The Bishop of Brixworth writes
A tale of two (more) cities
This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens. My favourite
Dickens’ novel is A Tale of Two Cities with its themes of love and redemption amidst
evil and terror. His two cities are London and Paris, one a symbol of safety, the other
My two cities are places I visited on pilgrimage to Turkey; the magnificent Imperial
capital of Constantinople and the great trading city of Ephesus. The early church
flourished in both places but in very different circumstances.
Ephesus was a busy trading centre in which Christians were a tiny minority gathering in homes.
They were mostly tolerated and sometimes persecuted.
Constantinople was re-founded as part of the upheaval that followed the conversion of the
Emperor Constantine to Christ in AD330. Then Christianity became the official state religion. The
shorthand description of this period in history is “Christendom”. Much of our pattern of church life in
England originates from this time.
However, many key thinkers across the churches believe that Christendom’s days are numbered.
One Catholic leader has said, “The traces of Constantine’s church would seem to be fading and a
new Constantinian turning point confronts us”.
One possibility is that in the future the church will rediscover the “Ephesus” model. This might
mean smaller, less formal groups growing through networks of relationships. The General Synod
report Mission-Shaped Church drew attention to a wide variety of existing “Ephesian” churches
which together involve as many members as some dioceses.
Another possibility, supported by Archbishop Rowan, is that the future will feature a mixture of both
“Constantinople” and “Ephesus” style churches. I believe individual churches can also embrace
both callings to mission. I am sure that there is a future for churches with long histories and
wonderful buildings also offering new patterns of church life alongside their existing traditional
I recently discovered this challenge:
“The Church started out as a fellowship of men and women following Jesus Christ. Then it spread to
Greece and became a Philosophy. Then it spread to Rome and became an Institution. Then it spread
to the whole of Europe and became a Culture. Then it spread to the United States and became an
Enterprise. Perhaps it’s time to return to being a fellowship of men and women following Jesus
Diocese of Peterborough - Magazine Resource – May 2012
Produced by the Diocesan Office, The Palace, Peterborough PE1 1YB
Tel: 01733 887012 Email: email@example.com
Around the diocese
Three mile walk for Palm Sunday worshippers
It was a lovely cold, bright day for the Palm Sunday
procession from Lutton to Hemington, near Oundle. Rye
the donkey led the way and was joined by worshippers
from all six parishes in the benefice.
“The Palm Sunday procession has been an annual
event since 2007”, said the Rector Catherine Ievins.
“Most years we have walked from Polebrook to
Barnwell. Last time we took the Lutton to Hemington
route it rained, so we were glad to have such good
weather this year.”
The procession started with a ten minute service to
bless the palms - the evergreen branches that walkers
take with them - and hear the Gospel read in parts, mainly by young people. Then they set out on
the three mile walk singing All glory laud and honour. This was the cue for non-walkers to head by
car to Hemington, where refreshments were waiting.
Along the way the walkers saw two mini-dramas performed by church members. One showed the
Pharisees criticising Jesus and the other his disciples defending him. “We all joined in with plenty
of Hosannas”, said Catherine. “The dramas helped to give the impression that things are starting to
get difficult underneath the Hosannas.”
Meanwhile a scout was sent out at Hemington to look for the approach-ing walkers. Eventually
they appeared and were met with service sheets, entering the church singing Ride on ride on in
The service that followed was based around a shortened
version of the Passion Gospel, in four scenes. Again this
was read in parts, mainly by youngsters from the
“The purpose is to worship together in a way which is
user-friendly but meaningful, and which will both reach
out to the wider community and be acceptable to
traditional church-goers”, said Catherine. “Each year a
few new people come. People say they find it very
meaningful, especially the Passion Gospel.”
For more information contact Catherine Ievins on 01832
Around the diocese
Easter Hope comes to Bishop Stopford School
Making 700 balls of playdough was a challenge for the helpers, but well worth it to see the
enthusiasm of pupils and staff at Bishop Stopford School for Easter Hope, the interactive
prayer stations in the Hall and Chapel at the end of last term.
Each station reflected on different themes in the Easter story such as betrayal, compromise,
grief, injustice, new life and hope. They were set up by the Chaplaincy team at the School with
much help from parents of pupils past and present. Lee Hodgson-King, from St Giles in
Northampton, also helped to devise and set up the stations.
Pupils in years 7 to 9 (ages 11 to 14) all spent an hour at Easter Hope during lesson time,
visiting the stations in groups of three. Older pupils were encouraged to call in during their
breaks. In all an estimated 700 pupils and staff visited.
Their reactions were heartfelt. “Easter hope was fantastic,” said one year 7 pupil, “I couldn’t
believe it! I felt totally set free!”
Each prayer station invited thought and a practical response. At one, viewers looked at
themselves in a mirror and were asked to remember that they are made in the image of God
and that they are special and important to him. They were given a small heart shaped mirror to
take away. As they removed the plastic film on the mirror they were invited to ask God to peel
away any misunderstandings they might have that would stop them knowing how loved and
loveable they are.
Making models out of playdough, listening to music, adding tears to the wall of suffering and
planting seeds of hope were amongst the other activities.
“The stations helped me get in touch with things in myself that I usually don’t think about,” said
one participant. “What a great way to encounter God.” For the Chaplaincy team it was not only
these reactions that encouraged them, but also that parents from churches in the diocese
were able to help and support the school with this event.
Around the diocese
Sixty graduate from Mission Shaped Ministry course
Bishop John joined Peter Hancock, Chair of the Methodist
District, and Bishop Tim from Leicester Diocese, at a
recent celebration for the sixty people who completed the
Mission Shaped Ministry course.
The 18 month long course was organised as a
collaboration between the Northampton Methodist District
and Anglican Dioceses of Leicester and Peterborough. It
ran over nine Saturdays in Market Harborough.
The course is designed for people involved in starting new
forms of church (Fresh Expressions).
It will run again at the same venue, starting in September 2012. If you’re involved in a café
church or messy church, or are thinking of starting one, or would like to learn from new forms
of church for your existing worshipping community, this course might be for you. For more
information contact Miles Baker on 01604 887043.
Wed 2, Hermitage Ensemble Concert, 7.30pm at Nassington Church PE8 6QG. Tickets £10 from
Sat 5-Mon 7, St Luke's Kislingbury Flower Festival, 1pm-5pm. “Village life”.
Sun 6, Organ recital by Oliver Brett of St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney, Australia. 5pm at St Mary’s
Warmington PE8 6TE.
Sun 6, Great Brington Open Gardens. Nine gardens open, 11am-5pm.
Mon 7, Organ recital, All Saints, Oakham, 11.15am. John Keys of St Mary’s Nottingham. Collection.
Sat 12, Northants Youth Brass 2000th Concert at All Hallows, Wellingborough at 7pm. Tickets £7 on
Sat 12, Vision of Unity Christian meditation. 10am-4pm at St Peter's, Cogenhoe NN71LS. Tel: 01604
Thurs 17, Be still and know that I am God. Christian meditation. 7.30pm-9pm at St Peter’s
Cogenhoe. 01604 899342.
Sat 19, Orphean Singers Concert, 7.30pm at St John the Baptist, Hartwell.
Sat 26, Hartwell Plant Fair, 10am - 2pm for Church Funds. Tel: 01604 862635.
Sat 19 May-Sun 24 Jun, Reflection: Looking beneath the surface. Art and music installation at
Peterborough Cathedral. Susan Haire, Stephen Dydo.
Sun 20, Tenor concert with Stephen George. 4pm at St Peter and St Paul Abington, N’ton. Tea.
Sat 26, Music in Lyddington: Joglaresa. 7.30pm at St Andrew’s, Lyddington LE15 9LN. Tickets £14
(on door £16, students £2). 01572 820017.
Sat 26-Sun 27, Hat’s Off to Her Majesty, 11am-4pm at St Katharine’s, Irchester. Sat: Street market,
exhibits in church, music by The Irchester Players. Sun: music and exhibits in the church.