’ church – Tim Davie declared: “In the disinformation age, truth is under assault like never before. Those who stand up for it most strongly have never been more targeted.”

He welcomed the recent award of the Nobel Peace Prize to journalists, Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov, “for their fight for freedom of expression” in the Philippines and Russia.

Mr Davie explained: “We know that the physical risks faced by journalists no longer come solely from the front line. Reporters all around the world face escalating dangers, increasing levels of harassment, and ever more subtle modes of intimidation.”

He said that in March, the BBC’s Beijing correspondent, John Sudworth, had been forced to leave China as “a result of pressure and threats from the authorities.” Over the summer, the BBC’s Moscow correspondent, Sarah Rainsford, had been expelled from Russia after more than 20 years of reporting. These moves, he said, “were almost unthinkable just a few years ago.”

Tim Davie told the service that journalists share key beliefs: “that truth is the foundation of democracy, that power must be held to account, that those who abuse that power must be exposed, and those who are the victims of that abuse must be given a voice.”

He added: “More than anything else, what truly brings us together as a family is the compassion and care we have for our colleagues in peril right around the world, and for their families.”

Canon Alison Joyce, Rector of St Bride’s said: “The world has never been in greater need of good journalism, and we have never had more occasion to be reminded of the human cost of good journalism than we have today.

“It is our privilege to honour the memories of all those journalists; photographers; film crew; and their support staff, and all who work freelance in the industry, who have lost their lives this past year and to remember in our prayers those who continue to work in situations of immense personal risk in the pursuit of truth. 


January Crosswords Clues (answers next month)


8  How the Abyss (NIV) is described in the Authorized Version (Revelation 9) (10,3)

9  Frozen water (Ezekiel 1) (3)

10 The Ten Commandments (9)

11 In Roman Catholic theology, neither heaven nor hell (5)

13 Des cons (anag.) (7)

16 ‘Though [your sins] are red as — ,’ (Isaiah 1) (7)

19 Keen (Romans 1) (5)

22 Repugnant, loathsome (Jeremiah 24) (9)

24 Drink like an animal (Judges 7) (3)

25 First and last (Revelation 22) (5,3,5)



1  Father of Ahi, a Gadite (1 Chronicles 5) (6)

2  Where David found the stone with which he killed Goliath (1 Samuel 17) (6)

3  ‘Hour by hour fresh lips are making thy — doings heard on high’ (8)

4  ‘Keeping watch over their — at night’ (Luke 2) (6)

5  United Society for Christian Literature (1,1,1,1)

6  ‘Treat him as you would — — or a tax collector’ (Matthew 18) (1,5)

7  Where Paul was taken when things became difficult for him in Berea (Acts 17) (6)

12 Istituto per le Opere di Religione (Vatican Bank) (1,1,1)

14 ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new — ;’ (2 Corinthians 5) (8)

15 Used to colour ram skins red for use in the tabernacle (Exodus 25) (3)

16 Vat car (anag.) (6)

17 ‘Be joyful — — , ’ (Romans 12) (6)

18 ‘While our presentable parts — — special treatment’ (1 Corinthians 12) (4,2)

20 Ancient rowing boat (Isaiah 33) (6)

21 Say again (2 Corinthians 11) (6)

23 What Jesus did in the synagogue in Nazareth after he stood up (Luke 4) (4)

Send your answers with your name to  External link opens in new tab or windowstmarywestacklamwebmagazine@outlook.com


December Answers

ACROSS: 1, Tabernacle. 7, Absalom. 8, Incas. 10, Roes. 11, Captured. 13, Fright. 15, Cavell. 17, Cyclonic. 18, Herb. 21, Sonar. 22, Amazing. 23, Settlement.


DOWN: 1, Taste. 2, Bold. 3, Ramiah. 4, Abiathar. 5, Lucerne. 6, Sacrifices. 9, Saddlebags. 12, Theocrat. 14, Incense. 16, Pilate. 19, Exist. 20, Save.


Winners  Peter Warren and Mabel McGurk





Rearrange these letters to form the names of 12 ball games. Answers

may consist of one, two or three words.


1.     SABBLE TALK      2.     BALLY LOVEL   3.     GUBBLORY ALOFT   4.     SELL ABBA   5.     R C QUOTE




10.   BALTI PLAN   11.   LINNAN STEW   12.   HAL BLAND



Answers to November Anagrams:       Winners:  Mabel McGurk, Bill Davison









                                                                                                 Compiled by Peter Warren

 Send your answers with your name to  External link opens in new tab or windowstmarywestacklamwebmagazine@outlook.com





Editor:     The Revd Dr Gary Bowness continues his tongue-in-cheek letters from ‘Uncle Eustace’…


On parish accounts, teapots and Labrador retrievers


The Rectory

St James the Least of All


My dear Nephew Darren


Your annual accounts – all 146 pages, bound in their plastic covers and laid out in faultless detail – really are most impressive. I was rather envious to note you have a clergy ‘discretionary fund’; if I were to be given such a thing, my cellar of claret would improve immeasurably – although that is perhaps the reason why I am not given one.


The size of your office expenses makes me wonder if you have a staff rivalling that of the European Community. I suppose that at least you are doing your bit for job creation. Our dear Miss Marigold, who spends two hours a week randomly filing pieces of paper, mistyping rotas and failing to re-order stationery, is only rewarded by being the first to find out who are booking marriages and having their babies baptised – and if they do not happen in that order, that will be another piece of information remembered for future use. All this is information beyond the price of jewels in village communities.


Our accounts have more by way of charm than they do of accuracy, generally consisting of one sheet of handwritten paper. There are only ever three copies for circulation, as that is the limit of Colonel Denster’s carbon paper. It seems to be an unalterable tradition that they never balance, until we find the following year that the missing £20 was found months later under the teapot on the mantelpiece.  One footnote to this was the occasion when the Colonel suspected an unaccountable £5 had been eaten by his Labrador. Our greatest expenses by far are categorised as ‘miscellaneous’, which is a catch-all for everything that our treasurer is unable to recall where it really went.


The thousands paid on church maintenance and diocesan fees are nodded through without comment – but if the money spent on Easter lilies or packets of tea for the Summer Fete increases by anything more than 50 pence, there will be much agonised debate and speculation about whether this is an indication of money laundering.


I see that your accounts were professionally audited. Fortunately, it does not matter too much about the accuracy of our own, as I have an arrangement with our auditor who lives in the village: if he refuses to sign them off, then I refuse to baptise his grandchildren.


Your loving uncle,




Remembering Ralph Vaughan Williams

One hundred years ago, on 16th January 1922, Ralph Vaughan Williams’ A Pastoral Symphony was performed for the first time, in London.

Later designated Symphony No. 3, it was said to be inspired by the composer hearing a bugler practising and is frequently thought of as a memorial for the fallen of the First World War, many of whom Vaughan Williams knew. He later said he saw music as an antidote to a war-torn world.

He had been born in 1872: his father was vicar at Down Ampney in Gloucestershire, but he died two years later. His mother, an evangelical Christian, was also the niece of Charles Darwin. This combination of events may have led to his uncertainty in questions of faith: his second wife Ursula said he “drifted into a cheerful agnosticism, but he was never a professing Christian”.

Nevertheless, Vaughan Williams frequently attended church, where he found musical inspiration. His first job after graduation was as a church organist, and he wrote many compositions for the Anglican Church, including well known hymn tunes. He edited The English Hymnal in 1904 and wrote an opera of The Pilgrim’s Progress. But he said there was “no reason why an atheist could not write a good Mass”.

A Pastoral Symphony received some criticism at first but was later regarded as stunningly beautiful, combing the grace of the wildly popular The Lark Ascending with the deep sadness of war.



Covid hits life expectancy levels

Covid has caused the biggest drop in life expectancy in Western Europe since the Second World War. More than five million people have died worldwide after getting infected.

When academics studied death rates from 29 countries, which included most of Europe as well as the US, they found that life expectancy has decreased in 27 of them.

Covid’s impact in Eastern Europe has been found to be more detrimental to life expectancy there than the fall of the Eastern Bloc in the late 1980s. In England and Wales, the team calculated those babies born in 2020 now have a life expectancy of up to 1.15 years less than if they were born in 2019. The largest decline is in the US, where it has declined by up to 2.2 years, compared with 2019 levels.


Open your window

When you have friends come to visit you, open the window for ten minutes of every hour that they stay. It will help to reduce the level of any Covid particles that may be in the air.

As one medical officer for England explained: “People with Covid release virus particles into the air whenever they speak, breath, or cough. These can linger in unventilated settings. So, it’s vital to open windows, to keep the air moving and help prevent infections.”


The music you love best – and when you love it

If you enjoy listening to music, ever notice how the kind of music that you like changes throughout the day? According to research published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, our tastes over just one day will vary in preference to a perceived tempo, loudness, bounciness, and danceability.

In late morning, we tend to go for loudness and energy in our music. By afternoon, the tempo begins to increase, and the beat and danceability also increase.

The highest tempo is preferred in the evening, between 8pm and 11pm. After that, we tend to prefer softer, slower music. But by 4am, the picture is muddled, as “the handful of people awake at this hour are often up to very different activities.”

According to a scientist at Aarhus University in Denmark, it all seems to point “to there being a circadian rhythm, even in our preference for music.”


 80 years of Desert Island Discs

Some 80 years ago, on 29th January 1942, the BBC radio show Desert Island Discs was first broadcast.  It is Britain’s longest running radio show, and the world’s longest running weekly factual radio programme.

Devised and originally presented by Roy Plomley, it was first broadcast on the BBC Forces Programme, but later switched to Radio 4. Each week a guest ‘castaway’ has to choose eight recordings, a book and a luxury item they would take with them if they were stranded on a desert island. In discussing this, they also reveal hopefully offbeat elements of their life. Past presenters have included Michael Parkinson, Sue Lawley and Kirsty Young, but the show is now fronted by Lauren Laverne.

More than 3000 episodes have been broadcast, with some guests appearing more than once. In the early 1970s, Roy Plomley interviewed Alistair MacLean, who turned out not to be the famous author but someone else with the same name, and the programme was never broadcast.

Very few episodes from the first 20 years of the show have survived; the earliest known to exist was broadcast in 1951 and features actress Margaret Lockwood.

All participants are allowed to take a Bible and copy of Shakespeare: needless to say, the National Secular Society has called for the Bible to be dropped, but known atheists such as Philip Pullman have wanted to keep it. A recent poll suggested that 56% of people questioned would not choose to take a Bible, and another 13% were unsure. 


David Bowie and God

It was 75 years ago, on 8th January 1947, that David Bowie, pop/glam rock singer, songwriter and actor, was born in London. He became one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, dying in 2016.

Born David Robert Jones, he studied art and design before transforming himself into an enigmatic and exploratory singer, specialising in songs about being a misfit and an outsider – sometimes literally, as when, early on, he became Ziggy Stardust – a gender-bending role some Christians found threatening.

But he was always interested in spirituality, though he questioned organised religion. Towards the end, when he had liver cancer, he found comfort in God: the day after he died his wife Iman posted an Instagram message: “The struggle is real, but so is God.”

One of Bowie’s definitive acting roles was as The Man Who Fell to Earth, during which he experienced an occult incident that led him to wear a Cross afterwards. He also collaborated in a kind of sequel, Lazarus. He once said: “Searching for music is like searching for God.”

Bowie became a musician in 1963, his first major hit being Space Oddity, in 1969. He moved into glam rock in the early 70s. His record sales were estimated at over 100 million during his lifetime: he was one of the best-selling artists of all time and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. After his death the magazine Rolling Stone called him “the greatest rock star ever”.


Name a heatwave

The Met Office is considering whether to begin naming heatwaves, as they are becoming more dangerous. Naming them will make the public pay more attention to them, and take them more seriously.

The Met Office says that as the climate warms, so heatwaves will become increasingly likely.  Since 2015, storms have been named in alphabetical order between September and August of the next year, based on names submitted by the public.

The record high UK temperature is 38.7C, recorded in Cambridge in 2019. 2020 was a record year for heat-related deaths. In future, 40C heat may become the norm. And the record-breaking 50C heatwaves seen in southern Europe in 2021 would have been ‘almost impossible’ to have happened without climate change caused by humans.


 All in the month of January.

It was:

150 years ago, on 14th Jan 1872 that Greyfriars Bobby, a Scottish Skye terrier dog died. He was famous for having guarded his master’s grave in Edinburgh for 14 years.

100 years ago, on 5th Jan 1922 that Sir Ernest Shackleton, the Irish-born British Antarctic explorer, died of a heart attack in South Georgia. He had led three British expeditions to the Antarctic.

Also 100 years ago, 16th Jan 1922, that Ralph Vaughan Williams’ A Pastoral Symphony was performed for the first time, in London.

80 years ago, on 8th Jan 1942 that Stephen Hawking, theoretical physicist and cosmologist was born. Author of A Brief History of Time, he suffered from motor neurone disease for more than 50 years and communicated from his wheelchair via a speech synthesizer. (Died 2018.)

Also 80 years ago, on 17th Jan 1942 that Muhammad Ali (previously Cassius Clay), American heavyweight boxing champion, was born. One of the most significant sports figures of the 20th century.

Also 80 years ago, on 26th Jan 1942 that the first US troops arrived in Europe. 4,508 soldiers from the 34th Infantry Regiment docked in Belfast.

Also 80 years ago, on 29th Jan 1942 that the BBC Radio Show Desert Island Discs was first broadcast. It is Britain’s longest running radio show, and the world’s longest running weekly factual radio programme.

75 years ago, on 1st Jan 1947 that the UK’s coal industry was nationalised when the Coal Industry Nationalisation Act 1946 came into effect. The industry was run by the National Coal Board. It was renamed the British Coal Corporation in 1987 and was subsequently privatised.

Also 75 years ago, on 8th Jan 1947 that David Bowie, pop/glam rock singer, songwriter, and actor, was born. He became one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. (Died 2016.)

70 years ago, on 1st Jan 1952 that the nuclear reactors at Windscale (now Sellafield) in Cumbria began producing enriched plutonium for use in Britain’s first atomic bomb.

50 years ago, from 9th Jan to 28th Feb 1972 that British miners staged a major strike over pay.  This led to power shortages, and a state of emergency was declared on 9th Feb. The miners returned to work when the National Union of Mineworkers accepted an improved pay offer.

Also 50 years ago, on 20th Jan 1972 that the number of unemployed people in the UK passed one million for the first time.

Also 50 years ago, on 30th Jan 1972 that Bloody Sunday occurred in Northern Ireland. British paratroopers opened fire on civil rights demonstrators in Londonderry, killing 13 people (plus another who died later) and injuring many others.

40 years ago, on 14th Jan 1982 that Mark Thatcher, son of the British Prime Minister, was found safe and well after going missing in the Sahara Desert for six days while competing in the Paris-Dakar rally.

25 years ago, on 15th Jan 1997 that Princess Diana walked through a minefield in Angola, visited victims, and called for an international ban on landmines.

20 years ago, on 11th Jan 2002 that the first prisoners arrived at the USA’s military detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They were members of al-Qaeda who were captured in Afghanistan during the War on Terror.

Also 20 years ago, on 31st Jan 2002, that the Larsen B Ice Shelf in Antarctica began to collapse. The whole 3,265 sq. km structure disintegrated over the next 35 days.


Remembering Sir Ernest Shackleton

One hundred years ago, on 5th January 1922, Sir Ernest Shackleton, the Irish-born British Antarctic explorer, died of a heart attack in his bunk in South Georgia. He had led three British expeditions to the Antarctic. He was 47.

It is now believed he may have had a hole in his heart. His feats of bravery and endurance were mixed with sudden illness, but he was never willing to have his heart properly examined.

He set a Furthest South record when he commanded the Nimrod expedition in 1907-09. On that occasion he showed acclaimed leadership by refusing to try for the Pole because of the likelihood that he and his men would die on the return journey.

But his greatest achievement was to enable the rescue of his crew after the Endurance became trapped and then crushed by ice in the Weddell Sea in 1915. A long trek, hauling lifeboats over ice, was followed by Shackleton and two companions reaching South Georgia in a small boat – followed by a trek over mountains and glaciers to a whaling station, from where a rescue ship was launched to bring home the remainder.

This has been described as “an utterly unbelievable story of bravery, heroism and endurance”. Shackleton was not known to be a Christian, but he and his men said they felt Providence was guiding them, especially during the 36-hour march across South Georgia, when all three said they felt sure there were four of them, and not three, making the journey.


Get fit for 2022!

More people join health and fitness centres each January than at any other time of the year. And well over half the newcomers will be gone again – within a month.

Perhaps there’s not much commitment to begin with. Or maybe, they lack motivation because they haven’t made themselves accountable to a personal trainer. (One incentive many clubs are now bringing in.)

But Christians have been called by God to become spiritually fit, and we DO have a personal trainer! We have only been able to join our ‘club’ through the precious, priceless blood of Jesus, and our ‘spiritual fitness’ goal is to be holy and to be loving, caring people.

The heavenly Father will be pleased and glorified as we simply keep on coming to the ‘gym’ of personal and corporate worship, and keep faithful to the spiritual disciplines, and our service together in the Body of Christ.


How to hug somebody

The perfect hug should last between five to ten seconds, and it should be done with your arms criss-crossed behind the other person’s back.

That is the finding of psychologists who experimented using more than 100 pairs of friends. They found that when it comes to hugging someone, “more is definitely more.”

It seems that a ten second hug gives great pleasure, a five second hug is adequate, but a brief hug of just one second leaves nobody comforted.

Even worse, since Covid, elbow bumping has become popular. But a bump on the elbow doesn’t do much for anyone.

The research was done at the University of London and the University of Bristol.


FamilyLife UK, a Christian charity, has developed the Toucan Together resource, designed to help couples to navigate some common daily challenges of marriage. By Christine Daniel.

“I wish we could wave a wand and all the bills would disappear!”

Many of us enjoy spending at Christmas. But receiving credit card bills in January can range from being an unpleasant hassle to a massive burden. Money is also the number one trigger for arguments between partners. But it is possible to manage your finances with confidence together, so you can make money work for you. Here are some basic tips…

Talk openly and honestly with each other

Try to find some shared goals; brainstorm your ideas and possible solutions. Stay factual and don’t hide anything. There is lots more about talking with your partner in our blog:External link opens in new tab or window 10 tips to make talking about money with your partner a little bit easier.

Make a plan together to make money work for you

Couples who make joint decisions around their finances have fewer problems and are more likely to experience harmony at home. A budget is simply the result of your joint decisions, and is the best way of managing your money. It will help you know:

  • exactly what money is coming in and going out
  • what you can afford to spend, and where you can make savings
  • how much you can save, and afford to give away
  • how to plan for the future, for your long-term goals

Track your spending and review it regularly, perhaps once a month, to begin with.

If you would like to know more, why not visit External link opens in new tab or windowhttps://familylifeuk.org and click on the Toucan button at the top of the page? (External link opens in new tab or windowwww.toucantogether.com) Toucan Together’s Money Module can help you with savings, handling debt, building budgets and managing change.  There are helpful tips and videos where couples honestly share their stories. It’s FREE!


First time buyers

The so-called ‘bank of mum and dad’ hit a new high in lending last year. Parents who helped their offspring to buy a first home gave them an average of £58,000. Nationally, that meant that parents loaned out about £9.8 billion, according to the estate agent Savills.

The level of first-time buyers who rely on family funding is now at its highest since 2013.


Help your garden, help your planet

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has launched a modern-day ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign to help tackle climate change.

It is asking the UK’s 30 million gardeners to consider digging up their garden paving and instead to plant trees, grass and bee-friendly flora, to help nature survive.

The RHS has calculated that if every gardener in the UK grew at least one medium-sized tree in their garden, then that would be the equivalent of storing the carbon produced from driving 11 million times around the planet.

Further research from a YouGov survey has found that only 19 per cent of gardeners say that they have adopted sustainable gardening practices.


Don’t cover over your garden

The TV presenter Monty Don has said that having pavement or tarmac on your property is one of the ‘worst contributions’ that homeowners can make to climate change.

The Gardeners’ World presenter points out that hard surfaces prevent water from being absorbed into the ground, which is a growing problem because of increased flooding.

Instead, Don urges people to consider having as many absorbent surfaces in their gardens as possible. Writing in the BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, he explains: “We need for excess water to slowly work down into our underground aquifers and make its way gradually to our rivers and out to the sea.”


What is happening to our public loos?

It was George Jennings, an English sanitary engineer and plumber, who in 1851 invented the first public flush toilets.  He said: “the civilisation of a people can be measured by their domestic and sanitary appliances.”

Yet now, across the UK, public lavatories are in dismal and steep decline. The number of lavatories maintained by local authorities has declined from 3154 to 2556 since 2015.

The effect can be doubly difficult. The Royal Society for Public Health pointed out in a 2019 report that closing public loos imposes a ‘urinary leash’; on people who then feel wary of venturing far from home.  Also on the rise is the revolting phenomenon known as ‘wild toileting’, which increased greatly during the pandemic, when public loos were closed.

The Victorians took a philanthropic pride in their public lavatories.  How would George Jennings rate our level of civilisation today?


You are never more than 166 metres from a stray cat

Britain is not short of stray cats. An estimated quarter of a million of them live in our towns and cities, according to recent research by Cats Protection and researchers at the University of Bristol.

In some urban areas of Britain, there are even up to 57 stray cats per square kilometre.  It is these cats who are of particular concern to Cats Protection, because “they receive limited or no direct human support.” Often these cats are unneutered, and populations can expand rapidly, spreading disease and harming wildlife.

For this reason, Cats Protection continues to urge owners to microchip and neuter their pets.


No more dog poo at the National Trust

The National Trust is tired of cleaning up after your dog. They have now removed dog poo waste bins from their sites, to force dog walkers to take the poo bags home for disposal.

The National Trust says that the waste bins are filling up faster than they can empty them, and that it costs them a huge amount of money to dispose of all the dog waste.

“We want people to visit and enjoy beautiful landscapes, but we need dog owners to help us look after the sites by picking up after their dog and taking their dog waste home.”

Meanwhile, some research has suggested that there has been a 200 per cent rise in dog waste on UK streets since the pandemic began. Concerns have been raised about the impact of increased excrement in public spaces, with experts fearing both hygiene and the environment could suffer from the waste and plastic bags being left in streets and parks.


Smile Lines

Cry Pharaoh!


A visiting minister was very long-winded. Every time he felt he’d made a good point in his sermon, he would repeat it all over again. Finally, the host pastor started responding to every few sentences with ‘Amen, Pharaoh!’ The guest minister wasn't sure what that meant, but after several more ‘Amen, Pharaohs’ he concluded his very lengthy sermon.

After the service was over and the congregation had left, the visiting minister turned to his host and asked, "What exactly did you mean when you said ‘Amen, Pharaoh?’
His host minister replied, "I was begging you to let my people go!"
The boy thought a moment and then said, "Did God throw him back down?"
"Now, Joseph, is that really what your teacher taught you?" his mother asked, somewhat alarmed.
"Well, no, Mum. But if I told it the way the teacher did, you'd never believe it!"



The end?


A local priest and pastor stood by the side of the road holding up a sign that said, "The End is Near! Turn yourself around now before it's too late!"


"Leave us alone, you religious nuts!" yelled the first driver as he sped by. Then from around the curve they heard a big splash.


"Do you think," said one clergyman to the other, "we should just put up a sign that says 'bridge out' instead?"




Knock knock


The passenger tapped the taxi driver on the shoulder to ask him something. The driver screamed, lost control of the car, nearly hit a bus, went up on the pavement, and stopped inches from a shop window.


For a second everything went quiet in the car, then the driver said, "Look mate, don't ever do that again. You scared the daylights out of me!"


The passenger apologised and said he didn't realise that a little tap could scare him so much.


The driver replied, "You're right. I'm sorry, it's not really your fault. Today is my first day as a taxi driver. I've been driving a hearse for the last 15 years."






The minister came home after church one Sunday morning looking very satisfied.

“Many people in church?” asked his wife, bustling around the kitchen.

“Yes, and we had at least three strangers, though I didn’t see them.”

“Then how do you know?”

“Because there were three £10 notes in the collection plate.”






My husband, a US Coast Guard pilot, was on an exchange tour with the Royal Navy in England. Everyone who drove through the base's gates was required to hold an official ID card up to the windscreen for inspection by the guards. As a friendly competition, my husband's squadron started flashing different forms of ID, such as a driving licence, just to see how far they could go to fool the busy guards. The winner? The fellow who breezed past waving a piece of toast.




What children have to say about angels


It's not easy to become an angel! First, you die. Then you go to Heaven, and then there's still the flight training to go through. And then you have to agree to wear those angel clothes.  -Matthew, age 9


Angels work for God and watch over kids when God has to do something else.  - Mitchell, age 7


My guardian angel helps me with maths, but he's not much good for science.  - Henry, age 8


Angels don't eat, but they drink milk from holy cows.  - Jack, age 6




Winter travel


A government warning said that anyone travelling in icy conditions should take: shovel, blankets, sleeping bag, scarf, hat and gloves, 24 hours supply of food and drink, de-icer, rock salt, torch, spare batteries, road flares, reflective triangles, tow rope, a five gallon petrol jerrycan, first aid kit, and jump leads. So ... I looked a complete pratt on the bus this morning!






Considering all the lint you get in your dryer, if you kept drying your clothes would they eventually just disappear?




Free travel


Living on earth may be expensive, but it includes an annual free trip around the sun.




Moses revisited


Nine-year-old Joseph was asked by his mother what he had learned in Sunday school.  "Well, Mum, our teacher told us how God sent Moses behind enemy lines on a rescue mission to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. When he got to the Red Sea, he had his engineers build a pontoon bridge and all the people walked across safely. Then he radioed headquarters for reinforcements. They sent bombers to blow up the bridge and all the Israelites were saved."



A church pewsheet reported that Mr and Mrs Brown had left for a ten-day motor trip, and that their two young daughters were starving with relations during their absence.




One Birmingham parish newssheet announced: ‘Pram Service this Sunday in church.  Followed by a talk about the wind.’




A rather pompous minister asked his confirmation class: “Why do people call me a Christian?” 

After some hesitation one lad ventured: “Perhaps because they don’t know you?”




From a church bulletin: ‘Don’t let worry kill you off. Let the church help.’




Spotted on a church notice board:


When you were born, your mother brought you here.

When you were married, your partner brought you here.

When you die, your family will bring you here.

In the meantime, why not try coming on your own sometimes?






When I look at chocolate, I hear two voices in my head. The first one says, ‘You need to eat the chocolate.’ The second one says, ‘You heard. Eat the chocolate.’




The views expressed in this magazine are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of St Mary's, it's clergy or the Church of England.