To give you a flavour of life at St Augustine's.
Congratulations to Mhoira for completing her sponsored walk out to the Mulberry Harbour and back on Sunday morning in aid of the local Sounthend RNLI.
Thank you to everyone who sponsored Mhoira. If you didn’t get a chance to and would like to, then I’m sure Mhoira will gladly accept your donations on Sunday morning.
What a lovely time we had last Sunday at Porters for Afternoon Tea. Despite a couple of drops of rain, over 60 of us took the opportunity to spend the afternoon together, to take a tour of one of the oldest buildings in Southend, and to enjoy the delicious tea.
A big thank you to Fr Frank for organising the afternoon which also raised over £200 for the church.
On Sunday 19th March, we celebrated Mothering Sunday with a special family service. There was a really lovely atmosphere in church with over 140 people present. Rev Dave talked to the children about what maked their mum/carer so special and about how Jesus cared for and looked after his own mum.
The day before, the men of the parish had been busy making posies of flowers which the children gave to all the women in church.
This year we offered two services on Ash Wednesday. At 10am we enjoyed our ususal Wednesday Book of Common Prayer Holy Communion service with a homily and the imposition of ashes. At 7pm we had a service of Holy Communion (modern langauge, Common Worship) with homily, the impositio of ashes, and a few hymns.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and the tradition of receiveing a ash cross on one's forehead is a sign of our repentance at the beginning of a period of penitance leading up to Easter.
Yesterday was New Year’s Day and we held a special service during which we renewed our desire to live in covenant with God. This means recognising that God, through Jesus, has saved us to eternal life and choosing to offer him our faithfulness, worship, time, gifts, and service in response. If you missed the service and would like to find out more or make the promises for yourself there are two downloads below - Rev Dave's sermon and the covenant liturgy. The service was followed by a glass of bibbly to celebrate the New Year!
We had lots of enjoyable services throughout the Christmas season at St Augustine's. On the 18th December, we enjoyed a Christmas Carol Serivce following the pattern of 9 Lessons and Carols. The choir sang beautifully, led by Lorraine our organist and accompanied by her and Chris Denney.
On Christmas Eve, we filled the church twice in the afternoon at the two Crib Services, which were very good fun. See the photo below of the special moment when candles were lit and we sang Away in a Manger.
Other services included Midnight Mass and a Family Comunion service on Christmas morning. Each service, though different, gave us the opportunity to give thanks for the gift of Jesus - the light who came into the world.
As well as these services over Christmas weekend itself, we had lots of services leading up to Christmas for local schools. In total, around 1000 children took part in a service at St Augustine’s with their school. It was a pleasure to welcome them and in most cases their parents or carers too.
On Wednesday 7th December St Augustine's hosted the RNLI Southend Lifeboats Carol Service. The Service was led by Fr. Stephen Burdett (Chaplain to Southend RNLI) and included readings given by RNLI supporters, the chair of Southend RNLI, Nick Elmore, and the mayor of the city, Councillor Kevin Robinson. The singing of Carols was led by the Gaudeamus Choir with members of the Church Choir. After the service, mullled wine and mince pies were served. Thank you to all involved.
On Sunday 4th December we held our annual Christingle Service. With the help of the uniformed organisations (scouts, guides, etc), over 30 children and their parents made their own Christingles in the church hall before heading over for a short service led by Rev Dave. Readings and prayers were led by Guides and Brownies and Christine played the piano for a few songs. At the end, we dimmed the lights and stood around the outside of the church to light our Christingles. It was a lovely moment! Money donated was given to the Children's Society. A big thank you to those involved in making the service happen.
55 of us enjoyed an evening of great food and friendship at the Masoom indian restaurant on The Broadway on the evening of 21st November 2022. The event was a great success with so many attending, and raised over £400 for the church. Very many thanks go to Fr Frank for organising the evening, to those who ran the raffle, and to our wonderful hosts and chefs at Masoom.
We were delighted to welcome the Leigh Orpheus Male Voice Choir to St Augustine's on Saturday the 19th November for their Autumn Concert. They performed a wider repetoire of pieces ranging from choral to a medly of hits from the 60s.
The concert was thoroughly enjoyed by all who attended and we hope to selcome the gentlemen back again in 2023.
Our All Soul's service was held on Sunday 6th November. This beautiful service went very well dispite the rain! The service taken by Revd. Dave and assisted by Fr Frank was well received. The names were read out by Margaret, Mark, Paul and Martin and the refreshments served by Pat and Marjorie with delisious cakes bakes by members of the congregation. Thanks to all involved in making this service so special.
This year was the fourth year we have celebrated these young lives lost and remembered them with their families or alone and what a honour it is to be part of such a beautiful and meaningful service - which is brought together by Amanda Cushing who is Southend's Bereavement Midwife and who supports Southend's bereaved families every day.
We were blessed this year with a new vicar - Revd. Dave who, like Fr Jonathan and Fr Stephen before him did a wonderful job of hitting the right notes in bringing comfort and support to people who are grieving the loss of a life barely begun.
The service isn't too long and is a mixture of music, readings, poems and refllective words followed by the baby hearts being placed in Mother Mary's care in the Lady Chapel along with a lit candle It was heartwarming to see so many children who had come to send a message of love in remembrance of their brothers and sisters who are in heaven with the Lord. We had at least 4 very small babies, the youngest being only 6 days old and what magic and hope these youngsters bring to the church. All who were involved in the service on Sunday send you our prayers and our love in the hope that you will always know that you and your babies are remembered and loved by all at St Augustine's.
On Tuesday the 11th October at 7pm, many lit a candle at home in remembrance of the babies who died and didn't get a chance to meet their mums, dads, siblings and relatives. This is the time every year when the whole world lights a candle for these babies and for those who are grieving their loss.
We hope that those who came on Sunday left with uplifted hearts in the knowledge that they are surrounded by love and support and St Augustine's is always open for them should they need to come and rest awhile.
At 10am on the 2nd October we celebrated Harvest Festival with a Family Parade Service.
The Harvest Festival service taken by our brand new vicar Revd. Dave went really well with a return of the Guides/Brownies and Scouts/Cubs in the Parade Service along with donations for HARP the local homeless charity. James, who is one of our chorist's sang a solo accompanied by our organist Lorraine (and James' proud mum).
Fr Frank and Rev Dave had the pleasure of taking a full car load of food to HARP and over £400 in donations. Thank you to everyone who contributed.
On the evening of Sunday 18th of September, we held a special service commemorating the life of the late Queen on the eve of her funeral. It was a somber occasion, but with many gathered in St Augustine's, it also had a feeling of thankfulness and hope. The service was led by the new vicar, Rev Dave, with the assistance of Fr Stephen.
In the direct few days after the Queen's death, St Augustine's was open for the local community to come in. Those who did were able to sign condolence cards and light a candle.
On the evening that the Queen died, the flag was changed to the Union Flag and was lowered to half-mast by John Crooks, steeple keeper.
Photos below as well as a copy of the order of service.
What has enhanced our joy this year at St Augustine’s in celebrating the Platinum Jubilee of the late Queen Elizabeth 11 has been our special connection with the monarchy with the late Queen being our Patron. However, for myself as one of two Parish Representatives with our warden Phil Harrison, this added but a further layer of concern during our interregnum as we worked through the process of an appointment to our Royal Benefice. The Ecclesiastical Secretary at the Cabinet office who dealt with the appointment on behalf of the Crown made it clear to us that as increasing concern was expressed at the Queens visible frailty, should there be a change of monarch before any appointment was approved by the Queen this would inevitably cause additional delay. Happily, just as the late Queen fulfilled her final duty in appointing a new prime minister so in June the necessary documentation was signed off approving Dave’s appointment
The rain kept off the evening of Wednesday, the 7th of September 2022 for the service of the Presentation , Collation and Induction of our new vicar the Reverend Dave Willis. It was a wonderful service resonant with history with a Deputy Lieutenant of Essex, as representative of the late Queen, presenting Dave to our diocese and parish. The Collation was conducted by the Bishop of Chelmsford the Right Reverend Guli Francis - Dehqani and the Induction conducted by the Archdeacon of Southend the Venerable Mike Power. Our congregation were joined by clergy from both local Anglican churches and Baptist and Methodist churches
Saint Augustine’s , as was commented on by the Deputy Lieutenant, looked beautiful and we must thank Jennifer Gray and her group of ladies for the three magnificent displays of flowers that were arranged. The service was then followed by refreshments in our church hall allowing members of the clergy, the Deputy Lieutenant, visitors from Dave's former parish of Midhurst and our congregation to mingle and meet Dave’s wife Sarah Jane, and daughter Poppy, son Jacob and his mother and stepfather. A thank you to our warden Phil and to Judy for arranging and supervising the excellent spread laid out for all to enjoy
A truly memorable evening and an inspiring start to this new chapter in the life of St Augustine’s.
Margaret. Lay Chair PCC
On the 4th September the congregation gave their thanks and gifts to our heroes Fr Stephen, Fr Frank and Fr Michael who kept the services and the baptisms flowing during our time without a vicar.
For all you did for us this past year - we are truely grateful.
On the beautiful sunny afternoon of Sunday, the 4th of September 2022 a coach was arranged by Barbara and Mhoira to take a party from our congregation to the Institution and Induction of our former vicar the Revd Jonathan Collis as Rector of Saint Botolph’s in Cambridge.
Saint Botolph‘s has served its parish in Cambridge for more than 700 years. The church is well maintained and full of historical interest. Saint Botolph himself was a travelling Anglo-Saxon saint whose churches are often to be found by the site of ancient gates, and to this day many visitors come into this church as they arrive in Cambridge city centre. The parish itself extends across the Cam and includes several colleges and much of the Sidgwick site as well as residential areas
The service, which took place within the context of choral evensong, was conducted by the Venerable Dr Alex Hughes, Archdeacon of Cambridge representing the Bishop of Ely who was on holiday. The service of Institution and Induction commenced at 4:30 pm with Jonathan being presented to the Archdeacon by a representative of the patron Queens College. An enlarged choir enhanced the flow of the service following which, generous refreshments were laid out and served in the churchyard allowing those present to catch up with old friends in the glorious sunshine and warmth that accompanied the proceedings. It was wonderful to meet up with Judith Rose and Lily as well as our former curates Janet with her husband James, and Chris and his wife Laura as well as our former wardens David and Peter with their wives Lynnis and Lynne
It was a very special afternoon and a joy to see Jonathan happily settled back in Cambridge in an ancient and prominent parish. Many thanks to Mhoira and Barbara for making all the arrangements.
Margaret Ridley Lay Chair PCC
The Strawberry Tea 2022 was another great success with between 60 and 70 people attending on what was a beautiful sunny day. Again, we didnt have many children but the afternoon was stil enjoyed by everyone and several church members walked away with raffle prizes. A magnificent £440 was raised to add ro the bereavement groups funds which will hopefully help pay for a day out for our members - some of whom haven't been out for the day since their loss.
Please see below a few pictures which were taken at the begining and a few during the afternoon - while we had time to take photos.
The Safe Harbour Bereavement Group is not a St Augustine's Group but we are lucky enough to be supported by the congregation when it is needed - which we are very grateful for.
i am afraid the photos do not do the afternoon justice - I'm no photographer that's for sure! But in total we had 15 helpers and about 60 visitors all told.
We had the beautiful Southend Festival Chorus performing for us during June. They had the most beautiful voices with members from all ages, ranges and backgrounds. The choirs repertoire includes classics such as Mozart's Requiem and Elgar's Dream of Gerontius
below are some photos taken during the evening - I only wish we could include the music!
On Sunday 12th June our congregation welcomed worshippers from across the Deanery for a Platinum Jubilee evensong held at St Augustine's. The service was followed by a picnic in the grounds. Some people brought their own sandwiches but there was also refreshments in the church. The service was well received by all who came. A copy of the order of service is below.
Congregation member Warren Symes has undertaken a project to record a number of pipe organs in Essex. Below you can see the video of him playing two Christmas voluntaries on our wonderful organ. You can see warren playing other organs across Essex here. Warren says, "Many thanks to you all for supporting the project and I hope that you are pleased with the end result."
Our Lent Sermons this year were called Heavenly Encounters. The players were, Allen Littlejohns, the former Churchwarden of St John’s and Fr.Stephen.
Episode 1: St Peter and Pontius Pilate.
It’s heavens waiting room. St Peter is at the pearly gates. Then Pontius Pilate enters much to the surprise of Peter. Pilate tries to make some sense of the position he finds himself in. At first Pilate tries to lay the law down but gets no joy from Peter who is not intimidated. Gradually they warm to one another and Pilate realises that he has been in receipt of God’s forgiveness.
This scenario you may find unlikely or plain ridiculous. But, there is a theory that Pilate who had been summoned back to Rome by emperor Tiberius to explain his poor performance slipped into a deep depression, regretting having Jesus crucified. Unable to explain his actions to the pro-Christian emperor, he prayed to God for forgiveness, and then committed suicide.
No one but God knows the substance of Pilate’s prayers but God forgives those who truly repent. His prayers had been answered don’t you think?
Episode 2: Ignatious and Luther.
Spanish Catholic priest and theologian
Much travelled in great hardship
Converted over 700,000 to the Catholic faith and formed the Society of Jesus (The Jesuits)
Committed to the service of faith and the promotion of justice.
Wrote the Spiritual Exercises which was a guide to prayer life.
German priest, theologian, author and hymn writer
Believed faith in Jesus and not good works brings salvation.
The Bible is the final source of truth about God not church or priests.
He thought the Catholic Church was morally rotten and saw as corrupt the selling of indulgences to absolve sin.
The protestant had arrived in Lutheranism.
Episode 3: Oliver Cromwell and King Charles 1st.
Oliver Cromwell and King Charles 1 became sworn enemies. Their quarrel was on various levels. Cromwell believed in the supremacy of Parliament and the importance of democracy, at least for the middle classes. Charles 1 was opposed to all of that, believing in ‘the Divine Right of Kings’ to rule his subjects as the continental monarchs did at that time.
Cromwell was Presbyterian and so strongly Protestant whereas Charles was High Church, and had Catholic sensibilities. He married Henrietta Maria of France who was Roman Catholic. He appointed the high church William Laud, as Archbishop of Canterbury.
Cromwell eventually became Lord Protector of England in 1653. His signature was on the death warrant that sealed Charles 1st’s fate in January 1649.
Episode 4: Winston Churchill and Bishop George Bell.
George Bell 1883 - 1958 was Bishop of Chichester when he opposed the Allied carpet Bombing of Germany during World War 2.
He supported the German resistance to Hitler and worked with the German Pastor & Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was executed by the Nazis in 1945.
George Bell was expected to become Archbishop of Canterbury but was thwarted by Winston Churchill who appointed Geoffrey Fisher instead.
Churchill did not believe in Eternal life but rather saw Death in terms of comforting ‘black velvet curtains’. However when asked if he was prepared to meet the Almighty he replied “but is the Almighty prepared to meet me ?”
The Baby Loss Service Love and Light on the 10th October, was taken beautifully this year by Fr Stephen. There were about 40 people in attendance - it was a very moving service which was well received by all. It is nice to feel that we have given some comfort to those who are mourning the loss of their precious babies. Thanks to Fr Stephen, Amanda Cushing (The Southen Hospital Bereavement Midwife) for all her hard work in bringing the service together and to Marjorie, Pat, Mhoira and Sally for your help too.
The church was lit up from 9th to 15th October in memory of all baby losses.
Getting ready for Sunday's 10:am service - come along and you will get a friendly warm welcome!